Hezbollah threatened, Iran fumbled and 15K Florida Teachers Went on Strike

Third Cultured vol. 44

Lots of new today, so no commentary up top.

Thanks for reading!

Kyle

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Three Things to Know

  1. One American Thing

    Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah announced on Sunday that Iran’s attacks on two Iraqi bases “were only the beginning” of retribution the US would face for killing Soleimani. As Nasrallah spoke, rockets attacked a base north of Baghdad where US troops are currently housed. Four Iraqis wounded, but no casualties reported.

  2. One International Thing

    Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the Ukrainian airliner, killing 176. To recap, Iran’s “revenge” killed more Canadians, Ukrainians, and Iranians than American soldiers. What little advantage Tehran may have had over the US, even if just rhetorically, evaporated with that plane. Lying for three days made it worse.

  3. One Cultural Thing


American Empire

80% – California’s Central Valley grows 80 percent of the world’s almonds, and it’s killing the bees. In winter 2018-2019 alone, 50 billion bees were wiped out.

Bagram, Afghanistan is a boomtown of 80,000 that thrived next to the US’ largest base in Afghanistan. That same status now makes it a sitting duck as US troops plan an inevitable withdrawal from the nation.

California and Texas have radically different textbooks. We are two nations.

China Trade Deal: Trump has invited at least 200 people to the January 15 signing of the “Phase One” portion of the deal, but the details are still not final.

Impeachment

Jeopardy jumped into the Israel-Palestine fray.

Texas becomes first US state to ban resettlement of refugees.

The world is not confident in President Trump…at all. But, the US is still favored.

Southern Puerto Rico experienced a 5.9-magnitude aftershock in its 15th consecutive day of seismic activity. Last Tuesday, the island was struck by a 6.4-magnitude quake.

What is “The German Problem”? That Berlin is becoming a giant Switzerland.

Why doesn’t the Middle East already have a NATO? It’s not for a lack of trying.

Why is the US so bad at foreign policy?

Moreover, as Paul Pillar explains in his important book Why America Misunderstands the World, the United States’ unusual historical experience, geographic isolation, large domestic market, and general ignorance has weakened its ability to fashion viable foreign-policy strategies. 

2020 Election


China, Europe, Russia, and Everyone Else

24 – The number of people in Australia arrested for allegedly starting the bush fires.

620% – China increased military spending 620 percent since 1990 to catch the US.

Africa’s Sahel and Terrorism

Brussels wants the EU to decarbonize the economy by 2050.

Buckingham Palace agreed to allow the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to spend half their time in Canada (though they haven’t specified yet).

Colombia said they stopped an assassination of the former FARC leader, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known as Timochenko.

Eritrean infrastructure projects use EU funds and forced labor. Not a great combo.

France’s government caved on its pension reform plan – raising the retirement age by two years – after the largest transportation strikes the nation has seen in decades.

Indians took to the streets last week to protest the nation’s economic slowdown.

Netanyahu is unlikely to get immunity and may sit trial before the March 3 elections.

Northern Ireland legalized same-sex marriage. Congratulations!

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said passed away. He was the Arab world's longest-serving ruler. His cousin has been sworn in as his successor.

The Philippines issued an evacuation for thousands as Taal Volcano spews ash.

South Sudan’s VP was sanctioned for human rights abuses to pressure him to form a unity government.

Taiwan re-elected Tsai Ing-wen as president, rebuking Beijing’s campaign efforts.

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaidó was re-elected Speaker after forcing his way into the National Assembly building, despite Maduro loyalists’ best efforts.


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Cities, Climate, Culture & Corporations

52 books for 52 weeks to better understand the 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.

400: A Collective Flight of Memory. (A must-see art exhibition.)

$42 billion – 2019’s global box office total, a new record.

A playboy tortoise had so much sex that he saved his species.

‘A Rich Man’s Revolt.’ What kind of revolution was the US War of Independence?

An 1873 essay celebrating Ancient Greek sexuality by John Addington Symonds – ‘A Problem in Greek Ethics’ – paved the way for the modern gay rights movement.

Christian Dominionists think the US is the new “Promised Land” and Christian Americans have replaced the Jewish people as God’s “chosen ones.” And, they love Dave Ramsey. (Yeah…the “debt-hating” guy. See the problem?)

Facebook doubled-down on its political ad policy that allows the spread of lies.

Fast fashion is making it impossible to recycle clothes.

Happiness, in the American sense, is a neurosis.

If America is Rome, we’re in the beginnings of a nasty civil war.

So in a way, the current era not only recalls but rewinds the Roman civil wars. Caesar’s wars and dictatorship ultimately resulted in Augustus’ maius imperium and personal accumulation of offices, but at least gave Rome peace in exchange. We, instead, have broken the Pax Americana and diminished our global authority in order to wage “wars that will win no triumphs.”

Is there a Silent Book Club near you? (Check it out!)

Mark Twain described the lunacy of war in 1905 as vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League.

Former Pope Benedict published a book attempting to sway Pope Francis to not change the Church’s traditional celibacy and gender rules regarding the priesthood.

The enduring legacy of the “Oxford School” in children’s fantasy literature.

The Oscars did not nominate a single woman for Best Director, again. All the noms.

White feminism is a key component of white supremacy. The “Resistance Socialite” is a perfect example.

Why can’t Disney let Elsa be gay?

Will the Universe expand forever or will it collapse on itself in “the Big Crunch?”