Tuesday, May 22, 2018

For a Tuesday

A post-Victoria Day entry ...

Forget it, Donald:

President Donald Trump expressed confidence Tuesday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is “serious” about negotiating over denuclearization, but he acknowledged a “substantial chance” that a summit planned for June 12 in Singapore could fall through.

“We’re moving along. We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House, after welcoming South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a meeting. “If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later.”

Later Trump said: “It may not work out for June 12.”

The uncertainty comes after recent hard line rhetoric from Pyongyang, which has alarmed Trump administration officials and complicated the summit planning. A high-ranking Kim aide last week blasted national security adviser John Bolton, who had suggested the North Koreans would be expected to fully relinquish their nuclear weapons program before receiving reciprocal benefits from the United States.

In the past, any time North Korea appeared conciliatory and co-operative, it was to lift sanctions. This time is not vastly different. Because Trump had ratcheted up the pressure on both China and North Korea, the predictable outcome - the one where Kim would walk away from peace talks and resume its previous behaviour - only took longer to unfold.

Case in point:

The North at the same time demands that the U.S. lower the bar for denuclearization and accuses it of provoking hostilities with joint aerial exercises with South Korea.

On Saturday, the North demanded that South Korea return a group of restaurant workers who defected from China in 2016 in an operation Pyongyang has denounced as an "abduction." North Korea has been demanding their return since 2016, but the demand has recently been fueled by a tendentious program on a cable channel here which gave the false impression that the women want to go home. 

(Sidebar: for the story of these defectors, please see here.)

The North Korean Red Cross, which is unconnected to the international organization, warned in a statement, "How the mass abduction is handled will have a major impact on determining the outlook of humanitarian issues between the North and South." It was a thinly veiled threat to call off reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, which Pyongyang had previously agreed to without preconditions. 

A day earlier the North also rejected a roster of South Korean reporters who were to cover the dismantling event in Punggye-ri.

These reporters:

North Korea declined to accept the list of South Korean journalists chosen to cover the dismantling of its nuclear test site Tuesday, making it technically hard for the South Korean media to join the event scheduled for this week.

"We tried to convey the list through the Panmunjom communication channel at 9 a.m. today, but the North declined to accept it," a unification ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

As the North declined to accept the list, South Korean media is highly likely to be excluded from covering the event that the North is planning to hold this week. 

"It appears to be technically difficult (for the South Korean reporters) to make a trip to the North today," a government official said. "It is regrettable."

(Sidebar: regrettable, my @$$!)

One may be quick to blame Trump for this debacle but he only shares part of the blame, chiefly for not realising what liars Kim and China are. If anything, both China and Kim Jong-Un were simply doing what they've always done and let one not forget Moon Jae-In's well-rehearsed "optimism".
US President Donald Trump says that Kim Jong Un’s safety will be guaranteed if a deal to denuclearize the Korean peninsula takes place.
Kim Jong-Un murders his own people. He should be safe from nothing.

Duterte is now concerned that China is taking liberties in Filipino waters:

The Philippines expressed "serious concerns" over the presence of China's strategic bombers in the disputed South China Sea and its foreign ministry has taken "appropriate diplomatic action", the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.

China's air force said bombers such as the H-6K had landed and taken off from islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of training exercises last week, drawing angry reactions from opposition lawmakers in Manila. The United States also sent ships to the disputed areas.

The Philippines could not independently verify the presence of Chinese bombers in the South China Sea, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

"But we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact to efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region," Roque told a regular media briefing at the presidential palace.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines said it was monitoring developments.

That's not what you said before, Rodrigo! :

In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry cited Xi as telling Duterte their emotional foundation of friendly good neighbourliness was unchanged, and difficult topics of discussion "could be shelved temporarily".

Duterte called the meeting "historic", it added. ...

China, he said earlier, was "good". "It has never invaded a piece of my country all these generations."

It will soon. 

China is planning to scrap all limits on the number of children a family can have, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a historic end to a policy that spurred countless human-rights abuses and left the world’s second-largest economy short of workers.

Not sending a new ambassador to Venezuela is as effective in combating tyranny as funding Hamas is in ceasing the violence in Gaza:

The Canadian government took steps Monday to apply further pressure on Venezuela by announcing it won't seek to replace its ambassador in Caracas following a presidential election that has attracted widespread international condemnation.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called Sunday's elections, which will keep President Nicolas Maduro in power, "illegitimate and anti-democratic."

