Friday, December 30, 2016

For a Friday

The last Friday of the year...

What the mad theocratic state of Iran has received in sanctions relief:

In the three years since a preliminary nuclear deal was struck with Iran, Tehran has received more than $10 billion in sanctions relief from around the world in the form of cash and gold, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The large shipments of gold and cash, from oil funds unfrozen in numerous countries, represents the kind of financial relief that made Iran’s leaders eager to complete the international nuclear accord. 

Some of the cash and gold went to Iran while the U.S. and other world powers negotiated with Tehran on a final nuclear deal. More shipments took place after final deal went into effect last January.

This tallying of the sanctions relief to date includes payments previously announced and others that haven’t been. In one previously unreported payment, the U.S. authorized Iran to receive $1.4 billion in sanctions relief between when the final deal was struck in July 2015 and when it took effect, according to the U.S. officials.

Some U.S. lawmakers and Middle East allies contend that the shipments of cash and gold, a highly liquid form of money, can be used to fund Iran’s allies in the region, including the Assad regime in Syria, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Houthi political movement in Yemen.

Trudeau's party was tipped off in 2013 that a benefactor was wanted in China for corruption:

The Liberal Party of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was tipped off in 2013 that a wealthy party benefactor was wanted by China for corruption, long before the news became public, in an email that has been leaked to the South China Morning Post by a former party executive.

The former executive said they were assured at the time that the anonymous email and its startling claims about Vancouver developer Michael Ching Mo Yeung had been “dealt with”. But the party kept quiet and continued to accept donations and support from Ching and a pro-Trudeau political organisation, Tru-Youths United Association, set up in his office.

It would accept thousands of dollars from Ching in 2014 and 2015, while Tru-Youths helped staged massive Liberal fundraisers, including a 1,300-seat event in Toronto in June 2014.

It was not until April 2015 that the SCMP broke the news that Ching was in fact Cheng Muyang, the wanted son of corrupt Chinese communist party official Cheng Weigao.

Yet on December 15, 2013, the executive was among a group of Liberals who received a 1,500-word email from an anonymous tipster, identifying themselves only as “Snow White”. Ching’s teenage daughter, Linda, had just been elected unopposed as president of the Young Liberals in British Columbia, to the apparent concern of the emailer.

This guy:

“Michael Ching as far as I know got quite involved around the time of the Trudeau leadership,” the federal Liberal source said. “He had supported Raymond Chan before that, but most of his support (of the LPC) was after 2012. From a Liberal perspective, this guy is seemingly quite connected across business and politics in Greater Vancouver.” ...

China’s deputy consul general to Vancouver, Fan Xiaodong, said China and Canada have been working co-operatively on repatriating Chinese fugitives and those who are involved in serious corruption cases. He said the countries share similar attitudes toward fighting crime, noting Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that Canada will not become a paradise for criminals.
Make no mistake who owns Canada. It is not Canadians. Not anymore.

The lot of North Korean children:

The children are eight or nine years old and work up to 10 hours a day in the heat of the blazing sun. Neither they nor their parents are compensated for this back-breaking labor.

As the newspaper points out, these are the children of North Korea’s working class. Familiar class stratification has emerged in North Korea, with the communist party and the government employees at the top, and the underclass at the bottom.

The children of the former attend newly-constructed schools and enjoy, as much as they can in the Hermit Kingdom, a semblance of a normal life. The latter are barely surviving in a state of abject poverty and servitude. So much, then, for the communist commitment to equality. 

An explanation for John Kerry's anti-semitic comments:

The protocol states that Kerry and Rice told the Palestinian delegation that the current US administration under President Barack Obama would be willing to cooperate with them in the UN Security Council given that the resolution would be a balanced one. The added that they have instructed US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power to be in contact with Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour.

  During the meeting, Kerry and Rice were reportedly both severely critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of wanting to destroy the possibility of a two-state solution. They also praised Erekat for predicting Netanyahu's policy trajectory four years ago—namely, one of maintaining the status quo while making minor adjustments. 

Kerry said that he could present ideas for a possible permanent solution on the condition that the Palestinians would endorse them upon their publication. Furthermore, he apparently advised the Palestinians to send a representative to Riyadh in order to share the suggestions with the Saudis. 

There is the back-stabbing.

Also: Canada is not Israel's friend anymore and PM Hair-Boy will prove it:

The questions for our Prime Minister are where he stands on both the motion itself, and the motives behind it. Does he agree that among all the nations within the UN it is Israel that most deserves this censure from the Security Council? Does he think Israel deserves the animus and antagonism of a departing U.S. president? Is this resolution in accord with Trudeau’s own views on the Middle East? 

Most particularly, does he see the censure as part of that move to a “more balanced policy” on the Middle East, which was a highlight of the Liberals’ election campaign? Does it stand as a needed “corrective” to his predecessor Stephen Harper’s abiding and full-hearted support of Israel? Would Trudeau support this motion to assist his desire to be perceived as a “more honest broker” (than Harper) in the Middle East? Perhaps when the exequies of Carrie Fisher are done, these questions might claim his attention.

(Sidebar: not bloody likely.)

Putin, once Obama's best friend, responds to impotent girly-man rage:

In a head-spinning turn of events on Friday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced that he would not retaliate against the United States’ decision to expel Russian diplomats and impose new sanctions — hours after his foreign minister recommended doing just that.
Putin, betting on improved relations with the next American president, said he would not eject 35 diplomats or close any diplomatic facilities, rejecting a tit-for-tat response to actions taken by the Obama administration on Thursday.

In an statement on the Kremlin’s website, Putin said he did not want to deprive children of access to a recreational area on an island in the Moscow River that his foreign minister had recommended closing. He went one step further, inviting all children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to participate in the traditional New Year and the Russian Orthodox Christmas parties at the Kremlin.

“While we reserve the right to take reciprocal measures, we’re not going to downgrade ourselves to the level of irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy,” his statement said, using a common Russian idiom for quarrelsome and unseemly acts.

The KGB agent knows how to play it cool.

In February, this might blow over.


To understand the pride and fierce devotion that Vladimir Putin inspires among Russians today, it is necessary to understand the Wild West that the dictator from St. Petersburg inherited when he took over from Yeltsin on Dec. 31, 1999 and his desire to erase the humiliation of the end of the Soviet Union and, to borrow a phrase, make Russia great again.

What should be humiliating is that Russia was a totalitarian state that oppressed and murdered its own people and others. It was a bully state that had to be dragged by its own people (and Saint John Paul II) into some vague semblance of democracy.

Putin would erase all that.

The Neanderthals had quite the appetite:

A new archaeological find proves our early relatives resorted to cannibalism, breaking open each others’ bones and feasting on the marrow.

Cave specialists discovered the 40,000-year-old bones of a newborn, a child and four adults or teenagers in Goyet, Belgium on Dec. 19. AFP reports the bones show clear signs they were cracked and cut open in order to extract the marrow.

And now, I will wrap up this post not with the many, many remembrances of  this past year but with a spark that maybe this coming year might bring some glad tidings.

Stay safe and healthy and thanks to everyone who reads here.

(Merci beaucoup)

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