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rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
January 31, 2020

Mango the cat making itself comfortable at a police station

This is a police station in Korea
If you've never seen Korean TV before, the writing that is added (similar to thought bubbles) is common in Korean feel good stories and made to tell us what the animal is thinking or saying (The thoughts are in Korean and English)
The backstory of the cat and the police station is very cute. (It's toward the end)

January 27, 2020

The Promise: Why Albanians Saved So Many Jews During World War II

While millions of Jews were being exterminated across Europe during World War II, many Jewish families found refuge and safety in Albania, despite German occupation. The local Jewish population increased from a few hundred to 2,000. Two Albanians recall how their families sheltered Jews and how a centuries-old tradition called Besa kept them alive.

video at

cross-post in GD

January 27, 2020

The Promise: Why Albanians Saved So Many Jews During World War II

While millions of Jews were being exterminated across Europe during World War II, many Jewish families found refuge and safety in Albania, despite German occupation. The local Jewish population increased from a few hundred to 2,000. Two Albanians recall how their families sheltered Jews and how a centuries-old tradition called Besa kept them alive.

video at

January 27, 2020

Outspoken Senior Russian Clergyman Dies Unexpectedly At 51

A high-ranking Russian clergyman known for his outspoken social and political commentary and wavering support for the government has died of unknown causes.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, 51, died on January 26 while sitting on a bench at the Church of Theodore the Studite at the Nikitsky Gate in Moscow where he was the rector, the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate told Russian media.

For years, Chaplin was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration’s policies. Lately, however, Chaplin had made critical statements targeting the country’s leadership. Most notable was his opposition to pension reform last year. In March, he took part in a rally against the government’s social and economic policies.


Bestowing lavish gifts on the church’s hierarchy “is a manifestation of love, which is completely natural,” Chaplin said at a news conference in Stavropol on August 27, 2012.


January 25, 2020

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Bulgaria Expelling Two Russian Diplomats Over Espionage

Bulgaria is expelling two unnamed Russian diplomats accused of involvement in spying in the Balkan country.

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry says it summoned the Russian ambassador to Sofia on January 24 and handed him a note declaring the two diplomats -- a consular first secretary and an official at Russia's trade representation -- personae non gratae.

Both were given 48 hours to leave the country, the ministry says.

The Russian Embassy says the two men will leave Bulgaria but insists that “no evidence confirming their activities incompatible with their status were presented."


2. Serbia, Kosovo 'Agree In Principle' On Reviving Railway Links

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo say talks are planned for next week about restoring a railway link between the two Balkan neighbors.

“We have an agreement in principle and we will meet in Berlin on Monday [January 27],” Richard Grenell, who also serves as U.S. ambassador to Germany, said on January 24 following talks with Vucic in Belgrade.

Grenell said he had also discussed plans to resume a railway link between Belgrade and Pristina with Kosovar leaders during his visit to Kosovo on January 22-23.


3. At least 21 dead and thousands injured as earthquake hits Turkey

A 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked a sparsely-populated part of eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 21 people, injuring more than 1,015 and leaving some 30 trapped in the wreckage of toppled buildings, Turkish officials said.

Rescue teams from neighbouring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, working in the dark with floodlights in the freezing cold, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless or with damaged homes.


Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who travelled to the afflicted area together with Soylu, said 13 people were killed in Elazig, including two people who suffered heart attacks, and five others died in Malatya. A total of 1,015 people were hurt, according to the AFAD (the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency).


4. A Foul-Mouthed Culture Minister Who Hates Museums? Russia May Have One Now -- And Some Say It's An Improvement

By her own apparent blog accounts, the Olga Lyubimova of two decades ago had an affinity for drugs, approached life in Russia as she felt a rape victim might, and was admittedly not a "cultural person."

All of which made many of her compatriots blanch at the thought of Lyubimova being appointed the country's new culture minister.

Yet as screenshots of old blog posts and a photo of her wearing a rude T-shirt made the rounds on social media, alternative pictures emerged of Lyubimova as a self-described "liberal-minded Orthodox" believer who brought financial transparency and some openness to the conservative ministry's Cinematography Department, which she headed from January 2018.


