Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Moose Envy

Heh.

For three decades, the Canadian city of Moose Jaw took pride in its status as the home of the world’s largest moose statue.

Standing at a majestic 10 meters tall, Mac the Moose has weathered brutal winters, graffiti and even the inglorious loss of his jaw. His recognition was so great that in 2013, he was named the city’s most popular celebrity.

But status and renown can be fleeting.

In 2015, Norway responded with its own moose sculpture – Storelgen, or “Big Elk” – a glitzy stainless steel bull, erected with the explicit aim of surpassing Mac’s height and stealing his place in the record books.

Now, however, the Canadians are fighting back, after a pair of comedians called Norway’s statue “an egregious offence” and pleaded with Moose Jaw residents to restore the city’s stolen glory.

“You are a city famous around the world for the glorious name of Moose Jaw,” Justin Reves told residents in a video posted to Facebook. “And everyone that comes by, knows that this should be the world’s tallest moose.”

Standing in front of a forlorn Mac, Reves and colleague Greg Moore implored the residents to act quickly by adding 31cm to Mac, to “stick it to Oslo”.

Jihadists Attack Hotel in Nairobi

It’s a never-ending fight.

At least 21 people were killed when Somali militants stormed a luxury hotel compound in Nairobi, Kenya’s government has confirmed.

Hundreds were forced to flee the bloodshed at the DusitD2 hotel and business complex on Tuesday.

Some 28 injured people have been admitted to hospital, and Kenya’s Red Cross said 19 are still missing.

Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabab said it was behind the attack, which triggered a 19-hour security operation.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the siege ended with five jihadist attackers “eliminated”.

Kenya has been a target for al-Shabab since October 2011, when it sent its army into Somalia to fight the jihadist group.

Yellow Vests Disable 60% of France’s Speed Cameras

Yes, this is vandalism and should be punished, but c’mon… aren’t you kind of rooting for them? Speed cameras are just a revenue-generating abuse by government.

Members of the “yellow vests” protest movement have vandalised almost 60% of France’s entire speed camera network, the interior minister has said.

Christophe Castaner said the wilful damage was a threat to road safety and put lives in danger.

The protest movement began over fuel tax increases, and saw motorists block roads and motorway toll booths.

Some protesters feel speed cameras are solely a revenue-generating measure which takes money from the poor.

Saudi Arabia Modernizes

Sort of.

Saudi Arabian courts will notify women by text message when their husbands have been granted divorces under a law that took effect Sunday.

The initiative is aimed at concerns that Saudi men were increasingly neglecting to tell their wives they were divorced.

Lawyer Somayya Al-Hindi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that Saudi courts in the past heard many cases of Saudi women still living with their ex-husbands without realizing they had been divorced.

France to Move to Quash Free Assembly and Speech

Criminal behavior by protesters, like destroying property, trespassing, assault, etc., should be vigorously punished. Forcing people to get a permit from government in order to protest government is an old tool of an oppressive government.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced plans to punish people who hold unsanctioned protests after seven weeks of anti-government unrest.

His government wants to draft new legislation that will ban troublemakers from protests and clamp down on the wearing of masks at demonstrations.

He said 80,000 members of the security forces would be deployed for the next expected wave of protests.

Protesters smashed down the gates to a government office this weekend.

In other chaotic scenes in Paris, demonstrators fought riot police, and cars and motorbikes were burnt.

Socialism is Killing Kids in Venezuela

So sad. So preventable. And yet there are far too many people in our own nation who would vote this catastrophe on ourselves.

Even as Venezuela disintegrates, state media continue to paint a rosy picture of the country’s health service. Officials take to the airwaves each day to wax lyrical about Socialist party support schemes for expectant mothers and the poor.

One recent propaganda video boasted: “If there is one area where you feel and live the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution, it’s precisely in the field of healthcare, from which Venezuelan men and women were excluded for so many decades.”

President Nicolás Maduro claimed earlier this year: “The people’s health is our priority.”

A visit to the hospital where Victoria Martínez spent her final days suggests otherwise.

The burns unit is filled with bandaged toddlers who have stumbled into wood fires or been burned by kerosene lamps – increasingly common sources of fuel and light.

In the paediatric ward upstairs, mothers nurse emaciated babies – socks dangling from their tiny ankles, bones protruding through their flesh – who cannot be hydrated because the hospital cannot even provide a catheter.

