Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Construction of the Wall was started by the then-German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 Aug. 1961. It came to symbolize — metaphorically and physically — the ‘Iron Curtain’ that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
The House overwhelmingly (354-60) approved a resolution, that formally rebukes Trump, over his sudden and disastrous pull-out of American troops from northern Syria. (The damage has been done, of course — to America’s reputation, to the Kurds that had fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans against ISIS, and to the stability in the region).
P.S. A recent blog post from Terri Kanefield explains a lot to me. Here is just the end of her explanation regarding the Mueller findings, and why impeachment then, would not have been viable.
Back when Trump appeared to be trying to goad the House into impeachment, it was when impeachment would have been basically about the Mueller findings.
With the Mueller stuff, Trump knew how to control the narrative because he knew the parameters. This was what the “impeach right now” people didn’t understand.
Legally, the House can keep impeaching. Politically, it would be insane. Imagine this: a prosecutor brings charges (obstruction of justice, for example) in June. The jury acquits. Then in September, the prosecutor says, “I have more evidence on that guy! Let’s have another trial!”
See how that looks?
The public was bored with the Russia investigation, and didn’t want to hear about things Trump had done before he was elected president. Scholars on impeachment say that traditional crimes are not what impeachment is about. Impeachment is for a president so abusing his power that removing him in the election may not be an option, or even possible.
If Trump had been impeached last spring, the Senate would have acquitted, and Trump would have declared himself Completely Exonerated.
The House would have looked silly impeaching again.
Trump knew once he was impeached and acquitted, he would would have been insulated from any additional impeachments.
In other words, he would have been untouchable.
Pelosi has decades of Intel experience. A lot of the Ukraine stuff happened in the open. What’s happening now is much more serious and compelling.
Pelosi waited for this or something like it to come out.
Either Pelosi got lucky or she knew what she was doing. Given that she’s the one of the most experienced and savvy people in politics, I’ll take Door #2.
Being a woman complicates this. People are less likely to assume she knows what she’s doing.
As usual, my luggage was filled with books, and with little nothings and souvenirs. Here are some of the items.
It is spring in South Africa, and I just had to stop by Kirstenbosch: one of the world’s finest botanical gardens.
I just had to check out Greenland again on my Earth globe (with the stupid and completely unnecessary flap created around it, and all — by You-Know-Who in the White House).
Greenland is the world’s largest island and is a semi-autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for more than a millennium.
The New York Times has launched a project called the 1619 Project. ‘The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are’.
‘Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.
Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on non-white people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor. Given the choice between modernity and barbarism, prosperity and poverty, lawfulness and cruelty, democracy and totalitarianism, America chose all of the above’.
Wow .. it is Tuesday in Hong Kong and protesters are again flooding into Hong Kong airport. (The airport was brought to a standstill on Monday).
Who will ultimately win the public’s support, and will it matter once the Chinese army moves in? Hong Kong law states that the People’s Liberation Army (the Chinese armed forces) stationed in the Hong Kong region cannot interfere in local affairs, but the law does allow for their deployment at the request of the Hong Kong government to ‘maintain public order’.
What started as protests against changes to Hong Kong’s extradition laws to China, have now morphed into protests against police brutality (against the protestors), and against the Hong Kong government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in general.
The massacres continue unabated here in the United States.
Saturday at an El Paso Walmart: 20 dead, dozens wounded.
Early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio: 9 dead, 27 wounded.
Both are acts of domestic terrorism, committed by home-grown white nationalist Americans.
The Republicans and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly blocked laws passed by the House in the Senate.
The New York Times notes: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”
It should be noted, though, that in 2013, Connecticut State lawmakers did make sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws. It did not impact gun sales very much, but today Connecticut has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. (‘Lowest gun death rates’ is still a problem).
It was a gray Sunday, with a little rain, here in the city today.
I did run out to go check on the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s gradual disappearance (on-going demolition), and the new buildings under construction nearby.
It has been 50 years since the Stonewall riots in 1969.
A series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations were made by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community, against a police raid that had begun in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
The Stonewall riots are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.
Time marches on, and here we are, 75 years from the day in World War II, on which the Allied Forces had landed on the beaches in Normandy.
After sunset on June 5th, an enormous fleet of some 6,900 Allied vessels made their way to the French coastline. The first Allied soldiers set foot on the five beaches at about 6.30 am. (The five beach-heads would only be connected by June 12th, much later than planned, though). An estimated 4,400 Allied soldiers died on D-day, and an equal number or more German soldiers.
By the end of June 1944, some one million Allied soldiers were on the ground on French soil. The casualties for both sides during Operation Overlord that lasted until Aug. 30, 1944, would come to some 450,000 dead.
I had a picture from twenty years ago, of a New York City street corner somewhere in Times Square, and I stubbornly used Google Street View until I finally found the place that I had taken the 1999 picture from. It looks very different today!
P.S. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he is running for President in 2020 today. The count of Democratic candidates is now at 23.
What a terrible Easter Sunday for Sri Lanka (pop. 21 million) – a relatively small, poor country, with tropical rainforests and tropical savannah, and mountain slopes that produce the cleanest tea in the world.
From the New York Times: ‘Sri Lanka endured a decades-long civil war that killed tens of thousands of civilians before it ended in 2009. Five years earlier, some 30,000 Sri Lankans had died in the Indian Ocean tsunami’.
The government shut down Facebook and WhatsApp afterwards (to prevent the spread of misinformation). So far no one has publicly claimed responsibility. It seems the attackers were mostly locals, but an international terrorist organization was probably behind all of it.
Wow! A shiny quarter, I thought, spotting a coin on the floor in the grocery store.
Oh! It’s not a quarter, I realized when I picked it up.
It was 20 cent coin, all the way across the globe from New Zealand.
So Brexit is now delayed until Oct 31 this year (yes, Halloween).
Will it be a trick or a treat?
The UK must participate in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament (if it fails to do that, the UK will leave the EU on June 1). The European Council also reiterated that there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations.
Tuesday marked the start of the Chinese lunar year.
2019 is the Year of the Pig (Boar).
Wow .. not good, the riots in the streets in Caracas over the disputed presidential elections of 2018. By many accounts, interim president Nicolás Maduro stole the 2018 elections with widespread fraud and support from the military. He and his supporters are refusing to let the National Assembly’s declaration & swearing in of Juan Guaidó stand.
The Trump Administration declared support for opposition leader Guaidó (so not the dictator Maduro – a surprise. Why is that? wonder observers, given that Trump fawns over and supports dictators Putin, Erdoğan, Duterte & Kim Jong-un).
In the meantime, the citizenry has to deal with an utterly destroyed economy. Nine out of ten Venezuelans live in poverty, despite the country’s vast oil reserves. Inflation in 2018 was 1,300,000%. So your money there is not worth the paper it is printed on.