Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Foreign Affairs

China’s Economy Expands in 2020

It’s almost as if they bounced back while their global agitators pushed to keep Western economies closed.

BEIJING (AP) — China eked out 2.3% economic growth in 2020, likely becoming the only major economy to expand as shops and factories reopened relatively early from a shutdown to fight the coronavirus while the United States, Japan and Europe struggled with rising infections.

 

Growth in the three months ending in December rose to 6.5% over a year earlier as consumers returned to shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas, official data showed Monday. That was up from the previous quarter’s 4.9% and stronger than many forecasters expected.

 

In early 2020, activity contracted by 6.8% in the first quarter as the ruling Communist Party took the then-unprecedented step of shutting down most of its economy to fight the virus. The following quarter, China became the first major country to grow again with a 3.2% expansion after the party declared victory over the virus in March and allowed factories, shops and offices to reopen.

Asking for Consistency. Finding None.

Ouch

So answer me this, all you lofty liberals. I have always despised Donald Trump and the empty-headed movement he created, and I am here quite happy to say that the invasion of the halls of the US Congress by Trump supporters was a grotesque, evil and criminal enterprise, which I utterly condemn without the tiniest reservation.

 

But will you, even now, say that the violent putsch in Kiev, six years ago, was just as wrong?

 

No, you won’t. Because – as your failure to defend liberty shows – you have no real principles. You put them on as fancy dress when you need to pose. But in reality you will do what you have to, to get the power you want. Your outrage is phoney and selective, and I do not trust it.

Another Crackdown in Hong Kong

And the world shrugs.

About 50 pro-democracy activists and politicians have reportedly been arrested in Hong Kong’s biggest crackdown since the introduction of a controversial national security law.

The arrests are said to be linked to an independently organised primary vote.

 

Officers are also understood to have searched the house of the detained democracy activist Joshua Wong, raided a law firm and pressed news outlets to hand over information.

 

It is unclear if these acts are linked.

 

Police have yet to comment on the various moves officially.

 

The Democratic Party’s Facebook page said the arrests were carried out under the security law imposed by Beijing on the territory last June in response to months of pro-democracy protests.

Among those detained are thought to be well-known opposition figures from both the Democratic Party and the Civic Party like James To, Lam Cheuk Ting, and Lester Shum.

Iran Angles for Deal with Biden Administration

They know a pushover when they see one.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran began enriching uranium Monday to levels unseen since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and also seized a South Korean-flagged tanker near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, a double-barreled challenge to the West that further raised Mideast tensions.

 

Brexit Revives Netscape Communicator 4.x

I loved Netscape.

References to decades-old computer software are included in the new Brexit agreement, including a description of Netscape Communicator and Mozilla Mail as being “modern” services.

 

Experts believe officials must have copied and pasted chunks of text from old legislation into the document.

 

The references are on page 921 of the trade deal, in a section on encryption technology.

 

It also recommends using systems that are now vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

 

The text cites “modern e-mail software packages including Outlook, Mozilla Mail as well as Netscape Communicator 4.x.”

 

The latter two are now defunct – the last major release of Netscape Communicator was in 1997.

Russia Underreported COVID Deaths

I know. I’m shocked too. Next thing you know we’ll find out that China is giving fake statistics too.

Russian officials acknowledged on Monday that the nation’s COVID-19 death toll is in fact more than three times what had been previously reported, after months of President Vladimir Putin holding up the supposedly low fatality rate as a marker of the country’s success in battling the pandemic.

 

As The Guardian reported, the state-run statistics agency Rosstat said the total number of deaths between January and November from all causes had jumped by 229,700 when compared with the previous year.

 

“More than 81 percent of this increase in mortality over this period is due to COVID,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, which would indicated a death toll of more than 186,000 Russians, The Guardian reported. The update means Russia has the third-highest number of fatalities in the world, surpassed only by the U.S. and Brazil.

 

Russian officials have so far confirmed more than 3 million cases and only 55,265 deaths, The Guardian noted, a number far lower than other large impacted countries.

Spain is Making Lists of Noncompliant Citizens

Always be wary when the government starts making lists.

Spain is to set up a registry of people who refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus and share it with other European Union nations, the health minister has said.

Salvador Illa said the list would not be made accessible to the public or to employers.

He said the way to defeat the virus was “to vaccinate all of us – the more the better”.

[…]

“It is not a document which will be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection.”

Uh huh. If you believe that the list won’t find its way into the hands of anyone who wants it, I have a bridge to sell you.

EU and UK Make a Deal

Good news!

The EU and UK have reached a post-Brexit trade deal, ending months of disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules.

At a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny.”

The text of the agreement has yet to be released, but the PM claimed it was a “good deal for the whole of Europe”.