One doctor asked: “What blame do these children have for having been born into the wrong era?”

[…]

Another recent report noted that 53% of Venezuelan operating theatres were now closed, 71% of emergency rooms could not provide regular services and 79% of hospitals lacked a reliable water supply.

Meanwhile, medical professionals were joining a historic exodusoverseas: at least 22,000 Venezuelan doctors – 55% of the total – reportedly abandoned the country between 2012 and 2017.

Lesbia Cortez, a healthcare worker at the Catholic charity Cáritas, said: “There are virtually no specialists left.” She estimated that 70% of those she studied with at medical school now practised in Colombia, Argentina or Chile.

She said: “You can’t find a endocrinologist because they’ve gone; a dermatologist because they’ve gone; an oncologist because they’ve gone. The people who work in the dialysis units aren’t there because they’ve left the country too.

Mexico Cuts Taxes to Spur Economy and Discourage Emigration

Even leftist bullies know that lower taxes spur economic growth.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s new leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday decreed tax cuts for northern states that he says will help power economic growth and deter migration to the United States.

An executive order in the government’s official gazette granted lower rates for both value-added and income taxes in more than 40 municipalities bordering the United States, an area that has become a flashpoint over U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies to deter immigrants, including building a wall.

Lopez Obrador’s tax cuts could reduce government tax income during 2019, when he will implement a budget that seeks to use spending cuts to help fund new social welfare and infrastructure projects.

Great Britain Secures Border

Speaking of border security

It comes after at least 221 migrants have attempted to cross the Channel to England since the start of November.

Most recently, 12 people were detained off the coast of Dover in the early hours of Friday morning.

Officials on both sides of the Channel have warned of the dangers of crossing what is the world’s busiest shipping lane in a small boat. Police have likened the journey to trying to “cross the M25 at rush-hour on foot”.

[…]

Bridget Chapman, from the charity Kent Refugee Action Network, said the situation was in part a result of UK measures to “beef up the security around Calais”.

“We’ve put a big fence up to prevent people from accessing trains and lorries and people are resorting to other methods to get here,” she told the BBC.

“It’s winter, but the weather has been quite good. And I expect people traffickers are exploiting people, saying, ‘You know, things are going to tighten up after Brexit, you need to go now.'”

[…]

British and French authorities have both said the rise in crossings is the result of “organised criminality” and “mafia networks”.

[…]

He said: “We need to make it really clear to the migrants and the gangs that if you try and do this you will be detected early, either as you’re preparing to leave or as soon as you’re in the water, and you’ll be returned to France.”

Jumping the Wall

I’m having a hard time mustering sympathy for the poor, oppressed, overweight woman in Nikes trying to illegally enter our country. I fail to understand why I should have to pay more taxes to support her choice to leave her own country.

 

China Cracks Down on Christmas

Be thankful that we live in a nation where we are free to celebrate our faith. It is still unusual in much of the world.

China is cracking down on Christmas. Several cities, schools, and government institutions have ordered citizens not to celebrate the holiday and to instead focus on promoting traditional Chinese culture.

In the northern city of Langfang in Hebei province, city officials ordered all Christmas decorations to be cleared and forbade shops from selling Christmas-themed goods. Officials said the measure was aimed at “maintaining stability” and controlling street hawkers.

In Changsha, in central Hunan province, the education bureau last week issued a directive to schools not to celebrate “western festivals” such as Christmas, including putting up decorations, posting related messages or exchanging gifts. At least four Chinese cities and one county have issued a ban on Christmas decorations, according to Associated Press.

A teacher in Huangshan in Anhui province issued a reminder on Weibo on Christmas Eve to follow a recent notice from the propaganda department not to attend Christmas parties, post related messages on the popular messaging apps WeChat or QQ, or give teachers “peace apples”, a tradition in China. The term for Christmas Eve, pinganye, or peaceful night, is similar to that of the world “apple”.

And it’s a healthy reminder that we must protect our religious liberties.

The principal of Manchester Elementary School – located near Omaha, Nebraska – sent her staff a memo on holiday symbols that does not reflect the Elkhorn Public Schools District’s policies, according to a district statement sent to USA TODAY Friday.

[…]

The lists said winter-themed symbols such as sledding, gingerbread people and snowmen were allowed. But symbols associated with Christmas were not, as to avoid promoting a religious holiday.

