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rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
September 28, 2021

More Polish regions revoke anti-LGBT declarations over EU funds withdrawal Access to the comments

Three more Polish regions have revoked anti-LGBT declarations over the threat of losing funds from the European Union.

Councillors in the southern region of Małopolska confirmed on Monday that they had repealed their opposition to the LGBT "ideology."

Authorities in the southeastern provinces of Lublin and Podkarpackie also abandoned the resolutions, according to the Polish PAP news agency.

Last week, the regional assembly of Świętokrzyskie became the first to abandon their status as an "LGBT-free zone."


September 26, 2021

Some interesting facts about Iran today

- Around 70% of Iranians are under 40 years old
- There has been a spike in pre-Islamic Persian names given to children: Cyrus, Darius, and Anahita are as common, if not more, in many places as Hussain, Ali and Fatemeh
- The Faravahar, a Zoroastrian symbol, is often sported on jewellery, T-shirts, tattoos and bumper-stickers
- An interest in Cyrus has risen in Iran. Many urban youth will travel to south-central Iran to visit the tomb of Cyrus the Great


September 25, 2021

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Russian Actors Jailed In Latest Clampdown On Political Parody


In recent months and years, several stand-up comics and other performers have faced prosecution.

Last summer, Aleksandr Dolgopolov fled Russia after he was threatened with criminal charges over a joke he made about President Vladimir Putin. And last month, the Interior Ministry banned comic Idrak Mirzalizade from the country for life after he made fun of habits he suggested many Russians share, though a court later suspended the ban.

The latest episode in this crackdown appears to be taking place in the Primorye region of Russia's Far East, thousands of kilometers from Moscow and the epicenter of its stand-up scene.

This week, a court in Ussuriisk, north of the regional capital, Vladivostok, sentenced two local actors to short jail stints because of their appearances in an online comedy sketch ribbing local officials and the ruling United Russia party.


2. Poland Reports Fourth Migrant Death At Belarusian Border In Days

The Polish border guard service says an Iraqi migrant has died near the country’s frontier with Belarus, the fourth such death in the area over the past week amid a surge in illegal migration across the European Union's eastern flank that officials accuse Minsk of fueling.

In Brussels, the EU executive said on September 24 that allowing border guards of the EU border agency Frontex on the border with Belarus would be "a very good idea."

"It is essential for Poland to carry out border management duties effectively. However, this should not come at the expense of human life. We urge member state authorities to ensure that people at the border are given the necessary care and assistance," a European Commission spokesman told a news conference.

Earlier in the day, the Polish Border Guard announced that a group of immigrants from Iraq was detained last night 500 meters from the border with Belarus.


3. Voters mull one of Europe’s most radical ripostes to gentrification Access to the comments


But voters will be weighing in on much more than Merkel’s successor on Sunday. State elections in Berlin also fall on September 26, and a referendum that could send shockwaves throughout Europe is on the ballot.

Residents in the capital will decide if Berlin should expropriate so-called "mega-landlords". If so, the law will be one of Europe’s most radical responses to gentrification and the rising cost of housing, socialising roughly 240,000 apartments.

The referendum campaign, called Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen after one of Germany’s biggest property companies, is a reflection of growing frustration and helplessness among renters in the city.


Though speculation in real estate has grown globally in recent years, the city of Berlin has significantly exacerbated the issue by selling off its public housing stock at a pittance after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since 1990, Berlin has sold roughly 200,000 apartments to hedge funds and private equity firms.


4. Hard power: Europe’s military drift causes alarm

The EU was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2012 in recognition of “six decades of promoting peace and reconciliation” in Europe. In his acceptance speech in Oslo, the then president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said the world could “count on our efforts to fight for lasting peace, freedom and justice”.

Yet less than a decade on, the EU is taking two big steps to bolster its defence capacity and engage in military conflicts through training and equipping governments outside the bloc. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic these developments have slipped under the radar, but they represent a significant expansion in security policy with wide-ranging consequences.

