Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Foreign Affairs

Baltimore Biden Flubs Again

The flubs are one thing, but is anyone going to ask why we’re spending $40 billion on infrastructure for the Pacific Islands?


President Joe Biden got briefly marooned while announcing a plan to invest $40 billion in infrastructure for Pacific islands – then skipped over the acronym for the new program he was touting after botching the name during delivery.


Biden announced the Pacific Islands Initiative at the start of a White House summit for Pacific island nations.


‘We call it the P … PI … anyway, doesn’t matter what we call it, but that’s what it is,’ he said.




The acronym comment was just one of Biden’s flubs at the event.


In a bizarre comment, he said he and Mark Brown, the prime minister of the Cook Islands, were both from Baltimore, when neither of them are from Baltimore. Biden spoke of how the two nations would benefit from boosting ties, while announcing diplomatic relations.


‘The real reason is we are both from Baltimore, but that’s a long story,’ he said.


Biden was born in Scranton, which lies north of Baltimore, and attended the University of Delaware, and there was no apparent connection between Brown and Charm City. According to his official bio, Brown is a longtime government employee and former Agriculture minister who studied at Massey University in New Zealand and got an MBA at the University of the South Pacific.


Biden Funds Terrorists in Iran

How much went to the Big Guy? That’s the only rational explanation for a deal this terrible.

Five American citizens being held hostage by Iran will be released in return for the unfreezing of $6 billion held in South Korean banks, the U.S. government announced on Monday – enraging Biden administration critics, particular as the timing coincided with the anniversary of 9/11.


The five U.S. hostages – businessmen Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Shargi, 58; environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67; and two anonymous individuals – will be freed once the money has been transferred from South Korea to an intermediary, Qatar, and then on to Iran.


Five Iranian citizens held in the U.S. will also be released.

Ukranian Defense Minister Sacked

Uh huh.

Speculations about the replacement of Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister since November 2021, have been rife for months.

While personally not accused of any wrongdoing, the man by President Zelensky’s side since day one of the Russian full-scale invasion was seen as unable to stop corruption penetrating his ministry.

Military procurement scandals and accusations of bribery against officials at enlistment centres made him damaged goods in the eyes of Ukrainian society, currently in need of a morale boost in the wake of a slower than expected offensive.

Irrespective of your opinion on whether or not the United States should be funding the Ukranian war machine, it is no secret that the entire government has been riddled with corruption for many, many years. Just accept that billions of dollars have been siphoned into corrupt pockets and our weapons have been sold to bad actors around the world. And yes… it is almost certain that a significant amount of money has made it back into American bank accounts – particularly politicians and their families.

Yes, there is a justification to support the war. I don’t agree with it, but there is a rational argument. But that does not change the fact that we are shoving billions of borrowed dollars and millions of weapons of war through an irrevocably corrupt system. We will be uncovering corruption for years and feeling the negative impact for a generation.

Border Barrier is Working

We have a right and a duty to fortify and protect our border. If someone gets themselves killed while trying to illegally enter our country, that’s on them. Sad to say, but it will take more deaths before people get the message that it is in their best interests to immigrate legally instead of paying a coyote to traffic them across the border.

One body was found stuck in the lines of orange buoys installed by Texas authorities near the U.S.-Mexico border. A second body was discovered separately in the area of the buoys by the Beta Group of Piedras Negras, according to a statement from Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary and Mexico’s Migration Institute.


The Texas Department of Public Safety notified the Mexican Consulate in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Wednesday afternoon that a person was found dead in the southern part of the floating barriers. Members of the Mexican National Institute of Migration’s assistance unit are spearheading efforts to recover the body, according to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


“So far, the cause of death and nationality of the person is unknown,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.


On Thursday, however, a source close to the investigation told ABC News that both of the people found were men. The man found by the buoys was from Mexico and is believed to have been dead for some time. The other man, who was found further away, was from Honduras. He is believed to have died more recently, the source said.




