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Member since: Wed Oct 7, 2015, 08:51 AM
Number of posts: 2,208

Journal Archives

Eastern Europe’s Compassion Deficit

Sofia, Bulgaria — COMMENTING on the flow of migrants making their way through Hungary to Austria and Germany, a Hungarian journalist told me recently: “We don’t have cities anymore. Only an extended railway station.”

Twenty years ago, Hungary and its Eastern European neighbors were transitional, post-Communist societies, and several — Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia — still are. Now, overnight, these transitional countries have become transit countries. As a result, along with the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants, Europe must also worry about the wedge that the crisis is driving between its eastern and western halves.

The “truck of shame” in Austria and the scenes of drowned migrants have forced a wave of compassion in many Western European countries. In Germany, 60 percent of the public supports its government’s giving shelter to as many as 800,000 refugees, equal to almost 1 percent of the country’s population.

Yet in Eastern Europe the public remains unmoved, and leaders there have lambasted Brussels’s decision to redistribute refugees among European Union member states. Majorities in the transit countries support building walls on their borders; a recent poll in the Czech Republic shows that 44 percent insist that the government not spend even one additional koruna to help the migrants."

"...What’s the matter with Eastern Europe? Just three decades ago, “Solidarity” was its symbol. Today, a more appropriate symbol would be a bumper sticker reading “Eastern Europe: Where Donald Trump comes off looking good.” "


Good lord. These are EU and NATO members, by and large. How does such intolerance color the policies of both those organizations now? More militarism? More xenophobia?

Meet China’s most in-demand Obama impersonator

BEIJING—For Xiao Jiguo, a Chinese Obama impersonator, it’s all about the eyebrows.
The migrant-worker-turned-actor lacks the U. S. president’s stature and, with limited English, can’t easily mimic the stop-and-start cadence of his speech.

So when Xiao, 29, wants to channel his muse, he must focus on the face: A forceful furrow. Narrowed eyes. That contemplative, commanding frown.
“It’s a look you can use all the time,” Xiao said on the set of a movie Tuesday, shifting from serious to skeptical with a signature tilt of the jaw.

A beat.

More brow.

“Pause like this if you run out of things to say.”

Xiao has never met the man he calls “Brother Obama,” or “Brother Ma” for short. He hears about the United States on television, and he’s seen a few Hollywood films — The Mummy (1999) came to mind.
But America’s 44th president has had an outsized influence on Xiao’s life.

While U.S. President Obama quit smoking, impersonator Xiao Jiguo still does.

"... Afterward, as they walked back to the hotel in street lamp shadows, it was hard not to notice a certain slope of the shoulder, a cool, hands-in-pocket slouch set against out-turned ears.

The ears. Xiao may have learned to wield his eyebrows, but the ears—those ears—were surely written in the stars."


Women poised for historic place at cabinet table (in Canada)

OTTAWA—Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet promises to make history.

If the prime minister-designate makes good on his vow, his cabinet to be unveiled on Nov. 4 will be the first ever to have an equal number of men and women. Women have made inroads in Parliament, slowly at times, but never has a cabinet truly reflected the gender makeup of Canada — until now.

“It’s an important signal to the country, to women in his caucus that he understands and appreciates the varying life perspectives, talents, expertise that women . . . are bringing to the table,” said Nancy Peckford, a spokesperson for Equal Voice, an organization dedicated to electing more women. The commitment was made even before the election campaign got underway when Trudeau unveiled the Liberal platform for a “fair and open government” in June. Among its many pledges was a vow that a Liberal cabinet would have an equal number of men and women.
The reaction that sparked on social media wasn’t entirely positive as some accused the Liberal leader of putting gender ahead of talent as the primary consideration for a cabinet post.

“Here's a crazy idea — pick the best candidates for the job, regardless of gender,” said one Twitter user.
“@JustinTrudeau gender, race, colour shouldn't be a factor, what happened to skills and experience #notsmart,” said another.
“So instead of the best candidates you'll place them by gender? Not what we need. No thank you.”

But with 50 women elected to the Liberal benches Monday, Trudeau’s pledge of parity doesn’t have to come at the expense of skill, Peckford said.



Wow. What a radical idea, eh? /sarcasm

It's past time for politicians to claim they are simply picking the best people when they overload appointments like this with old white men.

Polish election: voting begins as Eurosceptic party challenges for office

Source: The Guardian UK

Rightwing Law and Justice party leads in polls going into parliamentary elections that could affect country’s role in Europe’s refugee crisis

Poles have begun voting in a general election that could result in victory for a rightwing Eurosceptic party at the expense of the ruling pro-EU party. Poland was the only EU nation to avoid recession and it remains one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies. If opinion polls are correct, the country could see its first change of government in eight years, with a clear lead for the rightwing Law and Justice party over the incumbent Civic Platform.

It is not clear if Law and Justice will win enough votes to govern alone or if it will need a coalition partner. The party’s Andrzej Duda won a presidential vote five months ago. The Roman Catholic church backs Law and Justice, which many analysts say will help it claim victory on Sunday. With the churchgoing and rural base apparently in its pocket, Law and Justice has departed from moral issues to run a populist campaign with broad appeal.

The party chairman, Jarosław Kaczyński, has warned of diseases from the 7,000 asylum seekers Poland has agreed to take in.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/25/polish-parliamentary-election-vote-2015

"The party chairman, Jarosław Kaczyński, has warned of diseases from the 7,000 asylum seekers Poland has agreed to take in."

Nice. Real nice. Another eastern European relatively new EU and NATO nation reverts to xenophobia and lurches to the right. What has gone wrong with Poland?

