[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]n a continuation of the theater of the absurd, all 100 U.S. senators were driven to the White House to listen to a top-secret intelligence briefing on North Korea. North Korea now has missiles capable of reaching Hawaii and will soon be able to extend its reach to California.
As they also have nuclear weapons, putting two and two together should not be difficult, but we are told it will take time to reduce their size to fit missiles. Yet India and Pakistan did it years ago — the latter also has the even smaller tactical battlefield warheads. It is inconceivable the North Koreans did not work on such practicalities simultaneously. The crucial element has always been producing the fissionable material.
As always the illogical logic of propaganda aimed at the American people prevails: first the scare of a ‘mad’ Kim Jong-un coming at them with missiles and then the ‘but’ of a window of opportunity for military action before doom. It is all a reminder of ‘the smoking gun being a mushroom cloud’ before the catastrophe of the Iraq war.
So is it all bluff directed at North Koreans for the South Koreans will never accept the military option? They have also been embroiled in a leadership crisis following a political scandal, culminating in first the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and then her removal from office on March 10, 2017. A fresh election is scheduled for May 9.
To the extent our mainstream press has become an unquestioning cheerleader for conflict, one cannot expect any restraining influence. Its shocking behavior in the recent Syrian sarin gas attack is illustrative. The narrative of Assad the enemy holds that any abominable incident is automatically ascribed to him — no questions asked. Within hours of the attack everyone was blaming Assad. Cui bono? Who stands to gain was never an issue; neither was waiting for any kind of investigation. No one questioned why … why would he do this when he is not short of conventional bombs?
Critical thinking from the American public is almost impossible when half do not know where Syria is. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for President in the last election, had an embarrassing moment last September when asked about Aleppo. His response: “And what is Aleppo?” That was indeed revelatory for Gary Johnson is a noted politician, and was the governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003. Like the president he too is a businessman and author. It all shows that when you live in the most powerful country on earth little countries are off the radar, forgotten in the midst of domestic (often) pocketbook issues.
It is purportedly the job of the news media to educate the public, a job at which they have clearly failed.
Meanwhile, North Korea staged one of the largest live fire artillery drills to mark its military founding day, as a U.S. missile submarine docked in the South. The point clearly to drill home Seoul’s vulnerability.
Pressure is being put on China to bring the North to heel by, say, using an oil embargo as a tool. Yet China, which is urging restraint by all sides, is unhappy with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being installed in South Korea. It’s Defense Ministry also announced live fire drills and new weapons tests in response, and complained the system ‘damages the regional strategic balance and stability.’ Angering China to secure help against North Korea defies logic.
Stirring the pot further is Moon Jae-in, the South Korean opposition leader now ahead in the polls for the May 9th election. He has vowed to review the U.S. agreement with South Korea allowing the THAAD installation. In the meantime, villagers around the site continue their protests.
So, is the U.S. about to go to full-scale war with North Korea? Not in a month of Sundays! But such is the crazy quilt of posturing.
A Deceitful Trump Has Difficulty Filling Administration Jobs
A politician on center stage calls Mexican immigrants rapists and killers for those people send their bad guys here; says Syrian refugees are snakes and they and other Muslims could harbor ISIS among them; says African countries are sh*tholes and Haitian immigrants carry aids … . Then without a hint of irony or embarrassment — except a permanently red face — he proclaims, “I am the least racist person anybody is going to meet.” What would a rational individual call him?
The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Bella De Paulo on Donald Trump’s lies and lying, drawing on her research work and the Post’s Fact Checker. It turns out he is an inveterate liar and, worse, a cruel one for his lies are often malicious. The op-ed was also taken up by the right-leaning Chicago Tribune, the leading such organ in Chicago.
Bella De Paulo is a social scientist who earlier on in her career as a professor at the University of Virginia studied lies and liars jointly with some colleagues there. Since October 2017, President Trump, she notes, “told a remarkable nine lies a day outpacing even the biggest liars in our research.” It gets worse.
Most of the lies (about half) in their study of college students and general community members in the area were self-serving intended to advantage the liars. Less often they told kind lies, like the woman telling her mother she did not mind taking her shopping. These constituted about a quarter.
One category was so small as to warrant just a footnote in their study. This was the cruel lie intended to hurt or disparage someone. Only 0.8 percent of student participants’ lies and 2.4 percent of community members’ lies fell in this category.
President Trump is different, shockingly different. To use his favorite adjective, an amazing 50 percent of his lies were in the cruel category, the content hurtful or disparaging. His kind lies were few, outnumbered 6.6 times by self-serving ones. It is not surprising then that 58 percent of voters questioned in a Quinnipiac University poll last November thought he was not honest. As most people tend to believe others, there has to be a good reason to label someone dishonest. The old adage, one can’t fool all of the people all of the time appears to be working — the people have caught on.
