The United Nations says Trump is making life harder for the poor

The United Nations says Trump is making life harder for the poor

By Amanda Erickson  June 3 at 5:14 PM
The Washington Post

The United Nations has never been shy about attacking the United States.

In recent years, U.N. officials accused the Obama administration of failing to address police brutality and sexual assault in the military. After a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last year, the U.N. team tasked with monitoring the implementation of the global convention against discrimination called on high-level U.S. politicians and public officials to unequivocally reject racial hate speech. Also last year, the world body called President Trump’s attacks on the media “dangerous.”

Now, a top human rights investigator is criticizing the United States for failing the poor.

Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has spent the past several months visiting impoverished communities across the United States. In one visit to Alabama, he met a family struggling to maintain their home on an income of $958 a month.

On the day of his visit, he said, sewage was visible inches from the family’s house — a reflection of their county’s failing infrastructure — and mildew and mold were growing inside. Alston said he had never seen sewage problems like it in the developed world.

“There is a human right for people to live decently,” he said at the time, according to AL.com, an Alabama news outlet.

Alston, a New York University law professor, also paid visits to slum areas in downtown Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.

Now, ahead of a presentation to the U.N. later this month, he is criticizing the Trump administration for gutting the United States’ safety net by slashing welfare benefits and access to health insurance.

“If food stamps and access to Medicaid are removed, and housing subsidies cut, then the effect on people living on the margins will be drastic,” he told the Guardian, saying the loss of those protections would lead to “severe deprivation.”

Alston also lambasted the administration over its recent tax cut, saying that legislation will offer “financial windfalls” to the rich and large corporations, leading to even more inequality.

The government should think harder about how to help those in need rather than “punishing and imprisoning the poor,” he said.

“The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned, rather than a right of citizenship,” Alston said.

About 41 million Americans live in poverty, according to government data, about 12.7 percent of the population. One in three of those are children. The United States has one of the highest youth poverty rates in the developed world.

Critics of Alston point out that those statistics are from 2016, before Trump took office. On Twitter, Alston explained his reasoning this way:

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. A U.S. official in Geneva disputed Alston’s claims, saying that “the Trump Administration has made it a priority to provide economic opportunity for all Americans.”

 

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/06/03/the-united-nations-says-trump-is-making-life-harder-for-the-poor/?utm_term=.d67d6aa66371

Word of Trump-Kim Summit Meeting Stirs Concern in Asia

Word of Trump-Kim Summit Meeting Stirs Concern in Asia

By MOTOKO RICH    MARCH 8, 2018         The New York Times

TOKYO — As North Korea conducted ballistic missile and nuclear tests and President Trump threatened fiery responses last year, Japan and South Korea feared the worst: a nuclear conflict on their front doorsteps.

But now, as President Trump accepts an offer from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to discuss the country’s nuclear program, another fear is looming: that President Trump might offer concessions that the North’s Asian neighbors would find unpalatable, or, if the talks fail, resort to a military option.

Shortly after the announcement of the summit meeting, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told reporters he appreciated “North Korea’s change” and attributed the diplomatic overture to the pressure of sanctions coordinated by the United States, Japan and South Korea.

“We will continue imposing the utmost pressure until North Korea takes specific actions toward thorough, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization,” Mr. Abe said, emphasizing that “Japan and the U.S. have been and will be together 100 percent.”

He also said he would visit Mr. Trump in Washington next month to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue before the president meets Mr. Kim.

Analysts saw Mr. Abe’s language as suggesting that Japan fears that the North might define denuclearization differently from the rest of the world.

 

“I think there’s real concern about a deal-maker president talking one-on-one with Kim, accepting something less than” verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, said Tobias Harris, a Japan analyst at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy based in New York.

“The Japanese government obviously wants the North Korean threat resolved,” he added, “but I don’t think Japanese officials are naïve about the difficulty of achieving a truly meaningful disarmament agreement under these circumstances.”

In remarks released by the White House, an unnamed senior official said President Trump had spoken with Mr. Abe on Thursday night in Washington. The official added that the administration sought a verifiable deal for the permanent denuclearization of North Korea.

In Seoul, a spokeswoman for President Moon Jae-in described the invitation to talk as “another great breakthrough.”

President Trump’s acceptance of Mr. Kim’s invitation to a summit meeting clearly marked a diplomatic victory for Mr. Moon, adding momentum to the South Korean leader’s efforts to steer the nuclear crisis from talk of war toward negotiations.

But analysts quickly noted the risks for Washington and Seoul if Mr. Kim did not live up to American expectations for negotiations, or if South Korea pursued better relations with the North should Mr. Kim not take any steps toward denuclearization.

“Announcing intention for a U.S.-North Korea summit, with so many details yet undetermined, carries risks,” said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “If the Trump-Kim meeting breaks down, both engagement and pressure campaigns could suffer.”

There was no immediate reaction from China’s Foreign Ministry, but some Chinese analysts were pleased with the news.

“The United States cannot resist North Korea’s proposals, and Trump is grabbing at them,” said Cheng Xiaohe, professor of international relations at Renmin University. “That’s good.”

Wendy R. Sherman, the lead negotiator for the Obama administration on the Iran nuclear deal, said China would be wary of a meeting between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump even though Beijing wants dialogue between the two.

“North Korea is not about a rush to denuclearize,” she said. “They are about dominance, respect and the reunification of the peninsula on its own terms.”

“Does China want Kim to determine the future of Northeast Asia?” she asked. “China wants to define the future of Asia. The United States is a Pacific power and wants to protect and grow its place in Asia. However China doesn’t want North Korea as a nuclear state. The United States doesn’t want that. There maybe common ground there.”

Any talks could end up offering only a temporary reprieve, given the American readiness for military action.

