While the world is preoccupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional conflict in the remote separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is threatening to escalate into a wider war on the doorsteps of Europe and Asia. Saturday’s Russia-brokered ceasefire has already crumbled, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledging Monday that hostilities were continuing.
The violence, which broke out two weeks ago, has killed more than 300 people and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) president Peter Maurer told me that fighting is so intense even staff working close to the contact line had to take shelter frequently.
Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by ethnic Armenians located in Azerbaijan and both Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have accused each other of violating the terms of the ceasefire.… Seguir leyendo »
It seems an awfully long time since Canadians were last lectured by the state on sexual behavior. Just as folks were headed out for Labor Day long weekend frolicking, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, warned fellow citizens to wear a mask while having sex and to avoid kissing people in order to prevent passing along a Covid-19 infection.
Tam, who also serves on a World Health Organization (WHO) international oversight committee, said «sex can be complicated» during the pandemic and that the lowest risk sexual activity during Covid-19 involves «yourself alone.»
The stern warning — echoed again on Tuesday by Dr.… Seguir leyendo »
With the German government’s announcement Wednesday of «unequivocal evidence» that the nerve agent Novichok was used in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, we are once again reminded how a vacuum in global leadership — notably, in this instance, the silence of the American President — can potentially open the way for the world’s strongmen to reach for the deadliest means to silence their critics.
German scientists said they found the feared and deadly chemical of mass destruction in Navalny’s body, and there are several theories on why the anti-corruption activist (who Putin seems hesitant to mention by name) was targeted.… Seguir leyendo »
With mass protests erupting in Belarus over a disputed presidential election on Sunday, after which incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory, the Kremlin must be watching nervously.
Thousands have been arrested in the former Soviet republic and heavily armed Belarusian security forces are on the streets. The leading opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has fled to neighboring Lithuania. Internationally, the reaction has been a mix, from Western governments warning against violent suppression of protesters (the United States, the European Union, NATO and many European neighbors have sounded that alarm) to a congratulatory note from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Lukashenko to resume stalled integration plans to join Belarus and Russia into one country.… Seguir leyendo »
First there was the secretive trip to the Bahamas in 2016 when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family rode in a helicopter owned by the Aga Khan, the billionaire and Ismaili Muslim spiritual leader whose organization has received hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian federal grants to advance its work overseas.
Then, some three years later, the Trudeau government was found to have pressured then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to spare SNC Lavalin, one of Canada’s largest engineering companies, from prosecution for bribing Libyan officials in return for lucrative government contracts between 2001 and 2011.
After the Canadian ethics commissioner said Trudeau had violated federal conflict of interest rules, he said, «I assume responsibility for everything that happened in my office.»… Seguir leyendo »
On the 23rd anniversary of their handover to China on Wednesday, supporters of democracy and independence in Hong Kong could be forgiven for feeling they’ve just awoken to their worst nightmare.
Overnight, and with no consultation, Hong Kong essentially became a legal and security jurisdiction of China, denying its citizens the 27 more years of semi-autonomy Beijing had promised under the «one country, two systems» model that was to have been in effect until 2047.
A new national security law — dubbed the «anti-protest law» — was rubber stamped by the National People’s Congress in May and signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.… Seguir leyendo »
The World Health Assembly (WHA) — the biggest event on the global health agenda — held on Monday and Tuesday this week, can be easily summed up: The Trump administration threatened to take the UN agency off life support as it fights a global pandemic — and Chinese President Xi Jinping threw it a new life line.
Xi — widely criticized for his government’s failure to sound the alarm over the situation in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began — was able to manipulate the 73rd WHA into a much-needed PR makeover for China. Meanwhile, the United States walked away, threatening to pull funding and membership from the World Health Organization (WHO) — potentially hobbling its ability to deliver a robust response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.… Seguir leyendo »
It came as close as possible to Canada’s Sandy Hook tragedy. On April 18, an unhinged man went on a 13-hour rampage in rural Nova Scotia and killed 22 people, including a veteran Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. It was the worst mass killing in Canadian history and shocked an already traumatized nation dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown.
Last Friday, in response to the shooting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a sombre voice that has become habitual in his daily Covid-19 briefings, said: «Thirty years from now, an entire generation of Canadians will remember exactly where they were on Sunday, April 18, 2020.… Seguir leyendo »
In the span of just a few days, autocrats around the world, using the cover of the Covid-19 outbreak, have reached for shockingly devious powers to take on extraordinary new powers. We are not talking about logical containment steps, such as the ordering of social distancing, lockdowns or contact tracing.
Think power grabs along the lines of tightening internet access, expelling a foreign journalist for her reporting on coronavirus and taking down digital content under false pretenses.
