Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Foreign Affairs

UK Borrows At Highest Level Since WWII

It’s almost as if China was trying to crush Western civilization by launching a biological attack supported by propaganda.

The cost of measures to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic has pushed government borrowing to the highest level since the end of World War Two.

Government borrowing – the difference between spending and tax income – hit £303.1bn in the year to March, the Office for National Statistics said.

 

Compared to the previous year, borrowing is nearly £250bn higher.

 

Measures such as furlough payments have hit government finances hard.

Borrowing hit £28bn in March alone – a record high for that month.

Russian Hit Men Linked to Arms Depot Explosion… Allegedly

The KGB Cold Warrior continues his old ways. But the war is getting hotter.

Two Russian men suspected of carrying out the 2018 Salisbury poisonings are being linked to an explosion at an arms depot in the Czech Republic.

Evidence links the 2014 explosion, and an attempted poisoning in Bulgaria, to a unit of Russian military intelligence – the GRU – the BBC has learnt.

 

European intelligence agencies believe the GRU’s Unit 29155 is tasked with sabotage, subversion and assassination.

 

The Russian government said the claims were unfounded and absurd.

Czech authorities say they are expelling 18 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence operatives in retaliation for the explosion, which killed two people.

Ontario Implements Police State

It’s not about the virus. It’s about power.

Ontario has announced sweeping new police powers to enforce an extended stay-at-home order, in the latest sign that officials in Canada’s most populous province have lost control of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

 

[…]

 

Police in Ontario will now have the power to stop drivers or pedestrians and ask for their address and reason for being out. Residents could face fines of up to $C750 (US$600) for refusing to comply. Checkpoints will be established on provincial borders with Manitoba and Quebec to stop non-essential travel – but not on the frontier with the US.

Biden Tax Plan Would Hurt The Emerald Isle

I think it’s kind of funny that the Irish were celebrating Biden’s win due to his Irish heritage and he might tank their economy.

For the last 20 years Ireland has had a simple message: invest here and you will pay just 12.5% tax on your Irish profits.

That compares favourably to headline corporation tax rates of 19% in the UK, 30% in Germany and 26.5% in Canada.

 

It is an article of faith in Irish politics that the 12.5% rate has been vital to attracting US investment.

But that tax advantage could be seriously undermined if President Biden gets his way.

 

The most striking of his proposals – and the one of most consequence for Ireland – is for a global minimum corporate tax rate.

 

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has suggested a 21% minimum rate.

 

“We are working with G20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom,” she said in a speech last week.

 

“Together we can use a global minimum tax to make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations.”

 

Essentially that would mean if a company paid tax at the lower Irish rate, then the US (or other countries) could top up that company’s tax in their jurisdiction to get it to the global minimum.

 

So if a US company had a presence in Ireland primarily for the tax advantage, that advantage would disappear.

France Bans Short Flights

This will effectively end air service to many smaller cities. Oh, and how much do you want to bet that government officials and the like traveling on private or government jets will be exempt?

PARIS (Reuters) – French lawmakers voted late on Saturday to abolish domestic flights on routes than can be covered by train in under two-and-a-half hours, as the government seeks to lower carbon emissions even as the air travel industry reels from the global pandemic.

Violence Surges in Northern Ireland

Curious 

Sectarian violence not seen in nearly a decade has broken out in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with gangs of young British unionists and Irish nationalists throwing rocks, fireworks, and petrol bombs at each other over a “peace fence” for a second night Thursday. Earlier Thursday, leaders of the five-party Northern Ireland unity government jointly called for calm, as did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin, and U.S. President Biden.

 

Northern Ireland police used water cannons and riot gear to try and break up Thursday’s riots, following a violent Wednesday night, when rival unionist and nationalist gangs briefly smashed open the peace wall dividing the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, and the unionists hijacked a bus and set it aflame. Since the unrest started March 29, 74 police officers have been injured, including 19 hurt in Thursday night’s melee. It isn’t clear how many rioters have been injured, as they “often avoid hospitals for fear of arrest,” Politico reports.

Revising COVID Numbers

I don’t really believe any of these numbers or rankings. The U.S. vastly overcounted COVID deaths by combining those who died “from” COVID with whose who died “with” it. China’s numbers are utterly unbelievable. Some countries are not testing at nearly the rate of others, so nobody knows how many actually died of COVID. We really don’t have any idea how many people COVID-19 killed with any specificity. We never will. We missed out opportunity for data integrity.

Mexico has published revised figures indicating that the number of deaths caused by coronavirus is 60% higher than previously reported.

More than 321,000 people are now believed to have died from Covid-19 in the country.

 

The revised toll places Mexico with the second highest number of Covid-related deaths in the world, after the US.

