Saturday, January 23, 2016
by THOMAS SOWELL
Those of us who like to believe that human beings are rational can sometimes have a hard time trying to explain what is going on in politics. It is still a puzzle to me how millions of patriotic Americans could have voted in 2008 for a man who for 20 years –- 20 years — was a follower of a preacher who poured out his hatred for America in the grossest gutter terms. Today’s big puzzle is how so many otherwise rational people have become enamored of Donald Trump, projecting onto him virtues and principles that he clearly does not have, and ignoring gross defects that are all too blatant.
There was a time when someone who publicly mocked a handicapped man would have told us all we needed to know about his character, and his political fling would have been over. But that was before we became a society where common decency is optional. Yet there are even a few people with strong conservative principles who have lined up with this man, whose history has demonstrated no principles at all, other than an ability to make self-serving deals, and who has shown what Thorstein Veblen once called “a versatility of convictions.”
With the Iowa caucuses coming up, it is easy to understand why Iowa governor Terry Branstad is slamming Trump’s chief rival, Senator Ted Cruz, who has opposed massive government subsidies to ethanol, which have dumped tons of taxpayer money on Iowa for growing corn. Iowa senator Charles Grassley has come right out and said that is why he opposes Senator Cruz. Former senator Bob Dole, an establishment Republican if ever there was one, has joined the attacks on Ted Cruz, on grounds that Senator Cruz is disliked by other politicians. When Senator Dole was active, he was liked by both Democrats and Republicans. He joined the long list of likable Republican candidates for president that the Republican establishment chose — and that the voters roundly rejected.
With both establishment Republicans and anti-establishment Republicans now taking sides with Donald Trump, it is hard to see what principle — if any — is behind his support. Some may see Trump’s success in business as a sign that he can manage the economy. But the great economist David Ricardo, two centuries ago, pointed out that business success did not mean that someone understands economic issues facing a nation. Trump boasts that he can make deals, among his many other boasts. But is a deal-maker what this country needs at this crucial time? Is not one of the biggest criticisms of today’s congressional Republicans that they have made all too many deals with Democrats, betraying the principles on which they ran for office? Bipartisan deals — so beloved by media pundits — have produced some of the great disasters in American history. Contrary to the widespread view that the Great Depression of the 1930s was caused by the stock-market crash of 1929, unemployment never reached double digits in any of the twelve months that followed the stock-market crash in October 1929. Unemployment was 6.3 percent in June 1930,
when a Democratic Congress and a Republican president made a bipartisan deal that produced the Smoot-Hawley tariffs. Within six months, unemployment hit double digits — and stayed in double digits throughout the entire decade of the 1930s. You want deals? There was never a more politically successful deal than that which Neville Chamberlain made in Munich in 1938. He was hailed as a hero, not only by his own party but even by opposition parties, when he returned with a deal that Chamberlain said meant “peace for our time.” But, just one year later, the biggest, bloodiest, and ghastliest war in history began. If deal-making is your standard, didn’t Barack Obama just make a deal with Iran — one that may have bigger and worse consequences than Chamberlain’s deal? What kind of deals would Donald Trump make? He has already praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London, which said that the government can seize private property to turn it over to another private party. That kind of decision is good for an operator like Donald Trump. Doubtless other decisions that he would make as president would also be good for Donald Trump, even if for nobody else.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430155/donald-trumps-dealmaking-wrong-america
e spoke of poverty, of the growing inequality that exists between nations, and he underlined the need for the world to take action. But, crucially, President Barack Obama did not shirk responsibility. In setting out the US commitment to the sustainable development agenda last September, Obama went beyond generalisation about the need to provide aid and development assistance to poorer countries, clearly articulating what his country must do to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Obama’s remarks go to the heart of the new development framework. It is global in nature, universally applicable, and aims to break down the old divisions between developing and developed countries.
In contrast, UK international development secretary Justine Greening admits that the government has no specific scheme to introduce a national action plan or taskforce to implement the goals. Instead the government will continue to focus on party manifesto commitments, in the belief that in some way this will contribute to achieving the SDGs.
The US has recognised that the SDGs provide a framework around which to shape national policy and add renewed emphasis to the challenges they face, the UK seems content to shoehorn the SDGs into existing priorities, disregarding the parts that do not fit – whether they are relevant or not.
Not all the targets in the goals are relevant to the UK, but a large number are. There are 13 million people living in poverty in the UK. Last year, more than 1 million people used food banks. SDG target 1.2 commits all countries to reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions by 2030.
Inequality is an issue raised prominently within the goals. The UK has very high levels of income inequality compared with other developed countries. Women’s participation in leadership is woefully low. There are 38 countries with greater proportions of female MPs than the UK. Rwanda tops the list with 63.8%, compared with the UK’s 29.4%. And this winter’s flooding demonstrates that without investment to address extreme weather events and climate change, the UK will also suffer.
There are a host of other targets which require concerted attention in the UK, such as: reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases; improving mental health and wellbeing; recognising the value of unpaid care work; ensuring access to modern reliable sources of energy and increasing the share of renewables; substantially reducing the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training; and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.
All of these issues will require coordinated cross-government approaches to monitoring and implementation. It is not sufficient for Greening to say that discussions are under way. The UK is lagging behind.
