World

Pompeo sanctions China over human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, calling it the ‘stain of the century’

The United States has increased its pressure on the Chinese government to stop the reported human rights abuses being committed against the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China by hitting them with more sanctions. “The Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities rank as the stain of the century,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday. “The Trump Administration has led the world’s effort to impose tangible costs on the PRC’s continuous campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, intrusive surveillance, forced labor, forced population control, involuntary collection of biometric data, and genetic analyses targeted at these groups,” he added. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) a paramilitary organization for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and an offender of human rights abuses. The Treasury Department also placed sanctions on Sun Jinlong, a former Political Commissar of the XPCC, and Peng Jiarui, the Deputy Party Secretary and Commander of the XPCC, for their involvement in the reported abuses. “As previously stated, the United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Friday. The U.S. has placed several sanctions of Chinese officials and entities amid reports of human rights abuses. On July 9, Chen Quanguo, the First Political Commissar of the XPCC, was placed under designation by the U.S. “Following his arrival in the region, Chen Quanguo began implementing a comprehensive surveillance, detention, and indoctrination program in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities,” Pompeo said in a statement Friday. Several American government agencies warned companies against “reputational, economic, and legal risk” of working in the Xinjiang region because of the reports of forced labor. The Department of Commerce placed sanctions on nine Chinese entities with suspected relations to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China has said that Pompeo’s hard stance against human rights abuses is nothing more than a distraction from the COVID-19 public health crisis unfolding in the U.S. during an election year. “Pompeo’s remarks are a patchwork of political lies against China that disregard facts and distort truth,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a press conference Friday. “However, they are doomed to fail because the world won’t buy what they are selling; peace-loving people won’t allow it; and the Chinese people won’t be intimidated,” Webin added without ever specifically mentioning the Uyghurs. The U.S. is not alone in condemning the actions being taken against the Uyghurs. The U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of “gross and egregious” acts earlier this month and parliament is expected to debate sanctions.

We’re happy to see this.  The U.S. and its allies need to continue increasing pressure on the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) for it’s continued military aggression around the world, and for not accepting responsibility for the virus it unleashed on the world.

North Korean defector ‘shocked’ by kindness, racial diversity of US

A North Korean defector, who calls himself a “victim of brainwash education,” explained what “shocked” him most when he first stepped on American soil. Kim Geum-Hyuk spoke to the YouTube channel, “DIMPLE,” which shares stories and videos involving North Koreans, earlier this month. He grew up in the Hermit Kingdom and went to college in Pyongyang before defecting. “They taught us to fight [Americans] til the end,” Kim, who now lives in Seoul, South Korea, said, adding that Americans are considered “street dogs” or “wolves” depicted as “people who torture and kill” in North Korean education, which he found to be “totally wrong.” “[Americans are] so nice, funny, and open to anything,” Kim shared. “I was so surprised when I first went to California. What I was taught in North Korea was an image of the coldness and wickedness of Americans.” He said he was walking in the morning and a man jogging by said “hi” and he started realizing that “everyone actually said ‘hi’ on the street” and that it was part of American culture. “So there are Mexicans, Chinese, Koreans … So many people made up one community,” he said. “I was just so surprised by the diversity.” And the landscape of America was stunning to Kim as well, who said visiting the Grand Canyon felt like going to Mars and he was amazed at how big Texas was. He added that he was surprised there wasn’t any public transportation in California and he noted the “subways in New York City are really bad and stink.” Because of what North Korean media presented, he said he was led to believe that Iraq was going to win the Iraq War in 2003. “I was like, ‘Iraq is amazing, they’re gonna win,’” he said. “And I found out America wiped them all out in 57 days. So I fixed my thoughts.” On a lighter note, he said the U.S. is a place where you “can gain weight,” noting he put on almost 10 pounds during his visit. Kim is working to bring freedom to his home country as a peace ambassador for One Young World. He’s studying political science and diplomacy at Korea University.

This is what happens in the DPRK (North Korea); just lies and brainwashing.  That’s all that happens in communist countries like North Korea, Cuba, etc.  To see this YouTube interview, click on the text above.

