Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pets And Fireworks

^ This is good advice for people with pets  - especially with Canada Day tomorrow and Independence Day coming up. ^

My Birthday!

Today is my birthday. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how good of a day it turned out to be (considering up until last month I thought I would be celebrating it by myself.) We used our new grill to cook steak (one of my favorite foods) and then had cake. Both were really good. The smell of the steak alone would have been enough.
I got two calls today from people wishing me a happy birthday. Many people did it through Facebook or e-mail - and I got more than last year. As for gifts: I got 76 birthday cards! 6 were from friends and family and 70 from friends of friends from around the world. It was pretty cool -  considering I like getting regular mail. I also got some money, a 24 carat-gold coin from Australia (I collect world currency), about 9 books and 51 DVDs! The majority of the DVDs are series. I have a lot of books to read and lost of movies to read and watch (with subtitles.) So, this year I have received the most number of both birthday cards and birthday presents. I guess I'm doing something right if so many people took the time to help me celebrate.
This year I can't find any fault with how my birthday went and that's a pretty cool feeling.

4th Travel

From GMA:
"The Busiest Airports This July 4 Weekend"

When it comes to Independence Day celebrations, getting there can be half the battle. There will be almost 11 million air travelers this July 4 weekend, based off scheduled seats, according to travel website Hopper. With so many people taking advantage of the long weekend, travelers should brace themselves for crowded terminals. The busiest airport this holiday weekend will be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with over 600,000 passengers expected to pass through, though many of those passengers will be in transit to their final destination, Hopper found. And even though New York topped the list of most popular destinations, there will be more locals flying out than visitors flying in. Surprisingly, New York came in fourth place on the list of top-ten busiest airports.

Here’s the full rundown of busiest airports this weekend:
1. Atlanta (ATL)
2. Los Angeles (LAX)
3. Chicago (ORD)
4. New York City (JFK)
5. Dallas (DFW)
6. San Francisco (SFO)
7. Denver (DEN)
8. Seattle (SEA)
9. Charlotte (CLT)
10. Las Vegas (LAS)

Hopper was also able to determine that Friday will be the busiest day this weekend to travel, with 3.1 million seats scheduled. And though it depends on the airport, travelers can expect the longest lines around 10:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. With these tips in your back pocket, plan accordingly to beat the crowds and arrive at your gate in time. Happy travels!

^ I will be flying this weekend as will my dad. He won't be going through any of these airports, but I will be going through one of them. Hopefully it's not too chaotic. ^

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Monument Museum

From the BBC:
"Soviet troop monuments in Poland to be moved to new museum"

More than 200 monuments marking the Soviet army's liberation of Poland at the end of World War Two are to be moved to an open-air museum. They were erected to glorify the Red Army's vital role in ousting the Nazis. But many Poles say it also ushered in four decades of Soviet-inspired communism, and want the monuments to be displayed in historical context. The plan could anger Russia, which has not been consulted. Relations between both countries are tense.  The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) proposes to house the monuments in a park in the former Soviet base at Borne Sulinowo, a small town north-west of Warsaw, where they will be used for the purpose of teaching history. Andrzej Zawistowski, director of the IPN's education department, said the plan includes 229 monuments that refer to "what we consider as untruth: gratitude for having given Poland independence." Poland, now a western ally and Nato member, sees the Soviet domination following the end of the war as a period of oppression, and its relations with Moscow have been strained for some years. Poland and Russia are loggerheads over a number of issues, notably Russia's policy on Ukraine and EU sanctions on Moscow. The plan is diplomatically sensitive. The Kremlin protested strongly when a Soviet monument was removed from the town of Pieniezno last year.  Russia says it exposed a lack of gratitude for the sacrifice of the Soviet troops who freed Poland from the Nazis. More than 20 million Soviet soldiers died in World War Two. Moscow argues that Poland is obliged to protect all war memorials under a 1994 bilateral agreement with Russia. But Poland says the agreement covers only cemeteries, which are not affected under the plan. "The plan will include only monuments expressing the gratitude towards the Red Army, and it will not affect Soviet cemeteries," said Mr Zawistowski. "The educational park will show these monuments within the right historical context," Mr Zawistowski said. "Educational parks and institutions of this type exist equally in other states such as Lithuania, Hungary or even Russia." The institute says it will help with the removal of the monuments and their installation in the museum. But it is up to city councils whether they want them cleared.

^  This is a very good solution. It does not destroy the monuments or their historical significance, but it also doesn't glorify the dark Communist past. Countries throughout Europe should do this for their Nazi and Communist symbols and monuments. These kind of museums will show those that were either too young during Communist times or were born after its collapse just how powerful an influence the Communists (Soviet and the local Parties) had. ^

Ponar Tunnel

From the BBC:
"WW2 Jewish escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuania's Ponar forest"

 A tunnel dug out with spoons by Jewish prisoners escaping Nazi captors in World War Two has been uncovered in Lithuania's Ponar forest. The prisoners were from the so-called Burning Brigade, who were forced to burn corpses to cover up Nazi atrocities as the Soviets advanced. Knowing they too would be killed, they dug a tunnel in a pit where they were kept. Eleven escapees survived the war. A research team used a ground-scanning system to map out the tunnel. The exact location of the 34m (112ft) tunnel had been lost since the end of the war, but the international team, including the Israel Antiquities Authority and researchers from the US, Canada and Lithuania, have now located it.
The team employed the electrical resistivity tomography system, also used in oil exploration, so as not to disturb any human remains at the site.  Ponar forest, known now as Paneriai, is outside the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, a hub of Jewish life before the outbreak of the war. But under Nazi occupation, mass burial pits and graves were carved out of the forest to hold the bodies of up to 100,000 people, including 70,000 Jews, killed during the Holocaust. As the Red Army closed in, the Nazis tried to cover up their atrocities. They forced about 80 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp, chained by the legs, to dig up bodies and burn them.  They were called Leichenkommando (corpse unit), but later became known as the Burning Brigade. According to one account, one brigade prisoner even identified his wife and two sisters among the bodies. Kept overnight in one of the pits where the bodies had been buried, the prisoners began to dig a tunnel and on the night of 15 April 1944, 40 made their escape attempt through the 2 sq ft tunnel. But guards were alerted by the noise and hunted them down. Many were shot but 12 escaped to reach partisans. Eleven survived the war to tell their story. Jon Seligman, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said he was reduced to tears on the discovery of the tunnel, calling it a "heart-warming witness to the victory of hope over desperation". "The tunnel shows that even when the time was so black, there was yearning for life within that," he told Associated Press. Archaeologist Richard Freund, also on the team, told the New York Times that Ponar was "ground zero for the Holocaust", evidence of systematic murder before the Nazis started using gas chambers.

