11 December 2017   Leave a comment

Philip Alston, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, is on a tour of the US investigating the state of the country’s poor people.  His most recent stop was in Alabama and his reaction to poverty in that state was shock.  As described in Newsweek:

“‘Some might ask why a U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights would visit a country as rich as the United States,’ Alston said. ‘But despite great wealth in the U.S., there also exists great poverty and inequality.’

“Alston also pointed out that the U.S. ‘has been very keen’ on other countries being investigated by the U.N. for civil and human rights issues.

‘Now, it’s the turn to look at what’s going on in the U.S.,’ Alston said. ‘There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.’”

There are an estimated 41 million in the US, out of a population of about 320 million, who live on an income below the official poverty line.  The US record of poverty is far worse than for the vast majority of highly developed countries.


The island of Corsica is one of France’s 18 administrative regions and it has a long history of strong nationalism.  In an election on Sunday, a coalition of nationalist parties won 56.5 percent of the vote.  The demands of these parties are for greater autonomy from Paris, but not independence.  The vote, however, seems to be consistent with the Brexit vote and the turmoil in Catalonia, as well as sentiments throughout Europe suggesting disillusionment with central control.  France has never looked kindly on separatist movements throughout its history, and the vote in Corsica will likely set up some difficult negotiations.


There was a curious article in the Washington Post about the threat of biological weapons being developed in North Korea.  The article was substantive and there seems to be ample evidence suggesting that North Korea does have a biological weapons program.  And there is no doubt that a biological weapons program is incredibly dangerous and threatening.  What makes the article curious is that all the evidence supporting it is no later than 2015 which means that we have known about it for over two years.  Why, then, is the article being published now with no new information?  I suspect the article was suggested by US government officials who have an interest in accentuating American fears of North Korea.

Posted December 11, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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