Frontline (India)

Trump Didn't Start WWIII in His First Year, But He Did Torch Our Democratic Values

The world has survived the first year of United States President Donald Trump’s reign. He has not yet destroyed the world with a major war, whether against Iran or North Korea. He has not wrecked the foundations of the world trade and financial systems. These he has not done.

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Donald Trump Has Made America a Laughingstock on the World Stage

A joke circulates on social media. A man calls the White House. He says that he wants to be the President of the United States. The operator says: “Are you an idiot?” The man replies: “Is that a requirement of the job?”

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Puerto Rico is Still a Disaster Area

Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in September-October 2017. The impact of these storms was great, but greater still are the convulsions on the island long after the storms had passed over. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure remains in tatters, with the power grid still largely dysfunctional and basic institutions such as schools and hospitals on life support. Not surprisingly, large numbers of Puerto Ricans—who are citizens of the United States—have moved to the mainland. The Centre for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College, New York) estimates that of a population of 3.5 million, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will make this journey. Already, 130,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October.

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The Corporate Roots of the Opioid Crisis

Sitting in a small cafe in a small town in western Massachusetts, Jordan talks about his problems with opioids. He was a construction worker, but an accident at his work site sent him to a hospital and into the arms of prescription painkillers. Jordan’s doctor did not properly instruct him about the dangers of these pills, which he used to kill the pain that ran down his leg. When the prescription ran out, Jordan found he craved the pills. “I used up my savings buying them on the black market,” he told me. When his own money ran out, Jordan got involved in petty theft. He went to prison for a short stint. The lack of proper care for his addiction in the prison allowed him to spiral into more dangerous drugs, which led to his near-death. Now released, Jordan struggles to make his way in the world.

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Trump Is Trying to Destroy Society as We Know It in America

Disabled Americans came in wheelchairs into the United States Senate to register their protest against the harsh Republican plan to slash health care. ADAPT, a disability rights group, staged a die-in right before the office of the leading Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. About 60 protesters tried to block the entrance to McConnell’s office. Their goal was to show the rest of America what would come out of the American Health Care Act. which the Republicans sought to push through as an alternative to Obamacare. The police arrested 43 protesters and wheeled out others from McConnell’s hallway. The McConnell plan would slash Medicaid, a government plan that provides health-care coverage for poor Americans and those with disabilities. One of the elements of the plan envisages cutting funds for in-home assistance that allows disabled Americans to remain in their own homes rather than move to nursing homes. Fourteen million Americans will lose any access to health insurance.

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The Delicate Art of Diplomacy in the Trump Era is Being Left to Military Generals

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the leading diplomat of the U.S. government. Tillerson, who was previously the head of Exxon, leads a department that nominally directs the country’s foreign policy. However, his tenure so far has been difficult. He serves a mercurial President, Donald Trump, who makes policy in the early hours of the morning on Twitter and zigzags on the basis of his “chemistry” with world leaders. Harsh words for someone today are transformed into kind words tomorrow.

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Trump Has Already Proven He's Willing to Bomb the World to Help His Political Standing

Within a week, United States President Donald Trump authorised two major strikes—one against the Syrian Air Force and the other against an ISIS base in Afghanistan. Both of these strikes came with little warning, although these are not the first such attacks in either sector. The U.S. has bombed Syria almost 8,000 times over the past few years and Iraq uncountable times since 2003, dropping ordnance that has already dwarfed the tonnage dropped in all sectors of the Second World War. But these bombing raids were against the ISIS, largely, and not the Syrian government. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has been at war since 2001—making this the longest war in its history. Aerial bombardment of Afghanistan by the U.S. is now perfectly normal. What made this attack so extraordinary was the scale of the bomb—a-10-tonne monstrosity, the largest non-nuclear weapon used on planet earth. Not long after Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar shuddered with the intensity of that bomb, a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson talked to The Hill (a Washington D.C.-based political newspaper and website) about the attack. President Trump, said this military spokesperson, had given his armed forces greater latitude to fight the War on Terror. This freedom in combat, said the anonymous spokesperson, was “empowering the commanders and winning the war against the bad guys. In this administration, the military is given empowerment to do what we need to do”. Most stunningly, the spokesperson then spoke as if he were the manager of a prize-fighting boxer. “We mean business. President Trump said that once he gets in [to office] he’s going to kick the shit out of the enemy. That was his promise and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said the spokesperson. 

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Trump's Blatant Assault on the Poor and Middle Class

Clarity about the the value of government comes through its budget allocations. If there is more money provided for poverty alleviation, for instance, it indicates that the government is compassionate. If there are severe cuts to farm aid, it suggests that the government cares little for the trials of farmers. The government of Donald Trump—in close association with the Republican leadership in the United States Congress—has now provided its template for the budget. A reading of the document—merely 62 pages long—shows that the Trump administration seems to care little for those who suffer and much more for the military and the moneyed. Trump’s rhetoric about helping the “forgotten Americans” seems largely forgotten. Wall Street, the defence industry and the military contractors will benefit greatly from this budget. Those without jobs and who live in poverty will see little relief.

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Hillary Was No Shoe-in for the Presidency: Trump's Disgraceful Candidacy Saved Her

Boarding an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, we are told by the captain that there is a mechanical problem with the plane. He suggests that the passengers remain on board for the hour that it will take to fix it. Talking to the flight attendants at the rear of the plane, I ask them if they are paid overtime when there are delays. There are only two of them for the Economy section of the plane, even though the plane is equipped to carry four attendants. One of them, Maya, laughs and says that the situation is quite the opposite. She says that attendants and pilots start getting paid only from the point when the pilot lifts the handbrake on the plane and begins to leave the gate. “Everything before that,” she says, “is our gift to the company.” Maya and Ray, the two attendants, hurry back and forth down the aisles for the hour when they are off the clock to hand out water to frustrated passengers. When the clock starts, the attendants make between $20 and $30 an hour—poverty wages for the United States labour market.

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Why Urban Rage in America Is a Powder Keg That's Ready to Blow

What is happening in America? The city of Milwaukee in the State of Wisconsin was convulsed in violence after the fatal shooting of a black man by police officers on August 13. The riot went on for two days.

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Assassinated Activist Berta Caceres Took on the Entire Oligarchy in Her Home Country

On March 3, assassins entered the home of Berta Caceres, leader of Honduras’ environmental and indigenous movement. They shot her friend Gustavo Castro Soto, the director of Friends of the Earth Mexico. He pretended to be dead, and so is the only witness of what came next. The assassins found Berta Caceres in another room and shot her in the chest, the stomach and the arms. When the assassins left the house, Castro went to Berta Caceres, who died in his arms.

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Bernie Wants the American Empire to End; Hillary and the Republicans Want It Untouched

When United States President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he said: “Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars.” Obama meant the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, although this is a modest answer. The U.S. had been involved in far more than two wars. In 2001, George W. Bush had committed the U.S. to a global war on terror at any time and at any place. U.S. Special Forces and drone aircraft had been involved in combat operations in far more than two countries.

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Noam Chomsky: Why the Republican 'Radical Insurgency' Is So Panicked About the Iran Nuclear Deal

On September 2, the United States’ support for the Iran nuclear deal was secured. President Barack Obama’s team negotiated the deal along with other countries of the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Germany). The Republicans in the U.S. Congress had threatened to pass a resolution that would block Obama’s signature on such a deal. Obama had said he would veto any Bill that constrained his hand to sign that deal. He needed 34 Senators to back him in order to secure his veto. When Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said she would support the President, the deal was safe.

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