UK Bans New Huawei 5G Equipment from 2021, Full Ban from 5G by 2027

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed the ban on the addition of new equipment from Huawei to UK 5G networks, and all Huawei components must be removed from Britain’s 5G by 2027. The move came after Five Eyes allies warned of the security risks of using the “effectively state-owned” Chinese tech firm. Mr Dowden made the announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, weeks after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Huawei, barring the sale of American components to the Chinese company over security concerns. It represents a significant reversal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who agreed in January on a contract for Huawei to build 35 per cent of Britain’s 5G network. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” the British digital secretary said, according to the BBC. The decision follows a ruling from the National Security Council that Huawei should not be used in any part of Britain’s 5G. The new restrictions also apply to Huawei’s broadband components. The judgment officially came as a result of a review conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of the signals intelligence services GCHQ, which ruled last week that the security of Huawei would be compromised if using any other components than the now-banned American ones. As the U.S. sanctions only affect future equipment, the government will not call for the removal of Huawei from 2G, 3G, or 4G. While a major step, others have warned that the government’s decision does not go far enough and that the Chinese equipment should be removed sooner and in its entirety. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said on Tuesday: “This is a partial victory. ‘No’ to Huawei is great, but we cannot wait until 2027 for removal of the kit.” The Guardian reported on Monday that 60 Conservative MPs could rebel against the government over the long delay in the removal of Huawei, calling instead for the end of purchasing all Huawei equipment in the next 12 months — not just 5G — and removing it from all systems by 2026. However, BT has said that it could take as long as ten years to completely remove Huawei from Britain’s telecommunications infrastructure. The news comes as the chairman of Huawei UK has reportedly stepped down, according to claims by Sky News. Former BP boss Lord Browne of Madingley had told Reuters last week that there was “no diplomacy here” in the government’s dealings with Huawei. “The UK has had a very long relationship with China, and I hope it’s not one that they simply throw away,” Lord Browne complained. The UK stepping back from Huawei, however, represents a positive step towards redressing relationships with other democratic nations, particularly Five Eyes partner the United States, which have expressed concern of communist China becoming too close to the United Kingdom. Britain is said to be exploring an international partnership comprised of a combination of the Five Eyes, the G7, and India and South Korea to construct an alternative to Huawei. U.S. sources speaking to the Financial Times on Monday said that the UK’s hitherto reluctance to come to a firm decision on Huawei was holding up plans for the proposed Five Eyes-Plus or ‘D10’ union of ten democratic nations.

We agree with Nigel Farage, that while this is most definitely a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go nearly far, or fast, enough.  Huawei is entirely owned and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and their Army.  And, it is a vehicle through which they spy on the U.S., UK, and our other allies in order to advance their agenda of global conquest, which of course is a threat to the U.S., the UK and other western deomcracies.  The Brits historically are notorious for being suckers.  Hello..Neville Chamberlain?  To be clear, even a great guy like PM Boris Johnson wouldn’t have done this without some behind the scenes pressure from President Trump.  Regardless, we’re glad they made this decision and hope they implement it quicker and more broadly.  This the kind of pressure ALL of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners (i.e. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the United States) need to be exerting on China now more than ever.

North Korea: Redeploying troops, resuming military exercises at inter-Korean cooperation sites