Czech Republic under fire for 'stripping refugees to take their money to pay for their involuntary d

Source: Independent (UK)

Czech Republic under fire for 'stripping refugees to take their money to pay for their involuntary detention' The Czech Republic is 'the only country routinely subjecting migrants and refugees to detention for 40 days,' said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Czech Republic has been fiercely criticised over its treatment of migrants and refugees, with reports that people are being detained for "administrative offences" and are being stripped naked to retrieve cash to pay for their involuntary detention.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has urged the country to stop its detention of migrants and refugees, saying in a statement released on Thursday, that of several European countries employing restrictive policies against migrants and refugees, the Czech Republic is the only country routinely subjecting them to detention for 40 days, and reportedly, sometimes longer.

Mr Hussein said all detainees able to challenge their detention in court had been released, however most of those detained were not able to swiftly challenge their detention as they has no access to information about free legal aid. The condition of the detention facilities also came under fire, with the Czech Republic’s own Minister of Justice, Robert Pelikán, describing conditions as “worse than in a prison”.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/czech-republic-under-fire-for-stripping-refugees-to-take-their-money-to-pay-for-their-involuntary-a6707291.html

Slovenia struggles with torrent of refugees ahead of EU crisis summit

Source: Toronto Star

Small alpine nation struggles to cope with influx of refugees day out from EU summit, where countries will discuss "impossible" plan.

BREZICE, SLOVENIA—A day ahead of a European summit on the migrant crisis, Slovenian officials staggered to cope and tempers flared Saturday at an overcrowded refugee centre as thousands more asylum-seekers poured into the tiny Alpine nation.
European nations have been criticized for being slow to react as hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety pour in through Greece and Italy. But a draft plan submitted to countries coming to the Brussels summit by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker was already drawing strong opposition.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said the EU plan urges countries not to “wave” asylum-seekers across their borders without consulting with their neighbors.

“That is impossible, whoever wrote this does not understand how things work and must have just woken up from a months-long sleep,” he said Saturday.

Read more: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/10/24/slovenia-struggles-with-torrent-of-refugees-ahead-of-eu-crisis-summit.html

NATO report into Kunduz hospital air strike delayed

Source: Reuters

A preliminary NATO report into a U.S. air strike on a hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Oct. 3, originally expected to be released within a few days, has been delayed while investigations continue, officials said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a briefing in Washington on Friday that the report into civilian casualties at the hospital from the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General John Campbell, was not yet complete. "We want to get this done, and I want him to get it done, but we wanted to get it done absolutely right," he said.

The hospital operated by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was hit by a U.S. air strike while Afghan government forces battled to regain control of Kunduz from Taliban insurgents who had seized the city.

MSF, which has called for an independent international investigation, on Saturday revised the death toll in the incident, one of the worst of its kind in the 14 year-long conflict in Afghanistan. It said 13 MSF staff members were confirmed dead and one other presumed dead, while 10 patients were confirmed dead and another two presumed dead. It said efforts were being made to establish the identities of seven other bodies found in the ruins of the hospital and which had now been buried.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/24/us-afghanistan-hospital-idUSKCN0SI0M520151024

Professor Claims Women 'Don't Understand' Fracking

"She said women are against it because they base their opinions on "gut reaction" rather than facts.

A science professor and the chairwoman of the United Kingdom's leading shale gas lobby claims women don't support fracking because they "don't understand" the science behind the oil extraction procedure.

"Frequently the women haven’t had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16. That is just a fact," Averil Macdonald, a professor of science engagement at the University of Reading and chairwoman of U.K. Onshore Oil and Gas, told British newspaper The Times.

“Women do not tend to have continued with science. Not only do [they] show more of a concern about fracking, they also know that they don't know and they don't understand. They are concerned because they don't want to be taking [something] on trust. And that's actually entirely reasonable," she said."



Woah. Is there a word when a woman does "mansplaining" to other women? If not, we need one for this professor. I'd usually laugh at this point, but the misogyny has broken my absurdity responses.

Maldives police arrest vice president Ahmed Adeeb over plot to assassinate president

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Maldives vice president Ahmed Adeeb has been arrested in a probe over a speedboat explosion targeting president Abdulla Yameen, police and government officials said.

Mr Yameen was unhurt in the September 28 blast in his presidential boat Finifenmaa while he was returning from Saudi Arabia after the Hajj pilgrimage.

"We have arrested the vice president in relation to the Finifenmaa incident," a police media official said. "He is now in police custody in Dhoonidhoo detention centre."

Mr Adeeb was arrested at the Maldives' main international airport at around noon local time on Saturday as he returned home from Singapore.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-24/maldives-arrests-vp-over-plot-to-assassinate-president/6882498

Hard hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami -- in, what, 2008? -- the country's image as a tranquil tourist destination has been tarnished. It has even larger problems, long term, thanks to climate change.

"Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with maximum and average natural ground levels of only 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) and 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, respectively. In areas where construction exists, however, this has been increased to several metres. More than 80 per cent of the country's land is composed of coral islands which rise less than one metre above sea level.[46] As a result, the Maldives are at high risk of being submerged due to rising sea levels. The UN's environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100"


Islamic State claims responsibility for Bangladesh bombings on Shias

Source: The Time of India

Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for bombings that targeted Shias in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on Saturday, the monitor group SITE said.

It cited Islamic State as saying "soldiers of the Caliphate in Bangladesh" detonated explosive devices in Dhaka during "polytheist rituals". Islamic State — an ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group that sees Shias as apostates — claimed responsibility for the attack.

Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Islamic-State-claims-responsibility-for-Bangladesh-bombings-on-Shias/articleshow/49517781.cms

Are we concerned about what ISIS is doing in other countries besides Syria? It's time that we demand that our "allies", including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey stop funding or otherwise facilitating ISIS's reign or terror against civilians.
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