The departures from the Trump administration took in the most prestigious cabinet post. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired; Mr. Trump apparently furious at his enthusiastic support for the British in their reaction to the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The pair remain in critical condition. The nerve agent used, Novichok, was developed in Russia. Mr. Skripal acted as a double agent for the UK in the 1990s and early 2000s betraying many agents. Would that assemble enemies?
President Trump, therefore, had a point. However, within a few days he had flip-flopped. He is now projecting a united front with the British, the Germans and the French on the issue. Clearly, there were also other reasons for his unhappiness with Mr. Tillerson, including the latter’s reported pithy description of him as ‘a f***ing moron’. Disagreements on political appointees was another issue. Moreover, Tillerson’s radical reorganization efforts were not popular with career officials in his department.
Trump’s chief economic adviser resigned last week. His successor Larry Kudlow is a long-time media personality. He is not what one would call a professional economist. In fact, he does not even have an economics degree. He is a journalist. He is also an ardent supply-sider and trickle-downer though — no doubt to Trump’s liking — and he played a role alongside the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore on Trump’s tax plan during his campaign.
So the arrivals and departures at Trump Junction continue, a busier place than almost any previous administration and with numerous government vacancies. But then, are there many who want to risk a job with the mercurial Trump when it is also difficult to believe much of what he says?
What Results When U.S. Invades a Country
The U.S. Government certainly leads the world in invasions and coups. In recent years, it has invaded and occupied — either by military assault or by coup, but in either case followed by installing (or trying to install) a new regime there — a number of countries, especially Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.
U.S. propaganda says that its invasions and military occupations (and it denies its coups) are to benefit the people in the invaded and militarily occupied countries, or to bring them ‘democracy’, and are not done merely to benefit the people who control the U.S. Government (which itself is not a democracy, and even the neoconservative — pro-invasion or “imperialistic” — American magazine The Atlantic has finally acknowledged this fact, even though it contradicts their continuing neoconservatism).
Polling and other evidences within the invaded/occupied countries shows the opposite of the U.S. claim: America’s invasions/occupations (after World War II, and especially after 2000) destroy those countries, not help them.
The most authoritative such study that has yet been done on this matter was recently released, and its findings regarding this matter will here be presented, and then supplemented with other relevant data so as to provide a fuller picture.
The U.N./Gallup surveys of the happiness/misery of the residents in 155 countries, as reported in 2017, were physically in-person interviews in almost all countries, but there was at least one exception, as they explained: “In Libya, telephone survey methodology has been used since 2015 owing to the country’s high rate of mobile phone coverage and ongoing instability which has made it too dangerous to use face-to-face interviewers.” That’s a highly euphemistic way of saying, actually: Libya was too dangerous, and perhaps too miserable, for opinions to be sampled by the ordinary methodology, the scientifically sound methodology, which is in-person interviews. It’s a way of saying this without even mentioning the invasion and war there — as if those things don’t even count. Therefore, the finding that Gallup reported about Libya is presumably being included in Gallup’s otherwise excellent report purely for Western propaganda purposes — they know that it’s not an actual scientific finding about Libya, not a finding that can reasonably be compared to the survey-findings in the other countries. As a result, Libya, which might have been the most miserable of all countries after the U.S.-UK-France-Canada invasion, scored in the top half of all countries, #68, 5.525. But, all of the other countries that the U.S. has recently invaded (the nations that are boldfaced below) scored at or below #132, 4.096 — Ukraine’s score — as is shown here below from that U.N. report:
Following are the happiness-scores of the bottom 24 out of the 155 happiness/misery-rated countries. (Iraq, which the U.S. had destroyed in 2003, perhaps is now recovering, and it scored as #117, with a score of 4.497; but, here only the bottom 24, the most-miserable of all of the 155 countries, are shown.) Here they are:
- 132 Ukraine 4.096
- 133 Uganda 4.081
- 134 Burkina Faso 4.032
- 135 Niger 4.028
- 136 Malawi 3.970
- 137 Chad 3.936
- 138 Zimbabwe 3.875
- 139 Lesotho 3.808
- 140 Angola 3.795
- 141 Afghanistan 3.794
- 142 Botswana 3.766
- 143 Benin 3.657
- 144 Madagascar 3.644
- 145 Haiti 3.603
- 146 Yemen 3.593
- 147 South Sudan 3.591
- 148 Liberia 3.533
- 149 Guinea 3.507
- 150 Togo 3.495
- 151 Rwanda 3.471
- 152 Syria 3.462
- 153 Tanzania 3.349
- 154 Burundi 2.905
- 155 Central African Republic 2.693
Ukraine is (other than #117 Iraq) the least-miserable of the recently invaded countries, and perhaps the reason for this is that Ukraine was taken over by means of a coup, instead of by means of an outright and direct military invasion.