An €8bn (£6.9bn) European defence fund (EDF), aimed at developing and acquiring new weapons and technology for militaries within the EU and abroad, was agreed last December. The EU also recently launched the European peace facility (EPF), a mechanism that will boost the bloc’s ability to provide training and equipment – including, for the first time, weapons – to non-European military forces around the world.


The twin initiatives will bolster the EU’s economic and diplomatic influence with a hefty dose of “hard power”, say advocates who also point to the inefficiency of 27 national militaries acquiring their own new weapons systems. But the measures will also benefit the European arms industry by providing research and development funds and new outlets for arms sales overseas.


5. Albanian court reopens case against former defense minister over fatal blast

Albania's former defence minister is facing a fresh investigation over a deadly blast at a munitions factory in 2008.

Fatmir Mediu has denied any wrongdoing related to the explosion in Gerdec, which killed 26 people.


The decision was made by Judge Saida Dollani of the Tirana Appeals Special Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime, which handles top officials' corruption cases.

A charge for abuse of power against Mediu was dismissed in 2009 because he held immunity from prosecution as a re-elected member of parliament. He resigned from his governmental position two days after the explosion.

But parliamentary immunity from criminal cases was abolished in Albania in 2012.

September 23, 2021

Hockey Reporter Sean Gentille on hockey goon Zac Rinaldo's refusal to get vaccinated

Zac Rinaldo has been around for several years. In 374 games he's amassed 18 goals and 24 assists while amassing 758 minutes (because he takes cheap penalties)
He has been barred from Columbus Team facilities
Last weekend Zac Rinaldo was campaigning for the far right party in Canada
Sean Gentille expressed his thoughts on it


September 21, 2021

Happy Chuseok to Everyone in Korea

Today is Chuseok
Chuseok is a harvest festival -- Koreans will say it's like Thanksgiving Day
It's three days long
Koreans travel to their ancestral homelands (or the home of the eldest living relative) and celebrate with traditional food, young children wear hanboks and in many families, they perform ancestral rights
We moved from Korea about four years ago. It's one of the biggest events of the year

September 21, 2021

India seizes $2.7bn of heroin from Afghanistan at port

Nearly three tonnes of heroin with a street value of $2.7bn (£2bn) from Afghanistan have been seized from a western Indian port in a major bust, officials said.

Two Indians were arrested after the heroin, which was kept in two containers marked as carrying talc, was found by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) at Mundra Port in the western state of Gujarat, the government agency said.

The consignment – with one container carrying nearly 2,000kg of heroin and another holding nearly 1,000kg – originated from Afghanistan and was shipped from a port in Iran to Gujarat, the DRI said.


September 21, 2021

Canada: mountain goat kills attacking grizzly bear with 'dagger-like' horns


Parks Canada said the recent forensic necropsy of a female grizzly bear suggests she was killed by a goat, after the horns pierced the bear’s armpits and neck.

“When grizzly bears attack, they tend to focus on the head, the back of the neck and the shoulders of the prey. This attack usually comes from above,” said David Laskin, a Parks Canada wildlife ecologist with the Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay field unit. “The defensive response of a mountain goat would be to protect itself using its sharp horns.”

The remains of the bear, who weighed only 70kg (154lb) and isn’t believed to have had any cubs, was discovered on 4 September by a hiker, close to the Burgess Pass trail near Field, British Columbia. The carcass was airlifted out later that day over worries it could attract other predators.


September 20, 2021

Happy Respect for the Elderly Day (Japan)

3rd Monday in September is Respect for the Elderly (Aged) Day

This holiday began in 1947 in Hyogo Prefecture. In 1966 it became a Nationwide Holiday (owing to its popularity in other prefectures)

It's always the 3rd Monday of September -- many Japanese holidays have been moved to Mondays to create a three-day weekend
To those who reach 100 years, the Japanese government presents them with a silver sake cup and a letter from the Prime Minister

It's a public holiday. But, not all holidays mean that the students don't go to school (or teachers or parents either)

Our twin daughters' middle school had performances, celebrations, and activities for seniors today. The elementary school our youngest daughters go to had the students show up and pack lunch boxes in the morning and deliver them. Our oldest daughter's high school did performances at senior homes and helped out at the homes

September 18, 2021

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Fraud Allegations Mar Second Day Of Russian Elections, As Opposition Smart Voting App Suffers New Blow

Allegations of widespread election fraud marred the second of three days of Russia’s polls on September 18 as jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Smart Voting bot disappeared from the popular messaging app Telegram following similar moves by Apple and Google.

