Contributor’s Links post for January 23rd, 2019

Daily Links Post graphic

Each day at just after midnight Eastern, a post like this one is created for contributors and readers of this site to upload news links and video links on the issues that concern this site. Most notably, Islam and its effects on Classical Civilization, and various forms of leftism from Soviet era communism, to postmodernism and all the flavours of galloping statism and totalitarianism such as Nazism and Fascism which are increasingly snuffing out the classical liberalism which created our near, miraculous civilization the West has been building since the time of Socrates.

This document was written around the time this site was created, for those who wish to understand what this site is about. And while our understanding of the world and events has grown since then, the basic ideas remain sound and true to the purpose.

So please post all links, thoughts and ideas that you feel will benefit the readers of this site to the comments under this post each day. And thank you all for your contributions.

This is the new Samizdat. We muse use it while we can.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

144 Replies to “Contributor’s Links post for January 23rd, 2019”

  1. Nigeria military kills 58 ‘bandits’ in Zamfara state operation (thedefensepost, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Two Nigerian soldiers and two ‘members of the vigilante’ were killed during an offensive against ‘bandits’ that saw 58 killed, the army said.

    As part of Operation Sharan Daji, Nigerian troops “commenced clearance operations into bandits enclaves” in Zamfara and Katsina states, Major Clement K. Abiade said in a statement published on Facebook on Tuesday, January 22.

    On January 20, “troops came into contact with a large gang of bandits armed with sophisticated firearms and Rocket Propelled grenades at Dumburum and Gando forests leading to fierce gun battles which lasted several hours,” Abiade said, adding that the bandits were “forced to abandon their camps due to superior firepower.”

    Two soldiers and two “members of the vigilante” were killed, and eight soldiers and six vigilantes were wounded during the encounters.

    Abiade said 58 bandits were “neutralized,” and one was captured alive. Troops destroyed 18 camps and rescued 75 people who had been kidnapped. Items recovered included five FN rifles, four AK-type assault rifles, 10 locally made rifles and 40 motorcycles.

    The military, working in “collaboration with all security agencies and local vigilante” began the operation on January 19 and it is scheduled to continue until June, Abiade said, adding that the offensive is “designed to identify and destroy bandits’ camps/enclaves in the area of operation…”

  2. Iran to Mass-Produce Homegrown Centrifuge Machines: Nuclear Chief (tasnimnews, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi unveiled plans for the mass production of the fourth and fifth generations of homegrown centrifuge machines used for enriching uranium.

    In comments at a televised program on Tuesday, Salehi said Iran will press ahead with research and development plans in the nuclear industry and mass-produce IR-4 and IR-5 centrifuge machines.

    He added that a newer generation of centrifuges, IR-6, is undergoing tests, and that although nuclear scientists have announced that the country can now have three IR-8 centrifuges, the AEOI will wait for a couple of months before producing them.

    Salehi further stated that Iran is in possession of the necessary material to enrich uranium to a purity level of 20 percent…”

  3. France to Announce New Trade Mechanism with Iran Soon (aawsat, Jan 23, 2019)

    “French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced Wednesday that a new trade mechanism with Iran will be ready “within days.”

    European-backed system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran is aimed at circumventing US sanctions.

    Diplomats have told Reuters the European Union is set to officially launch the mechanism this month, but the so-called special purpose vehicle (SPV) will not operate for several months because technical details still need to be worked out.

    The SPV “should be implemented in the coming days”, Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

    “It will work as a sort of clearing house that will allow in euros for Iran to benefit from some of its oil resources and at the same time buy essential products from the main three main (European) partners,” Le Drian said.

    Under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iran restricted its declared civilian nuclear power program, widely seen in the West as a front for developing the means to make atomic bombs, in exchange for an end to international sanctions against it.

    To circumvent renewed US sanctions imposed after Washington pulled out of the deal, the SPV was conceived as a possible way to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods, an effective barter arrangement.

    However, those ambitions appear to have been toned down with diplomats saying the SPV could realistically only be used for smaller trade that might be tolerated by the Trump administration, for example humanitarian or farm products.”

  4. 79-year-old woman hospitalized after being kicked in the head on Red Line

    Jerrel Turner | Cook County Sheriff’s Office
    A 79-year-old woman was hospitalized after another Red Line passenger kicked her in the face near the Bryn Mawr station last week, police said. Charges have been filed.

