Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Mid-Week Post

Your mid-week interlude ...

The smoke blowing thing only works in Canada and only sometimes, Justin:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to the holiest site of Sikhism in northern India on Wednesday where government leaders said he assured them his country won’t support anyone trying to revive a separatist movement in India. 

Yes, about that:

Trudeau, who later met Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in a hotel here, said that his country did not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere. Amarinder Singh later said that he raised the issue of ‘Khalistan’ and the support certain elements in Canada were giving to it to cause disturbance in Punjab.

“Citing the separatist movement in Quebec, Trudeau said he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence, which he had always pushed back with all his might,” Chief Minister’s Media Advisor Raveen Thukral disclosed after their 40-minute meeting.

Amarinder Singh thanked Trudeau for his explicit stand on a united India.

He also handed over a list of nine Canada-based operatives alleged to be involved in hate crimes in Punjab by financing and supplying weapons for terrorist activities, and also engaged in trying to radicalize youth and children here.

The Punjab Chief Minister also raised the issue of Indo-Canadians, believed to be involved in targeted killings in the state, urging him to initiate stern action against such elements.

How ever did Mr. Singh acquire those names if the Trudeau government has a zero-tolerance policy against Sikh extremism?


Described as "too Indian, even for an Indian," the Trudeaus have commissioned some of India's most prestigious designers to outfit them for every photo op. What was perhaps most glaring was the juxtaposition between the Canadian political family and the Bollywood stars they met on Feb. 20. Sophie was in a cream-coloured and beaded sari, their children Xavier and Ella-Grace wore a sherwani and lehenga, respectively, and the PM donned a gold sherwani complete with traditional mojari shoes — while the Indian stars wore slacks and jackets.

Vain people with something to prove often do go over the top and at others' cultural and financial expense, too.


Quebec's top court has upheld the right of the national assembly to prohibit people from entering with a kirpan.

Two members of the World Sikh Organization of Canada were challenging a unanimous motion adopted in the national assembly in February 2011.

The motion stated that security personnel had the right to refuse entry to anyone who did not want to remove the religious symbol.

The welcome mat may have been laid out but the immigration and refugee board has thrown in the towel:

Grappling with a historic level of asylum claims, the Immigration and Refugee Board appears to be officially giving up on following regulations dictating they must hold refugee hearings within a certain time.

Meeting the legislated time frame to hear claims has increasingly posed a challenge for the independent tribunal as the number of asylum seekers has risen steadily since 2014.

But after running out of internal solutions, a statement from the board Tuesday suggested they are simply out of options in the face of a backlog that grows larger by the day.

Instead, they will hear claims primarily in the order in which they were received.

As long at it gets wrapped by 2019 which just happens to be an election year.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper has been elected chairman of a global alliance of the politically conservative:

Stephen Harper has been elected chairman of the International Democrat Union (IDU), an alliance of dozens of prominent centre-right political parties around the world.

Harper, Canada’s 22nd prime minister, was announced as chairman Wednesday morning following a unanimous vote at a meeting in Madrid, Spain.

Founded in 1983 by George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Jacques Chirac and other world leaders, the IDU will be tackling the challenges of changing political landscapes in the years ahead.

“The challenge will always be effectively promoting our conservative values, offering alternatives to the bad ideas of the left, winning elections and governing well,” Harper told the Sun via email from Madrid, regarding the issues he expects to face during his tenure. “In this day and age, it is also, in many countries, ensuring that we address the concerns of frustrated conservatives and that they do not drift to extreme options.”

The IDU acts as a global networking centre for the world’s conservatives, with Harper poised to manage relations and wield influence with political parties around the world.

But ... but ... peace! :

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to meet with North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un's sister, while in South Korea for the Winter Olympics this month but the North Koreans canceled at the last minute, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

"North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics," Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, said in a statement.

But after Pence condemned North Korean human rights abuses and announced plans for new economic sanctions, "they walked away from a meeting or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down," Ayers said.

