North Korea says talks with Pompeo were ‘regrettable’

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PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — High-level talks between the United States and North Korea appeared to hit a snag on Saturday as Pyongyang said a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been “regrettable” and accused Washington of making “gangster-like” demands to pressure the country into abandoning its nuclear weapons.

The statement from the North came just hours after Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks with senior North Korean officials without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but with commitments for new discussions on denuclearization and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.

While Pompeo offered a relatively positive assessment of his meetings, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. betrayed the spirit of last month’s summit between President Donald Trump and Kim by making “unilateral and gangster-like” demands on “CVID,” or the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.

It said the outcome of the follow-up talks was “very concerning” because it has led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” said the statement, released by an unnamed spokesman and carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable,” the spokesman said. “Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish.”

According to the spokesman, during the talks with Pompeo the North raised the issue of a possible declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice and not a peace treaty. It also offered to discuss the closure of a missile engine test site that would “physically affirm” a move to halt the production of intercontinental range ballistic missiles and setting up working-level discussions for the return of U.S. war remains.

However, the spokesman said the United States came up with a variety of “conditions and excuses” to delay a declaration on ending the war. The spokesman also downplayed the significance of the United States suspending its military exercises with South Korea, saying the North made a larger concession by blowing up the tunnels at its nuclear test site.

In criticizing the talks with Pompeo, however, the North carefully avoided attacking Trump, saying “we wholly maintain our trust toward President Trump,” but also that Washington must not allow “headwinds” against the “wills of the leaders.”

In comments to reporters before leaving Pyongyang, Pompeo said his conversations with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol had been “productive,” conducted “in good faith” and that “a great deal of progress” had been made in some areas. He stressed that “there’s still more work to be done” in other areas, much of which would be done by working groups that the two sides have set up to deal with specific issues.

Pompeo said a Pentagon team would be meeting with North Korean officials on or about July 12 at the border between North and South Korea to discuss the repatriation of remains and that working level talks would be held soon on the destruction of North Korea’s missile engine testing facility.

In the days following his historic June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Trump had announced that the return of the remains and the destruction of the missile facility had been completed or were in progress.

Pompeo, however, said that more talks were needed on both.

“We now have a meeting set up for July 12 — it could move by one day or two — where there will be discussions between the folks responsible for the repatriation of remains. (It) will take place at the border and that process will begin to develop over the days that follow,” he said as he boarded his plane for Tokyo.

On the destruction of the missile engine plant, Pompeo said, “We talked about what the modalities would look like for the destruction of that facility as well, and some progress there as well, and then we have laid out a path for further negotiation at the working level so the two teams can get together and continue these discussions.”

Earlier, Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol both said they needed clarity on the parameters of an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula that Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed to in Singapore. The trip was Pompeo’s third to Pyongyang since April and his first since the summit.

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs during which he has met with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo spent the night at a government guesthouse in Pyongyang and did not see the North Korean leader, although U.S. officials had suggested such a meeting was expected. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said no meeting had been planned.

As they began their talks on Saturday, Kim Yong Chol alluded to the fact that Pompeo and his delegation had stayed overnight in Pyongyang.

“We did have very serious discussions on very important matters yesterday,” Kim said. “So, thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night.”

Pompeo, who spoke with Trump, national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly by secure phone before starting Saturday’s session, replied that he “slept just fine.” He added that the Trump administration was committed to reaching a deal under which North Korea would denuclearize and realize economic benefits in return.

Kim later said that “there are things that I have to clarify” to which Pompeo responded that “there are things that I have to clarify as well.”

There was no immediate explanation of what needed to be clarified, but the two sides have been struggling to specify what exactly “denuclearization” would entail and how it could be verified to the satisfaction of the United States.

Pompeo and Kim met for nearly three hours Friday and then had dinner amid growing skepticism over how serious Kim Jong Un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his summit with Trump into concrete action.

___

Lee reported from Tokyo. Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed.

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“Counter-Revolution of 1776”: Was U.S. Independence War a Conservative Revolt in Favor of Slavery?

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As the United States prepares to celebrate Independence Day, we look at why July 4 is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it may be a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” extend to African Americans. The colonists who declared their freedom from England did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery. We speak with historian Gerald Horne, who argues the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a conservative effort by American colonists to protect their system of slavery. He is the author of two new books: “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America” and “Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow.” Horne is professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in Chicago with our next guest. Juan González is in New York.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, next weekend, the United States celebrates the Fourth of July, the day the American colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. While many Americans will hang flags, participate in parades and watch fireworks, Independence Day is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it is yet another bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and full-out genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extend to African Americans. As our next guest notes, the white colonists who declared their freedom from the crown did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Gerald Horne argues that the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a counterrevolution, in part, not a progressive step forward for humanity, but a conservative effort by American colonialists to protect their system of slavery.

