The New Health Craze Sweeping The Nation
January 8, 2020
- Ukrainian passenger plane crashes in Iran (BBC)
- Iraq attack: Iran launches missiles at two US airbases in wake of Suleimani killing (Guardian)
- Amid confusion and contradictions, Trump White House stumbles in initial public response to Soleimani’s killing (WaPo, $)
- Trump administration insists U.S. troops will remain in Iraq (WaPo, $)
- War Powers Resolution Expected To Come Up In House (NPR)
The High Price of Peace
The US and South Korea have been allies since the Korean War in the 1950s. In the decades since America has maintained a military presence on the peninsula, with Seoul making payments to Washington pursuant to bilateral security agreements.
A respectable case can be made for America enjoying nonfinancial, intangible benefits from stationing troops in South Korea. Regardless, President Trump has made clear he thinks the country should be paying much more for the security provided by some 28,500 American troops stationed there.
Traditionally South Korea’s contributions have helped fund staffing, utility bills and construction projects. In recent years the two countries have roughly split expenses; in 2019 Seoul paid $930 million. But last September the Trump administration began 2020’s cost-sharing negotiations by demanding $5 billion. The over-the-top demand has made the president’s own negotiators’ job pretty challenging, because Washington must submit spending plans and expense reports to South Korea as part of an arrangement set up a decade ago to improve transparency.
In the latest talks US negotiators tried presenting untraditional line items in an effort to persuade the South to meet Trump’s demands; examples include shouldering more of the cost when America moves military hardware and troops in for joint exercises, or contributing more to American technology like the military satellites used to monitor North Korean missile tests.
Realistically, attempts to justify such an inordinate increase tend to fall flat when considering that unused allocations from each year roll over, and the US currently has unspent South Korean payments totaling $1.1 billion. So after five rounds of talks, negotiations remain stalled, even though the latest agreement expired on December 31.
The Burly Wall
- US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido was reelected Sunday to a second one-year term as head of Venezuela’s opposition-held congress. He pledged to preside over Tuesday’s opening session, but was blocked by security forces from entering the legislative palace over the weekend.
- The ruling socialist party installed its own rival congressional chief instead, Luis Parra, who was sworn in by allies of President Nicolas Maduro.
- Early Tuesday local television images showed Guaido arguing for half an hour with troops wielding riot shields who again blocked the entrance to the legislative building, but eventually allowed Guaido to push past them. However Parra had already opened and closed a brief legislative session before Guaido could gain entry.
- The gambit gave Maduro sway over the last major state institution that had remained outside his control. It was a setback for the Trump administration’s year-long effort to oust Maduro through economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure. (Reuters)
The Ghosts Of A Drug War’s Past, Present, And Future
- Mexican government officials announced Monday that since 1964 more than 61,000 people have disappeared in connection with the country’s drug war. The vast majority of the missing have vanished since 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderon began cracking down on drug cartels.
- The new official tally of 61,637 deliberate disappearances shows a sharp increase from 2018’s estimate of 40,000.
- In 2019 alone, the first year of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s leftist government, more than 9,000 people were forcibly disappeared. Hundreds of field searches across Mexico led to the discovery of 800 clandestine graves and the unearthing of 1,124 bodies.
- This announcement differed from those of past administrations that often played down drug violence and offered scant details about the extent of the crisis. (NYT)
The Top Ten Worst Ten
- The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has released its annual watch list of countries facing the worst humanitarian disasters in 2020. Topping the list for the second year is Yemen, where continued fighting, economic collapse and weak governance means more than 24 million Yemenis — 80 percent of the population — will need humanitarian assistance this year.
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Nigeria and Venezuela round out the top five nations most vulnerable to humanitarian risk in 2020, with war, droughts and flooding, disease and restrictions to humanitarian access all having major impacts on civilian populations. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Facebook is worse than sugar, it is mental crack: Facebook [& Instagram] is like sugar — too much is bad for you, says a top Facebook exec (Vox) & “Facebook’s former head of advertising doesn’t think the company should change its controversial ad policy—even if it will enable Trump.” (Vanity Fair) Facebook is also a way to crack open democracy and break it.
- Libya chaos intensifies with drone massacre and rebel advances (Guardian)
- Puerto Rico: Deadly 6.4 Magnitude Quake Rocks Residents Awake (NPR)
- French strikes: talks begin in move to end month-long stoppages (Guardian)
- The Future of America’s Contest with China (New Yorker, $)
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Dying The American Dream
- Millions of Americans have delayed getting medical help due to skyrocketing costs. 25% of Americans say they or a family member have delayed medical treatment for a serious illness due to the costs of care.
- The United States currently spends more than any other developed nation on healthcare, but covers fewer people and achieves worse overall health outcomes according to polls and studies conducted in the past few years.
- High healthcare costs are causing Americans to get sicker from delaying, avoiding, or stopping medical treatment.
- The majority of Americans who are unable to seek medical help due to financial troubles are unemployed or uninsured individuals. In 2018, 27.8 million Americans went without any health insurance for the entire year.
- How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby in the US? (Atlantic, $)
Additional USA News
- The Oakland women who took over a vacant lot to house the homeless (Guardian)
- Water Dispute Between Georgia And Florida Heads To Supreme Court (NPR)
- Donald Trump Jr posts crusader symbol image amid Middle East turmoil (NPR)
- Shutdown of US coal power facilities saved over 26,000 lives, study finds (Guardian)
- US dairy industry suffering as Americans consume less milk (Guardian)
- Who Is Jared Kushner? (New Yorker, $)
- He Fled Iran as a Child. Now He’s Commanding a U.S. Aircraft Carrier. (NYT, $)
- Iranian Americans claim delays and questioning at US-Canada border (Guardian)
- Defying gravity? What could bring U.S. stocks down to earth (Guardian)
The New Health Craze Sweeping The Nation: Complaining
- The next time someone asks you how you’re doing, you might want to tell them how you REALLY feel. Psychology professor Robin Kowalski says complaining truthfully can be good for you, as long as it’s done in the right way, and not all the time.
- Constantly complaining can be an easy way to frustrate confidantes, but there is research that shows it can also be a useful tool in bonding and helping us process emotions like stress and frustration. “In short: Yes, it’s good to complain, yes, it’s bad to complain, and yes, there is a right way to do it,” Kowalski said.
- The trick to doing it right starts with understanding how the word “complaining” is often misused to describe a variety of behaviors, some being more harmful or helpful than others.
- There are roughly three categories of complaining behaviors: venting, problem solving and ruminating, aka dwelling. Knowing which behavior you’re engaging in, and with what purpose, can help you put habits in place that can make your complaining much more strategic, improve your emotional health, and build stronger relationships with the people around you. (NYT)
- I didn’t want to fly – so I took a cargo ship from Germany to Canada (Guardian)
- A Borrower Will Be 114 When Bonds Backed by Her Student Loans Mature (WSJ, $)
- How to calculate your dog’s real age (BBC)
- SpaceX’s satellites are messing up astronomers’ observations. It’s just the beginning (Vox)
- How to stop killing your houseplants (Vox)
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