The Guardian view on the North Korea summit: a crisis foretold

Editorial

Donald Trump’s meeting was all about grabbing plaudits for his over-sized ego rather than a serious effort to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula

The commemorative summit coin has just been minted, but the peace efforts are already spent. Donald Trump’s decision to call off a June meeting with Kim Jong-un appears as hastily made and ill-considered as his decision to hold it. Predictably, it seems to have come without warning to – never mind consultation with – US ally South Korea, which had brought the parties together. Seasoned North Korea-watchers had warned the meeting might never happen, since the chasm between the sides, particularly over what denuclearisation means, was too vast to cross quickly or easily. The US’s lack of preparation, coordination or clarity on goals and how to approach them made prospects of progress still poorer.

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$1.7 Trillion Global Spending on Military in 2017: Highest since End of Cold War

By Maged Srour

ROME, May 2018 (IPS) – According to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in total, countries around the world spent $ 1.739 billion on arms in 2017. Although there was a marginal increase of 1.1 percent rise in real terms on 2016, the total global spending in 2017 is the highest since the end of the cold war.

This is an unprecedented amount of resources. The spending in 2017 represented 2.2 percent of global domestic product (GDP) or $ 230 per person. The ‘military burden’, which is “the military expenditure as a share of GDP” and which “assesses the proportion of national resources dedicated to military activities and the burden on the economy”, has fluctuated from a post-cold war high of 3.3 percent in 1992 to a low of 2.1 percent in 2014.

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My family has a Nazi past. I see that ideology returning across Europe

Géraldine Schwarz* – The Guardian

In Germany and elsewhere, younger generations are becoming indifferent to the history of fascism. This is how the far right thrives

In Aistersheim, a village in north-west Austria, a pale yellow castle towers over a frozen lake, as if out of a fairy tale. It looks like it might be awaiting royal guests. But the sign at the entrance reads: “Congress of the defenders of Europe.” I had signed up under a false name, because only the “well-wishing” press was allowed to attend this gathering in March of far-right activists, mostly from Germany and Austria.

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U.S. Congress Votes to Roll Back Dodd-Frank Regulations as Banks Make Record Profits

By Nicole Goodkind * – Newsweek

t’s been a good year for financial companies. U.S. Banks profited by a record breaking $56 billion during the first quarter of 2018, up 27.5 percent from the year prior, because of tax cuts and a growing economy. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) estimated that without President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, banks would have grown by $49.4 billion.

In the midst of these record profits and 10 years after the financial crisis, Congress passed a bill Tuesday evening to roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, which created rules and guidelines for banks designed to prevent another 2008 financial crisis. Ending the act was a campaign promise of Trump’s, but ending the regulations had bipartisan support in both Congress and Senate.

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The Shocking Truth About Russia’s Troll Campaign

BY BRANKO MARCETIC – Jacobin (*) 

The Russian Facebook ads that destroyed American democracy have now been released. Try not to laugh — it’s serious business.

Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks about today’s testimony on Russian interference in the 2016 election from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a session of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, November 30, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson / Getty

It’s now well-established that in 2016, the Kremlin hijacked American democracy and tricked the press and public into doing its bidding. In fact, the revelations are so shocking they’ve prompted some liberals to undergo a bout of soul-searching.

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What’s the Matter With Europe?

By Paul Krugman* – The New York Times

If you had to identify a place and time where the humanitarian dream — the vision of a society offering decent lives to all its members — came closest to realization, that place and time would surely be Western Europe in the six decades after World War II. It was one of history’s miracles: a continent ravaged by dictatorship, genocide and war transformed itself into a model of democracy and broadly shared prosperity.

Indeed, by the early years of this century Europeans were in many ways better off than Americans. Unlike us, they had guaranteed health care, which went along with higher life expectancy; they had much lower rates of poverty; they were actually more likely than we were to be gainfully employed during their prime working years.

