A New World Leader …

Today, I would like to pay tribute to our neighbors to the north by sharing the work of one of my favourite New York Times columnists, Nicholas Kristof.  His words need no further introduction from me.

Thank God for Canada!

Our boring neighbor is a moral leader of the free world.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

February 6, 2019

After the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, tweeted concern about Saudi Arabia’s imprisoning of a women’s rights activist, the crown prince there seemed to go nuts.

Saudi Arabia announced that it was expelling Canada’s ambassador, halting flights to Canada, ending purchases of Canadian wheat, recalling students from Canada and selling off Canadian assets. Did the United States or other Western countries stand up for an old friend and ally, Canada?

Not a bit.

“The United States doesn’t have to get involved,” Heather Nauert, then the State Department spokeswoman, told reporters.

Yet Canada stuck to its principles. When a young Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, fled to Bangkok last month and warned that she would be murdered by her family if she was forced home, it was Canada that again braved Saudi fury by accepting her.

Freeland was at the airport to welcome Alqunun as a “very brave new Canadian.” And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t mince words, saying, “We’ll stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world.”

Canada may be one of the world’s more boring countries, as yawn-inspiring as sensible shoes — wake up, reader, I know you’re snoozing!— but it’s also emerging as a moral leader of the free world.

There’s no one else. The United States under President Trump is on a nationalist tear. Britain’s leaders seem determined to drag their people over a Brexit precipice. France is distracted by protests. Germany is preparing for succession.

So Canada is stepping up.

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Jessie Thomson, left, and Amany Alhadka, right, were among the countless Canadians who helped Syrian refugees acclimate to their new country.CreditCreditJustin Tang for The New York Times

During the worst of the Syrian refugee crisis, President Barack Obama admitted just 12,000 Syrians and provoked a furious backlash, including Trump’s Muslim ban. Canada accepted 40,000 Syrians, with Trudeau appearing at the airport to hand out winter coats to these new Canadians.

All around the world, doors to refugees were clanging shut. But Canadians were so eager to sponsor Syrians that organizations were clamoring for more of them. Canadian politicians are mostly rewarded for showing compassion.

Trump gets headlines with his periodic threats to invade Venezuela to topple President Nicolás Maduro, but Canada has been quietly working since 2017 to help organize the Lima Group of 14 nations pushing for democracy in Venezuela. When Canada recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, he won credibility because nobody sees Ottawa as an imperialist conspirator.

Canada has spoken up about the mass detention of about one million Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China even as Muslim countries have mostly kept mum, and it detained a Chinese executive at the request of the American government. China retaliated by arresting Canadians and sentencing one to death, but Canada is sticking to its guns — even as Trump undercut Canada by suggesting that the case against the executive might be dropped for political reasons.

For aid programs in the developing world, countries usually try to finance big, glamorous projects that will get lots of attention. Instead, Canada champions programs that are extremely cost-effective but so deathly boring that they will never be discussed on TV — initiatives like iodizing salt to prevent mental impairment.

Reader! Wake up!

Still, Canadians can be devious. A couple of years ago I sought an interview with Trudeau for a piece about Canada’s successes — and he kept stalling. Aides explained that praise from an American might damage his relations with Trump. That may have been the first time I’ve had a leader resist laudatory coverage.

Whenever I say something nice about Canada, I get indignant emails from Canadian friends pointing out the country’s shortcomings (which are real). Fortunately, Canadians don’t seem capable of mean emails. Not even of mean tweets. One study found that Americans’ tweets are loaded with curses and words like “hate”: Canadians’ tweets are larded with “awesome,” “amazing” and “great.”

(Note: Ignore all the bits about Canadians being nice when playing hockey with them. In the rink, they’re brutes.)

Off the ice, Canadians pursue policies that are preternaturally sensible. Canadians regulate guns, oversee the banking sector so as to avoid financial crashes, and nurture entrepreneurship and economic growth without enormous inequality.

Typically, more Canadians use mass transit, and the country has better traffic safety laws, so that the vehicle fatality rate there is half that of the United States’. If the United States had Canada’s traffic death rate, we would save more than 20,000 American lives a year.

