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Showing posts from January, 2017

Maureen on "wild child "Donald

Maureen Dowd, columnist in The New York Times, never takes any prisoners in the views she expresses.     She doesn't hold back in her latest column "Wild Child Takes Charge"........

"So now we’re getting the crazy straight up.

The Doomsday Clock is ticking faster, the resistance is growing, and teetotaler Donald Trump already seems drunk with power.

He’s got the role of his life and he’s casting his show: Steve Bannon is his Roy Cohn, the combative hammer and agitprop genius; Theresa May is Maggie to his Ronnie; Ivanka and Jared are his consiglieri, family to help him figure out who stays and who gets iced; Vladimir Putin echoes the role of Trump’s dad, Fred, who was supremely aggressive and calculating, cool where Donald was hot, someone who believed the world was divided into killers and losers. (But in Putin’s case, it’s literal.)

It took us years to find out that Richard Nixon was swilling Scotch, eating dog biscuits, talking to the White House portraits and blowin…

Donald Trump's Muslim ban excludes countries in which he has business ties

Aaah.....now we know!     Trump's conduct at it's worst - and not unexpected.

Read first, in this piece (re-published here in full) from The Age, the mayhem caused by the ban on various people entering the USA....and then the underlying selectivity of the ban.

"Washington: This is the face of selective, lily-livered hate.

Donald Trump holds it in his heart, but he manufactures it too, masking state-sanctioned religious persecution as a national security endeavour – all to stoke the "us and them" hysteria that drove his election campaign.

US President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries and banning Syrian refugees indefinitely will likely land his administration in court.
As Trump severed the torch-bearing arm from the Statue of Liberty and the US went dark overnight on Friday, American airport arrival halls and departure lounges around the world became settings for heartbreak, frustration and panic…

Once we were strangers, too

The CEO and National Director of the American Anti-Defamation Commission in an op-ed piece on Haaretz, responds to Trump's ban on refugees entering the US....

"History will look back on this as a sad week in the United States — as the week that the president turned his back on people fleeing for their lives, in defiance of a proud promise indelibly inscribed on the Statue of Liberty that America will provide safe harbor to the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday to stop refugee admissions for at least several months, including shutting the door to all Syrian refugees; drastically reduce the annual cap on refugee admissions to 50,000 annually; and temporarily bar even visitation to the United States from some Muslim majority countries.

With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, today the world faces the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Sadly, as we in the Jewish community know al…

Ouch!

“Trump is ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency,” Roth told the magazine in a string of emails. He “wield(s) a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

                                                                                            - From Forward

Perhaps a more measured, but no less trenchant, criticism of Trump comes from Roger Cohen in his regular op-ed piece in The New York Times....

"Donald Trump is an ahistorical man. He knows nothing of European history and cares less, as his cavalier trashing of the alliance and union that ushered the Continent from its darkest hours demonstrates.

He knows little enough of American history to have chosen as his rallying cry “America First,” a slogan with a past clouded by allies-be-damned isolationism at the start of World War II. (Or perhaps that’s why he embraced it.)

The presid…

Trump: Facts go by the board and threaten democracy

The Scientific American is hardly a rabid publication, yet it calls out the actions of the Trump administration with regard tofacts.    What makes the piece troubling is what it reveals (and not seemingly reported elsewhere)......the almost wholesale dismantling and immediate cessation of all manner of work by government agencies, curtailing the release of information, challenging unquestionable facts, etc. etc.  As the magazine says.....at the time of writing Trump had only been in office for 5 days!

"But it’s not just absence of facts that’s troubling, it is the apparent effort to derail science and the pursuit of facts themselves.

Already, we have learned that multiple agencies, including the USDA and the EPA, have ordered their scientists to stop speaking to the public about their research. The CDC suddenly cancelled a long-planned, international conference on the health impacts of climate change. And when the Badlands National Park started using its Twitter account to discuss …

The nightmare confronting many Americans

It is hard to believe that it has only been one week that Trump has occupied the White House......yet he dominates the news with his extraordinary actions and those surrounding him.   Think "alternative facts" as just one, small, dimension to the last week's "goings-on."    Far more troubling are Trump's actions and views on things like torture, women's rights, that wall between Mexico and the US, trade between countries, etc. etc.     

