Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Foreign Affairs

Prince Charles Supports Euros

That’s not shady at all.

The Prince of Wales accepted a suitcase containing a million euros in cash from a former Qatari prime minister, the Sunday Times has reported.

 

The paper says this was one of three cash donations from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim totalling three million euros.

 

Clarence House said donations from the sheikh were passed immediately to one of the prince’s charities and all the correct processes were followed.

 

There is no suggestion the payments were illegal.

 

According to the Sunday Times, Prince Charles received the three cash donations in person from the former prime minister between 2011 and 2015.

 

It is claimed that on one occasion the money was handed over in a hold all at a meeting at Clarence House. On another, the paper reported the cash was contained in carrier bags from the department store Fortnum and Mason.

British Theater Chain Cancels Showings of Movie about Muhammad’s Daughter

What a shame for liberal thought.

Cineworld has cancelled all UK screenings of a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, after it prompted protests outside some cinemas.

 

The cinema chain said it made the decision “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers”.

 

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition for The Lady of Heaven film to be pulled from UK cinemas.

 

The Bolton Council of Mosques called the film “blasphemous” and sectarian.

 

But House of Lords peer Baroness Claire Fox called the decision “disastrous for the arts [and] dangerous for free speech”, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “very concerned about the growing cancel culture” in the UK.

 

In an email to Cineworld, reported by the Bolton News, the chairman of the Bolton Council of Mosques, Asif Patel, said the film was “underpinned with a sectarian ideology” and “misrepresents orthodox historical narratives and disrespects the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history”.

Biden Rattles Saber Regarding Taiwan

Two concerns

President Joe Biden said Monday that the United States would intervene militarily if China attempts to take Taiwan by force, a warning that appeared to deviate from the deliberate ambiguity traditionally held by Washington.

 

The White House quickly downplayed the comments, saying they don’t reflect a change in US policy. It’s the third time in recent months – including during a CNN town hall in October – that Biden has said the US would protect Taiwan from a Chinese attack, only to have the White House walk back those remarks.

 

During a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Biden was asked if the US would be willing to go further to help Taiwan in the event of an invasion than it did with Ukraine.

First concern, I am not convinced that this is good policy. Our historic commitment to Taiwan is important and has been a stabilizer in the region for almost 70 years. If we do not defend Taiwan, then we are likely to see Japan and Korea rapidly rearm since they can’t rely on American support against a Chinese threat. This could lead to a much wider conflict. But there are a lot of layers of supporting Taiwan before we get to committing American lives to their defense.

Second concern, is anyone else concerned by the statement, “It’s the third time in recent months… that Biden has said the US would protect Taiwan from a Chinese attack, only to have the White House walk back those remarks.” If the president does not set foreign policy, who is? Why is the “White House” (read: nameless functionaries) determining our nation’s foreign policy instead of the president?

Canadian MP Calls into Session from the Thunderbox

Ew.

Liberal MP Shafqat Ali was panned by a Conservative party lawmaker on Friday after colleagues noticed the familiar background of the building’s washroom.

“The camera was mounted on the ledge or ridge on the wall just above the back of the toilet,” a rival MP said.

This is the second Liberal MP in two years to be caught in an embarrassing situation on a Zoom call.

Saudi Arabia to Invest in Israeli Firms

Money melts borders and salves wounded pride. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the start of a thaw. This is a very good signal for the region.

Jared Kushner’s new private-equity fund has secured Saudi Arabia‘s first ever investment in Israel, with plans to distribute tens of millions of dollars to two Israeli firms.

 

Affinity Partners, which has raised more than $2 billion of its $3 billion investment kitty from the Saudi kingdom, will make the investment after Prince Mohammed bin Salman and officials agreed that the fund could be given to Israeli firms, the Wall Street Journal reported.

 

A source knowledgeable on the deal told DailyMail.com that Kushner, a former White House adviser and son-in-law of former President Donald Trump, will pour tens of millions of dollars of the kingdom’s money into the Israeli start-ups to highlight the historic moment between the two countries.

Radiated Russian Soldiers Withdraw

Yikes. One can empathize for the soldiers while still condemning their nation.