Today there’s a vacuum of constructive global leadership. Canada may be incapable of a mean tweet, but it’s tough when necessary — and it may be the leader the world needs.

I want to move to Canada!!!

On The Rights Of People …

Two things have my angst on edge tonight, both involving humanitarian rights.


From The Guardian, Friday 04 January 2019 …

US halts cooperation with UN on potential human rights violations

The Trump administration has stopped cooperating with UN investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside America, in a move that delivers a major blow to vulnerable US communities and sends a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.

Quietly and unnoticed, the state department has ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice. There has been no response to any such formal query since 7 May 2018, with at least 13 requests going unanswered.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said the shift gave the impression the US was no longer serious about honoring its own human rights obligations. The ripple effect around the world would be dire.

Externally, Trump has forged an increasingly unilateral path on foreign policy: in June he shocked the world by pulling the US out of the UN human rights council, complaining it was a “cesspool of political bias”, and he has caused further consternation by siding with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, despite evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Domestically, Trump has run roughshod over the constitutional rights of asylum seekers at the US border, attempted to deny the legal existence of transgender people and introduced tax cuts that have greatly exacerbated income inequality in a country in which 40 million people live in poverty, among many other controversies.

In any democratic form of government, oversight is a key component to ensure that corruption does no run rampant and that the rights of the people are not being trampled.  One of the functions of the United Nations is to provide such oversight, to ensure that the rights of the people are being honoured and protected by the government.  In the case of the U.S. under Donald Trump, those rights are being neither honoured nor protected, and now one of the main overseers has been disabled.  We have literally been hung out to dry.  Which leads to my second source of angst …

From The Washington Post, 03 January 2019

Trump administration considers rollback of anti-discrimination rules

The Trump administration is considering a far-reaching rollback of civil rights law that would dilute federal rules against discrimination in education, housing and other aspects of American life, people familiar with the discussions said.

A recent internal Justice Department memo directed senior civil rights officials to examine how decades-old “disparate impact” regulations might be changed or removed in their areas of expertise, and what the impact might be, according to people familiar with the matter. Similar action is being considered at the Education Department and is underway at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the first year of Trump’s tenure, 18 civil rights prior rulings were cancelled, either by agencies within the administration, or by executive order.  Some of these rulings pertained to women’s rights, some protected minorities from discrimination in the areas of law enforcement, education, housing and employment.  Until now, the rulings were reversals or rollbacks of rulings by the Obama administration, in keeping with Trump’s master plan to eradicate every good thing that Obama had done.  But now, with the plan to rollback disparate impact regulations, the nation is stepping back even further to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


It seems to me that the main role of any legitimate government, certainly one that claims to stand on democratic principles, is to protect the rights of its citizens.  Our government seems to have forgotten their role, abandoned the principles to which the framers of the Constitution adhered.  For a period of nearly two hundred years, this nation mostly progressed.  Oh sure, we made mistakes, took a few steps backward from time to time, but overall, we came a long way in human rights … civil rights.  But in just the past two years, we have slid back in time, back to a time when African-Americans were considered second-class citizens, when homosexuality was taboo, women were subjugated by men.

Where is this nation headed?  Right now, we have a tin-pot dictator who has made the U.S. the source of derision throughout the Western world.  Worse, our government is eroding the freedoms, the basic human rights, of large groups of people, giving more consideration to corporations that are largely owned by disgustingly wealthy people, than to the majority of people who pay taxes and work hard to take care of their families.  Our rights are being violated and it’s time for it to stop.  Human rights, civil rights … these don’t even require thought, or at least shouldn’t require thought in this, the 21st century!  We fought a Civil War to end slavery, we’ve come through the women’s rights movements, the Civil Rights era, we’ve seen people die standing up for the rights of Native Americans, African-Americans and others.  Do we really need to go backward and have to start all over???  I surely hope not.

Good faith dealings

Last week saw the funeral of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. While he was certainly not perfect – who is? – the contrast between him and the current occupant of the White House is stunning. It makes me long for the day when character and integrity were expected and admired. Our friend Keith has done a terrific job pointing out some of the finer traits of President Bush, Sr., and leaves us to draw our own comparisons. Thank you, Keith, for an excellent post and for your permission to share it.

