Tag: Donald Trump

Human RightsPolitics

Kurds: “We have no friends but the mountains”

This week, following the Trump Administration’s betrayal of a long-time Middle East ally, I received a message containing these words from one of my former students in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan Region.

We as “Kurds have no friends but the mountains“ history repeats itself!

Over the past 100 years, the Kurdish people–whose territory includes northern Iraq, northern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran–have been repeatedly lied to, stabbed in the back, gassed and violently murdered by successive regimes from both the West and the Middle East.

The US Government has called on the Kurdish people repeatedly for help and these loyal allies have at all times capitulated to Washington’s requests. In 1972, they were asked by the CIA and US-placed Shah of Iran to rise up against the Ba’athist Party-led government in Iraq. The Kurds were used and then left alone to suffer the wrath of the Iraqi military when Iran’s Shah make a back-door deal with the Iraqi government.

Still willing to trust the Americans, the Kurds in northern Iraq once again rose up against the Baghdad-based government of Saddam Huessein at the urging of George H. W. Bush’s administration during the Gulf War in Kuwait in 1991. While the Kurds did eventually receive US support in setting up a no-fly zone over their northern territory, other promises of oil wealth sharing and possible independence were not kept. Establishing border security was left to the Kurd’s very capable military, known as the Peshmerga, which created a safe haven in an otherwise extremely dangerous and chaotic country.

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CulturePolitics

The ART of Politics

While the Trump era has provided endless opportunities for journalists to come up with fresh ways to report on domestic and international affairs, I think the real treasure trove of creative golden nuggets has been laid at the feet of political cartoonists.

In an era when truth is often elusive and fantasy thrives, cartoons seem to represent the most effective means of contextualizing the outrageous behavior taking place in Washington, D.C. and it’s always-on 24-hour cycle of institutional destruction.

Signe Wilkinson – Washington Post Writers Group and Cartoonist Group

Michael de Adder – Counterpoint

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EnvironmentPolitics

The Geography of Climate Change

Tampa, Florida, a city where Donald Trump has held some of his most infamous rallies, will receive disproportionately negative climate change impacts if scientists’ predictions hold true.

In a recent study published in the journal Science, “Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States,” researchers have projected which states will likely be dealing with the most harmful effects of global warming and its associated negative impacts by the end of this century. These negative impacts include coastal flooding, storm damage, agricultural losses, curtailments in job creation and lower values in production of goods and services (GDP).

What makes this study different is that the researchers involved used county-level data to predict localized impacts. As the author’s noted, “Standard approaches to valuing climate damage describe average impacts for large regions (e.g., North America) or the entire globe as a whole. Yet examining county-level impacts reveals major redistributive impacts of climate change on some sectors that are not captured by regional or global averages.”

Indeed, looking at the charts presenting this more localized data in visual form is quite an eye-opening experience. They reveal just how unevenly distributed these negative impacts will be, with states in the South and Midwest bearing the brunt of the most serious economic impacts while states in the country’s Northeast and Northwest may actually receive benefits from atmospheric warming that lead to more vibrant economies.

Based on this map, it certainly looks like some of those jobs that moved to the Sunbelt States over the last 3 decades may be moving back north. It would be very interesting to see Canadian data added here. More jobs on the northern side of the US border ‘eh! Note: Red = economic damage. Dark Green = economic benefits.

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Politics

The Leadership Vacuum in Trump’s America

Ask people in other countries what they admire and respect most about America and they will mention, without hesitation, cutting-edge technology and scientific investigation (linked with higher education), specialist medical care, environmental safeguards, freedom of the press as well as religion and America’s amazing National Park System and other ‘protected’ areas.

Aren’t those also things Americans should care about? Do these positive quality of life factors really have to be obliterated in order to create decent paying jobs as Trump purports? Wouldn’t investing in science and technology–especially in the creation of technologies to produce carbon neutral sources of energy–not create more jobs for the future rather than using those investment dollars as direct payments to long-established major corporations whose only goal is to increase profits in the short term for their shareholders?

