[News] All Around The World

A posting place for news from places around the globe, outside of the US/Europe.

The tiny islands that could explode the China-Vietnam relationship

Da Nang, Vietnam (CNN)"The Paracel Islands!" the teacher shouts.

"Belong to Vietnam!" call back about 30 schoolchildren, even louder. Their chant echoes through the three-story Paracel Islands Museum in Da Nang, which officials say cost the Vietnamese government $1.8 million to build.
Since opening in 2018, about half of its 40,000 visitors have been schoolchildren, who can explore exhibits, including documents, maps and photographs, all curated to hammer home one point.
The Paracel Islands belong to Vietnam. Not to China.

Named by 16th century Portuguese mapmakers, the Paracels are a collection of 130 small coral islands and reefs in the northwestern part of the South China Sea. They support abundant marine life. But more than being just a rich fishing ground, there is speculation the islands could harbor potential energy reserves.

They have no indigenous population to speak of, only Chinese military garrisons amounting to 1,400 people, according to the CIA Factbook.

But there is no certainty on who really owns them. Ask one expert and the answer will be Vietnam has the strongest claim. Ask another and the reply will be China.

There really should be a unified front to push back on China’s territorial aggressions.

Indigenous Australians had their languages taken from them, and it's still causing issues today

(CNN) "I'm Fanny Smith. I was born on Flinders Island. I'm the last of the Tasmanians."

The audio is scratchy and distorted, sounding at times like it is being spoken through a wall. Yet the voice speaking is high and proud, with long, stretched syllables in English. When she breaks into song, in her native language, it is half chant, half bluesy-spiritual.

Smith was born on the Australian island of Tasmania, in December 1834, to the Palawa people, an Indigenous population that had lived on the land for at least 34,000 years.
By the time she died in 1905, Smith was the last native speaker of her people's language.

Not good...
Australian special forces shown posing with 'Southern Pride' Confederate flag in Afghanistan

Australian special forces soldiers photographed and filmed themselves posing with a Confederate flag while on operations in Afghanistan, ABC Investigations can reveal. A photo and a video show two SAS soldiers smiling and holding up the flag, which has the words "Southern Pride" emblazoned on it.
A former senior US army officer who did two combat tours of Afghanistan described the images as outrageous, saying the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and slavery.

"I served in Uruzgan Province with Australian forces in 2012," said Hal Johnston, a former lieutenant-colonel with the US 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

"This flag … is a symbol that should not have been displayed by any unit.

"It's been displayed by the Ku Klux Klan, by racist organisations, American Nazis have used it.

"I'm stunned that an Australian special forces unit was displaying [it] … ignorance is not an excuse."

In 2018, ABC Investigations revealed that Australian soldiers had flown a Nazi swastika flag from their vehicle while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2007.

At the time Defence told the ABC that it rejected "as abhorrent everything this flag represents".

It said the commander took immediate action to have the Nazi flag taken down and that the personnel involved were cautioned and counselled.

After this report earlier in the month...
Witnesses say Australian SAS soldiers were involved in mass shooting of unarmed Afghan civilians

So, a Canadian Federal court judge just struck down Canada's safe Third Country law.

Previously, the US was considered a "safe third party" which means that if refugee claimants came to Canada through the US, they would be returned to the US. Now, the federal law that covered that has been determined to violate constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security.

Think about that a second. A Canadian Federal judge (and Canadian judges are way, way less political than US judges, on the average) just said that, in some cases, it is not safe to send a refugee claimant back to the US.

US people that support Trump. THAT SHOULD TELL YOU SOMETHING!!!

They are insane. They will see that as "winning" because non-whites will be more afraid to come to the US and that is the goal.

I would think it would make the US a slightly more appealing transit destination, because they'd know that if they can reach Canada, they won't be thrown back into the water.

China forces US to close Chengdu consulate in tit-for-tat diplomatic row

Beijing ordered the closure of the consulate on Friday in retaliation for a US order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston.

At least we know the consulate staff in Chengdu had access to high-tech paper shredding technology! Or maybe just aren't stupid enough to make hard copies of sensitive information.

The University of New South Wales under fire for deleting social media posts critical of China over Hong Kong

The official UNSW account on Friday tweeted an article that quoted Human Rights Watch's Australia director and adjunct law lecturer Elaine Pearson as saying: "Now is a pivotal moment to bring attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Hong Kong".

Several hours later, a further tweet was posted by UNSW reading: "The opinions expressed by our academics do not always represent the views of UNSW."

Both tweets were later deleted.
Chinese students reportedly wrote to the Chinese embassy calling for it to pressure the university into deleting the article and associated posts.
The state-run Global Times tabloid reported that the tweet's deletion "failed to buy Chinese students" and that "they are still negotiating with the university, and demanding an apology for its twitter post".
Students from mainland China account for almost a quarter of the UNSW cohort, numbering some 16,000 and representing a whopping 68.8 per cent of all international students, while the university has strong business and research ties to China.

University of Sydney sociologist Salvatore Babones has estimated that UNSW derives 22 per cent of revenue from Chinese international students' course fees.

It is home to the so-called Torch Innovation Precinct, the first outside China, which was launched by then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2016.

UNSW's annual report last year said the university had signed more than $60 million worth of contracts with 42 Chinese partners under the Torch scheme since 2016.

Soft power FTW!

So, the big news today:

To put this in perspective, it's been said by the Lebanese government that a hair over 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored at that site in Beirut's port. The bomb detonated by white supremacists in Oklahoma City during the 90s used only 5,000 pounds (albeit mixed with other explosive chemicals).

Yeah, the death toll is currently "at least 100" and one must remember we're talking about a nation which is currently already being hammered by the pandemic and a total economic meltdown.

