Peace with North Korea is still possible

Opinion, Richard Javad Heydarian* – Al Jazeera

South Korea is still hopeful of a diplomatic resolution of the crisis with its northern neighbour.

“This is the new abnormal,” a key adviser of South Korean President Moon Jae-in told me amid North Korea’s latest missile and nuclear tests. Yet, to my surprise, many experts I met in Seoul in recent weeks displayed an uncanny sense of optimism.

Many of them told me they still believe that reunification on the Korean Peninsula is a historical inevitability, though they admitted that no one knows how traumatic or successful it would turn out to be.

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Confederate Statues and American Memory

Roger Cohen -  The New York Times

In moments of national fragility, history rears its head. The past becomes a vast storehouse of grievance. Revived memory is manipulated to produce violent nationalism. This is what is happening today in the United States, a nation suddenly at war with its past.

There is a reason for this war. America has been adept at evasion. A nation conceived as exceptional, a beacon to the world, could not but run from its original sin. How often I have wondered at all the museums and memorials to the Holocaust, the great crime against European Jewry that did not happen here, of which the United States was neither perpetrator nor victim.

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Scaling up Development Finance

By Anis Chowdhury* and Jomo Kwame Sundaram**

SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR , Sep 5 2017 (IPS) – The Business and Sustainable Development Commission has estimated that achievement of Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals will require US$2-3 trillion of additional investments annually compared to current world income of around US$115 trillion. This is a conservative estimate; annual investments of up to US$2 trillion yearly will be needed to have a chance of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C.

The greatest challenge, especially for developing countries, is to mobilize needed investments which may not be profitable. The United Nations and others have revived the idea of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to finance development.

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Motives of North Korea’s Leader Baffle Americans and Allies

By MOTOKO RICH and DAVID E. SANGER  - The New Yor Times

TOKYO — What does Kim Jong-un want?

That remains far harder to answer than the technical questions about Mr. Kim’s bombs and the reach of his missiles that have preoccupied American, Japanese and South Korean intelligence officials for years.

After North Korea’s underground test on Sunday, more is now known about the power of his nuclear arsenal, even if mystery remains about the veracity of the North’s claim that it detonated a hydrogen bomb.

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Climate-Smart Agriculture Urgently Needed in Africa

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Sep 4 2017 (IPS) – Africa contributes only 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while six of the 10 most affected countries by climate change are in Africa, warns a major agricultural research for development partnership, while stressing the urgent need to scale up climate-smart agriculture, improve forestry and transform the productivity of water use.

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Monopoly Rents and Corporate Taxation (Wonkish)

By Paul Krugman  – The New York Times

At one level it’s hard to take the Trump administration’s tax “reform” push seriously. A guy gets elected as a populist and his first two big proposals are (a) taking away health insurance from millions (b) cutting corporate taxes. Wow.

Furthermore, Trump is invincibly ignorant on taxes (and everything else) — he keeps declaring that America is the highest taxed nation in the world, which is nearly the opposite of the truth among advanced countries. And his allies in Congress aren’t ignorant, but they’re liars: Paul Ryan is the master of mystery meat, of promising to raise and save trillions in unspecified ways.

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To Be a Nigerian Migrant in Italy

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Aug 31 2017 (IPS) – Bako* (24), a Nigerian migrant, stairs at new comers at an old, local Roman bar. Extremely polite, he asks for money. If you offer to him to buy some food instead, he immediately accepts.

Interviewed for IPS by Laurent Vercken, the young Nigerian migrant tells his story: originally from Kuje district, Southern province of Abuja, Nigeria, he has been living in Italy since the beginning of 2013 and moved to Rome shortly later. Continue reading

A new polling low for Trump: Just 16 percent ‘like’ his conduct as president

Analysis by Aaron Blake - The Fix (washingtonpost.com)

Polling Donald Trump is one of the most difficult and confusing exercises in modern politics. In Trump, we have a guy who won the presidency by surprisingly beating the polls in key Rust Belt states, of course. We also have a guy who maintains the loyalty of his base despite major flaws that this base readily acknowledges. As I wrote in June 2016, nearly half of Trump supporters — 46 percent — said one or more of the following: He had made a racist comment, was prejudiced and/or was unqualified to be president. Not half of all voters; half of his supporters.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott needs to resign

Jeffrey Sachs    -  CNN.com

It’s important to politicize Hurricane Harvey. Not politics in the sense of political parties, or politics to win elections. Politics to protect America.
The priority in the next hours and days is to save lives and reduce suffering, without hesitation and without question of costs or politics. But then must come the reckoning.

