Monday, August 13, 2018

For a Monday

A lot going on ...




Today in "it's just money" news:

Supply management is not on the table in free trade talks with the United States and Mexico, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated in advance of a visit to P.E.I. Monday.

Trudeau's visit includes time at Old Home Week, the provincial agricultural fair.

In an interview with Laura Chapin on CBC's Island Morning, Trudeau renewed his pledge not to give up on existing supply management systems in agriculture, in particular citing the dairy industry.

"Absolutely not. I have said and I will continue to say, both to Canadians and Americans, including directly to President Trump that we are not going to get rid of supply management," he said.

"It is a system that works. It is a system that works for Canadians, it's a system that works for our agricultural producers, our dairy farmers. This is something we will continue to protect."

But it doesn't make things work for Canadians, you arrogant moron. It inflates the price of everyday goods all for the benefit of a handful of wealthy businessmen in Quebec

Justin may have won the votes of these businessmen quite handily but any Canadian who agrees that consumers should be paying more for butter, cheese and milk deserves to go without.

**

But in the face of the fight with the Saudis, Trudeau and his team are bragging about a values based foreign policy.

Don’t buy it.

They not only were willing to do plenty of business with Saudi Arabia before this fight started on Twitter, they still are.

The export permits for the light armoured vehicles that the Saudis are purchasing from General Dynamics of London, Ont., remain in place. I get it, cancelling that contract and telling Canadian families that their ability to earn a living has to be sacrificed is a tough call for a politician.

We also continue to import boatloads of Saudi oil.

Each day we bring in 75-85,000 barrels a day of oil from Saudi Arabia. According to both Saudi and Canadian officials, this will continue. We could have replaced that Saudi oil with Canadian oil if only the Energy East pipeline had been approved but Trudeau didn’t want to deal with protesters in Quebec.

But, you know - "values".

** 

Without drawing any attention to the shift, Trump put NAFTA in the corner and began an entirely new bilateral trade discussion with Mexico. ...
 
Instead of following customary sequential steps: (1) waiting for endless NAFTA negotiations that can never be resolved; (2) and then announcing NAFTA withdrawal; (3) and then dealing with the political and financial backlash; (4) and then beginning bilateral trade discussions, etc. etc.  Team Trump brilliantly and quietly strategized an end-around.

**


Like father, like son, the old adage goes. It’s rarely been truer than in the case of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his son. Pierre was once asked for his views on democracy and communism, and stated that a one-party state would be the ideal government under certain conditions. That might sound familiar.

Added Pierre: “I wouldn’t be prepared to think I would be successful in arguing that (communism) for Canada at the present time. But such times might come, who knows?” Five decades later, here’s his son, Justin Trudeau: “You know, there’s a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime.” ...

During the 15 years that Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, federal spending rose from 30 to 53 per cent of GDP. Huge public spending overheated the economy, resulting in runaway inflation. By 1981, Canada’s prime lending rate had reached an incredible 22 per cent. The inability to meet skyrocketing interest payments caused widespread corporate and personal bankruptcies.

Accessing risk capital was virtually impossible when government bonds were yielding 19 per cent. By the time he retired in 1984, national debt had grown by 700 per cent and Canada’s international debt rating had collapsed. Canada was transformed from one of the financially strongest countries in the world into an economic basket case. It would be two decades before tough fiscal discipline was able to overcome compounding interest payments and begin to reduce the country’s real-dollar debt.

Five decades later, son Justin has Canada on a similar path. After inheriting the Stephen Harper government’s zero-deficit balance sheet a little over two years ago, Trudeau’s budgeted 2017–18 deficit has rocketed to $18 billion, with continuing deficits forecast to add $117 billion to the national debt by 2023. That’s reason enough to worry, but the picture is certain to get much worse. Why? For the same reason that Pierre Trudeau’s deficits spiralled out of control: the imposition of ideologically socialist government policies on a capitalist free-market economy.







“Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong.”

People are getting their under-shorties in an awful twist over Maxime Bernier's words but there is a stunning yet simple truth to them.

One cannot maintain that all cultures have something equally good to offer society or that they are equally good in their own way. Mistreatment of women and various minorities prove how demonstrably wrong that thinking is. Whatever inequalities exist in the West, the only region of the world that recognises the value of tolerance and freedom, people are at least able to live freely and redress any problems that affect them. Try being a Pakistani Christian who finds being beaten a trifle problematic. 

