Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

Honk Kong protests shut down Instagram

What began as a few hundred people gathering early Monday morning has grown what is now about 20,000 pro-democracy protesters, blocking streets, and forcing businesses to close in Honk Kong’s Admiralty region. Over 40 people have been reported injured since the protests began three days ago. Riot police reportedly used tear gas and batons Sunday night, in an attempt to disperse the crowds. The protests mark a groundswell of opposition from the Occupy Central movement and students to Beijing’s plans to control Hong Kong’s upcoming leadership elections. The British government has vocalized support for the protest, saying that doing so, within the law, is a right that needs to be protected. China has blocked social media site Instagram and it has also blocked messages on its own version of Twitter with the hashtag Occupy Central. [Source: BBC and Yahoo Digest]

Tension-filled inauguration for Afghanistan’s new president  

Afghanistan swore in its first president in over 10 years on Monday, signalling the end of President Hamid Karzai’s leadership. Ashraf Ghani will sit at the helm of what is being called a power-sharing government, as troops begin to withdraw from the country. This is the country’s first democratic handover, the specifics of which were drafted in haste after a vote that both Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah claimed to have won forced them into a deadlock. Ghani’s first act, according to the deal, was to announce Abdullah as the chief executive, a newly created title. But the two have already been at loggerheads over office space and who was to speak first. Abdullah spoke first, and that allegedly was not supposed to happen. In what is seen as a sign of the hurdles the new president will face, hours before Ghani’s inauguration, a suicide bomber targeted a checkpoint on a road near the airport. The Reuters correspondent who witnessed the blast said there were a few casualties. [Source: Reuters]

Anti-ISIS campaign aiding Assad, admits Obama  

President Barack Obama conceded Sunday that the U.S.’s anti-ISIS military campaign is aiding Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who has been accused of war crimes against his own people. “I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance,” said Obama on CBS’ 60 Minutes. “We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad,” whose government has committed “terrible atrocities,” Obama said. Both ISIS and ISIL, an acronym for the Islamic State group splintered from al Qaeda, have been the target of U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Efforts against the groups have been met with some degree of success in Iraq, but Syria has been tricky, Obama said. The U.S. has been resistant to send American ground troops into the region, hoping instead to train “moderate” rebels living in Syria. The Obama government has so far refused to cooperate with Assad, despite their shared desire to stop the Islamic State groups. [Source: CTV News]

Volcano erupts in Japan 

Central Japan’s Mt. Ontake erupted this weekend, and at least 36 people are feared dead. Emergency crews have reportedly found 10 bodies but were forced to stop the search for hikers and others reported missing as the sulphurous gases emitting from the valcono’s vent posed too much of a risk. The eruption began Saturday. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency operating in the area said 45 people remain missing. Volcanic activity on the day of the eruption was low, according to seismologists, which led to hikers getting unrestricted access to the mountain. Ontake is one of Japan’s more than 100 active volcanoes. [Source: Bloomberg]

Harper gives EU leaders complimentary Airbus ride 

The two EU leaders who met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday were flown home on the Canadian Forces Airbus at a cost estimated to exceed $300,000. Harper defended the decision, arguing that such a guaranteed and flexible ride ensured that the Canada-EU summit would not be cut short. “Friday’s Summit allowed business leaders to meet and discuss the opportunities the Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement present,” said Harper’s communications director Jason Macdonald in an email.  “The Airbus was offered as a courtesy to our European Union guests.” Harper met with Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso over a trade deal between Canada and the EU. Harper is excited about this deal, no doubt hoping it will boost his approval ratings heading into an election year. The deal still has to be approved by the Canadian provinces and all 28 EU members. [Source:]


Toban Dyck writes this, and hopes to write something else soon, as well. Follow his antics at @tobandyck 

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