The UN General Assembly has been meeting in NYC 17-30 September 2019. Climate change was a major focus, but Donald Trump only stuck his head in at that meeting. He gave a speech urging every nation to go its own independent way, then, taking a different tone, he asked for other countries to join in on his pressure on Iran. I happened to tune into his rambling, boastful press conference on Sept. 25, after his UN meetings, seemingly not scripted, where he expressed grievances at not getting credit for all his wonderful accomplishments, bemoaning relentless attacks by Democrats and the mainstream “fake-news” press. Why is he always under attack? Is it because others are envious of his unprecedented success?
Incidentally, Republicans like to slyly refer to the “Democrat” Party, so I think Democrats should start referring to the Republic Party.
Finally, a Democratic House held a hearing on DC statehood HR 51, which would make the District of Columbia the 51st state in the nation! The Oversight + Reform Committee hearing on the Washington DC Admission Act H.R. 51 Sept. 19
Because fewer immigrants and refugees are being allowed into our country, our largest cities, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, are experiencing modest population decline for the first time in history, just one of many Trump administration policies having adverse effects. Many jobs are in agriculture, construction, and elder and child care are also going unfilled.
One reason that California has so many homeless, as the Trump administration has so gleefully pointed out, is because of its year-round mild climate.
Bravo to Colt for suspending civilian manufacture of AR-15 assault rifles. May other gun manufacturers follow suit. The problem with guns is not only that can kill or main, fulfilling their main purpose, but that they are so subject to accident or impulse. How many kids have been killed accidentally? How many people have killed themselves in a moment of despair? What about the woman who entered the wrong apartment and killed a man inside his own? If she had not had a gun, might she have asked, “What are you doing here?” and found she was in the wrong place?
Congress is now discovering what I said years ago in my Honduras book, that Americans pay more for the same drugs being sold for less in other countries. Drug manufacturers charge what they think the market will bear.
The US is missing a bet as China and now Russia, invest heavily in Africa, the emerging continent. The US has always given massive aid to Israel and, to an extent, to Egypt, and that continues under Trump. But his administration has largely within drawn from what he calls “shit-hole” countries. Nonetheless, in an act of independence or defiance, Melania made an Africa visit.
I am not sorry to see John Bolton gone, but his replacement is not likely to be better. Also, I do agree with Bolton that inviting the Taliban to Camp David was inappropriate. This administration and others imitating it around the world show once again that “progress” can regress rather quickly. It’s not enough to fight the good flight to finally achieve something, then celebrate and simply rest on our laurels. Efforts must continue to keep the forward momentum going, whether those efforts involve attention to a marriage and raising children, or to protecting hard-won benefits like Obamacare and DACA, or to keeping international commitments on climate change and nuclear weapons.
American voters and policymakers had let down their guard, many feeling lukewarm toward Hillary Clinton and not appreciating the threat posed by Donald Trump, imagining that he was simply too ridiculous to win the presidency (very nearly the case). That’s why next time, voters must support his Democratic opponent, no matter who. I’m not crazy about Joe Biden, but if he is the candidate opposing Trump, I will certainly vote for him and so should you. Oddly, Trump and his main opponents--Biden, Sanders, and Warren--are all in their 70’s, a victory of sorts against ageism. Unfortunately, we here in DC have little say in choosing the eventual Democratic candidate.
Hardcore Trump supporters, like members of a cult, will remain loyal, though a few have been peeling off. New loyalists don’t seem to be joining Trump’s camp. Meanwhile, he continues to make himself the center of the news cycle, for which the media are grateful. After denials, now fearing release of the transcript of his phone call, he admits talking to Ukraine’s president about investigating Biden’s son Hunter. And to deflect attention, he is speculating on winning the Nobel Peace Prize (why not?) and attacking teenage climate activist Greta, a far more articulate speaker than he will ever be. Now, with impeachment looming, will he decide to quit and then embark on a paid lecture series to tap the dedication of his hard core? (Or might he simply keel over and leave this mortal coil?)
In a radio interview, an author of a book about VP Mike Pence described him as a more conventional politician than Trump, albeit with rightwing views. He was described as being in the mold of George W. Bush, though a bit more conservative. His wife certainly seems uncomfortable being allied with Trump. Reportedly, Ivanka and Jerod would like to get Pence off the 2020 ticket because Trump already has evangelical support locked in, so they might prefer a woman to reach out to a demographic Trump lacks.
