With Oceans Under Greatest Threat Ever, Trump Administration Urges Even Less Protection for Marine Life

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“It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.” Julia Conley Common Dreams With the world’s oceans more severely threatened than ever before, President Donald Trump’s Interior Department is recommending even less protection for the fraction of ocean life the U.S. has guarded from commercial fishing and other activities in recent years. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that three ocean monuments in the Pacific ... Read More »

Migrant slavery in Libya: Nigerians tell of being used as slaves

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The European Union is working with Libyan coastguards to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea BBC But many of those intercepted end up in detention centres in Libya, where some migrants say they are used as slaves, as the BBC’s Stephanie Hegarty found when she spoke to some Nigerians who have just returned home. As evening falls on Benin City, outside the mildewed 1960s block of one of the city’s many hotels, a group of men and ... Read More »

Earth Will Start Becoming a Desert by 2050 If Global Warming Isn’t Stopped, Study Says

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More than 25 percent of the Earth will experience serious drought and desertification by the year 2050 if the attempts made by the Paris climate agreement to curb global warming are not met, according to a new study by the journal Nature Climate Change. Leah Thomas Newsweek The study, which was published on Monday, claims that if the Earth’s average yearly temperature is raised by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next 32 years, the areas of the world experiencing “aridification,” or ... Read More »

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2018

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From North Korea to Venezuela, here are the conflicts to watch in 2018. It’s not all about Donald Trump. Robert Malley ICG That’s a statement more easily written than believed, given the U.S. president’s erratic comportment on the world stage — his tweets and taunts, his cavalier disregard of international accords, his readiness to undercut his own diplomats, his odd choice of foes, and his even odder choice of friends. And yet, a more inward-looking United States and a greater ... Read More »

Israel: African migrants told to leave or face imprisonment

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The Israeli government has issued a notice for thousands of African migrants to leave the country or face imprisonment BBC The migrants will be given up to $3,500 (£2,600) for leaving within the next 90 days. They will be given the option of going to their home country or third countries. If they do not leave, the Israeli authorities have threatened that they will start jailing them from April. The UN refugee agency said the controversial plan violated international and ... Read More »

Donald Trump’s Biggest Fear: A Romney 2020 Primary Challenge

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The retirement of Sen. Orrin Hatch sets up a bigger political play. With Sen. Orrin Hatch’s announcement that he will not run again in 2018, Mitt Romney is on the verge of gaining his revenge against President Donald Trump. Jacob Heilbrunn The National Interest Until now, the Republican establishment has lacked a figurehead behind which it could mobilize against Trump. If Romney runs for Hatch’s position, he will be poised to challenge Trump in the 2020 Republican primary and to ... Read More »

Ursula K. Le Guin on Aging and What Beauty Really Means

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“There are a whole lot of ways to be perfect, and not one of them is attained through punishment.” Maria Popova brain pickings “A Dog is, on the whole, what you would call a simple soul,” T.S. Eliot simpered in his beloved 1930s poem “The Ad-dressing of Cats,” proclaiming that “Cats are much like you and me.” Indeed, cats have a long history of being anthropomorphized in dissecting the human condition — but, then again, so do dogs. We’ve always used our feline and canine ... Read More »

Flemish farmer busts conventional wisdom on EU farm policy

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Community-supported model thrives without subsidies from Brussels By SIMON MARKS Politico LEUVEN, Belgium — The EU does not spend much time thinking about farmers like Tom Troonbeeckx. But as Brussels prepares to propose a reform of its landmark €58 billion-per-year Common Agricultural Policy in 2018, the softspoken Flemish farmer offers an alternative model to Europe’s conventional wisdom over the last half century. Troonbeeckx runs 30 hectares of farmland near the Belgian city of Leuven, only 20 kilometers east of Brussels, without… Flemish ... Read More »

The notion that lower corporate tax rates will lead to a repatriation of corporate cash and an influx of job creation in the United States is a complete nonsense.

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When the founders of the United States framed the American Constitution, one of the concerns that guided their work was the knowledge that popular democracy would eventually become an entirely commercial proposition. Christopher Whalen The National Interest This fear is clearly illustrated by the tax “reform” legislation just passed by the Republican majority in Congress. It seeks to buy votes next November with reductions in federal tax revenue that must ultimately be funded with ever larger amounts of public debt. ... Read More »

UN chief calls for restraint, urges Kabila to step down

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The UN chief has called on Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to peacefully leave office in accordance with an agreement in late 2016. AlJazeera The comments by Antonio Guterres late on Sunday came after security forces killed at least seven people and arrested more than 120 during protests against Kabila’s rule. Catholic protesters rallied in the capital, Kinshasa, and other cities after Sunday mass to demand Kabila, whose second term as president ended in December 2016, step… UN chief calls… Read More »

Venezuela to raise minimum wage despite economic crisis

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Venezuela is set to raise its minimum wage by 40%, in a move expected to worsen already high levels of inflation. BBC The country is suffering from an economic crisis in which shortages of food and medicine are common Venezuela’s economy has been hit by falling oil revenue and the plummeting value of the Bolivar. President Nicolas Maduro announced the wage increase in his end-of-year address. He said the move would “protect workers” from what he called an economic war ... Read More »

Varadkar turns out to be a surprising believer in State Enterprise

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He has committed himself to Lemass’s concept of a mixed economy with strong state companies Paul Sweeney The Irish Times Looking back over the year, an interesting speech by the Taoiseach, which got lost in the confusion around Brexit, deserves attention for three reasons. It showed that maybe the leader of Fine Gael is not as right-wing as portrayed. Secondly, it indicates there may be a Plan B for enterprise policy, which is more complex than the low corporation tax ... Read More »

Chinese paper warns Australia on ‘interference’ in South China Sea

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Bangkok: A Chinese Communist Party-owned newspaper has published an article warning that Australia’s “interference” in the flashpoint waters of the South China Sea may prompt China to “adopt strong countermeasures which will seriously impact Australian economic development”. Lindsay Murdoch The Canberra Times Zhang Ye, a researcher at the Chinese Naval Research Institute in Beijing, wrote in the hawkish Global Times that Australia’s “kissing up to the United States” will “poison its relations with China and shake up [the] foundation for its strategic balance ... Read More »

There Is No Case for the Humanities

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Τhe humanities are not just dying. By some measures, they are almost dead. Justin Stover American Affairs In Scotland, the ancient Chairs in Humanity (which is to say, Latin) have almost disappeared in the last few decades: abolished, left vacant, or merged into chairs of classics. So too in the same period, the University of Oxford revised its famed Literae Humaniores course, “Greats,” into something resembling a technical classics degree. Both of these were long survivors, throwbacks to an era in which ... Read More »

Why it makes good sense to have a rainy day fund

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Ireland’s position remains vulnerable, despite the enormous progress of recent years Cliff Taylor The Irish Times There is a long tradition of interviews with the Taoiseach and senior Government Ministers over the Christmas period This year a key message from the Government is that there may be a need for restraint in tax and spending policies next year, as economic growth continues apace. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was at pains to point out that expected tax cuts of €1 billion could not be ... Read More »

When it comes to refugees, Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison and Dutton are hypocrites

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They claim to be Christians but seem to forget the fundamental tenets of its teaching: compassion and treating others as you would want to be treated Julian Burnside The Guardian Ιn 1974 the parliament passed the Trade Practices Act which, by section 52, decreed that a corporation should not “engage in conduct which is misleading or deceptive”. But parliamentarians are not subject to similar restrictions. We accept without questioning that norms of conduct, which parliamentarians set for commerce, do not ... Read More »