    Prosecutors said multiple witnesses reported seeing 34-year-old Jerrel Turner swing her body from an overhead handrail and kick the elderly woman in the face without provocation around 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 13th. Turner, of the Englewood neighborhood, identifies as female, according to police.

  5. First music institute in Riyadh now open for students (saudigazette, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Music enthusiasts welcomed Saudi Arabia’s first music institute that finally opened its doors in Riyadh on Tuesday.

    The institute will specialize in providing violin music classes for the meantime, but also houses a recording studio available for artists and students alike to record their music, with some classes specifically assigned for female students.

    The launch witnessed the attendance of famous Egyptian violinist, Mahmoud Srour, who will also hold the role of lead music instructor at the institute.

    Srour, who has refrained from teaching for a while and concentrated on performing professionally in orchestras and with artists back home, took on teaching again with an open heart when this chance came along.

    Wanting to be part of the new cultural and artistic scene rising in Saudi, Srour hopes that with his experience, he will be able to help “train 50 Saudi violinists who can eventually be part of an independent Saudi orchestra.”

    So far, the institute has received more than a 1,000 applications. However, the enrollment opportunity will currently only be available to 250 students.

    The institute’s launch comes right after Taif University announced making music courses available as extracurricular activities for students earlier this month.

    The courses were set to be offered in the Academy of Arabic Poetry at the university, which includes multiple tracks, like poetry writing, poetry reading, and most recently, music.

    The university’s new music track will focus on teaching students all about sound structures, solfege and singing, in addition to playing instruments under the supervision of musical experts and teachers.

    According to Srour, the academy and institute will simultaneously work together in collaboration, and might even allow in the future students of both foundations to be part of the same “graduation” program.

    In a previous interview with MBC, Taif University spokesperson, Saleh Al-Thubaiti, said the course hopes to allow students to explore the world of music and instruments, with the idea of “further allowing them to organize regular concerts and artistic evenings.”

    While those extracurricular courses are not yet enforced on students, Al-Thubaiti says that a huge part of what students learn during their university education, is based on what they learn outside their classrooms, stressing that extracurricular activities are “a fundamental element for any student’s education.”

    According to Al-Thubaiti, the music course could potentially be turned in the near future to an academic course, depending on its success and outcome”

  6. Veteran Turkish journalist serving life gets another six years in jail (mee, Jan 23, 2019)

    “A Turkish court has sentenced a veteran journalist serving a life sentence to nearly six additional years in prison for leaking information deemed secret by the government, state-owned Anadolu news agency has said.

    Nazli Ilicak, 74, was sentenced to life in prison along with five other journalists last February for allegedly aiding plotters of a 2016 failed coup attempt.

    All six of the journalists, including Ilicak, have denied the charges.

    On Tuesday, the court sentenced Ilicak to five years and 10 months in prison in a separate case where she was charged with “sharing information that needed to remain secret for the security of the state”, Anadolu said.

    Ilicak, a journalist, columnist and former politician, had also been sentenced to 14 months in prison last year for insulting the president, a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey.

    Along with Ilicak, two prominent journalist brothers – Ahmet and Mehmet Altan – were sentenced to life in prison last February, Reuters news agency reported.

    The case had underscored deep concern about press freedom and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The government blames followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the 2016 coup, and has waged a crackdown on suspected members of his network since then.

    Gulen has denied involvement in the coup and condemned it.

    Since the abortive coup, some 77,000 people have been jailed and more than 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs in the military, public and private sectors.

    Rights groups and Turkey’s western allies have voiced alarm over the scale of the crackdown, saying Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

    The government, however, rejects the criticism and says the measures are necessary due to the gravity of the security threat it faces.”

  7. Russian private contractors active in Sudan during protest crackdown (mee, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Russian private contractors have been training Sudanese security forces, the federation’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, confirming a Russian presence during the past month’s protests against Moscow ally President Omar al-Bashir…”

  8. IOM: 203 immigrants died in Mediterranean since start of 2019 (memo, Jan 23, 2019)

    “The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) announced that 203 migrants had died in the Mediterranean since the start of the year, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

    In a statement, the IOM said that 4,883 migrants had arrived in Europe by sea between 1 and 20 January.

    Some 3,429 arrived in Spain, 1,166 are currently in Greece and the others are distributed among Malta and Greek Cyprus.

    The statement also said that 203 migrants died at sea over the same period while travelling to Europe…”

  9. Qatar’s Lebanon aid package triggers Saudi support for Beirut   (memo, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Saudi Arabia has said it is prepared to do all it can to prop up Lebanon’s ailing economy, 24 hours after Qatar announced a $500 million aid package for Beirut.