[…]

That places Mexico above Brazil, which has registered 310,000 deaths, and below the US which has recorded 549,000 fatalities – despite having a population of 126 million which is far smaller than either country.

Border is closed?

Saying and doing are not the same. The evidence indicates otherwise.

Joe Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent a clear message to migrants on Sunday: The U.S. border is closed.

 

‘Our message has been straightforward and simple, and it’s true – The border is closed. We are expelling families. We are expelling single adults,’ Mayorkas told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday morning.

Ahem

The Biden administration has secured an $86 million contract for hotel rooms to house immigrants, said to be able to support 1,200 family members, Axios reports. The contract, which will see the rooms remain available for six months, was awarded via Texas-based nonprofit organisation Endeavors.

 

‘like sex, to a realm in which we see it only occasionally, and then in a highly sublimated and presentable form.’

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.'”

Biden Escalates Relations with Russia

What’s the end game here? Is this a foreign policy stratagem (perhaps not a bad one) or just bumbling? Where is Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken?

Russia has recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in a dramatic escalation in the fraught relations between the two powers – after President Joe Biden referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a ‘killer.’

 

The moves comes after the White House has spent weeks telegraphing a tougher posture toward Russia under a Biden administration – and Moscow has once again bristled at accusations that it serves as a ‘malign’ influence in global affairs.

 

Fueling the rising tensions is a startling new assessment by U.S. intelligence that lays out Russia’s campaign to influence the 2020 elections – on the heels of the Treasury Department slapping sanctions on officials as retaliation for the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny with a chemical agent. Among those hit with sanctions was the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the FSB.

 

The extraordinary move by Moscow – undertaken by nations wishing to send a serious diplomatic signal – came after Biden not only ripped into Putin but vowed the Russian strongman would ‘pay a price.’

Kim Jong-un Ghosts Joe

It’s one thing to happen. It’s quite another to broadcast it.

US President Joe Biden’s administration says it has been trying to contact the North Korean government since February but has yet to receive a response.

Washington had tried to reach Pyongyang in several different ways to prevent tensions escalating, officials said.

 

The US and North Korea remain at loggerheads over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

 

Three meetings between Mr Biden’s predecessor and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un achieved little.

 

The talks failed to persuade North Korea to give up nuclear weapons – a key demand of the US and other Western powers.

North Korean state media has yet to acknowledge that Joe Biden is now the American president.

U.S. Lost to China

Yup

Comedian and late-night host Bill Maher said the United States has “lost” to China in the “battle for the 21st century.” 

 

During “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday, Maher argued that China was becoming more dominant on the world stage as the U.S. argues over “culture wars.”

 

“You know who doesn’t care that there’s a stereotype of a Chinese man in a Dr. Seuss book? China. All 1.4 billion of them could give a crouching tiger flying f—,” Maher said, referencing the controversy surrounding six of Seuss’s books that were pulled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises over racist imagery. 

 

“If anything, they are not a silly people. They are as serious as a prison fight,” he said

 

Maher criticized China’s authoritarian government over controversies surrounding Hong Kong’s autonomy and the nation’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims. However, the host went on to argue that China is able to quickly develop and solve problems as the U.S. debates partisan issues.

 

“On a national level, we’ve been having infrastructure week every week since 2009, but we never do anything,” Maher said.“Half the county is having a never-ending woke competition deciding whether Mr. Potato Head has a d—, and the other half believes that we have to stop the lizard people because they’re eating babies.”

China Launches Another Attack on U.S.

Biological. Economic. Cyber. China is waging a war on the U.S. whether we want to admit it or not.

The US is expressing growing concern over a hack on Microsoft’s Exchange email software that the tech company has blamed on China.

“This is an active threat,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. “Everyone running these servers – government, private sector, academia – needs to act now to patch them.”

 

Microsoft said hackers had used its mail server to attack their targets.

 

It is reported that tens of thousands of US organisations may be impacted.

The US has long accused the Chinese government of cyber-espionage, something Beijing denies.

China Continues Policy of Ethnic Cleansing

Tragic.

China’s policy of transferring hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang to new jobs often far from home is leading to a thinning out of their populations, according to a high-level Chinese study seen by the BBC.

 

The government denies that it is attempting to alter the demographics of its far-western region and says the job transfers are designed to raise incomes and alleviate chronic rural unemployment and poverty.

 

But our evidence suggests that – alongside the re-education camps built across Xinjiang in recent years – the policy involves a high risk of coercion and is similarly designed to assimilate minorities by changing their lifestyles and thinking.

 

The study, which was meant for the eyes of senior officials but accidentally placed online, forms part of a BBC investigation based on propaganda reports, interviews, and visits to factories across China.

