World

Mexico halts caravan of 2,000 migrants bound for US; critics call roundup a ‘human hunt’

A caravan of roughly 2,000 migrants bound for the United States early Saturday was halted by Mexican authorities only a few hours into their journey, according to officials. The caravan, which consisted of migrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America, left before dawn from Tapachula, a town in southern Mexico near the Guatemalan border, Reuters reported. Many of the migrants who departed from Tapachula early in the morning had been held up there for weeks or months, awaiting residency or transit papers from Mexican authorities. About 24 miles into their journey, federal police and national guardsmen blocked their path. Most of the group was detained and put on a bus back to Tapachula, while about 150 migrants returned by foot, witnesses said. The abrupt halt of the caravan stood in stark contrast to last year when waves of U.S.-bound caravans – including one of at least 7,000 people – drew widespread media coverage while immigration officials on both sides of the border struggled to stem the flow. Under pressure from Washington, the government has been taking a tougher stance in dealing with migrants, and many Mexicans are being less welcoming. President Trump, who frequently described the caravans an “invasion,” brokered a deal with Mexico in June, promising to avert tariffs on imports if Mexico clamped down on U.S.-bound migration. Salva Lacruz, from the Fray Matías de Córdova Human Rights Center in Tapachula, called the roundup on Sunday a “human hunt” and noted officials waited until the migrants had tired out before forcing them into vans. Sending the migrants back south was an “exercise in cruelty,” Lacruz said, saying the migrants have come to Mexico because “they need international protection.” Mexico’s export-driven economy is highly dependent on commerce with the U.S., and the government has become far less hospitable to migrants. Mexico has offered refugees the possibility of obtaining work and residency permits to stay in southern Mexico, far from the U.S. border. But those asylum permits are slow-coming in an overstretched immigration system.

Seems as if Mexico is coming to the same realization that we have; that we simply cannot take every person that just wants to come here.  Imagine that..

Swedes are getting implants in their hands to replace cash, credit cards

Thousands of people in Sweden are having futuristic microchips implanted into their skin to carry out everyday activities and replace credit cards and cash. More than 4,000 people have already had the sci-fi-ish chips, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted into their hands — with the pioneers predicting millions will soon join them as they hope to take it global. “It’s very ‘Black Mirror,’” Swedish scientist Ben Libberton told The Post of the similarity to the TV series highlighting futuristic scenarios. Like glorified smartwatches, the chips help Swedes monitor their health and even replace keycards to allow them to enter offices and buildings. They have particularly caught on, however, by enabling owners to pay in stores with a simple swipe of the hand, a big deal in a forward-looking country that is moving toward eliminating cash. The microchips were pioneered by former body piercer Jowan Österlund, who calls the technology a “moonshot” — and who told Fortune magazine that he’s been hit up by hopeful investors “on every continent except Antarctica.” “Tech will move into the body,” the Biohax International founder told the mag. “I am sure of that.” Österlund insists the technology is safe — but that has not stopped alarm bells from ringing, with some fearing a link to a doubling in cybercrime in the country over the last decade. Libberton, a British scientist based in Sweden, praised the “definitely exciting” potential health benefits of accurate health metrics taken from inside the body. “Think if the Apple Watch could measure things like blood glucose,” he told The Post. But he also fears the mass of highly personalized data and how it could be used. “The problem is, who owns this data?” he asked. “Do I get a letter from my insurance company saying premiums are going up before I know I’m ill? If I use the chip to buy lunch, go to the gym and go to work, will someone have all of this info about me? Is this stored and is it safe?” Libberton added, “It’s not just about the chip, but integration with other systems and data sharing.” And he fears Swedes are not giving enough thought to the potential dangers. “People have shown they’re happy to give up privacy for convenience,” he said. “The chip is very convenient, so could we accept our data being shared very widely before we know the risks?” The trend coincides with Sweden’s march toward going cashless, with notes and coins making up just 1 percent of Sweden’s economy. At the same time, the country has seen a dramatic decrease in some crimes — with just two bank robberies last year compared to 110 in 2008.

Look for this to come to America at some point..  But, hopefully not anytime soon.  Don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of this on oh so many levels.  There are the security and privacy concerns.  But, also..  How about big brother?!?  Way too many risks.  I guess let the Swedes be the guinea pig on this one for now..