    Speaking to CNBC, Riyadh’s finance minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos yesterday that Saudi was “interested to see stability in Lebanon and [we will] support Lebanon all the way.”

    “We are also determined to making sure that we play our role as a catalyst of stability in the region,” he added.

    With Qatar announcing a $500 million aid package for Beirut analysts are wondering if the Saudi offer of assistance is a genuine gesture to help Lebanon or a politically motivated attempt to push back against Doha. Riyadh, along with the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with their Gulf neighbour since summer 2017. The rift within the Arab states has led to a cold war with rivals competing for power and influence…”

  10. Egyptian man stabbed to death while fending off sexual harasser (ahram, Jan 23, 2019)

    “An Egyptian man was stabbed to death as he attempted to fend off another man harassing a woman in a district of southern Cairo, a security source said.

    The 36-year old, identified as Sayed Taha, went to defend a female passerby as another man attempted to harass her. The two men had a brawl, resulting in the harasser stabbing Taha to death, the source said.

    The attacker has been arrested.

    Sexual harrassment has been commonplace in Egypt in recent years. Arrests have been made under a new law Egypt issued in 2014 which punishes sexual harassment with at least six months in jail or fines of at least 3,000 Egyptian pounds.

    Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim authority Al-Azhar had called for strong penalties against perpetrators of sexual harassment and said that women should not be blamed for it, adding last year that sexual harrasment “violates women’s privacy, freedom and human dignity.””

  11. Spain: EU’s €140 Million Fund is Not Enough for Morocco Border Control (moroccoworldnews, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Spain is determined to help Morocco in its campaign against irregular migration. On Tuesday, Spanish Secretary of State for Migration Consuelo Rumi said that Spain has asked the European Commission to “urgently” release the financial aid it promised Morocco to manage migratory issues and to fight terrorism.

    Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported on statements Rumi gave to Spanish media, in which the Spanish official said that the Spanish government is calling on the European Commission to give Morocco the €140 million it promised before March.

    Rumi reportedly made the remarks following her two-day visit to Brussels where she met EU officials, including European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos and European Commissioner for EU Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn.

    According to Rumi, the €140 million is not enough for Morocco as it is adopting several policies against organized trafficking and integration regulations for sub-Saharan migrants.

    Rumi said that Hahn holds the same point of view that Morocco must be a “strategic partner of the EU not only in the field of migration.”

    International news outlets reported on January 18 that Morocco had already received the first payment of €30 million. The EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini said that Morocco will soon receive the remainder of the €140 million fund that the EU allocated for Morocco to tackle irregular migration.

    The financial aid granted by the EU is part of the fund promised by the European Commission in December 2018. The European Commission pledged €148 million to financially assist Morocco. In a statement, the commission said that it was “intensifying its support to Morocco to address irregular migration in response to increased migratory pressure along the Western Mediterranean Route.”

    Both Spain and Morocco face pressure due to the flow of migrants who take the sea route or cross the land borders between the two countries to reach Europe.

    The National Observatory of Migration announced in January that Moroccan police thwarted 88,761 irregular migration attempts in 2018. About 80 percent of the migrants (70,571) were not Moroccans, according to the National Observatory of Migration.”

  12. Morocco’s BCIJ Dismantles 13-Member Terror Cell with Alleged ISIS Ties (moroccoworldnews, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) dismantled a terror cell of 13 members on Wednesday morning in the town of Klaat Sraghna in central Morocco and in three cities on the Atlantic coast: Sale, Mohammedia, and Casablanca.

    The suspects, whose ages ranged from 22 to 44, include two individuals who had previously been arrested on charges related to the anti-terrorism law.

    A statement from the Ministry of the Interior said BCIJ seized electronic devices; knives; an allegiance script supporting Abubakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled caliph of ISIS; and a handwritten letter inciting to terrorism…”

  13. Spain Arrests Moroccan Suspected of Sharing Terrorist Propaganda (moroccoworldnews, Jan 23, 2019)

    “The Spanish civil guard have arrested a Moroccan for “internet dissemination of terrorist propaganda” and “self-indoctrination on social media.”

    Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported that Spain arrested the suspect on Tuesday in Getafe, just outside Madrid. Spanish police started investigating the 28-year-old suspect in early 2018.

    Security services became alerted to the suspect because of his activities on social media. He had been watching content associated with terror groups, especially ISIS.