Several hundred Russian soldiers were forced to hastily withdraw from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine after suffering “acute radiation sickness” from contaminated soil, according to Ukrainian officials.

 

The troops, who dug trenches in a contaminated Red Forest near the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, are now reportedly being treated in a special medical facility in Gomel, Belarus. The forest is so named because thousands of pine trees turned red during the 1986 nuclear disaster. The area is considered so highly toxic that not even highly specialized Chernobyl workers are allowed to enter the zone.

 

Energoatom, the Ukrainian agency in charge of the country’s nuclear power stations, said the Russian soldiers had panicked and fled.

 

“It has been confirmed that the occupiers who seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and other facilities in the Exclusion Zone set off in two columns towards Ukraine’s border with Belarus. The occupiers announced their intentions to leave the Chernobyl nuclear power plant this morning to the Ukrainian personnel of the station,” the agency said in a statement on Telegram, adding that a small number of Russians still remained at the facility.

Nokia Helped Russia Spy on Enemies

If you think that the big tech companies in the U.S. aren’t doing the same work for the American government, you aren’t paying attention.

Nokia said this month that it would stop its sales in Russia and denounced the invasion of Ukraine. But the Finnish company didn’t mention what it was leaving behind: equipment and software connecting the government’s most powerful tool for digital surveillance to the nation’s largest telecommunications network.

 

The tool was used to track supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Investigators said it had intercepted the phone calls of a Kremlin foe who was later assassinated. Called the System for Operative Investigative Activities, or SORM, it is also most likely being employed at this moment as President Vladimir Putin culls and silences anti-war voices inside Russia.

 

For more than five years, Nokia provided equipment and services to link SORM to Russia’s largest telecom service provider, MTS, according to company documents obtained by The New York Times. While Nokia does not make the tech that intercepts communications, the documents lay out how it worked with state-linked Russian companies to plan, streamline and troubleshoot the SORM system’s connection to the MTS network. Russia’s main intelligence service, the FSB, uses SORM to listen in on phone conversations, intercept emails and text messages, and track other internet communications.

Women Protest for Education

What courage

About two dozen, mainly female, protesters gathered close to the Taliban’s Ministry of Education on Saturday morning, calling on the group to reopen girls’ secondary schools.

 

The Taliban have been widely condemned for issuing a last-minute U-turn earlier this week, ordering them to close, just hours after teenage pupils began to arrive for the start of the new academic year.

 

The protesters chanted, “Education is our right! Open the doors of girls’ schools!” while armed Taliban members looked on.

 

One female teacher attending told the BBC: “When it comes to standing up for freedom and the girls who want to go to school, I’m willing to die.

 

“We are here for the rights of our daughters to get an education. Without that right, we might as well be dead already.”

 

The Taliban has previously broken up demonstrations and detained those involved, but on this occasion the protest was allowed to continue.

First, what courage… these are women who are very likely to be brutalized or killed for speaking out. Yet there they are.

Second, while leftists in America can’t define what a woman is anymore, these women are fighting for basic rights that Americans take for granted.

U.S. Inflation Rate Only Half of Russia’s

We’re closing in fast.

On Wednesday, Russia’s economic ministry said annual inflation had jumped 14.5% in the week ending 18 March – the highest rate since late 2015.

The Federal State Statistics Service said the cost of sugar rose by as much as 37.1% in certain regions of the country and increased by an average 14%.

 

Sugar, which is commonly used to preserve food or make liquor, was the biggest gainer in the week, the government agency found.

The price of onions was the second biggest riser over the week, up 13.7% nationwide and 40.4% in some areas. Meanwhile, nappies were 4.4% more expensivePrices for black tea rose 4% and toilet paper increased by 3%.

Front Line Generals

I wondered why the Russian Generals were in the line of fire.

Russia is believed to be sending its generals to the front line of its war in Ukraine in a bid to bolster low morale among troops.

 

According to Western officials, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has “largely stalled on all fronts”, with Russia making “minimal progress” and suffering heavy losses.

 

The Russian President is said to be frustrated at the lack of progress, which has seen his troops fail to seize any major cities despite heavy bombardment of them.