North Korea said Wednesday it will redeploy troops to now-shuttered inter-Korean cooperation sites, reinstall guard posts and resume military exercises at front-line areas, nullifying the landmark tension-reducing deals reached with South Korea just two years ago. The announcement came a day after North Korea destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office in a choreographed display of anger that puts pressure on Washington and Seoul amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy. The demolition was the most provocative act by North Korea since it entered nuclear talks in 2018, though the building in its border town of Kaesong was empty and the North had previously signaled plans to blow it up. The North’s General Staff said military units will be deployed to the Diamond Mountain resort and the Kaesong industrial complex, both just north of the heavily fortified border. Those sites, once symbols of inter-Korean cooperation, have been shuttered for years due to inter-Korean disputes and the economic sanctions imposed on North Korea because of its nuclear program. The North said it will resume military exercises and reestablish guard posts in border areas and and open front-line sites for flying propaganda balloons toward South Korea. It said it’ll upgrade front-line military readiness to “top-class combat duty system,” while citizens are ready to “launch the largest ever leaflet scattering with a blitz.” These steps would end September 2018 agreements reached during inter-Korean diplomacy that were aimed at lowering military tensions at border areas. Under those agreements, both Koreas halted live-firing exercises, removed some land mines and destroyed guard posts inside the world’s most heavily armed border. Some outside experts have said these moves undermined South Korea’s security more as the North’s nuclear weapons arsenal remain intact. South Korea’s government didn’t immediately respond to the North Korean military statement. Seoul’s Defense Ministry had said Tuesday it would strongly deal with future provocation by North Korea. Some outside analysts predicted North Korea would resort to provocation to wrest outside concessions because its economy has likely worsened under the persistent U.S.-led sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. North Korea may also be frustrated because the sanctions prevent Seoul from breaking away from Washington to resume joint economic projects with Pyongyang. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday said the hard-line steps were taken to retaliate for South Korea’s failure to prevent activists from floating propaganda leaflets across the border. The building destruction was a “reflection of the zeal of our enraged people to punish human scum who challenged the noblest dignity and prestige of our country and those who sheltered the scum, perpetrators of shuddering crime.” It said the destruction was the first step in the retaliation and North Korea will set the intensity and timing for its additional steps while closely monitoring South Korean moves. “Under such an acute situation as now, shameless and reckless attitude and response of the South Korean authorities will lead to our tougher retaliation plans,” it said. The liaison office, built with South Korean money at a reported cost of $8.3 million, was opened days before the 2018 tension-reduction deals were reached. It was the first such office established between the Koreas since their 1945 division. Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued a separate statement saying North Korea had rebuffed a recent offer by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to send special envoys to Pyongyang to defuse animosities. She said Moon had offered to dispatch his National Security Director Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hun at the earliest possible date that North Korea would want. Moon’s office didn’t immediately confirm the North’s report. Kim Yo Jong, who has spearheaded the North’s recent fiery rhetoric against South Korea, called Moon’s offer “unrealistic” and “nonsensical.” “The (South Korean) chief executive greatly favors sending special envoys for ‘tiding over crises’ and raises preposterous proposals frequently, but he has to clearly understand that such a trick will no longer work on us,” Kim Yo Jong said. She said the current Korean crisis “can be terminated only when proper price is paid” for South Korea. South Korea on Tuesday expressed “strong regret” over the destruction of the liaison office the two Koreas had opened in 2018 when ties flourished. The statement also warned of a stern response if North Korea takes additional steps that aggravate tensions. North Korea’s moves have been a serious setback to Moon’s efforts at engagement. Moon champions greater reconciliation with North Korea, met Kim Jong Un three times and was a driving force behind the diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington, including the first summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018. Inter-Korean relations have been strained since the second Kim-Trump summit in early 2019 fell apart due to wrangling over the sanctions. Moon and Kim, after the first of their three 2018 summits, agreed to stop all forms of hostile acts against each other, including leafleting campaigns. But the agreement doesn’t clearly say civilian leafleting should also be banned. Jang Kum Chol, director of the inter-Korean affairs department at North Korea’s ruling party, said Wednesday that Seoul is responsible for the building’s destruction because activists and North Korean defectors in South Korea continued launching leaflets. “Therefore, there can be no exchange or exchange with (the South’s) government. No words will be exchanged at all,” Jang said.

North Korea conducting massive cyber threats against US, other countries, reports say

North Korea is conducting a wide-ranging malicious campaign against the U.S. and global targets, according to several reports. Last month, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI and the Department of Defense released three reports on malware variants used by the North Korean government. This was preceded by an advisory in April from the State Department, the Treasury, and Homeland Security, and FBI on the North Korean cyber threat. “[It is] essentially a taxonomy of everything the [North Koreans] have been caught doing,” Mike Hamilton, chief information security officer of CI Security, told Fox News, referring to the May Malware Analysis reports. “Trying to summarize tactics, techniques, and procedures that everyone can watch out for,” added Hamilton, who also served previously as the chief information security officer for the city of Seattle. One of the driving forces is North Korea’s need to fund its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, the government’s April advisory said. The campaigns are insidious because they often appear as ordinary cybercrime. “The North Koreans are pioneers in the organized-crime false flag business,” Hamilton explained. “They are running ransomware extortion groups, which most people just assume comes from organized crime, not a nation-state.” Hamilton said the aim is cryptomining and financial targets, among other aims. “They show up as commodity, ‘shotgun blast’ types of untargeted attacks to scoop up CPUs [central processing units] for cryptomining,” he said, referring to the mining of digital currencies. “They also use research and targeting against the finance sector, and non-commodity malware that AV [anti-virus] vendors have never seen,” Hamilton added. North Korea-sponsored cyber actors include hackers, cryptologists and software developers who are engaged in espionage, theft from financial institutions and digital currency exchanges, and in politically motivated attacks against foreign media companies, according to the April advisory. For example, an investigation into dozens of suspected North Korean cyber-enabled heists revealed that as of late 2019, North Korea had attempted to steal as much as $2 billion worldwide. Then there are extortion and ransomware campaigns. “In some instances, DPRK [North Korea] cyber actors have demanded payment from victims under the guise of long-term paid consulting arrangements in order to ensure that no such future malicious cyber activity takes place,” the advisory said.

