Trump vs Queers (again), breaking more treaties, and US troops back in Syria

Third Cultured vol. 30

Living in San Francisco day-to-day, it can be incredibly easy to forget this City is an absolute spectacle. There are (well-documented) problems to address. However, there is something undeniable about San Francisco. That’s more than likely why everyone who lives here is a bit mad. I guess no one should hear the story of Harvey Milk/Mayor Moscone, and be surprised to find San Francisco is at a constant razor’s edge.

And, I mean, constant. I’ve lived in SF a little more than four years now and we’ve voted every single year. It’s a never-ending gauntlet that lost its own tail awhile back.

Luckily, when you live in an imperial city the parallels to geopolitics are easy to make.

Example? Trump holds federal disaster relief hostage as if its Ukrainian military aid.

Until Wednesday,

Kyle

PS – Happy Veterans and Military Families month!


Three Things to Know

  1. On Friday, the Trump administration proposed a rule allowing faith-based organizations to exclude LGBTQ+ families, religious minorities and women, from adoption and foster care services based on religious beliefs – all the while continuing to receive federal funding. Before the rule is enacted, there will be a public comment period, but it’s not open yet. I’ll keep y’all posted. In the meantime – if you live in a Red State – please reach out to your representatives or the Department of Health and Human Services directly.

    For HHS, contact Mark Weber (Mark.Weber@hhs.gov) the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for Human Services. He handles the Office for Civil Rights and is the best contact I can find for now. If you’ve never given public comment before and want some tips, reach out and I’m happy to help!

  2. The US seems determined to reignite another arms race by walking away from key international security treaties. This time, Trump is trying to back the US out of the Open Skies Treaty. A post-war Cold War agreement that grants mutual permission to send reconnaissance flights over the entire territories of its 34 party states. Most importantly, the treaty includes Russia. It would be detrimental for domestic security and that of our allies to walk away from the OST. Instead, the White House should be cementing an extension to New START and re-starting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Anything less will only fully accelerate an unstable world toward nuclear-powered conflict.

  3. In Syria, the Russian and Turkish armies began their dual-patrols on Friday, but Ankara is threatening to push farther into Syrian territory than agreed. On the other end of Turkey, Erdogan is threatening to repatriate ISIS fighters back to their countries of origin (re: EU member states) unless Ankara receives more help from Brussels. Stating Turkey would not be a "hotel" for foreign militants.

    And, don’t worry – even though we just left – the US couldn’t let Russia and Turkey have all the fun! The Kurds called on the US to block Turkish use of Syrian airspace as a means to cease Turkish drone strikes.


American Empire

6 ages of empires: Pioneers, Conquests, Commerce, Affluence, Intellect, Decadence.

2020 Election | The Trump campaign is scamming its supporters with fake contests for Trump meet-and-greets. At least 15 contests were held since 2018, but Popular Information was unable to find any evidence that winners were ever announced. The admission to these contests? Donating to the campaign.

Impeachment Inquiry | John Bolton is scheduled to testify on Thursday, but there is almost a negative percent chance that he shows up. The House began releasing transcripts from previous hearings this morning, and there will be more tomorrow.

  • We all know about Trump’s tweets. But, did you know the president has sent 11,400+ tweets since his inauguration day? That’s a lot of bathroom time.

    Worse yet, his use of @realDonaldTrump has completely altered the way the president communicates with the American people. And, since the impeachment inquiry began, Trump’s tweet rate surged. Some stats: 5,889 personal tweets included attacks, 851 tweets against minority groups, and he praised himself more than 2,000 times (more than anything or anyone else by a long shot).

Iraq’s protest continued to rage this weekend, with protesters attacking the Iranian consulate in Karbala – believing Tehran to be propping up the government in Baghdad – and continuing the shut down of the nation’s biggest gulf port Umm Qasr. The port receives the bulk of Iraq’s imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar, and has been closed since Wednesday. The PM stressed resolution on Sunday highlighting the unrest is costing the economy billions of dollars. 250+ people have died.

  • I’m including Iraq’s protests in the “American Empire” section because these protests are a direct result of the Iraq War.

Mississippi is reaching back to Jim Crow to block a potential Democratic governor.

Navy aircraft carriers have met their match against 21st Century weapons systems.

Trump can now legally remove the US from the Paris Climate Pact at any time. Luckily, it will take a year to formally withdraw after any announcement is made, and – if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020 – rejoining is easy.