One might conclude that the North Koreans cancelled the meeting for the former reason, being terribly sensitive about condemnation over their human rights abuses, but the latter reason seems more likely. The Kim dynasty has done nothing to give anyone the impression that it is serious about peace but it is concerned with keeping a crumbling status quo.

Japanese authorities report a North Korean cargo transfer in violation of sanctions placed on the country by the UN:

Japan has reported a new suspected sanctions violation by Pyongyang to the U.N. after spotting an apparent cargo transfer between a ship marked with Chinese characters and a North Korean vessel, the foreign ministry said.

The incident is the third time this year that Tokyo has reported a cargo transfer by a North Korean vessel in violation of U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The foreign ministry said late Tuesday a military patrol plane and an escort vessel observed the apparent transfer in the East China Sea on Friday afternoon.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force “found the Yu Jong 2, a North Korean-flagged tanker, lying alongside a small vessel of unknown nationality … on the high sea” around 250 kilometers (155 miles) offshore from Shanghai, the ministry said.

Four Chinese characters, reading Min Ning De You 078 (Fujian Province, Ningde City, oil tanker 078), were on the smaller vessel, the ministry said.

“Following a comprehensive assessment, the government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned” by the U.N. Security Council resolutions, the ministry said.

Tokyo said it had reported the incident to the U.N. Security Council and shared information with relevant countries.

Perhaps the Japanese should do the decidedly non-UN thing and sink any such ships in their waters. China, which sits permanently in the UN security council, may be perturbed but I am sure there are plenty of cargo ships where they came from.

Go big or go to the gulag:

Historically, the North Koreans have always performed poorly at the Winter Olympics. This year is no different. The unified Korean women’s hockey team finished without a win and the North Korean alpine skiers in the men’s giant slalom event only placed better than the athletes who couldn’t complete the race. ...

“Within a week we’ll know what if any repercussions these poor souls when they went back to North Korea suffered for not showing the world how wonderful the regime is,” said Jacob Kovalio, an associate professor at Carleton University and expert in Asia-Pacific history. 

Public shaming in North Korea is done in order to pressure people into improving their performance, Kovalio said. The sessions involve a period of self-criticism where the party member being shamed must admit to their own mistakes. When this is done, the group of people listening to the admission will then jointly lambaste the person with their own criticism.

These public humiliations are part of “party life,” in North Korea, according to Michael Madden. Madden, an analyst for 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said public shaming is used for political study and education sessions. 

“This is a routine part of DPRK life and applies to all members of the Workers’ Party of Korea — from factory employees to soldiers to top officials,” Madden said in an email. 

Normally, the sessions take place every two weeks but athletes — especially those who travel abroad — are publicly shamed every three or four days. Depending on the level of criticism being applied, athletes and coaches may also be assigned to do less-intensive manual labour such as digging ditches or cleaning the side of roads, Madden said. 

Choi Hyun Mi, who trained as a boxer in North Korea before defecting to the South, told CNN in 2014 that the public shaming sessions would only intensify if athletes lost to rivals in Japan, South Korea or the U.S. Athletes get “denounced to an extent, that wow, you almost wouldn’t be able to continue competing,” she said.

What do North Koreans know about Canada?

Not much:

Many North Koreans may have never seen the U.S. flag and fewer still will recognize Canada's emblematic Maple Leaf. Experts say it's likely most North Koreans have no knowledge that Canada, seldom referenced by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, shares such a close bond and even a border with the regime's "Yankee" foe.

It didn't occur to Eom that Canada was friendly neighbours with the Americans he once learned to despise while in the military. "I never expected Canada is near the United States," he said.

Not only that, he was led to believe Canada might have shared North Korea's values.

"I was thinking Canada is almost the same as North Korea's social system."

Speaking of which:

And now, things one may not know about grizzly bears:

Although grizzlies enjoy eating many insects, moths are at the top of the menu. Researchers have observed that bears are willing to climb to alpine heights at Montana’s Glacier National Park in order to feast on the flying appetizers. Grizzlies will turn over rocks and spend up to 14 hours in a day devouring in excess of 40,000 moths.

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