Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Terrorist Released Due to “Budget Cuts”

Budget cuts, eh?

Two people were killed and three were injured by Usman Khan, 28, a convicted terrorist who served half of his time.

PM Boris Johnson claimed scrapping early release would have stopped him.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will blame budget cuts for “missed chances to intervene” in a speech on Sunday.

As many as 70 convicted terrorists released from prison could be the focus of the government review.

Khan, 28, who was shot by police on Friday after carrying out the attack, was jailed over a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2012.

He was sentenced to indeterminate detention for “public protection” with a minimum jail term of eight years.

This sentence would have allowed him to be kept in prison beyond the minimum term.

But in 2013, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year-fixed term of which Khan should serve half in prison. He was released on licence in December 2018 – subject to an “extensive list of licence conditions”, Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.

Leonardo DiCaprio Burns the Amazon

Uh huh

Without offering proof, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday said actor Leonardo DiCaprio had funded nonprofit groups that he claimed are partly responsible for fires in the Amazon this year.

Bolsonaro’s remarks about the American actor were part of a wider government campaign against environmental nonprofit groups operating in Brazil.

“DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire,” the president said to supporters in Brasilia.

DiCaprio’s environmental organization Earth Alliance has pledged $5 million to help protect the Amazon after a surge in fires destroyed large parts of the rainforest in July and August. But the actor and committed environmentalist said in a statement sent to The Associated Press Friday his group had not funded any of the two nonprofits named by investigators so far.

“While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted,” the statement read. “The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them.”

Some members of Bolsonaro’s administration argue that civil society groups and environmental laws hinder economic development in the region.

Hackers Disrupt Nursing Homes

Ouch.

Russian hackers are holding hostage data from a Milwaukee-based company that provides technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the country after the company couldn’t afford a $14 million ransom demand.

The hack against Virtual Care Provider Inc., which provides internet security and data storage services to nursing homes and acute-care facilities, means that some locations cannot access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order crucial medications.

Virtual Care Provider Inc. said on its website it was working to restore services after the Nov. 17 attack. In an interview with cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs, who runs the blog KrebsOnSecurity.com, chief executive Karen Christianson said the ransomware attack has affected 80,000 computers.

Some affected facilities could be forced out of business, and patients’ health is at risk if the data is not accessible, Christianson told Krebs.

“We have employees asking when we’re going to make payroll,” Christianson said. “But right now all we’re dealing with is getting electronic medical records back up and life-threatening situations handled first.”

New Asylum Policy Takes Hold

I guess things weren’t so bad in Honduras, after all.

The U.S. is increasingly aligning itself with wealthy countries in Europe and elsewhere to make asylum a more distant prospect.

On Thursday, American authorities sent a Honduran man from El Paso, Texas, to Guatemala. It marked the first time the U.S. government directed an asylum-seeker back to that country under the new policy, which gave him an option to file a claim there. He decided against filing a claim and returned to Honduras, according to Guatemala’s foreign ministry.

Hong Kong Protesters Fight with Arrows and Gas Bombs

This is why we have the 2nd Amendment… so we can use our guns – not arrows – to fight a totalitarian government.

Police have besieged a university campus in Hong Kong occupied by protesters who have been fighting back with arrows and petrol bombs.

Officers have warned that they could use live ammunition if protesters do not stop attacking them using such weapons.

A media liaison officer was earlier wounded in the leg with an arrow near the Polytechnic University (PolyU).

Months of anti-government protests have caused turmoil in the city.

The latest violence is however some of the worst the semi-autonomous Chinese territory has seen since the movement began. The police have become targets for radical demonstrators, who accuse them of excessive force.

Police have so far been responding to violence around the PolyU campus mostly with tear gas and water cannon.

Hong Kong Continues to Rage

Freedom fighters.

A Hong Kong police officer shot a masked protester at point blank range in a shocking skirmish broadcast on Facebook Live on Monday morning.

The outbreak of violence happened at a blockaded junction in Sai Wan Ho during rush hour as a police officer attempted to arrest a masked man during a wild scuffle in the city’s 24th straight weekend of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Footage showed the policeman drawing his sidearm as a second man moved towards the officer in an attempt to liberate his comrade.

The protester appeared to take a swipe at the officer’s pistol and just moments later he opened fire, hitting the masked demonstrator in the torso.

As shrieks pierced the air, other demonstrators rushed at the officer who quickly fired another two rounds.

The masked demonstrator he had originally tried to collar broke free in the struggle but another man went to ground as the shots were fired.

Mormons Fear in Mexico

Sad

By Lizbeth Diaz

COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Members of a breakaway Mormon community tucked in the hills of northern Mexico buried the last of their dead on Saturday after a devastating massacre, and some headed for safer ground in the United States.