For more, Professor Horne joins us here in our Chicago studio. He’s the author of two new books: The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America and another new book, just out, Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. Professor Horne teaches history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. So, as we move into this Independence Day week, what should we understand about the founding of the United States?

GERALD HORNE: We should understand that July 4th, 1776, in many ways, represents a counterrevolution. That is to say that what helped to prompt July 4th, 1776, was the perception amongst European settlers on the North American mainland that London was moving rapidly towards abolition. This perception was prompted by Somerset’s case, a case decided in London in June 1772 which seemed to suggest that abolition, which not only was going to be ratified in London itself, was going to cross the Atlantic and basically sweep through the mainland, thereby jeopardizing numerous fortunes, not only based upon slavery, but the slave trade. That’s the short answer.

The longer answer would involve going back to another revolution—that is to say, the so-called Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, which, among other things, involved a step back from the monarch—for the monarch, the king, and a step forward for the rising merchant class. This led to a deregulation of the African slave trade. That is to say, the Royal African Company theretofore had been in control of the slave trade, but with the rising power of the merchant class, this slave trade was deregulated, leading to what I call free trade in Africans. That is to say, merchants then descended upon the African continent manacling and handcuffing every African in sight, with the energy of demented and crazed bees, dragging them across the Atlantic, particularly to the Caribbean and to the North American mainland. This was prompted by the fact that the profits for the slave trade were tremendous, sometimes up to 1,600 or 1,700 percent. And as you know, there are those even today who will sell their firstborn for such a profit. This, on the one hand, helped to boost the productive forces both in the Caribbean and on the mainland, but it led to numerous slave revolts, not least in the Caribbean, but also on the mainland, which helped to give the mainlanders second thoughts about London’s tentative steps towards abolition.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Gerald Horne, one of the things that struck me in your book is not only your main thesis, that this was in large part a counterrevolution, our—the United States’ war of independence, but you also link very closely the—what was going on in the Caribbean colonies of England, as well as in the United States, not only in terms of among the slaves in both areas, but also among the white population. And, in fact, you indicate that quite a few of those who ended up here in the United States fostering the American Revolution had actually been refugees from the battles between whites and slaves in the Caribbean. Could you expound on that?

GERALD HORNE: It’s well known that up until the middle part of the 18th century, London felt that the Caribbean colonies—Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, in particular—were in some ways more valuable than the mainland colonies. The problem was that in the Caribbean colonies the Africans outnumbered the European settlers, sometimes at a rate of 20 to one, which facilitated slave revolts. There were major slave revolts in Antigua, for example, in 1709 and 1736. The Maroons—that is to say, the Africans who had escaped London’s jurisdiction in Jamaica—had challenged the crown quite sternly. This led, as your question suggests, to many European settlers in the Caribbean making the great trek to the mainland, being chased out of the Caribbean by enraged Africans. For example, I did research for this book in Newport, Rhode Island, and the main library there, to this very day, is named after Abraham Redwood, who fled Antigua after the 1736 slave revolt because many of his, quote, “Africans,” unquote, were involved in the slave revolt. And he fled in fear and established the main library in Newport, to this very day, and helped to basically establish that city on the Atlantic coast. So, there is a close connection between what was transpiring in the Caribbean and what was taking place on the mainland. And historians need to recognize that even though these colonies were not necessarily a unitary project, there were close and intimate connections between and amongst them.

AMY GOODMAN: So, why this great disparity between how people in the United States talk about the creation myth of the United States, if you will—I’m not talking about indigenous people, Native American people—and this story that you have researched?

GERALD HORNE: Well, it is fair to say that the United States did provide a sanctuary for Europeans. Indeed, I think part of the, quote, “genius,” unquote, of the U.S. project, if there was such a genius, was the fact that the founders in the United States basically called a formal truce, a formal ceasefire, with regard to the religious warfare that had been bedeviling Europe for many decades and centuries—that is to say, Protestant London, so-called, versus Catholic Madrid and Catholic France. What the settlers on the North American mainland did was call a formal truce with regard to religious conflict, but then they opened a new front with regard to race—that is to say, Europeans versus non-Europeans.