 

On Thursday Ukrainian officials claimed a fourth Russian general has been killed during fighting in the city of Mariupol.

Putin Takes Dig at Biden

Ouch

“We hear and see statements that are actually personal insults to President Putin,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

 

“Given such irritability from Mr Biden, his fatigue and sometimes forgetfulness…fatigue that leads to aggressive statements, we will not make harsh assessments, so as not to cause more aggression.”

Russians Threaten to Maroon Astronaut

Remember that it was Obama who abandoned the United States’ manned space program and wanted to rely on Russia.

Russia’s space program has apparently threatened to leave an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station as it comes crashing down to Earth in a video shared by Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.

 

Mark Vande Hei, a married 55-year-old father of two from Texas, is scheduled to return to Kazakhstan from the International Space Station (ISS) with two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on March 30 after spending nearly a year on board.

 

But amid United States’ sanctions against Russia for the human rights violations it is committing in its siege of Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has threatened to leave him in space.

Saudi Arabia Executed 81

Saudis gonna Saudi.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency announced Saturday’s executions, saying they included those “convicted of various crimes, including the murdering of innocent men, women and children.”

 

The kingdom also said some of those executed were members of al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and also backers of Yemen’s Houthi rebels. A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iran-backed Houthis since 2015 in neighboring Yemen in an effort to restore the internationally recognized government to power.

 

Those executed included 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis and one Syrian. The report did not say where the executions took place.

 

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

 

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added. It did not say how the prisoners were executed, though death-row inmates typically are beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

“White House is Considering Sending Biden”

What the… his advisors are considering sending him? Set aside the idiotic policy for a moment… who’s driving this ship?

President Biden’s advisors are reportedly considering sending him to Saudi Arabia to push the kingdom to pump more oil as prices soar to over $130 a barrel.

 

As Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. and the rest of the world have imposed harsh sanctions on Moscow that have driven already-high gas prices to their highest in over a decade.

Echoes of Crimea

Eight years ago this week, Putin was invading and taking over Crimea. I wrote a column about it. Here’s a part:

“Hagel proposes downsizing Army to smallest size in decades.” – Associated Press 2/24/14
“Hagel: Dominance of US military ‘can no longer be taken for granted’” – The Daily Caller 2/24/14
“In Crimean capital Simferopol, pro-Russian gunmen seize key buildings.” – BBC 2/27/14
“Obama to Russia: Stay out of Ukraine.” – Politico 2/28/14
“Ukraine erupts as Russian troops take over Crimea.” – New York Post 3/1/14
As American President Obama scolds, Russian President Putin acts. Putin acts without fear of American might because President Obama has proven time and time again that his words have nothing behind them.
[…]
Putin is engaging in realpolitik as America and the rest of the west issues stern warnings and threatens to pull out of the upcoming G8 conference. I’m sure Putin is shaking in his boots at the thought of another gravely-delivered content-free oration from President Obama.
Events do happen in the world that have nothing to do with America or our foreign policy, but this is not one of them. The fact is that Obama’s foreign policy has been an utter failure. He came into office apologetic of America’s might and influence on the world stage. In five years of his administration, we have seen a steady decline in our ability or willingness to influence events around the world.
And now we see the fruit of our president’s intentional neutering of American power in the world. Russia will almost certainly succeed in taking over Ukraine – one way or another. America will stand by and watch with crossed brows and impotent arms. And the downsizing of our military will continue based on fantastical world visions of unicorns and rainbows and glitter emanating from the White House.
When the Eagle sleeps, the Bear rises.
It’s no mystery that as Biden has returned us to Obama’s policies – weaken the military; high oil prices; lead from behind – Putin has returned to conquering his neighbors.

Belarus and Russia Prepare for Western Push

Putin is a prototypical expansionist tyrant of the kind that the world has known since time began. He will keep expanding until he can’t. He is gathering his few allies to prepare for the next step.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says he expects to discuss the possible deployment of Iskander and S-400 defense systems to Belarus with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming days.

 

“[Thursday or Friday] we will talk with the President of Russia about how to strengthen ourselves here in the western direction,” Lukashenko told state news agency Belta Thursday.