^ Even 71 years after World War 2 ended they are still making new discoveries. Only those that experienced the Holocaust can ever understand how horrible it was, but finding a tunnel like this one gives us a small glimpse. The prisoners knew they were going to be murdered once their "job" was done and they wanted to live so they tried to escape. The same thing happened in several death camps with the Sonderkommandos (those that were forced to deal with the dead.) They may have not used tunnels in those camps, but they also knew they would die and tried to escape. ^

Dodge Banning

From the MT:
"Russian Websites Banned for Advice on Dodging Military Draft"

A Moscow court has ruled to ban four websites for providing information on how to avoid compulsory military service, the TASS news agency reported Wednesday.  “The decision was taken to ban the spread of information online which both encourages and promotes means of evading military service,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on its website. The court said that the sites contained information evading the draft and on companies which could help “customers” obtain an exemption from service. The sites also encouraged “negative attitudes” towards members of the draft commission,” the statement said. Military service of one year is mandatory in Russia for men aged 18 to 27 with several exceptions. Cases of evading the draft are widespread, with some estimates claiming that up to half of those eligible do not serve. Some recruits paying bribes for doctor’s notes on non-existing illnesses, while many academically gifted young men opt for further university study, deferring military service until they are over the call-up age.    In February, TASS reported that recorded cases of attempts to evade military service in Moscow had dropped 45 percent in two and a half years.

^ I do not think the majority of countries nowadays needs the Draft. Even countries that do have it probably wouldn't be able to stop an invasion or occupation  - especially by a larger country. That was made evident during World War 2 - where most countries had the Draft and were still occupied. The same can be said for the Cold War - with many invasion plans being declassified. With that said, if a country does have the Draft I don't think its right to tell people how to dodge it since it is a crime. I know that many people and organizations in the US during the Vietnam War helped men dodge the Draft by either hiding within the US or fleeing to Canada. Now, I am not going to get all high and mighty and try and say that had I been of Draft age when the US had the Draft (until 1973) that I would have gladly served in the military or dodged it - I honestly don't know what I would have done - I would like to think I would have served, but that is just what I think I would do and am not sure if that is what I would have done. I think countries today need to move away from a Draft/conscription military to an all-volunteer one (and give benefits to entice and support their soldiers.) ^

Istanbul Attack

From the BBC:
"Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: Deaths rise to 41 as Turkey mourns"

Turkey is observing a national day of mourning after a gun and suicide bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk airport killed 41 people, including 13 foreign nationals. Three attackers arrived in a taxi and began firing at the terminal entrance late on Tuesday. They blew themselves up after police fired back. Officials say 239 people were injured, with 41 still intensive care. PM Binali Yildirim said early signs pointed to so-called Islamic State. However, no-one has so far admitted carrying out the attack. Turkish investigators are examining CCTV footage, witness statements and mobile phone video recorded by terrified passengers to try to determine the identity of the attackers. The Dogan news agency said autopsies on the three dead men suggested they may be foreign nationals but this has not been confirmed.  Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag says that 128 people remain in hospital, including nationals of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Switzerland, the Associated Press reports.  The Istanbul city governor said 41 people were killed, including 13 foreign or dual nationals. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said there were no reports yet of any British casualties, but the Foreign Office was in contact with Turkish authorities.

Nationality of dead so far confirmed (may include dual nationality)

23 - Turkish
5 - Saudi
2 - Iraqi
1 - Chinese; Jordanian; Tunisian; Uzbek; Iranian; Ukrainian

Cleaners worked through the morning to sweep up shattered glass, while workers repaired cables and ceiling tiles. Heavily-armed security personnel were patrolling the airport. Flights had resumed in the early morning, though with many cancellations and delays. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Wednesday a national day of mourning and said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.  Reports of the attack vary but it appears the attackers opened fire at the entrance where X-ray machines are positioned, sparking an exchange with police. At least two of the attackers ran into the building. Footage on social media shows one moving through the building as people around him flee. He is shot by police and remains on the ground for about 20 seconds before blowing himself up. All three attackers were killed.  The US called the attack "heinous", saying America remained "steadfast in our support for Turkey". Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to Turkey in a phone call with Mr Erdogan, as the pair seek to rebuild ties. French President Francois Hollande has confirmed two French nationals were injured in the attack, but not seriously. Pope Francis denounced the "brutal terrorist attack", saying: "May the Lord convert the hearts of the violent ones and support our efforts toward the path of peace."

^ Unfortunately, it seems that bombings and attacks at airports is the latest tactic being used by terrorists. Millions of people use airports everyday (I will in a few days) and so it is even more scarier. ^

Microsoft Looses

From Yahoo Finance:
"Travel agent who didn’t want Windows 10 upgrade gets $10,000 from Microsoft"

If you’ve got a Windows 7 or 8 PC, chances are you’ve seen that annoying helpful pop-up telling you to update to your computer to Windows 10. But a lot of folks out there just plain don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10. And that’s totally cool. Unfortunately, that pop-up has caused a number of people to upgrade their PCs to Windows 10 without wanting to. If you’re one of those folks, here’s a little bit of schadenfreude for you.
According to The Seattle Times, Microsoft has lost a lawsuit brought against it by a woman who says her computer updated to Windows 10 without her authorization. Travel agent Teri Goldstein says she unwittingly downloaded the new operating system only to see her system slow down and crash for days — hurting her business in the process, according to the Seattle Times. When Goldstein reached out to Microsoft’s customer support it wouldn’t help, she told The Seattle Times. So she sued and won $10,000 for lost wages and the computer, according to The Seattle Times. Microsoft decided not to appeal the judgment, though, according to The Seattle Times. The company denied any wrongdoing. Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade system has been a pain for many consumers, as the pop-up window offering the update may be misleading and cause people to upgrade their operating system without actually meaning to. That’s because Microsoft changed the meaning of the red “X” in the upper right corner of the upgrade pop-up window. Instead of canceling the program as the “X” button has done for years, it actually acts as a kind of confirmation acknowledging the update. For example, some update pop-ups show a date when a customer can schedule their computer to upgrade to Windows 10. Normally, if you would click the “X” you’d be canceling the update offer. But instead, Microsoft set it so that clicking the “X” actually confirmed the date shown in the pop-up window. That could be seen as a sneaky move to be sure.In fact, when I wrote a piece explaining why you should upgrade to Windows 10 before July 29th, I received a deluge of emails from readers complaining that their computers updated to Windows 10 when the owners didn’t want them to. That said, veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley reports that the company is changing the way the pop-up window and “X” button function. Now when you click the “X” you’ll be canceling the update to Windows 10. You can also click a box on the pop-up that says you want to decline the free offer.If you did happen to update to Windows 10 without meaning to do so, it’s worth noting that you can always rollback the upgrade to your previous version of Windows.

