Thursday, November 23, 2017

Scattered news stories point to Putin's threat to Balkans, even to Finland, while politicians sleep

Recently, foreign  publications have been noting mounting tension not only in the Baltics (like Estonia) but also Finland, over the possibility that Vladimir Putin could make an aggressive move in all of northern Europe.

A brutal, seemingly random shooting of two female journalists and one other woman in Imatra, Finland, about two miles from the Russian border in early 2016, seems maybe not so random now (Guardian). The pundits at the time did get into the subject of Finnish gun ownership for reindeer hunts.  The town of Svetogorsk (“Fountain Park”) Russia is just four miles away, across the border. The whole area looks curious on Google maps, that you can follow to Lake Lagoda and then down to St. Petersburg.

  In July, the UK express described the tunnels under Helsinki to deal with a possible Russian counter-NATO activity.  

And Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge explained about the same time how Finland was quietly preparing for possible Russian aggression. 

The Washington Examiner (a conservative paper), on Aug. 31, described how Russian exercises could form a prelude to an attack in Europe. 

And Russia has long term intentions of helping North Korea with a natural gas line, despite the tensions now.

We see a new model of aggression: post-Communist, sometimes secular and sometimes religious, statist capitalism and dictatorship precluded on “rightsizing” its individual citizens to keep a country “stable”.

The complicated backdrop from the past comes from the Russo-Finnish-wars early during WWII, which take a college history course to explain (later). 

The wars were covered in the 1999 Finnish film “Ambush” (“Tar Rukiejarven”) which I saw at the University of Minnesota when I lived in Minneapolis, and at least hinted at in the 2003 Russian film “The Return”, set around Lake Lagoda.   Maybe the world politicians are asleep on this one.
By IKit - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Trump administration gives temporary Haitian immigrants the boot (18 more months)

The Trump administration is ending a temporary residency program for about 60,000 “refugees” from Haiti, many displaced by the January 2010 earthquake. The ABC News story is here

The action does not affect Haitians who went to Brazil or other countries in South America and then came here.

The immigration benefit will be extended one last time, until May 2019 (to 18 months).

I have never heard anything about what individual Americans could do about this, compared to other issues (for example LGBT asylum seekers).  I am not aware of any specific sponsorship programs, or of discussion that it should be expected.  But some churches have targeted projects for specific countries in Central America and in the Caribbean, which would then include Haiti.

Early in the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, “Haitians” were considered one of the “4 H’s”.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

China's obsession with personal rightsizing

Helen Gao has a disturbing article in the New York Times Nov. 15, “The Chinese Communist Party's Guide to Moral Living”.   China seems to be trying to make it credible that a country can seem advanced in interaction with the outside world and still demand moral rightsizing of its citizens at the individual level.  That keeps the well-off from having to watch their backs due to instability where the less well-off have nothing to lose. It also funds individualized dissent as a form of speech that adds to that instability among those who really get “exploited.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

Extortion, blackmail against LGBTQ people common in many African countries, especially Nigeria

A Wordpress posting by Mike Daemon today points to the practice of extortion and blackmail in African countries with strict anti-gay laws, especially after robberies.  The link is here
Right now Nigeria seems to be one of the worst countries for this.  All of that is disturbing, in contradiction to the entrepreneurial aspect of business in Nigeria in a recent report on “Parts Unknown” by Anthony Bourdain. (TV blog, Oct. 15, 2017). 

Wikipedia attribution link by Benji Robinson, CCSA 4.0 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ethiopian communism results in a society of prying eyes

The New York Times has a rather striking article Kimikno de Freytus-Ramura, “We are everywhere: How Ethiopia became the land of prying eyes.”

Communism was presented to me when I was younger as a system where everything you say is watched, and this sounds like it is the case in Ethiopia as the government recruits nested legions on spies on each other in all the villages.  And there seems to be a party system that provides some privilege.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by Senay of capital Addis Ababab. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pentagon admits it can't take out "Un" threat without ground war in North Korea

NBCNews is reporting that South Korea has said “War with Kim Jong Un must not happen”, story by F. Brinley Bruton, two days after NBC particularly had made a point of reporting Pentagon findings that it would take a ground invasion to remove all of North Korea’s hidden nuclear test sites and missile launchers. 

Of course, air strikes (maybe 4G tactical nuclear weapons based on new laser triggers) from the US could destroy maybe most of these capabilities, but not all, to prevent retaliation, possibly against the US.

This morning the Cato Institute in Washington held a 3 hour forum on what to do about North Korea. I’ll have a detailed posting about it on Wordpress soon, along with complete videos. There was concern that the US does not really have reliable missile defense, and that it may not make sense to defend South Korea forever (that is, in time the old Domino Theory of the LBJ era could kick in).

North Korea has been “warning” Trump not to do or say anything rash on his Asia trip (he will not visit the DMZ).  Fat-shaming chance, as per Milo. ("Fat little rocket man”??) 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Presbyterian group sponsors benefit concert and dance for Syrian and Iraqi refugees

Three Presbyterian churches in northern Virginia (Trinity Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, and Immanuel Presbyterian Church of McLean VA, held a benefit Saturday night “Hope Rising:Refugees Rebuilding Lives” for Syrian and Iraq refugees.

The benefit was in part sponsored by Rev. Elmarie Parker and Rev, Scott Parker, from the Associates for Ecumenical Partnerships.  They sponsor a program called “Strong Kids, Strong Emotions”.

The music was provided by a group called “Collective a’Chord”.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

CNN interviews military family stationed in South Korea living under threat and possible evacuation order

Brooke Baldwin on CNN interviews a US family living under threat of a “retaliation” from Kim Jong Un from the North.

This is a military family in a “house”. Home is back in the states. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Latest NYC attack invokes the problem of "gratuitous" social media

Certainly this tragedy is going to illustrate how the many in any social group can be punished for the sins of a few. 

Trump says he is eliminating the “diversity lottery” and changing to a “merit-based” system but Congress has little appetite for anything now.  

And what seems particularly disburbing Sayfullo Saipov, from Uzbekistan, not only reportedly bragged to police and seemed well off economically, but that he followed “gratuitous” social media recruiting methods to a tee.   He seems to be radicalized in the US since 2010. 

But he also acted like a self-appointed soldier, who looks at civilians as enemy combatants.

The Boston Tsarnaev brothers had come from part of Russia, and this terrorist comes from a former Soviet republic.  Does a history of communism also play into the mindset?  It should be noted that the only "communist" or post-communist country on any Trump list is North Korea.