Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

“Death to America”

Yup. They’re still at it.

Crowds chanted ‘Death to America, death to Israel’ as hundreds of thousands of Iranians gathered at rallies to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Ceremonies were held across the state today to observe the anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the triumph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who led the coup.

Iran’s army declared its neutrality on February 11, 1979 and paved the way for the collapse of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – the closest ally of the US in the Middle East.

Trump Open to Use of Military in Venezuela

While I support and pray for the opposition in Venezuela to succeed in casting off the yoke of oppression, I oppose direct military intervention by the U.S. Supplies, logistical support, aid… yes. Military on the ground… no.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump said that the use of US military force in Venezuela is still on the table amid its ongoing political crisis and that he turned down a meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro several months ago.

The President’s comments came in an interview taped Friday with CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” in which he also declined to say what would cause him to use the military in Venezuela, noting only that “it’s an option” for his administration.
When Brennan asked Trump what would make him use military force in the country and what the national security interest for such action would be, he said, “Well, I don’t want to say that, but certainly it’s something that on the — it’s an option,” according to the transcript of the interview.

Invasion Continues at Southern Border

It won’t stop until we stop it.

MEXICO CITY — Thousands of U.S.-bound Central American migrants resumed their northern journey on Thursday, Mexico City officials said, part of a growing group of would-be asylum seekers who say they are fleeing violence and poverty back home.

Around 2,400 migrants left a city shelter to begin the journey from the Mexican capital early Thursday morning, the latest caravan to embark upon the risky path to the U.S.-Mexican border despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s determination to prevent them from entering.

Since last October, thousands of mostly Central American migrants have sought to cross into the United States, many traveling in caravans in order to minimize the risks of kidnapping and attacks by members of criminal gangs while in Mexican territory.

US Charges Huawei For Fraud and Theft

Good.

The US Justice Department has filed a host of criminal charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The charges against the world’s second largest smartphone maker include accusations of bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology.

The case could ratchet up tensions between China and the US, and impact the firm’s global expansion efforts.

Both Ms Meng and Huawei deny the allegations.

Ms Meng was arrested in Canada last month at the request of the US for allegedly evading sanctions on Iran.

“For years, Chinese firms have broken our export laws and undermined sanctions, often using US financial systems to facilitate their illegal activities. This will end,” said US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

CNN Does Best to Spin Venezuela

Despite 20 years of the Left celebrating Socialist Venezuela, now they are trying to claim that something else caused the misery currently being felt. Yes, it is about yet another failure of socialism. Sadly, history is full of failed socialist nations.

As the dispute over who should lead Venezuela escalated to a larger geopolitical struggle between the United States, Russia, China and others, we spent nearly a week inside the country attending protests, talking to soldiers, meeting rich and poor. Their live crisis is not about the fate of socialism in South America, or Cold War-era geopolitics, they told us. It is a very simple emergency of hunger.
The average Venezuelan lost an average of 11 kilos (24 pounds) in 2017, the result of years of inflation, economic mismanagement and corruption. Venezuela was once the richest petrostate in the region, but in one Caracas supermarket last week, no eggs or bread could be found. A modest basket of water, nuts, cheese, ham and fruit cost $200 US.

Venezuelans Yearn to Breathe Free

May God help them cast off the yoke of tyranny. I’m proud of my nation for supporting the champions of liberty.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has broken off relations with the US after it recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim leader.

Mr Maduro gave US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country but the US said the “former president” no longer had the authority to order them out.

On Wednesday, Mr Guaidó had declared himself president during mass protests.

The US has urged the military to back Mr Guaidó, but so far it has remained loyal to Mr Maduro.

Mr Maduro took office in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chávez. He was sworn in for a second term this month after elections last May that were marred by an opposition boycott and widespread claims of vote-rigging.

Venezuela has been in economic freefall. Hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of basic items have driven millions of people from the country.

Murders Soar in Mexico

Ouch.