^ This is great news (well not for Microsoft.) I was forced to update to Windows 10 and did not want or like it. I hope this shows Microsoft that they are not all-knowing and can not make decisions for us on what we use or don't use. Most companies only understand  and care when they lose money and so now that Microsoft has hopefully they will start treating their customers as people and not objects. ^

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Striking Post?

From Canada Post:
"Public Advisory from Canada Post Regarding a Potential Work Disruption"

Labour negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) continue.  Talks have been ongoing since late 2015, and the parties are now in the final stretch. No legal work disruption can occur until July 2, 2016. Details of the offers are highlighted in the background section below.  While there is still time to reach new agreements, a legal work disruption could occur as early as July 2, 2016. We understand the impact a work disruption would have on customers and are therefore doing everything possible to reach a negotiated settlement quickly. While a labour disruption remains a possibility, we are asking customers to take precautions. In the event of a labour disruption, Canada Post will not operate. Mail and parcels will not be delivered, and no new items will be accepted. Any mail and parcels within the postal system during a work disruption will be secured and delivered as quickly as possible once operations resume.As a result, many organizations have already communicated their contingency plans to their customers.  To ensure delivery through Canada Post prior to a possible work disruption, customers are encouraged to send any items as described below:

Product (within Canada) Last day to ensure delivery by June 30
Expedited Parcel (Regional)June 27
Expedited Parcel (Local)June 29
Xpresspost (National & Regional)June 28
Xpresspost (Local)June 29
Priority (National, Regional & Local)June 29

^ I can not understand how this is legal and allowed to happen. When the mail service of a country stops then it only shows the ineffectiveness of the country as a whole  - the same way shutting-down the entire government does. People, in general, have become too self-righteous in recent years (probably from the parenting trend of telling everyone they are a winner and their are no losers. With that arrogance comes this belief that they deserve the world and are entitled to everything without the need to work or take responsibility. I think that has led to many strikes around the world. These are "abusive" strikes in that they aren't for basic civil rights, but come from a "I want it all and I want it now" mentality. There are real people suffering throughout the world that could only dream about what we in the industrialized countries have and yet all you see and hear about from us is crying for more and striking or demonstrating if it is not automatically given to us. Gone are the days of people doing an honest days work for an honest day's pay. It has been replaced by lazy people who don't want to work, but still want all the benefits. ^

The Past

Brexit: Losing English?

From Quartz:
"Days after Brexit, the EU is already trying to get rid of English"

The UK’s vote to leave the EU is threatening what is arguably the greatest achievement of the British Empire: the total ubiquity of the English language. Just days after Britain’s vote, the EU began taking measures to reduce the influence of English in the organization. The EU has 24 official languages, English among them. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, uses just three languages for its official business: French, German, and English. Each EU member nation is allowed to nominate one official language. English is on the list thanks to a nomination from the UK. The other predominantly English-speaking countries in the EU left English for Britain; Ireland nominated Irish Gaelic, and Malta selected Maltese. Without the UK, English would lose its largest supporter, though it would be likely to remain an official language, as any change to the EU’s language policy requires a unanimous vote from its Council of Ministers. Being “official” allows speakers to address the EU in a given language, and gives EU citizens the right to access official documents translated into it. Then there is the matter of the European Commission’s “working languages.” The commission already appears to be shunning English in favor of French and German. Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission’s president, is expected to drop English from a normally trilingual speech to lawmakers, reported the Wall Street Journal (paywall), citing anonymous EU officials. The commission’s chief spokesperson gave a press briefing in French rather than the usual mix of French and English.  Dropping English from the EU is of course an absurd proposition, despite a pronouncement from one French mayor that “English no longer has any legitimacy in Brussels.” English is by far the most widely spoken common language in both EU countries and among EU officials, and is unquestionably the lingua franca of multinational politics. Whatever language high-level EU officers decide to use for press conferences, English will be the working language of the rest of the organization. A 2012 survey from Eurobarometer found that 38% of Europeans spoke English “well enough to be able to hold a conversation,” compared to just 12% and 11% for French and German, respectively.  Here’s a more anecdotal piece of evidence: A random job posting seeking a data analyst at the European Fisheries Control Agency tells applicants that they “may apply in any of the official languages of the European Union” but that it would be “helpful” to do so in English because “the Agency follows a practice of using English as working language.” Not supporting English could make the EU’s version of the language pretty strange. More seriously, though, it could alienate both English-speaking countries like Ireland, and the many non-French, non-German-speaking member states, where English is by far the most common second language.

^ I think this is just a random ploy made by those in the EU that are mad at the UK for wanting to leave them. English is the international language of: education, finance, trade, travel, diplomacy, etc. and has nothing to do with the United Kingdom, but the United States. Anyone who doesn't know English is at a huge disadvantage whether they leave their home country or travel the world. ^

Canada Lifts Mexico

From Yahoo Canada:
"Canada to lift Mexican visa requirements"

The Government of Canada has made it a top priority to re-establish and strengthen our relationship with one of our most important partners, Mexico. Today, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced Canada's intention to lift the visa requirement for Mexican visitors beginning December 1, 2016. The announcement came during a productive two-day State visit to Canada by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.   Lifting the visa requirement will deepen the ties between Canada and Mexico and will increase the flow of travellers, ideas, and business between both countries.  Canada and Mexico both understand the importance of having a productive and respective relationship – one that allows for greater trade, stronger growth, and more clean job creation

"Canada is pleased to deliver on the government's commitment to lift the visa requirement for Mexican nationals. We look forward to the social and economic benefits that lifting the visa requirement will bring to both countries, especially to the middle class here in Canada."
—The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The Government of Canada has made it a top priority to re-establish and strengthen our relationship with one of our most important partners, Mexico. To this end, Prime Minister Trudeau today announced Canada's intention to lift the visa requirement for Mexican visitors to Canada beginning December 1, 2016. Lifting the visa requirement will deepen ties between Canada and Mexico and will increase the flow of travellers, ideas, and businesses between both countries.  Closer collaboration between Canada and Mexico on mobility issues will also help encourage travel between the two countries while preventing any increase in asylum claims or other irregular migration. Officials plan to meet regularly to promote these mutual interests. Canadian officials are working with their Mexican counterparts on final details to ensure a successful visa lift.  Until November 30, 2016, the visa requirement is still in place for Mexico and – until it is lifted – Mexican citizens must continue to apply for a visa to visit, study or work in Canada. Mexicans can apply online for a visitor visa on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's website, or can use the services of one of the Visa Application Centres in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Visitors are generally allowed a six-month stay from the day they enter Canada. If the Border Services Officer authorizes a stay of less than six months, they will indicate in the visitor's passport the date by which they must leave Canada.  After the visa requirement is lifted, Mexicans wanting to work or study in Canada will still need to apply for a work or study permit prior to their arrival in Canada. Mexican citizens should also be aware that – once the visa is lifted – they will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly or transit through Canada. Applying for an eTA is a simple, inexpensive (CAD$7) process that takes just minutes to complete online. The eTA is electronically linked to a traveler's passport, and is valid for five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. All visa-exempt foreign nationals – except for U.S. citizens – need an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada. Additional information will be provided to Mexican citizens in advance of the visa lift, including details on when Mexicans travellers can begin applying for their eTA.  This document is also available at