    The suspect was also using several devices to surf the internet. None of the devices were registered under his name. The suspect was using the identities of people around him to obtain the devices.

    The suspect was radicalized while in prison near Madrid.

    Spain has strong counterterrorism cooperation with Morocco, and both countries exchange information in the field. In 2018, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said that the two countries have an “exemplary” partnership in the fight against terrorism.

    He added that their cooperation is “a model of inter-regional cooperation.”

    In addition to Spain, the US and France also have counterterrorism partnerships with Morocco.”

  14. VICE NEWS – Hungary Is Locking Up Migrants In Shipping Containers To Stop Border Crossings

    A new law in Hungary sends a clear message to would-be-border crossers: Don’t even try.

    The tough, new measure gives border authorities the power to detain asylum-seekers indefinitely and house them in converted shipping containers until their cases are heard. The country’s hardline Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, says it’ll save Europe. But the U.N. says it’s illegal.

    At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, as many as 13,000 people crossed the border in Hungary everyday. But now, few succeed. Currently, at least 8,000 refugees and migrants are stuck in Serbian camps waiting to cross into Hungary, which only allows 10 people per day to enter legally.

  15. 1,800 CNICs stolen from NADRA office in Karachi (tribune, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Unidentified men sneaked into the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) Landhi office and took with them 1,800 computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and entry registers much to the oblivion of the security guard on duty outside on Wednesday.

    Police and Rangers’ officials were alerted to the theft at 8.30am and arrived at Nadra’s office in Landhi number 3.5. Evidence was gathered, investigation initiated and a case was registered later on.

    All stolen CNICs have been annulled and an inquiry committee was formed to investigate the burglary…”

  16. Terror outfit sleeper cell identified in Sukkur (tribune, Jan 23, 2019)

    “The law enforcement agencies in Sindh have identified a terror outfit’s sleeper cell in Sukkur.

    The development came to light during a meeting on law and order situation of the province at the Chief Minister’s House in Karachi on Wednesday. Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Sindh IG Kaleem Imam, Home Secretary Kazi Kabir, Additional IG Karachi Ameer Sheikh also attended the meeting.

    In his briefing, DIG Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) informed CM Murad Ali Shah that the force was vigilantly monitoring movement at the Sindh-Balochistan border. He said some militant elements had established hideouts in the province. “They will be taken to task with the help of intelligence agencies,” he added…”

  17. Gülen might seek refuge in Egypt: Report (hurriyetdailynews, jan 23, 2019)

    “The U.S.-based leader of FETÖ, Fetullah Gülen, might seek refuge in Egypt in the event that he gets deported from the United States, a new report prepared by the Turkish Police Academy has said.

    “FETÖ has come to acquire powerful relations with Egypt’s intelligence institutions following its activities for longs years in Egypt. Within this regard, if Gülen is deported from the U.S., claims that he might seek refuge in Egypt are not baseless,” said the “FETÖ – An International Threat” report.

    “It is not a coincidence that only Egypt abstained at the session in which the draft resolution on whether or not the Organization of Islamic Cooperation should include FETÖ to its terrorists list on Oct. 19, 2016 was being discussed,” the report said.

    Apart from Middle Eastern countries, the 74-page report also included the organization’s alleged links to the U.S.

    FETÖ has more than 140 charter schools in which roughly 60,000 students have been studying, the report expressed.

    “FETÖ earns an annual revenue stream of over 500 million dollars in the U.S. via its financial activities,” said the report.

    Gülen has been residing in the U.S. since 1999, which makes the country the center of FETÖ’s worldwide activities, the report stated.

    Another operational base for FETÖ is Europe, according to the report, where group members are increasingly seeking asylum in Germany and Austria, running business groups such as the Vienna Businessmen’s Foundation (“Viyana ?? Adamlari Derne?i” in Turkish) and publishing the Kanttekening daily, which replaced its previous media organ Zaman, the report said.

    Although the illegal group’s school network in the Netherlands took a hit with falling enrollments after the failed coup attempt of 2016 in Turkey, FETÖ continued its operations by changing the schools’ names, the report said.

    Albania became a stronghold for FETÖ after the illegal group provided scholarships to the children of high-level bureaucrats for years, according to the report.

    Ankara accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.”

  18. Turkey’s membership will make EU a global power: Diplomat (hurriyetdailynews, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Turkey’s European Union membership will make the EU a global power, according to the top Turkish diplomat in charge of EU affairs.

