Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Mexico Makes Show of Stopping Migrants

Progress

Chaos erupted along a highway in southern Mexico when a caravan with some 1,000 Central American migrants on their way north was intercepted by a special law enforcement unit as the Mexican government escalates efforts to block asylum seekers from reaching the US in response to President Donald Trump’s tariff threats.

The group of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, including many women and children, departed from Ciudad Hidalgo at the Mexico-Guatemala border early Wednesday morning and was bound for Tapachula, the principal city in the region.

The special unit of 200 military police, immigration agents and federal officers formed a blockade about 11 miles outside of Tapachula near the town of Metapa to confront the caravan, which was accompanied by state and local police.

While the vast majority of the migrants complied with law enforcement directives and boarded buses and immigration agency vehicles, some resisted and were wrestled to the ground by unarmed agents.

Mexico’s Porous Southern Border

This is a big part of the problem. If Mexico wants to let them in, then fine. Keep them there.

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico (AP) — About 400 Central American migrants crossed into Mexico on Tuesday with the aim of reaching the U.S. border to request asylum.

Mexican police looked on as about half the migrants crossed the Suchiate River on inner-tube rafts. The mainly Honduran migrants then walked into the border city of Ciudad Hidalgo to rest in the main plaza.

“The federal police asked us where we were from, or if we had any ties to gangs,” said one Honduran, who didn’t want to give his name for fear of reprisals.

The other half of the migrants walked over the bridge that connects Mexico and Guatemala and waited to register at a Mexican immigration office. They included many women and children.

Failure is Not Tolerated in North Korea

Just in case you thought that the Evil Dictator was anything other than an evil dictator.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly ordered the execution of several top officials in March after they were unable to reach an agreement with President Trump at a second summit between the two leaders earlier this year.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday citing a South Korean newspaper that Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea’s special envoy to the U.S., was executed in March along with four other North Korean foreign ministry officials involved in the Hanoi, Vietnam, summit.

China Threatens US Over Rare Earth Metals

It is not impossible, but it is very difficult to win a trade war against a totalitarian regime. Their leaders can withstand decades of a down economy because they never have to stand for election. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try for vbetter terms and look for alternative trade partners. China only controls about a third of the known rare earth metal deposits, but that’s mainly because they are willing to take on the high cost and negative environmental consequences to mine them. If China pulls back, it opens the market for other countries to get in. Unfortunately, that will take years.

A Chinese state-run newspaper has warned the U.S. not to underestimate Beijing’s capabilities with its resources of rare earth minerals during a trade war between the two countries.

People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China‘s ruling Communist Party, hinted serious consequences to the Trump Administration using a diplomatic term usually reserved by Beijing to signal the start of an armed warfare.

‘Don’t say we didn’t warn you!’ The newspaper said in a commentary today as it commented on the possibility of China suspending its exports of rare earths to the U.S.

EU Lurches to the Edges

It’s going to be an interesting time in Europe.

For the first time the big centrist blocs no longer have a majority. The European Parliament elections boosted nationalists, the Greens and liberals.

It leaves the EU more fragmented, so finding consensus may be harder than in the past.

Drone Warning

Yikes.

‘Be cautious when purchasing [drone] technology from Chinese manufacturers as they can contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself,’ the advisory says.

The warning from U.S. DHS that’s titled ‘Chinese Manufactured Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ warns that sensitive flight data might be sent to their manufacturers in China, where it can be accessed by the government

DJI drones at the 3rd World Intelligence Congress, one of the most important hi-tech exhibitions in China showing the latest development and innovations in Intelligence technology, was held in Tianjin from May 16 to May 19

‘Organisations that conduct operations impacting national security or the Nation’s critical functions must remain especially vigilant as they may be at greater risk of espionage and theft of proprietary information,’ the alert also adds.

Nearly 80% of the drones used in the U.S. and Canada come from DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, as reported by CNN.

Conservatives Win Majorities in Australia

Do you notice how when conservatives win the media always portrays it as a “shock” or “unexpected” or “surprise?” It is their way of continuing to portray conservatives as out of the mainstream or unnatural – as if electoral victories by conservatives are wrong. The only thing that makes it a surprise is that their polls are as biased as their reporting so the reporters didn’t see it coming.

Australia’s ruling conservative coalition is set to secure a governing majority in its shock election victory over the centre-left Labor Party, the national broadcaster ABC projected Monday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition will hold at least 77 seats in the 151-member lower house, one more than needed to govern on its own, ABC’s election analysts projected.

