Category Archives: World Events

How America Lost Its Identity

Holger Stark | January 26 2017 | Spiegel

Megalomania & Small-Mindedness

Reporter Holger Stark spent the past four years as DER SPIEGEL’s Washington correspondent during a time in which the country changed radically enough to elect Donald Trump as its president. What led this once mighty nation into decline?

Donald Trump at a rally in North Carolina in October

On a frigid January evening one year ago, I was standing in a line of around 1,000 people in Burlington, Vermont, to see Donald Trump. I reported my very first story on the United States in 1991 and had been living in the country since 2013. I thought I knew the country well. But on that evening in January, I realized that I had been mistaken.

Burlington lay under a blanket of snow and next to me in line stood Mary and Tim Loyer, both wrapped in dark-blue parkas. Mary was unemployed and her son Tim had a job at a bar. Both told me they were Bernie Sanders supporters. Tim said he was particularly bothered by the power held by large companies, that the division of wealth was unfair and that people like him no longer had opportunities to improve their lives. It was the anthem of the working class.

When asked what he found attractive about Trump, Tim said: “Bernie and Trump are the only politicians who say what they’re thinking and do what they say,” as his mother Mary nodded along. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is corrupt, he said. In an election pitting Trump against Clinton, Tim said he would not vote for Clinton. Again, Mary nodded.

At the entrance, security personnel patted us down and asked if we were planning on voting for Trump. Only those who said yes were allowed to proceed.

When Trump began speaking, a demonstrator stood up and yelled that Trump was a racist. The candidate paused, shook his fist and demanded that security throw the protester out. “Keep his coat. Confiscate his coat,” Trump said from the stage. It was 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius) outside. Trump snarled as his fans jumped to their feet hooting and jeering. One was reminded of a lynch mob.

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Thanks Amazon, but we don’t need your solidarité

by Jessica Reed, published November 17, 2015 

Companies aren’t people. Maybe that’s why their ‘grief’ at the Paris attacks leaves a bitter taste in my mouth

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‘The pain is shared by all of us, but a golden rule should apply: don’t capitalise on grief, and don’t profit from it.’ Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

It all happened so fast.

The attacks, the sporadic first news reports, the frantic calls to my family in Paris. My stomach in knots, the stream of tweets, the footage of the guy playing Imagine. The bad slogans, the good slogans, the cringe-inducing Facebook posts. The conversation with a friend, whose ex-partner spent hours on the Bataclan floor in a sea of blood before the police arrived.

And then, the condolences for my country.

The condolences expressed by my colleagues.

The condolences expressed by my barista.

The condolences expressed by my doctor.

The condolences expressed by … Amazon.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 10.20.41 AM

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Enjoying the Low Life?

by NIcholas Kristof, published April 9, 2015

he United States is the most powerful colossus in the history of the world: Our nuclear warheads could wipe out the globe, our enemies tweet on iPhones, and kids worldwide bop to Beyoncé.

Yet let’s get real. All this hasn’t benefited all Americans. A newly released global index finds that America falls short, along with other powerful countries, on what matters most: assuring a high quality of life for ordinary citizens.

The Social Progress Index for 2015 ranks the United States 16th in the world. We may thump our chests and boast that we’re No. 1, and in some ways we are. But, in important ways, we lag.

The index ranks the United States 30th in life expectancy, 38th in saving children’s lives, and a humiliating 55th in women surviving childbirth. O.K., we know that we have a high homicide rate, but we’re at risk in other ways as well. We have higher traffic fatality rates than 37 other countries, and higher suicide rates than 80.

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Obama’s message for Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph columnist Eamonn McCann asks why the Obama White House is pushing cuts in Northern Ireland–and why political leaders there are letting it happen.

Published March 23, 2015 at the Socialist Worker

Obama administration envoy Gary Hart (Italian Embassy)

IT SEEMS that the White House canceled invitations to Northern Ireland political leaders to attend the recent St. Patrick’s Day party as a sign of its disapproval of their failure to reach agreement on welfare reform.

The most remarkable aspect of this has been that — far from telling Obama to attend to the millions of Americans living on food stamps before pontificating on how an administration on the other side of the ocean should comport itself in such matters–the main parties have sucked it up and swallowed hard.

Obama’s envoy to the north, Gary Hart, left no one in any doubt last week about the consequence of a failure to find a formula to allow the deal done at Stormont House to go ahead: the U.S. “urge[s] all parties to reach an understanding on the scope of the agreement as it applies to welfare payments…so that a successful series of meetings planned for St. Patrick’s Day can go forward as planned in Washington.”

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson tweeted: “White House agree priority is to maintain momentum in finding a resolution to welfare issue. Best to be in Northern Ireland dealing with it.”

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India’s ‘Common Man’ faces high expectations in New Delhi

by Jason Overdorf, published March 27, 2015 in the Christian Science Monitor online

Arvind Kejriwal and his upstart “Common Man’s Party” won almost complete control of Delhi’s legislative assembly last month. But will the new chief minister be able to deliver on his lofty campaign promises?

Arvind Kejriwal addresses his supporters after taking the oath as the new chief minister of New Delhi on Feb. 14. Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters/file

NEW DELHI — From a jerry-built tea stall in the Bawana resettlement colony, one of New Delhi’s newest neighborhoods, the huge challenges confronting the city’s charismatic new chief minister are glaring.

Forced to move here when central slums were demolished to make way for stadiums and metro stations nearly a decade ago, thousands of people are still living without proper houses, a functioning sewer system, or a regular water supply.

“We’re hoping that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will finally give us the houses we were promised,” says Leelawati Gupta, the tea stall’s owner.

In February, Arvind Kejriwal led his fledgling AAP, or “Common Man’s Party,” to a surprise trouncing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hugely popular Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi elections by building a new coalition of voters like Ms. Gupta.

But analysts warn that Mr. Kejriwal’s unexpected success could lead to his undoing as Delhi residents eagerly wait for him to follow through on his sweeping campaign promises, from clean water to free wireless Internet. It’s a task made increasingly difficult by India’s fragmented and schadenfreude-fueled political system, which threatens to impede delivery of even the most basic services.

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