Tag: Belgium

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Canada and the European Union have been negotiating a free trade agreement (CETA) for the past few years. However, on Friday Canada’s negotiator walked out of talks with the Walloon region of Belgium. This article from the National Post newspaper explains some of the challenges:  Perhaps CETA might yet be salvaged. There has been a […]

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Now, one of the Arab-Muslim neighborhoods is in the news because of terrorism. Brussels is as segregated as you might expect. I believe class is the bigger problem, but race is the more obvious one. I was a student, so I lived in a middle-class neighborhood, on the cheap side, renting a room in a […]

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Terrorism and Political Gamesmanship from Brussels to Havana

 

Obama-CheEvery once in a while we end up with what should be called a perfect storm in politics, which is precisely what has happened today. As authorities in Brussels race to assess the damage and catch terrorists, back here in the US, it is politics mostly as usual on the road to the November election. Because our President was in Cuba, the stage was already set for vitriol on foreign matters, so there was just a slight shift in gears.

However, it’s fair to guess that very few people are connecting dots between Brussels and Havana, via the campaign trail — including the candidates. Yes, there will be a fresh crop of comments about the evils of terrorism, and claims that the current administration is utterly incompetent. There might even be a random statement attacking the fact that the Obama Express is not changing course or agenda because of the bombings. I think we can set that aside on the basis of the logistical nightmare Obama’s presence in Belgium would cause, so let’s move on, shall we?

Havana is going to be an historical moment for Obama, and while it’s fine to say he’s simply attempting to build his legacy, the fact is that this administration decided to follow a very old adage on this one. Our country has been insane when it comes to Cuba, because we have stuck with the same policy for so long, while simultaneously expecting a different result. Hate what Obama is doing as much as you may like, but the facts on the ground include direct cash flow to at least some residents of Cuba, and a slow step into the present when it comes to technology as cellular service is slowly reaching the masses there. Of course, it is primarily for the benefit of tourists now, but Pandora’s box has been opened at least a crack. No matter what, the stage has been set for significant change in Cuba, thanks to Airbnb and mobile communications. While trade will be a primary topic of conversation in dealing with the regime, the big deal is the exportation of lifestyle to the citizens — something that they will probably decide to fight to keep if the regime attempts to yank it away from them.

Syrian Refugees, Syrian Terrorists, Belgian Tourists, and Belgian Terrorists, Redux

 

Part of me thinks, “Okay, Claire, you’ve said your piece, you’re not going to elevate the tone on Ricochet at this point by pressing it further.”

Another part of me thinks, “I don’t seem to have made my case successfully.” By which I mean: I don’t think I convinced the maximum number of people possible. And that part of me thinks, “My case, perhaps, is important. If I let go now, it will be out a desire for popularity and for an easier day, which I’ll legitimize to myself by telling myself I’ve elevated the tone.”

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Over nine years, I witnessed the neighborhood become increasingly intolerant. Alcohol became unavailable in most shops and supermarkets; I heard stories of fanatics at the Comte des Flandres metro station who pressured women to wear the veil; Islamic bookshops proliferated, and it became impossible to buy a decent newspaper. With an unemployment rate of 30 […]

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The New Yorker has a piece on Godelieva De Troyer’s sad life and wretched death, and uses it as a framework to consider the ethical dilemmas associated with doctor-assisted suicide. When I came to this sentence, I almost laughed out loud: Opponents have warned for years that legalization will lead to a “slippery slope,” but […]

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A Violent Weekend

 

Let us begin our tour with a quarrel in a faraway country. As Yahoo Japan reports, “A Vietnamese fishing vessel has sunk after being rammed by a Chinese vessel and the 10 fishermen have been rescued. While Vietnam has not responded yet, the Coast Guard warned “the situation at the site it very tense.”‘

This is not an isolated incident, but rather an escalation of recent tensions. It is most likely a response to last week’s announcement of cooperation between Vietnam and Japan, which followed the Chinese “deploying an oil rig off the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam also claims, leading to physical clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels.”