America, From Exceptionalism to Nihilism

By PANKAJ MISHRA – The New York Times, Opinion section

MASHOBRA, India — “The world is going America’s way,” Fareed Zakaria wrote in 2008. “Countries are becoming more open, market friendly and democratic.” Since the fall of communism, American leaders in politics, business and journalism have repeatedly broadcast the conceit that we live, or will soon live, in the best of all possible worlds. Not even 9/11, the bloody stalemates in Iraq and Afghanistan or the worst economic crisis since the Depression challenged faith in a benignly Americanized world. Barack Obama declared last year that “if you had to choose any time in the course of human history to be alive, you’d choose this one. Right here in America, right now.”

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Destroying the Planet, and U.S. Leadership Along With It

by Paul R. Pillar* – Lobelog

With the wide path of destruction that Donald Trump has been cutting—in which the damage is affecting matters ranging from principles of nondiscrimination to ethical integrity of government officials to reliable health care for Americans—it is easy to lose sight of what ultimately would be the most consequential destruction of all: the damage to a habitable planet.  The consequences may not be as immediately apparent, during the first 100 days or even during four years, as some of the other carnage, but the importance to humanity is even greater.

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Indigenous Women: The Frontline Protectors of the Environment

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 27 2017 (IPS) – Indigenous women, while experiencing the first and worst effects of climate change globally, are often in the frontline in struggles to protect the environment.

A forum organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) brought together indigenous women from around the world to discuss the effects of climate change in their communities and their work towards sustainable solutions.

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Still Confused About Trump’s 1-Page Tax Plan? Goldman Explains It All

by Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge

Since at its core, yesterday’s 1-page “tax plan” was a Goldman creation – and was presented to the world by two former Goldman employees -  who better to explain what Trump had in mind than Goldman Sachs itself, which it did overnight in a far lengthier note from its chief Washington analyst Alec Phillips.

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IPS Journalists Who Perished in the Line of Duty

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 26 2017 (IPS) – In the politically-risky world of professional journalism, news reporters are fast becoming an endangered species.

The numbers are staggering: some 1,236 journalists have been killed since 1992, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

In 2016 alone, 48 journalists were killed worldwide – and in the first few months in 2017 there have been 8 deaths. The “deadliest countries” for journalists include Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya and Mexico, where international news organizations took the heaviest toll.

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SOCIAL DEMOCRACY RISING IN THE NORDIC COUNTRIES?

Halle Jørn Hanssen*

Norway

The Norwegian Labour Party concluded recently its last congress before the coming elections in September this year with the adoption of a political programme that takes the party to the left in some important fields. The aim is to win the elections, be back in government and see its leader Jonas Gahr Støre become the next Norwegian Prime Minister.

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Straining to be Anti-Iran

by Paul R. Pillar* – Lobelog

The Trump administration is bending over backward to be, and to sound, hostile and confrontational toward Iran.  This effort to flaunt a role for itself as a dedicated enemy of Iran has roots in the same factors that underlie the more widely established anti-Iranism in the United States, staying ahead of which is clearly an administration objective.  These factors include a troubled history highlighted for Americans by the hostage crisis of 1979-81.

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WHAT WAR WITH NORTH KOREA LOOKS LIKE

BY BILL POWELL  NEWSWEEK

One million dead* (and that´s if it doesen´t go nuclear)

*Minimum predicted casualties

The batteries of North Korean artillery lie just on the other side of the divided peninsula’s demilitarized zone. There are thousands of them—some hidden, others out in the open. Artillery shells are stored in an elaborate network of tunnels; and though much of the weaponry and ammunition is old, U.S. forces stationed in South Korea have no doubt they would be effective.

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The North Korea-Trump Nightmare

Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

President Trump is scary in many ways, but perhaps the most frightening nightmare is of him blundering into a new Korean war.

It would begin because the present approach of leaning on China to pressure North Korea will likely fail. Trump will grow angry at public snickering at the emptiness of his threats.

At some point, U.S. intelligence will see a North Korean missile prepared for a test launch — and it may then be very tempting for a deeply frustrated rogue president to show his muscle.