Mexico City (AFP) – Mexico suffered a record 33,341 homicides in 2018, according to official statistics released Monday, breaking the record set in 2017, as violence fueled by a war on the country’s powerful drug cartels plagues the country.

More than 200,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug trafficking in 2006. The previous record was 28,866 homicides in 2017.

The new record shows the grim challenge facing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist who took office in December with a promise to curb the gruesome violence.

His strategy is built on creating a national guard that will officially bring civilian police duties under military control.

It is worth noting that Mexico has very strict gun control laws. It is almost as if criminals and cartel thugs don’t obey those laws.

Moose Envy

Heh.

For three decades, the Canadian city of Moose Jaw took pride in its status as the home of the world’s largest moose statue.

Standing at a majestic 10 meters tall, Mac the Moose has weathered brutal winters, graffiti and even the inglorious loss of his jaw. His recognition was so great that in 2013, he was named the city’s most popular celebrity.

But status and renown can be fleeting.

In 2015, Norway responded with its own moose sculpture – Storelgen, or “Big Elk” – a glitzy stainless steel bull, erected with the explicit aim of surpassing Mac’s height and stealing his place in the record books.

Now, however, the Canadians are fighting back, after a pair of comedians called Norway’s statue “an egregious offence” and pleaded with Moose Jaw residents to restore the city’s stolen glory.

“You are a city famous around the world for the glorious name of Moose Jaw,” Justin Reves told residents in a video posted to Facebook. “And everyone that comes by, knows that this should be the world’s tallest moose.”

Standing in front of a forlorn Mac, Reves and colleague Greg Moore implored the residents to act quickly by adding 31cm to Mac, to “stick it to Oslo”.

Jihadists Attack Hotel in Nairobi

It’s a never-ending fight.

At least 21 people were killed when Somali militants stormed a luxury hotel compound in Nairobi, Kenya’s government has confirmed.

Hundreds were forced to flee the bloodshed at the DusitD2 hotel and business complex on Tuesday.

Some 28 injured people have been admitted to hospital, and Kenya’s Red Cross said 19 are still missing.

Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabab said it was behind the attack, which triggered a 19-hour security operation.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the siege ended with five jihadist attackers “eliminated”.

Kenya has been a target for al-Shabab since October 2011, when it sent its army into Somalia to fight the jihadist group.

Yellow Vests Disable 60% of France’s Speed Cameras

Yes, this is vandalism and should be punished, but c’mon… aren’t you kind of rooting for them? Speed cameras are just a revenue-generating abuse by government.

Members of the “yellow vests” protest movement have vandalised almost 60% of France’s entire speed camera network, the interior minister has said.

Christophe Castaner said the wilful damage was a threat to road safety and put lives in danger.

The protest movement began over fuel tax increases, and saw motorists block roads and motorway toll booths.

Some protesters feel speed cameras are solely a revenue-generating measure which takes money from the poor.

Saudi Arabia Modernizes

Sort of.

Saudi Arabian courts will notify women by text message when their husbands have been granted divorces under a law that took effect Sunday.

The initiative is aimed at concerns that Saudi men were increasingly neglecting to tell their wives they were divorced.

Lawyer Somayya Al-Hindi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that Saudi courts in the past heard many cases of Saudi women still living with their ex-husbands without realizing they had been divorced.

France to Move to Quash Free Assembly and Speech

Criminal behavior by protesters, like destroying property, trespassing, assault, etc., should be vigorously punished. Forcing people to get a permit from government in order to protest government is an old tool of an oppressive government.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced plans to punish people who hold unsanctioned protests after seven weeks of anti-government unrest.

His government wants to draft new legislation that will ban troublemakers from protests and clamp down on the wearing of masks at demonstrations.

He said 80,000 members of the security forces would be deployed for the next expected wave of protests.

Protesters smashed down the gates to a government office this weekend.

In other chaotic scenes in Paris, demonstrators fought riot police, and cars and motorbikes were burnt.

Socialism is Killing Kids in Venezuela

So sad. So preventable. And yet there are far too many people in our own nation who would vote this catastrophe on ourselves.

