Monday, June 06, 2016

For a Monday

The first images of Canadian soldiers landing in Normandy

South Korean President Guen-Hye Park urged political unity against North Korean nuclear ambitions during her Memorial Day address:

President Park Geun-hye paid respect to the nation’s fallen soldiers during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, urging the people to unite against the security threat from North Korea and warning that Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions will lead to its “self-destruction.”

President Park’s speech, delivered after she attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Cemetery, came after her return from an overseas trip during which she spent much of her time building international coalition against the reclusive regime.  ...

“When it comes to national security, there is no room for partisan politics or regional and generational differences,” said the president to some 10,000 attending political and judicial leaders, war veterans and citizens.

“National unity is the only way to end the history of divided Koreas and usher in an era of peace and unification,” she said.

Describing Pyongyang’s nuclear program as the biggest hurdle to the two Koreas’ unification and as a path to the regime’s self-destruction, Park warned that the North would be met with tougher sanctions unless it stops developing nuclear weapons.

It's a lukewarm speech, a typical one that can only be believed when South Korea finally realises that North Korea is not only not be trusted but will - with China's help - lash out against its southern neighbour.


The soon-to-converge US and Russian armies does not answer the question why Obama lied about American progress against ISIS or why every major power in the world isn't massing forces to pulverise ISIS:

A two-pronged advance to capture key urban strongholds of the Islamic State group and its self-styled capital of Raqqa has underlined a quiet convergence of strategy between the U.S. and Russia to defeat the extremists, with Syria's Kurds emerging as the common link.

The dual advance toward Raqqa by the Syrian army from the southwest and the predominantly Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces from the north and west puts further pressure on the militants as they fend off simultaneous attacks on bastions such as Fallujah, and potentially Mosul, in neighbouring Iraq.

The Kurdish involvement is proving vital to the interests of Washington and Moscow.

For the U.S., the predominantly Kurdish SDF has proven the most capable actor in northern Syria in defeating the extremist group, a point it made when its predecessor, the Kurdish YPG, held off the militants in Kobani, in 2015. That battle was seen by many as a turning point in the war on the IS group.

For Russia, the SDF advance has drawn IS fighters away from the front with the Syrian government and allowed the Kremlin's allies in Damascus to advance, showing that Moscow is participating in the battle against the IS group.

While the media has focused on the battles between Iraqi government forces and IS militants in the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the Syrian army on Saturday reached Raqqa province for the first time in almost two years. The Syrian government has had no presence in Raqqa since August 2014, when IS overran the Tabqa air base and killed scores of government soldiers in a massacre they documented on video. The provincial capital, Raqqa, became the militants' first captive city.

Backed by intense Russian airstrikes, Syrian troops began their advance toward the province Wednesday, the same day that U.S.-backed SDF forces launched an attack on the IS stronghold of Manbij, which is 72 miles to the northwest of Raqqa and lies on a key supply route linking Raqqa with the Turkish border.

Obama (nor Trudeau, for that matter) wants ISIS defeated. Russia's interest lies in its ability to build a pipeline

Is there anyone interested in stability?


Chinese officials have restricted civil servants, students and children in a mainly Muslim region from fasting during Ramadan, government websites said as the holy month began on Monday.

The country's ruling Communist party is officially atheist and for years has banned government employees and minors from fasting in Xinjiang, home to the more than 10 million-strong mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

It has also ordered some restaurants to stay open.

The region sees regular clashes between Uighurs and state security forces. Beijing has blamed deadly attacks there and elsewhere in China on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region.

Health Minister Jane Philpott (absolutely giddy with the prospect of freeing up hospital beds) reminds medical professional what they already know -  that there are no safeguards to protect them from violating their Hippocratic Oath:

Health Minister Jane Philpott is telling health care providers gathered in Ottawa today that provincial guidelines and regulations on doctor-assisted dying do not provide enough clarity and protection to those who may now be asked to help their patients die.

"While I have faith in Canada's healthcare providers to carry out these responsibilities responsibly and ethically, I believe that regulatory guidance alone is insufficient, given the nature of what you will be asked to do," Philpott said in her speech to the National Health Leadership Conference in Ottawa Monday.

Philpott reminded the room that doctor-assisted dying now becomes legal in Canada after the federal government missed the Monday deadline the Supreme Court gave them to enact legislation responding to its landmark ruling on physician-assisted death.

"Unfortunately, despite tremendous effort, this bill is not yet in place," Philpott said in her speech at a downtown Ottawa hotel.

"That means that, effective tomorrow, you may be asked to do something that has never been expected of you before — to help people end their lives. It's a daunting prospect," she said.

Medical regulators in every province have already issued guidelines for physicians on providing assistance in dying, based on the eligibility criteria outlined by the Supreme Court.

Those rules impose safeguards similar to — and in some cases, even stronger than — those proposed in C-14.

Yes, that's what got Alison Redford kicked out:

According to documents posted online, Notley and her staff spent $339,348.64 in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Redford spent $340,555.67 and $323,243.21 in her last two years in office.

The documents break down spending for Notley and staff in the premier's office into three categories: meals, accommodations, and travel; hospitality and working sessions; and goods, supplies and services and other expenses. 

Unlike Redford, who was criticized for her high travel expenses, the category with the highest spending under Notley is $229,424.86 for goods, supplies and services and other items.

Due to rising costs in fuel, the dwindling dollar and even inflation, Canadians switch to frozen rather than fresh fruit:

Some Canadians are snubbing expensive fruits and vegetables, instead turning to frozen produce and juice as less-pricey alternatives, a new survey by researchers from two universities has found.

Soaring produce prices have been a hot topic recently. Fresh vegetable costs rose 11.7 per cent and fresh fruit prices increased 11 per cent year-over-year in April, according to Statistics Canada's most recent consumer price index report.

Researchers from the University of Guelph's food institute and Dalhousie University surveyed more than 1,000 adults in Canada between May 12 and 24 to determine if these rising prices have changed consumer grocery shopping behaviours.

The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

The results suggest low-income households, less-educated folks and young people are more vulnerable to produce's ongoing price volatility, said Sylvain Charlebois, the dean of the faculty of management at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., and one of the report's authors.

(Sidebar: how educated does one have to be to know that fruits and vegetables are better for one than junk food?)

Food costs are going right up. And with carbon taxes, Canadians can pay even more.

And now, a Siberian husky blowing bubbles in his drinking bowl:

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