(You can see this coup happening, here. The way that U.S. President Barack Obama set it up is documented here. You can hear there his agent instructing the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine whom to place in charge of Ukraine’s Government once the coup will have been culminated (which happened 22 days later, and that person did get the leadership-position). It’s the full conversation. And here, you will see the phone-conversation in which top EU officials were shocked to find that it had been a coup instead of what Obama pretended, a ‘revolution’.) (These evidences are some of the reasons why the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor called it “the most blatant coup in history.”)
The U.N. happiness surveys have been taken in Ukraine not only after the coup, which occurred in February 2014, but before it, in 2013. At happiness index you can see the happiness/misery scores shown by Ukrainians during the years 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 (there was no survey in Ukraine during 2014, perhaps because of the rampant violence at that time.) In 2013, Ukraine’s happiness score was 5.057, but that steadily declined down to the 2017 score of 4.096, which placed Ukraine within the bottom 24 countries, all of which either were extremely poor, or at war, or both. You can also see there Ukraine’s resulting “World Happiness Index” rank for each one of those four years, 2013, before the coup, and then 2015-2017, after the coup. As you see there, Ukraine, which was #132 in 2017, had been #87 in 2013 before the coup. So: within just three years after the coup, it declined 45 places in the global rankings.
Some people might retort against this by saying that “happiness” is meaningless or unimportant and only physical welfare is ‘objective’,” but even on the most crudely physical measures, Ukraine has been enormously harmed by the U.S. coup. In 2013, Ukraine’s average annual household income was $2,601.40, and then it fell off a cliff and became $1,109.63 by 2015 and has stabilized at around that level since. Also, in 2013, Ukraine’s GDP was $183.31 billion, and by 2015 that had become $91.03 billion and stabilized at that level. Furthermore, some figures aren’t any longer even reported by the post-coup Ukrainian regime. For example, whereas the number of unemployed was shown in Ukrainian statistics in 2013, it disappeared in 2016 and subsequently. More information about the decline in Ukraine’s economic rankings can be seen here. The U.S. regime has been toxic to the Ukrainian people, no matter how one looks at it. But happiness/misery is the real bottom-line.
Two researchers, Tom Coupe and Maxym Obrizan, published together two separate studies, both in leading economics journals, one article titled “The impact of war on happiness: The case of Ukraine”, and the other titled “Violence and political outcomes in Ukraine — Evidence from Sloviansk and Kramatorsk”. They reported, in “The Impact of war on happiness”:
The average level of happiness declined substantially in zones that experience war directly. …
This decline is comparable to the loss of happiness a relatively well-off person would experience if he/she were to become a poor person. …
Regions that are not directly affected by the war are basically as happy as they were before the war.
In other words: all of the increase in misery occurred only in the regions that have been “directly affected by the war.” The Ukrainians who reside outside those regions are “as happy as they were before the war.” They’re not happier than before the war; they haven’t been helped by the war; but, the misery — so intense for them that it has already lowered the happiness-ranking of the entire nation, from 87 down to 132 — just hasn’t bothered them, at all.
In “Violence and political outcomes in Ukraine” they reported:
We also find that property damage is associated with greater support for pro-Western parties, lower support for keeping Donbas in Ukraine and lower support for compromise as a way to stop the conflict.
In other words: Ukrainians who live close to the Ukraine-Donbass border; that is, who live inside Ukraine but close to Donbass and so are in the Ukrainian portion of the conflict-zone (not in Donbass, where the vast majority of the “property damage” is actually occurring), have “greater support for pro-Western parties” (i.e., for the Obama-installed regime), but “lower support for keeping Donbas in Ukraine.” Although they endorse the overthrow that had been done of the pre-coup government (because they receive ‘news’media only from the post-coup regime, in the Ukrainian language), they want to get on with their lives without the war that’s since been causing them “property damage.” (U.S. propaganda notes that “the separatist-controlled parts of Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts ([the two Donbass] provinces) only have access to Russian TV channels” but avoids noting that the Ukrainian regime’s blocking of Russian-language media on the other side of that border — inside Ukraine — exists and is even more severe.) Apparently, Ukrainians near the border just want the war to end — no “compromise” — no negotiations, no Minsk process; they want their Government to simply quit trying to conquer Donbass, no negotiations about it, at all. And they’re ignored.