Hundreds of friends and family from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border gathered in rural Colonia LeBaron to honor Christina Langford, who died in an ambush on Monday that killed nine. Family members say she exited her car with her arms outstretched to signal she was not a gang member – but not before wedging her infant daughter’s car seat on the floor of the vehicle.

The baby, Faith, was found unharmed in the bullet-riddled sport utility vehicle.

[…]

Tucked away in the fertile valleys of the Sierra Madre mountains a few hours drive south from the U.S. border, the communities stem from the late 1800s, when upheaval over polygamy in the Utah-based church led to their founding.

Shrouded in fog on Saturday morning, LeBaron showed its roots, with some aging buildings appearing to be straight from a Wild West movie set. LeBaron is scattered with signs touting religious life but also advertisements for rodeos featuring alcohol, hinting at traces of secularism.

Agriculture is the heart of the local economy and pecans are among the main crops, with children often helping collect the nuts on their families’ property. Many families send their sons to the United States to work when they get older, though they maintain deep roots in Mexico.

While fears of further violence may send some north, Rosa LeBaron, 65, said she had no doubt the tragedy would bring their community closer.

Twitter Employees Allegedly Recruited by Saudi Arabia

It’s not just social media companies who sell your data. Sometimes, people steal it.

Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying after they reportedly obtained personal account information for critics of the government of Saudi Arabia.

A complaint unsealed on Wednesday in US district court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of thousands of Twitter accounts.

One of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of spying and falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation. He is a US citizen. The other former employee, a Saudi citizen named Ali Alzabarah, was accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

al-Baghdadi Dead

This is a man who perpetrated a terrorist regime and a genocide of non-Islamists. Thanks to our Special Forces for getting this job done.

The fugitive leader of the Islamic State (IS) group has been killed in a US military operation in northwest Syria, President Donald Trump has said.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Trump said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest after being caught at the end of a tunnel by special forces.

Baghdadi came to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a “caliphate” in areas of Iraq and Syria.

Brexit Delayed

Messiest divorce ever

LONDON – In a surprise move, opposition and rebel British lawmakers voted Saturday to postpone an important Brexit vote, legally forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union.

A reluctant Johnson sent a letter requesting the delay late Saturday night, but he also made clear that he personally opposed delaying the U.K.’s exit, scheduled for Oct. 31.

The letter was not signed. It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, arguing that delay would “damage the interests if the U.K. and our EU partners.”

War in Northern Mexico

Authorities tried to arrest El Chapo’s son, who is believed to be running the cartel now. All hell broke loose.

The state government said Mr Guzmán was found in a house by a police patrol on a routine search. It said cartel members subsequently launched the huge attack in an attempt to seize him back from the authorities. Fighters also attacked security forces in other parts of Culiacán.

Witnesses described scenes of panic in the city, a stronghold for the Sinaloa cartel, as families with small children fled from gunfire.

“No one knows what is going on but everyone is afraid and they have told us to not come in to work tomorrow,” Ricardo González, a city resident, told AP.

Footage on social media showed a pick-up truck with a machine gun mounted on the back, in scenes reminiscent of a war zone. Other footage showed families scrambling to take cover under cars and in shops as gunfire roared. In one video, a girl asked her father: “Why are they shooting bullets?”

Sinaloa state’s head of security, Cristobal Castañeda, told the Televisa network that two people had been killed and 21 injured, according to preliminary information.

Pictures showing what appeared to be dead bodies on the streets suggest the death toll could rise.

Some police officers were wounded, local officials said, but would not provide further details.

As fighting brought the city to a standstill, the Sinaloa state government said an unknown number of inmates had escaped from the Aguaruto prison.

It said it was “working to restore calm and order” and called on residents to “remain calm, stay off the streets and be very attentive to official advisories on the evolving situation”.

U.N. Beclowns Themselves (again)

SMH

Venezuela has become the latest accused human rights abuser to win a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. It defeated Costa Rica 105 to 96 in a secret ballot vote inside the UN General Assembly.
In Caracas, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called it a “historic decision,” declaring the election a victory despite “a fierce and brutal campaign led by the United States and its subordinated allied countries.”
However, the election was controversial, with human rights groups reacting fiercely and US Ambassador Kelly Craft describing it as “an embarrassment to the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela.”

Brexit Deal?

Maybe.

After weeks of negotiations that seemed to be going nowhere, another deal was struck on Thursday.

The EU’s top negotiator declared the backstop has been abolished. But not everyone is happy with the replacement.

The new deal means Northern Ireland will stick to some EU rules, while technically still being in the UK customs area. Crucially, some checks will still take place between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Four years after it comes into effect, Northern Ireland’s politicians will have a say on whether to keep the deal going.

The EU is expected to agree to the new deal, if Ireland is happy.