 

“Today we consulted with the military, and we see that it would be desirable to put Iskanders [missile systems] there and place a battalion or two with S-400s somewhere so that we can actually monitor the situation all the way to Berlin,” Lukashenko said.

That is not an argument for direct U.S. military action. Russia is still much weaker than it was during the Soviet days. There is a decent chance that they blow their wad in Ukraine if the Ukrainians put up a fight. I’m not confident of that. The next layer is for Western European nations to defend themselves. I don’t think Putin is crazy enough to attack a NATO country yet, but if he has an easy time in Ukraine, he might.

The biggest worry for Americans is the acceleration of Russian cyberwarfare against America’s economy. They are stepping up that effort. This is not WWII. There are more battlefronts.

Decrease in Greenhouse Gases Causes Deadly Flooding

You just can’t win, can you?

Scientists say that a rapid drop in emissions because of Covid played a key role in record rainfall in China in 2020.

The decline in greenhouse gases and small particles called aerosols caused atmospheric changes that intensified the downpours.

 

Hundreds of people died and millions more were evacuated during a summer of record rainfall.

But long-term cuts in emissions are unlikely to trigger similar events.

Australia Reopens its Borders

There was a time when Australia was near the top of places I wanted to go. After seeing how they treated their own citizens, now I’m like… nah, mate… I’m good.

Australia has reopened its international border for the first time in nearly two years, bringing joyful family reunions and a boost to tourism.

The country imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to Covid.

 

Australians and some others were allowed to return from late last year, but most foreigners have had to wait.

There were tearful reunions at Sydney Airport on Monday as hundreds of people began arriving on flights.

Biden Goes to the Mat to Keep Russia Out of Ukraine

Hmmm… why is Biden so hellbent on defending Ukraine? What is our strategic interest? Why is recklessly exposing our spy capabilities to the world?

But now, with growing fears that Moscow is preparing for a full-scale invasion, the Biden administration has abandoned the U.S.’s normally tight-lipped attitude toward releasing intelligence information and is pursuing a strategic — and according to former officials, unprecedented — declassification campaign aimed at exposing Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

 

In recent days, U.S. officials have called out a number of Russian “false flag” operations that they say are designed to provide a pretext to invade Ukraine. These have included allegations of a potential Russian-authored chemical assault designed to look like Ukrainian aggression, and even a plot to create a detailed yet fake movie showing the lethal aftermath of a Ukrainian attack. Officials have also publicly named Russian military intelligence as responsible for a disruptive cyber operation that targeted Ukraine’s defense ministry and banks earlier this week.

 

Experts say the revelations have been aimed at throwing Russia off balance by exposing their plans before they’re brought to fruition — and showing that the U.S. has the capability to surveil many of Russia’s actions.

 

By the end of the Trump administration, U.S. spy agencies had developed a “much better understanding of what the Russians are doing in a strategic sense,” said a former senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive capabilities. “There were some extraordinary sources, obviously those are really fragile, so I’m not sure if those accesses are still in place, but I have to imagine they are.”

It’s also worth noting that last cited paragraph… the Trump Administration had made great strides toward spying on Russia. Once again, the whole “Trump is a puppet of Putin” narrative is a load of whoey.

Ilhan Omar is Right

Blind squirrel and whatnot.

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has come out defending an Ottawa shop owner who made a donation to the Freedom Convoy in Canada.

 

Omar said journalists should not be reporting and publicizing the names of people who made ‘insignificant’ donations.

 

Omar tweeted in response to a newspaper editor from the Ottawa Citizen who had shared a report about Stella Luna Gelato Cafe in Ottawa, which was forced to close down after receiving continual threats.

 

[…]

 

‘I fail to see why any journalist felt the need to report on a shop owner making such a insignificant donation rather than to get them harassed. It’s unconscionable and journalists need to do better,’ Omar said in the tweet on Wednesday evening.

 

‘I wish journalists wrote the articles they think they are writing. Sorry to say it, but your stories aren’t always balanced and often have a clear political bias. Calling it out isn’t harassment or journalist bashing. Everyone has a right to critique your story and its merits,’ Omar wrote hours later on Wednesday night.

 

Archives

Categories

Pin It on Pinterest