21 December 2017   Leave a comment

The UN General Assembly considered a resolution rejecting the US position on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The resolution is similar to the one supported by 14 members of the UN Security Council–including Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and Ukraine–but vetoed by the US.  The Guardian has seen a copy of the letter US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has sent to 180 of the 193 members of the UN.  It reads, in part:

“As you consider your vote, I encourage you to know the president and the US take this vote personally.

“The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us”.

It is rare to see such a heavy-hand in diplomatic circles (it is also very weird to see a reference to the US as a person).  Many of the countries receive large amounts of US financial assistance.  The resolution refers to all the UN Security Council resolutions since 1967 (there are 10 such resolutions) which demand that the status of Jerusalem not be changed.  If the resolution passes overwhelmingly in the General Assembly, US standing in the world will be severely compromised.  Reuters quotes the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN to reflect the views of most countries to such blatant threats:

“‘The first name that she should write down is Bolivia,’” Bolivia’s U.N. Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz said of Haley’s message. “’We regret the arrogance and disrespect to the sovereign decision of member states and to multilateralism.’”

There were 28 countries that voted in favor of the resolution.   Nine countries–US,  Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras–voted against the resolution and 35 countries abstained.  Significantly, some European countries–Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Romania and the Czech Republic–abstained, which broke the European Union consensus that the status of Jerusalem should not be changed.  The vote is a stunning rebuke of the US decision and an indication that the US threat was ignored by most countries.


On 23 September, I posted about an academic dispute occasioned by the publication of “The Case for Colonialism” by Bruce Gilley.  The debate centered on whether there were some redeeming features of European imperialism, a rather silly debate since it never addresses the fundamentally coercive and violent nature of imperialism itself.  My cynicism aside, the debate has continued in Great Britain with the publication of an essay by Nigel Biggar in The Times entitled “Don’t Feel Guilty About Our Colonial History“.  A group of very prestigious Oxford academics have written an open letter to Biggar, disassociating themselves from his views and criticizing its premises.


The US Center for Disease Control has released its data for life expectancy in the US and, for the second year in a row, life expectancy for males declined.  The main reason for the decline was a rather sharp increase in opioid-related deaths.  The data indicate that

  • In 2016, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States.
  • The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016 (19.8 per 100,000) was 21% higher than the rate in 2015 (16.3).
  • Among persons aged 15 and over, adults aged 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54 had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in 2016 at around 35 per 100,000.
  • West Virginia (52.0 per 100,000), Ohio (39.1), New Hampshire (39.0), the District of Columbia (38.8), and Pennsylvania (37.9) had the highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2016.
  • The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000.

It is highly unusual for life expectancy to decline in a rich country and to have two successive declines is a serious aberration from what one should expect.  The data is the clearest evidence for the devastating effects of job losses and wage declines in the US.  The US needs to address the root causes of the opioid epidemic and not focus on simply interdicting the drugs.

Figure 1 is a bar chart on the age-adjusted drug overdose death rates: United States, 1999–2016.

Posted December 21, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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