Child suicide bomber kills at least 9, wounds more than a dozen at Afghanistan wedding

As U.S. officials continue in Qatar to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban that would bring an end to the stalemate 18-year conflict – miles away in Afghanistan itself – bombings and bloodshed still define daily life. On Friday, at least nine people died and more than a dozen injured – according to the BBC – when a child was made to detonate a suicide bomb at a wedding celebration in the eastern province of Nangarhar near the Pakistan border. The child, provincial spokesperson Attaullah Khugyani stated, was used to specifically attack a militia aligned with the government. Pro-government groups routinely operate in conjunction with traditional Afghan forces to beef up measures and ensure that fragile territories do not fall into Taliban and ISIS control. While no outfit has yet claimed responsibility for Friday’s deadly onslaught, Taliban officials have denied involvement. The Islamic State branch, known as ISIS-Khorasan, also has clout in the area and routinely carries out fatal attacks. The bombing comes on the heels of a string of targeted explosions striking fear in feeble communities and claiming lives across the ravished nation. On Sunday, the Taliban executed a devastating suicide car bombing in the central Afghanistan province of Ghazni, claiming the lives of 12 people and wounding more than 150 others. Less than a week earlier, the Taliban rocked downtown Kabul, killing at least one person and wounding more than a hundred – at least 26 children were among the hurt, sliced by shards of glass when the bomb fragmented nearby windows.

As I used to say when I was in Afghanistan, myself..several years ago..   Another KaBOOM day in Kabul..    The Taliban, ISIS, and the rest of these Islamo-wakos don’t value life like we do here in America.  They would send out a child as a sacrificial suicide bomber..  Awful..

South Korea to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea

South Korea says it plans to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea through the World Food Program, in its second aid package announced over the past month as it seeks to help with North Korean food shortages and improve bilateral relations. South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said Wednesday that Seoul will work with the U.N. agency to ensure that the food reaches North Korean people without delay. Kim said South Korea will decide whether to provide more food aid after reviewing the outcome of the current assistance.

Kim Jong-un’s move to replace hardline spy chief creates fresh uncertainty in nuke talks

A major regime shake-up by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the eight weeks since his failed summit with President Trump has set U.S. officials on edge amid uncertainty over whether high-level personnel changes in Pyongyang will help or damage the stalled nuclear talks. With the prospect of a third Trump-Kim summit hanging in the balance, U.S. officials are scrambling to make sense of Mr. Kim’s apparent sidelining of top adviser Kim Yong-chol, a 73-year-old hard-liner and former intelligence chief disliked by the Trump administration, in favor of a much younger and lesser-known regime apparatchik named Jang Kum-chol. American and South Korean sources said that while Mr. Jang’s name was rarely mentioned by North Korea’s state-controlled media until two weeks ago, he has been an influential behind-the-scenes player for years, with a reputation for favoring diplomacy over hard-line confrontation. In his late-50s, Mr. Jang comes from an elite North Korean family and has spent his entire career working within the ruling Korean Workers’ Party United Front Department (UFD), a powerful intelligence arm of the regime that has long overseen relations with South Korea and increasingly with the United States, the sources said. He is believed to have been elevated to replace Kim Yong-chol as head of the UFD, although it is not clear whether that means Mr. Kim, who once threatened to turn South Korea into a “hell of fires” and is accused of masterminding a major 2014 cyberattack against the United States, is being punished by Kim Jong-un or pushed into a more background role. Either way, analysts say, Mr. Jang’s promotion can be read in a variety of ways at a time of maximum uncertainty in U.S.-North Korean diplomacy. “Outside observers may not be familiar with Jang, but he is well known within the power structure in Pyongyang, having spent his career in the UFD,” said Robert Collins, a senior adviser to the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea who has lived in South Korea more than four decades and is considered an authority on the regime in Pyongyang. “Jang also has a reputation there as a negotiator who is really the opposite of Kim Yong-chol, who is renowned for being an extreme hard nose in negotiations.” Longtime North Korea analyst Paik Haksoon, president of the Sejong Institute, a leading think tank in South Korea, went further, asserting that Mr. Jang’s sudden rise, coupled with the elevation last month of longtime nuclear negotiator and diplomat Choe Son-hui to the position of first vice foreign minister, was clearly meant by Kim Jong-un “to send a message.” “The North Koreans are playing politics by changing the players involved in the negotiations. By moving Jang and Choe to positions of more prominence, they are sending a signal to the Americans and to South Korea that North Korean negotiators may be more engaging diplomatically than Kim Yong-chol has been,” Mr. Paik said. “This is not a concession by North Korea,” he added, “but more of an overture to say that on a personal, attitudinal level, with regard to their personal negotiating styles, they could be more diplomatic.” But how they translate into tangible changes in the nuclear negotiations remains to be seen.