Added DPS Director Steven McCraw: “Preliminary information suggests this individual drowned upstream from the marine barrier and floated into the buoys. There are personnel posted at the marine barrier at all times in case any migrants try to cross.”


The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs repeated its condemnation of the buoys, calling them a “violation of our sovereignty.”

Mexico can get bent.

Canada Legalizes Euthanizing the Mentally Ill

It’s a death cult, and it’s unconscionable.

An expansion of the criteria for medically assisted death that comes into force in March 2024 will allow Canadians like Pauli, whose sole underlying condition is mental illness, to choose medically assisted death.

Canada legalized assisted death in 2016 for people with terminal illness and expanded it in 2021 to people with incurable, but not terminal, conditions. The legal changes were precipitated by court rulings that struck down prohibitions on helping people to die.


The new mental health provision will make Canada one of the most expansive countries in the world when it comes to medical assistance in dying (MAID), according to an expert panel report to Canada’s parliament.

Russian Rebellion

I’m not sure that I trust any of the news coming out of the area – even (especially) by Western journalists – but something is up in Russia. Putin’s response validates that this is a serious threat. Or it could be a planned provocation to give Putin an excuse to seize more power. But does he need more power? He’s proven that he has full control of the nation already. So it maybe that this is exactly what it looks like… an armed rebellion by the Russian power players who are frustrated with Putin’s actions.

ROSTOV-ON-DON/VORONEZH, Russia (Reuters) -Russian military helicopters opened fire on Saturday afternoon on a convoy of rebel mercenaries already more than half way towards Moscow in a lightning advance after seizing a southern city overnight.


President Vladimir Putin vowed to crush an armed mutiny he compared to Russia’s Civil War a century ago.


Fighters from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private Wagner militia were in control of Rostov-on-Don, a city of more than a million people close to the border with Ukraine, and were rapidly advancing northwards through western Russia.


A Reuters journalist saw army helicopters open fire at an armed Wagner column that was advancing past the city of Voronezh with troop carriers and at least one tank on a flatbed truck. The city is more than half way along the 1,100-km (680-mile) highway from Rostov to Moscow.

15,000 Venezuelans Flood Border

We’re being invaded and Biden is inviting it.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Shelters in a Texas city struggled to find space Saturday for migrants who authorities say have abruptly begun crossing by the thousands from Mexico, testing a stretch of the U.S. border that is typically equipped to handle large groups of people fleeing poverty and violence.


The pace of arrivals in Brownsville appeared to catch the city on the southernmost tip of Texas off guard, stretching social services and putting an overnight shelter in an uncommon position of turning people away. Officials say more than 15,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have illegally crossed the river near Brownsville since last week.


That is a sharp rise from the 1,700 migrants that Border Patrol agents encountered in the first two weeks of April, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.


“It’s a quite concerning because the logistical challenge that we encounter is massive for us,” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector.

US and South Korea Sign Nuclear Accord

Wasn’t this the SOP anyway? Also, can South Korea really rely on the US to hold up our end of the bargain if push comes to shove? Do we, Americans, really still want to be on the hook for defending South Korea?

US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol have secured a landmark deal which includes plans to periodically deploy US nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea.

Washington has also agreed to involve Seoul in its planning for any use of nuclear weapons against North Korea.


In return, South Korea has agreed to not develop its own nuclear weapons.


The deal, called the Washington Declaration, will strengthen the allies’ co-operation in deterring a North Korean attack, Mr Biden said.

He spoke on Wednesday during a joint press conference with Mr Yoon, who is in Washington this week to discuss issues including the war in Ukraine, climate change, cyber co-operation and nuclear power.


The South Korean leader said the Washington Declaration – the centrepiece of this week’s state visit – marked an “unprecedented” step to enhance extended deterrence, a commitment from the US to deter attacks and protect US allies using its military power, including nuclear weapons.

Army Can’t Keep Up with Munitions for Ukraine

It would be one thing if Ukraine was paying for this, but they are not. We are. There’s a lot to digest in this story.

