Trump’s Attack on Canada

Now that he has thoroughly antagonized Mexico, Trump is attacking America’s northern neighbor to score political points.

He has found an easy target in two of Canada’s exports, claiming that dairy products and softwood lumber pose “unfair” competition to US producers. And he has imposed tariffs of up to 24 percent on Canadian softwood lumber, triggering outrage from Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (in illustration above with Trump).

I can’t figure out why Trump thinks the Canadian exports are “unfair.” As usual, his justification for the lumber tariffs is incoherent and fact-free. And from what I can find out, it seems America’s dairy farmers are victims of their own unmanaged overproduction, not competition from Canada.

But ranting against Canadian exports wins Trump support among American producers and plays well with his low-information base.

His attack on Canada is an ominous prelude to upcoming NAFTA negotiations. I fear there’s more of Trump’s protectionist aggression ahead.

Trump doesn’t care about the impact on consumers. A trade war with Canada would inevitably create cost-of-living increases in both countries.

As you might expect, the US is by far Canada’s biggest export market but did you know Canada is also America’s number-one global customer? Indeed, the US actually enjoys a trade surplus with Canada, with sales of $337.3 billion compared with imports of $325.4 billion. Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 US states. And exports to Canada produce an estimated 1.7 million US jobs.

Obviously, both economies would suffer from a trade war.

But that’s how Trump has chosen to operate. He is threatening to impose punitive tariffs not only on Canada but also on Mexico and China, risking trade wars that would damage economic growth and kill jobs around the world.

Sadly, Trump’s election is proving to be a global disaster, not just a tragedy for Americans.

More on Trump’s trade war 

 

Is China our Hope for Peace?

As China moves cautiously to ease the tension between the US and North Korea, I am beginning to wonder if the Chinese hold the key to world peace.

President Xi Jinping (photo) is restrained and cerebral –  a rarity in a world where the likes of Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump are surprisingly popular.

And the Chinese system of government – despite the suppression of dissent and absence of personal freedom – is designed to produce long-term stability.

China is unlikely to act in a self destructive manner. As a rising global power, it has too much to lose. With their strategy of taking the long view and following a pragmatic course, China’s leaders will be likely to achieve their goals without violence.

Russia is far more volatile. And Trump’s America seems to be spinning wildly out of control. It’s anyone’s guess who Trump will blast next.

But in their recent meeting, Xi was able to talk sense to Trump, explaining that China is not a currency manipulator after all and enlightening the American president on the reasons for North Korea’s belligerence.

On the other hand, China is a ruthless player in global power politics. China’s leaders are focused entirely on China’s interests. They are not subject to humanitarian impulses or committed to political idealism.

Personal freedom is not among the objectives on their agenda.

More on Xi’s peacemaking

 

Negotiation or Extortion?

It’s almost a hundred days into the Trump presidency and I’m beginning to get some insight into the new president’s negotiating strategy.

I call it extortion.

It’s the way mobsters “negotiate.” They threaten you, “make you an offer you can’t refuse.” leave your race horse’s head on your bed during the night – that kind of unwholesome stuff.

And that’s the kind of stuff Trump seems to favor.

Take his budget “offer” in talks to avoid a government shutdown. He is proposing to cut off fnnds for health care unless the Democrats vote for money to start building his Mexican-border wall.

That’s right. He would let millions of Americans sicken and die as a bargaining chip.

Welcome to the new America, folks, a country where the president “negotiates” like a member of the Mob.

More on Trump’s “offer”

 

Congratulations Ms. Brown!

With the death of Italy’s Emma Morano (at 117 years old), Jamaica’s Violet Brown has become the world’s oldest living person.

It just goes to show something, but I’m not sure what.

Does it mean that as a Jamaican, I might live longer than my Canadian and American friends and relatives? My first wife, Rose, was Italian (and I was born in Jamaica), so do my son Ross and daughter  Grace have a 200 percent shot at living longer?

That would be nice.

But what about my daughter Christine, whose mom is English-born? Christine was born in Jamaica, so that might give her a few extra years.

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Ms. Brown turned 117 in March and seems quite lucid. She enjoys reading and going to church.  She eschews rum, chicken and pork but enjoys fish, mutton and, occasionally, cow foot.

Ms. Moreno was partial to raw eggs and cookies.

I bet neither of them ever ate kale or arugula, or any of those wonder foods American experts advocate.  And I wonder about “healthy” diets. Surely, if you’re supposed to eat something, it should taste good?

Not that cow foot tastes good. What I remember is that it glued my lips together.

Anyway, despite all the hype about being what you eat, I doubt that’s the secret to Ms. Moreno’s or Ms. Brown’s longevity. Indeed, with the mercury in the earth’s water these days, I wonder that eating all that fish hasn’t done Ms. Brown in.