As former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said after the 2008 financial crisis: «You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.… Seguir leyendo »
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that the Canadian border would be closed to foreigners, reporters pelted him with questions on why Americans were exempt when experts said that the US could be on its way to mirroring the global coronavirus epicenter of Italy because they both had a delayed response to the virus.
However, on Wednesday, at a time when major coronavirus mitigation decisions are being made with mind-numbing speed by governments worldwide, US President Donald Trump tweeted that «we will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected.»… Seguir leyendo »
In their botched handling of the tragic death of Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who sounded the alarm on the Wuhan coronavirus, authorities in Beijing seem to want it both ways.
On the one hand, officials have expressed their sorrow over his death and encouraged people to tell the truth about the outbreak. On the other hand, government censors are hard at work scrubbing online posts that call for freedom of speech in the wake of Li’s death.
When millions of people are denied the opportunity to grieve collectively over someone widely regarded as a hero, their trust in government can only further erode.… Seguir leyendo »
As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the World Health Organization’s decision to hold off on declaring the outbreak «a public health emergency of international concern» is baffling.
The virus, which is similar to the fatal severe respiratory syndrome (SARS), first emerged in Wuhan, China, which has a population greater than New York City. More than 1,900 people have already been infected, and more than 55 people have died. To contain the virus during the Lunar New Year, which marks the largest annual human migration in the world, the Chinese government placed a lockdown on 12 cities, affecting about 35 million people.… Seguir leyendo »
Oh, Justin Trudeau, what crisis have you baked up for yourself now?
Fresh from a string of mini scandals and a humiliating election win, the photogenic Canadian Prime Minister has inadvertently handed his citizens another reason to ridicule him.
In what was probably an earnest attempt to satisfy the sweet tooth of his Liberal cabinet colleagues, Trudeau posted a photo of himself on Twitter Monday carrying several boxes of pastries from the Winnipeg gourmet doughnut shop, Oh Doughnuts. To make matters worse for loyalists of Canada’s popular, iconic, and non-gourmet doughnut chain, Tim Hortons, Trudeau referred to his doughnut haul as «some of Winnipeg’s best.»… Seguir leyendo »
In one of the closing episodes of the televised comedy drama, «Servant of the People,» the character played by Volodymyr Zelensky — an actor before he entered politics — delivers a humiliating public tongue-lashing to a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He catches the group off guard by rejecting their harsh austerity measures on the basis that they will hurt the Ukrainian people.
On Monday, during the Normandy Four peace summit in Paris, Zelensky, now Ukraine’s president, will go up against a much more formidable foe, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will discuss how to bring normalcy back to areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian-backed rebels.… Seguir leyendo »
By any stretch of the imagination, Justin Trudeau, the steward of the family brand, had a humiliating election night.
Not only was Trudeau’s Liberal Party forced by voters to accept a demotion to a minority government — grabbing just 157 of 338 seats in the House of Commons — but about two-thirds of the country voted against him. His party’s share of the popular vote clocked in at just 33.1 % — less than the 34.4% earned by the rival the Conservative Party of Canada and its leader Andrew Scheer. (Despite receiving a greater percentage of the vote, the Conservative Party picked up 36 fewer seats than the Liberals.)… Seguir leyendo »
Nikki Haley delivered her maiden speech before the UN Security Council last week, a collective dropping of jaws might have been heard both in European capitals and in the offices of multilateral institutions such as NATO.
«The dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions,» the new US ambassador to the United Nations said.
» … The United States stands with the people of Ukraine who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention. Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory integrity this crisis will continue.»… Seguir leyendo »
Ukrainians will be observing the 25th anniversary of their independence Wednesday with a mixture of pride and celebration. But as the crisis in the east of the country smolders — and perhaps deteriorates further — Ukrainians will also be marking the anniversary with a sense of deep uncertainty. The future path of the country is precarious, and its people may be forced to make some tough decisions.
Certainly, recent reports that at least $12.7 million was allegedly paid by the former pro-Russian ruling party to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were only the latest reminder of the demons Ukraine has yet to slay.… Seguir leyendo »
As things have been going for Ukraine lately, Wednesday could easily go down as the best day yet for the new government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Topped by a high-profile Oval Office visit, it was a welcome distraction from a string of humiliations and provocations from Russia — not least of which was the creeping occupation of the Crimea.
If Yatsenyuk left Washington dissatisfied, he clearly wasn’t showing it. The visit brought promises of $1 billion of desperately needed loan guarantees, an immediate surge in U.S. bilateral assistance that ranges from a doubling of support for the May 25 presidential elections to increased academic scholarships and even Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) for the Ukrainian military.… Seguir leyendo »