^ I hope that Canada (and Mexico) fix the mistakes that made the previous visa-free travel for Mexicans to Canada end. ^

Social Media Oprion

From the BBC:
"US border authority seeks travellers' social media details"

Travellers seeking visa waiver entry to the US may soon be asked to list their social media profiles - if a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal is enacted. An update to application forms would ask users to identify what social networks they use and their "social media identifier" such as a username. However, revealing this information would be "optional". The changes would affect Esta and Form I-94W applications. The proposal was added to the Federal Register by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the DHS, last Thursday. Any data travellers choose to share will be used "for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information", the proposal states. Public comment - which must be submitted by post - will be sought for 60 days before the CBP considers it further.  "It's very hard to see travellers not filling out this item - even though it's optional - as they may fear not getting entry into the country," commented Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Centre for Democracy and Technology. Mr Hall, who spotted the notice last week, added that he feels the measure could make it harder for people to enter the US. "Democracy in general requires having spaces free from government scrutiny and increasingly social life happens online," he told the BBC. "We would have a poor society if people were chilled from participating in social activity online so I really hope they rethink this."  A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents pointed out that the proposal was not guaranteed to go ahead. "Just as with any change in entry requirements, the DHS will need to balance security issues against the need to encourage people to visit their country," he added.

^ Even if this does pass and become optional I don't see it doing a thing to keep travelers to the US or citizens within the US any safer. You can easily make up a fake social media account and use that to "prove" you are safe to travel to/within the US. It seems like a huge waste of time and money. ^

Egg Ban

From the DW:
"The evil egg: Chile bans Kinder Surprise"

The South American country introduced one of the strictest food labeling laws in the world and the chocolate egg landed on the chopping block. Chile isn't the only country where the kid-targeted candy is prohibited.  No more surprises for children in Chile: A new law bans chocolate Kinder Surprise eggs, which contain a plastic container with a little figurine or toy inside. The restriction states that companies cannot promote food items high in sugar or fats with "commercial hooks." Since those hooks include "toys, accessories, incentives or other similar items," it's not just the little chocolate eggs that are banned, but also McDonald's original Happy Meals, which serve up a toy along with fries and Chicken McNuggets. "The Happy Meal as it is today, from a nutritional perspective, is not ‘happy'. It has excessive salt, sugar, and saturated fats," Tito Pizarro, the head of public policy at Chile's Health Ministry, told local radio AND. Ferrero, the company that makes the Kinder eggs and distributes them across the world, is allegedly considering to take legal action against the ban of their product. Customers aren't happy either. Chile's health ministry says that five of 10 children in the country are obese. One in three children under six is overweight. The United States has its own problems with obesity and Kinder Surprise Eggs are banned here, too - but for a different reason. In 1938, the US passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. In section 402 (d), it says that confectionary is deemed "adulterated" and not to be sold if it contains non-nutritive objects. The toy race cars or tiny hippo figurines inside the Kinder Surprise that children in other countries love so much are exactly what this act is talking about. Exceptions are only made for objects "of practical functional value to the confectionery product," which obviously does not apply to little toys called Happy Hippos. One worry is that children could choke on the toys. Once you see how the egg is set up, that seems somewhat unlikely. You have to peel back the wrapping to get to the chocolate egg, which easily splits into two halves. Inside is the hard-plastic capsule that contains the toy. The US does actually enforce its "No Kinder Surprise" policy. In 1997, a candy importer in Chicago recalled 5,000 Kinder eggs "in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)," according to the CPSC website. Anyone bringing the prohibited chocolate into the country, even tourists, can be fined up to 2,500 dollars (2,260 Euros) per egg. Some travelers are still willing to take the risk for friends or family in the US - and even joke about their illegal activities.

^ What's this world coming to when you ban the simple joy of a Kinder Egg? ^

Monday, June 27, 2016

Normal Relations

From the BBC:
"Israel and Turkey end rift over Gaza flotilla killings"

Israel and Turkey have normalised relations, ending a six-year rift over the killing by Israeli troops of 10 Turkish activists on a Gaza-bound ship. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a deal reached on Sunday would see Israel pay $20m (£15m) in compensation. It will also allow Turkey to send aid to Gaza and carry out infrastructure projects in the Palestinian territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement would help bring "stability" to the Middle East. Turkey was once Israel's closest ally in the region, and the two countries share many strategic interests. The Turkish and Israeli prime ministers announced the deal to restore diplomatic ties at simultaneous news conferences in Ankara and Rome. Mr Yildirim said the two countries would appoint ambassadors "as soon as possible" after the agreement is signed on Tuesday. A "lifeline to Palestinians" would be provided, he added, with the first ship loaded with 10,000 tonnes of aid due to leave for the Israeli port of Ashdod on Friday.

^ Sometimes an apology and/or compensation can be "fake" or not real just to get things going again. I believe Israel is only compensating Turkey - not because they believe they did anything wrong (I don't think so either) but so Israel and Turkey can move to more important issues like trade and tourism. Turkey just apologized to Russia for shooting down the plane which caused a rift between those two countries and I believe Turkey is following Israel's "fake" apology to just move on to other things. Sometimes you have to say whatever it takes to move forward. Hopefully Turkey and Israel can now have an even better relationship than they did before all of this. ^

Back To The USSR

From the BBC:
"Russian 'harassment' of US diplomats on rise"

Harassment against US diplomats by Russian security and intelligence services is on the rise, US officials say. The issue has become so pressing that it has been raised directly with President Vladimir Putin, a US Department of State spokeswoman said. The problems began two years ago following US-imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, she added. Specific incidents have not officially been revealed. But the Washington Post said they included breaking into the homes of embassy staff, rearranging furniture and even killing a family pet. No official response has been made by Russia but a statement to the Post did not deny the charge and said there had been US provocation against Russian diplomats. The former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, told the newspaper that while his family was living in Moscow they were routinely followed by security services that wanted him to know they were being watched. He said that incidents increased after the US and European Union imposed sanctions on Russian leaders following the annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. "After the invasion of Ukraine, it got much, much worse," Mr McFaul told the newspaper. "We were feeling embattled out there in the embassy," he said.