Colombia, for example, adopted an inter-agency commission to implement the goals in February – before they were even agreed.
Berlin began consulting on what the SDGs would mean for the German government in June 2014, and the council for sustainable development published a position paper in May 2015.
If we are to meet our commitment to the SDGs, the UK needs to bring the Cabinet Office, the Office for National Statistics, Treasury and Department for International Development (DfID) under a clear strategy with a dedicated cross-government body to monitor and implement the goals domestically. This body should also analyse and make recommendations to address the impact of government cuts on achieving the goals, and work with DfID to ensure that there is coherence between the UK’s domestic and foreign policy priorities.
DfID’s focus should rightly be on ensuring its programmes adequately support developing countries, but the department’s extensive knowledge of the global goals process means it should lead any cross-government initiative. The government’s commitment to transparency and accountability also means that legislation should be updated urgently to include a requirement to report on progress towards the SDGs.
The UK played a prominent role in developing the goals – the prime minister was one of the co-chairs of the UN secretary general’s high-level panel – but it now risks losing that global leadership by failing to take seriously the implementation of these goals at home, as well as abroad. Now is the moment to demonstrate a true understanding of the agenda’s universality. Lack of a national action plan will mean a missed opportunity to benefit UK citizens with a renewed focus on the challenges that affect their lives.
Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen after Houthi rebels toppled its government. According to political analyst Catherine Shakdam, the international community turns a blind eye on Riyadh's war crimes in Yemen.
At least 20 people, including rescue workers and an ambulance driver, were killed recently in a series of airstrikes Saudi Arabia carried out on one target in the Yemeni province of Saada.
More than 8,200 people have been killed and many more injured ever since Saudi Arabia started a war on Yemen in March, a civil group says.
The Yemeni Civilian Association announced in a report on Wednesday that the ongoing Saudi attacks have claimed the lives of 8,278 people, including 2,236 children, and left 16,015 others injured.
The attacks have also destroyed or damaged:
- Around 345,722 houses
- 39 universities
- 262 hospitals
- 16 media offices
- 615 mosques
- 810 schools and educational centers
- forced the closure of around 4,000 schools
Further damaged in Saudi strikes:
- 1,113 government buildings
- 191 factories
- 59 heritage sites
- 41 sports stadiums
- 124 chicken farms
- 547 food stores
- 421 fuel tankers
Saudi attacks have destroyed or damaged:
- 530 bridges and roads
- 163 water tanks
- 140 power plants
- 167 telecommunications sites
- 14 airports
- 10 seaports
The report comes in the wake of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warning about the dire situation of Yemeni patients amid Saudi attacks on hospitals.
Robert Mardini, who heads the ICRC’s operations for the Near and Middle East, has said the situation in Yemen is turning into one of the world’s “forgotten conflicts”.
Earlier this month, the ICRC’s outgoing health coordinator in Yemen, Monica Arpagaus, warned that hospitals in Yemen are no longer safe.
“We have incidents where hospitals have been targeted and patients have been injured and staffs have been killed,” Arpagaus said.
“Drugs, medication and medical supplies have been prevented from crossing frontlines into hospitals which desperately need these supplies.”
Harb now lives in London and is a scientologist. A film is being made based on her life in the Saudi royal family. Harb is also planning to publish an autobiography by the end of 2016.
The woman spoke to RT about her first encounter with the prince.
“There was a big party for the Palestinians and the Lebanese, a Christmas party. The prince was the minister of interior at that time, he was invited, and that’s how we met,” she said.
For the next three years, Harb lived in the prince’s palace as his secret spouse.
“We had a lovely life [for] the first two years. It was a very beautiful life. But the third year was quite tragic, because it was taken seriously, and his brothers got involved.”
In 1971, Harb was deported to the UK.
“His brothers were grooming him to become a king, and didn’t accept him having a Palestinian Christian wife. I was deported without his knowledge,” she told RT.
She has since successfully sued the late king's son, winning a historic UK High Court case.
The late king’s son has been ordered to pay Harb £12 million (US$17 million), according to a deal that was struck with the king before his death.
Harb told RT she has turned to the media in the hope that the Saudi royal family will face up to its duties.
“Every time you confront the Saudis, they tell you – instead of asking or finding the truth – ‘Oh! Maybe she was a prostitute, maybe she is a money digger’… Since he [the former king] didn’t take responsibility for his father’s reputation, he bears the blame himself.”
Saudi nationals are known to have a history of tricky relations with the UK legal system.
Just this week, one Sheikh managed to escape divorce payments in the UK after he was appointed a UN envoy by a small Caribbean nation, therefore receiving diplomatic immunity.
Sheikh Walid Juffali, whose fortune from his family’s business interests is estimated at £4 billion, faced a divorce suit in London’s High Court from his second wife, Christina Estrada, a former Pirelli calendar girl, after he secretly married a Lebanese television presenter in 2012.
Last month, a Saudi millionaire was cleared of raping a teenager after he claimed he may have penetrated her accidentally after tripping and falling on her.
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its strict interpretation of Sharia law, with alcohol and gambling banned and women not allowed to drive.
Women’s rights in the country have often been in the spotlight: a few months ago, a Saudi woman posted footage of her husband sexually abusing their maid. However, it was the wife who was facing a year in jail in the end, due to the Saudi law on revenge videos.