The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant is at the vanguard of a multibillion-dollar Pentagon plan to modernize and accelerate its production of ammunition and equipment not only to support Ukraine, but to be ready for a potential conflict with China.


But it is one of just two sites in the U.S. that make the steel bodies for the critical 155 mm howitzer rounds that the U.S. is rushing to Ukraine to help in its grinding fight to repel the Russian invasion in the largest-scale war in Europe since World War II.


The invasion of Ukraine revealed that the U.S. stockpile of 155 mm shells and those of European allies were unprepared to support a major and ongoing conventional land war, sending them scrambling to bolster production. The dwindling supply has alarmed U.S. military planners, and the Army now plans to spend billions on munitions plants around the country in what it calls its most significant transformation in 40 years.




The Army is spending about $1.5 billion to ramp up production of 155 mm rounds from 14,000 a month before Russia invaded Ukraine to over 85,000 a month by 2028, U.S. Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo told a symposium last month.


Already, the U.S. military has given Ukraine more than 1.5 million rounds of 155 mm ammunition, according to Army figures.


But even with higher near-term production rates, the U.S. cannot replenish its stockpile or catch up to the usage pace in Ukraine, where officials estimate that the Ukrainian military is firing 6,000 to 8,000 shells per day. In other words, two days’ worth of shells fired by Ukraine equates to the United States’ monthly pre-war production figure.




The factory — built for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad just after 1900, when the city was a rising coal and railroad powerhouse — has produced large-caliber ammunition for the military going back to the Korean War.


But the buildings are on the National Historic Registry of Historic Places, limiting how the Army can alter the structures.

New Zealand Ceases Livestock Exports


WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s last exports of livestock by sea have been completed and live exports have ceased, its agriculture minister said on Friday, as it fully implemented a ban on export shipments of animals on the grounds of their welfare.


The government announced in 2021 that shipping animals offshore, largely for building herds in trading partners like China, would be halted but farmers would be given two years to transition out of the profitable export business.


“Our position on the map means that the journey to northern hemisphere markets will always be a long one and this brings unavoidable animal welfare challenges,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in a statement announcing that live exports had ceased.

Chinese Police Enforcers Arrested in Manhattan

Concerned yet?

US prosecutors have arrested two men in New York for allegedly operating a Chinese “secret police station” in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighbourhood.

Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, both New York City residents, face charges of conspiring to act as agents for China and obstruction of justice.


They are expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday.


China has previously denied operating the stations, calling them “service centres” for nationals overseas.

Mr Lu of the Bronx and Mr Chen of Manhattan worked together to establish the first overseas police station in the United States on behalf of China’s Ministry of Public Security, the US Department of Justice alleged on Monday.


The outpost was closed in autumn of 2022, the department said, after those involved became aware of an FBI investigation into the station.

“This prosecution reveals the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City,” said Breon Pearce, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn.




According to prosecutors, Mr Lu was closely connected to Chinese law enforcement, and was enlisted to help China with “repressive activities” in the US beginning in 2015, including harassing Chinese dissidents.


In 2018, he allegedly participated in efforts to push a purported Chinese fugitive to return to China, including repeated harassment and threats to the individual and his family, living in China and the US. And prosecutors said he was also enlisted to locate a pro-democracy activist in China. Mr Lu denied these actions when confronted by US authorities.

Finland Opens New Nuclear Reactor

This is the way.

OL3’s operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), which is owned by Finnish utility Fortum and a consortium of energy and industrial companies, has said the unit is expected to meet around 14% of Finland’s electricity demand, reducing the need for imports from Sweden and Norway.


The new reactor is expected to produce for at least 60 years, TVO said in a statement on Sunday after completing the transition from testing to regular output.


“The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilises the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition,” TVO Chief Executive Jarmo Tanhua said in the statement.


Construction of the 1.6 gigawatt (GW) reactor, Finland’s first new nuclear plant in more than four decades and Europe’s first in 16 years, began in 2005. The plant was originally due to open four years later, but was plagued by technical issues.

China Encircles Taiwan

Well, they practice it. Practice makes perfect, eh?

