Start Exercising Before The New Year’s Resolution
December 3, 2019
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
– Bruce Lee
His Best Is Yet To Come…Hopefully
Mexico’s left-leaning president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrated his first year in office Sunday. During that time he has upended the country’s politics, dismantling old policies and charting a new leftist course aimed at correcting cavernous inequalities. He’s raised the minimum wage, signed a new labor law, cracked down on fuel theft and pushed Mexico to produce more of its own food and energy. It’s these achievements, and Lopez Obrador’s personal popularity, keeping citizens hopeful that the transformative human rights/anti-corruption revolution he promised will still arrive.
Meanwhile, unemployment remains high, the economy remains flatlined, and violence is relentless. Lopez Obrador actually has little to show for his efforts, but support remains strong. “He is trying to do his best,” said one unemployed man, who had failed to land a day’s work at the new oil refinery in Paraiso, despite the president’s promise it would bring new riches to this forgotten part of southeastern Mexico.
The director of a research group that analyzes government policies explains why people are being so patient. “The power of [Lopez Obrador’s] leadership is that there is consistency in what he says and what he does.” The president had run on promises to make the state work for the people instead of for the elites that were favored by his predecessors. And while true change is slow, many Mexicans believe their president has begun taking important steps: pouring money into social programs, slashing government salaries, and foregoing the pomp of past presidents.
In Sunday’s speech the president said: “The transformation that we are now undertaking is within sight.” He just needs another year to make those changes irreversible.
- A Mexican cartel gun battle near the Texas border leaves 21 dead (Vox)
- ‘Only God’s hand has kept us safe’: Migrants describe kidnappings and other dangers at the Mexico border (CNN)
- Mexico will not accept intervention from abroad, president says (Reuters)
An Embassy Embarrassment
- Rare are the instances of sensational crimes being committed by diplomats while in foreign countries. But if that were to happen, envoys and their family members are protected from all criminal and civil prosecution while they are in-country. This diplomatic immunity status can be exceedingly hard for victims to appreciate.
- For example, last August the wife of a US intelligence agent working in Northamptonshire was driving her SUV on the wrong side of the road when she struck a teenager on a motorcycle and killed him. The driver claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the UK on a private jet. Local police had no authority to detain her; the public was outraged.
- But everyone should be outraged to learn for a fee in the low to mid six-figures, anyone can purchase a diplomatic passport. Corrupt government officials in small island nations like Malta and Cyprus, Asian countries like Thailand, and African dictatorships are happy to sell pay-to-play ambassadorships.
- “You certainly can purchase a diplomatic passport as long as you have the right access and the willingness to pay for it,” said a former agent of the US state department. (Guardian)
Be The Climate Change You Want To See In The World
- Prior to Monday’s start of a critical conference in Madrid on the climate crisis, UN Secretary General António Guterres said the world had the technical and economic means to halt climate chaos, but was missing the political will.
- Guterres contrasted the leadership shown by the world’s youth on the climate emergency with the lack of action by governments, which were failing to keep up with the urgency of the problem despite increasing signs that the climate was reaching breakdown: rising temperatures, heatwaves, droughts, floods.
- “Public opinion is waking up everywhere. Young people are showing remarkable leadership and mobilisation. [But we need] political will to put a price on carbon, political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels [and start] taxing pollution instead of people.”
- Guterres called for further investment from rich countries and support for poor nations to make the changes needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of global warming. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Researchers Find A Remarkable Ripple Effect When You Give Cash To Poor Families (NPR)
- China Bars U.S. Military From Hong Kong Ports Over Support For Protesters (NPR) & As Taiwan’s Election Race Heats Up, China Weighs On Voters’ Minds (NPR)
- The face is becoming the new fingerprint: Chinese Citizens Must Scan Their Faces to Register for New Mobile-Phone Service New requirement will further increase the government’s scrutiny of its people (WSJ, $) & U.S. homeland security proposes face scans for citizens (Reuters) & FaceApp may pose ‘counterintelligence threat’ says FBI (BBC)
- With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Is Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years (NYT, $)
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Less Money, More Problems
- In a bizarre tweet on Monday President Trump accused Brazil and Argentina of purposefully weakening their currencies and hurting American farmers. Trump said he would immediately impose tariffs on steel and aluminum shipped into the US from those two countries, a move that would shatter previous agreements and widen a global trade war that the president had appeared ready to scale back. (NYT)
- US mulls retaliation to French tech tax (BBC)
- The school security industry continues to boom in the wake of American school shootings, and kids have learned to live under constant surveillance. Tech companies offer a wide range of surveillance products that help schools track the websites students visit and the searches they make, and monitor what they write in school emails, chats and shared documents.
- Some students must carry their school supplies in clear backpacks and their water in clear water bottles; teenagers are warned that their school is tracking what they do, and that they can get in trouble for visiting inappropriate websites. Attempts are even made to track what students are posting on their public social media accounts. This is not their parents’ educational experience. (Guardian)
- The Class of 2000 ‘Could Have Been Anything’: The high school yearbook is a staple of teenage life. But for some, it reflects the devastating toll of the opioid crisis. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Trump campaign denies press credentials to Bloomberg News (BBC)
- The battle for the future of the Republican party is happening now: Trump gave states the power to ban refugees. Conservative Utah wants more of them. (WaPo, $) & Gov. Kemp of Georgia Is Expected to Tap Kelly Loeffler for Senate Seat: The appointment would pit the governor against President Trump, revealing an intraparty rift over the best way to maintain Republican dominance in Georgia. (NYT, $)
- Perhaps the most awkward Thanksgiving meal this year happened at the Conways: Kellyanne Conway tweeted about Joe Biden and Ukraine. Then her husband replied. (WaPo, $) & for those who might need this over the holidays: How to shut down your Trump-supporting family member at Thanksgiving dinner (The Hill)
Get Up And Lose Some Sadness
- A large-scale new study of exercise, genetics and mental health concludes that almost any kind of physical activity, strenuous or light, will help to offset people’s genetic propensity for depression. Not surprisingly however, the study found the benefits were greater when people exercised more often.
- So don’t remain sedentary — walk the dog, go dancing, join a yoga class or bounce on an elliptical for at least three hours a week — and you’ll be much less likely to develop clinical depression. (NYT)
- Additional quote: “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
- Hot weather raises risk of early childbirth, study finds: Early births are associated with health and developmental concerns, adding to fears over climate crisis (Guardian)
- The False Promise of Morning Routines Why everyone’s mornings seem more productive than yours (Atlantic, $)
- The silent “sixth” sense: Propioception is the body’s mysterious ability to locate our limbs, even in darkness. We’re just beginning to understand it. (Vox)
- ‘World first’ cell phone detection cameras rolled out in Australia (CNN)
- Instagram is broken. It also broke us. Influencers and regular users are reckoning with what Instagram has done to them. Now Instagram wants us to love it again. (Vox)
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