This, at once, broadened the base for the settler project. That is to say, they could draw upon those defined as white who had roots from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains, and indeed even to the Arab world, if you look at people like Ralph Nader and Marlo Thomas, for example, whose roots are in Lebanon but are considered to be, quote, “white,” unquote. This obviously expanded the population base for the settler project. And because many rights were then accorded to these newly minted whites, it obviously helped to ensure that many of them would be beholden to the country that then emerged, the United States of America, whereas those of us who were not defined as white got the short end of the stick, if you like.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Gerald Horne, as a result of that, during the American Revolution, what was the perception or the attitude of the African slaves in the U.S. to that conflict? You also—you talk about, during the colonial times, many slaves preferred to flee to the Spanish colonies or the French colonies, rather than to stay in the American colonies of England.

GERALD HORNE: You are correct. The fact of the matter is, is that Spain had been arming Africans since the 1500s. And indeed, because Spain was arming Africans and then unleashing them on mainland colonies, particularly South Carolina, this put competitive pressure on London to act in a similar fashion. The problem there was, is that the mainland settlers had embarked on a project and a model of development that was inconsistent with arming Africans. Indeed, their project was involved in enslaving and manacling every African in sight. This deepens the schism between the colonies and the metropolis—that is to say, London—thereby helping to foment a revolt against British rule in 1776.

It’s well known that more Africans fought alongside of the Redcoats—fought alongside the Redcoats than fought with the settlers. And this is understandable, because if you think about it for more than a nanosecond, it makes little sense for slaves to fight alongside slave masters so that slave masters could then deepen the persecution of the enslaved and, indeed, as happened after 1776, bring more Africans to the mainland, bring more Africans to Cuba, bring more Africans to Brazil, for their profit.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to historian Gerald Horne. He’s author of two new books. We’re talking about The Counter-Revolution of 1776. The subtitle of that book is Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. And his latest book, just out, is called Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. He’s professor of history and African American studies at University of Houston. When we come back, we’ll talk about that second book about Cuba. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Slavery Days” by Burning Spear, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in Chicago. Juan González is in New York. Before we talk about the book on slavery, I want to turn to President Obama’s remarks at the White House’s Fourth of July celebration last year. This is how President Obama described what happened in 1776.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On July 4th, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal, free to think and worship and live as we please, that our destiny would not be determined for us, it would be determined by us. And it was bold, and it was brave. And it was unprecedented. It was unthinkable. At that time in human history, it was kings and princes and emperors who made decisions. But those patriots knew there was a better way of doing things, that freedom was possible, and that to achieve their freedom, they’d be willing to lay down their lives, their fortune and their honor. And so they fought a revolution. And few would have bet on their side. But for the first time of many times to come, America proved the doubters wrong. And now, 237 years later, this improbable experiment in democracy, the United States of America, stands as the greatest nation on Earth.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was President Obama talking about the meaning of July 4th. Gerald Horne, your book, The Counter-Revolution of 1776, is a direct rebuttal of this, as you call, creation myth. Could you talk about that?

GERALD HORNE: Well, with all due respect to President Obama, I think that he represents, in those remarks you just cited, the consensus view. That is to say that, on the one hand, there is little doubt that 1776 represented a step forward with regard to the triumph over monarchy. The problem with 1776 was that it went on to establish what I refer to as the first apartheid state. That is to say, the rights that Mr. Obama refers to were accorded to only those who were defined as white. To that degree, I argue in the book that 1776, in many ways, was analogous to Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the country then known as Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in November 1965. UDI, Unilateral Declaration of Independence, was in many ways an attempt to forestall decolonization. 1776, in many ways, was an attempt to forestall the abolition of slavery. That attempt succeeded until the experiment crashed and burned in 1861 with the U.S. Civil War, the bloodiest conflict, to this point, the United States has ever been involved in.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Gerald Horne, how does this story, this, what you call, counterrevolution, fit in with your latest book, Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow?

GERALD HORNE: Well, there’s a certain consistency between the two books. Keep in mind that in 1762 Britain temporarily seized Cuba from Spain. And one of the regulations that Britain imposed outraged the settlers, as I argue in both books. What happened was that Britain sought to regulate the slave trade, and the settlers on the North American mainland wanted deregulation of the slave trade, thereby bringing in more Africans. What happens is that that was one of the points of contention that lead to a detonation and a revolt against British rule in 1776.