What CommonsDreams reveals in this piece ought to be most concerning for "ordinary" Americans....

"In Philadelphia on Thursday, President Donald Trump seemed to reassure his party that he supports right-wing budget priorities like those embraced by House Speaker Paul Ryan—whose past budget plans have been denounced as "cruel," "draconian," "a massive cut-off of state funds to the most vulnerable population in the country," "going after what Americans want, on issue after is…

Happy Chinese New Year

Trump's "Alternative Facts"

Credited to Clay Bennett

Mother (in 1979) and daughter (in 2016) reflect on Afghanistan

We are always hearing how there has been progress for women in Afghanistan since the "bad old days".     Well, let 2 women - mother and daughter - each describe Afghanistan in 1979 and 2016 respectively.

From The Huffington Post:

"The women of Afghanistan have been the focus of intense interest and notoriety for decades. Under the Taliban they were seen as oppressed creatures swathed head to toe in burqa blue, publicly stoned to death and forced to live in an unspeakably cruel world where they were not to be educated, make noise or even be seen. When a U.S.-led coalition invaded the country at the beginning of the last decade, first lady Laura Bush portrayed the mission as one that would save Afghan women. The global fascination with their plight has created a smorgasbord of sympathy-driven initiatives and activity: billions of dollars and thousands of hours have been spent on female empowerment programs; Afghan women have appeared as heroines in novels and the subject of…

The "right" crowd

Credited to Mike Luckovich

Work = Misery?

Work!   Ugh you say.     You're not alone.   

An interesting op-ed piece by Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times  (behind a paywall) looks at work in 2017 - and compares it to some 50 years ago. 

"If you type into Google "my job is –" the search engine predicts the way your sentence is going: "so boring" or "making me suicidal" or "making me miserable". If you start "my boss is –", Google offers: "lazy", "is bullying me" or (my favourite) "a cow". Even more alarming, if you type "my job is stimulating", it assumes you have made a typo and suggests that you must have meant "not stimulating".

The internet has a way of whipping up bad feeling. Yet in this case workplace disaffection is real and growing. We are in the middle of what Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor at UCL in London, calls an "epidemic of disengagement". Most surveys show less than a third of workers care…

Trump the disrupter

Norman Siegel is a civil rights attorney and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.   He has written an incisive op-ed piece (re-published here in full) on Forward......


"President Donald Trump could have used his inaugural speech to send an uplifting, inclusive message that all Americans can unite as a people despite our very real differences on issues such as racial and class equality, immigration, education, free-speech and the nation’s place in the world.

I had also hoped the President, who arguably had a rhetorical clean slate after being sworn in, would seize this historic moment to embrace the millions of us who voted for another candidate and to reassure us that he hears our concerns and that he will be our president as well.

That did not happen.

Despite a grace note or two, such as “A nation exists to serve its citizens — and the forgotten men and women will be forgotten no longer,” Trump blew an opportunity to unify the nation.

Instead, the theme of his addre…

Sad (and bad!) day for Americans - and the world

Credited to Marian Kamensky, Slovakia / Cagle Cartoons

Hot, hotter and hottest......

It's a paradox, of sorts, that on the eve of Trump being sworn in as US President - and he, and many of his just appointed crony Cabinet members being climate-change deniers - that a respected body has released data evidencing that 2016 was the hottest year on record - each of the preceding years 2104 and 2015 having held the same record.



"For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year on the books, global scientists have determined.

The new assessments come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the UK's Met Office, as well as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which relies in part on data from those agencies. The findings also back up the declaration made earlier this month by the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

"2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Insti…

The supposed #1 man in Washington not popular

Here we are on the eve of Trump's inauguration and the man isn't popular with the electorate..... and that overlooks the apprehension of various nations and people around the world about what this loose cannon (putting it mildly) might unleash onto the world.

"The buses and the polls tell a story: a slew of new polls confirms that for Americans, Donald Trump is not the best thing since sliced bread and for each bus registering for parking space in DC for Friday's inauguration, more than four have registered on Saturday, when hundreds of thousands are expected to attend an anti-Trump protest.