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The passing of former President George H.W. Bush has highlighted the many positive attributes of the imperfect 41st President. Of course, we are all “fixer uppers,” and our willingness to know this about ourselves keeps us humble and in a constant state of self-improvement.

Many positive things have been highlighted about the elder Bush this past week, with many of us nostalgic to how we all should conduct ourselves, especially our leaders. Here are a few things I took away:

– a communication advisor to an early campaign noted he made a big mistake from which he could not hide. Thinking he would be fired, he recalled Bush telling him “I know you will knock the next opportunity out of the park.”

– a friend noted he played golf often with Bush when he was President. He noted the clubs Bush played would invariably try to “comp” his green and…

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Stone Cold Criminals???

The migrant caravan that Donald Trump said we should be so afraid of, that he said was filled with murderers, rapists, and even some Middle-Eastern terrorists, the one he sent troops to the border to defend against, has finally arrived.  Here is what all those “bad hombres” look like:

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Lesly, age six, sits in her donated stroller. She has cerebral palsy and cannot walk

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María Cáceres and her 15-year-old son Javier.  Javier has Down’s Syndrome.

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Migrants pushing strollers on the road to … ???

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A migrant and her young daughter, who have just had teargas thrown in their faces

Yes, folks, these are but a few of those “stone cold criminals” as Trump referred to them in his early morning tweet:Trump tweet migrants

I cannot say, nor would I, that out of the thousands of people in this caravan, there may not be a few who have committed crimes.  Take a thousand people at random from the middle of any city in the U.S., and odds are that you will find a few who have committed crimes.  But overall, this is a migrant caravan comprised of families fleeing the violence in their native countries, primarily Honduras.

Let’s talk to María Cáceres (pictured above).  María was a tortilla vendor in San Pedro Sula, Honduras when gang members killed two of her brothers and burned down her house. She said she wants asylum in the United States, but really just “wants life to get better now.”

These are people who have, over the past two months, crossed mountains, walked through forests, crossed rivers, been soaked by rains, bitten and stung by insects, all because they are seeking a better life for their children and themselves.  When they crossed into Mexico, riot police attacked them with clubs and teargas, yet they persevered.

And then yesterday, U.S. authorities closed off the busiest port of entry along the U.S. border with Mexico and fired tear gas.  What a welcome to these poor travelers … these human beings!  soldiers at the border.jpgHomeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday that the port of entry was closed “to ensure public safety in response to large numbers of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.”  Frankly, Ms. Nielsen, I would be more afraid of these soldiers than I would be of the migrants.  Public safety???  I think not.

Donald Trump, Kirstjen Nielsen and others calling to close the border, to deny these migrants asylum, lack normal human compassion.  They would deny thousands the right to opportunity, the right to safety, for political purposes.  The U.S. was once known as a country that welcomed asylum seekers, that understood what a wonderful thing diversity was.  Somewhere along the line, we lost our compassion, we lost our humanity.

Trump’s threat to “close the border permanently” is against the law, however as he believes himself to be above the law, believes that the laws do not apply if they are at odds with his whims, I suspect there will be legal challenges and hate-filled rhetoric bouncing about for the next several months.  Just another step in our decline toward becoming a third-world country.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t wish to live in a country where the borders are closed, a country that treats human beings seeking asylum as if they were criminals.  migrant-5

We’ve Come A Long Way …

We’ve come a long way from the civilized country we once were.  Our forefathers are either looking down groaning and holding their heads or laughing uproariously at what the United States of America has become.

On Monday, a pipe bomb was found in the mailbox of philanthropist (and democrat) George Soros.  Today, bombs were sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and media outlet CNN.  Once upon a time, the United States was considered above such behaviour.  We were once considered “the leader of the free world”.  We were once a kinder, gentler nation, one that was looked up to, respected, and valued human rights, human life.  Today, we have sunken to the level of a third-world nation.

We refer to a number of nations, mostly in the Middle East, as ‘terrorist nations’, or ‘countries that harbour terrorists’.  The U.S. has now become just such a nation.  These bombs are acts of terrorism, and I would bet my life that they were not constructed and delivered by Middle Eastern terrorists, nor by Muslims nor Hispanics.  These were thought of, concocted and delivered by white males, unless I miss my guess.  White males who are angry for some reason that the majority of us cannot comprehend.