Mr Johnson has until Saturday 19 October to get his deal across the line in the UK Parliament – or else he is legally required to request an extension to Brexit.

MPs in London will decide whether to sit on Saturday to debate the deal in the first Saturday session since 1982 – and that was at the start of the Falklands War.

House Votes in Support of Hong Kong

In a bipartisan voice vote. It’s nice to see that our politicians have more moral courage than our basketball stars.

The bill was supported by Republicans and Democrats and was passed by a “voice vote” in the House of Representatives, meaning a recorded vote was not needed.

“If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyplace in the world,” said house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat, said: “The house just sent a strong message to the people of Hong Kong: we stand with you in the fight for democracy and justice.”

Racism in Football

And we thought we were having a “national dialogue.”

European football’s governing body Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria, charging them with the racist behaviour, including Nazi salutes and monkey chants, of their fans.

The disruption of both teams’ national anthems by opposing fans will also be investigated.

Xi Threatens Violence

Chilling words coming from a tyrant.

China’s President Xi Jinping has issued a stern warning against dissent as protests continue in Hong Kong, saying any attempt to divide China will end in “crushed bodies and shattered bones”.

His comments came during a state visit to Nepal on Sunday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said.

America to Trade Communists for Hong Kong Freedom Fighters

I’d be down for this

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American state department has come up with an ingenious plan to solve China’s democratic protest problems and make our nation great again in one fell swoop.

Through some great negotiating on the part of Donald Trump, we’ve struck a deal to trade all of our country’s Communists for Hong Kong’s democratic protesters.

After the deal was made, the military began rounding up the Communists—who didn’t complain, as they’re all for an authoritarian state—and putting them in cargo planes. They were then flown across the Pacific Ocean and dropped off in Hong Kong before the democratic protesters in China were loaded up into the now-empty planes and flown back to America.

“This is the best deal, maybe ever,” said Trump. “We’ll get rid of some wackos on the left, my buddy Xi will be happy with his new commie followers, and we’ll gain some great new citizens who will be really appreciative to me and never complain about anything. Greatest deal in the history of deals.”

(yes, I know it’s a parody)

U.S. Abandons Kurds

This is horrible from two perspectives. First, we are abandoning a staunch ally in the region. Second, it further encourages Iran to be belligerent against Saudi Arabia and Israel to test America’s resolve to support our allies.

US troops have begun withdrawing from positions in northern Syria, paving the way for a Turkish operation against Kurdish fighters in the border area.

Kurdish-led forces have until now been a key US ally in Syria, where they helped defeat the Islamic State group, but Turkey regards them as terrorists.

The main Kurdish-led group called the surprise US move a “stab in the back”.

But President Donald Trump defended the pullout, saying it was time “to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars”.

The withdrawal represents a significant shift in US foreign policy and goes against the advice of senior officials in the Pentagon and state department. It follows a White House statement issued late on Sunday, saying US troops were stepping aside for an imminent Turkish operation.

Protests in Hong Kong In Spite of Mask Ban

Keep fightin

HONG KONG (AP) — Furiously yelling “Wearing a mask is not a crime,” tens of thousands of masked protesters hit Hong Kong’s rain-drenched streets Sunday in defiance of a new ban on facial coverings. Riot police later swept in with volleys of tear gas and muscular arrests as peaceful rallies again degenerated into widespread violence and chaos in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Instead of deterring rioting and calming anti-government demonstrations that have gripped the international trading hub for four months, the ban that criminalized the wearing of face masks at rallies only redoubled the determination of both peaceful marchers and more radical black-clad youths. The hard-liners again lobbed gasoline bombs and trashed subway stations and China-linked banks in the city.

For the first time in the crisis, men on the roof of one of the Chinese military’s barracks in Hong Kong raised a yellow banner warning protesters they were breaking the law when laser pointers were flashed at the building, according to video broadcast by Hong Kong media.

Police said masked rioters also attacked bystanders, including two men left unconscious after bloody beatings and a woman who took photos of rioting.

A massive peaceful march to the central business district — on streets spray-painted with the word “resist” and hemmed in by high-rises that echoed with protesters’ chants — came as Hong Kong’s High Court rejected a second effort to invalidate the mask ban.

Families Threaten to Import Jihadis into U.K.

If they pull it off, I would prosecute the families for abetting and importing terrorists into the country.

British families are plotting to smuggle relatives who joined Islamic State out of Syria amid a Cabinet row over the issue, intelligence sources claim.

They say there has been ‘chatter’ among those living in the UK about how they can help suspect jihadi family members get back to Britain.

Islamic State members have already been smuggled out of camps where British citizens are held, another western security source said, adding that the ‘window of time for countries to repatriate effectively is closing very quickly’.