Right now in Ukraine, the central political controversy is between the U.S.-puppet President of Ukraine, who promises to conquer both of the two breakaway provinces, Donbass and also Crimea — but who hasn’t yet been able to do it — versus Ukraine’s political parties, in western and northern Ukraine, that derived from the organizations which had supported Hitler against Stalin in World War II and who still crave to kill Russian-speakers. Those passionately racist-fascist, anti-Russian, ideologically nazi, political organizations, are determined to actually carry out those additional invasions, no matter what the cost. However, according to this finding by Coupe and Obrizon, the Ukrainians who are suffering the “property damage” and whose personal scores on happiness have thus become so abysmally low as to have dragged the whole Ukrainian nation down to a 132nd ranking, are opposed to that nazi position, and they just want the war to end. And they’re ignored.
Where, then, is the support for the war to be found (except amongst the U.S. Congress and President and the U.S. arms-makers whose products have been selling so well to Ukraine’s government and which are now being used against the residents of Donbass)? That support is to be found as far away from the conflict-zone as possible: in Lviv and the rest of far-western and northern Ukraine, the areas that were cheering Hitler’s forces in WW II, and where the ‘news’ media today are owned by U.S.-supported oligarchs and their NGOs.
Ukraine was a severely divided nation even before the coup. In the last Ukrainian election in which the residents within the Ukraine that then included both Donbass and Crimea voted, which was the election in 2010, the candidate who won Ukraine’s Presidency and whom Obama ousted, had won 90% of the vote in Donbass, and 75% of the vote in Crimea. However, in far-western Ukraine, his opponent — whom Obama had been hoping that Ukrainians would elect as Ukraine’s President in 2014 after the coup — won 90% of the vote. That’s the candidate whose party (though not herself) now dominates (in conjunction with the two outright nazi parties) the Ukrainian Government. The man whom the residents in the rump Ukraine chose, was the more moderate candidate, and he is increasingly being challenged by the nazis. (Ukraine is the world’s only nation that has two nazi political parties. Both of them have been clients of the U.S. Government ever since the end of World War II, but only with Obama did they win control of the country — that is, of its non-breakaway regions.) For example, on 18 January 2018, the AP headlined “Ukraine passes bill to get occupied regions back from Russia” and reported that, “Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday passed a bill that aims to reintegrate the eastern territories currently controlled by Russia-backed separatists, and goes as far as to declare support for taking them back by military force if necessary.” Though that position is a minority position amongst the Ukrainian public, it authentically represents the position that Obama wanted. In fact, he even overrode his own Secretary of State, John Kerry, to push for it. That’s the position of Ukraine’s two nazi parties, which are trying to replace the existing President. (Trump hasn’t yet made clear whether he backs them, but he is expected to.)
So: that’s Ukraine — the happiest of the nations that the U.S. has recently invaded.
UPDATE: On March 15th, the “World Happiness Report 2018” was issued, and here are the bottom-scoring countries:
- Ukraine (4.103)
- Togo (3.999)
- Guinea (3.964)
- Lesotho (3.808)
- Angola (3.795)
- Madagascar (3.774)
- Zimbabwe (3.692)
- Afghanistan (3.632)
- Botswana (3.590)
- Malawi (3.587)
- Haiti (3.582)
- Liberia (3.495)
- Syria (3.462)
- Rwanda (3.408)
- Yemen (3.355)
- Tanzania (3.303)
- South Sudan (3.254)
- Central African Republic (3.083)
- Burundi (2.905)
first published at The Saker
Leading the Way to Latin America’s Future
Leaders need to do two things, and do them very well: create a vision and mobilize people around it, said Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, in the closing session of the 2018 World Economic Forum on Latin America.
“A leader is someone who takes you farther than you thought you could go,” noted Luiza Helena Trajano, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Magazine Luiza, Brazil. In a business you lead people by connecting to their minds by letting them participate; their hearts by recognizing their worth; and their pocketbook by letting them participate in the profits, she added.
Several panellists cited different polls about “most-respected professions” that show leaders in labour, business and politics as “cellar dwellers”. This may help explain the anti-establishment mood that has created space for populists with simplistic ideas. Trust in institutions, politicians and democracy is on a downslide.