The ruling Kremlin-backed United Russia party is expected to win the parliamentary vote, following a clampdown by authorities on dissent that eliminated vocal Kremlin critics from the ballot and crushed independent media.

On the first day of voting alone, the Golos independent election-monitoring group recorded some 2,000 procedural violations indicating votes were being bought.

According to Golos, mass arrivals of people in uniform at polling stations were widespread, suggesting that the government was mobilizing state employees to ensure a victory for the ruling party.


2. Denmark set to ban life-term prisoners from new romances

Prisoners in Denmark serving life sentences are set to be stopped from beginning new romantic relationships.

The bill, if adopted, will apply to the first ten years of their sentence and is aimed at countering a rise of so-called "criminal groupies".

The move comes after a young woman recently revealed she fell in love at the age of 17 with Peter Madsen, who was sentenced to life behind bars for killing journalist Kim Wall in his homemade submarine in 2017.


"Lifers... should not be able to use our prisons as dating centres or media platforms to brag about their crimes," the minister added.


3. Old Irish goats return to County Dublin to protect hills from wildfires

Melissa Jeuken beat stiff competition to land a high-profile post in Dublin leading a dream team of diligent, focused workers.

“They’re a very good crew to work with. We gelled very quickly. It just clicks.”

Some bully the others, and one has a habit of leaping into her arms, but Jeuken is OK with that. The 25-strong team is made up of goats, and Jeuken is their herder.

They are part of a groundbreaking conservation Irish effort to save a goat species from extinction and to protect a hillside from wildfires.


4. Notre Dame restoration ready to start as safety work completed

Work to shore up Notre Dame in Paris has been finished, allowing restoration to start at the cathedral two years after a fire destroyed the attic and sent its spire crashing through the vaults below.

Soon after the April 2019 blaze, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said the cathedral – which dates back to the 12th century – would be rebuilt. He later promised to reopen it to worshippers by 2024, when France hosts the Olympic Games.

The final phase of efforts to secure its structure included reinforcing the fire-damaged vaults with wooden arches, the state agency leading the work said, adding that it was on track to meet Macron’s reopening target date.

The cathedral will be restored to its previous design, including the 96-metre (315ft) spire designed by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-1800s and for which new timber has been selected.


5. Western Diplomats Express Concern About Ukraine's Judicial Reforms After Delay

Western diplomats have expressed concern over Ukraine’s delay in implementing recently passed judicial legislation that is seen in Washington and Brussels as crucial to improving the nation's rule of law and cleaning up corruption.

Following a meeting on September 16 at President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office in Kyiv with senior members of Ukraine’s parliament and judicial bodies, diplomats from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations and the European Union backed a joint statement demanding judicial reforms move forward.

The G7 diplomats warned against attempts to delay reforms “aimed at strengthening the rule of law, increasing public confidence in the judiciary, attracting foreign investment, and bringing Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic future closer,” according to a copy of the statement distributed by Ukraine’s presidential office.


September 17, 2021


The Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee has a problem.

On Tuesday, it informed the Federal Elections Commission that it may be late with its required monthly financial filing because its member responsible for submitting reports electronically died suddenly on Saturday of COVID-19.

The late Gregg Prentice developed software that converted the committee’s QuickBooks data into information usable by the FEC. But “Gregg did not share the software and instructions with our officers,” the committee explained in its special filing with the FEC.

“We will have to enter the August data manually, and according to the information we have received from our FEC analyst, Scott Bennett, we may likely have to re-enter the data from our first 7 months of 2021. We will be struggling to get all of this entered in the proper format by our deadline on September 20, but we will try to do so with our best effort,” the filing says.


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