“Peace” in Donbas

Russia and Ukraine say they have agreed a ceasefire, to be effective by year’s end, in eastern Ukraine, currently occupied by Russia (along with Crimea) and Russia-instigated and -backed “rebels.”  It’s an unsatisfactory ceasefire.

There is no agreement on a timetable for free elections in the occupied eastern oblasts, even assuming the dubious need at all for elections there separate from the regular national elections. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants Russian troops out of those oblasts before the elections; Russia’s President Vladimir Putin insists merely that Ukraine should give those oblasts autonomy before the elections. Zelenskiy is right: elections have no possibility of being free with Russian troops occupying the region.  It’s an unsatisfactory ceasefire.

Short and Sweet

I watched the Nadler burlesque show that’s masquerading as the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing yesterday so you didn’t have to.  Here is the short and sweet of it.

The three Progressive-Democrat law professor witnesses each opened their opening statements by saying President Donald Trump was guilty and should be impeached even before they knew the impeachment charges being preferred.  They couldn’t know the charges because the Judiciary Committee has not written the articles of impeachment. Indeed, the committee chairman, Jerry Nadler (D, NY) has refused—and he refused repeatedly during yesterday’s show—even to say when the next hearing would be held or what witnesses would be called.

Surveillance

It turns out the People’s Republic of China government is a collection of pikers compared to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a pair of bills Monday, one of which will require all consumer electronic devices sold in the country to be pre-installed with Russian software, while the other will register individual journalists as foreign agents.

Government spyware pre-installed on Russian citizens’ devices, so Russia’s modern-day KGB successor can track where Russian citizens are, with whom they’re communicating, what they’re doing, down to the last detail.

Expanding Surveillance State

Want a new phone in the People’s Republic of China? You have to give up an image of your face to the government.

The requirement, which came into effect Sunday, is aimed at minimizing telephone fraud and preventing the reselling and illegal transfer of mobile phone cards, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice in September.

Right. That’s believable.  Never mind that

…facial recognition becomes more and more prevalent in [the PRC], with authorities applying artificial intelligence to sift through reams of data collected in a bid to boost the economy and centralize oversight of the population.

Nuclear Disarmament

Pope Francis wants it—completely, totally, for any purpose, even deterrence (assuming, for now, that this can be done verifiably and verifiably maintained).  The Pope thinks an arms race involving nuclear weapons adds to the danger of their existence, never minding the race, at least on the US’ part, is for self-defense and the defense of our friends and allies—the very purpose of NATO stationing nuclear weapons in Europe, for instance.

The Pope, though, avoided addressing how a non-nuclear nation with a small conventional military establishment would defend itself against an aggressively acquisitive non-nuclear nation with a large military establishment.  Like, say, the Soviet Union against the nations of Europe, individually or collectively. Or like, perhaps, the People’s Republic of China against the Republic of Korea or Japan—or us.

The People Have Spoken

The tally is nearly completely in for Hong Kong’s Sunday vote for local offices.

Local broadcaster RTHK reported that pro-democracy parties took 390 out of 452 seats in the district council, or nearly 90%.
The polls closed with 71.2% of eligible voters casting a ballot, the election commission said, easily surpassing the figure of 47% in the last such vote in 2015.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam suggests

The government will certainly listen humbly to citizens’ opinions and reflect on them seriously[.]

A Court Error

It seems the Hong Kong High Court messed up.  Recall that, last week, the court ruled Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s “emergency” rule barring Hong Kong citizens from wearing masks was illegal. Lam’s rule, the court ruled

infringed on fundamental rights more than was reasonably necessary.

Oops.

The court, having received its marching orders from Beijing, through Lam’s government corrected itself:

following an appeal from the government to freeze the ruling, the court agreed to grant a one-week suspension in view of the “highly exceptional circumstances that Hong Kong is currently facing,” local broadcaster RTHK reported.

The Coming End to the Crisis in Hong Kong

The Wall Street Journal, in its piece on the latest and bloodiest overreaction by the People’s Republic of China’s President Xi Jiping to the protests in Hong Kong, asked how “the Hong Kong crisis can be deescalated.”

It will be in the same way that the Tiananmen Square crisis was deescalated; this is made clear by Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian. The WSJ cited him as saying that [emphasis added]

[President Xi Jinping] gave “the highest direction of the central government” to end violence and restore order in Hong Kong. He called it the army’s most pressing task in Hong Kong.

If You’ve Got Nothing to Hide

Congressman Eric “Nuke ’em” Swalwell (D, CA) has come up with yet another bit of his distortion of our Constitution.

If the president of the United States is innocent, he will send the firsthand witnesses, John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, to Congress.  If he’s guilty, they’ll stop us from hearing it, hard stop.

Because Guilty. He’s accused.

This is precisely the sort of invasive, prurient, government arrogance against which our Founders, the authors of our Constitution, and us citizens led the fight against, wrote into our Constitution, and ratified—including the 4th Amendment:

What Do We Have So Far

Wednesday’s “impeachment” hearing is in the can, and here’s what we know from it.

All Acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent could offer throughout the entire 6-ish hours of testimony was hearsay and supposition.