China’s military is rehearsing the encirclement of Taiwan during three days of military drills.

Beijing – which views Taiwan as a breakaway province of China – called the operation a “stern warning” to the island’s government.


The exercises began hours after President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the United States.

The Taiwanese Defence Ministry said 71 Chinese military planes and nine ships crossed the Taiwan Strait median line.

Spy Balloon Worked

I was assured that this wouldn’t happen.

The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so, according to two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official.


China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure-eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time, the three officials said. The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images, the officials said.


The three officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration’s efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.

So… our president allowed the Chinese to spy on us. When caught, we didn’t do anything about it. Who is he working for?

Russia to Use Belarus for Launching Nukes

This is kind of a big deal.

Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, President Vladimir Putin has said.

President Putin said the move would not violate nuclear non-proliferation agreements and compared it to the US stationing its weapons in Europe, according to Russian state media.

Moscow would not be transferring control of its arms to Minsk, he added.

Inflation Tops 10% in UK


U.K. inflation unexpectedly jumped in February, as food and energy bills continued to rise, placing further pressure on households.


The consumer price index (CPI) increased by an annual 10.4%, above the 9.9% consensus forecast among economists in a Refinitiv poll and up from 10.1% in January. On a monthly basis, CPI inflation was 1.1%, exceeding a forecast of 0.6%.

Biden Sends More Money to Ukraine

Taxpayers are bailing out banks and Ukraine while we all go into the poor house.

WASHINGTON — The State Department announced Monday that the U.S. will send Ukraine $350 million in weapons and equipment, as fierce battles with Russian forces continue for control of the city of Bakhmut, and troops prepare for an expected spring offensive.


The latest package of aid includes a large amount of various types of ammunition, such as rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, and an undisclosed number of fuel tanker trucks and riverine boats.

Kennan’s Take on Compromise

Here’s an interesting perspective from Gaddis’ biography of George F. Kennan:


“Foreign policy was not, therefore, a contest of good vs. evil. To condemn negotiations as appeasement, Kennan told a Princeton University audience early in October, was to end a Hollywood movie with the villain shot. To entrust diplomacy to lawyers was to relegate power, ‘like sex, to a realm in which we see it only occasionally, and then in a highly sublimated and presentable form.’ Both approaches ignored the fact that most international conflicts were ‘jams that people have gotten themselves into.’ Trying to resolve them through rigid standards risked making things worse. Evil existed, to be sure: the Soviet regime reflected it, as had Nazi Germany. Sometimes you had to fight it, sometimes you had to deal with it. The important question was ‘what sort of compromises we make,’ not how to ‘escape altogether the necessity of making such compromises.'”

Mexico is Safer than the U.S.


President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has threatened to urge Mexican-Americans not to vote for Republican candidates if they continue their criticism, rejected U.S. official security warnings that depict much of Mexico as a risky place to visit.


“Mexico is safer than the United States,” he told reporters when questioned about the warnings at a news conference. “There’s no problem with traveling safely around Mexico.”




At 28 per 100,000 people, Mexico’s murder rate was around four times higher than in the United States in 2020, according to data published by the World Bank. Homicides fell about 7% last year in Mexico, but the current government is on track to register a record total for any six-year administration.

Make Prison Suck Again

Let’s hope that they can make their country safe for good people.

President Bukele declared a “war on gangs” last March, passing emergency measures which have been extended several times.

The emergency powers have been controversial as they limit some constitutional rights, such as allowing the security forces to arrest suspects without a warrant.

Gang members wait to be taken to their cells after 2000 gang members were transferred to the Terrorism Confinement CenterIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS
Gang members wait to be taken to their cells after 2000 gang members were transferred to the Terrorism Confinement CenterIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS

More than 64,000 suspects have been arrested in the anti-crime drive.

Authorities have said criminal gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio-18 number tens of thousands and are responsible for homicides, extortion and drug-trafficking. The aim of the mass arrests is to make the gangs “disappear altogether”, the government says.



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