Thursday, January 26, 2017

For a Thursday

A merry Australia Day to all y'all.

I bet he wishes he went to Davos now:

"He basically said chiefs do not know what the needs of First Nations are," said Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose.

"I thought that was disrespectful and he should learn to use his words more carefully."

Why go abroad when he can radicalise people domestically?

An Ottawa man who had been talking about joining ISIL signed a terrorism peace bond on Thursday that requires him to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and not view online terrorist propaganda.

Tevis Gonyou-McLean, 25, became the latest Canadian subject to a terrorism peace bond, which police have been using against those they believe have become supporters of ISIL or groups with a similar ideology.

Wow. The authorities certainly know how to deal with guys like him.

Oh, this will go down well:

The White House on Thursday floated the idea of imposing a 20 percent tax on goods from Mexico to pay for a wall at the southern U.S. border, sending the peso plummeting and deepening a crisis between the two neighbors.

Obama's last-minute cash offer to the Palestinians has been frozen by Trump:

The Trump administration has informed the Palestinian Authority that it is freezing the transfer of $221 million which was quietly authorized by the Obama administration in its final hours on January 20...

Somewhere, a has-been president is grinding his teeth.

After killing the TPP, Trump will attempt a new trade with Japan, a deal that might be better and tailored for individual countries:

U.S. President Donald Trump will seek quick progress toward a bilateral trade agreement with Japan in place of a broader Asia-Pacific deal he abandoned this week, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the White House next month, an official in the Trump administration said on Thursday.

New defense chief James Mattis will travel to Japan and South Korea in February:

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis plans to visit Japan and South Korea next week in a demonstration of Asia’s importance to the administration of President Donald Trump, officials from the two allies said Tuesday.

Mattis is expected to be the first Cabinet member of the Trump administration to visit Japan since the Republican’s inauguration Friday.

The Pentagon chief plans to meet with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Feb. 3 after paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the previous day, according to the officials.

Mattis and Inada are likely to reaffirm the importance of maintaining the robust alliance between Tokyo and Washington and affirm that U.S. engagement is vital in ensuring stability in the region.

Mattis may request that Japan increase defense spending and expand the role of the Self-Defense Forces abroad in line with his call on U.S. allies this month to “carry their fair share of any kind of defense burden.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump demanded that Japan, South Korea and other U.S. allies cover a greater share of the costs associated with stationing U.S. forces in their countries — or else defend themselves. Japan, however, regards its nearly 75 percent contribution as sufficient.

Mattis and Inada are expected to exchange views on China’s island construction and military buildup in disputed areas in the South China Sea and North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

As in Japan, both Koreas have had their experience with Christianity, a foreign religion that many embraced and would ultimately die for.

In North Korea, being a Christian can have one killed. Yet it may be a factor for change:

Thae said many interesting things, but none was so striking as the point when, about 9 minutes into the interview, he talked about the good fortune of getting his family to South Korea and said, “God help[ed] me.” Thae did not strike me as an emotional or spiritual man. He has spent his whole life shielded from religion. We know that his political conversion was a gradual one; therefore, it’s improbable that he has undergone a sudden religious conversion since his recent defection. His religious views will probably evolve, just as his political views evolved. …

If the validation Christians feel from Thae’s mention of God is that even the most persecuted people feel, and hunger for a connection with, God’s presence, I can acknowledge that they may have a point without necessarily adopting their spiritual views. We know that many North Korean refugees have become committed Christians. Surely there are multiple explanations for this. Initially, North Koreans contact Christianity because it’s usually only Christians who (at great individual risk, but in the collective interest of the church and humanity itself) care enough to help them. Perhaps they continue to attend church out of a sense of gratitude, or because it helps to meet their material needs. They may become believers because the church gives them a sense or community, or fills the spiritual void left by the false god they’ve rejected. Thae, however, didn’t rely on missionaries to feed him or smuggle him through China, and the South Korean government has obviously welcomed him with open arms. He doesn’t need a church to be his support network. His comment suggests that appeal of religion to North Koreans transcends songbun, and that one cannot explain its appeal in solely material terms.

People who have survived totalitarian regimes often have a thirst for the spiritual. Having been deprived of everything including belief, religious faith acts as firm land on which they can tread without fear or uncertainty.


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