Iran and the Collision between Trump and Reality

by Paul R. Pillar* –

Donald Trump’s disdain for the truth does not prevent reality from repeatedly bumping up against his policies, the most consistent theme of which has been to try to destroy his predecessor’s accomplishments. The degree to which reality inconveniences Trump—and more importantly, how much Trump’s efforts to shove reality aside damage U.S. interests—varies from issue to issue. Dominating the headlines recently, of course, has been health care, in which the denied truths include basic principles of how insurance pools work and the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has successfully extended health care coverage to many Americans who did not previously have it.

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Trump just nominated a climate change skeptic to USDA’s top science post

By Juliet Eilperin and Chris Mooney  – The Washington Post

President Trump on Wednesday nominated Sam Clovis, a former college professor and talk radio host who has challenged the scientific consensus that human activity has been the primary driver of climate change, to serve in the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post.

“Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement Wednesday evening. “He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing to serve.”

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Early Death in Russia

By Vladimir Popov and Jomo Kwame Sundaram (*)

MOSCOW and KUALA LUMPUR, Jul 20 2017 (IPS) – The transition to market economy and democracy in the Russian Federation in the early 1990s dramatically increased mortality and shortened life expectancy. The steep upsurge in mortality and the decline in life expectancy in Russia are the largest ever recorded anywhere in peacetime in the absence of catastrophes such as war, plague or famine.

During 1987-1994, the Russian mortality rate increased by 60%, from 1.0% to 1.6%, while life expectancy went down from 70 to 64 years. Although life expectancy declined from 1987, when Mikhail Gorbachev was still in charge, its fall was sharpest during 1991-1994, i.e., during Boris Yeltsin’s early years.

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Turkey’s democracy is dying – but this brutal crackdown can’t last

Ersin Senel*, Opinion – The Guardian    

Any lingering hopes that Erdogan would return to the path of democracy have wilted. Instead he has solidified his power to push his political agenda

A year after Turkey’s failed coup attempt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime faces a dilemma: first it fears any kind of street-based movement. Erdogan’s harsh response to the Gezi Park protests in 2013 or the protests that were brutally quashed in the Kurdish cities of south-east Turkey last year are examples. Yet with the president’s power built on a friend-or-foe dichotomy, he also needs a street-based legitimacy. Witness the weekend ceremonies marking the anniversary of 15 July in which he whipped up public support for punishing coup plotters with the death penalty and talked about “ripping the heads” off so-called traitors.

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Trump’s Allies Are Taking Over the Media and Creating Their Own Reality

By Eric Alterman – The Nation

Is anybody paying attention?

On July 17, the Idaho television station KBOI tweeted a story about a would-be robber who allegedly “arrives early at banks to find doors locked.” Even more confusing than the indecipherable English was the photo it ran: that of Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson being arrested at a protest in Baton Rouge (the robbery suspect was not even black). Having had the mistake called to their attention, the station apologized, although another story on KBOI’s website used the same image of Mckesson beneath the headline “Officer wounded in deadly ambush sues Black Lives Matter.”

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Saudi King’s Son Plotted Effort to Oust His Rival


AMMAN, Jordan — As next in line to be king of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Nayef was unaccustomed to being told what to do. Then, one night in June, he was summoned to a palace in Mecca, held against his will and pressured for hours to give up his claim to the throne.

By dawn, he had given in, and Saudi Arabia woke to the news that it had a new crown prince: the king’s 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman.

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Robert Mueller Confirmed to Be Investigating Donald Jr.’s Russia Meeting

By Greg Price  – NEWSWEEK

The scope and range of former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russia had been mostly unknown to those outside of his team since he was appointed special counsel in May. On Tuesday afternoon, that picture became a bit clearer.

Over the weekend, Mueller reportedly requested the name of the person who represented two Russians linked to Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013—Emin and Aras Agalarov—during a June 2016 meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr. in an effort to possibly obtain political opposition research against the his father’s campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to The Washington Post.

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Halting Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism, Mission Impossible

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Jul 18 2017 (IPS) – While the business sector jumps for joy as the number of tourists grew in 2016 for the seventh consecutive year to reach 1.2 billion, and as the first four months of 2017 have registered 6 per cent increase, the sheer speed, abetted by technology, of an atrocious crime—the sexual exploitation of children in tourism, has, to date, out-paced all attempts to put an end to it.

In fact, failure of collective action and a chronic lack of robust data constitute the main challenges to eliminate this crime, underlines the Global Study “Offenders on the Move,” which is the largest pool of information on the issue to date.

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Just before 7 a.m. on May 11, Jonatan Palacios quietly closed the door to his apartment in Haverford, Pennsylvania, to avoid waking his wife. In the parking lot, he got into his car to drive to the restaurant where he works as the head cook. But as he pulled out of his parking space, Palacios saw two law enforcement officers in his rearview mirror walking toward his car. As they got closer, Palacios, who is an undocumented immigrant, could see the small logo on the upper left side of their chests—and knew they were from immigration. He checked the door handles, and felt a moment of relief when he realized the doors had locked automatically.

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Not Just Numbers: Migrants Tell Their Stories

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Jul 17 2017 (IPS) – Every single day, print and online media and TV broadcasters show images and footage of migrants and refugees adrift, salvage teams rescuing their corpses–alive or dead, from fragile boats that are often deliberately sunk by human traffickers near the coasts of a given country. Their dramas are counted –and told– quasi exclusively in cold figures.

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Hamburgdämmerung: The End of G20 as a “Premier Forum for International Economic Cooperation”?