The memo at times includes explanations for why certain items were disallowed:

  • Elf on the Shelf  – that’s Christmas-related
  • Candy Cane – that’s Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a “J” for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes
  • Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
  • Reindeer

The memo is signed “the (Unintentional) Grinch who stole Christmas (from Manchester).”

It explains the policies: “I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools … over the years in my educational career, this has evolved into the expectation for all educators.”

Rogue Drones Shut Down Gatwick

Looks like a probe to test responses. Or… some jackass teenagers with a warped sense of humor.

Theresa May has said the government is working with Gatwick to try to resolve the impasse at the airport, which has been closed for more than 12 hours because of drones.

The airport remains closed after what police and the airport described as a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights. Tens of thousands of travellers have been affected and the prime minister said she felt for them, but the government was doing what it could. May also defended the steps already taken to prevent misuse of drones.

[…]

Earlier, he said the drones could not be shot down because of the risk posed by stray bullets.

Brexit Shorthand

The BBC does a nice job of breaking down the latest news about Brexit without overwhelming you with the overheated rhetoric. This is my favorite part.

What was all that nonsense with the mace?

This chaotic and revolutionary-seeming period in British politics was symbolised best, perhaps, by an MP from the opposition Labour Party dramatically grabbing and making off with the ceremonial mace in the House of Commons after Mrs May called off the much-expected vote on her Brexit deal.

The mace represents the Queen in Parliament and debate cannot continue if it is removed.

 

I find infinite fascination in the Brits’ struggles to extricate themselves from being ruled by an overbearing overseas ruler. As Americans, we have some experience with that.

Tone Deaf Macron

Sheesh.

It was the most important TV appearance of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency: the 40-year-old former banker had to prove to an angry nation that he was not an arrogant “president of the rich” and that he understood ordinary French people’s struggle to make ends meet.

Yet Macron’s choice to deliver his prerecorded speech on social inequality from one of the most opulent and golden rooms in the luxurious, 365-room Élysée Palace was not lost on gilets jaunes protesters who have been occupying protest barricades on rural roundabouts.

Indeed, the Élysée Palace, the French presidential residence and workplace that is twice the size of the US White House and costs €104m a year to run, has been the object of fury during the protests. The demonstrations, which began as a citizens’ revolt against a proposed fuel tax on 17 November have quickly morphed into wider anti-government demonstrations against inequality.

[…]

Macron chose to announce his measures aimed at calming the gilets jaunes protests by speaking from the traditional presidential office known as the salon doré, with its gold decorations.

He sat behind the large antique desk that has been used by all presidents since Charles de Gaulle and is the most valuable piece of furniture in the gilded palace. At the edge of the frame was a golden cockerel, the symbol of France, between golden lamps, and three carefully placed antique books. Behind him, just to the right of a pair of ornate gold leaf doors, were the French and European flags.

Protests Continue in France

Of course, now the anarchists have joined in with the legitimate protesters.

PARIS (AP) — Paris tourist sites reopened, workers cleaned up broken glass and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday, a day after running battles between “yellow vest” protesters and police that left at least 71 injured in the French capital and caused widespread damage in cities around France.

The man at the focus of protesters’ anger, President Emmanuel Macron, broke his silence to tweet his appreciation for the police overnight. However, pressure mounted on him to propose new solutions to calm the anger dividing France.

Macron will address the nation “at the very beginning of the week,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday, without specifying a day.

The economy minister lamented the damage to the economy.

“This is a catastrophe for commerce, it’s a catastrophe for our economy,” Bruno Le Maire said Sunday while visiting merchants around the Saint Lazare train station, among areas hit by vandalism as the pre-Christmas shopping season got underway.

[…]

The movement began as a protest against a rise in duties on diesel, which is widely used by French motorists and has long been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel.

Diesel prices have risen by about 23% over the past 12 months – and Mr Macron’s decision to impose a tax increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol from 1 January enraged protesters.

Mr Macron had blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise, but said higher taxes on fossil fuels were needed to fund renewable energy investments.

Um, I don’t know what world Macron lives in, but world oil prices are low.

Tax Riots in France

Meanwhile, in pre-Brexit Europe:

Protesters from France’s “gilet jaunes” (yellow vests) movement have pulled out of a meeting with PM Edouard Philippe scheduled for Tuesday.

Some members of the group said they had received death threats from hardline protesters warning them not to enter into negotiations with the government.

The “yellow vests” have been protesting about a controversial fuel tax since mid-November.