It would be easy to lay all this at the door of Mr. Trump, for he has been highly vocal in his rabid, vitriolic rhetoric condemning democrats and the press, Obama and Clinton.  And certainly, he must share some of the blame.  But the bulk of the blame is on We The People.  I have spoken enough times on this blog about the loss of civil discourse that I will not do so again today.

Today there are migrants from violent nations heading to the United States to seek asylum from the violence in their own countries.  Soon, I think, there may be caravans of U.S. citizens making their way to the Canadian border to seek asylum from the violence in our own nation. liberty-cries

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words, written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, once meant something.  They were words we were once proud of.  We have sullied the words, just as we have sullied the notion of democracy in the U.S. We no longer deserve to be known as a the ‘land of the free’, for we are not.

To Mr. Trump and to every person who has supported his hate-filled rhetoric, who applauds when he screams and incites violence, I hope you are pleased with yourselves today.  Understand that the majority in this nation do not feel as you do and that we have had just about enough.  We will fight back.  To whomever decided to make those bombs and attempt to murder good people like President Obama and Secretary Clinton, Mr. Soros, and the employees at CNN, I hope you are captured and spend the rest of your life in prison being beaten and abused in the worst possible way.

I am expecting a package to be delivered this week.  I wonder if I will hesitate before opening it?  Probably.  Isn’t this a sad state of affairs?

Good People Doing Good Things — Axana Soltan

Axana Soltan may be only 21 years of age, but she has already done more for human rights than many of us ever do in our entire lives.  When she was only 10-years-old, Axana immigrated from her native Afghanistan to the U.S.  At the time Axana lived in Afghanistan, the Taliban controlled the country and women endured unspeakably harsh conditions and were deprived of their basic human rights like education, employment and freedom of speech. Girl’s schools were burned down, teachers were threatened and women who spoke up against their regime were flogged and executed.

Axana’s family was forced to flee the country and became refugees. Axana has spent much of her childhood in refugee camps where there was no school, no medical facilities, no electricity, heating, and not even access to the very basic life necessities such as water. After witnessing the disparities in Afghanistan, she has witnessed the harsh life in exile inside a refugee camp in Pakistan: children passing away due to preventable illnesses, children not being able to get schooling, and families begging for food just to survive.

refugee campsWhile in the refugee camps, Axana was drawn to the good works being done by UNICEF – providing education, food, medicine, and other essentials to the dispossessed in the camps. At a very early age, Axana made it her life’s mission to help people in much the same manner as UNICEF.  Just five years after arriving in the U.S., her work began in earnest – at age 15!

In 2013, Axana founded Enhancing Children’s Living (ECL), a non-profit organization whose goal is “a world in which every child lives a healthy, fulfilling life and builds into smart, creative, and healthy children.” The stated mission per their Facebook page is …

ECL-2.jpgEnhancing Children’s Living is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit philanthropic organization based in Richmond, Virginia. Established in 2013, the society is organized to be a humanitarian unit that ignites the lives of children living in destitute. The organization provides access to meal nourishment, education, advocacy, and medical care to children in and out of the country.

Enhancing Children’s Living invests in a better future, a different future. It invests in a world in which no child left behind. Where children everywhere have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. By partnering with local government, and child advocacy organizations, we ensure every child has a voice and no child feels neglected.

For the past five years, ECL has done so much good for children around the world, from putting together backpacks full of school supplies for children in Pakistan, to sending nourishing meals to children in Haiti, to buying hundreds of pairs of shoes for children coming to the United States from Afghanistan.

ECL-1Axana has achieved global recognition for her activism. On May 13th, 2017, before an audience of 2,500 people, Axana spoke against the travel ban of refugees in her Commencement Address, declaring the ban of children from the seven Muslim countries a violation of the Article 22 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was the first Afghan-American Hero recipient on CBS and received praise from national magazines, such as Blaze and Value Magazine.

Last year, Axana graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University where she received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

Axana aspires to become a human rights lawyer and continue her advocacy through policy to ensure that  all children, regardless of country of origin or refugee status, are awarded children’s rights protections as guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).AxanaAxana Soltan has been the energy and the inspiration behind Enhancing Children’s Living, and ECL has secured the education of over 1,700 children around the world. The organization has also been actively providing these children with thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies, hundreds of shoes, clothing and even food.