By Jesse Griffiths* –

The strangest aspect of the G20 communiqué, and the part that has dominated media coverage, is the section on the Paris climate agreement. The strangeness arises not because of the topic—the G20 has always played second fiddle to the UN on climate issues—but because, for the first time, a whole paragraph is devoted solely to one member, the USA, explaining why it doesn’t agree with the others, followed by a paragraph by the others explaining why they will go ahead without the USA anyway, including through agreeing a “G19” action plan on energy and climate for growth.

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Conservatives are again denying the very existence of global warming

Dana Nuccitelli – The Guardian

The best efforts to undermine the established climate science behind the Endangerment Finding are pathetically bad 

As we well know, climate myths are like zombies that never seem to die. It’s only a matter of time before they rise from the dead and threaten to eat our brains. And so here we go again – American conservatives are denying the very existence of global warming. 

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Theresa May’s biggest mistake? Tying herself to a sinking Donald Trump

Jonathan Freedland* – The Guardian

The rush to lash Britain’s fortunes to the US president was always humiliating. Now, after Donald Trump Jr’s Russian revelations, it looks even worse

There are few more perilous lines of work than being an ally of Donald Trump. Vouch for him one minute, usually by insisting that the latest accusation against him is bogus, and the next you’ll be left looking like a fool – as he or his family confirm that the very charge you dismissed as fake is, in fact, true.

It’s happened again, this time via the Fredo Corleone of the Trump saga, Donald Trump Jr.

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Record number of environmental activists killed around the world

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC

Growing competition for land and natural resources saw a record number of environmental activists killed in 2016, says Global Witness.

The green group’s report details at least 200 murders across 24 countries, up significantly from 2015.

Disputes over mining were the cause of the greatest number of killings, followed by logging and agribusiness.

Brazil saw the most deaths overall, but there were big increases in Colombia and India.

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Promoting Sustainable Population Growth, Key to Raising Human Rights Standards

By Dr. Hanif Hassan Al Qassim*

GENEVA, Switzerland, Jul 11 2017 (IPS) – The world population has witnessed a remarkable growth during the recent decades. In 1965, it stood at 3.3 billion people. In 2017 –52 years later– the global population reached a staggering 7.5 billion people corresponding to more than a doubling of the Earth’s residents over the last half-century.

Humans have been blessed with access to natural resources such as water, food and rare minerals that have been indispensable to the evolution and to the progress of humanity since time immemorial.

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´Category 5 hurricane’: White House under siege by Trump Jr.’s Russia revelations

By Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker – The Washington Post

The White House has been thrust into chaos after days of ever-worsening revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a lawyer characterized as representing the Russian government, as the president fumes against his enemies and senior aides circle one another with suspicion, according to top White House officials and outside advisers.

President Trump — who has been hidden from public view since returning last weekend from a divisive international summit — is enraged that the Russia cloud still hangs over his presidency and is exasperated that his eldest son and namesake has become engulfed by it, said people who have spoken with him this week.

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A Billionaires’ Republic

By Jedediah Purdy* – The Nation

A new book argues that the Constitution’s framers believed that vast concentrations of wealth were the enemy of democracy—so what happened?

“A constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in 1905. Holmes was dissenting from the Court’s majority opinion in Lochner v. New York, which held that the New York State Legislature had violated the right to freedom of contract when it passed a law setting a maximum work week of 60 hours for bakery employees. In his dissent, Holmes insisted that there had been no violation: Because the Constitution was indifferent to economic matters, New York’s Legislature was free to regulate the state’s economy as it thought best, and it was not the Court’s job to second-guess it.

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Why Iran Will Not Go the Way of the USSR

by Shireen T. Hunter*  -

Since the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, articles have appeared in the West arguing that, sooner or later, Iran’s ethnic and linguistic diversity will lead it to go the way of the USSR and dissolve into several states. Moreover, subscribers to this theory believe that the United States should encourage such a disintegrative process by further isolating Iran economically and politically, while also supporting its separatist elements.

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The Age of Detesting Trump

David Bromwich* – London Review of Books

‘Putin Butts in to Claim There Were No Secrets, and Says He’ll Prove It’ – so ran the main headline in the New York Times on 18 May. The subject was Donald Trump’s supposed revelation of foreign intelligence assets when he met with Russian officials in the Oval Office. It isn’t yet clear if anything dangerous was done, but the US media were showcasing their heavy artillery with a leak of their own, which had to have come from the White House staff or intelligence agents on the scene. Mostly, however, the article seemed to be an excuse to deploy the expression ‘Putin Butts In’ – a cut below the diction once permitted in the Times. This descent into brashness, which teeters on the brink of open contempt, has been a feature of American media coverage of Trump ever since January; it is growing shriller and more indiscriminate, working up to a presumptive climax no one has imagined with clarity. Impeachment is the constitutional name for the fast finale they are hoping for; the idea is that the brass and cymbals will soon enter, lawyers and good spies, private detectives and who knows what else – and out the door goes Trump.

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Will the UN “Leave No One Behind” and Improve LGBTI Health and Well-Being?

By Dr Felicity Daly*

NEW YORK, Jul 10 2017 (IPS) – While there has been progress in researching the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people and responding to certain emerging health threats in high-income countries – elsewhere in the world such research is inadequate and incomplete.

A new report published by OutRight Action International, the Global Forum on MSM and HIV highlights that wherever research has been conducted, LGBTI people’s health is shown to be consistently poorer than the general population.

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