As communities struggle in the aftermath of fierce hurricanes and storms that have decimated electricity and other resources, I cannot help thinking about rural villages I’ve been in, in Mexico, Central and South America, and South Sudan, where there never is any electricity, running water, or utilities of any kind. Folks live there without light bulbs, TV, or internet, but may take advantage of passing fuel-powered vehicles to hitch a ride to bigger towns to sell crops and firewood and buy oil for their homemade lamps, like those used in days of old. They may also buy bottled drinking water. However, if a hurricane swept through their village, though it might damage crops planted laboriously by hand and tumble makeshift dwellings, its effects would not be felt as acutely as in a more “developed” location. These remote villages, in hidden pockets all over the world, are often protected from the inroads of “civilization” by mountains or jungles. Their inhabitants have already adapted to living without amenities. Their carbon footprint is negligible.
Below are several brief descriptions with links to more information.
I continue to follow the fortunes of South Sudan after my humanitarian visit there in 2006, before independence. Hope this time the peace agreement between the president and vice president holds. https://www.yahoo.com/news/sudan-rivals-keep-deadline-unity-government-132109642.html
South Sudan launches mobile money to boost recovery from war, AP
On Sept. 26, I attended a talk given by Vicente Morin Aguado, a Cuban independent journalist who lives with his family in Havana. He came to the US to attend a journalism conference and, until now, has not been very outspoken. But in his talk, he was frank about the repression against journalists in Cuba and the surveillance of the population as whole. The next day, he gave congressional testimony on Cuba. He came to US to attend a journalism conference and does not know what awaits him on his return to Cuba early next year. The highlight of his talk was about Obama’s visit to Havana, which, for the first time, gave the Cuban people hope. Obama’s speech, which was broadcast live only once and never rendered in print—also denounced by Fidel—made a strong and lasting impression, giving Cubans new hope, a hope that has been replaced by despair.
Here is an article about the arrest of one of 6 new Cuban prisoners of conscience named by Amnesty International, where I serve as volunteer USA coordinator for the Caribbean: Rights groups denounce Cuba's arrest of independent journalist, [Roberto Quiñones] activists denounce harassment, Reuters, 9/14/2019 https://www.yahoo.com/news/rights-groups-denounce-cubas-arrest-231128826.html
We at Amnesty International have issued an Urgent Action for Roberto Quiñones https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/1047/2019/en/
And here is the action for five other newly named prisoners of conscience.
For years now, Cuban rafters landing on Honduran shores have sought asylum there; I have seen and heard about some of them. U.S. seeking to make Cubans seek asylum in Honduras: minister TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) Honduran Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales said on Tuesday that negotiations with the United States could make Cuban migrants passing through the Central American country seek refuge there. https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-seeking-cuban-asylum-seekers-000741781.html
Cuba becomes the latest country to use bitcoin to subvert US sanctions https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/cuba-becomes-latest-country-bitcoin-164410414.html
U.S. expels two members of Cuba's U.N. delegation, citing 'influence operations' (9-19-2019) reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-un/u-s-expels-two-members-of-cubas-u-n-delegation-citing-influence-operations
Honduras, Cuba to sign deal on deporting some Cuban migrants: Honduran president (Reuters) https://www.yahoo.com/news/honduras-cuba-sign-deal-deporting-055334802.html
Apparently, the Trump administration considers Honduras, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala, “safe” countries for asylum seekers when people are fleeing from those countries for their safety.
Honduras to accept more asylum seekers under latest US immigration deal, Reuters
Hondurans feel fate of their unpopular president lies in US, Sept. 9, 2019 https://www.yahoo.com/news/hondurans-feel-fate-unpopular-president-040041966.html
Clashes in Honduras on Independence Day
https://www.yahoo.com/news/clashes-honduras-independence-day-093418389.html While I am certainly no fan of the current Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, neither do I support Manuel Zelaya, an opposition legislator and his fierce opponent, who apparently organized the riots against him. A pox on both their houses!
Another family drowns in the Rio Grande (actually called Rio Bravo in Spanish). Drowning of U.S.-bound Honduran mother and son underscores plight of migrants https://www.yahoo.com/news/drowning-u-bound-honduran-mother-015333225.html
I did get malaria when I was in the Peace Corps in Honduras, but fortunately never dengue, of which there is more than one strain. Both are mosquito-transmitted. These days, I travel to Honduras only in the dry season, when mosquitos are fewer. Central America's dengue epidemic deadly in Honduras https://www.yahoo.com/news/central-americas-dengue-epidemic-deadly-040633256.html
[Nicaragua has been of special interest since my visits there, starting in the 1980’s.] Nicaragua guilty of 'gross' rights violations: UN https://www.yahoo.com/news/nicaragua-guilty-gross-rights-violations-un-145854509.html
Nicaragua bans 7 OAS officials from entering country, Associated Press MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) 9-14-2019— Nicaragua's government has banned seven officials from the Organization of American States who were scheduled to arrive in the capital of Managua, opposition leaders said Saturday. https://www.yahoo.com/news/nicaragua-bans-7-oas-officials-213751324.html
Pistol-packing senators confront Haiti's angry opposition