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Tue, 21 Jan 2020
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Russia takes its place among Europe's top performing stock markets in 2019

dancing polar  bears russia
© Sputnik / Pavel Lisitsyn
While last year was marked by political and economic uncertainty across the world, Greece, Russia and Italy have been Europe's top performing stock markets.

Some investors dismissed these markets as "too dangerous, too politically unstable, too reliant on commodities, too weak economically or a combination of all four," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, a UK investment platform, said in a note to clients seen by CNBC."But this just goes to show that buying what is comfortable is rarely the route to big profits," he added.

Comment: What's even better, is that Russia's renaissance is built on reality. The U.S.-imposed sanctions have forced Russia to revitalize its domestic industries in nearly every sector. Russia is one of the few countries in the world who are within reach of being able to supply nearly all of the needs of its population on its own. This sort of economic stability is highly attractive to investors.

Shopping Bag

Walmart fires 56 executives in India as part of restructuring scheme

© Reuters / Mukesh Gupta 4
A Walmart India's Best Price Modern Wholesale store
The world's largest retailer, Walmart, has laid off about a third of the executives at its Indian headquarters in Gurgaon as it struggles to boost its business in the country.

The company fired a total of 56 people, including eight with senior management positions and others in middle and lower management, Krish Iyer, the president and CEO of Walmart India, said in a statement released to the media on Monday. The cuts reportedly amount to around one percent of the total staff working for the company in India.

"We are also looking for ways to operate more efficiently, which requires us to review our corporate structure to ensure that we are organized in the right way," he said, adding that all the dismissed employees will be offered enhanced severance benefits and outplacement services.


12 shot, five dead, in a single day of shootings in Baltimore, MD

Authorities say 12 people were shot, five of them fatally, in eight separate weekend shootings in Baltimore.

The first of Saturday's shootings was reported at about 2:30 a.m. and involved three female victims, all found with apparent gunshot wounds in a car in a northeastern section of the city. One victim, a 28-year-old woman, died shortly after arriving at a hospital.

A few hours later, police responding to a shooting in southeast Baltimore found a 46-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the leg. Then, a second shooting victim, a 40-year-old man, walked into a hospital seeking treatment for a gunshot wound to his leg.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday, police found a man fatally shot in southeast Baltimore. That was followed less than half an hour later by a shooting in central Baltimore that left a 37-year-old man wounded.

Comment: See also: Baltimore on track for record homicides as city descends into chaos

Gold Seal

Man hailed as hero for saving the lives of three men from overturned car in icy pond

Police car
A Nebraska man is being hailed as a hero after jumping into action to save the lives of three men whose car landed upside down in an icy pond and they couldn't get out.

Terry Ingram was out taking pictures of eagles in Bellevue, Nebraska, on Saturday afternoon when he witnessed a white sedan lose control while crossing railroad tracks, strike a fire hydrant and then land upside down in the ice-cold pond, according to ABC News' Omaha affiliate station KETV.

"The car just came right in front of me," said Ingram. "They hit the fire hydrant and I don't think they even touched the ground ... they were already airborne."

Ingram then heard the men screaming for help and he immediately jumped into action.


'You need a boat.' Water main break floods NYC streets

A water main break flooded streets on Manhattan's Upper West Side near Lincoln Center and hampered subway service during the Monday morning rush hour.

The Fire Department of New York responded to the flooding around 5 a.m. near Broadway and West 62nd Street. The water spread for blocks and was several inches deep in places.

"It's crazy, you need a boat or something to get through. I didn't end wear boots today and now we got all this," commuter Michael Romero, 27, of the Bronx told the New York Post.

Airplane Paper

Remembering Roger Scruton, R.I.P.

sir roger scruton
© Pete Helme/RogerScruton.com
The most important conservative thinker of his generation, the philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, has died. He was 75 and suffering from cancer. In his life he published scores of books on a dizzying number of topics, ranging through politics, art, music, the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant, religion, and fox hunting. He also wrote fiction, including the novels Notes from Underground and The Disappeared and the collection Souls in the Twilight. He composed an opera (The Minister) and a handful of songs. He is survived by his wife Sophie, a historian, and two children, Sam and Lucy.