“What is worth paying attention to is whether North Korea will state very clearly that they are willing to give up their nuclear weapons,” said Zhang Liangui, professor of international studies at the Central Party School of the Communist Party.

“If North Korea tries to beat around the bush again this time,” Mr. Zhang added, “I think the U.S. is ready to resolve the problem with force.”

In Japan, where Mr. Abe has worked to maintain a close relationship with the American president, analysts said officials were keen to rein in Mr. Trump’s impulsive tendencies.

On the same day that Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation, he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, described as “regrettable.”

During a budget hearing in parliament, Mr. Kono expressed skepticism about North Korea’s intentions.

“Anyone can say that one has the intention to denuclearize,” he said. “So far North Korea has done the same twice, to save time to develop nuclear weapons. So Japan’s stance is unchanged. It’s necessary for them to show concrete actions.”

Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, said it was worrying that the North Koreans were dictating the pace of events.

“Kim Jong-un is playing this very well,” he said. “He’s got South Korea acting as his emissary, and now an unprecedented summit with the U.S. president, all on the basis of a vague and untested commitment to denuclearization.”

“My concern is the U.S. is being drawn into a negotiation prematurely, without the internal coherence required to hold the North Koreans to a meaningful bargain that doesn’t compromise U.S. interests, and those of its allies,” he added.

Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting from Seoul, South Korea, Jane Perlez from Beijing, and Jacqueline Williams from Sydney, Australia.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/world/asia/trump-kim-meeting-asia-reaction.html?action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Putin’s proposal for Ukraine is another trap for Trump

旭川時事英語研究会の宮口です。
いよいよ12月が目前に迫ってきましたね。忘年会が楽しみです。

Putin’s proposal for Ukraine is another trap for Trump

 

By Josh Rogin Global Opinions November 26 at 7:05 PM

After playing into Russia’s hands on Syria, the Trump administration now risks repeating the error in Ukraine, where diplomatic discussions over a Russian initiative are heating up. Moscow’s plan is to legitimize its invasion and control over parts of two eastern provinces by drawing President Trump into another bad deal.

Vladi­mir Putin’s pattern is familiar. He uses his military to escalate fighting on the ground and then approaches the West with a proposal sold as de-escalation. Appealing to European and U.S. desires for peace without Western intervention, the Russian president puts forward an alleged compromise. But in the details, Putin’s proposals are really designed to divide his adversaries and cement his gains.

Such was the case in September, when Putin introduced a proposal for “peacekeepers” inside eastern Ukraine, where Russia continues to fuel a violent separatist uprising that has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths and displaced more than 1.5 million people since 2014. Ukraine, European powers and the United States all decided to engage Moscow on the idea.

But as Ukraine’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, told me at the recent Halifax International Security Forum, Putin’s plan really isn’t for “peacekeepers” at all. He is proposing that international troops deploy only to protect the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s special monitoring mission members in eastern Ukraine.

“The idea of a peacekeeping mission is a serious one,” Klimkin said. “But the Russian proposal of a protection mission doesn’t make any sense at all.”

For one thing, the original Russian proposal was to deploy these forces along the line of contact between the Ukraine military and separatist forces. As the Ukrainian government sees it, that is simply Putin’s way of fortifying the reality that Russia created on the ground.

Nevertheless, Ukraine’s international supporters are taking the proposal seriously. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Putin in September and persuaded him to yield on one point; Putin agreed the international force could be deployed not just along the contact line. That gave Western governments confidence a genuine negotiation with Moscow was possible.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke about the idea with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on Nov. 4. Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s part-time special envoy for Ukraine, met with his Russian counterpart Vladislav Surkov on Nov. 13 and proposed a counterplan.

The U.S. idea, Volker told me, is to create a true U.N. peacekeeping force that would have not only free rein but also security authority throughout contested areas. The force must have access to the Ukraine-Russia border and not have any Russian personnel in it, he said.

Moscow rejected 26 out of 29 of the paragraphs in Volker’s proposal. But Volker said he intends to keep negotiating. He said the peacekeeping plan represents the best hope to return to Minsk II, a peace agreement that both Ukraine and Russia pledged to follow.

That process is stalled primarily because Russia won’t honor provisions mandating a cease-fire, the removal of its heavy weapons from eastern Ukraine and access to the border. Russia still won’t even acknowledge that it has forces on the ground in eastern Ukraine, much less remove them.

But the U.S. strategy is based on the assumption that Putin is looking for — or at least considering — a way out of his financial and military commitments in eastern Ukraine. If Putin’s long-term goal is to create a pro-Moscow Ukraine, his continued interference is having the opposite effect, Volker said.

“What we are trying to do is clarify the options,” Volker said. “If they want to dig in, they can, but it’s going to cost a lot. If they want to move on, it can be something we all agree on and we can find a way to make that work out.”

Ukraine has responsibilities under Minsk as well, including holding local elections in eastern Ukraine, giving the region special status and granting amnesty for the separatists. That can happen only if Putin holds up his end.

But if Putin’s goal is to stay in Ukraine and keep the country destabilized, prevent it from joining European institutions and maintain control over a buffer zone, he will never agree to a peacekeeping mission that meets Ukraine or Western conditions.

Most likely Putin is repeating his strategy in Syria, which was to engage in Kabuki diplomacy with the United States to buy time to consolidate battlefield gains he has no intention of giving up. Trump — and before him, President Barack Obama — went along with it, ensuring that the next phase of the conflict plays out on Russia’s terms.

Trump and Putin spoke Nov. 21 and “discussed how to implement a lasting peace in Ukraine,” according to the White House. Trump should pursue that peace, but not on Putin’s terms.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/putins-proposal-for-ukraine-is-another-trap-for-trump/2017/11/26/2b238622-cfc3-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.edad580188c3