^ The Beattles' song: "Back In The USSR" fits this perfectly. Not only were the Beatles loved by all but the most ultra Communist in the Soviet Union (and banned) but their song's title conveys what is currently happening in "modern" Russia with Soviet methods being used on both Russians and foreigners. I'm not sure why they are being used since anyone with even a basic understanding of history knows exactly what happened  - the USSR collapsed from within because of its tactics and methods not working over the long-haul. Sometimes you need to learn from history (ie. past mistakes) and change. ^

Church Change

From the BBC:
"Pope Francis says Church should apologise to gays"

Pope Francis has said that the Roman Catholic Church should apologise to gay people for the way it has treated them.  He told reporters that the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.  The pontiff also said the Church should seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalised - women, the poor, and children forced into labour.   The Pope has been hailed by many in the gay community for his positive attitude towards homosexuals.  But some conservative Catholics have criticised him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality. Speaking to reporters on his plane returning from Armenia, the Pope said: "I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they [homosexuals] should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally." Pope Francis said the Church should seek forgiveness from those whom it had marginalized.  "I think that the Church not only should apologise... to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons." In 2013, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not. "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" he said then.  In other remarks on Sunday, the Pope said he hoped the European Union would be able to recover following the UK's decision to leave. "There is something that is not working in that bulky union, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water, let's try to jump-start things, to re-create," he said.  During his visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, the Pope described the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman Turkish rule in World War One as "genocide". Turkey has always disputed the numbers killed and angrily rejects the term "genocide". The Pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, later told reporters: "The Pope is on no crusade. He is not trying to organise wars or build walls but he wants to build bridges. He has not said a word against the Turkish people."

^ Pope Francis has long called for change in the Catholic Church in many areas and after the years of talk there now needs to be concrete action by the Church to show their willingness to change and to stand by what they preach.  ^

Mandatory Russian

From the MT:
"Foreign Students May Face Compulsory Russian Language Tests"

Russian universities should demand fluency in Russian from foreign students, according to Vladimir Filippov, the head of Russia’s Peoples’ Friendship University, the TASS news agency reported Monday.  “To be accepted into American and British universities, you must send them the results of an English language test. We don’t currently require anything like that from foreigners applying to our universities,” said Filippov, TASS reported.  Foreigners studying in Russia “just arrive and enroll,” according to Filippov.  “This causes problems and there is the issue of taking on an ever-growing number of postgraduate students from Western and African universities,” he added.  Filippov also said that Russian universities have difficulty in attracting the best international students.  “Unfortunately Russian universities are getting the last pick of good students — those who weren’t accepted into the British, French, American and Australian systems.”  He added that Russia needs to find a more effective way of attracting talented young people.  A compulsory exam on Russian language, law and history was introduced in 2015 for migrants working in trade, domestic services and construction. Highly-qualified specialists, children under 18 and those taking part in government resettlement programs are excluded from taking the exam.

^ As someone who studied in Russia twice (the first time without knowing a word of Russian) I am not so sure about this requirement. I understand that it is near-impossible to live in Russia without speaking some Russian - since most Russians do not know a foreign language - not even English - but there shouldn't be a blanket mandatory language requirement. If you are going to Russia to study medicine, technology, etc. then maybe there should be, but if you are going to Russia to learn Russian - like I did at first - then there shouldn't be a language requirement. The main point here isn't a language requirement, but why Russia is far behind most of the world in attracting foreign students to their universities. ^

Sunday, June 26, 2016


^ Learning sign language is important to integrating the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Most of the world uses ASL (American Sign Language) or a "dialect" similar, but as with any language there are different sign languages used around the world. I learned ASL a long time ago (back when you spelt everything out) and now while you can still spell out each letter of each word they have created special signs that mean the whole word - which is pretty cool. ^

Fallujah Freed

From the BBC:
"Iraqi commander: 'Fallujah fight is over'"

The brutal, month-long struggle for the Iraqi city of Fallujah is over, and Islamic State militants have been driven from the once booming, now beleaguered "city of mosques," Iraqi military leaders said Sunday. Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi told Iraqi state TV that government troops had swept into the northwestern neighborhood of al-Julan, the last area of Fallujah to remain under militant control. The battle for Fallujah has featured sometimes fierce door-to-door battles as the military worked to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. "We convey the good news to the Iraqi people that the battle of Fallujah is over," al-Saadi said, adding that more than 1,800 militants died in the fighting and the rest had fled the city.nThe Iraqi military was supported by coalition airstrikes and local militias. Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi stressed the value of the airstrikes and urged continued support in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as Daesh. "About 90% #Fallujah is safe & habitable b/c we caught Daesh off guard, preventing them from destroying city as they did w/ Ramadi & Sinjar," al-Obeidi tweeted.  Fallujah, a predominately Sunni city about 40 miles west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, is known for the scores of mosques that dot its neighborhoods. The city has been under the control of the Islamic State since 2014, when it became one of the first Iraqi cities to fall to the militants. The government offensive in Fallujah followed a successful operation in December to wrest Ramadi, another Sunni city in western Iraq, from militant control. But Ramadi was nearly destroyed in the fighting, and the toll for Fallujah has also been high — almost 100,000 additional people were driven from their homes and forced to scramble for water, food and shelter. Fallujah Mayor Esa al-Esawi told Reuters that displaced families could return to the city within two months, if the government and international agencies provide aid to the effort. Reconstruction will involve more than infrastructure, he said. "Daesh worked to brainwash people," he said. "We need serious programs by the international community to help people get rid of Daesh's deviant ideologies and restore their normal life."nMore than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced since 2014, when the Islamic State mounted its brutal campaign to carve an extremist caliphate out of a wide swath of Iraq and Syria. The militants have slowly been losing ground in recent months, but the war and humanitarian crisis are far from over.

^ Looks like Iraq is finally starting to get its act together (with our help) and kick ISIS out. ^

Brexit For Americans

From the BBC:
"Six ways Brexit could hit Americans"

The United Kingdom's historic decision to become the first sovereign country to vote to leave the European Union has reverberated across the world.  Though it's unclear what a British divorce from Europe may look like, the decision may have caused unintended consequences for many Americans. Here's a look at six ways the Brexit may affect the US.

