17 April 2019   Leave a comment

The Trump Administration is renewing many of the sanctions against Cuba that were lifted by the Obama Administration. The US has maintained sanctions against Cuba since October 1960 after Fidel Castro overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista. The sanctions were imposed in an effort to lead to internal dissatisfaction with Castro in hopes that the regime would be overthrown. One can only say that the sanctions have failed to achieve that objective and after 59 years of futility one could reasonably expect a different tactic. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration hopes that the renewed sanctions would change Cuban policy toward Venezuela which largely consists of humanitarian and security assistance in exchange for imported oil. The European Union and Canada announced that they would not cooperate with the sanctions, suggesting that the new sanctions would be similarly ineffective.

Michael Corleone on the Eve of the Castro Revolution

The Guardian is reporting on the findings of a new book which argues that “half of England is owned by 25,000 landowners – less than 1% of its population”. The article quotes the author of the book:

Guy Shrubsole, author of the book in which the figures are revealed, Who Owns England?, argues that the findings show a picture that has not changed for centuries. ‘Most people remain unaware of quite how much land is owned by so few,’ he writes, adding: ‘A few thousand dukes, baronets and country squires own far more land than all of middle England put together.’

“’Land ownership in England is astonishingly unequal, heavily concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.’”

I found the report to be astonishing, far beyond what I would have predicted. The article continues:

Carys Roberts, chief economist of the left-of-centre thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research, said she was ‘shocked but not surprised’ by Shrubsole’s findings on the concentration of land ownership. She said that the concentration of land in a few hands was a big reason why wealth as a whole was so unequal in the country, as those without land were prevented from generating more income.

“She added: ‘We have this idea that the class structures have changed so that the aristocracy is not as important as it used to be. What this demonstrates is the continuing importance of the aristocracy in terms of wealth and power in our society.’

“She said that one effect of the sale of public land was that the public lost democratic control of that land and it could not then be used, for example, for housing or environmental improvements. ‘You can’t make the best social use of it,’ she added.”

I doubt that a similar study has been done in other countries, but it would be very important information for any electorate.

North Korea has announced that it has tested a new tactical guided weapon, although we do not yet know exactly what that means. It does not, however, appear to be a nuclear bomb or a ballistic missile, both of which would violate the implicit understandings between the US and North Korea about a weapons program “pause”. The New York Times puts the test in context:

“In recent days the North Korean leader has said he would give the United States until the end of the year to come up with concrete proposals that would lift sanctions on the North — an implicit warning that, after that deadline, it might resume the testing that appeared, in the summer of 2017, to be leading to conflict.

“But the announcement of Thursday’s test suggested that Mr. Kim was willing to consider raising the stakes sooner, and making Mr. Trump fear that his signature foreign policy initiative could collapse before the 2020 elections.”

North Korea has also opened up the possibility of a third summit meeting with President Trump even though the most recent meeting yielded no tangible results. Furthermore, satellite images indicate that there has been an increase in activity at the Yongbyon processing facility which may mean that North Korea continues to produce the fuel for additional nuclear weapons. Finally, North Korea is increasing the pressure on the US by hinting that there may be a summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and Russian President Putin. We will have to see how the Trump Administration chooses to interpret these actions.

Posted April 17, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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