The UK is set to exit EU trading rules next Thursday – a year after officially leaving the 27 nation bloc.

Freedom Passports

This is coming. Eventually, it won’t just be about Coronavirus. Fight it now.

Work is being carried out to develop coronavirus freedom ‘passports’ that will allow those who have tested negative to enter pubs, schools and workplaces.

Two firms have been awarded Government contracts for exploratory work on a new app that would allow people to prove they do not have Covid.

The Department of Health said no decisions had been made on introducing the passport.

The contracts envisage a system under which people are assigned a QR code on their smartphones linking to a digital passport that includes a photo of them.

After a Covid test, this would be updated at the test centre and when people want to enter a venue they could present their QR code as proof of their negative status.

The Dreaded Tier 4

The insane response to this virus is not limited to our nation. Britain has gone bonkers too.

The planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas has been scrapped for large parts of south-east England and cut to just Christmas Day for the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.

From midnight, a new tier four will be introduced in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.

Those in tier four cannot mix indoors with anyone not from their household.

Elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day.

[…]

The country is set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December.

For tier-four areas in England, a stay-at-home order has been issued, with exemptions for those who have to travel to work or for education.

Social mixing will be cut to meeting one person in an open public space.

All non-essential retail will have to close, along with hairdressers, nail bars, indoor gyms and leisure facilities.

People elsewhere will be advised not to travel into a tier-four area.

The evidence is now clear that these types of lockdowns do far more harm than good. They have a mixed result in actually stopping the spread of disease, but they have a very certain result in terms of lost wages, depleted savings, hunger, poverty, mental health issues, crime, suicides, and countless other negative results.

Albanians Riots After Police Kill Man for Violating COVID Curfew

This is going to get worse. And this will happen in America if the restriction of civil liberties continues unabated.

Protesters in the Albanian capital of Tirana set fire to a Christmas tree outside the country’s parliament after a man was fatally shot by police for breaking a coronavirus-related curfew.

The death of 25-year-old Klodian Rasha on Tuesday night sparked the protests, with hundreds of Albanians taking to the streets and defying a government ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people due to the pandemic.

Argentina Uses Pandemic to Pass “One time” Wealth Confiscation

Heh

One of the law’s authors said it would only affect about 0.8% of taxpayers. Those affected will pay a progressive rate of up to 3.5% on wealth in Argentina and up to 5.25% on that outside the country.

AFP news agency reports that of the money raised, 20% will go to medical supplies, 20% to relief for small and medium-sized businesses, 20% to scholarships for students, 15% to social developments, and the remaining 25% to natural gas ventures.

They aren’t even pretending that this is for the Rona. Only 40% is going to something that could reasonably be claimed to be related to the virus. And if you think this will be a one time tax, I have a bridge to sell you. Once the tyrants find a new well of money, they will keep going back to it.

What the leftists in Argentina don’t understand (just like the leftists in America) is that people – particularly wealthy people – will react. They will hide their money, shift it overseas, move their businesses overseas, bury their money in the yard… whatever. They will find ways to avoid the tax. And in doing so, the government will not collect as much money as they thought and they will force all sorts of negative economic aftershocks and fuel illegal trade. And how will the little tyrants react? By onerous enforcement and extending the tax to more people. Then there will be more unrest and instability. This cycle has happened a thousand times.

Chief Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed

Some good news.

Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country’s defence ministry has confirmed.

Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has condemned the killing “as an act of state terror”.

Western intelligence agencies believe Fakhrizadeh was behind a covert Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

“If Iran ever chose to weaponise (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb,” one Western diplomat told Reuters news agency in 2014.

[…]

In a statement on Friday, Iran’s defence ministry said: “Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organisation.

“After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Mr Fakhrizadeh was severely injured and rushed to hospital.

“Unfortunately, the medical team’s efforts to save him were unsuccessful and minutes ago he passed away.”

Biden Advocates for Open Border

Between Ireland and the U.K.

(REUTERS) -U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday he did not want to see a guarded border between Ireland and the United Kingdom, adding that he had previously discussed the matter with the British and Irish prime ministers and other European leaders.

Biden had stressed the importance of protecting Northern Ireland’s peace deal in the Brexit process in a call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the month, after Biden won the Nov. 3 U.S. election against President Donald Trump.

Johnson’s government is seeking a trade deal with the European Union but says it is willing to leave without one. That could complicate the situation at the sensitive Northern Irish border with Ireland – the UK’s only land border with the EU.

Biden told journalists in Wilmington, Delaware, that the border must be open.

“We do not want a guarded border,” he said, answering a question from a reporter on what he would say to Brexit negotiators.

I seem to remember the Left getting all in a tizzy about the Trump team talking to foreign leaders in 2016… but here we are.

Should Insurance Cover COVID Business Losses?