I go on in the Cuba book to talk about how one of the many reasons why you have so many black people in Cuba was because of the manic energy of U.S. slave traders and slave dealers, particularly going into the Congo River Basin and dragging Africans across the Atlantic. Likewise, I had argued in a previous book on the African slave trade to Brazil that one of the many reasons why you have so many black people in Brazil, more than any place outside of Nigeria, is, once again, because of the manic energy of U.S. slave traders and slave dealers, who go into Angola, in particular, and drag Africans across the Atlantic to Brazil.

It seems to me that it’s very difficult to reconcile the creation myth of this great leap forward for humanity when, after 1776 and the foundation of the United States of America, the United States ousts Britain from control of the African slave trade. Britain then becomes the cop on the beat trying to detain and deter U.S. slave traders and slave dealers. It seems to me that if this was a step forward for humanity, it was certainly not a step forward for Africans, who, the last time I looked, comprise a significant percentage of humanity.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Gerald Horne, so, in other words, as you’re explaining the involvement of American companies in the slave trade in Brazil and Cuba, this—that book and also your The Counter-Revolution of 1776 makes the same point that slavery was not just an issue of interest in the South to the Southern plantation owners, but that in the North, banking, insurance, merchants, shipping were all involved in the slave trade, as well.

GERALD HORNE: Well, Juan, as you well know, New York City was a citadel of the African slave trade, even after the formal abolition of the U.S. role in the African slave trade in 1808. Rhode Island was also a center for the African slave trade. Ditto for Massachusetts. Part of the unity between North and South was that it was in the North that the financing for the African slave trade took place, and it was in the South where you had the Africans deposited. That helps to undermine, to a degree, the very easy notion that the North was abolitionist and the South was pro-slavery.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Gerald Horne, what most surprised you in your research around Cuba, U.S. slavery and Jim Crow?

GERALD HORNE: Well, what most surprised me with regard to both of these projects was the restiveness, the rebelliousness of the Africans involved. It’s well known that the Africans in the Caribbean were very much involved in various extermination plots, liquidation plots, seeking to abolish, through force of arms and violence, the institution of slavery. Unfortunately, I think that historians on the North American mainland have tended to downplay the restiveness of Africans, and I think it’s done a disservice to the descendants of the population of mainland enslaved Africans. That is to say that because the restiveness of Africans in the United States has been downplayed, it leads many African Americans today to either, A, think that their ancestors were chumps—that is to say, that they fought alongside slave owners to bring more freedom to slave owners and more persecution to themselves—or, B, that they were ciphers—that is to say, they stood on the sidelines as their fate was being determined. I think that both of these books seek to disprove those very unfortunate notions.

AMY GOODMAN: So, as we move into the Independence Day weekend next weekend, what do you say to people in the United States?

GERALD HORNE: What I say to the people in the United States is that you have proved that you can be very critical of what you deem to be revolutionary processes. You have a number of scholars and intellectuals who make a good living by critiquing the Cuban Revolution of 1959, by critiquing the Russian Revolution of 1917, by critiquing the French Revolution of the 18th century, but yet we get the impression that what happened in 1776 was all upside, which is rather far-fetched, given what I’ve just laid out before you in terms of how the enslaved African population had their plight worsened by 1776, not to mention the subsequent liquidation of independent Native American polities as a result of 1776. I think that we need a more balanced presentation of the foundation of the United States of America, and I think that there’s no sooner place to begin than next week with July 4th, 2014.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Gerald Horne, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Historian Gerald Horne is author of two new books: The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America as well as Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. He’s a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

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U.S. and China announce new tariffs in escalation of trade war

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President Trump followed through Friday on his threat to crack down on China for its “very unfair” trade practices, imposing a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

Beijing quickly responded. In a late-night statement, China’s Ministry of Commerce said it would impose trade barriers of the “same scale and the same strength.”

The Chinese government said Trump’s tariffs were “damaging” relations and “undermining the world trade order.”

U.S. and Chinese officials in recent weeks had made progress on a deal that involved up to $70 billion in additional purchases of American products. But the Chinese offer was now “invalid,” the statement said.

Chinese officials, who had signaled their intention to retaliate if Trump went through with his tariff threats, are targeting the president’s supporters in farm states and the industrial Midwest.

Anticipating the Chinese response, the president said the United States would “pursue additional tariffs,” raising the specter of the tit-for-tat trade war that business leaders and many congressional Republicans fear.