In another from 2008 she admits to her disdain for certain arts, specifically opera, ballet, classical music, theater, and museums.

“A friend called with an invite to go to a classical music concert with a child. And I realized that I just couldn't force myself," she wrote. "I began to seriously think about this. I unexpectedly discovered that I’m not a damned cultured person."


5. 'Declaration of war': Polish row over judicial independence escalates

A confrontation between the Polish government and senior judges has escalated dramatically, prompting an anguished response in Brussels, after the country’s supreme court and parliament issued conflicting rulings on the legality of judicial reforms.

The rival rulings, which concern attempts by the governing Law and Justice party (PiS) to assume direct control over the judiciary, have thrown the country’s legal order into chaos, with judges now liable for prosecution for complying with rulings issued by their own supreme court.

PiS, a rightwing populist party, has spent more than four years trying to take control of the country’s system of courts and public prosecution, eroding the independence of most branches of the judicial system. “This is an extreme escalation by the Polish government,” said Marcin Matczak, a professor of law at the University of Warsaw. “It has run out of arguments so it is resorting to brute force.”


The deepening crisis will fuel tensions between Poland and European institutions including the European commission and the European court of justice. In November, the ECJ ruled that it was for the Polish supreme court to decide the dispute, meaning that the Polish parliament has now in effect rebuked not only Poland’s top court but the EU’s top court as well.

January 24, 2020

Russian Stand-Up Comedian Who Joked About Church, Putin Flees Country

Russian stand-up comedian Aleksandr Dolgopolov has fled Russia fearing for his safety after learning police had started investigating videos taken at his performances in different clubs.

Dolgopolov’s lawyer Leonid Solovyov and his concert director Armen Gandilyan confirmed with Current Time on January 23 that the comedian had decided to leave his homeland, though they did not say where.

Police officials in Moscow said a day earlier that Dolgopolov's performances caught the eye of law enforcement after an unidentified resident of the city of Orekhovo-Zuyevo near Moscow had filed a complaint against the comedian, accusing him of "insulting the feelings of believers" in God. No details were given on what exactly in Dolgopolov’s act offended the man.


"If Putin issues a decree, ordering all Russians to jump into lava, they will say: 'Oh, God, where will we find lava, we don't have it in our yard. What shall we do, our wise chief?" Dolgopolov jokes in the performance in question.


January 23, 2020

U.S. Vacuum: How Libya Is Descending Into A Russia-Turkey Proxy War

Libya has been torn by civil war since longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi was killed in an uprising in 2011 following a NATO-led bombing campaign.

The conflict has descended into a proxy war as regional and international powers jostle to secure their own interests in the oil-rich North African nation.


Libya has been divided since 2011. The country’s west is ruled by the internationally recognized and UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital, Tripoli. Eastern Libya is run by a self-declared administration based in the city of Tobruk that is backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.


Russia has condemned Turkey’s decision to increase its military assistance to the Tripoli government. Meanwhile, Ankara has slammed the presence of Russia-linked mercenaries in Libya.


January 22, 2020

How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime

f you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95%.

There are also mental health and drugs tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too - and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licences, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons.


The law restricts the number of gun shops. In most of Japan's 40 or so prefectures there can be no more than three, and you can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges you bought on your last visit.


"Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws," says Iain Overton, executive director of Action on Armed Violence and the author of Gun Baby Gun.


No handguns at all. Only rifles and shotguns may be purchased

January 22, 2020

Lighthouse keeper collects $1M lottery prize -- after waiting 2 months to get leave

A lighthouse keeper working near Port Hardy, B.C., "couldn't believe his eyes" after receiving an email he had won $1 million in B.C.'s Lotto 6/49 draw.

Ivan Dubinsky, who started his lighthouse career more than 20 years ago, read in the email that he had successfully matched all 10 numbers in the draw on Nov. 29, 2019.

Dubinsky's day-to-day job requires him to look after the lighthouse grounds and send weather reports to aircraft and marine vessels. As a result, he buys most of his lottery tickets online.


Dubinsky had to wait two months until he was able to get leave from the lighthouse to come to the BCLC's office in Vancouver to claim his prize.


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