Even as Venezuela disintegrates, state media continue to paint a rosy picture of the country’s health service. Officials take to the airwaves each day to wax lyrical about Socialist party support schemes for expectant mothers and the poor.

One recent propaganda video boasted: “If there is one area where you feel and live the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution, it’s precisely in the field of healthcare, from which Venezuelan men and women were excluded for so many decades.”

President Nicolás Maduro claimed earlier this year: “The people’s health is our priority.”

A visit to the hospital where Victoria Martínez spent her final days suggests otherwise.

The burns unit is filled with bandaged toddlers who have stumbled into wood fires or been burned by kerosene lamps – increasingly common sources of fuel and light.

In the paediatric ward upstairs, mothers nurse emaciated babies – socks dangling from their tiny ankles, bones protruding through their flesh – who cannot be hydrated because the hospital cannot even provide a catheter.

One doctor asked: “What blame do these children have for having been born into the wrong era?”

[…]

Another recent report noted that 53% of Venezuelan operating theatres were now closed, 71% of emergency rooms could not provide regular services and 79% of hospitals lacked a reliable water supply.

Meanwhile, medical professionals were joining a historic exodusoverseas: at least 22,000 Venezuelan doctors – 55% of the total – reportedly abandoned the country between 2012 and 2017.

Lesbia Cortez, a healthcare worker at the Catholic charity Cáritas, said: “There are virtually no specialists left.” She estimated that 70% of those she studied with at medical school now practised in Colombia, Argentina or Chile.

She said: “You can’t find a endocrinologist because they’ve gone; a dermatologist because they’ve gone; an oncologist because they’ve gone. The people who work in the dialysis units aren’t there because they’ve left the country too.

Mexico Cuts Taxes to Spur Economy and Discourage Emigration

Even leftist bullies know that lower taxes spur economic growth.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s new leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday decreed tax cuts for northern states that he says will help power economic growth and deter migration to the United States.

An executive order in the government’s official gazette granted lower rates for both value-added and income taxes in more than 40 municipalities bordering the United States, an area that has become a flashpoint over U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies to deter immigrants, including building a wall.

Lopez Obrador’s tax cuts could reduce government tax income during 2019, when he will implement a budget that seeks to use spending cuts to help fund new social welfare and infrastructure projects.

Great Britain Secures Border

Speaking of border security

It comes after at least 221 migrants have attempted to cross the Channel to England since the start of November.

Most recently, 12 people were detained off the coast of Dover in the early hours of Friday morning.

Officials on both sides of the Channel have warned of the dangers of crossing what is the world’s busiest shipping lane in a small boat. Police have likened the journey to trying to “cross the M25 at rush-hour on foot”.

[…]

Bridget Chapman, from the charity Kent Refugee Action Network, said the situation was in part a result of UK measures to “beef up the security around Calais”.

“We’ve put a big fence up to prevent people from accessing trains and lorries and people are resorting to other methods to get here,” she told the BBC.

“It’s winter, but the weather has been quite good. And I expect people traffickers are exploiting people, saying, ‘You know, things are going to tighten up after Brexit, you need to go now.'”

[…]

British and French authorities have both said the rise in crossings is the result of “organised criminality” and “mafia networks”.

[…]

He said: “We need to make it really clear to the migrants and the gangs that if you try and do this you will be detected early, either as you’re preparing to leave or as soon as you’re in the water, and you’ll be returned to France.”

Jumping the Wall

I’m having a hard time mustering sympathy for the poor, oppressed, overweight woman in Nikes trying to illegally enter our country. I fail to understand why I should have to pay more taxes to support her choice to leave her own country.

 

China Cracks Down on Christmas

Be thankful that we live in a nation where we are free to celebrate our faith. It is still unusual in much of the world.

China is cracking down on Christmas. Several cities, schools, and government institutions have ordered citizens not to celebrate the holiday and to instead focus on promoting traditional Chinese culture.