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Trump is proving to be the most predictable of presidents

By Fred Hiatt* – The Washington Post 

With North Korea and other challenges, President Trump can succeed where others have failed, we are told, because he is so unpredictable.

In fact, he is proving to be the most predictable of presidents.

He is predictable because he makes decisions based on instincts and biases, many acquired decades ago. Advisers can delay but not dislodge him from his ruts. He is proving impervious to fact, argument or new learning of any kind.

Since his prejudices are well-known, his decisions should not surprise.

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Flat Earthers vs climate change sceptics: why conspiracy theorists keep contradicting each other

Gareth Dorrian and Ian Whittaker  –  The Conversation UK

Disclosure statement

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Nottingham Trent University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.

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Flat Earthism and the idea that human activity is not responsible for climate change are two of the most prevalent conspiracy theories today. Both have been increasing in popularity since the late 20th century. Currently, 16% of the US population say they doubt the scientifically established shape of the Earth, while 40% think that human-induced climate change is a hoax. But proponents of one of these theories are not necessarily proponents of the other, even though both are often motivated by a common mistrust of authority. In fact, they regularly contradict one another.

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The Gaza Violence: How Extremism Corrupts

By David Brooks* – The New York Times

As you know, everybody sees the Middle East through his or her own narrative. Conservatives see it through the “front line in the war on terror” narrative and defend Israel’s actions on the Gaza border fence this week. Progressives see it through the “continued colonialist oppression” narrative and condemn those actions.

I see the situation through the “extremism corrupts everybody” narrative. My narrative starts with the idea that the creation of the state of Israel was a historic achievement involving a historic wrong — the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians.

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THE INFORMATION EXPLOSION

by John Scales Avery *

I would like to announce the publication of a new book entitled “The Information Explosion”. This book discusses the role of information in evolution, and especially in the evolution of human culture. Articles and book chapters that I have previously written on this subject are incorporated in the text in modified forms, but more than half of the material is new. The book may be freely downloaded and circirculated from the following link:

http://eacpe.org/app/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/The-Information-Explosion-by-John-Scales-Avery.pdf

Reeformed teaching of history

Human nature has two sides: It has a dark side, to which nationalism and militarism appeal; but our species also has a genius for cooperation, which we can see in the growth of culture. Our modern civilization has been built up by means of a worldwide exchange of ideas and inventions. It is built on the achievements of many ancient cultures. China, Japan, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, the Islamic world, Christian Europe, and the Jewish intellectual traditions all have contributed. Potatoes, corn, squash, vanilla, chocolate, chilli peppers, and quinine are gifts from the American Indians.

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Art of the Deal: Is Kim Jong Un Beating Trump at His Own Game?

Analysis  by Bill Powell* – Newsweek

For years, he’s been seen as a naïf or a madman. But what if Kim Jong Un is the smartest guy in the room?

In early 2012, a few months after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was buried in an elaborate state ­funeral, I found myself in the Pyongyang office of a man named James Kim. He’s an evangelical Christian, a veteran of the Korean War and a former political prisoner in North Korea. He is also the founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which is how he met Kim Jong Il. As we spoke, James talked about attending the funeral and how he encountered the Dear Leader’s son, a portly 29-year-old named Kim Jong Un.

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Peace is war in Myanmar

By David Scott Mathieson*  –  Asia Times

It is becoming obvious government’s peace process is really cover to sustain conflict and sow divisions among ethnic armed groups

As Myanmar security officials surrounded peaceful anti-war protestors in Yangon on May 12, dispersing a small gathering and arresting eight, the clampdown demonstrated more than just the persistence of the nation’s police state mentality.

The activists took to the streets to protest the wars raging across the country, especially in the northern Kachin state where thousands of displaced civilians are trapped between government air strikes and heavy artillery and the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

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The Gaza Fence That Separates the Brave From the Cowardly

Amira Hass – Haaretz, Tel Aviv (*)

What is cowardice if not the decision to kill masses of unarmed detainees who are demonstrating against their prolonged imprisonment?