China’s Belt and Road

China agreed to terms for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand on what would be the world’s largest trade agreement, if signed. India pulled out at the last minute on worries its economy would be flooded with Chinese goods and prices. Among the US-China trade war and the US’ exit from the TPP, the RCEP effort gained new momentum for member states to offset the negative effects of geopolitics.

Hong Kong saw its 22nd consecutive weekend of unrest, with calls for American support growing louder. To the protesters, the United States represents democracy and their only real chance at achieving their goals requires American backing. The US is in a tough spot because doing too much only fuels Beijing’s propaganda machine and its “black hands” narrative (claiming the West is behind the unrest in Hong Kong). Tensions escalated as protesters swarmed shopping malls, with one pro-Beijing demonstrator stabbing several people and biting off a local politician’s ear. Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam was summoned to Beijing to meet with Vice-Premier Han Zheng, and Chinese state media called for a tougher line on the protesters after media companies – including state-owned Xinhua – were targeted.


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European Erraticism

The EU subsidizes its farmers to the tune of $65 billion every year. For context, Trump’s “farm bailouts” have cost $28 billion and that’s only because we’re fighting a trade war with our largest trading partner. As you can imagine, with a chunk of money that big being dolled out on an annual basis – Brussels doesn’t really know where all the money is going – but, they do know 80 percent of the money goes to the biggest 20 percent of recipients. That negligence would explain why farmers are protesting in record numbers across the continent. Farm subsidies are the basis of the European Union and Brussels inability to execute the program sustainably does not bode well for the health of the union. In America, we call this a “boondoggle.”

Trump injected himself into the UK election by calling into a popular radio show to call on Nigel Farage and PM Boris Johnson to work together to secure a better Brexit, stating the current deal would impede a potential UK-US trade deal. However, the US president is not likely to get his wish. Farage promised to run a Brexit party candidate in every race if the Prime Minister does not withdraw his current deal which Farage describes as “not Brexit.” If Farage follows through, it will open the door for Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing Labour party to scoop up more seats (if not the majority).

  • Speaking of the UK, according to its Ministry of Justice, the share of convicted minors who are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds has almost doubled in 10-years from 14 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2018. This homegrown racism might have something to do with Brexit xenophobia.


Russian Revisionism

On Friday, Russia implemented its Digital Iron Curtain with its “sovereign internet” law. The move positions Moscow in line with other authoritarian regimes like China or North Korea that restrict and monitor citizens’ online actions. In theory, the law will allow Russia to disconnect itself from the rest of the world’s internet infrastructure, similar to Beijing, but experts don’t believe the overhaul necessary to accomplish this is within Moscow’s abilities. Politically, or economically. Expect stronger censorship, but not much else (short of a major reallocation of resources).

Putin is wielding authoritarian’s respect for him to wedge Russia into parts of the world that typically lack Russian influence. This time around, Moscow inserted itself into the South China Sea by increasing its arms sales and financial support of the Philippines in response to Duterte’s increasingly autocratic rule.

Russia is leading an arms race in the Arctic circle. Norway keeps watch for NATO.


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Rising Regions

53 soldiers were killed by an ISIS attack on a military installation in Mali. It’s the most lethal attack in recent memory, and it comes among a surge of attacks worldwide since the US killed the former the organization’s leader last week.

Cameroon will lose preferential trade status with the US in 2020 because of alleged human rights violations.

El Salvador expelled Venezuela’s diplomats from the country, citing the Maduro government as illegitimate, in an attempt to reignite pressure against the regime.

LGBTQ+ Africans challenge identity in the diaspora.

Nigeria’s border closures threaten the continent’s newly-enact free trade area.


Non-State Factors | Cities, Climate, Corps & Culture

French climate activists stole portraits of President Macron from 130+ town halls across the country to protest his lack of effective environmental policies.

Municipal bonds built the United States. (Public banks will re-build it!)

New Dehli’s smog pollution is so bad, the city is described as a “gas chamber.”

The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago on Saturday. It’s been down longer than it was up.

The Red Deal builds upon the Green New Deal by centering Indigenous peoples.

What Ancient Stones Still Mean to the Assyrian People Today (Hyperallergic)

Assyrians are the last Aramaic-speaking ethnic group in the world. The distinct, indigenous community — whose members belong to various ancient Christian sects — numbered nearly 1.5 million prior to the Iraq War but has fallen precipitously to under 150,000 today. The KRG’s own repressive and anti-historical policy toward Assyrian heritage is itself part of broader trends — of co-option and persecution — that deepen Assyrian powerlessness.