Poor US-Russia relations still thwart Native reunifications

“The ice curtain that divides US families from Russian cousins” – BBC News

The people of this Bering Strait region still see themselves as one people and the border as an irritant. It was first drawn up in 1867 when America bought Alaska from a cash-strapped Tsarist Russia. But no-one took much notice then. Families lived on both islands and criss-crossed back and forth until 1948 when the border was suddenly closed. The Soviet military moved on to Big Diomede and the civilians were forcibly resettled on the Siberian mainland.
[…]
Over the years [since the Cold War ended], hopes continued that the more entwined relationship between the Russia and the West would loosen up the border. But they have been dashed by the Ukraine crisis and by Russia’s military build-up.

 

June 2001 NASA satellite image of the Bering Strait, where the U.S. state of Alaska (right) meets Russia's Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (left).

June 2001 NASA satellite image of the Bering Strait, where the U.S. state of Alaska (right) meets Russia’s Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (left).


Previously from AFD:

NASA comes out swinging at Russia, US Congress


Also recently in the news:

The Atlantic: “In Alaska, Climate Change Threatens to Sweep Away the [Native] Village of Newtok” – A longform piece on this devastating trendline for Alaska Natives:

A 2003 report from the Government Accountability Office found that most of Alaska’s 200-plus native villages are affected by erosion and flooding, and that four were in “imminent danger.” By 2009, the GAO said 31 villages were in imminent danger.

 

Key win for workers in the subcontract/franchise economy

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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Vitally important National Labor Relations Board ruling last week — “NLRB ruling could be boost for contract and franchise employees” (Minneapolis Star Tribune):

The National Labor Relations Board on Thursday expanded its joint-employer standard, potentially making it easier for unions to organize employees of franchisees and subcontractors by dragging large corporations to the bargaining table.

The new standard is also significant because corporations could now be held legally liable for workers if franchisees or subcontractors violate labor law.

In a 3-2 decision, the five-member board said that the old standard no longer kept pace with the current workforce where the diversity of workplace arrangements has significantly expanded. For example, in 2014, 2.87 million workers were employed through temporary agencies, more than double from the 1.1 million in 1990.

 
Much more analysis on this is coming in tomorrow’s episode of the Arsenal For Democracy radio show.

TG: “Turkey and EU’s Self-Righteousness”

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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Soli Özel on European Union countries mishandling and misrepresenting their relations with Turkey:

A current question often raised in the European debate is this: What will happen if Turkey becomes more authoritarian? The background of the question is usually to push Turkey further onto the European sidelines. It also belittles the vitality of the political debate inside Turkey and the vitality and creativity of its civil society.

To make my point, let me ask what will happen to Hungary, an existing EU and NATO member, if it goes more authoritarian than it already has?
[…]
When France decided in 2005 — and much more aggressively after 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy became President – to ditch Turkey and stop it on its route to EU membership, it came on the heels of the referendum on the European Constitution. Meanwhile, in Germany, Angela Merkel came to power and that country’s position changed as well.

Mind you, those years were not a time when Turkish democracy was being questioned. Between 2002 and 2007/08, if anything, Turkish democracy was improving by leaps and bounds. The idea often presented in the European debate — that Turkey was ditched because it was not sufficiently democratic or democratizing — is not true.

In fact, as if to add insult to injury, when things started to go wrong in Turkey between 2009 and 2011, the EU Commission wrote the lamest – repeat: lamest! – annual reports on the country’s progress.

Read the full essay.

Is Iran sending refugees to Syria as cannon fodder?

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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The Daily Star (Lebanon) — “Iran enlists Afghan refugees as fighters”

But interviews with Afghan fighters and relatives of combatants killed in Syria point to a vigorous – and sometimes coerced – recruitment drive of Shiite Hazara refugees by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps propping up Assad’s floundering regime. […]
Haider, she said, was lured by the monthly salary of $700 – a tidy sum for a laborer with no combat experience – and the promise of an Iranian residency permit, an attractive inducement for refugees who otherwise live in constant fear of deportation. […]
Haider’s premonition came true – a few days after he left, an Iranian official informed his relatives, also refugees in Tehran, that he had been killed in battle.