In a short White House statement, the president said the import tax would apply to “goods from China that contain industrially significant technologies.”

Friday’s action follows an administration report in March that complained China had forced foreign companies to surrender their technology secrets in return for market access and had pilfered other advanced U.S. technologies through a campaign of cybertheft and investment in Silicon Valley start-ups.

“These practices . . . harm our economic and national security and deepen our already massive trade imbalance with China,” Trump said.

The United States last year ran up a $375 billion deficit in goods trade with China, a figure the president blames on Chinese trade barriers. Most economists say the gap is the result of broader forces such as Americans’ low savings rate.

On April 6, the administration published a proposed list of 1,333 products targeted for tariffs. After hearing objections from business groups, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer dropped 515 items and added 284 new ones.

As a result, the tariffs will be imposed in two steps. On July 6, customs officers will begin collecting the tax on an initial basket of goods valued at $34 billion, which were on the initial list. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), meanwhile, will field comments on the new items on the list, valued at $16 billion.

“These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs,” the president said.

USTR also plans to establish a process for U.S. companies to request permission to continue importing the targeted items on a duty-free basis, if no alternative suppliers exist.

The Chinese government is pursuing a $300 billion program of subsidies to enable its companies to dominate next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing, upping the stakes for Trump’s efforts to preserve U.S. technological secrets.

China has a history of targeting industries such as steel or solar energy for growth, which results in excessive investment by its state-led firms. That, in turn, swamps global markets, driving prices to unsustainable levels and making it all but impossible for private companies to compete, a senior administration official said.

Unless the United States can somehow force China to change its industrial policies, American companies will lose out in a range of advanced technology markets, the official said.
“This is not market capitalism,” the official said, speaking anonymously to brief reporters. “These are state policies where they are targeting certain industries.”
Trump’s complaints about China’s trade practices are shared by many business leaders. But there is little support for using import taxes, which are paid by Americans, as a tool against the Chinese.
“Imposing tariffs places the cost of China’s unfair trade practices squarely on the shoulders of American consumers, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers. This is not the right approach,” said Tom Donohue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The U.S. announcement comes at a complex juncture in U.S.-China relations.
Following a summit in Singapore between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped in Beijing for meetings with President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese leaders.

On Thursday, Pompeo thanked Xi for China’s help with North Korea and even wished the Chinese president a happy birthday.

But at a news conference with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, tension over trade was clear. Pompeo said the U.S. trade deficit with China is still too high, and Wang called for Washington to make a “wise choice” on tariffs.

After Trump’s statement Friday, Lu Xiang, a trade expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, warned that relations between the two countries were heading to their lowest point since China began its economic reforms in the late 1970s.

“This is like holding up a pistol, putting the finger on the trigger,” he said of Trump’s actions. “It’s just one step away from pulling the trigger and firing the pistol. It’s a very dangerous and sensitive moment now.”

by David J. Lynch and Emily Rauhala/WAPO

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Why Is the US Lagging Way Behind Other Countries in Closing the Gender Pay Gap? The U.S. has lessons to learn from Iceland, Slovenia and Rwanda.

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Economists estimate that at the current rate of progress, American men and women will earn equal income in another 200 years. Considering the past century has already hosted three separate feminist movements that successfully granted women the right to vote, passed Roe v. Wade, and established women’s right to work, today’s feminists will demand we work a little quicker than that. It’s hard to fathom waiting another two centuries for equal pay. Dozens of other countries are already beating us in the global race to financial equity, so it certainly is possible. The U.S. has crucial lessons to learn from these nations.

The gender pay gap is not just a problem in the U.S., where women make 76 cents to a man’s dollar (note that the pay gap is even wider for women of color). Globally, the problem is dire. As World Economic Forum writes, “At the current rate of change, and given the continued widening of the economic gender gap already observed last year, it will now not be closed for another 217 years.” In its annual study of the countries with the widest and smallest gender pay gaps, WEF recognized the countries that have made the most progress to equal pay. 2017’s list of most equitable countries lists the following among the top ten:

  1. Iceland

  2. Norway

  3. Finland

  4. Rwanda

  5. Sweden

  6. Nicaragua

  7. Slovenia

  8. Ireland

  9. New Zealand

  10. Philippines

By comparison, the United States ranks #49. So what are the takeaways from this year’s list?