But the protests now reflect more widespread anger at the government.

Three people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism – notably when statues were smashed at the Arc de Triomphe last Saturday – have been widely condemned.

Orangutan Rescued From Sex Slavery

There are some depraved people on this planet.

An orangutan kept as a prostitute in an Indonesian village ‘screamed and defecated’ when the brothel madam who kept her captive visited her in a rescue centre.

Pony, an endangered Bornean orangutan, was discovered in February 2003 inside a darkened room in the village of Kareng Pangi, Central Kalimantan chained to a wall and lying on a mattress.

She had been ruthlessly and abhorrently exploited by local palm oil farmers who would come to the village and pay £2 to have sex with her.

The brother ‘madam’ who enslaved Pony was initially allowed to visit her once a month at a conservation centre to ‘reduce the risk of retribution among villagers’ who were angry she had been taken.

[…]

Having been snatched from her mother when she was a baby, her captors treated Pony extremely harshly – shaving her every two days and forcing her to wear perfume and makeup.

She was even taught to perform sex acts on demand for her customers.

Mexico Suggests Payout to Keep Foreigners Out

Ummmmmmnnnnnnn… no.

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — As Mexico wrestles with what to do with more than 5,000 Central American migrants camped out at a sports complex in the border city of Tijuana, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government signaled Tuesday that it would be willing to house the migrants on Mexican soil while they apply for asylum in the United States — a key demand of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mexico’s new foreign minister also called on the Trump administration to contribute to development projects to help create jobs in Central America to stem the flow of migrants from the impoverished region, suggesting an appropriate figure would start at $20 billion.

The fact that there are thousands of people who want to come to America and that Mexico allowed them to stream across their country does not obligate American taxpayers to pay to fix their home countries.

Border Forces Repel Attempted Incursion

Thankfully, it looks like no Americans were injured in repelling this foreign incursion.

Mexico will deport up to 500 migrants who attempted to storm the US border, according to its interior ministry.

The group were rounded up after trying to cross the border “violently” and “illegally” on Sunday, the ministry said in a statement.

Video footage shows dozens of people – including women and children – running towards the fence that separates the two countries near the city of Tijuana.

They were repelled by tear gas used by US border officers.

Mexico’s interior ministry said in a statement that a group of “nearly 500 migrants” had “tried to cross the border in a violent way”.

Those identified as having taken part in these “violent events” would be deported immediately, it said.

The ministry added that, “far from helping their objectives”, the migrants’ actions had violated the legal migration framework and could have led to a “serious incident”.

Russia Escalates War on Ukraine

There’s still a war going on in Europe and Russia is being… well… Russia.

Russia has fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the Crimean Peninsula in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

Two gunboats and a tug were captured by Russian forces. A number of Ukrainian crew members were injured.

Each country blames the other for the incident. On Monday Ukrainian MPs are due to vote on declaring martial law.

The crisis began when Russia accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its waters.

The Russians placed a tanker under a bridge in the Kerch Strait – the only access to the Sea of Azov, which is shared between the two countries.

Russian jets fly over the bridge, and a tanker is seen under the huge arch of the bridge. Photo: 25 November 2018Image copyrightPHOTOSHOT
Image captionA tanker under the bridge shut all navigation from and into the Sea of Azov

During a meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, President Petro Poroshenko described the Russian actions as “unprovoked and crazy”.

ICE Does Its Job

I didn’t know that church sanctuary was still a thing. In any case, hats off to ICE for finally catching the scofflaw.

An immigrant who sought refuge from deportation in a North Carolina church, staying there for 11 months, was arrested on Friday after arriving at an appointment with immigration officials.

The arrest led to protests and the arrest of some supporters of Samuel Oliver-Bruno, the 47-year-old Mexican national who, according to a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) news release, was detained at a Raleigh-area immigration office.

An advocacy group, Alerta Migratoria NC, said in a statement Oliver-Bruno went to have fingerprints taken so he could apply to stay in North Carolina with his wife and son.

He has been living in CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham since late 2017, to avoid the reach of immigration officers, who generally avoid making arrests at churches and other sensitive locations.

Ice said Oliver-Bruno, who has lived in North Carolina for two decades, had no legal basis to be in the US and had exhausted his “extensive” appeals. In 2014, according to court documents, Oliver-Bruno pleaded guilty to using false documents to try to re-enter the US in Texas.