Indeed..  For more, click on the text above.

Japan’s emperor to step down in 200-year first

For the first time in more than 200 years, Japan’s emperor will abdicate Tuesday, putting his son on the Chrysanthemum Throne and ushering in a new era for the world’s oldest monarchy. In a set of solemn ceremonies, Emperor Akihito will hand over to his eldest son, 59-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, also kicking off the new imperial “Reiwa” era — meaning “beautiful harmony” — that will continue for the length of the new monarch’s reign. The historic abdication has resulted in an unprecedented 10-day holiday for the famously hard-working Japanese, as special days off to mark the new emperor combine with the traditional “Golden Week” celebrations in May. At precisely 5:00 pm local time (0800 GMT), the 85-year-old Akihito will formally step down in a 10-minute ceremony in the “Matsu-no-Ma” (“Room of Pine”), considered the most elegant hall in the sumptuous Imperial Palace. The ritual will be conducted in the presence of the imperial regalia — an ancient sword and jewel — considered crucial evidence of an emperor’s legitimacy. However, Naruhito will not become emperor of Japan until the stroke of midnight and he will “inherit” the regalia at a second ceremony Wednesday at 10:30 am before making his first official public remarks shortly afterwards. The popular Akihito stunned Japan when he announced in 2016 that he wanted to give up the Chrysanthemum Throne, citing his age and health problems — he has been treated for prostate cancer and has also undergone heart surgery. There have been abdications in Japan’s long imperial history, which has mythological origins and stretches back more than two millennia, but the last one was more than two centuries ago.

For more, click on the text above..

Citigroup to sell more than $1B in Venezuelan gold in blow to Maduro regime, reports say

Citigroup Inc. plans to sell several tons of Venezuelan gold it received as collateral from the Maduro regime to settle the country’s $1.6 billion loan after the deadline to repurchase the precious metal expired earlier this month, reports said Wednesday. Venezuela was due to repay $1.1 billion of the loan March 11, according to the terms of the 2015 deal with Citigroup’s Citibank, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The remainder of the loan is due next year. Citibank now plans to sell the gold, valued at roughly $1.358 billion, to recover the first tranche of the loan, two of the sources told the outlet. The excess $258 million from the sale will be deposited into a U.S. bank account in New York. The development marks another financial blow to President Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Not only won’t it be able to access the cash in the U.S. account, but it could see it handed over to the transitional government being formed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, Bloomberg reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The socialist regime previously faced a financial setback in January when the Bank of England denied Maduro’s request to withdraw $1.2 billion of gold stored there. A week later, Venezuelan officials reportedly planned to ship 20 tons of gold, worth around $850 million, overseas to protect the country’s hard assets amid international pressure mounting against Maduro to cede power. The plan was reportedly halted before the gold could be loaded in Caracas onto an airliner from Russia, a major financial backer of Maduro’s presidency, along with Turkey and China. The ultimate destination of the bars was unknown. Maduro depleted more than 40 percent of the country’s gold reserves last year in a desperate bid to pay creditors and fund government programs as the nation deals with a crippling economy, a lack of basic necessities for its people and rising inflation under his socialist rule, Bloomberg reported. All that remains of the central bank’s dwindling international reserves is $8.7 billion, most of which is held in physical gold, the outlet reported.

Someone needs to confront Bernie, AOC, and the rest of the Democrat socialists on camera with this story and ask why, here in America, should embrace such failed economic policies.  We have the most robust economy probably ever, thanks to DEregulation, and the Dems are running on what?  Reversing that success?  President Trump needs to stop talking about Mueller, Russia, and the late Sen. John McCain (R), and instead hammer away at the economic successes of the last two years….and stay focused on that.  There are SO many success stories there!  Then, contrast it with the failed socialism of Venezuela.  Keep it focused and simple.