1. Cheaper holidays to the UK

About one in 10 visitors to the UK is American. And the exchange rate for the dollar is better for Americans in the wake of Brexit - it's now worth $1.48, down about 8% from a year ago, and at its lowest level since 1985.  This means Americans going to see Big Ben, Stonehenge or Edinburgh Castle this summer can expect their dollar to go a lot further, at least for now. Michael Stitt, president of North America for Travelzoo, told the BBC that he advises any American travellers to the UK to check on the exchange rate right before a trip and to consider taking GBP out while the exchange rate is low and the dollar is strong. UK hotels will almost certainly offer deals and specials, he said, and vacation operators will likely put together some "pretty aggressive" packages for going on holiday to the UK. On the inverse, British travellers may think twice before booking a trip to the US because it will be more expensive, he said.

2. Higher airfares

Though an attractive exchange rate makes a summer trip to London more affordable now, Brexit could make flying in and out of the UK more expensive in the long term. The UK currently operates under a single aviation market that allows British airlines the freedom to fly between EU countries and the right to fly within an EU country. The EU also has a similar agreement with the US. The outcome of last night's vote means the UK may lose its rights to fly in and out those countries if new contracts are not negotiated, according to Andrew Meaney, the head of transport for economic consultancy Oxera. Ultimately, airlines could struggle to meet the same amount of demands with fewer services in and out of the UK. US airlines could also consider replacing London with a city such as Dublin as an entry point into Europe.

3. Uncertainty for Americans working in London

For American bankers living in London, the Brexit signals uncertainty about the capital's status as the world's largest foreign exchange market.  US banks will have to decide on moving thousands of jobs to other major European cities such as Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris depending on whether the UK is able to negotiate new trade deals to retain access to the world's largest single market, the EU. In a memo to staff on Friday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon indicated that though the company planned to maintain a large presence in Britain, it would face significant hurdles. "In the months ahead, however, we may need to make changes to our European legal entity structure and the location of some roles," Mr Dimon said.  If Scotland should seek another referendum vote to leave the UK in the wake of Brexit, American bankers may find themselves packing their bags for Edinburgh, the second largest financial hub in the UK.

4. Retirement funds in jeopardy

The Brexit has roiled global financial markets, with the US, UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney markets dropping at the opening bell. Many Americans are exposed to the stock market through their retirement plan, also known as a 401(k) plan. In fact, about half of America's full-time employees participate in their company's 401(k), according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. The UK's exit from the EU has already hit current market prices and could potentially trigger a recession. Investments in global stock markets expose Americans to such market turmoil, and could result in one's equity portfolio losing value.

5. Property boom

The state of the UK economy is volatile, so American property is looking like a very safe investment right now. "Any time there is a recession in significant markets such as London, it bodes well for the US," international real estate lawyer and consultant Edward Mermelstein told the BBC. "Investment will be attracted to a safe haven, and there's no safer location than the US market... the US will be the beneficiary of continued foreign investment due to the uncertainty created by this vote." Americans looking to buy property should expect prices to rise in the next year - making right now a better time to buy rather than waiting. But in the meantime, as the Washington Post pointed out, current mortgage rates will continue to be at an all-time low as foreign investors seek US government debt, pulling down interest rates.

6. Game of Thrones on a shoestring

The UK film and TV industry will be badly hurt by Brexit, the chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance told the Verge.. "The decision to exit the European Union is a major blow to the UK film and TV industry," Michael Ryan told the website. "Producing films and television programs is a very expensive and very risky business and certainty about the rules affecting the business is a must." HBO series Game of Thrones is largely filmed in Northern Ireland, partly funded by the European Regional Development fund. It has also been filmed in Spain, Croatia, Iceland and Malta. That funding could go away, depending on how UK's EU exit is negotiated.

^ As I've stated before there is a lot of unknowns with this Brexit mess. Will the United Kingdom break-up because of this? (Northern Ireland, Scotland, London and Gibraltar all voted to stay with the EU.) What will the UK's (or what's left of it) position be within Europe? How will this affect the UK's relationship with the Commonwealth of Nations, other countries and the US? This article tries to answer the one about the US - again no one really knows what will actually happen. - but the 6 points do seem like they could happen. ^

Spain Wants Gibraltar

From the BBC:
"Brexit: Spain calls for joint control of Gibraltar"

The Spanish government has called for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU. The British overseas territory of 30,000 voted overwhelmingly for remain, with 95.9% opting to stay in the union. "The Spanish flag on the Rock is much closer than before," Spain's acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Friday. Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713 but Spain continues to claim sovereignty over the enclave. At the entrance to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar relies heavily on its shared EU border with Spain for trade. Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo campaigned for a remain vote.  Julie Girling, the Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, said; "I am deeply sorry that the people of the UK have chosen this leap in the dark.  "I believe future generations will question our wisdom." There were 19,322 votes for remain, amid a turnout of 84% of the UK voters on the enclave. Spain continues to claim sovereignty over Gibraltar but the majority of Gibraltarians are British citizens with British passports.
The enclave is self-governing in all areas except defence and foreign policy. It is home to a British military garrison and naval base. Gibraltarians elect their own representatives to the territory's House of Assembly and the British monarch appoints a governor.

^ Spain needs to realize that they are not going to get Gibraltar. Gibraltar may become independent or stay with the British, but I don't see them ever going back to the Spanish. Spain completely closed the border with Gibraltar in 1969 (long before the UK joined the EC - which became the EU) and the border wasn't opened until 1985 (long after the UK joined the EC/EU.) Spain cut Gibraltar off for 16 years and only started dealing with them again when the EU forced them to (ie. when Spain joined the EU.) I am curious to see what the new status will be with the UK (along with Gibraltar) and the EU now that they are leaving. ^

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit Reactions

From Wikipedia;
"International reactions to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016"


European Union:

  •  European Union - President of the European Council Donald Tusk said: "This is not a moment for hysterical reactions. Today on behalf of the 27 leaders I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27. Until the UK formally leaves the EU, EU law will continue to apply to and within the UK, and by this I mean rights, as well as obligations. All the procedures for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU are set out in the treaties. In order to discuss the details, I have offered an informal meeting of the 27 in the margins of the European council next week. I have also proposed we start a wider reflection of the future of our union.[
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said: "We respect the result. We have clarity for the UK to go its own way. Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU. You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don't want the same thing to happen to the euro."
The European Central Bank issued a statement that read: "Following the outcome of the UK referendum, the European Central Bank is closely monitoring financial markets and is in close contact with other central banks. The ECB stands ready to provide additional liquidity, if needed, in euro and foreign currencies. The ECB has prepared for this contingency in close contact with the banks that it supervises and considers that the euro area banking system is resilient in terms of capital and liquidity."
  • The G7 was expected to make a statement in regards to whether there is any coordinated intervention to ease monetary policy by global central banks.
  •  NATO - Leader Jens Stoltenberg said: "The UK will remain a strong and committed NATO ally and will continue to play its leading role in our alliance."