Even the very idea of "multiculturalism" is a hollow one. People are fine with the idea when it does not entail actually learning anything about a culture and accepting it, flaws and all. Canadians' multiculturalism doesn't extend past a bowl of pho.

Furthermore, a fractured society with people who latch on to old hatreds, backward customs and refuse to learn a language that could ease and enrich their lives in a country they have been let into do not form alliances with others. How are people united when they are decidedly put apart?

If Canada is simply a repository for all things other than Canadian (like the very things that made us defeat the Nazi war machine, for example), why not join the US as the fifty-first state? If Canada has "no core identity", what does it matter where we end up?


Also - further reasons why political multiculturalism is an error:


Amid the controversy over Victoria removing a statue of Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, there’s new scrutiny about something that received little attention at the time.

In May, 2018 politicians dedicated a park in Winnipeg to Muhammad Ali Jinnah – the founder of Pakistan.

So, this is where we are in 2018: The founder of Canada gets demonized by the elites and his statute is removed, while the politicians dedicate a park to the founder of a foreign country.

(Sidebar: this statue. When the Chinese erect a statue of their own choosing in its place, I doubt Big Aboriginal will be in a position to resist.) 



Between the South's increasing adoption of international terms and the North's political sensitivity to some words, the growing language divide is complicating cooperation on a range of joint cultural and economic exchanges as ties between the neighbors improve.

To counter the confusion and promote a feeling of unity, the South Korean government is working to restart an obscure academic project aimed at developing a common Korean language dictionary with the North.

North and South Korea speak the same language based on the Hangeul alphabet, but after decades of division, only about 70 percent of words are mutually understood, according to some experts.

OR the South Koreans could let the North Koreans adapt to the twenty-first century but then who would control the words and, therefore, the language?





A heat wave in North Korea has led to rice, maize and other crops withering in the fields, “with potentially catastrophic effects,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Friday.

The world’s largest disaster relief network warned of a risk of a “full-blown food security crisis” in the isolated country, where a famine in the mid-1990s killed up to 3 million people. It said the worrying situation had been exacerbated by international sanctions imposed due to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.


Also:

A Japanese man has recently been taken into custody in North Korea, government officials said Saturday as Tokyo tried to obtain information on the case.

According to informed sources, the man, in his 30s, was visiting the communist regime on a package tour organized by a foreign tourist agency. He was in Nampo, a port town in the western part of the country, the source said.

Japanese officials are concerned his detention could affect negotiations on the long-running abduction issue, which concerns Japanese who were kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1970s and 80s. Five were returned several years ago after talks held under the administration of Junichiro Koizumi.

“North Korea may use the man it has held as a bargaining chip for negotiations with Japan,” an official said.



Today in "how could this go wrong?" news:

The Parole Board of Canada has continued day parole in British Columbia for the man known as the balaclava rapist for another six months while ruling out overnight leave privileges for now.

Larry Takahashi is serving three concurrent life sentences for multiple counts of rape, aggravated sexual assault and other attacks on 23 women in the Edmonton area in the 1970s and '80s, which he committed while wearing a balaclava.

The 66-year-old was granted day parole in 2016 and the board has extended it several times, saying in its latest decision on Aug. 3 that he is seeing a psychiatrist, is following his release plan and continues his "slow and steady reintegration."

However, it did not authorize overnight leave, saying Takahashi has limited community supports in his release area and caution must be exercised given the gravity of his offences.

**

An AIDS support worker in Saskatchewan says pipes should be more available to drug users if the province wants to reduce HIV rates that are among the highest in North America.

**

People who work to keep drug users in Ottawa safe are harshly criticizing the Ontario government's decision to halt approvals of overdose prevention sites.

In a letter sent late Friday to local health integration networks and health units across the province, Roselle Martino, assistant deputy minister of the population and public health division, said the halting of the approval process was effective immediately.

The decision means that for now, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will not give the green light to new overdose prevention sites and is officially pausing the process for sites that are not open yet.




Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office says she plans weekend talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany on issues including the development of a contentious Baltic Sea natural gas pipeline.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday the two leaders will meet Saturday at the German government’s guest house outside Berlin.

The Nord Stream 2 project will add to an existing direct Russian-German pipeline, increasing the amount of natural gas Russia can send to central Europe skirting transit countries to Germany’s east. 

Several eastern European countries object to the plan, which the United States also opposes.

