Donald Trump: A president swallowed by history

by Stanley L Cohen*

US President Donald Trump is a great impersonator. Not a day goes by without his desperate effort to masquerade as human. Surrounded by faux gold and fawning fools from his earliest days, Trump has stumbled from scam to scam, bank to bank, grope to grope, as he reached the absolute pinnacle of moral failure. His is a world of cheap thrills, empty rhetoric and intimidating context.

Few of knowledge would stop to challenge Trump’s unprecedented scorecard of international failure. Indeed, ad hoc chaos has become very much the executive order of his day.

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Coup in Africa: Zimbabwe Dumped Mugabe, But Will Other African Countries Do the Same To Their Dictators?

By Krista Mahr*  – Newsweek

In January 2016, Zimbabwe’s then-President Robert Mugabe gave a speech at the African Union in Ethiopia. As he railed against Westerners’ meddling in African affairs, the delegates repeatedly burst into delighted applause for the 91-year-old leader and laughed at his one-liners, as his audiences have for decades. “They are everywhere in Africa—if not physically, through [nongovernmental organizations], through spies, through pretenders who come to us and say they are here in Africa to assist us,” Mugabe said. “Africans shall no longer tolerate a position of slavery.” At the end of the speech, the elderly elder statesman received a standing ovation.

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The New Jerusalem of Brexit is revealing itself to be a mirage

Matthew d’Ancona* 

Talks in Brussels are inching forward on ambiguities and vague promises. Those hoping that Theresa May is carving out real change may be sorely disappointe

So, here’s an idea: let’s abolish the wheel. Let’s escape the tyranny of the circular device, and spend the money saved on axles, spokes and hubs on – oh, I don’t know – the NHS. Let’s take back control of rotation! But wait a minute. This can’t be done overnight. We shall still need some means of transporting ourselves and our goods until we have formally renounced the wheel, but before we have agreed on a new device. There’ll probably need to be an “implementation period” in which we remain “aligned” with the existing circular format.

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Defenders of the earth and the environment

By Francesco Martone*

“While managing our livelihood, day-by-day, we have to face reality, we have to involve in a real fight to keep our forest. We are alarmed and concerned over the increasing cases of human rights violations, violence to our communities, criminalization of our peoples and the murder of our leaders. (…) I have to tell you the fact, that the violence was gross. So, apologize, but I have to say this. To anyone involve directly and indirectly to the killings, the violence and the criminalization of our indigenous brothers and sisters, shame on you!”

The cry of alarm came from Mina Susana Setra, a Dayak indigenous woman from Indonesia, representative of AMAN, the Federation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, counting almost 17 million members.

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Trump-Mideast: Much More than a ‘Kiss of Death’ to Palestinians

By  Baher Kamal*

ROME, Dec 7 2017 (IPS) - US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not represent only a ‘kiss of death’ to the two-State solution, but also a strong blow in the face of 57 Muslim countries, let alone igniting fire in this easily inflammable region, providing more false arguments to criminal terrorist groups to escalate their brutal attacks, in addition to taking a step further in Washington’s new conflict with Iran and the ‘restructuring’ of the Middle East.

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Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

Daniel Gros- Project Syndicate

The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

BRUSSELS – Free trade seems to have few supporters these days. Though actual trade volumes are recovering from the post-crisis recession and drop in commodity prices, “globalization” has become increasingly contentious, as exemplified by the election of US President Donald Trump on the back of a promise to rip up international agreements and get tough on trade partners. What does this mean for the future of the rules-based trading system?

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Donald Trump’s Jerusalem statement is an act of diplomatic arson

Jonathan Freedland* – The Guardian

The US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel turns a naked flame on the single most combustible issue in the conflict

Not content with taking the US to the brink of nuclear conflict with North Korea, Donald Trump is now set to apply his strategy of international vandalism to perhaps the most sensitive geopolitical hotspot in the world. With a speech scheduled for later today that’s expected to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and reaffirm a pledge to move the US embassy to the city, he is walking into a bone-dry forest with a naked flame.

For the status of Jerusalem is the most intractable issue in what is often described as the world’s most intractable conflict. It is the issue that has foiled multiple efforts at peacemaking over several decades. Both Israelis and Palestinians insist that Jerusalem must be the capital of their states, present and future, and that that status is non-negotiable.

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Rohingya Exodus Is a “Major Global Humanitarian Emergency”

Byr Naimul Haq

IPS Correspondent Naimul Haq interviews WILLIAM LACY SWING, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Dec  2017 (IPS) – In less than four months, over 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled brutal persecution in Myanmar to seek safety across the border in Bangladesh. They are now crowded into camps across a stretch of 30 kms in Cox’s Bazar, a southeastern coastal region of the small South Asian nation.

The UN migration agency, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has appealed to the international community for urgent funds. Over 344 million dollars was pledged recently at an international meeting to ramp up the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance. IOM stressed that the international community must work together to help to bring about a political resolution to the Rohingya crisis.

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Yes, the President Can Obstruct Justice

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD  of the New York Times

You know you have a problem when you’ve been president for less than 11 months and you’re already relying on Richard Nixon’s definition of what’s legal.

On Monday morning, Axios reported that Mr. Trump’s top personal lawyer, John Dowd, said in an interview that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution and “has every right to express his view of any case.”

This will come as news to Congress, which has passed laws criminalizing the obstruction of justice and decided twice in the last four decades that when a president violates those laws he has committed an impeachable offense.

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When Medicines Don’t Work Anymore

By Martin Khor*

PENANG, Malaysia, Dec  2017 (IPS) - The growing crisis of antibiotic resistance is catching the attention of policy makers, but not at a rate enough to tackle it.

More diseases are affected by resistance, meaning the bacteria cannot be killed even if different drugs are used on some patients, who then succumb.