Iceland has made the top ten list consistently for the past several years. But they’re not sitting comfortably at the top: Iceland’s government says its work striving for equal pay isn’t done. A new law in the country requires all companies with 25 employees or more to file for government certification of their equal pay policies, which involves an audit. Companies that skip the certification will receive a fine. Dagny Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told PRI, “it puts some [burden] on employers, but the results should be that the system of managing pay should be settled in a way that’s understandable … and fair.’’

Elsewhere in Europe, it has also taken policy to make progress. Slovenia has made closing the gender pay gap a priority, and has used government intervention to do so. According to the EU, “The most important contribution in the last few years to the equal opportunities policy framework in Slovenia in general and concerning the gender pay gap in particular was the adoption of the Resolution on the National Programme for Equal Opportunities of Women and Men (2005–2013) by the Parliament in October 2005.” The Resolution aims to reduce gender discrimination and employment differences between men and women, reduce the pay gap, and boost female entrepreneurship in order to promote equal opportunity. Slovenia’s government prepares biannual plans to enact these changes. It’s a significant investment of energy on part of the government, but it has allowed Slovenia to close their pay gap faster than any other nation in the EU.

The rub is, of course, Iceland’s and Slovenia’s tactics require close government supervision, and considering the current American administration, it’s unlikely that any such policy would fly these days in the U.S. Trump has actually already undone Obama-era regulations over the gender pay gap and shows no interest in prioritizing the issue moving forward.

Beyond federal intervention, then, is there any way we in the U.S. can learn from our peers to achieve financial gender equity? Other countries on the WEF lists have closed their gaps in other ways. For Rwanda, this happened, in part, unintentionally. Many proclaim surprise when learning that Rwanda has the 4th highest gender equality ranking in the world. It is, after all, one of the least economically developed countries in the world, according to the U.N.’s measure. As WEF writes of Rwanda, “This high rate of female workforce participation is in part out of necessity, and has its roots in the country’s devastating genocide. Over two decades ago, around 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in the space of just three months. In the wake of these horrific events, women made up between 60% and 70% of the surviving population. They had little choice but to fill the roles once occupied by men.” In other words, Rwandan women over the past two decades have found themselves in a similar position to American women during WWII, when they were called upon to fill the great labor shortage caused by vast numbers of men entering military service.

But it wasn’t all luck that brought Rwanda this achievement, though. There’s another reason why the African nation ranks highly among the list of most equitable countries by gender: there are a lot of female Rwandan politicians. “Every year for over a decade, Rwanda has topped the global list of countries with the most female political parliamentarians,” the WEF writes. “That’s in large part thanks to quotas, put in place following the genocide, stipulating that women must make up 30% of parliamentarians.” The WEF hypothesizes a trickle-down effect of electing more women to office, as “when women work in politics, research suggests they put important but otherwise neglected issues on the table.” Considering the historic number of women running for office this year in the U.S., the future could look bright for equal pay proponents too. The only question is: will it be a near future, a distant future, or a very distant one?

There’s clearly a moral to this story. It will take close government supervision to enact laws that mandate equal pay, not chance or unbridled capitalism. We cannot rely on a benevolent free market to even this playing field. Close oversight at the state or federal level is the only way to ascertain that women are paid as much as men.

By Liz Posner / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Behind kerfuffle over a ‘nationalized 5G network,’ real US-China concerns

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The US, South Korea, and China are all racing to develop the next wireless communications technology, known as 5G.

The problem is that this competition is not shaping up as a race where the best technology wins but a clash of visions on how nations should develop. The long-held Western ideal of companies competing on a level playing field is squaring off against China’s single-minded drive to become the leader in key areas.

The immediate flashpoints are traditional industries – aluminum and steel – where China has threatened to retaliate if President Trump carries through with his threat to slap tariffs on those imports. The more difficult challenge will be reconciling Western economic ideals with China’s development strategy in cutting-edge technologies.

At stake are trillions of dollars of business in industries that entrepreneurs are just beginning to dream up using artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technologies. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates 5G alone will add anywhere from $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion to the global economy by 2025 as those next-generation wireless networks create the communications grid for self-driving cars, smart homes, and intelligent factories.

That’s plenty of money for many companies and countries to share in – if China and the West can reconcile their differences. What’s keeping the two sides talking is the knowledge that everyone loses in a trade war.

“These are big, long-term competitive concerns,” says Doug Brake, director of telecommunications policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington think tank. And they’re not just economic.

What if China is so successful in a key 5G technology that the US military becomes reliant on it as a supplier? he asks. “What sort of position does it put us in?”