Interesting case in the UK.

A hotly-contested case about insurance payouts for small businesses who were unable to trade owing to lockdown heads to the Supreme Court on Monday.

A host of businesses closed or faced significant losses, so made claims on their business interruption insurance.

But many insurers disputed the claims, arguing policies were never meant to cover such unprecedented restrictions.

Supreme Court judges will make a final judgement after the hearing, which is expected to last four days.

The issue will have had implications for 370,000 – mostly small – businesses, and involves potential payouts of £1.2bn.

High Court judges earlier found mostly in favour of insurers having to pay out to policyholders regarding a selection of policy types. Some of these decisions are now being appealed against at the Supreme Court.

This should be a relatively simple case. The contract is the contract and it says what it says. If there is language in the contract that excludes something like a government shutdown due to pandemic, or if there is language that says that “everything not covered is considered NOT covered” then the insurers are off the hook. It would be inappropriate to hold insurers to cover losses for a circumstance that they didn’t agree to cover and for an action that they didn’t cause.

The only question should be, “what is the language of the contract?” If the language is ambiguous and the business owners had a reasonable expectation of the insurers covering their losses, then perhaps the court will rule in the business owner’s favor.

It’s an important case because some judges in the U.S. have shown that they will look to foreign rulings to inform their decisions. Our judges shouldn’t do that, but they do. Watch this case in the U.K. If the High Court forces insurers to pay, there will be a slew of additional lawsuits in the U.S.

Terror Attack in France

We have seen less of this in recent years thanks to the destruction of ISIS and pressure on Iran, but this is still a poisonous, violent ideology. I would also point out to the folks in Philly that you can do a lot of damage with a knife.

France has been struck by two terror attacks within hours of each other as three people were killed – two of them beheaded – in an attack in Nice before a gunman was shot dead by police in Avignon.

The first attack began around 9am at the Notre Dame cathedral in Nice where a knifeman beheaded an elderly female parishioner and a male church warden, fatally stabbed a second woman, wounded several others, and was then shot and arrested by police.

Two hours later, a gunman threatened people on the streets of Avignon – 120 miles from Nice – while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ before he was fatally shot by police.

Europe Locking Down Again

Trump’s fault (or something).

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a second national lockdown until at least the end of November.

Mr Macron said that under the new measures, starting on Friday, people would only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons.

Non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, will close, but schools and factories will remain open.

Covid daily deaths in France are at the highest level since April. On Tuesday, 33,000 new cases were confirmed.

Mr Macron said the country risked being “overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first”.

Meanwhile, Germany will impose an emergency lockdown that is less severe but includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres.

We have reached this false paradigm where politicians think that shutting down the economy and sequestering citizens is the correct policy response to an increase in COVID19 cases despite very little evidence that it is the correct policy prescription.

“Dallas” Brought Down the USSR

Huh.

TV show Dallas was the main reason behind the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, it has been claimed.

Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart said that former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev told him that the 1980s soap opera ‘had more effect’ in ending the Cold War than anything else.

Mr Stewart, 68, said the Gorbachev admitted an illicit broadcast of the US show in Russia had opened his people’s eyes to Western life, and the Texas-based show ‘brought down’ the communist superpower.

[…]

Mr Stewart said it had taken place in the early 1990s just as the Soviet Union was starting to open up. Before then, the Russians had been stopped by the government from listening to Western music or watching TV shows.

He said: ‘He was saying what brought Russia down was they weren’t allowed to see any shows from anywhere and they had in the churches they had giant blockers of signals so they’d only get fed the information from the government.

[…]

‘What Gorbachev was saying it was Dallas the TV show, somebody managed to get a VHS to work and broadcast it to part of Russia and they thought, ”Hang on, that’s how people live in America?”

‘He said that had more effect, that half an hour, than anything else.’

Jews Flee Europe

Interesting 

Between the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, the number of Jews in the world rose to more than 10 million, and climbed further to 16.5 million on the eve of the second world war. Most of the growth was in eastern Europe, then America and then Palestine and Israel.

The murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust reduced the global population to around 11 million, “radically disrupt[ing] what had been up to that moment the continuous build-up and transformation of European Jewry”.

In 1880, 88% of the world’s Jews lived in Europe. By 1945, this share had fallen to 35%, then to 26% in 1970 and to 9% in 2020. Most of this decline happened in eastern Europe, where the share of the global total fell from 26% in 1945 to 2% in 2020.

In the latter decades of the 20th century, the “opening of the doors of the Soviet Union” meant that more than 1.8 million Jews left eastern Europe between 1969 and 2020, resulting in “a drastic shift in the Jewish population’s centre of gravity from the east to the west of the continent”.

Archives

Categories

Pin It on Pinterest