The government shutdown in the US is now the longest-running in the country’s history. And the political dynamics taking place in the White House and Congress are getting extensive press coverage. But the devastating impact it’s having on federal government workers is the real scandal. It just isn’t receiving the same levels of attention.
Donald Trump’s stubbornness is literally ruining people’s lives. And their stories must be told.
Anti-government protests have been rocking Sudan for weeks. The country’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, has been in power for almost three decades; and he’s wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He’s the first serving head of state to face charges of genocide. Yet he has traveled the world freely since the charges were issued almost a decade ago.
Western governments, however, seem to have been turning a blind eye to al-Bashir – all while obsessing over regime change elsewhere. This highlights once again the hypocrisy and self-interest which lie behind their foreign policy standards.
Neoliberalism – the economic doctrine that brought us austerity and privatization – has been discredited across the globe. It’s a dying creed. But it’s not yet dead. Because its rich and powerful supporters are refusing to go down without a fight. And the start of the new Brazilian president‘s time in office shows that it’s adapting to new circumstances, and even evolving into something more sinister.
The doctrine has contributed to falling wages, rising inequality, homelessness, and even hunger. And experts have exposed its ‘benefits’ as the empty ruse they always were. As Prof David Harvey argues in his powerful book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, it never aimed to serve the public interest; instead, its purpose was always to reassert the power of ruling elites around the world.
Late on 8 January, Trump gave a rare televised speech from the White House’s Oval Office. Addressing the nation directly, the primary purpose was to make the case for his proposed wall along the US border with Mexico.
The following day, social media users picked the speech apart. Because while some of his claims were misleading or significantly lacking in context and nuance, others were outright lies.
Recently released estimates show how US carbon emissions rose significantly in 2018. This is in spite of reductions in coal-derived energy and Obama-era drives to cut consumption.
This once again raises the question of whether tinkering around the edges of our economic and political systems is enough to deal with the climate chaos we face.
Progressive Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently expressed her support for raising the top rate of income tax in the US to 70%. Naturally, right-wing voices have been going into overdrive criticizing the proposal. But a renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist has now weighed in to defend the idea. And others are joining the call for a return to a genuinely progressive tax system.
The ‘radical’ US left is back
On 4 January, CBS News aired its latest 60 Minutes program. This featured an interview with Ocasio-Cortez, who discussed a broad range of policy ideas, along with her thoughts on Donald Trump.