The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

G7 slams the Israeli government

The G7, meeting today in Washington, strongly rebuked the Israeli government's illegal seizure of Palestinian land:

We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the EU, join the UN and the European Union in condemning the announcement by Finance Minister of Israel Smotrich that five outposts are to be legalised in the West Bank. We also reject the decision by the Government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands’- the largest such declaration of state land since the Oslo Accords – and the decision to expand existing settlements in the occupied West Bank by 5,295 new housing units and to establish three new settlements. The Government of Israel’s settlement program is inconsistent with international law, and counterproductive to the cause of peace.

We reaffirm our commitment to a lasting and sustainable peace in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, on the basis of a two-state solution. We have therefore consistently expressed our opposition to the expansion of settlements and, as in previous cases, we urge the Government of Israel to reverse this decision.

Further, maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security. In this context, we take note of the latest transfers of parts of clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority, but we urge Israel to release all withheld clearance revenues in accordance with the Paris Protocols, remove or relax measures that exacerbate the economic situation in the West Bank, and to take the necessary measures to ensure that correspondent banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain in place with proper controls.

Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz behind the woodshed:

Secretary Yellen reaffirmed Treasury’s strong commitment to Israel’s security. Secretary Yellen also emphasized the need for Israel to maintain economic stability in the West Bank by regularly transferring clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority and ensuring that correspondent banking relations between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain uninterrupted. Secretary Yellen also raised Treasury’s February Executive Order 14115, holding individuals and entities accountable for perpetrating, inciting, or financially supporting violence throughout the West Bank.

Yellen meeting with Katz instead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with him can be understood as a rap on the knuckles. But that's not all she did, and not the only reason she met with him.

Yellen no doubt gave Katz a heads-up that the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has added a number of Israeli persons and entities, including several farms and extremist groups in the West Bank, to the list of "specially designated nationals." This is the same list we put narcotraficantes and terrorists on. Americans are forbidden to deal with them, and we block their American assets and access to the US banking system. We typically don't do this to people our allies' governments endorse. It's a strong statement that Israel must stop its illegal seizure of Palestinian lands in the West Bank. I'm sure it won't mollify the anti-Israeli left, but it will help move to a two-state solution once the Israeli government gets its head out of its Knesset.

I will be curious to see when all this hits the American press. The Israeli press already has it, naturally. But I guess the President having a bad debate is more important than the President taking direct action to rein in the crazies.

(Thanks to reader MG for the tip.)

People doing it completely wrong

If he were even a tiny bit better as a human being, I might have some empathy for the old man clearly suffering from some kind of dementia who spoke in Doral, Fla., yesterday. But he's not, so I don't. I mean...just read the highlights.

In other news:

Finally, I got two emails through the contact-us page from the "Brand Ambassador & Link Approval Specialist" at a little company in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick demanding that we remove a link from a post to their site. Each email was clearly the output of an automated process that must have scraped every post on The Daily Parker—all 9,479 of them—more than once, because each email had a different fully-qualified domain name and most of the links they included were for category or history pages. Clearly the BALAS hadn't actually read the post that contained the link. 

The request read: "We kindly request the immediate removal of these links to SchengenVisaInfo.com from your page because SchengenVisaInfo maintains strict editorial control over the information it provides. As such, we do not endorse the linking of our website without our prior consent."

This is dumb for several reasons. First, the emails provide clear evidence that they ran a bot over The Daily Parker more than once, which is rude. Second, this particular link could only benefit the complaining firm as it appeared in context as a way of finding out more about exactly what the company offered. And finally, before you send an email like that, you should confirm that the site you're complaining to won't ridicule you and your firm in a subsequent post.

Of course I removed the link. There are many better sources of information on the topic out there.

(Note to self: remove the company's name before posting!)

Slow news day yesterday, not so much today

Lunchtime link roundup:

Finally, People for Bikes has consistently rated Chicago the worst major US city for biking, principally because of our 50 km/h speed limit. If only we'd lower it to 40 km/h, they say, Chicago would immediately jump in the ratings to something approaching its peers.

Authentic frontier gibberish

Tom Nichols says it's past time to quit disregarding the convicted-felon XPOTUS's disordered mental state:

For too long, Trump has gotten away with pretending that his emotional issues are just part of some offbeat New York charm or an expression of his enthusiasm for public performance. But Trump is obviously unfit—and something is profoundly wrong with a political environment in which he can now say almost anything, no matter how weird, and his comments will get a couple of days of coverage and then a shrug, as if to say: Another day, another Trump rant about sharks.

Sure, it seems funny—Haha! Uncle Don is telling that crazy shark story again!—until we remember that this man wants to return to a position where he would hold America’s secrets, be responsible for the execution of our laws, and preside as the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world. A moment that seems like oddball humor should, in fact, terrify any American voter, because this behavior in anyone else would be an instant disqualification for any political office, let alone the presidency.

Worse, the people who once managed Trump’s cognitive and emotional issues are gone, never to return. A second Trump White House will be staffed with the bottom of the barrel—the opportunists and hangers-on willing to work for a reprehensible man. His Oval Office will be empty of responsible and experienced public servants if the day comes when someone has to explain to him why war might be about to erupt on the Korean peninsula or why the Russian or Chinese nuclear forces have gone on alert, and he starts talking about frying sharks with boat batteries.

The 45th president is deeply unwell. It is long past time for Americans, including those in public life, to recognize his inability to serve as the 47th.