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Bannon Down, Pentagon Up, Neocons In?

by Jim Lobe – lobelog.com

The apparent and surprisingly abrupt demise in Steve Bannon’s influence offers a major potential opening for neoconservatives, many of whom opposed Trump’s election precisely because of his association with Bannon and the “America Firsters,” to return to power after so many years of being relegated to the sidelines. Bannon’s decline suggest that he no longer wields the kind of veto power that prevented the nomination of Elliott Abrams as deputy secretary of state. Moreover, the administration’s ongoing failure to fill key posts at the undersecretary, assistant secretary, and deputy assistant secretary levels across the government’s foreign-policy apparatus provides a veritable cornucopia of opportunities for aspiring neocons who didn’t express their opposition to the Trump campaign too loudly.

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Yemen, World’s Largest Humanitarian Crisis

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Apr 19 2017 (IPS) – With 18.8 million people –nearly 7 in 10 inhabitants– in need of humanitarian aid, including 10.3 million requiring immediate assistance, Yemen is now the largest single-nation humanitarian crisis in the world, the United Nations informs while warning that the two-year war is rapidly pushing the country towards “social, economic and institutional collapse.“

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Somerdale to Skarbimierz

James Meek follows Cadbury to Poland

How to explain Poland’s swing against the European Union? How to explain the election of the Catholic fundamentalist, authoritarian, populist, Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party to rule a booming country that has benefited from more than €130 billion in EU investment in its roads, railways and schools, a country where only a few years after EU accession in 2004 hundreds of foreign factories and distribution centres opened, employing hundreds of thousands of people, a country whose citizens have taken advantage of EU freedom of movement to travel, work and study across the continent in their millions? If Britain is straining the EU by leaving, Law and Justice’s Poland is straining it by staying, attacking the EU’s contradictory institutional positions – its promotion of human rights, its secularism and multiculturalism, its belief in state welfare, its embrace of mobile capital – with contradictory positions of its own. The typical Briton is slightly poorer now than before the financial crash, almost a decade ago; that might not be the EU’s fault, but at least there’s something to find a scapegoat for. The typical Pole, by contrast, is half as rich again.

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Why Is British Prime Minister Theresa May Calling for a Snap General Election Now?

By Josh Lowe  – Newsweek

Ever since Theresa May took over from David Cameron as British prime minister last July, pundits have wondered why she didn’t call an early general election.

On Tuesday, May finally decided she would,  announcing that she would seek a snap election on June 8. She needs the backing of two thirds of members of parliament to do so, but can count on her own MPs and, a statement from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggests, those of the opposition. “We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain,” Corbyn said.

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Democracy Loses in Turkey

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD – THE NEW YORK TIMES

The best thing that can be said about Turkey’s constitutional referendum is that many voters — 48.7 percent of those casting ballots — opposed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s most outrageous move yet to solidify his autocratic rule. Mr. Erdogan, who had expected to win 60 percent of the vote on Sunday, lost the major cities of Ankara and Istanbul. His legitimacy was further eroded by allegations of voting irregularities from international monitors.

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Has Trump Lost Control Of The Pentagon?

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge 

Via The Saker, [4]

The Pentagon’s more aggressive military approach

Here is a short timeline of the Pentagon taking the presidential commander-in-chief power from Trump.

The ultimatums came on March 1.

On March 1, 2017 the Atlantic’s article “Trump and the Generals” [5]

announced that Trump’s military leaders “increasingly sound like they’re working for a different president altogether.

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Erdogan entrenches himself

Editorial – The Guardian

Narrow victory in a referendum is taken as legitimising the destruction of Turkey’s democratic institutions

It is no exaggeration to say Turkey has entered a daunting and unpredictable new chapter in its political history as a result of last Sunday’s referendum, which narrowly approved the introduction of sweeping constitutional changes granting its president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, unprecedented and wide-ranging powers. If implemented, these reforms will all but recreate Turkey as a sultanate, almost a century after Ataturk founded the republic on the ruins of the Ottoman empire.

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Making the future possible again

Boaventura de Sousa Santos*

When we look at the past through the eyes of the present, we find huge cemeteries of abandoned futures, struggles that inaugurated new possibilities but were neutralized, silenced, or distorted, futures murdered at birth, or even still-born futures, contingencies that determined the winning choice later ascribed to the course of history. These abandoned futures are also buried bodies, often bodies committed to wrong or useless futures. We worship or execrate them depending on whether the future they aspired to coincides with what we want for ourselves or not.

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