There are three stories that Roger Scruton shared about his life, frequently. The first involved drawing the character of his father, a working-class man and avid conservationist, who disliked the idea of his son going to a Royal Grammar School (a "public school," in English phraseology) and rising above his station. Of his father, he recently wrote affectionately:
He believed that his country was ruled by a conspiracy of public school boys, and that there would not be social justice in Britain until the privileges that enabled such undeserving and treacherous characters to advance were finally abolished. He saw in the House of Lords, in the established Church and in the Monarchy, branches of this long-standing conspiracy and he understood all of our history in terms of it — as a never-ending confiscation of England from its rightful owners by a class of privileged usurpers.

Comment: RIP, Sir Roger Scruton.

See also:

Star of David

Elite NYC prep school fires Jewish teacher who posted anti-Zionist tweets

JB Brager
© Screen capture: YouTube
JB Brager
The Ethical Culture Fieldston School, an elite New York City prep school, has fired a teacher who posted tweets opposing Zionism.

JB Brager, who taught history at Fieldston, was fired Thursday. The termination comes after Brager, who is Jewish, posted multiple tweets disparaging Zionism amid a controversy over anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism at the school.

"ECFS does not comment on personnel matters," the school said in a statement to JTA Thursday evening. "We can reaffirm, however, that the school does not tolerate hurtful, offensive, or exclusionary content or comments from any member of the community. Students, parents, employees and other members of our community all face consequences for misbehavior of this nature."

Comment: See also:

Arrow Down

The fallout from writing 'Why Women Don't Code': Demoted and placed on probation

Stuart Reges
It all started in June 2018, when Quillette published my article, "Why Women Don't Code," and things picked up steam when Jordan Peterson shared a link to the article on his Twitter account. A burst of outrage and press coverage followed which I discussed in a follow-up piece. The original article was one of the ten most read pieces published by Quillette in 2018, and continues to generate interest. A recent YouTube video about it has been viewed over 120 thousand times, as of this writing:

Comment: Also from Stuart Reges:


Australia: Man commits suicide after suffering social media abuse from viral drag queen protest video

drag queen story hour protest
A man who led a protest against drag queens reading to children at a Brisbane library has died.

Wilson Gavin took his own life on Monday morning after footage of the protest went viral on social media.

Mr Gavin was part of a group of young men and women from the University of Queensland's Liberal National Club who stormed Drag Queen Story Time on Friday, chanting: "Drag queens are not for kids".

Comment: Reporting from The Australian gives a much more telling perspective. There is no mention of the online abuse Gavin received :
Drag queen protester Wilson Gavin's suicide exposes horrors of online abuse
By Craig Johnstone, January 13, 2020

The suicide of a young conservative activist just hours after he ­attracted a storm of online abuse for leading a protest against a drag queen reading event for children has ­supercharged debate over the use of social media as a weapon to ­attack political opponents.

Wilson Gavin, 21, was openly gay but vehemently committed to conservative causes such as the ­monarchy and opposition to same-sex marriage.

His suicide followed a barrage of social media abuse over his role in the protest at a ­Brisbane council library on Sunday.

His death unleashed a wave of disbelief and sadness among both his supporters and critics — much of it expressed on Twitter and Facebook, the same platforms that carried the most savage condemnations of his actions following the anti-drag protest.

Mr Gavin led members of the University of Queensland's Liberal National Club in confronting performers at the library event at the weekend, chanting "Drag queens are not for kids". Footage of the incident was posted widely on social media channels.

It is understood Mr Gavin died at Chelmer station on Monday morning. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

A student activist with a high profile in pushing conservative views, he was forthright in his ­opposition to same-sex marriage in 2017, giving interviews in the national media and organising protests backing a No vote in the plebiscite held to decide the issue.

His role in that campaign ­attracted vociferous criticism, but he insisted there were thousands of gay people like himself who ­opposed same-sex marriage.

'They hate me because I'm a conservative, and they hate me more because I'm a gay conservative," he said in an interview on Sky News at the time.

"I'm not a homophobe. I love gay men. You can't call me a homophobe just because I'm opposed to same-sex marriage."

His role in disrupting the drag performer event at the weekend attracted similarly savage criticism and abuse from those purporting to represent the LGBTI community and others on social media, with some LNP politicians quick to say their party had no link with the group.