Seibert says Germany’s position is it’s “important Ukraine retains a role as a transit country” for Russian gas.

Also:

PGW Defence Technologies of Winnipeg is the Canadian firm that will be selling sniper rifles to Ukraine’s military.



But ... but ... empathy!:

One of Singer’s goals, she wrote in a 2013 book about compassion training, was to “support the development of a more caring and sustainable society… With this book, we aspire to bring more attention to compassion in our society.”

But recently, the attention has focused on Singer’s lab in Leipzig, Germany – and what former colleagues say is a pattern of bullying and intimidation from one of the world’s foremost researchers on empathy.

The complaints – from eight current and former colleagues who told Science Magazine this month that the bad behavior dates back several years – painted a picture of a work environment so dire that the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Singer agreed to a year-long sabbatical to “cool down” the situation.



Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Post

A lot going on ...




Four people, including two police officers, were shot to death in Fredericton:

Gunfire erupted in a quiet residential corner of New Brunswick’s capital city Friday morning, leaving four people dead — including two police officers — and an undisclosed number injured.

Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch says the victims include Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns, 43, and two civilians — a man and a woman — who remain unidentified. ...

The shooting incident began at about 7 a.m. at an apartment complex on Brookside Drive.

Tim Morehouse, a resident of the neighbourhood, said he was in his apartment when he heard someone shout: “Shut up! Shut up!”

He said he heard two gunshots, and then three more. He said he looked out his window and saw the body of a man on the ground, in the back parking lot of 237 Brookside Drive.

“I hear more shots and looked out and there’s two police officers on the ground. I called 911 and they came and checked on them and they were shot,” he said.
  
More to come.




Canada is back!:

It could be “days or weeks” before Canada is invited back to the NAFTA bargaining table, Mexico’s top trade negotiator said Friday after almost a month of meetings between his country and the United States — with no Canadians in the room.

A source familiar with the negotiations said that Canada will definitely not take part when the talks resume next Wednesday.

And as Canada waits on the sidelines, even some trilateral issues around an updated free-trade agreement are being discussed and potentially decided by the others, said one close observer of the process.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said his country and the U.S. have been making a lot of progress, but would be back in Washington next week for a fourth week of two-way talks.

**

Here’s what Bill Morneau said when asked if there would be any response from the Trudeau government to Saudi Arabia’s escalations:

“We’re paying close attention to this situation, of course, because we wanted to understand the impacts. We’re not considering any responses.”
**

I expect it will be a while, alas, before we hear about all of this from those imprisoned. Is it not most likely, now that our government has stirred these waters publicly, on the dubious and flippant medium it chose — Twitter — that both the Badawis and the female activists will suffer a longer, harder stay in the dim cloisters of Saudi prison than they would have without that intervention?

This is the problem with this government’s excessive fondness for public virtue-speak, either in foreign diplomacy or at home (say on abortion rights). It has more of a tendency to inflame than seduce.

**


Spokespeople from countries considered Canada's closest allies offered bluntly neutral comments when pressed on the diplomatic dispute.

One British diplomat is taken aback by his country's public reaction.

"I confess that I'm very disappointed by it," said Anthony Cary, a former British High Commissioner to Canada.

"There was a time when Canada could have rightly expected to receive the core support from the United States and from the United Kingdom, as its closest partners," he said in interview with CBC News from his home in London.

A moral position shouldn't need validation from others.

But Justin isn't looking for moral clarity. The arrogant groping son of a communist sympathiser has proved he has little regard for even the thirty-nine percent who elected him. His cowardice and incompetence in dealing with individuals and countries has embarrassed the nation enough. What Justin is looking for is a gang on which to rely and take up the slack he is too scared and stupid to take up.

Churchill he is most certainly not.




But not a military war:

Russia warned the United States on Friday it would regard any U.S. move to curb the activities of its banks as a “declaration of economic war” and would retaliate, as new sanctions took their toll on the ruble and U.S. lawmakers threatened more. 



Now one can see why South Korea's Moon is keen on better relations with North Korea:

Three South Korean firms imported North Korean coal from Russia by forging customs documents in apparent violation of a U.N. sanctions resolution, authorities here announced Friday.

The findings present the South's government with a diplomatic burden amid the U.S.-led efforts to maintain international unity in enforcing sanctions on the communist nation until its full denuclearization.