Life and death seem quite random to me. I have had amazingly fit friends who suddenly dropped dead, while “creaky doors” (like me) just live on and on.

I just had my 83rd birthday and today I feel fine. But I doubt very much that I will make it to 117. And I am certainly not going to eat cow foot or raw eggs to do it (or kale or arugula, either).

More on the world’s oldest person

 

Do We Deserve Trump?

According to an old saying, people get the government they
deserve, and I hope it isn’t true because  it’s looking as if Americans deserve lousy government.

Not all Americans, of course but a lot of Americans. Including some in the media.

They are fawning over that awful Trump because he randomly dropped a bomb in Afghanistan and blasted a Syrian airport with missiles.

I guess a lot of Americans figure it shows how trough the guy is. But it shows me – once more – how stupid he is.

And dangerous.

It’s far from certain that the Syrian government was responsible for gassing those civilians. Some experts believe it was the work of rebels, not the government.

But Trump blasted a government base, anyway. He didn’t wait for the evidence to come in.

And he blasted a large swath of the Afghan terrain, killing anyone or anything that happened to be in the area. So what if innocent people died? Trump made his point. Now, if we could just figure out what point that was.

He also sent Mike Pence to make faces at the North Koreans across the Demilitarized Zone. How tough is that!

And he sent “an armada” to the region to back Pence up… well not really an armada, that was jus typical Trump hyperbole. It was actually an aircraft carrier. But it was certainly a provocation.

Recently, I heard on TV that Americans are welcoming the new president’s “decisiveness” after eight years of Obama’s “inaction.” Say what?

Who are these Americans? And how dumb are they really? They think randomly blowing up foreigners is “decisive”? They think President Obama’s prudence was weakness?

Don’t they know, as Winston Churchill observed, that “jaw-jaw is always better than war-war”?

Do they really want to kill people just to show how “bad” we are?

Do they really want to risk a nuclear war?

More on Trump/Pence foreign policy

 

No Nukes from Pyongyang

 

My sister-in-law Faye is worried about North Korea. She heard on the TV news that Kim Jong-un is threatening to nuke North America.

But I can assure Faye nothing of the kind will happen. The nutty North Korean dictator has been threatening to nuke Americans (and South Koreans and Japanese and…) forever and we’re all still unharmed.

And that’s the way we’ll continue to be. Nobody is nutty enough to start a nuclear war. Everybody knows how that would turn out (yes, even Trump).

Kim Jong-un’s  saber rattling is designed to impress North Koreans, not us. That’s the kind of theater that keeps him in power.

Those poor oppressed souls in North Korea get wide eyed when they hear their Dear Leader telling Uncle Sam where to get off.

That Kim is a really tough guy, they tell themselves. Nobody better mess with him.

But in the larger context of global power, Kim is a piker.

Having his uncle torn apart by a pack of starving dogs and poisoning his brother is standard procedure for the little jerk. But setting off a nuclear holocaust is out of his league.

I’m sure the Chinese leaders know this. And that’s why they continue to keep the North Korean economy afloat.  If President Xi thought Kim Jong-un was really planning to shoot a missile at America, he would’ve stepped in and put a stop to the nonsense long ago.

The Chinese have far too much invested in American real estate – and American consumers – to allow any harm to come to us.

Kim Jong-un is just a noisy brat with a nuclear toy. I suppose he might trigger Armageddon by accident but never on purpose. And I doubt even a dolt like him would be careless enough to set off a nuclear war by accident.

The Nuclear Apocalypse is like that bogeyman in your closet when you were a kid. The powers that be (your parents) used the bogeyman to keep you in line then. And today’s powers that be use the threat of a mushroom cloud to keep you in line now.

More on Kim’s threat

China’s view

 

The Next Fastest Human?

Somebody once said the glory of the Olympics is not to have won but to have taken part.  And I hope they’re right because although I didn’t win, I took part in Jamaica’s equivalent of the Olympics – the secondary schools’ annual track-and-field championships.

I wouldn’t have won, anyway, but I have a good excuse. I sprained my ankle in training. And competing with the sprained ankle, I didn’t do very well.

I didn’t realize at the time how big a deal those championships were.  My cousin, Pat Swaby, had won the 100-yards dash a couple of years earlier and my schoolmates at Munro College not only won numerous events every year but routinely set records. So you can imagine my surprise when I read this in Yahoo News today:

Right in the country’s own backyard are the Inter-Secondary Schools Boys and Girls Championships. Better known simply as “Champs,” it might be the best place in the world to find the next Fastest Human Alive.

The report, produced by the editors of GQ Magazine, speculates that Usain Bolt’s successor might be among the kids who competed in this year’s “Champs.”  And it includes photos of various prospects who could claim that honor.

The magazine could be right, I suppose, but it’s hard to believe anyone will ever be as good as Usain.

