Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mid-Week Post

It’s right behind you…

The body of South Korea's most wanted man, linked to the sinking of a ferry in April that killed 300 people, was identified more than a month after being found in an orchard, police said on Tuesday, with his book and empty bottles of alcohol nearby.

The police chief in charge of the case in a small city in the south of the country was sacked on Tuesday for not recognising the book, or putting two and two together, and for not identifying the corpse earlier.

Police said that DNA and fingerprint evidence from the heavily decomposed body found on June 12 showed it to be that of Yoo Byung-un, 73, the target for more than two months of South Korea's largest manhunt.

This entire fiasco just reeks of incompetence. It’s making the Costa Concordia look organised in comparison.

Four different reports from various House of Commons committees have revealed that the U.K. has as many as 251 active arms sales licenses with Russia. British arms export licenses cover the type of missiles that brought down the jet, killing 298 people, mostly tourists, The Guardian noted.

At the same time, the Conservative Party has taken huge political donations from Russian interests. Mayor of London Boris Johnson — who is expected to stand as a Conservative MP in the upcoming general election — has said he may now refuse to play a game of tennis with one Russian oligarch who donated £160,000 to the party.

Cameron promised on Monday that Britain had already stopped arms sales to Russia. That turned out to not be the case....

Worse, Cameron chided the French for selling two warships to Russia right before the arms export reports came out. French politicians immediately called him out on that, calling him a hypocrite.

Aside from its general weakness, Europe can't afford to confront Putin and hold him to account for his support of the Russian rebels who now stand accused of murdering two hundred and ninety-eight people. Europe's dependence on Russian gas/oil and its unwillingness to pursue other means of energy are chief reasons for Europe's inaction.

Kiev said two of its fighter jets were shot down over the rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, and the missiles that brought them down might have been fired from Russia.

"There is no direct military threat to our country’s sovereignty or territorial integrity at present," he said.
To a Western ear, that might sound like belaboring the obvious. For a Russian audience today, it's a jarring note for their leader to strike.

Mr. Putin's statement flatly contradicts what the domestic media have been saying for months. Just days ago, Russian outlets were warning of a White House "offensive against Russia and China," with the US trying to create "instability on Russia's borders." Putin himself earlier this month claimed that Russia's annexation of Crimea was to forestall NATO from getting a foothold in Ukraine.

"If you've been reading the Russian press and watching TV over the past few months you would have gotten an entirely different impression," that the country was in a state of emergency and facing imminent peril, says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the Moscow-based foreign policy journal "Russia in Global Affairs." 

Russian experts say that Putin's sudden reversal is a clear sign he is looking to ratchet down the domestic anxieties and anti-Western attitudes that have been rife since the Ukraine crisis erupted about five months ago. And perhaps most significantly, it's time to end the siege mentality.

Or not.

Putin does not capitulate. He cannot afford to look weak but he also cannot afford to maintain the illusion of eminent danger to Russia or its interests. He knows that the only country that could pose any hindrance to him will not challenge him. The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 is incredibly damning. Putin's only recourse is to appear to have softened slightly. He would not have to maintain this illusion for long as neither the US nor Europe will enact any serious punishments on him.

It's time for every major airport to refuse to let Aeroflot leave or land. Putin's friends also cannot land at any airport in their private aircafts.

Perhaps then Putin will appear contrite.

Known as the 'Jerusalem of the East', Wenzhou is reportedly home to the largest Christian community in China and around 1,000 people gathered to form a human blockade against police at Salvation Church on the night of the attack. However, police are said to have used iron batons to beat those who stood in their way, and "bloody pictures and videos of riots" that ensued are now circulating on social networks.

The church is just one of hundreds to be targeted in Zhejiang province – at least 360 have already been completely or partially demolished, apparently as a result of defying building regulations.

Local Christians, however, are convinced that it is part of an invigorated attack against Christianity, which is seen as a rival to the Communist government. ICC reports that local officials "compete" to remove the most church crosses in order to bolster their own careers.

Despite the latest incident of violence, members of Salvation Church are determined to protect their building, and defend their faith.

A 38-year-old victim was infected by a marmot, a wild rodent, and died on July 16. Several districts of the city of about 100,000 people in Gansu province were subsequently turned into special quarantine zones, Xinhua said.

It said 151 people who came into direct contact with the victim were also placed in quarantine. None have so far shown any signs of infection, the news agency said.

The Western world "cannot tolerate" the strategic threat posed by a Hamas with newly uncovered "state-like" capabilities in rocketry and tunnelling, a senior Israeli defence official told reporters in Ottawa today.

The senior official, who cannot be identified under the ground rules of the briefing, said the Israeli military had considerable prior knowledge of Hamas weaponry and tunnels, but was still "surprised" by the extent of both when the current ground operation began last Thursday.

​He said the Hamas arsenal has now been revealed to include R-160 Iranian missiles with a range of 250 kilometres that were smuggled into Gaza in pieces and assembled there.

Even after launching by Hamas of more than 2,000 rockets already, the Israelis estimate that thousands more remain from an original supply of 6,000 in the hands of Hamas itself and another 4,000 in the hands of the hardline militia, Islamic Jihad.

Those include the heavy M-302 rocket with a range of 160 kilometres, enough to hit most of Israel, the official said, adding that it had captured and destroyed many of those before the recent conflict erupted.
There is no danger of this vast amount of weaponry aimed at one country ever affecting the wrong-headed judgment of pro-Hamas supporters, most of whom are violent:

“I was trying to get men off my little brother and I was punched in the face by a man in my left cheek and my left, and then punched in the back of my head and then had my hair pulled,” she said.

Last week, a protest at city hall in support of Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza turned violent when a handful of Israeli supporters showed up.

Some men began pushing and shoving, and one man stomped on an Israeli flag before police moved in and set up a line of officers to separate the groups and try to ease tensions.

Naturally, the "handful of Israeli supporters" was the fuse for this otherwise peaceful demonstration.

Jake Birrell, who wore an Israeli flag around his neck, said he was attacked during the second clash. He confronted an officer asking why police hadn’t intervened.

“When you’re wearing that, what do you expect is going to happen here?” the officer asked him.

“What do you expect is going to happen when you walk through this group?”

No one can rely on the police, either.

He's the bear we deserve, but not the bear we need right now because it's just too hot. Rescuers saved this bear, who is named Georges when he does not wear the cowl of the bat, from bear bile farmers.

(Apparently bear bile is an ingredient in the traditional medical practices of certain East Asian cultures.)

Georges has escaped that awful fate. He's now trying to beat the summer heat in a rescue facility in Vĩnh Phúc, Vietnam.


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