Start Making Sense

Cruelty and Confusion in Trump’s Treatment of Migrant Children: Zoë Carpenter; plus Eyal Press on Drone Warriors and Amy Wilentz on Haiti

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More than 2,000 migrant children are still separated from their parents by the Border Patrol.  Zoë Carpenter reports on the confusion and uncertainty around Trump’s ever-changing and ever-cruel “policy”—and on her recent visit inside a Border Patrol “processing facility” in McAllen, Texas, where migrants are taken after being apprehended, and where children were being held separately from their parents.
Also: Drones have become the centerpiece of America’s war on terror.  We are told that drones have turned warfare into a costless and bloodless exercise for Americans, something resembling a video game for the people at the computer screens.  Eyal Press reports that the costs of our drone war include not only the casualties on the ground, including civilians, but also the drone warriors themselves—who suffer, not from PTSD, but from something else—“moral injury.””
Plus: Haiti: for Trump, it’s a “shithole country”; for us, it’s the country with the first and only successful slave revolution of the modern era—1791-1804—for which the French exacted a heavy price from the Haitians.  Amy Wilentz has just returned from Haiti with a report—on earthquake reconstruction (not much), street demonstrations for a higher minimum wage (now $4.50/day)—and World Cup fever (high).

Catastrophic Climate Change is Not an “Environmental” Issue: Bill McKibben; plus Andrew Bacevich on Endless War and Robert Edelman on the World Cup

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It’s the most crucial security question that humans have ever faced: catastrophic climate change. Bill McKibben says it’s too late to halt global warming, but we still have a chance to curb it, “short of civilizational destruction.”
Also: Donald Trump, the Trump supporters, and wars without end: Andrew Bacevich notes that Trump alone among presidents since 9-11 has said our 17 years of war have resulted in “nothing except death and destruction” – a statement that’s “more true than false.”
Plus: the World Cup is a political event not only in Russia but many other countries as well, where issues of nationalism, immigration, and race have surfaced in many different ways. Sports historian Robert Edelman explains.

In Trump’s ‘Madness,’ A Chance for Peace in Korea: Bruce Cumings; plus Ahilan Arulanantham on Trump’s family separation policy, and Harold Meyerson on the Democrats

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“In Trump’s madness, he brings innocent eyes” to the Korean conflict, says University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings—which frees Trump from Washington establishment thinking, and create a real possibility of peace in Korea.
Plus: The Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents seeking asylum at the border is unusually cruel—and also unconstitutional. Ahilan Arulanantham, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, explains the organization’s recent legal victory—and the need for citizen activism on the issue.
Also: Now that some of the key primaries are over, the Democrats’ chances of retaking the House, and maybe the Senate, have come into sharper focus. Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect is optimistic. 6/13/18

Trump Is ‘Crazy Like a Fox’: Seymour Hersh—Plus Bryce Covert on homelessness and Viet Thanh Nguyen on refugees

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Seymour Hersh has won dozens of awards for his reporting on My Lai, Abu Ghraib, CIA surveillance of the anti-war movement in the Nixon years, and the crimes of Kissinger and the CIA in Chile and other places. He worked as a staff writer for the New York Times and The New Yorker, where he wrote during the Iraq war. He’s also written a dozen books—the new one is Reporter: A Memoir.  In this interview he talks about his career, and the president and the media, today.
Also: Nearly half of all renters in America today can’t afford rent, and over half a million Americans are homeless on any given night. The problem is simple: a severe shortage of affordable housing. How did we get here? Bryce Covert reports.
Plus: One of the defining features of Trump’s politics has been the way he’s appealed to hatred and fear of refugees and immigrants. Viet Thanh Nguyen talks about refugee lives, and refugee writers. He’s the author of the novel The Sympathizer—it won the Pulitzer prize—and editor of the new book The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.  He’s also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant—and he’s a refugee himself, arriving from Vietnam with his family in 1975, when he was 4 years old.  6/7/18

How Abortion Rights Triumphed in Ireland: Katha Pollitt; plus Wendy Pearlman on Syrian Refugees and Tom Engelhardt on ‘America’s Empire of Nothing’

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Everyone said the Irish vote on abortion would be close – but 66 per cent voted “yes” last Friday, including a majority of men, and a majority of every age group except those over 65. Katha Pollitt was there – she reports on the campaign, and the victory celebrations.
Also: the American military is the most massive, the most technologically advanced, and the best-funded fighting force in the world — but in the last fifteen years of constant war it has won nothing. Tom Engelhardt comments; he’s the legendary editor who created and runs the TomDispatch website, and his new book is “A Nation Unmade by War.”
Plus: Trump and Syrian refugees: During Obama’s last year, about 10,000 were admitted to the US; so far this year, the number is eleven. Wendy Pearlman explains – she interviewed hundreds of Syrian refugees across the Middle East and Europe. Her new book is “We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria.” 5/30/18