–Why is Israel using lethal force against the protesters of Gaza? 

— Jerusalem celebrates, Tel Aviv parties and Gaza bleeds – a surreal 24 hours 

 –Why the West Bank is so quiet when blood is flowing in Gaza

In the Gaza Strip the border fence separates the brave from the cowardly. It separates those armed with empty hands, kites and burning tires from a military power and its soldiers. It separates detainees serving a life sentence from their wardens.

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Trade War: How Tensions Have Risen Between China, the EU and the US

Posted  by Yves Smith* – Naked Capitalism

Yves here. This post includes a very helpful timeline of trade tit for tat so far. There are also four diagrams that show trade flow impacts of various proposed tariff measures. You might want to go to the Bruegel post proper and view them there because they are interactive and I could not pull an interactive version over.

By Francesco Chiacchio, Research Assistant at Bruegel. He was a trainee at the European Central Bank, working on projects related to productivity, Global Value Chains and technology diffusion, export intensity, and credit allocation, as well as on macroeconomic projections. Originally published at Bruegel

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A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem

By Michelle Goldberg* – The New York Times

On Monday, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other leading lights of the Trumpist right gathered in Israel to celebrate the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture widely seen as a slap in the face to Palestinians who envision East Jerusalem as their future capital.

The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don’t convert will burn forever.

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A precarious environment for the Rohingya refugees

By United Nations Environment Programme

Andrea Dekrout is Senior Environmental Coordinator for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Based in Geneva, Dekrout is responsible for ensuring sustainable environmental management in UNHCR operations and refugee camps. In her work, she helps refugees and their host communities maintain a clean and healthy environment. We sat down with her to discuss the situation in Cox’s Bazar, a coastal city that has recently seen an enormous influx of refugees.

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How Jerusalem Went From Hosting 16 Embassies to Zero

David B. Green* – Haaretz.com, Israel

The U.S. and a handful other nations are moving their embassies to Jerusalem. But in the past, other countries – including Chile, the Netherlands and Kenya – sent ambassadors to the city, and then left it

Some confusion followed President Trump’s December 6, 2017, announcement that he intended to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For example, Trump’s secretary of state at the time, Rex Tillerson, soon remarked that the move would not be happening in the near future, almost certainly not before the end of Trump’s first term as president, that is, by January 2021. Tillerson himself was soon out of a job, though not before signing off, in late February, on a plan to move the embassy, at least symbolically, to the capital on May 14.

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On Iran and Trump, India Has Landed Between a Rock and a Hard Place

By Manoj Joshi* – The Wire, India

If India aspires to be a ‘leading power’, it may soon have to choose between its strategically autonomous goals, and those which the Trump administration has in mind for the region.

For some years now, India has liked to think of itself as a “leading power” rather than simply a “balancing power”.  But if the Modi government’s response to Donald Trump reneging on the Iran nuclear deal is anything to go by, India may find itself being classed among the craven powers.

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US faces European backlash against Iran sanctions

Patrick Wintour* – The Guardian 

Senior politicians says Europe will consider countermeasures to keep trading with Iran

Europe is prepared to introduce measures to nullify the effect of Donald Trump imposing sanctions on any non-US firm that continues to do business with Iran, the French government has said.

The warning from the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, suggests Trump’s proposals to corral Europe into joining US foreign policy on Iran may lead to a severe backlash by EU firms and politicians, especially advocates of a stronger independent European foreign policy.

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What Keeps Xi Jinping Awake at Night

By Chris Buckley and Paul Mozur (*) – The New York Times

BEIJING — As the leader of the world’s most populous country and biggest communist party, China’s president, Xi Jinping, has plenty to worry about, and a new book sheds light on what probably keeps him up at night.

The recently released 272-page book of Mr. Xi’s remarks on “national security” includes previously unreleased comments that give a starker view of the president’s motivations than found in most Communist Party propaganda. Here is a selection.

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