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

Journal Archives

Warm welcome awaits Justin Trudeau on world stage

"Considered an international climate laggard under Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau can make a quick impression for Canada.

So that’s it, the end of the Harper era, done and dusted. It was as decisive a message from Canadians as one could have imagined. The road back for Canada to repair its damaged and diminished place in the world will not be easy, but thankfully it has begun.
But the potential global meaning of Canada’s election received even more attention. The results clearly startled Canada’s allies. Canadians brought to a close the widely unpopular Harper era, in which Canada became known for incessantly hectoring and lecturing all and sundry but actually delivering little of substance on the world stage.

Equally surprising to many outside of Canada, Canadians voted for a centre-left government that rejects fiscal austerity, promises that climate change will become a priority, favours diplomatic solutions over military posturing and vows to increase its engagement with international bodies such as the United Nations."


I read that the Liberals won so convincingly because young voters wanted their OLD Canada back -- a stinging rebuke to conservative Stephen Harper's government that tried its best to turn Canada into Tea-Party-Lite-istan.

Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan’s charm offensive wows the world but disguises a harsher reality

Source: South ChinaMorning Post (Hong Kong)

Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan’s charm offensive wows the world but disguises a harsher reality, critics say
The appearances of Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan in her tailored suits and gowns left Britain’s press swooning – describing her as “graceful”, “stunning”, “sophisticated”, “glamorous” and “chic” – during President Xi Jinping’s four-day state visit to the United Kingdom last week.

The Daily Telegraph called her “a master in the art of diplomatic dressing”, describing the blue silk coat-dress she wore to the state banquet in Buckingham Palace as “the height of restrained elegance”.

The blue gown was her third outfit of the day. At the Houses of Parliament, she wore an elegant grey coat with a matching silk bow blouse. When meeting the Queen, she wore a simple white dress suit with embroidered pockets. “Madame Peng is not just holding her own, but helping to define the new world-facing image of China,” the Telegraph said.

Peng’s carefully crafted image is a stark contrast to the wives of former Communist leaders. At the state banquet with the Queen during Hu Jintao’s visit to the UK 10 years ago, his wife wore a plain jacket and a knee-length skirt more suited for a business meeting.

Read more: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1871688/chinese-first-lady-peng-liyuans-charm-offensive-wows-uk

More from the article:

'Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese Studies at King’s College, London, said Peng and Xi were now “part of the same propaganda exercise” and the use of her abroad to advance China’s soft power is “highly tactical”.

Her English ability and fashion sense were “huge assets to promote this image of a China that is modern and exciting... and presents the softer, more publicly palatable side of the Xi era,” Brown said.

Retired political scientist Joseph Cheng, formerly with the City University of Hong Kong, said Peng represented a change of generation of leaders, much like Raisa Gorbachev, wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s.'

"Peng’s graceful and glamourous image, as well as approachability and English skills, is the antithesis to the wives of former Communist leaders."

Poland’s right-wing opposition looks increasingly likely to emerge as the largest party

"Poland’s right-wing opposition looks increasingly likely to emerge as the largest party in this month’s parliamentary election. However, if it falls short of an overall majority then the minor parties will determine whether it can form a government or if the current ruling party can cobble together a weak and unstable coalition.

The left’s marriage of convenience

On October 25th Poland will hold a parliamentary election whose outcome could determine the future shape of the political scene for years to come. Opinion polls suggest that the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, the main opposition grouping, has a clear lead of around 10% over the ruling centrist Civic Platform (PO) and is almost certain to emerge as the largest in the new parliament. However, it is unclear if Law and Justice will secure an overall majority; no party has yet achieved such a result in post-communist Poland. If it does not, then the party will need to find coalition partners, which means that the performance of the minor political groupings, particularly which ones cross the minimum vote threshold required to secure parliamentary representation (5% for individual parties and 8% for electoral coalitions), will be crucial in determining the shape of the next government."



Poland lurches to the right? Election is this Sunday, we will see...

