Children Starving For Attention
February 13, 2020
“Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.”
“In order to “win a man to your cause,” Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart, “the great high road to his reason.”
― Doris Kearns Goodwin
War and Peace on The Eastern Front
The Ukrainian president tied to President Trump’s impeachment woes has done some personnel shuffling of his own, offering fresh evidence of just how deeply entangled Kyiv and Washington politics have become.
Last spring President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Andriy Bohdan as his chief of staff over Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s objections. Bohdan had been the former lawyer for the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, with whom Giuliani was at odds.
On Tuesday Zelensky replaced Bohdan with Andriy Yermak. New chief of staff Yermak was last summer’s main negotiator with Giuliani and the American diplomats who were trying to pressure Ukraine to help Trump in his reelection. At the time Yermak was Zelensky’s senior adviser on foreign policy. He advocated for maintaining good ties with the Trump administration, even going so far as to give some aid to Trump’s impeachment defense.
It’s not completely clear whether the cabinet shakeup had more to do with appeasing the Trump administration, or a domestic dispute between the government and the controversial oligarch. Kolomoisky is a billionaire with oil, television and real estate holdings. He financed a major anti-Russian militia in the war in eastern Ukraine, which was crucial to holding parts of the front line before the regular army could take over. Kolomoisky’s efforts to help save the country insulated his business activity from aggressive government oversight.
But in December 2017 the government spent $5.6 billion to bailout then nationalize a large bank Kolomoisky owned, involving him in subsequent criminal inquiries. Recently the oligarch has crossed swords with government officials over a deal that would help the government, but hurt his own business interests.
Children Starving For Attention
- Venezuela is now in its seventh year of a crushing depression, with remarkable food shortages, resulting from industrial-scale corruption, incompetence and mismanagement. And despite President Nicolás Maduro’s beaming declaration of how well his subjects eat — “Venezuela is not a country of famine” — those on the frontline of the crisis tell a different story.
- In Bolívar, Venezuela’s largest state, doctors and social workers said they were seeing a sharp rise in severely malnourished children. “There has been an incredible spike in malnutrition cases in the last one and a half or two years,” said one ER doctor who asked not to be named because of the politically sensitive nature of the emergency. “We have so many children suffering severe protein-calorie malnutrition.”
- Infant mortality had been cut in half in the first decade of the 21st century under Hugo Chavez. Maduro took over after Chavez died in 2013. It is on his watch that the oil-rich South American country is undergoing a merciless health emergency, illustrated by a rising death toll among the youngest and most helpless. (Guardian)
Two Wrongs Cause A Huge Scene
- Emmanuel Macron came to the defense of a French teenager, known only as Mila, who received death threats and was forced out of her school after filming an anti-Islam diatribe on social media. The 16-year-old became a cause célèbre in January after she made a live broadcast on her Instagram account in which she spoke about her homosexuality. A Muslim commentator responded she was a “dirty lesbian” and a “dirty whore,” after which Mila posted a video excoriating Islam.
- Mila’s outburst sparked death threats, with social media users posting her personal information and where she attended school online. That sparked a furious public debate in the strictly secular republic with a large Muslim population. The public prosecutor opened two separate investigations: one for “death threats, threats to commit a crime and harassment” against her attackers, and a separate one into whether Mila had “provoked religious hatred,” which is also punishable by law.
- Tensions were so high Macron weighed in, insisting that blasphemy is “no crime”. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Sugary Drink Consumption Plunges in Chile After New Food Law (NYT, $)
- As Egypt’s Population Hits 100 Million, Celebration Is Muted (NYT, $)
- Revealed: big oil’s profits since 1990 total nearly $2tn (Guardian) & Fossil fuel pollution behind 4m premature deaths a year – study (Guardian)
- U.S. Troops Trade Gunfire With Pro-Regime Forces in Syria (WSJ, $) & U.S. and Taliban Move Toward Deal to End War (WSJ, $)
- Kenya’s Longest-Serving Ruler Divides in Death, as in Life (NYT, $)
- Pope Francis decides against allowing married men to become priests (Guardian)
- Giant dams enclosing North Sea could protect millions from rising waters (Guardian)
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Trump Knows Why The Caged Bird Tweets
- If Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee voted to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial because they thought he’d ‘learned his lesson’ they were sorely mistaken.
- The president is now openly flaunting his success in manipulating law enforcement for nakedly political and corrupt ends. The Justice Department is in turmoil over the decision by higher-ups to downscale a sentencing recommendation for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering in connection with investigations into Russian subversion of our election.
- In their original recommendation of a stiff sentence for Stone, prosecutors explicitly noted he’d obstructed an investigation designed to provide a full accounting of that attack on our political system. But in a decision made by the attorney general’s office after presidential tweets supporting Stone, the Justice Department has now offered a supplemental sentencing memo that declares the earlier recommendation as “excessive and unwarranted.”
- Trump tweeted his congratulations to AG Bill Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
- The top law enforcement authority in the country is now operating like the president’s personal law firm. Trump’s political manipulation of justice in America is in full view for anyone to see. (CNN, WaPo, Business Insider)
- Opinion | Trump is right. We might have to impeach him again. (WaPo, $)
- Opinion | What a Trump Rally Looks Like From the Inside (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- The Case for New States (Atlantic, $)
- As Congress Debates Fixes To Surprise Billing, Doctors Push To Protect Their Pay : Shots (NPR)
- White supremacist propaganda in US more than doubled in 2019, report finds (Guardian)
- Sarah Lawrence Parent Accused of Sex Trafficking and Abusing Students (NYT, $)
- Trump ‘turns back the clock’ by luring drilling companies to pristine lands (Guardian)
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
- New reports have shown that the mortality rate of the grizzly bear has begun rising – a drastic shift in recent population trends which initially saw the population grow nearly threefold since 1975, when the species was listed as a threatened species. If the increase in deaths continues, it could affect the bear’s long-term future and damage ecosystem connections.
- Trains, cars and poaching have all contributed to a soaring number of fatalities, but the major factor in grizzly bear endangerment is still human expansion into their natural territories. Wildlife crossing structures have helped greatly reduce animal deaths on highways around the world, but attempts at stopping human expansion has been largely unfruitful. More issues have arisen with the expansion of roads for vehicles, which both encroach upon grizzly territory and lead to potentially fatal collisions.
- New devices have been in development to send warning signals to bears when fast-moving vehicles are approaching, which have “shown promise,” according to researchers at the University of Alberta. If more efforts are not made to preserve the habitats and natural lifestyle of grizzly bears soon, they may soon be gone. (NYT, $)
- Diabetic Alert Dogs Can’t Reliably Detect Blood Sugar Changes From Diabetes (NPR) & ‘Trust your dog’: extraordinary pets help solve crimes by finding bodies (Guardian)
- Why poor people make poor decisions (The Correspondent)
- Why so many of the world’s oldest companies are in Japan (BBC)
- Is your phone or Fitbit the future of medical diagnosis? (Vox)
- Growing Risk to America’s Seniors: Themselves (WSJ, $)
- What is the Future of Males
- Got A Cold? A Body Of Research Shows Zinc Supplements Can Help : Shots – Health News (NPR)
- Michael Pollan On Caffeine Addiction’s Upside — And Ugly History (NPR)
“Mental health, contemporary psychiatrists tell us, consists of the ability to adapt to the inevitable stresses and misfortunes of life. It does not mean freedom from anxiety and depression, but only the ability to cope with these afflictions in a healthy way.” – Doris Kearns Goodwin
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