  •  Austria - Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said that "a domino effect on other countries cannot be ruled out." Although he added that the EU as a whole would survive.
  •  Belgium - Prime Minister Charles Michel said that EU member states should meet to "define priorities and set out a new future for Europe."
  •  Bulgaria - Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said of potential contagion that "only Bulgaria, Romania and Greece will remain when the domino effect is set off."
  •  Czech Republic - President Miloš Zeman said that the result could have an unpleasant influence on the European Union because the United Kingdom will no longer balance French and German influence. He also noted that he was disappointed by the result and that it could worsen the economic conditions in the Czech Republic.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the result is "not the end of world, nor it is the end of the European union. He also said Europe should change. because the project needs stronger support of citizens.Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said the European Union should respect the decision and should not force remaining countries to stronger integration.
    • The ODS issued a statement that read the result was "the last warning before others will go." It also called for change in functioning and strategy of European Union. Leader of the party Petr Fiala said that the Czech Republic "should reconsider its existence in European Union" and negotiate new conditions for the country.
    • Eurosceptic parties welcomed the result and called for a similar referendum. The Party of Free Citizens called for similar referendum because "European Union has changed since 2003 and three million newly eligible citizens could not vote at the time due to their age. Freedom and Direct Democracy stated that it will propose, in parliament, a referendum on the withdrawal of the Czech Republic from the European Union.MP Ivo Valenta, member of Senate, called for a "Czexit" and criticised the European Union for bad legislation, bad immigration policy and for having an army of bureaucrats.
  •  Finland - Minister for Foreign Affairs and the leader of the Finns Party Timo Soini said that "the nation has had its say" and that "any retaliation and whinge is out of the question."
  •  France - Front National leader Marine Le Pen wrote: "Victory for freedom! As I have been asking for years, now we need to have the same referendum in France and in the countries of the EU." Her niece and party member, Marion Marechal-Le Pen wrote: "From #Brexit to #Frexit: It's now time to import democracy to our country. The French must have the right to choose!" Les Republicains leader for the Paris regions Valerie Pecresse wrote: ""It's a thunderbolt. Nobody believed this could happen. I was convinced nobody would choose to undo what we have strived so long to build. We need to rethink Europe. The French must know that the EU protects them. We need a Europe that is more democratic and less bureaucratic."
    • Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud wrote: "Now to the other Members states to save the EU from unravelling which excludes business as usual, especially in Brussels. Reform or die!"
  •  Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel said, after a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, that Europe should discuss the result "together and in calm," while warning against hectic reactions. She noted the referendum result would be tabled during an EU summit in Brussels the following week.
Leader of the European People's Party and Christian Social Union MEP Manfred Weber wrote: "Exit negotiations should be concluded within 2 years at max. There cannot be any special treatment. Leave means leave."
Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel wrote: "Damn! A bad day for Europe."
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote: "The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain."
  •  Greece - Prime minister Alexis Tsipras in a televised address to the nation argued that “it was a difficult day for Europe” and that “the EU has been dealt a blow” In his statement the Prime Minister underlined that the result is respected and estimated that the message had long been sent, as reflected by the rise of far right politics in Europe. According to the Greek Prime Minister the gap is widening and a “return to the so-called security of national entrenchment” will lead to a dead end. PM Tsipras elaborated that an immediate change of course is necessary to defend against the far right.
New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyannis said: "The cost of populism emerged today in all its glory. Mr Cameron is bearing great responsibility. It's a hard day for Europe and an even harder day for the UK."
  •  Ireland - The Taoiseach's office issues a statement that read: "This result clearly has very significant implications for Ireland, as well as for Britain and for the European Union."
  •  Italy - Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini wrote: "Hurrah for the courage of free citizens! Heart, brain and pride defeated lies, threats and blackmail. THANK YOU UK, now it's our turn."
  •  Netherlands - Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "The dissatisfaction you see in Britain is also present in other countries, including my own. This has to be a stimulus for more reform, more welfare." He added: "First the British have to decide when they want to start the process of leaving."
    • MP and Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders wrote in congratulations of the outcome and that it is "Time for a Dutch referendum!"
  •  Poland - Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said: "Brexit is bad news for Britain and Europe. It is a sign the EU concept needs to change."
  •  Slovakia - Prime Minister Robert Fico said that Slovakia respects the decision to leave the European Union and further noted that it is not a "tragedy but a reality". He also said that the European Union should change its policy because many people are not satisfied with its migration and economic policies. He added that the result would influence the Slovak six-month tenure as president of the European Commission.
  •  Spain Acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo called for joint control over the disputed territory of Gibraltar, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining in the EU.[


  •  Australia - Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "The impact on Australia immediately, directly, from a legal point of view, will be very limited because it will take some years for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, to negotiate an exit. However, we've seen already large falls on stock markets and there will be a degree of uncertainty for some time." He added that this was a "momentous and historic decision." He also insisted "there is no cause for Australians to be alarmed by these developments" and that "it is important to remember that the Australian economy is strong and resilient and has weathered global shocks before and weathered them well."
  •  Brazil - The Itamaraty Palace issued a statement saying the country remains as the EU partner, but says it will strengthen relations between Brazil and the United Kingdom. The note also says that the country sees with "respect" the outcome of the referendum, and trust that this decision will stop the process of European integration.
  •  Canada - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "The people of the UK have chosen to leave the EU. The UK and the EU are important strategic partners for Canada with whom we enjoy deep historical ties and common values. We will continue to build relations with both parties as they forge a new relationship. [...] Prime Minister David Cameron indicated today that he will resign by the fall. On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank him for being such a close ally and good friend to our country. We wish him well."
  •  India - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: "In this globalized world, volatility and uncertainty are the new norms. This verdict will obviously further contribute to such volatility not least because its full implications for the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are still uncertain. All countries around the world will have to brace themselves for a period of possible turbulence while being watchful about, and alert to, the referendum's medium term impacts."
  •  Ira - Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a democratic state are respected to British vote to leave the European Union and considered it as will of the majority of its people in setting its foreign relations. Iran has always called for expansion of relations with European countries based on mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs and the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union will not change Islamic Republic's relations with that country."
  •  Japan - Finance Minister Taro Aso said he would carefully monitoring financial market developments and respond as and when needed in the currency markets. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said the government was worried about financial market volatility as a result of the vote as being "undesirable."
  •  Norway - Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: "The referendum in the UK marks a crossroads for European cooperation. Britain's decision pose[s] policy challenges. Europe's leaders must get a grasp on the instability and lack of confidence many voters feel."
    • The Red Party wants a referendum on whether Norway should leave or remain a member of the European Economic Area. Party leader Bjørnar Moxnes said: "If also the United Kingdoms stands outside the European Union and negotiating a separate agreement with the EU, it will make it easier for Norway to get a more normal trade agreement with the EU than with the EEA agreement."
    • The Centre Party politician Per Olaf Lundteigen said: "The Centre Party must work even more powerfully to terminate the EEA agreement and replace it with a trade agreement.", as a reaction to the Brexit.
  •  Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin said "The consequences will be global, they are inevitable; they will be both positive and negative. ... It is a choice of the British people. We did not interfere and we are not going to interfere." Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev said "This will of course reduce the appetite of investors to take risks. But I do not see any serious risks for Russia". Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin wrote in his twitter "Without the U.K., there will be nobody in the EU to defend sanctions against Russia so zealously". Head of the Federation Council's foreign affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachyov said the results of the referendum show that the EU failed "to fulfill its primary mission- to become transparent and convenient for citizens".
  •  Turkey - Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said: "The period of the disintegration of the European Union has begun. And the first vessel to have departed is Britain."
  •  United States - Republican Party presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump said, after arriving in Scotland: "I think it's a great thing. I think it's a fantastic thing." U.S. President Barack Obama stated that he respects the decision made by the people of the UK, despite not supporting the country leaving the EU.