For more, click on the text above.

US disrupts Iranian fuel deliveries to Venezuela, official says

The Trump administration halted scheduled Iranian fuel deliveries to Venezuela Wednesday by threatening sanctions on the ships carrying the cargo, according to U.S. officials. Iran and Venezuela attempted to outmaneuver American sanctions by establishing a new oil partnership. Two Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned ships that “were en route to Venezuela carrying Iranian fuel, scrapped their deliveries after the U.S. threatened sanctions,” a senior U.S. official told Fox News. First reported by The Wall Street Journal, the ships were expected to arrive in Venezuela as the final delivery in a previously planned five-oil-tanker shipment, an effort that the Venezuelan regime has said is a partnership to thwart the American sanctions. “The Iranian oil tankers arriving in Venezuela are nothing but a distraction from the real problems facing Maduro,” a spokesperson from the State Department told Fox News. “These shipments will do nothing to help Venezuelans, they will only help prop up the former Maduro regime for a little while longer.” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said in a televised address: “We are two rebel revolutionary peoples that are never going to kneel before North American imperialism.” But the Greek-owned ships would have been unable to access international banking and maritime insurance had they carried out the shipment. U.S. officials have been in direct communication with the ships, which are no longer heading to Venezuala but heading south off the coast of Senegal near Liberia, according to The Wall Street Journal. The State Department’s Iran Action Group reportedly contacted the Liberian government, to which the two ships are registered, to warn them against sanctions. The Liberian government immediately revoked the ships’ accreditation. The two Greek firms that own the ships were also threatened with U.S. sanctions and legal action, at which point the two ships abandoned the course, according to The Journal. The U.S. has been increasing its efforts in pressuring both nations with sanctions. “We will continue to use the full weight of United States’ economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” the State Department spokesperson told Fox News. President Trump has also increased sanctions on Venezuela, drastically affecting its oil production. According to experts, the oil shipments were only expected to satisfy Venezuelan demand for a couple of weeks. “Iranian gas cannot prevent the inevitable: a democratic transition that restores prosperity to Venezuela,” the State Department spokesperson said.