    “Turkey’s membership will seriously affect and shape the EU. Likewise, Turkey will provide the EU with many things that the other member countries can’t,” Faruk Kaymakç?, deputy foreign minister and director of the country’s EU affairs, told Anadolu Agency.

    “Turkey is the country which will make the utmost contribution to the EU for it to become a global power in the areas of energy, foreign policy, security, and defense.”

    Since a dozen countries joined the EU in 2004-2007, issues such as migration, security, and Brexit have made the EU slow down the enlargement process, especially since 2014, he said.

    “However, Turkey’s membership will make the EU a global power,” he added.

    Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005. However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.

    Kaymakç? said Turkey is a part of the European continent economically, politically, and culturally, adding: “It is unthinkable that Turkey is not included in the EU.”

    He added that if and when Turkey and the EU work together, there will be no problems that cannot be overcome.”

  19. Sophia mission must end if rules not changed – Salvini (ansa, Jan 23, 2019)

    “Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Wednesday that the EU’s Sophia naval mission in the Mediterranean to combat human trafficking must be scrapped unless the rules are changed, as it places too much of the burden on Italy.

    “The point of the Sophia naval mission is that all the rescued immigrants disembark exclusively in Italy after an ingenious agreement signed by the government of (ex-premier Matteo) Renzi,” Salvini told Radio Anch’io.

    “I don’t know what he got in exchange.

    “Either the rules change or the mission ends”.

    Sources close to European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said Wednesday that the EU may indeed close Sophia.

    “Operation Sophia… combatted the trafficking of human beings in the Mediterranean up to the point of almost stopping it completely, it trained the Libyan coast guard and it saved human lives,” the sources said.

    “Sophia brought the whole EU into the Mediterranean, while Italy was alone there before 2015.

    “If today Italy, which has the command and headquarters of the operation, no longer wants Sophia, we are ready to close it”.

    Germany has decided to interrupt its participation in Sophia, citing Italy’s hard line on stopping NGO ships landing in Italian ports and sending migrants back to Libya, German news agency DPA reported on Tuesday.”

  20. The Women’s March for Islam (Why Feminists Love Muhammad!)

    While the Women’s March is supposed to be about women, the so-called “feminist” speakers openly promote Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran, which are history’s greatest forces for misogyny and oppression.

    Since the event’s organizers (Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour) are embroiled in controversy over antisemitic sentiments, the movement seems to be falling apart.

    David Wood discusses the issue.

  21. Denmark’s courts giving tougher sentences for rape, violence (thelocal, Jan 23, 2019)

    “The majority of crimes are being punished with tougher sentences than before, according to a judge’s association in Denmark.

    Convictions for crimes such as rape and assault are being met with stronger punishments than in previous years, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

    The length of punishment for violent assault increased by 25 percent between 2011 and 2017, while rape convictions are resulting in a 20 percent longer sentence after the same timeframe. Sentences for paedophilia have also increased, by an average of 36 percent, according to newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, which reported a breakdown of the figures.

    The trend reflects political will to apply tougher punishments on crime, according to Michael Sjöberg, chairperson of the Association of Danish Judges (Dommerforeningen).

    “We are following the wishes of the government and parliament. We are now giving tougher punishments for almost all crimes,” Sjöberg told Kristeligt Dagblad.

    A further example of the trend is the sentence given for illegal possession of weapons, which has increased from an average measurable in months to two years in prison.

    Minister of Justice Søren Pape Poulsen reacted positively to the figures.

    “Dangerous crime can have consequences for individual lives and for individual victims. Having to stay behind bars longer may put off or scare away some people from committing crimes, so I am pleased to see this trend,” Poulsen said to Kristeligt Dagblad.”

  22. Angela Merkel tells Davos end of multilateralism means ‘misery’ (DW, Jan 23, 2019)

    “The German chancellor called on attendees of the World Economic Forum in Davos to remain committed to global institutions but to be open to compromise. She also said that Germany’s recent political instability was over.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the importance of multilateral institutions while calling for their reform in a speech made Wednesday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

    “We need a clear commitment to multilateralism. Anything else will only end in misery,” Merkel said, highlighting what she called “the fragmentation of the multilateral world.”

    She described a “multitude of disturbances and insecurities in the multilateral system” as contributing to the reduced economic growth projections around the world.

    The annual meeting of leaders in business and politics comes at a time of heightened fears of a global economic slowdown due to trade wars, the lack of clarity over Brexit, climate change and other potential issues.

    Merkel said that the West must counter growing fragmentation by being ready to make compromises. These days some think it’s best “if everyone thinks only about himself,” she said. “I have doubts about that.” She highlighted the free trade deal between the EU and Japan that will go into effect on February 1 as an example of global cooperation.