It’s those same military concerns that are behind China’s “military-civilian fusion” strategy, which aims to create a strong modern military on key high-tech technologies made domestically. And China is using a full array of tactics – from massive subsidies to state-owned and private companies to the appropriation of foreign technology – to achieve its goals.

 

Jason Lee/ReutersCaption

 

“The potential is certainly there and the determination of the Chinese is certainly there,” says Thomas Duesterberg, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute and coeditor of “U.S. Manufacturing: The Engine for Growth in a Global Economy.” “They’re putting a great deal of money and intellectual resources and mercantilist tools in the world trading order to try to achieve dominance.”

 Mr. Trump campaigned on the idea of getting tougher with China on trade issues, and his administration has made some early moves aimed at confronting the Chinese challenge. In August, the president followed up on a campaign promise of “a zero tolerance policy on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer” by asking United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider launching an investigation into China’s practices.

A memo stirs the pot

Discussion about US-China rivalry over wireless networks flared early this week when a leaked memo and slide presentation from within the White House National Security Council suggested that the federal government, rather than the private sector, should possibly build America’s 5G network. The rationale: to avoid the potential security challenge of Chinese technology handling US wireless communications. The idea drew wide criticism as unrealistic or unnecessary and prompted avowals from White House sources that it is not official policy.

On Tuesday, in his State of the Union address, President Trump reiterated his get-tough policy without mentioning China: “We will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.”

While various Asian nations – not just China – have used industrial policies and low-cost labor to take big chunks of market share in manufacturing industries, such as steel, autos, and memory chips, China’s 5G drive also includes a determined effort to appropriate Western intellectual property (IP). According to government officials and private experts, this effort involves everything from outright theft of trade secrets through industrial espionage to a policy of forcing companies wanting to sell in China to transfer their technology to Chinese joint-venture partners.

China poised to be largest 5G market

The pressure on companies is enormous because China is such a huge market to sell to. The pressure will be especially intense on companies with 5G-related technology if, as expected, China becomes the biggest market for 5G by 2025. China’s Huawei and ZTE Corp., racing to build a 5G network in China, are providing increasing competition for Europe’s Ericsson and Nokia and South Korea’s Samsung with key telecommunications equipment at extremely low prices.

On Wednesday, ZTE said it planned to sell $2.1 billion worth of stock privately to help fund development of its 5G mobile network technology.

More subtly, Beijing is pushing for a greater role in setting technical standards in the next-generation wireless arena. The more 5G patents Chinese companies hold, the more they can pressure Western patent holders to license their technology to Chinese companies at a cheap price.

“It is here – in its potential reshaping of norms for standards-essential IP – that China’s ascent poses a real challenge to American firms’ practices,” concluded a 2013 report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “The Chinese approach emphasizes IP as another factor of production, not as a source of profit or unique competitive advantage. Accordingly, the aim is to lower its price to the minimum, which would (hopefully) increase the profit margin of equipment producers” at the expense of patent holders.

Few observers believe that Chinese President Xi Jinping will back down anytime soon.

President “Xi has really staked his future on the high-tech sectors in China,” says Mary Lovely, an economics professor at Syracuse University in New York.

At an October hearing by the office of the US Trade Representative, examining China’s intellectual-property practices, Chen Zhou of the China Chamber of International Commerce warned that any US penalties could “trigger a trade war.”

Outcome still uncertain

From China’s point of view, many Western norms of trade and IP are rules of the game that keep Western companies on top and China and other developing nations from catching up.

It’s not clear China will win the 5G competition. Its attempts to introduce a rival 4G standard failed to catch on. And 5G encompasses a big collection of technologies, only some of which China has proven good at, says Mr. Brake of ITIF.

“Technology … is being integrated within the existing network and changing very quickly,” he says. “It’s very easy to imagine the innovations that such a network could engender.” What’s not clear is which specific technologies or products will succeed in the marketplace.

Government can streamline the permitting of all the new antennas the network will require, he adds. But the private sector is better placed to figure out what customers want.

By Laurent Belsie/ChristianScienceMonitor

Posted by The NON-Conformist

US ‘needs to stop supporting terrorists’ to avoid possible clash with Turkey in Syria – Deputy PM

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If Washington wants to avoid direct confrontation with Turkey in northern Syria, it “should stop supporting terrorists,” the country’s deputy prime minister told Turkish TV channel, A Haber.
“Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Bekir Bozdag said. “The United States needs to review its soldiers and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in a way to avoid a confrontation with Turkey.”