Freeland said that in response, Canada would "downgrade" its diplomatic ties with the South American country, effective immediately. 

(Sidebar: well, that will teach Maduro!)

But it's never about doing the morally upright thing.

Whither the love? :

According to a survey by Forum Research, Justin Trudeau’s net approval rating has fallen to -21, with a clear majority of Canadians disapproving of him.

Here are the key numbers:

35% approve of Trudeau, 56% disapprove, 9% say they don’t know.

By contrast, Andrew Scheer has a much better net approval rating. 31% approve of Scheer, while 34% disapprove, giving him a net rating of -3.

Jagmeet Singh has the approval of 27% of Canadians, while 35% disapprove of him.
If there is even one person approving of Justin's job performance, one can conclude that either the poll is false or the person is stupid.


Francis Drouin, who represents the eastern Ontario riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, said in a statement Tuesday that Halifax police have determined the matter is closed.

“I am pleased it has been resolved based on the facts. I have no further comment,” Drouin said in the statement.

Last month, police confirmed they were investigating a report that a woman had been sexually assaulted at the Halifax Alehouse on April 21, but did not specifically name Drouin.

Police said Tuesday that the matter was investigated by its sexual assault unit and no charges were laid.

Frustrated by the act of talking, Justin shuts down debate:

Both the Conservatives and NDP are ripping the Trudeau government for planning to use time-allocation to shut down debate on Bill C-76, legislation that makes big changes to elections in Canada.
According to the Globe & Mail, “The government has given notice of a process called time allocation and it could invoke the procedure as soon as Tuesday, when MPs return to Ottawa. The motion would set a time limit for second reading of the bill in the House of Commons, forcing a vote to send the bill to committee for further study.”
The report notes that the Opposition critic on the elections file – Conservative MP Blake Richards – says the time allocation move means that there will be just “a couple of hours of debate on this,” which is almost no time at all to review a bill that will have a huge impact on the legitimacy (or lack thereof), of the next election.
Bill C-76 fails to close the loopholes that let foreign organizations interfere in our elections, while expanding the amount of money third-party groups (like the kind that usually benefit the Liberals) can spend.

Meanwhile, the legislation limits how much can be spent by actual political parties, which will disproportionately damage the Conservatives, who have been the most successful at raising money from grassroots Canadians.

Once again, the most "transparent" government in the country's history is stacking the deck in its favour.

British Columbia attempts to sue Alberta for stopping the flow of oil west:

The British Columbia government has launched a lawsuit and is prepared to ask for an injunction and damages against Alberta over that province's recently passed fuel restriction law.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby says the government filed a statement of claim in Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench challenging the constitutionality of Alberta's Preserving Canada's Economic Prosperity Act.

The legal action says Alberta's law is unconstitutional because it is intended to punish B.C. by limiting exports of fuel products.

The court action comes amid increasing tension over B.C.'s opposition to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline project from Alberta to the West Coast.


When they announced their widely-criticized pipeline ‘plan,’ the Trudeau government claimed that if Kinder Morgan decided not to go forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the government would find someone else willing to take it over.

But now, those inside the energy industry are sharing serious doubts about whether that is really the case.

As noted by Reuters, “The Canadian government’s optimism that outside investors would be interested in taking over the Kinder Morgan Canada Trans Mountain oil pipeline project if the company pulls out might be misplaced, said energy industry sources and analysts.”

God help us all:

According to a new Ipsos poll, 37% of Ontario voters say they will vote NDP, while 36% say they’ll vote PC.

The Liberals are at 23%.


The narrowing gap further reduces the differences between the two left-wing parties. Essentially, Horwath’s case is that she has all the same spending impulses as Wynne, but isn’t as disliked or tainted by the past. If her budget consists of fairy dust and rosy projections — the possibility of recession never enters the picture — so have recent federal projections and 15 years of Ontario Liberals. People are used to it.

They may not grow concerned until it’s far too late. That works to Horwath’s advantage. Just as it worked for Wynne’s until recently.

I ask all the candidates: where are you going to get the money for all of your whacky promises?

What? No-fault divorce wasn't injurious enough to children? :

Bill C-78, which was tabled Tuesday in the House of Commons, also takes steps to address family violence and child poverty. It's the first major revamp of divorce law in more than 20 years.

The bill adopts neutral terminology, dropping terms like "custody" and "access" in favour of "parenting orders" and "parenting time." The changes aim to put an end to the adversarial win-or-lose approach to legal decisions on parenting arrangements, according to background material from the Department of Justice.

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