Once the immediate crisis ends, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, should resign with an apology to his state and his country. Then the Texas delegation in Congress should make a public confession. They have lied to their constituents for too long, expecting the rest of America to keep bailing them out.

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What made the rain in Hurricane Harvey so extreme?

Russ Schumacher*  -  The Conversation

Fifty inches of rain. Nine trillion gallons of water. The Gulf Coast of Texas, and especially the Houston metropolitan area, has been inundated by rain produced by Hurricane Harvey. And as of this writing, the rain continues along a broad swath of the Gulf Coast, with a flood threat extending all the way east through New Orleans to the Florida Panhandle.

Even for one of the wettest and most flood-prone parts of the United States, the rainfall totals and flooding are breaking records. So, what has made Harvey such a prodigious rain producer?

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Trying to block migrants won’t work. Europe needs a realistic plan

Sophie in ‘t Veld* – The Guardian

From dubious deals with third countries to processing points in Africa, Europe’s response to migration is failing. But there are better ways to tackle it together

The central Mediterranean migratory route has become the most lethal in the world, with an estimated 2,410 dead or missing in the Mediterranean so far this year. A humanitarian crisis is fast becoming a political crisis in Italy. The stubborn refusal of national governments to make EU asylum policies work has left the Italian government on its own to handle a significant part of the migratory flows.

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‘The President Speaks For Himself’

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

It should be among the easier tasks of a cabinet member to affirm, without hesitation, that the president he or she serves represents the values of the American people.

But that was more than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could muster during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Asked by Chris Wallace whether President Trump’s morally vacuous response to the racist march and deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., made his job harder, Mr. Tillerson said, “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”

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Planet’s warning

By Huma Yusuf – Dawn, Pakistan

Aug 28 2017 – - QUESTION: what’s the best way to ensure that an issue gets state attention? Answer: make it a matter of national security. So here goes.

The world last week focused on a Russian tanker floating through the Arctic without an icebreaker, the latest sign of the rapid pace of climate change. Unfortunately, Pakistanis have problems to worry about closer to home.

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It’s a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly

Michael E Mann*

We can’t say that Hurricane Harvey was caused by climate change. But it was certainly worsened by it

What can we say about the role of climate change in the unprecedented disaster that is unfolding in Houston with Hurricane Harvey? There are certain climate change-related factors that we can, with great confidence, say worsened the flooding.

Sea level rise attributable to climate change – some of which is due to coastal subsidence caused by human disturbance such as oil drilling – is more than half a foot (15cm) over the past few decades (see here for a decent discussion). That means the storm surge was half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction.

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Fascism, American Style

Paul Krugman – The New York Times

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

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Trump Without Bannon: The Emptiness at the Center

By Jon Wiener -The Nation

Amy Wilentz on what Jared wants

Amy Wilentz is a long-time contributing editor at The Nation and former Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker. She’s best known for her award-winning books on Haiti, most recently Farewell, Fred Voodoo. Interview has been edited and condensed.

Jon Wiener: We heard for months about the hostility between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. Now Jared has won the battle. But why was this battle being fought, in the first place?

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Why are all those Racists so Terrified?

Robert J. Burrowes*

Racism is not a new phenomenon and while it is an ongoing daily reality for vast numbers of people, it also often bursts from the shadows to remind us that just because we can keep ignoring the endless sequence of ‘minor’ racist incidents, racism has not gone away despite supposedly significant efforts to eliminate it. I say ‘supposedly’ because these past efforts, whatever personnel, resources and strategies have been devoted to them, have done nothing to address the underlying cause of racism and so their impact must be superficial and temporary. As the record demonstrates.

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Serious Doubts Whether Sanctions Against DPRK Are Effective

By Ramesh Jaura

BERLIN | NEW YORK (IDN) – The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) maintains a tight spider network around the world that enables it “to employ great ingenuity in using formal banking channels and bulk cash transfers to facilitate illicit endeavours,” a close look at the Report of the UN Panel of Experts monitoring the implementation of Security Council sanctions against North Korea reveals.

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McConnell, in Private, Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency

By ALEXANDER BURNS and JONATHAN MARTIN  – The New York Times

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

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