It comes as Turkish operation dubbed ‘Olive Branch’ in the Kurdish-dominated Afrin enters its sixth day. The campaign followed an announcement by the US-led coalition to create a thousands-strong Border Security Force with Kurdish fighters, including from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) at its core.
Ankara insists that the YPG is linked to the PKK. The latter is designated as a terrorist group in Turkey, which has been fighting it for decades.
Bozdag’s statement follows a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump. During the conversation the latter raised concerns that Ankara’s ongoing military operation in Syria, if not scaled down, may result in a direct clash between the two major NATO allies.
Trump “urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces,” according to the White House readout of the conversation. The US leader also called upon Ankara to de-escalate and “limit its military actions” in order to “avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.”
However, Erdogan announced the extension of the military campaign to the east.
“With the Olive Branch operation, we have once again thwarted the game of those sneaky forces whose interests in the region are different,” Erdogan said. “Starting in Manbij, we will continue to thwart their game.”

Manbij is some 100km from Afrin and is held by US-backed Kurdish militia, raising fears of a direct clash between Ankara and Washington.
Disagreements over the status and future of Syria’s Kurds have strained relations between Ankara and Washington.
The Turkish government has repeatedly slammed Washington for delivering military supplies to Kurds fighting in Syria. In December 2017, Hurriyet Daily News reported that Trump approved arms support to Syrian Kurds, including anti-tank, anti-aircraft and mortar weapons, due to be delivered in 2018.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

I Live in a ‘Shithole Country.’ It’s Called the United States This country has never really been “great” for everyone.

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It takes a level of pomposity inconceivable to most of us to describe another country as a “shithole.”

It’s unfortunately just one more of the obnoxious, racist, and altogether absurd statements we’ve come to expect from President Donald Trump. If the president were to venture beyond the manicured lawns of Mar-a-Lago or the White House, he might see that the U.S. is not exactly in a position to judge, much less denigrate, our global neighbors.

In case you missed it, here’s what Trump reportedly said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He was referencing Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and apparently most of Africa. He went on to ask why more people from Norway (a nearly all white country) weren’t coming to the U.S.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post. It’s been confirmed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who heard the words firsthand.

Trump and his defenders completely ignore the direct and disgraceful role America has played in making life worse in the countries he cited. Among many other things, we’ve backed right-wing death squads in El Salvador, supported cruel dictators in Haiti, and trapped poor countries the world over in debt through International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans with tight strings attached.

I’ll leave it to foreign relations scholars to parse the rest. What I’m concerned about is Trump’s complete lack of concern over the “shit-holiness” of the country he leads.

Gandhi taught us that a country’s greatness is measured not by its richest, but by how it treats its most vulnerable members. By this measure, the U.S. is a certified shithole.

The U.S. is the wealthiest country on earth. Yet one in five children here will go to bed hungry tonight. Thirteen million American children live in poverty, the highest rate among the world’s wealthy countries.

One shining light for poor American kids is that almost all of them have health insurance, thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) put in place in 1997. That light is rather dim right now, however, as Congress waffles on funding the program, leaving millions of children’s lives in the balance.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, conducted a two-week tour of the U.S. in late 2017. He found some of the most extreme inequality anywhere in the world.

“The United States is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries,” Alston wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian, “but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.”

America also has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, the highest infant mortality rate among developed countries, and is the only industrialized country not to guarantee health care as a basic human right. The list goes on, but you get the point.

As Alston put it, “Americans can expect to live shorter and sicker lives, compared to people living in any other rich democracy.”

This is not to say that many, many Americans aren’t living happy, healthy, wealthy lives. They are. And some kids born into poverty will someday work their way to financial security. But the proportion of those actually succeed is steadily shrinking.

Still, this is a country where disoriented hospital patients can be dumped on the street in freezing cold weather, wearing only their thin hospital gowns—as a viral videorecently captured happening to a woman in Baltimore.

Fortunately, far from the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, dedicated activists and organizers are working tirelessly to make the U.S. a better place. Social movements like the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, Indivisible, #MeToo, and a new Poor People’s Campaign are leading the nation in this direction.

Leaders, some whose names we’ll never know, are doing the tireless work to right the wrongs and correct deep-rooted injustices. They know that despite Trump’s slogan, this country has never really been “great” for everyone. They’re the ones working to clean this shithole up.

By Josh Hoxie / Fortune

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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