The Korea Customs Office (KCS) said the three firms brought in 35,038 tons of North Korean coal and pig iron, worth a combined 6.6 billion won (US$5.86 million), on seven occasions between April and October last year.

They were found to have transshipped the materials at a Russian port and manipulated documents on the country of origin or the type of stuff.

The coal was a sort of commission fee for the firms' role in helping export North Korean goods to other countries via Russia, with a wide web of sanctions against Pyongyang in place, according to the KCS.

The pig iron, obtained in exchange for selling Russian coal to North Korea, was brought into South Korea via a paper company in Hong Kong, it added.

That means the importers knew that the materials originated in North Korea.

But the customs office said it found no evidence that local banks, which issued letters of credit for them, were aware of such illicit trade.

It's called "turning a blind eye", not lack of evidence.


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Mid-Week Post

Your mid-week ray of sunshine ...




The gong show that is the Canada-Saudi Arabia spat continues:

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday there is no room for mediation in the kingdom’s deepening diplomatic dispute with Canada, and that Ottawa knew what it needed to do to “fix its big mistake”.  

(Sidebar: would that mistake be buying your oil? Because that is a HUGE mistake.)

“There is nothing to mediate. A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh. ...

(Sidebar: I get the feeling that the Saudis would not be so demanding if Canada had a gutsy leader who didn't want to have $300 million worth of Saudi oil imported monthly, but I repeat myself ...)

Saudi Arabia on Sunday froze new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa’s call to free arrested Saudi civil society activists. 

It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada, making plans to relocate tens of thousands of Saudi students and patients to other countries.


Not to be outdone in ridiculousness, Justin's useless mouth-breathers weigh in with their mass-less platitudes:

Finance Minister Bill Morneau doubled down Tuesday on Ottawa’s message that the federal government will continue to stand up for Canadian values even as it finds itself at the centre of an ongoing diplomatic tumult with Saudi Arabia.

It’s important to propagate Canadian values around the world, and the Liberal government will continue to “enunciate” what it believes are the “appropriate ways of dealing with citizens,” Morneau told a news conference in Mississauga, Ont.



Would these be the same values that deprived special-needs children of the opportunity to attend summer camps because the churches who run them refuse to let wealthy white Laurentians dictate what is regarded as right or wrong? Or the values that fund anti-oil groups and pro-Islamist groups? Are those "values" (the ones Justin does not believe we have because we have "no core identity", one might add) going to be applied to groups that actively work against Canada's oil interests but for Saudi Arabia's? The values that ignore the needs of veterans because "they are asking for more than we are able to give right now"? The values that let the useless son of Pierre attempt to skate on charges of groping a reporter because she didn't work for the Globe and Mail? Or the values that let ISIS rapists haunt their Yazidi victims, the same people still being victimised in the Middle East and Turkey? THOSE values?





More on "values":

The severity of crime in Canada is increasing under the Trudeau government.

The Crime Severity Index is a way to measure how serious reported crimes are. This can give a better idea of how bad crime really is, since the traditional crime rate may show a decrease in crime, but that decrease could be because there were fewer non-serious crimes, while more serious crimes could have increased. ...

Statistics 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Index
Crime severity index 7 8 9 68.78 66.72 70.14 71.71 72.87

Percent
Percent change in crime severity index 10 -8.82 -3.00 5.13 2.24 1.62

Index
Violent crime severity index 11 73.88 70.52 75.07 76.55 80.26

Percent
Percent change in violent crime severity index 10 -9.76 -4.55 6.45 1.97 4.85



It's just money:

The federal government will continue to offer support for hundreds of asylum claimants currently staying in hotels in the Greater Toronto Area, after initially agreeing to cover the cost of their shelter until Sept. 30, a cabinet minister told CBC News.

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos told CBC's Power and Politics today that the federal government will be a full partner in the work of finding asylum claimants more permanent housing.



The peddling people do to protect their jobs would be laughable if it weren't so dastardly:

Hundreds of doctors, nurses and social workers are asking the Ontario government to reconsider its plan to repeal and replace a modernized sex-ed curriculum, arguing the decision would put students’ health at risk.

What nurse or physician would put their name in support to Ben Levin's sexual education program? This is the man who wanted to watch people have sex with their children. If these handful (Ontario has a total of 30,175 physicians) of "professionals" would explain why they think that a convicted child pornographer's program is absolutely necessary for children who cannot yet spell (let alone give consent - did Ben Levin's fantasies give consent?), that would be helpful.




