Anglo Blog Post Eleven, September 11 to October 12, 2016

War in Syria

 
Despite hope that negotiations between the US and Russia would find bring some relief to the beleaguered country of Syria, racked by civil war since 2011, which has caused the death of over 400,000 civilians. As the ceasefire was about to start, the Americans, by accident according to them, bombed Syria and in the process killed 62 Syrian soldiers. A few days later, Syrian and Russian forces were accused of bombing and destroying a convoy of dozens of trucks carrying aid and ready to enter Aleppo.

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An aid convoy apparently bombed by the Assad regime and the Russians. Earlier, the US had bombed Syrian positions and killed 62 Syrian soldiers and with it the cease fire

This essentially torpedoed the ceasefire and fighting has been raging ever since, with hundreds more victims and others fleeing the country and contributing to Europe’s already precarious refugee situation. Future generations will wonder why the major global actors let this carnage continue right under their noses, seemingly indifferent to the massive suffering and resulting instability that could lead to a more widespread global conflict the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades.

US Presidential Debates

 
There have so far been two presidential debates, one on September 24, the other on October 9 between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. In the first debate, Trump appeared unprepared and took Clinton’s bait with a certain predictability. He at one point suggested that the fact he had paid no taxes showed how intelligent he was. In the second debate, Trump after half-heartedly apologizing for a tape recording where he boasts about being able to grope woman because of his fame, went on the attack. He claimed that, among other things, Clinton was the devil and she should be in jail.

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When they were friends at Donald Trump’s wedding in 2005

The first debate performance resulted in a precipitous drop in approval ratings for Trump, especially among suburban women, a key voting bloc. His lewd taped comments further damaged his standing with that group. What is difficult to fathom is how Trump’s support has not crumbled, given the outrageous things he has been saying. It shows how much ire there is among certain groups of people (basically the white working class) toward the system whose much touted globalization has left them behind.

 
First Baby Born with DNA from Three People

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First baby born from the DNA of three people

For the first time in history, a baby has been born with the DNA of three people. A new procedure has been launched, namely the removal of the nucleus of a woman’s egg, which contains the code for horrendous congenital diseases, can be replaced with the uncontaminated nucleus from another woman’s egg. Advances in medical research are astounding and often the ethical implications of these new breakthroughs are not considered at the time, or at all. Nonetheless, this will be welcome news for mothers who carry devastating congenital conditions that would inevitably be passed on to their offspring without this treatment.

 
Colombia’s President Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

 
Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after the population voted in e referendum to repudiate the peace accord he negotiated with the FARC and for which he was being honored by the Nobel Committee. For the last 60 years, Colombia has suffered from brutal internecine political violence resulting in perhaps 500,000 deaths. Under the auspices of Cuba, a peace accord was finally achieved between Santos’ Colombian government and the FARC rebels, who in exchange for amnesty and guaranteed political participation, would give up their armed struggle. The country narrowly rejected this, those voting in favor unhappy at crimes perpetrated by FARC going unpunished.

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There have been controversial Nobel Peace Prize winners such as former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, apparently for his efforts to negotiate a peace accord between the US and North Vietnam. Kissinger has been accused of war crimes for his secret bombing campaign in Cambodia in 1969-70. Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were also controversial choices, recipients for the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993 that have since collapsed, who themselves were responsible for acts of violence against the other side. Barak Obama got the prize for no apparent reason except winning the US presidential election, such was the symbolism of the US having a black president less than fifty years after formal segregation was ended.

 
Yet another referendum

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Refugees walking across Europe

In Hungary, results from the country’s referendum on whether to shut out refuges completely in defiance of the European Union insistence that the refugees fleeing terror and other conflict areas be distributed throughout the EU. Many attribute Britain’s decision to leave the EU to voters wanting immigration restrictions, and not having to abide by the Shengen Treaty guaranteeing free movement of people within the 27 countries of the trading bloc. The Hungarian vote was declared null due to the failure to reach the minimum threshold for voter turnout of 50%. According to the country’s Prime Minister, Viktor Oban, who orchestrated the referendum, “The arriving masses from other cultures are a threat to our way of life, culture, our habits and our Christian traditions.”
It was thought fascism was felled with the defeat of Hitler and the creation of the supra-national European Union. With right wing parties tapping into their citizens’ anxieties about immigration, poisonous views are once again circulating, as they tend to when humans feel insecure.

 
Hapless Haiti

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Widespread destruction in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew, just what the country doesn’t need

The poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti seems to be constantly castigated by nature, compounding its many social, economic and political problems. The latest pummeling came from Hurricane Matthew, and although the death toll was 800, small in comparison to the 200,000 thought dead in the 2010 earthquake, physical destruction has been massive. This has led to another outbreak of cholera, the disease having arrived with Nepalese United Nation’s workers in the aftermath of the earthquake six years ago, and absence of clean drinking water could greatly exacerbate the situation.

Haiti, despite becoming the first independent nation of Latin America in 1804, the result of a decade long slave revolt, was from the start forced to pay a massive illegal debt the French calculated for their losses of slaves and land during the revolt of around US$15 billion, only paid off in 1947. It has had a checkered political history, with a brutal father and son duo, Baby Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier, misruling and fleecing the national treasury for 29 years between 1957 and 1986. Most people are mired in poverty and these intermittent national disasters accentuate their hardships.

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