Progressive Dems Win Big in Primaries: John Nichols; plus Yanis Varoufakis on Trump and Europe, and Arthur Goldhammer on Paris in May ’68

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Progressive and populist Democrats had some impressive victories in primaries last week in Pennsylvania, and also in Nebraska and Idaho—defeating centrist, establishment rivals, and showing a new path to victory in November for the party. John Nichols explains.
Also: Trump versus Europe.  He’s threatening European banks and industries with sanctions: if they don’t cut off trade with Iran, they would be barred from American markets and transactions with American banks. We asked Yanis Varoufakis for his analysis—he’s the former finance minister of Greece who led the resistance to European Bankers demanding austerity—now he has co-founded an international grassroots movement that is campaign for the revival of democracy in Europe.
Plus: Fifty years ago this month, in May ’68, students in Paris took to the streets calling for a new kind of revolution. Over the next year or two, there were student uprisings and revolts around the world in many places. But Paris in May 1968 was the best one, the only one to move beyond the campus, with a general strike involving ten million workers threatening the political system. Art Goldhammer, the translator and writer, comments.  5/24/18

From Gaza to Jerusalem: Amy Wilentz; Plus Rachel Kushner on ‘The Mars Room’ and Patricia Williams on lynching

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Every day Trump makes the world less safe; Monday was a big one. Amy Wilentz comments on Ivanka and Jared—and Sheldon Adelson—dedicating the new American embassy in Jerusalem, while the Israeli military killed 60 Palestinians in a mass nonviolent protest at the Gaza border. Amy was Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker and wrote the novel Martyrs’ Crossing about Palestinians and Israelis.
Also: There are 219,000 women in prison in the United States—Rachel Kushner’s new novel, The Mars Room, is a story about of one of them. She explains the mix of fact and imagination that went into the book.
Plus: More than 4,400 African Americans were murdered by white mobs between 1877 and 1950—that’s the conclusion of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal center. The new National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, is dedicated to the victims—it opened last month. Patricia Williams comments; she’s a longtime columnist for The Nation.  5/17/18

Trump has No Plan B on Iran—Except War: Michael Klare, plus D.D. Guttenplan on Texas and Eric Foner on Columbia ‘68

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Trump’s plan on pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal is to pressure Iran to restart negotiations on terms more favorable to the US—but that’s never going to happen, says Michael Klare.  And Trump has no Plan B – except for war—which could quickly involve Israel fighting in Lebanon against Iran’s ally Hezbollah, which has thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli cities.
Also: the coming showdown in Texas between populist Democrats and establishment Democrats: D. D. Guttenplan has returned from the Lone Star State with a report on the political transformation underway there.
Plus: It’s the 50th anniversary of the student uprising at Columbia University, against university complicity in the war—setting the path for that students at hundreds of other schools followed during the next few years.  Historian Eric Foner explains how it happened, and finds lessons for today’s movements for social justice. (SMS 5-10-18)

Trump’s Financial Crimes Are More Likely to Bring Him Down than Russiagate: David Cay Johnston on Trump, plus Bruce Cumings on Korea and Elizabeth Drew on Comey

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Trump’s greatest vulnerability may not be Russiagate, but rather his financial and tax crimes. David Cay Johnston has been investigating and reporting on Trump’s finances for nearly 30 years. He won a Pulitzer Prize at The New York Times, and now he’s editor-in-chief of DCReport.org.
Plus: The amazing news from Korea about the prospects for peace and de-nuclearization: historian Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago comments, warning that the Washington consensus opposes a treaty. His books include “The Korean War: A History” and “North Korea: Another Country.”
Also: James Comey has tried to justify his announcement 11 days before Election Day about re-opening his investigation of Hillary’s emails– but what the fired FBI Director said on his book tour is different from what’s in his book “A Higher Loyalty.” Elizabeth Drew, the legendary Washinton journalist, comments–she’s the author of “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.” The Nation podcast 5/3/18

Comey’s Self-Justification Is ‘Not Good Enough’: Jonathan Freedland, plus Lawrence Wright on Trump and Texas, and Margaret Atwood on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

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James Comey’s monster best-seller, A Higher Loyalty, is “a plea for exculpation,” says Jonathan Friedland, but its self-justifications are “not good enough.” Jonathan is a columnist for The Guardian and a best-selling author.
Also: How long will Texas remain a red state?  Lawrence Wright says demographic and political change is underway, and that Betto O’Rourke’s campaign for the senate, challenging Ted Cruz, is a crucial one. Wright’s new book is God Bless Texas.
Plus: The Handmaid’s Tale, that feminist dystopian novel, is beginning its second season as a TV series on Hulu this week. Margaret Atwood talks about the significance of The Handmaid’s Tale in the Age of Trump (recorded a year ago, just before the first season’s premiere).  TheNation.com 4/26/18