China tacks on additional tariffs onto the US:

China is slapping additional tariffs of 25 percent on $16 billion worth of U.S. imports from fuel and steel products to autos and medical equipment, the Chinese commerce ministry said, as the world’s largest economies escalated their trade dispute. 




John Bolton should know better than to expect North Korea to deliver on promises it barely made:

White House national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday said North Korea has not taken the necessary steps to denuclearize despite an agreement between Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in June.

Bolton, in an interview on Fox News, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was prepared to return to North Korea for another meeting with Kim.

"What we really need is not more rhetoric," Bolton said. "What we need is performance from North Korea on denuclearization."


This North Korea:

“We changed our route, we stayed in China, and helped [our pastor] to rescue other defectors. In 2005, we got caught again, we stayed in Chinese prison for 13 or 15 months and in 2006 we got sent back to North Korea again,” she said. “We thought we would die in North Korea because it was exposed to the government that we believed in Christianity.”



Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A Post ... For Now

A lot going on ...



Watching Justin's useless government butt heads with the corrupt theocratic kingdom of Saudi Arabia is like watching an imminent train wreck in which two idiot engineers attempt to argue the other off of the tracks. One cannot turn away but one also cannot care who wins.

I honestly can't.

Both parties are detestable.


Justin's government has never met Islamists it didn't like:

After relations between us and the Saudis broke down, the Palestinians sided with Saudi Arabia and condemned us:
As noted in a recent report, “Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Monday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stands with Saudi Arabia in a political row with Canada, rejecting what it called Ottawa’s “blatant interference” in Riyadh’s internal affairs. He also called on the Arab countries to stand by the Kingdom to reject and condemn the Canadian intervention in its internal affairs.”
So, Justin Trudeau took $50 million away from the Canadian People, and gave it to the Palestinians, who then sided with our opponent and condemned us.
 
Contrary to what it bleats, it also doesn't stand up for human rights. One could pick any issue but the pertinent one here is the Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, and how Justin's government has dragged its feet on the criticism of his treatment at the hands of vile Wahhabi-autocrats, people no one can really bring themselves to condemn and stop trading with outright. The mere mention of Mr. Badawi's sister, Samar, seems like convenient point-making for a disingenuous government flagging for any number of reasons.


Canada could start pulling its own weight, avoid international embarrassment and drill and transport its own oil ...

 https://www.spencerfernando.com/2018/08/06/photo-heres-where-canadas-foreign-oil-comes-from/

... but Justin's advisor, Gerald Butts, would be absolutely aghast.


So Canada will continue using imported oil, even oil from its erstwhile foe, Saudi Arabia, and deal with this crap:

After years of consultations, legal wrangling and scientific monitoring, the company’s Nova Scotia-based subsidiary, Alton Natural Gas Storage LP, has said it plans to start the brining process some time later this year.

Bernard says her people are not going to let that happen.

The $130-million project has been largely on hold since 2014 when Mi’kmaq activists started a series of protests that culminated two years later in the creation of a year-round protest camp at the work site northwest of Stewiacke.

**

Kinder Morgan Canada says expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline could cost the federal government as much as $1.9 billion beyond the company's original construction estimate and take 12 months longer to finish

Essentially cater to every foreign-funded whim and debacle instead of instituting and enforcing a practical energy policy that cuts out players like Saudi Arabia and their equally awful comrades.


Also:

The U.S. referred to both Canada and Saudi Arabia as “close partners,” and said “We have asked the Government of Saudi Arabia for additional information on the detention of several activists.”
Additionally, the statement said “We continue to encourage the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect due process and to publicize information on the status of legal cases.”
The U.S. also wants Saudi Arabia to publicize information on the legal cases against the jailed human rights advocates.



It's just money:

In the past two years, the Trudeau government has spent $270 million of our taxpayer dollars on illegal border crossers.

**

The $11-million commitment from the federal government to help Toronto cope with an influx of asylum seekers is an "important step forward," Mayor John Tory said Friday, but cautioned that more money will soon be needed.

Eleven million dollars is hardly an eye-drop in the bottomless bucket that is illegal immigration but Tory grovels well.


Also - it's only a growing voters block:

“Recently, CBSA officers are noticing another phenomenon: claimants who have recently arrived in Canada as irregular migrants and have refugee claims in process are acting as an anchor relative for other qualifying family members. This means that these family members can present themselves at a port of entry and not be considered as irregular migrants. Also, they can’t be refused entry under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).”