Taliban Chief Promises Women Equal Rights if U.S. Leaves Afghanistan

In his address for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada – supreme leader of the Taliban as well as one of its top clerics – promised equal rights for men and women under fundamentalist Taliban rule after the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan. He also offered a general amnesty to the Taliban’s enemies, provided they “end their opposition” to the “establishment of an Islamic government.” Eid al-Fitr is the festival that concludes the month-long fast of Ramadan, the paramount Muslim holiday. Eid, which traditionally lasts for three days, will officially begin on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on when the crescent moon appears over each country where Muslims live. “To those sides and individuals that have reservations about the future political system following the end of occupation – the Islamic Emirate once again assures everyone that it does not have a monopolist policy, every male and female member of society shall be given their due rights, none shall feel any sense of deprivation or injustice and all work necessary for the welfare, durability and development of society will be addressed in the light of divine Sharia,” Akhundzada said in his Eid statement, delivered in advance of the holiday. The Taliban likes to refer to itself as the “Islamic Emirate.” Muslim religious law, which the Taliban interprets with infamous severity, is known as “sharia.” The Taliban chief denounced warnings about the horrors that await Afghans if his terrorist gang seizes power again as a foreign plot to sow dissent and slander the “Islamic Emirate.” “Some circles seeking nefarious goals and power through a plan given to them by foreign intelligence networks to promote hatred and bigotry under linguistic, tribal, sectarian and other titles and to threaten and endanger the unity of our country must understand that the Afghan nation and the Islamic Emirate will not permit such undertakings,” he said. “Just as it rescued our homeland from such dangers in the past, it still (Allah willing) retains such capabilities, hence, it would be better for the perpetrators of such activities to review their approach and refrain from troubling this nation with such evil actions and ideas,” he warned, somewhat undermining his previous message of tolerance and reconciliation. Mixed with the Taliban’s threats against foreigners was an offer of general amnesty to their domestic opponents, provided they submit to fundamentalist rule and “renounce their enmity” for the Taliban and its leadership. “We urge everyone to take full advantage of this amnesty by ending their opposition and not becoming an impediment for the establishment of an Islamic government which is the aspiration of millions of martyred, wounded, disabled, orphaned, widowed and suffering Afghans,” Akhundzada said. He also demanded the Afghan government speed up the release of Taliban prisoners, who he said were suffering under inhumane conditions in government prisons. Akhundzada called the Taliban’s peace deal with the United States a “historic agreement” and hailed the “resultant termination of occupation” as an “extraordinary accomplishment for the Islamic Emirate and the entire Afghan Mujahid nation.” Mujahid means “holy warriors.” “The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement signed with America and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity go to waste. The implementation of this agreement can prove to be a powerful instrument for bringing an end to the war between America and our country and for establishing peace and an Islamic system in our homeland,” the Taliban leader said. “On the basis of our policy, we seek to have brotherly relations with Islamic countries, neighborly relations with our neighbors and strengthening of constructive relations with all regional and world countries in order that obligations be discharged vis-à-vis regional and global economic prosperity, security and communal life,” he promised. The government in Kabul was not much impressed with Akhundzada’s Eid statement, noting that his ostensible call for peace and reconciliation included a good deal of language that could be construed as incitement to violence, such as instructing Taliban fighters to “remain focused on their objectives.” “The people of Afghanistan do not need to hear a message from the Taliban. The Taliban, unfortunately, is still sending the message of war, panic, and fear, the Taliban is the main source of devastations and the killing of civilians,” said Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. Akhundzada assumed leadership of the Taliban after his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in the remote Balochistan region of Pakistan in 2016. The Obama administration said at the time that liquidating Mansour would destabilize Taliban leadership and hopefully bring a replacement who was more amenable to working out a peace deal with the United States. Such an agreement was not signed until well into the administration of President Donald Trump, and as Akhundzada’s Eid remarks demonstrate, the Taliban sees the agreement more as a victory against the U.S. “occupation” and a step toward reclaiming total power from the elected government in Kabul than an equitable peace deal. The deal has not brought a great deal of peace to Afghanistan, either. Fighting continues between the Taliban and government forces, most recently with a Taliban attack on the city of Kunduz on Wednesday. According to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the attack was repelled with air support, resulting in the death of over 50 Taliban fighters. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, a primary architect of the peace deal, followed up a round of intense shuttle diplomacy across the Middle East on Wednesday by calling on all sides in Afghanistan to reduce violence. “On violence, I told the Talibs, violence by all sides must fall,” Khalilzad said after meeting with both Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, his power-sharing partner Abdullah Abdullah, and Taliban leaders.

The notion that the Taliban would give equal rights to both men and women is not only a lie, but it’s ridiculous on its face, and laughable. After all, Islam doesn’t treat men and women differently; not by a very long shot.  And, the Taliban enforce Sharia Law, which is the harshest form of Islamic law.  Google what Sharia Law is, and you’ll get a sense of that.  As someone who has spent some time in Afghanistan as a “field grade” Army officer, I have seen up close and very personal what the Taliban did to those who were victimized by that evil, oppressive regime before we liberated Afghanistan.  It would be a travesty on many levels if we allowed the Taliban to retake control of Afghanistan after all the blood, money and treasure that we, and so many other countries, have invested in rebuilding that backward country which borders Iran.

‘Rare’ newborn white reindeer spotted in England

Maybe there’s no need for a red nose to be considered the most famous reindeer of all. A “rare” white reindeer was born just a few weeks ago at a ranch near Yeovil, Somerset, England, British news agency South West News Service reports. Appropriately given the moniker “Blitzen,” the calf was born alongside its sister, Donner. “It’s very rare to see a white calf anywhere in the world — let alone in Somerset,” said Sarah Sutton, of Somerset Reindeer Ranch. Blitzen was born on April 28 and since then, the miniature mammal has been walking around, playing and eating with its family. Unlike other animals that have white pigmentation, white reindeers are not albino. Instead, they have a mutation that causes their fur to lose its pigment. One such white reindeer was spotted in December 2018 by Norwegian photographer Mads Nordsveen, Fox News previously reported. Another white stag was reported in Mala, Sweden, in 2016, the New York Daily News reported. Some Scandinavian traditions regard the sighting of a white reindeer a certain sign of good luck.

