Judas, Tax Cuts and the Great Betrayal

Paul Krugman

The denarius, ancient Rome’s silver coin, was supposedly the daily wage of a manual worker. If so, the tax cuts that the richest 1 percent of Americans will receive if the Affordable Care Act is repealed — tax cuts that are, obviously, the real reason for repeal — would amount to the equivalent of around 500 pieces of silver each year.

What inspired this calculation? The spectacle of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, defending Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey.

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Gender Equality Can Save Women’s Lives in Disasters – We must not miss the opportunity to set this right

By Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Robert Glasser *

UNITED NATIONS, May 11 2017 (IPS) – Later this month, the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will take place in Mexico. This meeting provides an important opportunity to reboot global progress on embedding gender equality in disaster risk management and redress deadly exclusion.

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Comey’s Firing Is Worse Than the Saturday Night Massacre

By Bruce Shapiro- The Nation

At least during Watergate officials inside the administration refused to collude with Nixon’s orders

James Comey is out at the FBI, and comparisons to Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre are in—but that’s exactly the wrong comparison. In Washington, people get fired all the time; what distinguished the Saturday Night Massacre was refusal. It began with Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox’s refusal to compromise in his demand for Nixon’s Oval Office tapes; and then refusals by Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when Nixon demanded that Cox be fired.

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Horizons needed

Boaventura de Sousa Santos*

The world’s eight richest people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population (3.5 billion people). Countries are destroyed (from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Libya to Syria, and chances are that the next victims will be either Iran or North Korea) in the name of values that are supposed to protect them or make them prosper, whether human rights, democracy, or the primacy of international law. Never before has the possibility of a nuclear war been so much discussed.

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Ignoring the Costs of War

by William Hartung* – lobelog.com

When Donald Trump wanted to “do something” about the use of chemical weapons on civilians in Syria, he had the U.S. Navy lob 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield (cost: $89 million). The strike was symbolic at best, as the Assad regime ran bombing missions from the same airfield the very next day, but it did underscore one thing: the immense costs of military action of just about any sort in our era.

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Global climate policy in an uncertain state of flux

By Martin Khor*

Global climate change policy is in a state of flux, with all other countries waiting for the United States to decide whether to leave or remain in the Paris Agreement.

That treaty, adopted by 195 countries with great fanfare in December 2015 and  came into force in November 2016, symbolizes the efforts of governments to cooperate to avert disastrous global warming that threatens human survival.

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It was the day the world didn’t end; the day that the tide of populism that gave the world Brexit and Donald Trump turned; the moment when French voters chose pragmatism over protest. That, at least, was the judgement of Europe’s establishment at the victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 7 French presidential election.

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Why We Must Support Human Rights

By JOHN MCCAIN  -The New York Times

Washington, D.C. — SOME years ago, I heard Natan Sharansky, the human rights icon, recount how he and his fellow refuseniks in the Soviet Union took renewed courage from statements made on their behalf by President Ronald Reagan. Word had reached the gulag that the leader of the most powerful nation on earth had spoken in defense of their right to self-determination. America, personified by its president, gave them hope, and hope is a powerful defense against oppression.

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The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it – Annex: Climate Action, Trajectory, Impact, Risk,Solutions

Clive Hamilton*

We continue to plan for the future as if climate scientists don’t exist. The greatest shame is the absence of a sense of tragedy

After 200,000 years of modern humans on a 4.5 billion-year-old Earth, we have arrived at new point in history: the Anthropocene. The change has come upon us with disorienting speed. It is the kind of shift that typically takes two or three or four generations to sink in.

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Islamophobia redux in Myanmar

By David Scott Mathieson – Asia Times 

National leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s studied silence amid a new uptick in anti-Muslim sentiment is the latest mark on her elected government’s rights record

The April 28 forced closure of two madrassas in downtown Yangon by a mob of ultra-nationalist protestors backed by Buddhist monks was the latest indication that anti-Muslim vehemence is still a virulent undercurrent of instability in Myanmar’s unconsolidated democratic transition.

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What’s the Matter With Europe?

Paul Krugman – The New York Times

On Sunday France will hold its presidential runoff. Most observers expect Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, to defeat Marine Le Pen, the white nationalist — please, let’s stop dignifying this stuff by calling it “populism.” And I’m pretty sure that Times rules allow me to state directly that I very much hope the conventional wisdom is right. A Le Pen victory would be a disaster for Europe and the world.

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Monks with guns

Michael Jerryson* – Aeon Essays

Westerners think that Buddhism is about peace and non-violence. So how come Buddhist monks are in arms against Islam?

The recent violence in southern Thailand began on 4 January 2004, when Malay Muslim insurgents invaded a Thai Army depot in the southernmost province of Narathiwat. The next day, after the burning of 20 schools and several bomb attacks in a neighbouring province, the Thai government declared martial law over the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Shortly after, two Buddhist monks were killed during their morning alms, and a third injured. In these provinces, the majority population is Muslim, and Buddhists are a minority.

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The New Republican Health-Care Plan Is Single-Payer for Dummies

By David Dayen – The Nation

It’s important to understand what the GOP is trying to do.

Every time some upstanding leftist brings up single-payer health care, the punditocracy dismisses them as deluded fantasists without any understanding of the realities of government or markets. But House Republicans are apparently going to vote tomorrow on an Obamacare replacement framework that accepts the entire logic of single-payer. It just does it in the dumbest way imaginable.

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The Very Survival of Africa’s Indigenous Peoples ‘Seriously Threatened’

By Baher Kamal

ROME, May 3 2017 (IPS) – The cultures and very survival of indigenous peoples in Africa are seriously threatened. They are ignored, neglected and fall victims of land grabbing and land dispossession caused by extractive industries, agribusiness and other forms of business operations.

These are some of the key findings of a major report “The Indigenous World 2017,” on the state of indigenous peoples worldwide, issued on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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As Pope Francis entered Chinese airspace on a flight to South Korea in August 2014, he sent a note to Chinese President Xi Jinping: “I extend best wishes to your excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation.”With that message, the pope broke 63 years of silence between the Vatican and the Chinese government, dating back to when Mao Zedong’s Communist Party expelled the last Vatican diplomat from Beijing, in 1951.

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A Free and Diverse Media is Essential to Protecting Democracy in the 21st Century

By Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah

LONDON, May 2 2017 (IPS) – Images of protestors flooding the streets – whether in Caracas, Bucharest, Istanbul or Washington DC – send a powerful message to those in power, especially when they are plastered across newspaper front pages.

In far too many countries, the response has been to shut down the space for citizens to organise and undermine the ability for dissent to be reported. Even in the most mature of democracies, the ability of citizens to organise and mobilise, and the freedom of journalists to report when they do, are being undermined. In an era of rising populism and spreading curbs on fundamental freedoms, we need to do more to protect civic rights and press freedom.

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Is China the World’s New Colonial Power?

By BROOK LARMER* -  The New York Times Magazine

The rising superpower has built up enormous
holdings in poor, resource-rich African countries —
but its business partners there aren’t always thrilled

Every weekday before dawn, a morning migration takes place near the desert on Africa’s southwestern coast. At 5:30 in the Namibian enclave Swakopmund, whose century-old buildings still bear the imprint of German colonization, solitary men in khaki uniforms emerge from houses and apartment complexes, the white reflective strips on their pants flashing as they walk briskly through the darkness. They are not African but Chinese. No one else is stirring in the Atlantic Coast town as the men converge on a tidy house on Libertina Amathila Avenue, the only one in the neighborhood with its lights ablaze.

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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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