Next time you hear somebody comment on how terrible immigrants are, that they are all lazy criminals and bad for our nation, think about Axana.

“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Once you have determined your purpose in life, then chase after it.  In the process, please remember to help others. I strongly believe that a just and compassionate world stars with each one of us. You don’t have to be a doctor, lawyer, or a rocket scientist to make a difference in the world. There is no timeline.  Together we can create a world that places human needs and human-rights above all.”  – Axana Soltan

Make America Alone

Once again, our friend Keith is spot on in his assessment about Trump’s current trend to leave us completely devoid of allies. Please take a minute to read … thank you, Keith, for your excellent assessment and permission to share!

musingsofanoldfart

Unless you are on a diet or workout regimen, you cannot shrink to greatness. Yet, that is precisely the path America is on under the leadership of a man who announces his intent to make the country great again. Instead, he is pursuing a path of making America alone.

Jim Melville, the US ambassador to Estonia announced his resignation last week. Ambassador Melville, a 33 year state department veteran who has served under six Presidents, four of them Republucan, cited his reasons on Facebook. He said he could not support a President who has belittled NATO comparing it to NAFTA and saying it was formed to tap the American piggy bank. He also noted the President’s attack on the European Union as shameful.

Melville is not a lone voice. Other long service ambassadors have departed under this regime and there are a scary number of open diplomat positions. I have…

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United Nations vs Nikki Haley

The United Nations says the U.S. has a poverty problem.   Ambassador Nikki Haley says we don’t.  Who’s right?  The United Nations is indeed correct and Nikki Haley is naught but a Trump mouthpiece.  Ms. Haley claims that the U.S. is “the wealthiest and freest country in the world”.  Not so, Ms. Haley.  The UN report acknowledges that the U.S. is among the wealthiest societies, however it also states …

“But its immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.  It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world.”

Read that one a couple of times, folks. This is a nation where there is indeed great wealth, and it is largely owned by the uber-wealthy.  The wealthiest 1% of this nation own more wealth than the lowest 90%.  That figure … that 40 million live in poverty?  That equates to roughly 12% of the population.  The report goes on to say …

“The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries.  The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

Surprise, surprise … that tax cut was just what we said it was … a benefit for the wealthy.

“But in 2018 the United States had over 25 per cent of the world’s 2,208 billionaires.  There is thus a dramatic contrast between the immense wealth of the few and the squalor and deprivation in which vast numbers of Americans exist. For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.

Need I say more?  Nikki Haley had more to say:

“It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America. In our country, the President, Members of Congress, Governors, Mayors, and City Council members actively engage on poverty issues every day. Compare that to the many countries around the world, whose governments knowingly abuse human rights and cause pain and suffering.”

Wake up, Ms. Haley … members of Congress have been so busy for the past 17 months licking Trump’s boots and kissing his patootie that they haven’t given a thought to those who can barely pay for their medicine, buy food, pay rent, etc.  Her comments came just two days after the U.S. pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council, allegedly because Trump, and presumably Haley did not like the fact that the UN was holding Israel’s feet to the fire on human rights issues and its treatment of Palestinians.  I am inclined to believe that the withdrawal had more to do with the extreme human rights violations being committed by the U.S. in its treatment of immigrant children who are being separated from their families.

Also in the UN report …

“Defenders of the status quo point to the United States as the land of opportunity and the place where the American dream can come true because the poorest can aspire to the ranks of the richest. But today’s reality is very different. The United States now has one of the lowest rates of intergenerational social mobility of any of the rich countries. The equality of opportunity, which is so prized in theory, is in practice a myth, especially for minorities and women, but also for many middle-class White workers.”

The report suggests that the tax cuts will have long-term effects, “creating disparities in the education system, hampering human capital formation and eating into future productivity”.  In other words, as we suspected, the rich will get richer while the poor are kicked into the gutter.  I wonder who the rich people think will be around to build their fancy homes, manufacture their expensive automobiles, grow & harvest their food, clean their houses, educate their children, etc.?