Struggling to get the usual A-list performers, Trump's inauguration planners are resorting to un-Trumplike expectations – the "all-about-me" President-elect wants the celebration to be "about the people, not about him"; and he wants "a much more poetic cadence than having a circus-like celebration".

So cutting their cloth to fit, they're working …

Trump......Me!

Credited to Randall Enos / Cagle Cartoons

Let 'em eat cake in Davos!

They can have as much-a talk fest in Davos as they like, but when one reads what Oxfam has just reported about what wealth just 8 people in the world have, one can readily see why there is unrest in the general community in almost all Western countries when they see themselves not only missing out in bettering themselves - in all manner of ways - but actually going backwards.

"A report by the charity Oxfam has found that eight men now hold as much wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half, highlighting the stark inequality between the planet’s rich and poor.

The report, based on Forbes’s annual list of billionaires, was prepared for release with this week’s gathering of world leaders and business elites at Davos, Switzerland. It follows up on a similar study conducted a year ago that found that the world’s richest 62 people had as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. Oxfam said it revised the findings based on new data gathered by Credit Sui…

Trump can deny climate change.....but children are dying because of it

The Western media is so pre-occupied with things in the West - or whatever the latest "big" story might be - to largely ignore reporting on Africa, Central and South Africa or countries not on the regular radar.     All too sadly, with newspapers losing money, there has been a severe cut-back of journalists located around the world.

A dire situation in Southern Africa proves the above......made articulately by Nicolas Kristof in his op-ed piece "As Donald Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die of It" on The New York Times.

"Trump has repeatedly mocked climate change, once even calling it a hoax fabricated by China. But climate change here is as tangible as its victims. Trump should come and feel these children’s ribs and watch them struggle for life. It’s true that the links between our carbon emissions and any particular drought are convoluted, but over all, climate change is as palpable as a wizened, glassy-eyed child dying of starvation. Like Ranomasy’s …

Assad "wins".....the people lose!

Hard as it is to leave aside the rights and wrongs of who is to blame for the mess Syria  founds itself in - and Assad now claiming victory in what he says was a war on terrorists - the country has, for all intents and purposes, been decimated.    

This op-ed piece from The New York Times details, in graphic terms, the situation in Syria as at January 2017.

"Now that forces supporting the Syrian government have completed the takeover of Aleppo, and Russia, Turkey and Iran have negotiated a tenuous cease-fire, it is more than likely that President Bashar al-Assad and the regime he oversees will continue to govern Syria, in one form or another. In an interview with French media published last week, Mr. Assad stated that Aleppo signaled a “tipping point in the course of the war” and that the government is “on the way to victory.”

But if that is the case, what will Mr. Assad actually win?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. (While the following statistics are estimates, they will, if anyth…

Trump: You can't change a leopard's spots!

So, 6 months after his last one, Trump faces the media in his first so-called Press Conference since being elected.

No one ought to have been surprised that Trump was the same old-self......as The New York Times so clearly sums it up in an Editorial.

"If anyone still held out hope that the awesome responsibilities and dignity of the presidency might temper or even humble Donald Trump, there was a shock from his first news conference as president-elect, on Wednesday. Bombastic, vain and slippery, Mr. Trump played the same small-screen character he has offered the viewing public for years.

Presenting himself as the leader of “a movement like the world has never seen before,” he offered no olive branch to the majority of American voters who opposed him. He displayed only petulance and braggadocio in response to issues that dogged him during the campaign.

On suggestions that he had business dealings with Russia: “I tweeted out that I have no dealings with Russia.” He ducked and dodged wh…

Erasing Obama

As Obama's days at the White House draw to a close - and the world waits, with baited-breath what awaits it with Trump in the Oval Office - Obama is trying to leave his footprint  (aka legacy) on his presidency.    

This op-ed piece in The New York Times puts the Obama presidency into context, as much as what the incoming President may, or may not, do on assuming office.

"For a soon-to-be nowhere man, he’s everywhere. Sensing “time’s winged chariot hurrying near,” as the poet had it, President Obama is using every hour left in his presidency to ensure that Donald Trump will not erase it all.

It’s one part vanity project. What president doesn’t want to put a dent in history? One man freed four million slaves. Another created national parks and forests that left every American a rich inheritance of public land. A third crushed the Nazis — from a wheelchair, while dying.