The coalition will not hold a majority in the Senate, the upper house, meaning it will need the support of independents and minor parties to pass legislation.

Royal Baby Born in Private Hospital

It’s worth pointing out that even in a country with socialized healthcare, rich folks don’t use it because they don’t have to.

Meghan’s hopes of a home birth were dashed when she was taken to hospital on Sunday by Harry and their Scotland Yard security team.

The Mail understands that the Duchess of Sussex – who was a week overdue – was whisked off amid such secrecy that even senior royals weren’t told.

It is understood she was taken to a London hospital – most likely the Portland – where even a ‘basic’ delivery costs upwards of £15,000. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were delivered there.

Muduro Continues Violent Crushing of Democracy

We’re behind the freedom-loving people of Venezuela. I pray they are able to cast off the yoke of oppression.

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro says he has defeated an “attempted coup” by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Dozens of National Guardsmen sided with the opposition in clashes on Tuesday that injured more than 100 people.

But in a defiant TV address, President Maduro said Mr Guaidó had failed to turn the military against him.

Mr Guaidó insists that Mr Maduro has lost control of the armed forces. The opposition leader called for more streets protests on Wednesday.

“Today we continue,” he tweeted. “We will keep going with more strength than ever, Venezuela.”

Mr Guaidó has been recognised as interim leader of Venezuela by more than 50 countries, including the US, the UK and most in Latin America.

Sri Lankan Authorities Try to Root Out Rot

It’s not over

Militants linked to Easter suicide bombings opened fire and set off explosives during a raid by Sri Lankan security forces on a house in the country’s east, leaving behind a grisly discovery Saturday: 15 bodies, including six children.

The gun battle that began Friday night and the carnage that followed come amid widespread fear of more attacks as officials hunt for militants with explosives believed to still be at large after the coordinated bombings of churches and luxury hotels that killed more than 250 people last weekend.

Raids and police curfews have shut down areas of eastern Sri Lanka, and Catholic leaders have canceled Sunday Masses indefinitely. Officials also urged Muslims to stay home for prayers in an extraordinary call by the clergy to curtail worship.

It’s a shame that violent Muslims are denying Catholics their right to worship in peace.

Deadly Easter Explosions Rip Across Sri Lanka

Prayers for our Christian family who are suffering this Easter Day.

The first reports of explosions came at about 08:45 (03:15 GMT) local time – with six blasts reported within a small space of time.

Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services and blasts also rocked the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the country’s capital.

As police hunted those responsible, two further explosions were reported.

One blast hit near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, and an eighth was reported near the Colombo district of Dematagoda during a police raid, killing three officers.

It remains unclear who was behind the attacks, but 13 arrests were made by police on Sunday.

The government has said they believe suicide bombs were used at some of the sites.

Mexico to Try to Restrict Central American Illegals to South

Well, it’s something… maybe.

Mexico City (AFP) – Mexico said Wednesday that central American migrants will be given “regional visitor cards” near the Guatemalan border that restrict their movement to the south of the country, impeding their ability to reach the United States.

The restriction will be a blow to tens of thousands of migrants, fleeing the poverty and violence at home, who enter southern Mexico and travel across the country in so-called “caravans” in an attempt to seek asylum in the US.

The cards will be given out in the southeastern city of Tapachula, where Mexican media report there are around 5,000 would-be migrants planning to head to the US.

[…]

US President Donald Trump has warned of a raft of sanctions — including closing official border crossings — unless Mexico cracks down on migrants.

[…]

It is not clear what effect issuing regional visitor cards will have on the caravans given many of the migrants have entered Mexico illegally anyway.

Critics Say Notre Dame Donations Should be Used for the Poor

Oh, fer cryin’ out loud.

Paris (AFP) – France’s culture minister pleaded Thursday for an end to the controversy over the 850 million euros (950 million dollars) pledged to restore Notre-Dame cathedral, which critics have suggested would be better spent on the poor.

Some of France’s biggest companies and billionaires, including luxury goods tycoons Francois-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault, have pledged amounts of 100 million euros or more to rebuild the landmark after it was gutted by fire on Monday evening.

The vast sums have drawn fire in a country where wealth inequality and the plight of the low-income households have been highlighted during five months of demonstrations by “yellow vest” protesters.

