6 June 2018   Leave a comment

Further evidence of the loss of expertise in the State Department.  At the Press Briefing yesterday, the State Department Spokesperson, Heather Nauert was asked a question about the controversial statements made by the US Ambassador to Germany, Rick Grenell, which seemed to indicate that he would actively support conservatives in Germany.  In her response, Ms. Nauert made an interesting comment about the strong relationship between the US and Germany:

“When you talk about Germany, we have a very strong relationship with the Government of Germany. Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the Government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government, and so we want to reaffirm the strength of our relationship with Germany.”

Ms. Nauert should be reminded that the D-Day invasion was a US and British invasion of France to fight Germany.  The US and Germany were at war on D-Day.

On another issue, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called US President Trump to find out the “national security” justification for the tariffs imposed on Canadian steel.  In response, President Trump asked: “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”  The British burned down the White House in the War of 1812 (the British troops were deployed from Bermuda, not Canada, and the British noted the act in 2014).  Canada did not become self-governing until 1 July 1867.  And, by the way, more than 40,000 Canadians troops have served along side US troops in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014–I think we can rely upon the Canadians if there was a genuine national security problem.

 

Despite the best efforts of veterinarians, a pilot whale, which washed up on a beach in Thailand, has died.  An autopsy was performed and 17 pounds of plastic were found in the whale’s stomach.  The findings highlight the extraordinary contamination left by discarded plastic.  Last year, scientists found that the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the planet was on a remote, uninhabited island in the Pacific.  According to the report:

“The density of debris was the highest reported anywhere in the world….An estimated 37.7 million debris items weighing a total of 17.6 tons are currently present on Henderson, with up to 26.8 new items/m accumulating daily. Rarely visited by humans, Henderson Island and other remote islands may be sinks for some of the world’s increasing volume of waste.”

And scientists have found plastic contamination in Antarctica although there is also a massive campaign to declare the world’s largest wildlife sanctuary in and around the continent.  Plastic does not degrade–it simply breaks down into tiny parts and enters the food system as animals feed.

 

Brazil has endured a 10-day trucking strike which essentially brought the economy to a complete standstill.   The strike was partially in response to the setting of gasoline prices by the state-owned oil company, Petrobrás, but there are a vast number of unsettled issues in Brazil today.  The strike was ultimately resolved by offering economic subsidies to pay for gasoline, but the resolution simply opened up other economic questions.  According to The Guardian:

“Amid a growing sense that Brazil is adrift, a poll by the Datafolha polling institute found that 87% of Brazilians supported the strike – but rejected tax rises or spending cuts to pay for the fuel subsidies that eventually resolved it.

“The cash-strapped conservative government of Michel Temer found the money by cutting investment elsewhere, including for health and education – a move likely to increase social tension in a country where poverty is on the rise.”

The lefty journal, Jacobin, has a very good analysis of the turmoil in Brazil.  Although the strike has come to an end, the economic discontent remains.

 

Posted June 6, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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