The Euro fell by almost four percent against the United States dollar, while traditional "safe haven assets" such as gold and the Japanese Yen surged. Crude oil prices fell.The flagship French CAC 40 and German DAX initially fell by over 10% upon opening, while bank shares from the two countries fell by more. Likewise, the Spanish IBEX 35, Greek ATHEX, Dutch AEX index, Czech PX Index and Polish WIG30 all fell by eight to 15 percent. The Swiss franc, a traditional save haven asset, rose sharply, thus prompting the Swiss National Bank to intervene in the foreign exchange market to cap the rise. It issues a statement that read: "Following the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union, the Swiss franc came under upward pressure. The Swiss National Bank has intervened in the foreign exchange market to stabilise the situation and will remain active in that market." Yields on European sovereign bonds spiked, with 10-year bonds in Spain and Italy rose as much as 0.40% in early trades.In the Asian-Pacific region, an unnamed official at the Bank of Korea in South Korea declined to comment on rumours it intervened in the foreign exchange market, but Vice Finance Minister Choi Sang-Mok said the government would take all efforts to minimise the impact of the result. An unnamed policymaker with knowledge of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) plans for related market management said that it was "prepared to deal with any volatility." The Australian dollar, which has traditionally been sold off in times of financial market uncertainty, fell strongly against the dollar and the yen. Other traditional markers of uncertainty, such as interbank dollar funding rates in Singapore and Hong Kong, were more steady. Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang said: "Because of this matter, we have made preparation in many aspects. We have reserved sufficient liquidity and we are able to handle in different situations." The Hong Kong Monetary Authority asked banks within its jurisdiction to maintain ample cash conditions and that no unscheduled monetary liquidity injection operations had been taken. The Singapore stock exchange sought to reduce volatility by raising margins on Nikkei futures traded on its exchange. The Chinese yuan fell to its weakest level against the U.S. dollar since January 2011 while its offshore counterpart slipped to its weakest level in more than four months, despite a possibly unrelated People's Bank of China injected 170 billion yuan into the system. The Philippines Central Bank issued a statement that read it was closely monitoring the foreign exchange market and would be prepared to act to ensure orderly transactions and smooth volatility. In the U.S.A., government bonds effectively priced in a small FOMC interest rate cut from a rate increase in July. Every two months, a conclave of many major central bank governors is held in Basel, Switzerland at the Bank of International Settlements. This month the meeting coincided with the day following the vote. RBI's Raghuram Rajan, who had previously called for greater coordination for such situations, issued a statement that sought to allay concerns about the impact of the vote on Indian financial markets and reiterated the RBI's promise to provide necessary liquidity support to ensure orderly movements. He also sought to reassure investors about India's preparedness to deal with the eventuality and that the Indian rupee's fall was relatively moderate compared to many other currencies.


Anton Boerner, head of Germany's foreign trade association, said: "That is a catastrophic result for Britain and also for Europe and Germany, especially the German economy. It is disturbing that the oldest democracy in the world turns its back on us."


The BBC highlighted uncertain reactions from the EU, Ireland and Greece.


Former Czech President Václav Klaus said the result was a victory for democrats who want to live in a free world and it would change the thinking of millions of people in Europe. He compared the result to the British resistance against Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. He also stated that it would not have any economic effect on the Czech Republic.

^ You can just see how scared the EU member-states are from these and other reactions. The same can be found throughout the United Kingdom. As I said before: no one seems to know what will happen now and the not-knowing leads people to be scared and fear the worst.

FARC Ceasefire

From the BBC:
"Colombia Farc: Ceasefire signed to end five decades of war"

The Colombian government and the Farc rebels have signed a historic ceasefire deal, bringing them closer to ending more than five decades of conflict. The announcement is seen as one of the last steps before a full peace deal is signed, which is expected within weeks. Colombia's president and the Farc leader shook hands in celebration. The longest-running insurgency in the Western Hemisphere left an estimated 220,000 people dead and almost seven million displaced. The announcement in Havana caps formal peace talks that started three years ago in the Cuban capital. Colombia's President, Juan Manuel Santos, has previously said he hopes to sign that accord by the end of July.
Thursday's announcement includes:
  • A commitment that rebels will lay down arms within 180 days of a final peace deal
  • The creation of temporary transition zones and camps for the estimated 7,000 rebels
  • A provision that no civilians will be allowed to enter Farc camps, to guarantee rebel security
  • A provision that UN monitors will receive all the group's weapons

"Let this be the last day of the war," Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, said at the announcement. Both sides agreed to let the courts rule whether a popular vote can be held in Colombia to endorse the deal, which was a promise made by Mr Santos. The president said at the ceremony that this was a "historic day". "We have reached the end of 50 years of death, attacks and pain," he said. "This is the end of the armed conflict with the Farc." The announcement of the Farc ceasefire dominated the headlines of the online editions of the main Colombian newspapers and other media outlets. Both sides still need to establish how the peace deal in its entirety will be implemented, verified and approved. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of Latin American countries also attended the ceremony.

^ Many people outside of Colombia and South America probably have never heard of the FARC or the 50 years of violence, but today's announcement is a good thing that will hopefully allow Colombia to move forward and better the lives of their citizens. ^