And:

A search warrant from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) alleges 462 applicants to the provincial nominee program used Charlottetown homes belonging to two Chinese immigrants over the past four years as “addresses of convenience.”



If one wants to legalise drugs and create millions of hot messes everyone has to pay for, why complain about Ontario Premier Doug Ford's plan to drastically reduce beer prices in tones so Puritan?:

Of course I don’t recall any outrage when actual tax dollars were given to Steam Whistle or Beau’s to pay for the expansion of private business. But a government store profile a product on sale without charging extra for that product……unthinkable.

The real reason people are against this is that these people will oppose everything Doug Ford does. 

Plain and simple.

If they cared about corporate welfare, they would have protested the direct subsidies of two of Ontario’s most successful craft brewers.

But they didn’t.

Nor are they protesting that craft brewers, who normally charge $3 and up for a tall boy can pay a tax rate that is less than half of the big guys.

Did you know that?

Right now a big brewer like Molson or Labatt pay a basic beer tax at a rate of 88.33 cents per litre for beer sold in bottles or cans. Craft brewers pay a tax of 38.34 cents per litre.

Why are Ford’s critics silent on this? They hate buck-a-beer and call it a subsidy but say nothing of this.

Also, if you look at the chart, the tax on beer went up every year from 2010 on, the Liberals – federal and provincial – are against cheap beer.




North Korea wants the US to remove sanctions on it:

North Korea’s state media called on Monday for the United States to ditch crippling economic sanctions as a reward for Pyongyang’s show of good faith in ending its nuclear weapons testing and transferring the remains of American troops killed in the Korean War.

The calls came just days after a confidential United Nations report concluded that the pariah regime has not stopped its nuclear and missile programmes, and continues to conduct illegal trades of oil, coal and other commodities, reported Reuters.


This North Korea:

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it expects Pyongyang to keep its commitment made at a June leaders' summit to give up its nuclear arms and would press southeast Asian nations during meetings this week to maintain sanctions against North Korea.

Questions have arisen over Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearize after U.S. spy satellite material detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country's first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States.

** 

“Heinous devils.” “Narrow-minded guys of an island nation.” “Island barbarians, the sworn enemy of the Korean nation.” “A matchless political dwarf.” “A burglar that historically inflicted wars and misfortune and pain of colonial rule upon Korea.”

As evidenced by its harsh characterizations of Japan, North Korea’s state-run news wire spews vitriol like none other. But the Korean Central News Agency has recently taken a conspicuously muted approach to the United States, and to a lesser extent South Korea, as negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs continue.

Now, it has turned its sights on a new, but predictable foil — its former colonial master, Japan.

**

A senior government official said it would be unacceptable for Japan to welcome the arrival of North Korean athletes without the abduction issue being resolved.

Abe has expressed eagerness for settling the abduction issue quickly, not only due to the aging of their waiting relatives, but also because he hopes to prevent the issue of whether North Korean athletes should be allowed in from being rekindled, a government source said.



The Year Zero:

While victory by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in Sunday’s general election was expected, the scale of the win was still shocking. The CPP claims to occupy every seat in Parliament. Democracy in that country has long been a ritual rather than a reality, but this campaign exposed the claims of representative government as empty. The people of Cambodia have no recourse other than protest, which will likely result in more pain for them.



Why would anyone trust vaccines from a country that let milk producers poison children?:

Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd, a vaccine maker at the center of a safety scandal in China, began falsifying production records for its rabies vaccine in April 2014, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

Changsheng had mixed some batches with expired solution and did not correctly record dates or batch numbers, Xinhua said, citing the findings of an investigation team established by China's State Council.




And now, Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen's ship returns home:

The ship used by the first explorer to successfully travel to the South Pole has finally returned home, putting an end to a 100-year-old chaotic expedition. 

Named the Maud, after Norway’s then-queen, the ship was recovered in 2016 from Canadian Arctic waters where it sunk in 1930, by Norwegian artist Jan Wanggard and his team. According to the website Phys Org, it was then towed across the North Atlantic on a barge from Greenland and arrived in western Norway Monday morning.  

The website added that the ship will be exhibited in the southeastern municipality of Asker, near Oslo, where it was launched in 1917, thanks to the funding of three Norwegian brothers and entrepreneurs.