    She also stressed the need for close relations with the United Kingdom after its scheduled departure from the EU on March 29.

    Merkel mentioned rapid global digitization and its effect on the future of work and data security, and said new global institutions were needed to address such changes. “I still have yet to see any global architecture that deals with these questions,” she said.

    She also warned that some of the triggers of the 2007/2008 financial crisis were still present in the banking sector. Global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank must be reformed to restore confidence, but they should not be downgraded, Merkel added.

    Stable Germany ready to work

    The chancellor has spoken at Davos in prior years, but 2019’s appearance follows a particularly rocky domestic political period.

    Following drawn-out talks to form a coalition government, the result of her Christian Democrats losing ground in 2017’s elections, Merkel struggled to keep her coalition together in mid-2018 as her allies argued over migration policy. Then in December she stepped down as the head of her conservative CDU party, also announcing that this would be her last term as chancellor.

    In Davos, Merkel sought reassure listeners that Germany’s government was on solid ground. “I can say to you that Germany once again has a stable government and we are willing to work following some early difficulties.”

    In speaking on Germany’s economic situation, she addressed topics including the need for future infrastructure investment, digitization and its uneven development in Germany, and demographic change.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also deliver a speech later on Wednesday. The newly sworn-in president of Brazil, populist Jair Bolsonaro, gave the first keynote on Tuesday, filling in for US President Donald Trump, whose visit was called off as a result of the US government shutdown. Bolsonaro has promised to open up Brazil to greater foreign investment and increase privatization.

    The annual Davos summit closes its doors on Friday, January 25.”

  23. France is crowned world champion for welfare spending (thelocal, jan 23, 2019)

    “France’s social spending is the highest in the developed world relative to the size of its economy, an OECD study has found, as the government weighs how to respond to “yellow vest” protests.

    Expenditure on healthcare, pensions and other social services stood at 32 percent of GDP last year, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based inter-governmental research institution.

    Outlays have risen sharply since 1990, when they represented just under 25 percent of GDP, and are nearly triple the level of roughly 12 percent of GDP in 1960.

    That trend is broadly in line with other developed countries, reflecting the development of more comprehensive welfare states and higher pension spending as more people live longer.

    But France’s outlays are well above the current average of 20.5 percent of GDP for the 36 OECD member countries, with pensions making up a large chunk of the cash benefits paid out every month.

    In neighbouring Germany social spending is just 25 percent of GDP, while in the US it makes up just 19 percent.

    And when taking all public spending into account, such as police and defence, France leads Europe with government outlays the equivalent of 56.5 percent of GDP in 2017, according to the most recent data available.

    The government is aiming to cut this by three percentage points by the end of Macron’s term in 2022, which would mean finding 65-70 billion euros of savings.

    France has been rocked by often violent protests over the past two months by the “yellow vest” movement of mainly low-income workers and retirees seeking improved living standards.

    The protests began against tax rises announced for transport fuel, but spiralled into a larger movement that has highlighted cuts to public services in some rural areas.

    The revolt led Macron to announce in December a 10-billion-euro ($11.5 billion) package of wage increases and tax relief for low earners and retirees.

    Macron has since launched a “Grand National Debate”, inviting people to give their opinions on policy issues such as whether public spending or taxes should be cut further — and how.

    The package of measures announced by Macron in December will push France’s public deficit above the EU-mandated three-percent limit of GDP this year.

    After France, Belgium and Finland were the next biggest social spenders, each at around 30 percent of GDP, the OECD said.”

  24. Into the arena for camel wrestling in Turkey

    In Turkey’s Western town of Selcuk, the 2019 camel wrestling season is starting.

    These prized animals are celebrated in a dedicated festival, a tradition that has existed for thousands of years and is being considered for UNESCO’s cultural heritage list.

  25. 01/23/2019 The Governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru express the following:

    1. They recognize and express their full support for the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, who has assumed on that date as President in charge of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in accordance with the constitutional norms and the illegitimacy of the Nicolás Maduro regime.

  26. more of the same Communisticisms: [not worth translating] 23 de enero, no es un día de la burguesía, es un día del Pueblo Rebelde, Pueblo que luego fue traicionado por las cúpulas políticas, empresariales y financieras para imponer el pacto de punto fijo, los Patriotas marchamos por la Paz y contra las traiciones. Nosotros Venceremos!! [We will win ]

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