“This pointless debate consists of saying ‘it’s too much money for Notre-Dame even though there are needs elsewhere’ — of course there’s a need for money for the social system, for health, the fight against climate change,” Culture Minister Franck Riester told RMC radio.

“But let’s leave this extraordinary show of generosity to run its course,” he pleaded.

He said Notre-Dame was “not only old stones. It’s a part of our identity, it’s our nation, European culture.”

Notre-Dame Burns

So, so, tragic. This architectural gem has been a significant part of western civilization for centuries.

A fire has broken out at the famous Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris and has spread rapidly across the building.

The cause is not yet clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work.

A major operation to tackle the blaze is under way at the 850-year-old Gothic building, but the cathedral’s spire and roof have collapsed.

You can see the images here. The damage is extensive.

Ecuador Acuses Assange of Spying

I’m fairly sure that Assange has managed to tick off just about everyone now.

President Moreno – who came to power in 2017 – said of the decision to end Assange’s seven-year stay in the embassy: “Any attempt to destabilise is a reprehensible act for Ecuador, because we are a sovereign nation and respectful of the politics of each country.”

He added: “We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a centre for spying.”

The president also made references to Assange’s apparently poor hygiene following allegations made by Ecuador’s interior minister, Maria Paula Romo.

Umbrella Movement Leaders Convicted

This is your reminder that China is still a communist regime.

Nine pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been found guilty of public nuisance charges for their role in a civil disobedience movement that called for free elections in the city.

Among them are three prominent activists, seen as figureheads of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

They could be jailed for up to seven years for their part in the “Umbrella Movement” protests of 2014.

Thousands marched demanding the right for Hong Kong to choose its own leader.

Those convicted include the so-called “Occupy trio” – sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75.

U.S. Cuts off Aid to Northern Triangle

Good. But we also need to do something with Mexico for allowing these caravans to traverse the length of their country unmolested. These countries are free to have whatever policies they want, but the American taxpayers don’t have to pay for it.

(CNN)The United States is cutting off aid to the Northern Triangle, otherwise known as the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the State Department told CNN Saturday, one day after President Donald Trump said they had “set up” migrant caravans for entry into the United States.

[…]

Officials would not say exactly how much money would be affected by the directive with some of it likely already spent. Between last year and this year, about $1.3 billion was allocated to the region with the vast majority of it going to those three countries, according to a study from the Congressional Research Service.

House Rejects All Brexit Options

What a mess.

A series of votes on Brexit options – known as “indicative” votes, designed to see what MPs would and would not support amid the Brexit deadlock – were held on Wednesday evening in the House of Commons, the main decision-making body of the UK Parliament, following hours of debate.

Unusually, MPs indicated their preferences using printed voting forms rather than trooping through the voting lobbies of the chamber.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the results, revealing that MPs had rejected:

  • Leaving the EU with no deal on 12 April
  • Unilaterally dropping the plan to leave the EU if no deal is reached by 12 April
  • A new referendum on any deal/s to leave the EU
  • Leaving the EU but staying in a customs union with the 27 EU states
  • Two variations on leaving the EU but staying in the European Economic Area (EEA) and rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
  • Negotiating changes to the Withdrawal Agreement more in line with the Labour Party’s position
  • Agreeing with the EU a period of two years in which UK goods have full access to EU markets

MPs from Mrs May’s Conservative Party were allowed by the leadership to vote as they saw fit, with the exception of her most senior ministers, who were expected to abstain.

[…]

The UK could still leave with no deal on 12 April if a way forward is not found. Although this is now regarded as unlikely, given the opposition of most MPs, by what method this can be avoided – and even who will be in charge of the process – is not entirely clear.

Brexit March

Not that I planned it, but I was in London for the gigantic anti-Brexit march that happened yesterday. My hotel was on Piccadilly across the park from Buckingham Palace. The march went right in front of my hotel. I skipped over to the City of London to escape most of the craziness, but was able to enjoy some fun protest signs. It took every fiber of my being to resist slipping in with a sign that said, “I’m American! I’m indifferent!”

 

House Speaker Triggers Constitutional Crisis

In Britain.

The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal.

With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal.

John Bercow’s shock move, which drew immediate criticism from May’s allies, suggested he believed such a fundamental change would involve a renegotiation at EU level rather than clarification of the legal advice written by the attorney general, something that had been suggested this week.

The solicitor general, Robert Buckland, said the decision was a “constitutional crisis” and that the government might have to consider the drastic step of ending the parliamentary session early and restarting a new session.