20 June 2017   Leave a comment

US President Trump hosted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the White House today.  In the photo-op, Mr. Trump made a mistake that many make when referring to Ukraine:  he referred to “the” Ukraine. Ukrainians have a problem with the declarative article.  The Washington Post explains:

“Exactly why the declarative article came to be attached to Ukraine in the first place is hard to know, but the reasoning may lie in the country’s history. Between 1919 and 1991, Ukraine was officially known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the English language; it may have been this Soviet period that resulted in the ‘the’ being added. A more likely alternative may lie in the etymology of the word ‘Ukraine,’ which is believed by many (but not all) scholars to come from the Old Slavic word “Ukraina,” thought to have meant something like ‘the borderland.’

 “This explains why ‘the Ukraine’ annoys many Ukrainians. The mistake seems to imply that Ukraine can only be defined by its relation to its larger neighbor, Russia, and the years of domination it suffered under Moscow during the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire before that. Calling Ukraine ‘the Ukraine’ would seem to question its sovereignty: A fraught thing after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in east Ukraine.”
Nature Climate Change has published a research paper on the likelihood that almost half of the world’s population will be subjected to lethal heat events for at least 20 days a year by the end of the century if climate change is not reversed.  From the abstract to the paper:
“We reviewed papers published between 1980 and 2014, and found 783 cases of excess human mortality associated with heat from 164 cities in 36 countries. Based on the climatic conditions of those lethal heat events, we identified a global threshold beyond which daily mean surface air temperature and relative humidity become deadly.  Around 30% of the world’s population is currently exposed to climatic conditions exceeding this deadly threshold for at least 20 days a year. By 2100, this percentage is projected to increase to 48% under a scenario with drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and 74% under a scenario of growing emissions. An increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable, but will be greatly aggravated if greenhouse gases are not considerably reduced.”
The evidence continues to accumulate that climate change is occurring and that adapting to those changes is going to be very difficult.
US satellites have detected increased activity at a North Korean nuclear site and there are concerns that the country might be preparing for its sixth nuclear test.  The news comes as there is some sign that President Trump may be thinking about a change in policy toward North Korea in light of the death of the American student Otto Warmbier.  President Trump tweeted:
“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out.  At least I know China tried!”
It is very difficult to interpret tweets and President Trump is not careful with his language, so it is impossible to know how all these issues coincide.  But at one point it seemed as if President Trump was expecting China to take the lead on preventing another North Korean nuclear test.  The phrase “it has not worked out” may signal that President Trump will take action if there is a test.


Posted June 20, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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