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July 2019

Jul 1 ... At the G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump have agreed to resume trade talks. Trump received assurances that China will buy more US farm products, and Trump signaled the easing of restrictions on eight Chinese companies, including the telecom giant Huawei. The sudden reversal angers a few Republican senators. Rubio of Florida among them complains about a loss of the administration's credibility and dangers from Huawei). On news of a trade truce, financial markets rally and gold declines.

Jul 3 ... The BBC reports that "Americans produce three times the global average of waste, including plastic and food... 773kg per head of population, roughly 12% of the global total." As for recycling, the US "lags behind other countries, only re-using 35% of solid waste. "The US is the only developed nation with waste generation that outstrips its ability to recycle." According to the article, "Germany is the most efficient country, recycling 68% of material." China and India are more than 36 percent of the earth's population and account for 27 percent of the waste. Asian countries are complaining that they don't want to be "the world's dumping ground anymore." Comments follow about the US exceptionalism of producing the most and recycling the least and people walking through trash to enter skyscrapers.

Jul 5 ... In Sudan, the ruling military council and leaders of the protest movement have agreed to an alliance. They have agreed to rotate control of the sovereign council during a three-year transitional period. Then, elections are to be held and democratic rule to begin. The turmoil, demonstrations and bloodshed that began in April (against the dictator General Omar al-Bashir) have perhaps ended. Someone in the US expresses skepticism given "the military's long history of vicious oppression." Someone else bothers to write: "Sudan, Like who cares?" But news organizations are describing the Sudanese as packing their streets with "frenzied" celebrations.

Jul 7 ... The Financial Times (headquartered in London) headlines: "Worries mount over human cost of US sanctions on Venezuela". The NY Times yesterday: "Already facing a deep economic crisis, the country is seeing food production shrink drastically as mismanagement and American sanctions make gasoline scarce." Some describe the goal of US sanctions regarding Venezuela as regime change. US national security adviser John Bolton speaks of the “troika of tyranny (Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela) as "beginning to crumble". Venezuela grows barely a third of the food it needs and it needs its oil exports that are being crippled by US sanctions. In a new study, a Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodriguez in New York warns that "We’re going to see a famine in Venezuela.” Some remember that the Soviet Union fell following US policies toward it that included "peaceful coexistence," trade and "detente," and they have not given up on Venezuelans in better times remembering and eventually changing their own society.

Jul 9 ... One duty of Britain's ambassador to the US is to give frank evaluations to Britain's government regarding the US government, and the ambassador was supposed to be able to communicate securely with his government. But Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch's message was leaked and it described the Trump administration as "dysfunctional" and "divided." President Trump responded that the ambassador had not served the United Kingdom well. Trump called him "a very stupid guy" (despite previous compliments). Trump called him "pompous" and says, "We will no longer deal with him." Britain's prime minister, Teresa May, is giving the ambassador her full support. Brexit champion Boris Johnson is siding with Trump, and his rival in a race to replace Teresa May, Foregn Secretary Jermey Hunt, is siding with Teresa May and Ambassador Darroch, and he says Trump has been disrespectful toward Teresa May and the UK.

Jul 11 ... Today, boats believed to belong to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) approached the tanker British Heritage as it was moving into the Strait of Hormuz. The Revolutionary Guard is the most powerful force within Iran’s complicated political structure and sees itself as guarding Iran's national interests. The United States sees Revolutionary Guard activities as mischief that need combating. Iran is describing sanctions against it as war. Perhaps it is too much to expect Iran to favor the humility required these days for the best solution to their conflict with the US: reduced tensions and drift back to normal relations — including the US ending its sanctions

Jul 15 ... A headline in Al Jazeera reads: "European powers present united front on Iran nuclear deal... EU foreign ministers continue to urge Iran and the US to restart dialogue." The article describes the foreign ministers as inviting Iran to "reverse its steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement... The reality is that the deal has avoided Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and so it has been effective." They add: "I think everyone today recognises there is no alternative to this deal... As an international community at large, it is key to keeping the situation as calm as possible in the region."

Jul 16 ... The NY Times columnist David Brooks writes about the meaning of liberalism vs progressivism, largely ignoring the overlapping of the liberalism of older Democrats and those considered further to the left like the four congresswomen of color told by Trump to get out of the country if they don't like it here. Some dislike the blah blah about labels. Pelosi considers herself a progressive. The four congresswomen described by Trump as socialists or communists are talking support for the US Constitution rather than sending revolutionary soldiers to overthrow the government. Someone says: "Let's get real, big changes are taking place rapidly on the economic, technology, social fabric and environmental side... Shouldn't we expect leadership with a vision to manage these changes on short timelines?"

Jul 19 ... Government agencies are issuing warnings as two-thirds of the United States is expected to suffer what could be record high temperatures tomorrow and the day after. According to the Penn State Earth System Science Center, climate change has made heat waves longer, more frequent and more dangerous. The NY Times reports that "since the 1960s the average number of heat waves — defined as two or more consecutive days where daily lows exceeded historical July and August temperatures — in 50 major American cities has tripled." According to the US Global Change Research Program the "time period in which heat waves might be expected to occur is 45 days longer than it was in the 1960s".

Jul 21 ... Trump is banging on the drums of partisanship as is Senator Lindsey Graham (R SC), the two describing four Democratic congresswomen (the so-called squad) as a "bunch of communists" who hate America. A few worried citizens describe recent talk from the four as grist for Trump. They would like the four to talk back to the distortions with an honest but soft presentation. (Some of them might even appreciate minimalist music rather than drum-banging rock.) And the four by now are indeed speaking more softly, giving the public credit for not needing the kind of stridency that appears to move some of President Trump's base.

Jul 23 ... Paul Krugman writes in the NY Times that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders "are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party’s chances." Krugman denounces "the name-calling and false assertions". Biden wants to build on and improve Obamacare and says Sanders' plan would undermine Medicare. Sanders favors Medicare for All and says Biden's plan keeps "corporate greed" as a part of the healthcare system. (Sanders sees all corporations as inherently greedy despite Sweden being capitalist. Hillary has complained that his innuendos diminished support for her.) Many of the comments on Krugman's column describe reason as on the side of Medicare for All – without considering arguments about Trump's re-election. Meanwhile, Biden is ahead among Democratic primary voters nationwide, at 33 percent. Sanders is second at 18 percent.

Jul 27 ... Britian's Jack Straw, Secretary of State for the Blair government, describes President Trump's pull out of the nuclear deal as a bad move that shifted the balance of politics in Iran away from the pragmatists toward the hardliners, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. (The latter like Trump have always opposed to the nuclear deal.) The Iranians are now playing a tit-for-tat game, posturing and trying to stand up to against US and British hostility and sanctions. The Trump administration has been hoping that the sanctions will create an uprising and regime change in Iran or at least force Iran to give up making trouble in the Persian Gulf region — while Iran sees its rival Saudi Arabia, a Trump ally, as the troublemaker.

Jul 31 ... Mass shootings in the US in the month of July (not including today, the 31st) are listed by Wikipedia as numbering 49. The shooting in Gilroy, California, at a garlic festival this last Sunday (the 28th) is described as targeting people randomly and as having killed 3 and wounded 15. The shooter, a boyish-looking 19-year-old, Santino William Legan, was shot dead by police. He used an AK-47 style rifle that is illegal in California and that he bought without difficulty in Nevada. The shooter has been described as from a local prominent "good family." According to researchers he was influenced by white nationalist literature, a Darwinian view of white superiority including the idea that "might is right“, which he shouted during the shooting. His home was near the festival and he described it disparagingly, annoyed perhaps by the flood of people into the area.

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