Alejandro Ramírez, Chief Executive Officer, Cinepolis, Mexico, cited a poll showing that a large majority of Latin Americans believe that life is worse now than it was 50 years ago despite improvements in objective indicators such as GDP per capita, infant mortality and life expectancy. He ascribes this “cognitive dissonance” to “the lack of the rule of law”. Of the world’s 50 most violent cities, 42 are in the region. The problem can be traced in large part to a “failed drug policy,” he said. “It is not working.” In addition, business and political leaders have focused excessively on reforms designed to encourage economic growth and not enough on inclusiveness and equality.
Woods outlined three elements of a good leader. First, listen. If a populist candidate says he is going to give everyone a gun, it might seem absurd. But it demonstrates that the candidate understands their concerns about security. This is the opposite of how most politicians operate with their spin doctors.
The second element on Woods’ list is communications. Populist messages may seem simplistic. “But simple doesn’t need to be simplistic,” she said. “Learn to take the time to communicate clearly.” Clear messages help citizens hold officials accountable.
Leaders also need to transmit a “transformational message,” Woods concluded. Talk about “balancing the budget is not transformative”. What vision will speak to the people?
Comparing the politician-citizen link to customer relationships in business, Candido Botelho Bracher, Chief Executive Officer, Itaú Unibanco, Brazil, suggested that political leaders pay more attention to the problems of their constituents. “Good leaders are able to listen and understand the pain points that people have when they are looking for services in education, health or transportation,” he said.
Accountability of leaders extends not only to what they do, but also to what they fail to do, noted Paul Bulcke, Chairman of the Board, Nestlé, Switzerland. “Leadership is not about your tenure but what you leave for the next people,” he added.
“There is no room for electoral con artists anymore,” said Maria Cristina Frias, Member of the Board and Columnist, Folha de São Paulo, Brazil. “Candidates need to listen.”
Outcomes of the meeting included:
The World Economic Forum and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) strengthened efforts to accelerate gender parity in Latin America. A Gender Parity Task Force is set to launch in Peru to increase gender parity in the labour market, following earlier announcements by Argentina, Chile and Panama. This is the fourth such task force in Latin America, resulting from collaboration with the IDB to narrow gender gaps in labour force participation, leadership, remuneration and investment.
With the changing nature of work, the meeting focused on solutions for human capital development, particularly for youth. Closing the Skills Gap 2020 was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018 in January was expanded to Latin America. The Adecco Group, Barclays, EY, SAP, Mercer and Nestlé announced founding commitments. The project calls on businesses to lead training, reskilling and upskilling initiatives for 10 million people by 2020.
The Forum and the Government of Colombia have in the last year run a public-private partnership to transform and modernize the country’s electricity system so that it benefits from cutting-edge technology and regulation. The successes are highlighted in a white paper launched at the meeting in São Paulo, entitled Frameworks for the Future of Electricity. Sessions explored how to create similar partnerships in other Latin American countries. This forms part of the Forum’s System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Energy.
The Fostering Effective Energy Transition global framework and index were launched at the meeting. They were developed within the Forum’s System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Energy to benchmark the performance and readiness of 114 countries to support an effective energy transition.
The Brazilian Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation announced a new partnership aimed at increasing Brazil’s competitiveness in international trade and boosting economic development. The partnership will see the Alliance, the Brazilian government and the local and international private sector work together to develop and implement targeted trade facilitation reforms.
The Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture initiative brought ministers of agriculture and senior leaders of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Paraguay together with global and regional CEOs, technology innovators, civil society and regional organizations to define new strategies to accelerate large-scale impact. Country and regional partners committed to action on raising productivity, improving environmental sustainability and land-use, boosting efficient value-chains and shaping consumer demand as part of a systems agenda to realize Latin America’s role as the breadbasket of the world.
The World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) brought 50 Latin American start-ups together in São Paulo to pave the way for the necessary reforms to enable regional entrepreneurs to thrive. The selected start-ups shared the stage with ministers and CEOs for a frank and honest discussion about the challenges start-ups face in Latin America.
leverages emerging technologies from 96 global innovators and partnerships with multistakeholders, including Citi, the IDB, Transparency International and others, to accelerate the impact of anti-corruption efforts for public, private and civil society leaders.
An outcome of a session hosted by PACI was the agreement with the Chair of B20 Argentina to co-curate a joint meeting between G20/B20/C20 stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of leading practices and policies in addressing corruption in the private sector. The meeting will be hosted after the Summit of the Americas in Buenos Aires in late April 2018.
Siemens signed a memorandum of understanding with APEX aiming to support potential economic growth in Brazil. Siemens plans to triple its investments in Brazil over the next five years to $1 billion. They expect this commitment to catalyse a new cycle of sustainable growth, with an impact equivalent to 3.1% of GDP and the creation of up to 1.2 million jobs.
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