The member for the federal seat of Brisbane, Trevor Evans, ­labelled club members "ratbags", while Brisbane LNP councillor Vicki Howard said their actions were "appalling".

The LNP resolved to disendorse the group last month.

As news of Mr Gavin's death spread, LNP member for Dawson George Christensen announced he was quitting Twitter.

"Suicide happens when Twitter keyboard warriors pile on an individual for a political protest," he tweeted.

"Twitter is broken. It's for ad hominem attacks & pile-ons, not real discourse.

"And it's aided & abetted by the media. I can't delete the media but I am deleting my Twitter account. Bye."

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said she would not make any comments in relation to Mr Gavin's death.

"Today is a day when we should all think about a bit of respect and compassion for people," she said.

Former Young LNP president Luke Barnes said he was angry and frustrated that the protest showed "intolerance in the name of so-called conservative values".

However, Mr Barnes, who is gay, said the protest and Mr Gavin's death showed that "people need to be careful about throwing the word 'homophobic' or other insults around so quickly".

A fellow member of the UQ Liberal National Club told The Australian they met through the Young Monarchist League in 2017.

"We disagreed over a lot of things politically. We were both part of the same party but Wilson was very socially conservative and economically left-wing at times due to his Catholicism," he said.

"He was kind of an odd fit for the party. He had a lot of friends, but also a lot of enemies, and that led to a lot of drama within the club which led to it being disendorsed by the LNP in December.

"He didn't care what others thought of him. He was a real political operator. But he did very much care about what his family thought of him. Family meant a lot to him."

The University of Queensland's Liberal National Club claims to be Queensland's largest right-wing student association. About 20 of its members took part in the protest.

Drag Queen Story Time is run by the LNP-led Brisbane City Council in partnership with Rainbow Families Queensland, with entertainers leading singing, dancing, reading and craft classes for children and their families.

Members of the UQ Liberal National Club stormed the event at the Brisbane Square library on Sunday, announcing on the club's Facebook page that the council should be ashamed for sponsoring the reading.

"What people do behind the closed doors of a nightclub is their business, but this event is designed to indoctrinate and sexualise young children. Our kids deserve better than this!" the club's Facebook statement said.

In defence of its actions, it said: "We stayed outside the room in which it was being held, waited until it was over to make our point, did not respond to the insults which were hurled at us, and left when directed by security."

The Facebook page was taken down on Monday afternoon.

In a statement, the University of Queensland said it understood the "events of the past two days are very distressing for many people".

"Our priority is to provide support for our students and staff who have been impacted," it said.

"Mutual respect and diversity are core values of the university, and we hope that everyone shows consideration for those affected during the difficult days ahead."

Drag performer Johnny Valkyrie said on Monday that the protest was hurtful. "Myself, drag queen Diamond, the Brisbane ­library staff, the families and their children were aggressively confronted by several individuals from the UQ Liberal National Club," he wrote on Facebook.

"(They) burst into the event space, shouting and making vilifying comments."

Later, the performer expressed regret at Mr Gavin's death.

"My heart goes out to the family and friends," he wrote on Facebook. "If the family are reading this, please know I support you."


'I could no longer endure the humiliation': Russian soldier offers explanation for deadly shooting spree

Ramil Shamsutdinov

Private Ramil Shamsutdinov was serving at a base in Russia’s Zaibakalye region.
Since he was arrested and charged with shooting eight fellow soldiers at an army base in October, Private Ramil Shamsutdinov's world has been limited to the walls of a pretrial detention center in a Siberian city and the courtrooms where his case is being held.

From the beginning, the conscript and his relatives and supporters have sought to justify the shooting at a military base as an act of self-defense -- a response to brutal hazing of the kind that has been an intractable problem for Russia's military.

Now, with a probe into the incident ongoing, the 20-year old has expanded on his explanation of the incident in an apologetic letter from custody.

"I regret the fact that I couldn't restrain myself and resorted to this extreme step, but I had no other choice," reads the handwritten letter, which was published January 9 on a social-media page in support of the conscript. "I could no longer endure the humiliation."

Shamsutdinov has been accused of opening fire on October 25, 2019 at the base in Russia's Zaibakalye region, killing eight other soldiers and wounding two more.

Comment: See also: 8 killed, 2 injured after Russian military service member opens fire on fellow soldiers at high-security base