The West Might Rest in Peace
December 5, 2019
“The dangerous clashes of the future are likely to arise from the interaction of Western arrogance, Islamic intolerance, and Sinic assertiveness.” – Samuel P. Huntington
“Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.” – Samuel P. Huntington
A Global Laughingstock
By now it should come as no surprise that President Trump is going to say and/or do something on foreign soil that embarrasses America. This week’s 70th anniversary celebration of the NATO alliance held in London is no exception.
Trump’s aides hoped the trip would showcase the president on the world stage, busily working despite the impeachment proceedings back home. But the summit quickly devolved as the president clashed openly with French president Emmanuel Macron and needled Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in bilateral meetings.
Tuesday afternoon at an unscheduled press conference with Macron, Trump’s attempted one-upmanship fell resoundingly flat. On Wednesday Trump called Trudeau “two-faced.” Then he tweeted he planned to leave the summit without holding a planned news conference because he had already spoken a lot to reporters.
Trump has a history of falling out with foreign heads of state; Macron and Trudeau are just the most recent allied leaders the president has turned on. When Trump met Jair Bolsonaro at the White House in March he had nothing but praise for the newly elected president of Brazil. But last Monday he accused Bolsonaro’s government of currency manipulation and vowed to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil.
- The world is laughing at Donald Trump (WaPo, $)
- Trump cuts short Nato summit after fellow leaders’ hot-mic video (Guardian)
- Five ‘hot mic’ moments that got leaders in trouble (BBC)
- The Spiritual Disunity of the West (Atlantic)
- France braces for biggest strikes of Macron’s presidency (Guardian)
There Is A Lot Of Use Crying Over Spilled Teargas
- The months-long political crisis in Hong Kong has seen many violent confrontations between protesters and police, and it’s estimated some 10,000 canisters of teargas have been fired into crowds in almost every district of this densely populated city. Now recent sightings of dead birds and news that a frontline reporter has been diagnosed with chloracne, a skin disease linked to dioxin exposure, have sparked a health scare over the harmful effects of the noxious gas on the population’s health.
- The Hong Kong Mothers group said last week it had collected 1,188 complaints, including about skin allergies and coughing, involving children as young as two months. The group urged the government to reveal the chemical composition of the teargas police used, but officials said there is no evidence to suggest the teargas poses major public health and environmental risks. It has refused to release the chemical composition saying to do so would compromise “operational capability.” (Guardian)
- Carbon Monoxide Poisonings Spike After Big Storms. Portable Generators Are A Culprit (NPR)
Oh…You Shouldn’t Have…?
- In a statement earlier this week the North Korean foreign ministry said it would send a “Christmas gift” to America, but that “It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.” Some experts interpreted the ominous comments as a sign that the North could resume long-range missile tests as the time draws closer to Pyongyang’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
- In recent months talks between the two sides stalled and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un took the opportunity to conduct several shorter-range missile tests. Tuesday, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London, President Trump said his relationship with Kim was “really good,” then added: “I hope he lives up to the agreement, but we’re going to find out.” (CNN)
Additional World News
- Are drone swarms the future of aerial warfare? Technology of deploying drones in squadrons is in its infancy, but armed forces are investing millions in its development (Guardian)
- Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods Hungry for a Cut of China’s Meat Market: American Companies face competition from local startups that aim to leverage their knowledge of Chinese tastes (WSJ, $) & Fake Meat vs. Real Meat: Millennials are gobbling down plant-based burgers, prompting meat producers to question the health benefits of “ultra-processed imitations.” (NYT, $)
Most Wanted American
- Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, left his hometown of San Diego in 2005 at age 23 to join the extreme militant group Al Shabab in its brutal campaign against the Somali government. Authorities say he has been working to train Shabab soldiers, organize the group’s media appearances and participate in attacks against Somali and African Union forces.
- He is the highest-ranking US citizen on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, and the fact he continues to elude capture is increasingly alarming federal authorities. At a news conference Monday the US attorney in San Diego unsealed a new indictment against Mostafa, and reminded everyone of the $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest — two moves authorities hope will elicit more help from the public. (NYT)
- Florida Man Sought ISIS Attack on Deans at 2 Colleges, Prosecutors Say (NYT, $)
Plug-in Cars Unplug Jobs
- Replacing fossil-fuel powered vehicles with electric ones will go a long way toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the direction the auto industry must take.
- It will also mean the end of many traditional jobs in the industry. So far traditional automakers are making so few electric vehicles (EVs) there’s been little impact on jobs. But the problem for the workers is clear: The electric motors that will power those new vehicles have far fewer moving parts than traditional internal combustion engines and the transmissions that go with them.
- According to industry experts, building an electric car requires about 30 percent less labor than building a traditional gasoline powered car with its engine, fuel system, transmission and other complex parts. Autoworkers’ unions are well aware of the risk to jobs posed by EVs; they concede there is little point in trying to stop the growth in EVs, and they are trying to be proactive. (CNN)
Trickle Down Economic Misery
- Nearly 700,000 Americans to lose food stamps under new Trump policy (Guardian)
- Student Loan Borrowers With Disabilities Aren’t Getting Help They Were Promised (NPR)
- We’re broke, not poor: how I became downwardly mobile – We have educations, credit cards, were raised with privilege and access – but our lives are filled with financial uncertainty (Guardian) & Pluck versus luck: Meritocracy emphasises the power of the individual to overcome obstacles, but the real story is quite a different one (Aeon)
Additional USA News
- The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report (House Intelligence)
- Trump impeachment: Three law experts tell committee he should be removed (BBC)
- Trump Is Waging War on America’s Diplomats: And the impeachment inquiry is only making things worse. With new figures and fresh horror stories, Julia Ioffe reports on how the president is politicizing our embassies, alienating our allies, and decimating the ranks of the foreign service. (GQ)
- Stephen Miller: why is Trump’s white nationalist aide untouchable? (Guardian) & How two housekeepers took on the president — and revealed that his company employed undocumented immigrants (WaPo, $)
- Biden says he would consider Harris for vice presidential slot (Reuters)
- Electric eel powers Tennessee Aquarium’s Christmas lights (NBC)
Don’t Worry, Be Happy… But Not All The Time
- James Murrough is the director of the depression and anxiety center at Mount Sinai’s school of medicine in New York City, and he wants to set the record straight about good mental health — it’s not measured by a happiness quotient. It’s a popular myth that mental health and happiness exist on the same side of a binary.
- Depression in particular is portrayed as the opposite of happiness. But happiness is an emotional state, and its opposite is sadness. Depression, like other mood disorders — and anxiety, psychotic, personality, eating, and substance-use disorders — is a health condition; the opposite, aside from never developing anything to begin with, is symptom management.
- “I mean, happiness is not something you learn about in medical school,” Murrough says. “It’s not even in our vernacular. It’s nothing we consider.” A reference to antidepressants as “happy pills” for example, is a premise that makes no sense to clinicians. The ideal outcome of antidepressants isn’t happiness, but a return to the patient’s baseline level of functioning, or at least a reasonable approximation.
- Bottom line: Nobody expects you to be happy all the time — it’s perfectly healthy to feel your feelings. (Vox)
- Is Travel the Secret to a Long Life? Feeling old and shunned, legendary writer Paul Theroux leaves the US and journeys to a country that reveres the elderly. (BBC)
- 25 Again? How Exercise May Fight Aging (NYT, $)
- What we get wrong about time: Most of us tend to think of time as linear, absolute and constantly “running out” – but is that really true? And how can we change our perceptions to feel better about its passing? (BBC)
- ‘I would sell a kidney for the Baby Yoda toy’ (BBC)
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