Canada's feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau targets GamerGate in anti-misogyny call to action

"New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described himself as a proud feminist and named GamerGate as an example of an issue that society needs "to stand clearly" against. He made the comments prior to winning the national election as leader of the Liberal Party on Monday 19 October.

Speaking in a recent TV interview (via The Star) Trudeau said: "Yes, Yes. I am a feminist. Proud to be a feminist. My mom raised me to be a feminist. My father raised me, he was a different generation, but he raised me to respect and defend everyone's rights, and I deeply grounded my own identity in that, and I am proud to say that I am a feminist. The things we see online, whether it is issues like Gamergate, or video games misogyny in popular culture, it is something that we need to stand clearly against." "



What a huge change in attitude from outgoing conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Ukrainians transform statue of Soviet founder Lenin into Star Wars villain Darth Vader

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Just in time for the release of the latest Star Wars blockbuster, Ukrainians in Odessa have transformed a statue of Lenin into one of Darth Vader, an oddly prominent figure in local politics.

Soviet founder Lenin, long despised by most in non-separatist parts of Ukraine, fell victim to a law adopted in April that ordered the removal of all symbols and insignia reminding the country of its communist past.

Darth Vader is also cast as the embodiment of evil in the George Lucas movies — a black-masked, light sabre-wielding villain who is in permanent battle with the good Force. But the Dark Lord of the Sith is a rather more popular figure in Ukraine, where Western culture is being embraced and the Soviet past erased from history, a transition that outrages Russia.

One masked villain tried joining last year's presidential race, being denied registration only after he refused to disclose his real name and identity papers. Later that year, Darth Vaders ran as candidates for mayors of Kiev and Odessa, the historic Black Sea port where the new statue was formally unveiled on Friday.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-24/ukrainians-transform-lenin-statue-into-darth-vader/6881648

The statue in Odessa — formerly of Lenin — was altered to the Sith Lord instead of simply destroying it.

LOL Ok, this is amusing.

Fear and xenophobia poison Polish polls

Source: The Guardian UK

The country is thriving, but the rightwing Law and Justice party’s anti-migrant and introspective campaign has won over many voters before Sunday’s election. Call it the Polish paradox. As voters head to the ballot box on Sunday to pick a new parliament, the mood is decidedly at odds with the facts. The country has taken in few refugees during Europe’s year of desperate migration – yet the campaign is marked by introspection and xenophobia (“migrants carry very dangerous diseases,” said the head of the frontrunner rightwing party last week).

The Polish economy is one of Europe’s most robust – but the talk is of mismanagement, tax avoidance and surrender to Germany. Poland should be a confident, big European player but it appears mired in fear, recrimination and an almost pathological antipathy to the idea of change.

“They are not talking about the issues that matter,” said one voter, Janina Zurowska-Filipek, a fruit and veg seller from Warsaw. “They are promoting fear of immigrants when, in fact, migrants are not going to come to Poland. They want to go to rich countries.”

“We have reached the limit of our capacity to absorb changes,’’ said Jacek Kucharczyk, director of the Institute of Public Affairs. “We are about to give the country to a bunch of political extremists who have been smart enough to send consoling signals to people who are scared. We are going through a kind of counter-Reformation.” By “extremists” he means the Law and Justice party of Andrzej Duda, who won a presidential vote five months ago. Law and Justice may need a partner to form a government but according to the latest surveys, his party will finish at least 10% ahead of the governing centrist Civic Platform.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/23/poland-election-law-and-justice-party

Sadly, this xenophobic streak runs thru many of the new eastern European members of the EU and NATO. Many have relatively small populations, all have no real history of immigration and assimilation like here in the US, and most still defensively protect their hard-won restored sovereignty and their national cultural identity.

Becoming a truly modern nation is a process. Yeah, I know, who are we to talk in light of the racist comments from leading Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, but still.


Source: Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Islamic State rakes in up to $50 million a month from selling crude from oilfields under its control in Iraq and Syria, part of a well-run industry that U.S. diplomacy and airstrikes have so far failed to shut down, according to Iraqi intelligence and U.S. officials.