Pretty god damn stupid and negligent to confiscate tons of explosives and then let them sit in a warehouse in the middle of the city for six years.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Pretty god damn stupid and negligent to confiscate tons of explosives and then let them sit in a warehouse in the middle of the city for six years.

I don't think they were 'explosives' anymore than sacks of powdered sugar or wood flour are explosives. to be honest i'm not sure what happens to confiscated illegal freight in america, much less Lebanon though so maybe it is suspiciously unusual.

Ammonium nitrate is used as fertilizer, so it might just be a shipload of fertilizer that nobody realized was also explosive. The cost to dispose of the seized cargo may have been too high, so it just sat.

Enough ammonium nitrate (2,700 tons) that it ended up having the power of a low-yield nuclear weapon, someone claimed. The pictures of the aftermath are jaw-dropping.

You could see the silos pulverized in the fraction of a second before the shockwave obscured them. I'm glad they were only silos and not a building packed with people.

It literally left a crater.

Every high school student knows how explosive ammonium nitrate is. People in Lebanon are not inexperienced with explosives. But the real question is, what was all the popping and small explosions going off before the big explosion? Robert Baer pointed out that the area may also have been used for storing confiscated military explosives, or even as a weapons depot for Hezbollah. There’s no doubt that ammonium nitrate was involved, but given the other clues, and the massive and well-documented corruption in the Beirut government (and especially the docks, as imports and exports can be a real money-maker for officials), it’s likely that there is more to this than just a fertilizer precursor.

Robear wrote:

But the real question is, what was all the popping and small explosions going off before the big explosion?

Considering the ammonium nitrate was haphazardly stored in very large quantities, I'm going to go with other industrial chemicals haphazardly stored in very large quantities.

By design military weapons and, especially, military explosives don't go boom unless you do something to make them go boom.

Like put them in a fire. This was likely started by a welding accident. It really seemed like fireworks, or rounds of ammunition cooking off. To me, anyway.

It looked like fireworks because they were fireworks. A large amount of fireworks confiscated in 2009-10 have been stored in the same hangar for years. https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...

Yeah, this whole thing looks like idiocy, and bureaucrats conveniently forgetting about a hard problem to solve, not like some secret terror factory.

I had heard the fireworks theory, just had not seen it backed up. Good to know.

It looks like those pair of warehouses were pretty much just a holding spot for "confiscated cargo it's too expensive or dangerous to deal with properly"

Activision removes Tiananmen Square footage in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War trailer

It lasted less than a second, but a brief snippet of Tiananmen Square footage in the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War trailer has given Activision a considerable headache. After the teaser trailer was banned in China, Activision decided to remove the Tiananmen Square footage from the video - and has now replaced the old trailer with the edited version worldwide.

Chinese diplomat Wang Xining's National Press Club address blames Canberra for fractured relations with Beijing

Wang Xining is not a fire-breathing ideologue.

In fact, China's Deputy Head of Mission has a reputation in Canberra as a bit of a charmer — smooth, cerebral and cultured.

But when the senior diplomat took to the podium at the National Press Club yesterday, he had a message to deliver, and he did so faithfully.

It's not me. It's you.

Wang started by alluding to the looming pachyderm in the room; the increasingly poisonous and hostile ties between Australia and China.

The Deputy Head of Mission put it in marital terms. A diplomatic relationship "takes concerted determination and joint effort to make it thrive", Wang observed.

"A married couple knows this!" he declared, raising slightly strained chuckles in the room.

But, he observed sorrowfully, "while a rift between husband and wife hurts one family, a rift between two countries hurts millions."

It's not clear which country is the husband and which is the wife in this formulation, but Wang made one thing crystal clear: China was the wronged spouse, and Australia the guilty party.

Wang laid out Australia's sins in some detail.

"First, the Australian Government never consulted the Chinese Government in whatever way before the [inquiry] proposal came out," he said.

"We don't think this conforms to the spirit of comprehensive, strategic partnership. It lacks the least courtesy and diplomacy."

Second, Australia's push for an inquiry must have been at the behest of the United States.

Wang didn't provide any evidence to back up this accusation, but offered a watertight nexus of circular logic.

"The proposal came at a time when the US was trying to [blame China] so the proposal would help Washington to put more pressure on China," he said.

And while Wang Xining's monologue was both fluid and articulate, it's unlikely to provoke a bout of self-introspection in ministerial offices and national security agencies across Canberra.
The main reason for this is that the Morrison Government is more focussed on what the Chinese Government does than what it says.

Officials and ministers alike appreciate that Australia's pre-pandemic happy state of affluence was buoyed by China's nearly inexhaustible appetite for our goods and minerals.

But they're also grappling with relentless and pernicious cyber-attacks emanating from China, the Chinese Government's persistent meddling in Australia's Chinese diaspora, and a series of thinly-veiled trade punishments meted out from Beijing.

Which might explain why one Morrison Government source, when asked about Wang's demand for "mutual respect", replied with a one-word message to this reporter — "SNORT."

So, Elections Canada (non-partisan body that runs federal elections in Canada) is planning for a possible pandemic election in the fall.


Some of the stuff they are working on:

  • Elections over 2 days on a weekend
  • Implementing physical distancing and other public health guidelines at polling places and local Elections Canada offices.
  • Buying masks and single-use pencils to be given to voters. Voters also will have the option of bringing their own masks, pens or pencils.
  • Changing the agency's model of operations to reduce the number of workers needed in order to facilitate physical distancing.
  • Eliminating the Vote on Campus program, since most colleges and universities are delivering programs online.
  • Expanding virtual training for electoral workers to limit the number of in-person interactions.