Take a few minutes to read the report, at least the ‘Overview’ and ‘Conclusions and Recommendations’ sections, for they are interesting and enlightening. The full report is 20 pages long and you can view it here, or download it to a Word document.  It is well worth the read.    As for Nikki Haley?  She is just another sycophant whose opinion doesn’t merit further discussion.  The UN report is far more interesting than anything she has to say.

Appeasement

This morning I came across a post by fellow-blogger Erik Hare, writing as Barataria, that made much sense to me and I wanted to share it with you. I have not yet written about the summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, because I am taking time to step back and let time give me a better perspective than I initially had. Erik’s thoughtful post puts the summit and its results into perspective, I think, and gives us some things to consider. Thank you, Erik, both for the post and permission (implied) to share.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

When Neville Chamberlain returned from the Munich Conference with Adolf Hitler in September 1938, he believed he had an answer to his primary question. “What does Mr. Hitler want?” was on the mind of the Prime Minister going into the meeting, and it colored all of the proceedings.

The perception was that Germany was wronged in the Versailles Treaty and that Hitler, as the leader, was simply acting in his own nation’s interest. Chamberlain completely neglected the growing body of evidence that Hitler was indeed a psychopath who had his own interests in mind and was simply using Germany as a tool.

Diplomacy is always complicated, but with such people it is even moreso. More than seeking the right answers, it often becomes critical to ask the right questions in the first place.

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The “American Dream” …

“American Dream is rapidly becoming American Illusion,” warns UN rights expert on poverty


You knew it was happening, and so did I, but now it is official … Trump is turning this nation into the “world champion of extreme inequality”, according to a new report by the United Nations (UN). Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, recently completed a two-week official tour of the US and reported on his findings.

“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.”

A bit about Philip Alston, so you know he is knowledgeable and qualified to speak on this subject:

Philip Alston teaches international law, international criminal law, and a range of human rights subjects. He has degrees in law and economics from the University of Melbourne and a JSD from Berkeley. He previously taught at the European University Institute, the Australian National University, Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He was one of the founders of both the European and the Australian and New Zealand societies of international law and was editor-in-chief of the European Journal of International Law from 1996 through 2007. In 2014, he was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as its Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. From 2004 to 2010, he was UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, undertaking official missions to Sri Lanka, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, Albania, Kenya, Brazil, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and the United States. He has also been on the Independent International Commission on Kyrgyzstan (2011) and the UN Group of Experts on Darfur (2007) and served as Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals (2002-07); chairperson (1991-98) and rapporteur (1987-91) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and UNICEF’s Senior Legal Adviser on children’s rights (1986-92). – New York University, School of Law, faculty bio.

Need I say more?

During his time touring and researching for his report, Mr. Alston spent time with a wide variety of people, including Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who opined that as the “wealthiest country in the history of the world” the US should be providing a model in how to treat all of its citizens with dignity. “Sadly that is not the case. We are moving into 2018 – we should not be living in a country with 41 million people living in poverty and so many more in extreme poverty, and nobody even talks about it.”

Alston requested a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, but Ryan could not make time in his busy schedule to meet with him.  Says something, don’t you think?

“The US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in a context of total deprivation. But denial does not eliminate responsibility or negate obligations.”

Alston was disturbed to find that some of the politicians with whom he met referred to poor people as “wasters, losers and scammers”, and says he wonders if these politicians have ever actually even visited areas of poverty.

This week, our not-so-illustrious Congress apparently reconciled the two tax bills and plan on what could be a final vote next week.  It appears that both chambers have the necessary votes to send the bill to Trump’s desk for his signature.  Let us see what Mr. Alston has to say about that bill:

“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, [emphasis added] and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”

I urge you, dear readers, to read Mr. Alston’s full report, the final version of which will be officially issued in May 2018.  It is a scathing report, and proves what some of us have been saying for nearly 11 months now:  Donald Trump and his minions are putting this nation on a collision course, on a path to the destruction of the very things in which we have taken pride for 230 years now.  This report was a wake up call, even for me, who has seen the destruction since January 20th. We are no longer the “leader of the free world”.  In time, if Trump continues to have nearly free reign, we may no longer even be a part of the ‘free world”. Think about it.