Oil sales - the extremists' largest single source of continual income - are a key reason they have been able to maintain their rule over their self-declared "caliphate" stretching across large parts of Syria and Iraq. With the funds to rebuild infrastructure and provide the largesse that shore up its fighters' loyalty, it has been able to withstand ground fighting against its opponents and more than a year of bombardment in the U.S.-led air campaign.

The group has even been able to bring in equipment and technical experts from abroad to keep the industry running, and the United States has recently stepped up efforts to close off this support.

Washington has been talking to regional governments, including Turkey, about its concerns over the importing of energy infrastructure into IS-run territory in Syria, including equipment for extraction, refinement, transport and energy production, according to a senior U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the IS oil sector.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_ISLAMIC_STATE_OIL_BUSINESS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-10-23-02-41-45

"Washington has been talking to regional governments, including Turkey, about its concerns over the importing of energy infrastructure into IS-run territory in Syria"

OMG... there it is... the answer to who has been funding ISIS. Add Turkey, NATO Ally, to the list that includes so called "Gulf State Angels" that have been funding ISIS "privately". So, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar... who else is funding ISIS?


Source: Associated Press

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is drastically slashing campaign spending, including an across-the-board pay cut for staff, as the one-time front-runner seeks to salvage his bid for the GOP nomination.

The moves will reduce the campaign's payroll by 40 percent, while also cutting travel costs by 20 percent and eliminating extraneous overhead costs. Most campaign officials were told of the cost-cutting on Friday.

The changes mark a significant setback for a campaign that spent months building a large operation, but there are no signs Bush is on the verge of withdrawing from the race. He was scheduled to attend an event at Regent University in Virginia on Friday afternoon and had events with donors beginning Sunday in Texas.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GOP_2016_BUSH?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-10-23-13-11-05

Saints preserve us from yet another Bush in the White House!

'Constructive' talks on Syria war could be resumed: Kerry

Source: Reuters

The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey failed to resolve differences on the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in talks on Friday but could meet again in a week to discuss how to end Syria's civil war.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, ministers said they had been unable to bridge the central dispute between Washington and its allies, who say Assad has no future in Syria, and Russia, which showed its support by hosting him in Moscow this week.

In a separate development, Russia and Jordan agreed to coordinate their military actions on Syria by setting up a "special working mechanism" in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

Russia's three-week-old campaign of air strikes against Islamist groups opposed to Assad has halted an offensive by rebels, including some backed by the United States and its allies, which had eroded Assad's control in the west of Syria. Some diplomats and analysts believe Russia might be able to exploit its influence with Assad and its newly demonstrated military muscle in Syria's skies to broker a deal to end the conflict.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/23/us-mideast-crisis-talks-idUSKCN0SH1LN20151023

"Russia might be able to exploit its influence with Assad and its newly demonstrated military muscle in Syria's skies to broker a deal to end the conflict."

Broker a deal? End the conflict? What madness is this!?! /sarcasm

It is simply way past time to compromise and give serious peace talks a chance. Once again, you don't make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies.

But, I am sure, sadly, that there will be calls from "unconditional surrender dead enders" to keep the war and the increasing civilian carnage going to achieve greater geo-political aims.

Hurricane Patricia, one of strongest ever storms, set to hit Mexico

Source: Reuters

Mexico scrambled on Friday to prepare as Hurricane Patricia, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, bore down on its Pacific Coast, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and residents and a mad rush for emergency supplies.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the Category 5 storm was the strongest ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, and the World Meteorological Organization compared it to 2013's Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines.

The storm was expected to make landfall on Friday afternoon or early evening, the NHC added. In its path lies a patchwork of exclusive getaways favored by tech billionaires and pop stars, as well as package vacation resorts, a major cargo port and modest fishing villages.

Ramping up their warnings as the storm drew closer, Mexican officials said the unprecedented hurricane could wreak catastrophic damage.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/23/us-mexico-storm-patricia-idUSKCN0SH16720151023

More intense extreme weather is an expected by product of Climate Change. Are these "super storms" of the last few years early harbingers of worse to come?

I realize that at least one previous LBN post was done on this storm, but Reuters provided additional and more up to date information about its progress in this article.
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