To see a fun pic of this cute critter, click on the text above.  Hope it brings ya’ luck this holiday weekend!     🙂

Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela in effort to undermine US sanctions

Iran and Venezuela are working together to circumvent United States sanctions, according to reports. Five Iranian tankers are sailing to Venezuela, carrying at least $45.5 million worth of gasoline and similar products. The capacity of the ships is believed to be around 175,000 metric tons. “This is like a new one for everyone,” said Capt. Ranjith Raja, an analyst who tracks oil shipments by sea at the data firm Refinitiv, of the gasoline shipments. “We haven’t seen anything like this before.” Raja notes the ships all appear to have been loaded from the Persian Gulf Star Refinery near Bandar Abbas, Iran, which makes gasoline. One of the vessels, the Clavel, listed its AIS destination as Caracas beginning May 12, according to log data from ship-tracking website MarineTraffic.com. The vessel later changed its destination as “TO ORDER” two days later, though the ship remains on route to what appears to be Venezuela as it leaves the Mediterranean Sea. Given the crushing U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, Venezuela appears to be the country willing to accept the shipments. Raja said Refinitiv had no data on any Iranian gasoline shipment ever going to South America before. Quoted by a website affiliated to Iranian state television, cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei on Saturday said he did not have any information on the ships. “We have to sell our oil and we have access to its paths,” Rabiei said. “Iran and Venezuela are two independent nations that have had trade with each other and they will” in the future. Iran has warned America that it will retaliate against any actions should America act “like pirates” and attack any of the vessels. “If the United States, like pirates, intends to create insecurity on international highways, it will take a dangerous risk that will certainly not go unnoticed,” warned Nour, an Iranian news agency believed to have ties to the country’s Supreme National Security Council. Venezuela suffers a deepening economic crisis, which has driven up crime rates and deepened political divides within the country. Crumbling public services such as running water, electricity and medical care have driven nearly 5 million people to leave. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has previously turned to Iran for help, but Iran has finally responded after the coronavirus pandemic, an oil crisis and U.S. sanctions have hit the Iranian economy. Earlier this month, Iran authorized the replacement of the rial with the toman, which is worth 10,000 rials, in an effort to curb the rampant inflation that has ravaged the country. Iran’s currency as lost more than 60 percent of its value while consumer prices rose 37 percent just this year. It remains unclear how the U.S. will respond to the tankers. On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury, State Department and Coast Guard issued an advisory warning the maritime industry of illegal shipping and sanctions-dodging tactics by countries, including Iran.

Munich’s Oktoberfest celebrations canceled amid coronavirus pandemic: ‘The risk is just too high’

Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, along with Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, announced on Tuesday that the region’s annual Oktoberfest festivities would be canceled due to the health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic. “Difficult decision with Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter,” Soeder wrote on social media, per a translated tweet. “The Oktoberfest 2020 must be canceled. The risk is just too high. You can neither keep your distance there nor wear a face mask. Living with [coronavirus] means living cautiously until there is a vaccine or medication.” The festivities, which were scheduled to begin on Sept. 19 and run through Oct. 4, would have been the 187th celebration of the beer-themed event. Soeder and Reiter appeared together at a press conference on Thursday morning to announced the news, with Soeder calling it “unbelievably sad,” reports the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). Reiter said that, in addition to being disappointing for Germans and hopeful visitors, the decision will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on the economy. Some 6 million people attend Munich’s Oktoberfest celebrations every year, the DPA reported, with many coming from around the globe. Foreign visitors, too, pose further risk for the spreading of the virus, Soeder noted. Germany has already recorded more than 147,000 cases of coronavirus, and over 4,800 deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to John’s Hopkins University. Both leaders said they hope Oktoberfest will celebrations will resume as normal in 2021. “We hope that next year we can make it up together,” Reiter said. Oktoberfest, an annual celebration of beer and Bavarian culture, has only been canceled a handful of times in the history of the event, most notably during WWI and WWII, and amid cholera outbreaks in 1854 and 1873, among a few other years, according to the event’s official website. Click here for more info:

Sad news for those who were hoping to attend.  I was there back in 2009, and it was definitely a crazy fun time.  Hopefully it’ll be back next year.   Prost!!      🙂