And Obama? He bequeaths the incoming president “the longest economic expansion and monthly job creation in histor…

Lies

Lies have almost become by-word for whatever Trump says - or, for that matter, what the media reports.     Robert Fisk, writing in "We are not living in a 'post-truth' world, we are living the lies of others" in The Independent, reflects on lies and a "post truth" world.

"Now, I suppose, it is we who have regular elections based on lies. So maybe Trump and the Arab autocrats will get on rather well. Trump already likes Field Marshal/President al-Sissi of Egypt, and he’s already got a golf course in Dubai. That he deals in lies, that he manufactures facts, should make him quite at home in the Middle East. Misogyny, bullying, threats to political opponents, authoritarianism, tyranny, torture, sneers at minorities: it’s part and parcel of the Arab world.

And look at Israel. The new US ambassador-to-be – who might as well be the Israeli ambassador to the US – can’t wait to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He seems to feel more antagonism towards the J…

No peace-maker at the Obama White House

The Obama Administration - with the Nobel Peace prize-winning President at its head - is often characterised as a peace-making one - or at least as not being a war-monger.    

How to reconcile that image with the reality detailed below in this piece "Obama’s Administration Sold More Weapons Than Any Other Since World War II" from Motherboard....

"President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, will leave office in a few weeks with the dubious honor of having sold more weapons than any other American president since World War II. And experts say President-Elect Donald Trump will most likely sell even more.

Most of the arms deals totaling over $200 billion in the period from 2008 to 2015 have ended up in the Middle East, according to a Congressional Research Service report published in December. The report, produced by the non-partisan government agency attached to the Library of Congress, breaks down the weapons sold which included surface-to-air missiles, …

Is America headed to becoming another stan?

Although Donald Trump has attracted all manner of brick-bats and criticism - all of it more than well justified - no one has raised the question of the personality cult of the man he works so hard at promoting - except for Paul Krugman in his latest op-ed piece (re-published here in full) for The New York Times.

"In 2015 the city of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, was graced with a new public monument: a giant gold-plated sculpture portraying the country’s president on horseback. This may strike you as a bit excessive. But cults of personality are actually the norm in the “stans,” the Central Asian countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, all of which are ruled by strongmen who surround themselves with tiny cliques of wealthy crony capitalists.

Americans used to find the antics of these regimes, with their tinpot dictators, funny. But who’s laughing now?

We are, after all, about to hand over power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a…

One Forbes List: A roll call of criminals, psychopaths and megalomaniacs

2016 has ended and there has been the inevitable list of the best of 2016 of this or that.     

The just published Forbes List of the Most Powerful People is another thing altogether.    It is truly shocking to think that those listed are as downright awful and the worst of humankind has to offer.....yet wield enormous power.     The Age newspaper in "Who's who list a roll call of criminals, psychopaths and megalomaniacs" provides the details.....

"It's that time of the year again. In an effort to celebrate or sum up, or maybe just expunge the events of a year that's just wound up, we've become obsessed with rankings. Top 10 Christmas hits, bestselling books, the most excruciating movie moments, the seven things we're doing to wreak havoc on our planet. This year, courtesy of US presidential election, we also have the top 20 fake news stories, the 10 steps for adjusting to a Trump presidency, and the best destinations for those that find they simply ar…

No ringing endorsement or support for Trump

As 2016 draws to a close and the world awaits what havoc Trump, as US President, will wreak on the world in the new year, the figures don't suggest that he comes into office with great support let alone a ringing endorsement.  

"The United States, supposedly the world’s beacon of democracy, is practicing a strange form of it nowadays. One presidential candidate won nearly three million more votes than her opponent, who, with a big assist from a hostile foreign power, was nonetheless declared the winner. Anywhere else on earth, such an event would be called a coup d’├ętat. Here in the US, we call it the Electoral College.

It gets stranger. A Pew Research opinion poll conducted between November 30 and December 5, after the election had cast the usual victor’s glow on Donald Trump, indicated that only 37% of Americans thought Trump was well-qualified for the presidency, just 31% deemed him moral, and a mere 26% viewed him as a good role model. On the other hand, 62% thought he had …