I mean, who said it better, the convicted-felon XPOTUS, or Gabby Johnson?

How have I never seen this before?

John Cleese did a political advert in 1987 for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, a moderate coalition of small UK parties that, as one would expect, got annihilated in the election that year, and ultimately became the Liberal Democratic Party. The LDP went on to get the shit kicked out of them in every election until the Tories found them useful for a hot second in 2010, whereupon they got kicked to the curb as soon as the Tories had an outright majority, before everyone forgot about them in 2015.

Anyway, his rant about extremism still has a lot of resonance today:

Two anniversaries and a passing

Seventy-five years ago today, George Orwell published 1984, a horrifying novel that gets closer to reality every day. Also on 8 June 1949, the FBI released a report naming acting stars and filmmakers "communists," kicking off a horrifying chapter in American history that gets closer to coming back every day.

And yesterday, NASA astronaut Bill Anders died in a plane crash. You may not know who Anders was, but you've seen the photo he took on Christmas Eve 1968:


By NASA/Bill Anders (Link) Public Domain

Oh, and today is also (possibly) the anniversary of Mohammed's death in 632 CE. (Calendars didn't measure time the same way back then that they do today, so we can't really be sure.)

Two historic elections

Over the weekend, Mexico and South Africa made history.

In South Africa, voters turfed out the African National Congress Party, which had held a majority of seats since the end of Apartheid in 1994:

Final results from Wednesday’s seismic South Africa elections have confirmed that the African National Congress (ANC) party has lost its majority for the first time in 30 years of full democracy, firing the starting gun on unprecedented coalition talks.

The ANC, which led the fight to free South Africa from apartheid, won just 159 seats in the 400-member national assembly on a vote share of just over 40%. High unemployment, power cuts, violent crime and crumbling infrastructure have contributed to a haemorrhaging of support for the former liberation movement.

The pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) won 87 seats, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) – a new party led by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bitter rival, the former president Jacob Zuma – took 58, and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a Marxist-Leninist party led by the ousted ANC youth leader Julius Malema, took 39.

Voters cited corruption and a need for new leadership as reasons for voting against the party of Nelson Mandela.

And yesterday, Mexicans elected their first female president:

Claudia Sheinbaum was elected Mexico’s first female president in a landslide on Sunday, an official quick count of votes showed, cementing the dominance of the left-leaning Morena movement that over the past six years has upended the country’s political establishment.

Her victory stunned an opposition that’s accused Morena of weakening the country’s democratic institutions.

The former Mexico City mayor led with more than 58 percent of the vote, according to the count released by the National Electoral Institute. Her triumph ensures another six years in power for Morena, founded 13 years ago by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a charismatic leader who has emphasized helping the poor.

Women in this traditionally macho country didn’t win the right to vote until 1953, three decades after their American counterparts. But with the adoption of gender quotas and a gender-parity law during Mexico’s transition from a one-party state to democracy, women now hold half of the seats in Congress and nearly one-third of the governorships.

The US eliminated race as a bar to voting in 1868, and elected its first Black president in 2008. At that rate we should elect our first female president in 2060, years after every other OECD country has done so. And somehow we think ourselves more politically sophisticated than our neighbor to the south. Fascinating.

When the rain comes

I took Cassie out at 11am instead of her usual 12:30pm because of this:

The storm front passed quickly, but it hit right at 12:30 and continued for half an hour with some intensity. It'll keep raining on and off all day, too.

Other things rained down in the past day or so:

Finally, Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock has died at age 53 of cancer. No word whether the production of the 2004 documentary contributed to his early demise.

When is bad butt not bad butt?

Cassie got a bad result from the lab yesterday: a mild giardia infection. It's a good-news, bad-news thing: The bad news, obviously, is that she can't go to day camp (meaning I can't spend a full day in my downtown office) for at least a week. The good news is that she's mostly asymptomatic, unlike the last guy. So we just went to the vet again, got another $110 bill for dewormer.

But at least she wasn't crated for three hours with her own diarrhea. Poor Parker.

In other good news, bad news stories today:

Actually, they're all bad-news stories. Apologies.

Friedman on campus protests

Columnist Thomas Friedman, who identifies himself as "a hardheaded pragmatist who lived in Beirut and Jerusalem, [and] cares about people on all sides," finds American campus protests troubling because they're missing the larger context and workable goals:

In short: I find the whole thing very troubling, because the dominant messages from the loudest voices and many placards reject important truths about how this latest Gaza war started and what will be required to bring it to a fair and sustainable conclusion.

My problem is not that the protests in general are “antisemitic” — I would not use that word to describe them, and indeed, I am deeply uncomfortable as a Jew with how the charge of antisemitism is thrown about on the Israel-Palestine issue. My problem is that I am a hardheaded pragmatist who lived in Beirut and Jerusalem, cares about people on all sides and knows one thing above all from my decades in the region: The only just and workable solution to this issue is two nation-states for two indigenous peoples.

If you are for that, whatever your religion, nationality or politics, you’re part of the solution. If you are not for that, you’re part of the problem.

I am intensely both anti-Hamas and anti-Netanyahu. And if you oppose just one and not also the other, you should reflect a little more on what you are shouting at your protest or your anti-protest. Because no one has done more to harm the prospects of a two-state solution than the codependent Hamas and Netanyahu factions.

The whole column encapsulates a lot of my own struggles with this particular moment.