Trump’s Egotism Knows No Bounds

At a rally in Duluth, Minnesota this week, President Trump claimed that’s he’s smarter and richer than the elite. By the elite, I assume he means the same generalized ‘liberals’ to which he often makes reference in his speeches. I hate to be the one to break the news to him, but Americans who might label themselves as ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ span the full socio-economic spectrum in America. But I won’t be waiting for him to clarify that point. The last thing I expect to come out of Trump’s White House is clarity.

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CulturePolitics

Donald and Hillary’s Dog and Pony Show

I had a dream this week–one of those part whimsical, part terrifying nocturnal romps through the subconscious mind. I’ll warn you, the dreams that I remember the morning after are in vivid color and peppered with detail.

In my dream, I found myself standing in a crowd that had gathered along the fence facing the North Lawn of the White house. Between the fountain and the north portico of the building stood Donald Trump, dressed in full-on matador costume complete with a glowing red cape he held aloft in his tiny right hand.

The North Lawn of the White House with the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue at bottom–the setting for my dream. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Human RightsPolitics

Standing Up for Palestinians

This is not an article arguing the pros and cons of the State of Israel’s right to defend itself against outside enemies that might want to do it or its people harm. Nor am I writing this to plead for or against the US Government’s decision to recognize the whole city of Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel. And, I’m certainly not going to pontificate that I have a solution to problems of coexistence in that region of the Middle East that date back millennia.

This is, however, a plea for the American people to speak out and demand that the US Government continue providing humanitarian aid for the neediest Palestinians at a time when the world is definitely paying attention and questioning almost every aspect of American leadership.

In case you haven’t heard or read about it, here’s what I’m referring to:

The US Government is withholding humanitarian aid to more than 5 million Palestinians across the Middle East as leverage to force the Palestinian Authority into a new round of peace talks.

The aid money–$355 million in 2017—is for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), one of the largest organizations providing funds for services and infrastructure to Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While sitting opposite Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, US President Trump proclaimed, “That money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”

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Politics

Being Politically Correct vs Showing Humanity

On Thursday, during a meeting of US Senators from both sides of the aisle who had assembled at the White House to discuss immigration reform, Donald Trump is reported to have labeled African countries (in general) as ‘shitholes’. It isn’t clear what he truly thinks of Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras, which were also being discussed at the time.
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) have voiced their disdain for the damage Trump’s words have caused to the world’s view of “American ideals and patriotism”. Why are these the lone voices of dissent within the President’s party?

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Nature

Trump vs Clouds

Ahhh, nature! It’s the elixir that’s required to soothe my tattered soul after dealing with the daily worries of this chaotic and distracting world we humans have created. And clouds; what about clouds?
I’ve always loved clouds. They’re one of the most transient visual features of our natural world, as they constantly change and re-form depending on the whims of the winds aloft. For me, clouds are a constant reminder of the impermanence of all things.
Being reminded of this fact somehow makes my problems seem totally insignificant in the bigger scheme of the universe. Personal ego is no match for the wonder and limitless perspective I have while gazing at the sky!

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EnvironmentPolitics

A new Dark Age in America

By further revealing his administration’s incredibly backward looking energy policy, Donald Trump has once again made it clear that he’s only concerned about maintaining the status quo. In an effort to cement wealth in the hands of an elite few, he and his minions are seeking to give away even more taxpayer dollars to the corporate robber barons, especially in the field of energy.

Troglodytes like Trump still seem stuck in the Iron Age while many of the USA’s largest and most profitable industries have radically changed…

Antiquated policies that reward and support the oil, gas and dirty-burning coal industries at the expense of emerging energy-producing technologies will, over the long term, create fewer American jobs, make the US more energy-dependent and continue contributing to the warming of a planet that’s seriously close to its ecological tipping point.

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