We are staring at a future in which antibiotics don’t work, and many of us or our children will not be saved from TB, cholera, deadly forms of dysentery, and germs contracted during surgery.

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Iran Reshapes the Middle East

By George Friedman* – Geopolitical Futures  

For the moment, Iran has been freed to assert itself.

Iran has always seen itself as being in competition with the Arab states for domination of the Persian Gulf. Its ambitions were put on hold in the late 1980s, at the end of an eight-year war with Iraq that cost Iran more than a million casualties. The war ended in a military draw, but strategically it blocked Iran’s hopes for expanding its power westward. The war against the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq, has opened that door again.

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South-South Cooperation Key to a New Multilateralism

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Dec 4 2017 (IPS) - “There are new challenges to all states: among them, the real threat to multilateralism… South-South and triangular cooperation can contribute to a new multilateralism and drive the revitalisation of the global partnership for sustainable development.”

This is how Liu Zhenmin, the UN under-secretary general for Economic and Social Affairs, underscored the importance of South-South Cooperation at an event marking the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation on 12 September, just few weeks ahead of the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 in Antalya, Turkey (27 to 30 November).

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The Guardian view on Donald Trump: bullies never respect sycophants


Stop the state visit. Britain should not allow the US president’s racism to be dressed up in pageantry

All relationships have boundaries. Those between nations can be particularly fraught, freighted with ties forged in history and culture. In diplomacy the manners, customs and morals of others need to be acknowledged and respected. But humanity begins with acts, not just with thoughts. The question is how to deal with a man like Donald Trump, a taunting braggart with a weakness for flattery? The stakes are high: when nations fall out, people get hurt. By using social media as a flame-thrower, Mr Trump uses words as weapons. He does not care who gets burned.

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First Use of Nuclear Weapons Would be Counterproductive

By Daryl G. Kimball

WASHINGTON DC, Dec 1 2017 (IPS) – Over the past year, cavalier and reckless statements from President Donald Trump about nuclear weapons and his threat to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea have heightened fears about Cold War-era policies and procedures that put the authority to launch nuclear weapons in his hands alone.

Partially in response, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for the first time since 1976, held a hearing on the “executive’s authority to use nuclear weapons.” The Nov. 14 hearing should be just the start of a process that leads to changes that reduce the risk of nuclear miscalculation and establishes that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

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The Pope’s Impossible Choice in Burma

Sean Gleeson* – The Atlantic

Speaking out on behalf of the Muslim minority—which the pontiff failed to do—might have endangered the Christian minority.

RANGOON—The sight of Pope Francis greeting about 100,000 Burmese pilgrims on Wednesday was deeply moving, even for a long-since-lapsed Catholic like myself. Some of the pilgrims had journeyed for days down dirt roads and dilapidated mountain highways to reach the weather-beaten pavilions of Kyaikkasan Grounds, which once held a racetrack frequented by Burma’s moneyed elite. The first pilgrims had begun assembling at midnight and had sweated through a stifling morning, but the arrival of Pope Francis dispelled the torpor. Waving the flags of Burma and the Vatican, the faithful cheered as the pontiff graced them with his customary benevolent wave.

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Killing the Biosphere to Fast-track Human Extinction

Robert J. Burrowes* 

Several years ago in Cameroon, a country in West Africa, a Western Black Rhinoceros was killed. It was the last of its kind on Earth. 

Hence, the Western Black Rhinoceros, the largest subspecies of rhinoceros which had lived for millions of years and was the second largest land mammal on Earth, no longer exists. 

But while you have probably heard of the Western Black Rhinoceros, and may even have known of its extinction, did you know that on the same day that it became extinct, another 200 species of life on Earth also became extinct? 

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“Every Day Is a Nightmare”

By Naimul Haq

In this special series of reports, IPS journalists travel to the border region between Bangladesh and Myanmar to speak with Rohingya refugees, humanitarian workers and officials about the still-unfolding human rights and health crises facing this long-marginalized and persecuted community.

OX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Nov 29 2017 (IPS) – Parul Akhtar,* a Rohingya woman in her mid-twenties, may never wish to remember the homeland she and her children left about three weeks ago.

Too scared to speak out, Parul, the mother of two young children, rests inside the makeshift tent she now calls her home in Kutupalong in southeastern Bangladesh, which is hosting thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.

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Iran Reshapes the Middle East

By George Friedman* – Geopolitical Futures**

Iran has always seen itself as being in competition with the Arab states for domination of the Persian Gulf. Its ambitions were put on hold in the late 1980s, at the end of an eight-year war with Iraq that cost Iran more than a million casualties. The war ended in a military draw, but strategically it blocked Iran’s hopes for expanding its power westward. The war against the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq, has opened that door again.

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A Lump of Coal for the Middle Class

William Becker* – The Huffington Post

The tax reform bill that the Senate is rushing to pass this week has several flaws, but one is especially disappointing for most Americans: It breaks Donald Trump’s promise of a “great big, beautiful Christmas present” for the middle class. In fact, Congress is preparing to deliver a large lump of coal to the majority of American families– a bigger lump of coal than most analysts have described to the American people so far.

What’s obvious is that the gift Trump has promised would go to corporations and rich individuals who don’t need them. One of the purposes of tax reform should be to reduce the wealth gap in America.

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One Third of Food Lost, Wasted – Enough to Feed All Hungry People

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Nov 28 2017 (IPS) - Believe it or not, the way to eradicate hunger from the face of the Earth is as feasible as it is handy. In fact, the current loss and waste of one-third of all food produced for human consumption would be just enough to feed the nearly one billion people who go to bed hungry every single night.

Here, the figures are self-explanatory: as much as 1.3 billion tons per year of food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption, according to the UN.

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