U.S. official: Canada is “generally a good neighbor”

Photo: Anthony Moretti 27Nov2016

Canada is “generally a good neighbor?”

GENERALLY?

The Hill reports that a top U.S. official offered what you’d call a back-handed compliment to Canada today.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defended the tariff decision during the White House’s press briefing on Tuesday.

“They are a close ally, they are an important ally, generally a good neighbor,” Ross said.” That doesn’t mean they don’t have to play by the rules,” he said.

“Things like this I don’t regard as being a good neighbor, dumping lumber. And there’s a feeling in the dairy industry that they are a little bit abrupt in the action they took the week before.”

Where to begin?

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Russia tries to blunt Eurovision interest

Eurovision — think of it as a European-wide “The Voice” — is beset by controversy this year: Russia has no competitor, ostensibly because Ukraine, the host nation, has refused to allow Yulia Samoylova to enter the country. According to the Ukrainians, she’s attempting to interject politics into the event because of the song she had planned to perform.

The Russians are angry. The Ukrainians are angry. The television audience has no say in this.

But Russia is not backing down. As the Moscow Times reports,

Samoylova, will perform at a concert in Crimea instead of at the competition in Kiev.

Samoylova will take to the stage in Sevastopol on May 9, the day of the first Eurovision semi-final,  local officials confirmed.

Crimea, of course, would be that part of Ukraine that Russia annexed a couple years ago.

Now that your appetite has been whetted, here’s some background information on the competition.

Posted in Europe, Eurovision | Leave a comment

From Russia (to Le Pen), with Love

The Associated Press reports that Russian hackers are trying to undermine Emmanuel Macron’s campaign, as the final round of the French presidential campaign nears.

The campaign’s digital chief, Mounir Mahjoubi, confirmed the attempted intrusions in a telephone interview late Monday but said they had all been thwarted.

“It’s serious, but nothing was compromised,” he said.

With 13 days until the election, Axios suggests

With most polls showing Macron up 20 to 25 points, [Marine] Le Pen stands very little apparent chance of winning. But even if  [Vladimir] Putin can’t swing the election to her, he can serve his long game of encouraging divisions within NATO countries, and fomenting doubt about the integrity of their democratic institutions. Look for fake news to raise the specter of terrorism and sow distrust of Muslim migrants.

Posted in election coverage, Emmanuel Macron, France, Marine Le Pen, Russia | Leave a comment

BREAKING: Trump slaps Canada

Photo: Anthony Moretti 27Nov2016

The Hill has the details.

President Trump announced his decision Monday evening during a reception with conservative journalists, and a White House official confirmed it. …

The move, which comes close to Trump’s 100th day in office, is another example of his desire to take a tougher approach on trade.

Posted in America, Canada, trade, Trump administration, United States | Leave a comment

ESPN prepares to blow out more than three-dozen on-air talent

Photo: Anthony Moretti

If this report from Yahoo! Sports is accurate, then a whole lot of people who currently work for ESPN won’t be in mere weeks.

ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV.

There is plenty of speculation as to who might be shown the door.

ESPN also had significant layoffs in 2015 and 2013.

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France elections: LePen gets nearly 7-million votes, a record for her party

The Associated Press reports that the far-right rocked the French political establishment on Sunday. Yes, Marine LePen was expected to do well in the first round of the presidential election, but she generated a record number of votes for her party.

Le Pen, in a chest-thumping speech to cheering supporters Sunday night, declared that she embodies “the great alternative” for French voters. She portrayed her duel with Macron as a battle between “patriots” and “wild deregulation” — warning of job losses overseas, mass migration straining resources at home and “the free circulation of terrorists.”

“The time has come to free the French people,” she said at her election day headquarters in the northern French town of Henin-Beaumont, adding that nothing short of “the survival of France” will be at stake in the presidential runoff.

Her supporters burst into a rendition of the French national anthem, chanted “We will win!” and waved French flags and blue flags with “Marine President” inscribed on them.

Her opponent is Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to be the winner on May 7. Conventional logic — and granted such logic has been tossed to the side of the road in the United Kingdom and the United States in the past year — suggests voters will rally around him because he is more palatable to the broad swath of the electorate.

Vox issues an important reminder, noting

That Le Pen and Macron are the two front runners moving into round two of the elections represents a remarkable turning point for France. In a stunning rejection of the status quo in French politics, neither of the two mainstream parties — the Socialists on the left nor the Republicans on the right — made it to the final round, a first in France’s history.

A LePen win in two weeks would stun her country and the world. Her party’s rhetoric is well known in France. It includes removing France from the European Union, protectionist economic policies and anti-immigration. Her victory also would be a boon for Russia, though it should be noted that U.S. President Donald Trump also has spoken highly of LePen.

Posted in Emmanuel Macron, France, Marine Le Pen | Leave a comment

This school has now won three straight national titles (and six out of seven)

The Los Angeles Times reminds us that success in the classroom matters.

Granada Hills team members are Mark Aguila, Jordan Barretto, Sabrina Carlos, Sebastian Gonzalez, Christopher Lo, Kevin Ly, Aisha Mahmud, Melissa Santos and Peter Shin. Alternates included Justin Chiang, Dilawar Khan and Sara Jay Thraen.

In addition to Phipps, the coaches included Harsimar Dhanoa, a former Granada Hills student and decathlon winner, and Jonathan Sturtevant, who said four of the nine members of this year’s team had returned from last year.

“They loved each other so much they became like a family,” he said of the current group. He said the team was traveling to Chicago late Saturday night so they could enjoy the day there Sunday before flying home.

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