 

Counter-narratives in New Orleans

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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From the forthcoming August 23, 2015 issue of the New York Times Magazine – “Why New Orleans’s Black Residents Are Still Underwater After Katrina”:

In this frustration, he represents what might be called the black Katrina narrative, a counterpoint to the jubilant accounts of Landrieu and other New Orleans boosters. This version of the story begins by noting that an African-American homeowner was more than three times more likely than a white one to live in a flooded part of town. Where Landrieu sees black and white coming together, many African-Americans recollect a different New Orleans: rifle-carrying sheriffs and police officers barricading a bridge out of an overwhelmed city because they didn’t want the largely black crowds walking through their predominantly white suburbs; a white congressman overheard saying that God had finally accomplished what others couldn’t by clearing out public housing; a prominent resident from the Uptown part of the city telling a Wall Street Journal reporter that in rebuilding, things would be ‘‘done in a completely different way, demographically, geographically and politically’’ — or he and his friends weren’t moving back.
[…]
Ten years after Katrina, only 36 percent of the Lower Ninth Ward’s population has returned, according to the New Orleans Data Center.

 
Editor’s note: Keep an eye out in the coming days for Arsenal For Democracy’s audio documentary on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with extensive firsthand narration. We started major recording on August 18th, and we’re working on finishing up shortly.

Election 2015: Canada’s political Americanization continues

President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, February 2009. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, February 2009. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

“The Closing of the Canadian Mind” – New York Times op-ed:

The prime minister’s base of support is Alberta, a western province financially dependent on the oil industry, and he has been dedicated to protecting petrochemical companies from having their feelings hurt by any inconvenient research.
[…]
His active promotion of ignorance extends into the functions of government itself. Most shockingly, he ended the mandatory long-form census, a decision protested by nearly 500 organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Catholic Council of Bishops. In the age of information, he has stripped Canada of its capacity to gather information about itself.
[…]
He has been prime minister for nearly a decade for a reason: He promised a steady and quiet life, undisturbed by painful facts. The Harper years have not been terrible; they’ve just been bland and purposeless. Mr. Harper represents the politics of willful ignorance. It has its attractions.

 
CBC Canada’s Federal election 2015 Poll Tracker, as of August 17, 2015:

There will be 338 seats in the next House of Commons. A party needs to win 170 seats to form a majority government. Each federal electoral riding corresponds to one seat. The Poll Tracker estimates the most likely number of seats each party could win if an election were held today, based on current polling levels.

The Conservative Party leads with 125 seats and is 45 seats from winning a majority government.

Social democrat New Democratic Party at 118, centrist Liberals at 92. (So, 210 if combined in coalition, which is not a certainty.)


Recently from AFD on this topic:

“Canada’s government re-election platform: Be Very Afraid”
“Passive-aggressive Canadian flag ‘battles'”
“Canada gov’t upset that they might have to consult native peoples on things”

“A parliamentary era”

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

“No Joe. Not That.” – DelawareLiberal.net:

An era of bipartisanship existed during the Cold War because of the Cold War and because the two parties were both ideologically divided. There were liberals and conservatives in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. And a lot of them, not just one or two. So there was bipartisanship because either the liberal wing of both parties voted for something, or the conservative wing of both parties voted for something.

That era is over. It is not coming back. We are now in a Parliamentary Era where each party represents one ideology. We have been since 1994. Our punditry, and old fools like Carl Bernstein, need to finally finally wake up to it.

Washington cannot be united. And it shouldn’t be. What instead has to happen is that, if you want anything to get done in Congress, is to vote for one party completely or the other, so that you have Congress and the Presidency controlled by one party.

 


Previously from AFD on this topic:

“Polarization”It’s odd to talk about Congressional “polarization” now while ignoring how ideologically confused the parties used to be.
SBBS: “Pelosi’s Parliament”How Nancy Pelosi ran the U.S. House like a parliament.
“The Susan Collins Dilemma”If a Senator votes to left on key Democratic issues but guarantees a Republican majority, which matters more?

2015 U.S. House composition (with one vacancy). Credit: Nick.mon / Wikimedia

2015 U.S. House composition (with one vacancy). Credit: Nick.mon / Wikimedia