I know, I know, Jamaica produces a lot of speedy kids. There’s a 12-year-old prodigy named Brianna Lyston, for example. This kid (at right in photo above) smashed the under-13 200-metre record at the Boys and Girls Championships, posting a time of 23.72 in the final of Boys and Girls Championship. And in the 100-metre final, she won with a time of 11.86 seconds.

Trust me, those are spectacular times for a 12-year-old.

So is Usain’s successor going to be a girl?

Why not? Jamaican women are quite formidable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them becomes the fastest person on earth some day.

The notion of “the weaker sex”  might be due for revision.  And it’s little Jamaica that could do it.

The GQ photo spread

The Brianna Lyston story

Usain Bolt’s impact

 

Trump’s Diversionary Attack

My guess is that Trump bombed that Syrian airbase to divert attention from the growing evidence that he is Putin’s pawn. I wouldn’t be surprised if Putin knew about the attack beforehand.

Syria is not a priority as far as Putin is concerned. So he probably gave his old pal Trump permission to bomb the Syrian base as supposed retaliation for Assad’s vicious use of chemical weapons.

I imagine the Russian dictator wasn’t pleased by Assad’s use of chemical weapons Syria was supposed to have eliminated, anyway. It makes Russia look bad.

It doesn’t bother Trump that the US is now fighting on both sides in Syria’s civil war. US troops are battling ISIS rebels while US planes are bombing the government’s airbase.

What happens next is anyone’s guess but I would be astonished if Trump’s attack on Syria leads to bad blood between him and Putin.

With those two, the world’s a stage and everything they do is theater. They don’t have a principle between them. Or a compunction.

They wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice human lives to make a point.

My suspicion is that after the obligatory rhetoric in the UN and the usual saber rattling by all concerned, the horrible Syrian civil war will drag on much the same as it has for so long.

And Trump will be able to assure Americans that he isn’t beholden to Putin, after all.

More on the attack

The chemical weapons agreement

 

As Russia and China Flex Their Muscles

The Chinese are warning that they will ultimately annex Taiwan, and I don’t doubt for a minute that they will. After all, who is to stop them?

The conventions that have provided a safety net for the global community since World War II are unraveling. The wold’s balance of power is collapsing.

China and Russia are paying little attention to global disapproval as they pursue blatantly expansionist agendas.

America’s ability to preserve global stability is diminishing as the world’s two mightiest dictatorships grow stronger. And, as the European Union disintegrates, the rest of the free world  becomes even weaker.

As for the United Nations, that body is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It has failed to provide a stabilizing force in international disputes.

By invading the Ukraine and annexing the Crimea, Putin served notice that he is prepared to disregard world opinion. The resulting sanctions imposed on Russia have been no deterrent. The Russian dictator seems quite likely to seize other neighboring territory as he seeks to rebuild the old Soviet Union.

Again, who is to stop him?

Not President Trump. that’s for sure. Daily, more evidence emerges that Trump is a mere puppet of the Russian oligarchs.

If America were to intervene in China’s or Russia’s empire building, the result could be a Third World War, and that is a prospect too horrible to contemplate.

In his eight years as US president, Barack Obama pursued delicately crafted policies designed to keep the empire building dictatorships in check without triggering a global war. Now, he is gone and his policies are gone with him.

The world is spinning wildly through the 21st century, with no brakes to slow it down, no trusted hand at the steering wheel. And humanity’s fate is becoming ever more uncertain.

China says Taiwan is “doomed”

Russia’s expansionist plans

Obama’s plan to contain China

 

The Evil that Men Do Lives on

As Marc Anthony observed about Julius Caesar  in Shakespeare’s play:

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

By such reckless acts as canceling Obama’s orders regulating the use of coal by power plants and banning pollution of streams by coal mining waste, he claims to be creating jobs for miners.
And it won’t matter what Donald Trump does now, he will be remembered for his war on the environment. Trump will forever be the anti-environment president, the dolt who mindlessly undid the measures that President Obama carefully initiated to stave off catastrophic climate change.
As usual, Trump is putting on a show to impress the uninformed.

But those jobs won’t be coming back. Cheap natural gas and the development of clean-energy technology have made coal too expensive, anyway.

So it won’t matter that Trump has turned coal burners loose to pollute the air we breathe. It won’t matter that he has opened federal lands to coal mining leases. It won’t matter that he will allow coal mines to dump waste in our drinking water.

At least, it won’t matter as far as jobs are concerned.

But it will matter to the people who must breathe the air on this planet.

When America burns coal, the air is polluted not only in this country but globally. Remember the acid rain that plagued Canada a half century or so ago?

Obama wisely led a global effort to curb the atmospheric pollution that contributes to global warming, triggering hazardous climate change and flooding coastal communities.

Trump has set out to undo Obama’s work. The consequences of this evil agenda will ravage the earth long after Trump is gone.

Trump’s war on the environment