In the northern city of Langfang in Hebei province, city officials ordered all Christmas decorations to be cleared and forbade shops from selling Christmas-themed goods. Officials said the measure was aimed at “maintaining stability” and controlling street hawkers.

In Changsha, in central Hunan province, the education bureau last week issued a directive to schools not to celebrate “western festivals” such as Christmas, including putting up decorations, posting related messages or exchanging gifts. At least four Chinese cities and one county have issued a ban on Christmas decorations, according to Associated Press.

A teacher in Huangshan in Anhui province issued a reminder on Weibo on Christmas Eve to follow a recent notice from the propaganda department not to attend Christmas parties, post related messages on the popular messaging apps WeChat or QQ, or give teachers “peace apples”, a tradition in China. The term for Christmas Eve, pinganye, or peaceful night, is similar to that of the world “apple”.

And it’s a healthy reminder that we must protect our religious liberties.

The principal of Manchester Elementary School – located near Omaha, Nebraska – sent her staff a memo on holiday symbols that does not reflect the Elkhorn Public Schools District’s policies, according to a district statement sent to USA TODAY Friday.

[…]

The lists said winter-themed symbols such as sledding, gingerbread people and snowmen were allowed. But symbols associated with Christmas were not, as to avoid promoting a religious holiday.

The memo at times includes explanations for why certain items were disallowed:

  • Elf on the Shelf  – that’s Christmas-related
  • Candy Cane – that’s Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a “J” for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes
  • Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
  • Reindeer

The memo is signed “the (Unintentional) Grinch who stole Christmas (from Manchester).”

It explains the policies: “I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools … over the years in my educational career, this has evolved into the expectation for all educators.”

Rogue Drones Shut Down Gatwick

Looks like a probe to test responses. Or… some jackass teenagers with a warped sense of humor.

Theresa May has said the government is working with Gatwick to try to resolve the impasse at the airport, which has been closed for more than 12 hours because of drones.

The airport remains closed after what police and the airport described as a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights. Tens of thousands of travellers have been affected and the prime minister said she felt for them, but the government was doing what it could. May also defended the steps already taken to prevent misuse of drones.

[…]

Earlier, he said the drones could not be shot down because of the risk posed by stray bullets.

Brexit Shorthand

The BBC does a nice job of breaking down the latest news about Brexit without overwhelming you with the overheated rhetoric. This is my favorite part.

What was all that nonsense with the mace?

This chaotic and revolutionary-seeming period in British politics was symbolised best, perhaps, by an MP from the opposition Labour Party dramatically grabbing and making off with the ceremonial mace in the House of Commons after Mrs May called off the much-expected vote on her Brexit deal.

The mace represents the Queen in Parliament and debate cannot continue if it is removed.

 

I find infinite fascination in the Brits’ struggles to extricate themselves from being ruled by an overbearing overseas ruler. As Americans, we have some experience with that.

Tone Deaf Macron

Sheesh.

It was the most important TV appearance of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency: the 40-year-old former banker had to prove to an angry nation that he was not an arrogant “president of the rich” and that he understood ordinary French people’s struggle to make ends meet.

Yet Macron’s choice to deliver his prerecorded speech on social inequality from one of the most opulent and golden rooms in the luxurious, 365-room Élysée Palace was not lost on gilets jaunes protesters who have been occupying protest barricades on rural roundabouts.

Indeed, the Élysée Palace, the French presidential residence and workplace that is twice the size of the US White House and costs €104m a year to run, has been the object of fury during the protests. The demonstrations, which began as a citizens’ revolt against a proposed fuel tax on 17 November have quickly morphed into wider anti-government demonstrations against inequality.

[…]

Macron chose to announce his measures aimed at calming the gilets jaunes protests by speaking from the traditional presidential office known as the salon doré, with its gold decorations.

He sat behind the large antique desk that has been used by all presidents since Charles de Gaulle and is the most valuable piece of furniture in the gilded palace. At the edge of the frame was a golden cockerel, the symbol of France, between golden lamps, and three carefully placed antique books. Behind him, just to the right of a pair of ornate gold leaf doors, were the French and European flags.