 

Biden Resets Relationship with Saudi Arabia

Nothing says “let’s be allies” like crapping all over the guy who runs the country.

The Biden administration has said it expects Saudi Arabia to “change its approach” to the US and signalled that it wants to minimise any direct contact between the president and the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 

The stance marks an abrupt change compared with the Trump administration, which showered the young heir with attention and praise. It comes as intelligence officials are preparing to release – possibly as early as next week – a declassified report to Congress that will describe its assessment of the crown prince’s alleged culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the US-based Washington Post journalist who was killed by Saudi officials in 2018.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, this week said Joe Biden intended to “recalibrate” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and considered King Salman – not Prince Mohammed – to be his counterpart. While the designation might technically be true, the 35-year-old prince is widely seen as running Saudi Arabia and has direct relations with other foreign leaders.

War of Identity

When we have set up an entire infrastructure that favors people based on things like race and gender, there is an incumbent constituency that will defend the status quo. Perhaps if we just do away with all of that and treat people equally, we would reduce strife.

A new law proposed by the far-left party in Spain’s coalition government would make it easier for residents to change genders for official purposes. A bill sponsored by Equality Minister Irene Montero aims to make gender self-determination — no diagnosis, medical treatment or judge required — the norm, with eligibility starting at age 16. Nearly 20 countries, eight of them in the European Union, already have similar laws.

 

Factions of the Catholic Church and the far-right have focused their opposition to the bill on the fact that it also would allow children under 16 to bypass parental objections and seek a judge’s assistance in accessing treatment for gender dysphoria, the medical term for the psychological distress that results from a conflict between an individual’s identity and birth-assigned sex.

 

Less expected has been the fierce resistance from some feminists and from within Spain’s Socialist-led government.

 

“I’m fundamentally worried by the idea that if gender can be chosen with no more than one’s will or desire, that could put at risk the identity criteria for 47 million Spaniards,” Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, a veteran Socialist and women’s rights advocate, said last week.

 

Opponents argue that allowing people to choose their gender eventually would lead to “erasing” women from the public sphere: if more Spaniards registered male at birth switch to female, they say, it would skew national statistics and create more competition among women for everything from jobs to sports trophies.

Working Out Trading After Brexit

It’s a process.

More than a month after the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU came into force, complaints from British importers and exporters continue to mount.

Rules of origin for products that are imported into the UK, then exported to the EU are causing difficulty for some firms.

 

Others are caught up in the complexity of VAT issues, while the time and trouble taken to get merchandise through customs remains a hassle.

 

Small wonder, then, that according to a survey by the Road Haulage Association, Brexit-related problems caused the volume of exports passing through British ports to the EU to fall very sharply last month compared with a year ago.

 

A government spokesperson admitted that some businesses are “facing challenges with specific aspects of our new trading relationship” and promised to provide them with the necessary support “to trade effectively with Europe”.

“That’s why we are operating export helplines, running webinars with experts and offering businesses support via our network of 300 international trade advisers,” the spokesperson said.

Italy Bans Masks for School Kids

Good for them

3) that, in the case brought to the attention of this judge, the minor represented by his parents, documented on several occasions by medical certificates , problems of lack of oxygenation due to the prolonged use of masks during all class hours;
4) that, in the class attended by the minor,not even an oxygenation control device – oximeter , an instrument of minimal cost and very simple usability allowing every teacher to intervene at the very first sign of difficulty in breathing in very young pupils;
Therefore, the judge considered that:

 

“The minor cannot be forced to use a mask during the course, because of the risk of respiratory fatigue.”
“Due to the serious and immediate nature, the provisional execution of this decision was requested in order to protect the young student and allow him to follow the courses. “

Biden Unleashes Immigration Crisis

More illegals means lower wages and higher taxes for Americans. Send your “thank you” cards to the White House. This is a direct result of his policies.

LOS ANGELES — President Biden’s first immigration crisis has already begun as thousands of families have surged toward the southwestern border in recent weeks, propelled by expectations of a friendlier reception and by a change in Mexican policy that makes it harder for the United States to expel some of the migrants.

 

More than 1,000 people who had been detained after crossing have been released into the country in recent days in a swift reversal from the Trump administration’s near shutdown of the border. Many more people are gathering on the Mexican side, aggravating conditions there and testing America’s ability and willingness to admit migrants during a pandemic.

 

New families every day have been collecting in Mexican border towns, sleeping in the streets, under bridges and in dry ditches, according to lawyers and aid groups working along the border. On Thursday in Mexicali, across from Calexico, Calif., desperate migrants could be seen trying to scale a border fence. A migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, just across a bridge from Texas, has boomed to 1,000 people over the past few weeks.

I guess we aren’t worried about the virus anymore if we’re allowing thousands of illegal immigrants to stream across our border, eh?

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