The border wall and other tall tales

Apparently we have a national emergency on the southern US border, necessitating funding for the completion of a border wall. That’s the story we are given from the Trump administration, anyway. But there seems to be some debate about the issue. Some people appear to question whether or not there is actually a national emergency, but more than that, if a wall is even necessary, or even if Trump has the authority to declare such an emergency. And, is this simply an election stunt? So many questions. So much media coverage. As is usually the case with such hyperbole, though, what is being sidelined in the process? Where should we really be looking? It would pay us to have a look at these other things, and not so much at the border wall. Continue reading “The border wall and other tall tales”

Bollocks, Bolton, on the INF!

John Bolton doesn’t much like treaties, it would seem. The Trump administration, in its INF-inite wisdom (?!) has just pulled the United States out of the INF Treaty – the acronym for the ‘Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces’ Treaty. This is the very same treaty that has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe since Reagan and Gorbachev signed it and it came into force on 1 Jun 1988 (chart). Europeans are rightly concerned, with typical muted criticism even, because that treaty covered missiles that were aimed primarily at US/NATO bases and nuclear power stations in Europe, as well as key infrastructure sites. It was a landmark in détente between Russia and the US, which is also apparently not in the interests of Washington at the moment. This will be another reason for Europeans to distance themselves from Washington. Continue reading “Bollocks, Bolton, on the INF!”

America’s latest attempt at king-making

On the 23rd of Jan 19 the US, primarily, along with a few other nations, attempted a coup in Venezuela. It played out as an opposition leader, one Juan Guaidó, swore himself in as president of Venezuela. The only problem with that is that he is not the elected leader of Venezuela. That title falls to Nicolas Maduro, who was reelected by a wide margin on 20 May 18, in what the Western media outlets slammed as a sham election. The further problem with that is the opposition parties refused to take part in the election, and in fact were directed not to, with the result that voter turnout was low. The opposition parties are also badly divided. So now Venezuelans face the prospect of a drawn-out internal battle, mission creep and a long siege for control of their nation, intensified external pressure to overthrow Maduro and increased sanctions so long as Maduro hangs on to power. Continue reading “America’s latest attempt at king-making”

Theresa May’s day, or Mayday!?

As we know by now, Theresa May has survived the no-confidence vote against her. It was not by a large margin, though, which would be troubling for her. The final vote count was 306 to 325. In fact, it was a win only by a slim margin. This is less than 25% of the margin by which she won her last confidence vote back in December. Clearly, confidence in the government is slipping fast. After the vote she was still vowing to carry through with Brexit, to find some sort of compromise that would be suitable to the House, but held mum about taking the no-deal Brexit off the table when pressed on the matter by Jeremy Corbyn. To her mind, nothing has changed. One gets the sense, though, that something is in the works. Continue reading “Theresa May’s day, or Mayday!?”

The Hare, the Moon Maiden and the Magpies: The Meaning

Legend has it that Cháng’é was a beautiful woman married to the master archer, Hòu Yì. He was so legendary that he shot down nine of ten suns that had risen together in those distant times, which were scorching the Earth and causing hardship for the people, thus leaving the one sun we have to this day. As a reward for his skill and valor, he was given the elixir of immortality. We don’t know who gave him this magic elixir. We assume it was the gods, but who can say? Anyway,  Yì decided not to drink it just then, but instead hid it away at home in the care of his wife, Cháng’é. Continue reading “The Hare, the Moon Maiden and the Magpies: The Meaning”

French unrest and Yellow Vests

Emmanuel Macron has seen happier days. Eighteen months into his five-year term his approval rating has plummeted from a high of 62% when he was elected to less than half now, as low as 20% by some accounts as of this writing. It is likely to fall further still. The reason? It is symbolized for us in yellow vests in the form of what might seem to some readers to have all the appearances of yet another color revolution – the gilet jaunes protests that began on 17 November this year. Those protests are ongoing and were triggered by yet another rise in prices for the French. Continue reading “French unrest and Yellow Vests”

Brexit or not, here is what is important for the UK

The big topic in Britain now is all about Brexit – will it happen, will in not, what it will mean for the British public and international relations, and on and on. Commentators on all sides are throwing in their two pence, and much of what I have seen is either pro or con, with very little in between. So, I may as well throw in my few cents on the issue as well. Speaking as an American, but also an Australian, seeing that both Trump and Brexit happened in the same year, there may be some common ground here. Continue reading “Brexit or not, here is what is important for the UK”

The fractious state of Ukraine

Following on from the previous post it would probably be useful to look at Ukraine in  more detail, given what is taking place there, and what we might expect there in the near future. There are also the issues of Western meddling in that country, bad government within Ukraine, the neo-liberalization of Ukraine under Western direction, neo-Nazism, religious schisms and the fractious and fraught relations it has with its neighbors and internally. Ukraine is not a happy place, not where you might want to take your significant other for a vacation at the moment. Continue reading “The fractious state of Ukraine”

The Sea of Azov incident and Poroshenko’s gamble

As you may have heard, there was an incident on the Black Sea near the entrance to the Sea of Azov on the morning of 25 November between three Ukrainian military vessels and the Russian coast guard. No one was killed, and only three Ukrainian sailors slightly injured. The incident took place beginning at 6:10 am Kerch time and went on for most of the day. It started when the three Ukrainian vessels – two naval artillery boats and a naval tugboat – left Odessa headed for Mariupol, entered Russian territorial waters without following agreed protocol and regulations and proceeded to attempt to enter the Kerch Strait, over which the new Russian Kerch Strait bridge now crosses. The Russians are quite protective of their new bridge. Continue reading “The Sea of Azov incident and Poroshenko’s gamble”