March 13, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:19 AM


Is anti-Chinese mood growing in Kyrgyzstan? (Kamila Eshaliyeva, 13 March 2019, Open Democracy)

In December 2018, members of the Kyrgyz nationalist Kyrk Choro organisation held their first protest action outside the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek. According to media reports, around 50 people turned up to demand that the government deport illegal migrants within a month -- and to stop the persecution of ethnic Kyrgyz in China.

A few weeks later, a second protest - this time spontaneous - took place on 7 January this year, on Bishkek's central Ala-Too Square, where witnesses report seeing about 300 people. The aim of this action? Activists once again demanded that "illegal" migrants be deported. Representatives of Kyrk Choro stated that they were not involved in this protest.

Then, on 17 January, another anti-Chinese protest was organised in central Bishkek. Its organisers demanded that the Kyrgyz government check Chinese citizens' work permits, lower the foreign workers' quota, and cancel the country's debt to China (approximately $1.7 billion, according to the Finance Ministry); some protesters even demanded a ban on Kyrgyz women marrying Chinese men. The demo ended with the arrest of 21 protesters: the police claimed that the activists were obstructing traffic and using foul language.

This series of increasingly well-attended protests has provoked discussion on Kyrgyz social media -- unsurprising at a time when public fears about the detention of ethnic Kyrgyz in Xinjiang are high.

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 AM


Polling Illustrates Senate Republicans' Border Wall Bind (ELI YOKLEY, March 13, 2019, Morning Consult)

Seven in 10 Republican voters said they would be more likely to vote for senators or representatives who support Trump's decision, according to the March 8-10 survey, while 3 in 5 non-Republicans - self-identified Democrats and independents - said they would be less likely to back the lawmaker in 2020. [...]

Morning Consult data shows the vote could be a big one for the legislators on the ballot next year. Seventy-eight percent of the electorate said support or opposition for Trump's national emergency declaration would sway their vote one way or another, higher than the 61 percent who said the same for the GOP's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in May 2017 and the 64 percent who said the same of the Republican tax bill in December 2017.

Trump's tack of speaking almost exclusively to his own base caught up with congressional Republicans in 2018, as they shed 40 House seats and underperformed early forecasts for Senate gains despite picking up two seats.

Posted by orrinj at 4:33 AM


Ilhan Omar and the anti-Israel American Left Would Be Next to Nothing Without Benjamin Netanyahu (Chemi Shalev, Mar 10, 2019, Ha'aretz)

American Jews, in this context, were cast as their aiders and abettors. They voted unabashedly for Obama in 2012, well after he had been earmarked by the right as an Israel-hater and Muslim sympathizer. They voted even more emphatically for Hillary Clinton, even though she was depicted by Netanyahu's allies as worse for Israel than the original Obama. And they voted unequivocally for Democrats in 2018, despite Netanyahu's effusive praise of Trump as the greatest patron of Jews since Persian King Cyrus.

Coupled with their embrace of liberal values that Netanyahu abhors, American Jews morphed in Netanyahu's mind from stalwart allies to suspect saboteurs. Their protests against his escalating nationalism and anti-democratic tendencies were received as proof of their hostile intent. When a Hillary Clinton presidency seemed imminent, Netanyahu was prepared to swallow his pride to win back American Jews, but his heart was never in it.

Trump's election was nothing less than deliverance for Netanyahu, whether it was a result of divine or Russian intervention. Contrary to his critics' doom and gloom warnings about the consequences of his open challenge to Obama, Netanyahu's stars aligned behind him in perfect formation. A brash and impressionable President, a Republican party beholden to Christian evangelicals and Sheldon Adelson in the president's ear - what more could Netanyahu ask for?

Fired up by his triumph, Netanyahu abandoned his intention of mending fences with the Democratic Party and/or its constituent American Jewry. He aligned himself completely and wholeheartedly with Trump and the evangelicals, and vice versa. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Trump would say out loud what Netanyahu and his aides had been whispering about them - and shouting about their counterparts on the Israeli left - for quite some time: The Democrats are now, as Israelis learned from their prime minister long before, "anti-Israel" and "anti-Jewish."

Given his own courtship of white supremacists and manifestations of anti-Semitism - including his December 2015 statements to the Republican Jewish Coalition about the Jewish wish to control presidential candidates with their money, which was a more explicit rendering of Omar's "Benjamins" remark - Trump's attack on the Democrats was outrageous in its sheer hypocrisy and total lack of self-awareness. But it not only conformed to Netanyahu's view of the present, it was also an accurate reflection of what Netanyahu's critics have been saying all along about the future.

Posted by orrinj at 3:56 AM


Wise people are less lonely. Here's why.: America might be in the throes of a loneliness epidemic, but cultivating wisdom can help. (MATT DAVIS, 27 December, 2018, Big Think)

[T]here was an optimistic finding: The wiser a participant was, the less likely they were to feel the kind of oppressive loneliness that can be so detrimental to one's health. The researchers measured wisdom through six essential aspects: altruism, a sense of fairness, insight, general knowledge of life, the management of emotions, acceptance of divergent values, and decisiveness.

According to the research, it seems that, because they cultivate relationships with themselves as much as they do with others, wise individuals tend to be in good company -- whether or not they are surrounded by friends.

Eric Hoffer: "The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause."

Posted by orrinj at 12:08 AM


Ulysses Grant's Forgotten Fight for Native American Rights (MARY STOCKWELL, JANUARY 7, 2019, What it Means to be American)

The man elected president in 1868--Ulysses S. Grant--was determined to change the way many of his fellow Americans understood citizenship. As he saw it, anyone could become an American, not just people like himself who could trace their ancestry back eight generations to Puritan New England. Grant maintained that the millions of Catholic and Jewish immigrants pouring into the country should be welcomed as American citizens, as should the men, women, and children just set free from slavery during the Civil War. And, at a time when many in the press and public alike called for the extermination of the Indians, he believed every Indian from every tribe should be made a citizen of the United States, too. [...]

Calling American Indians the "original occupants of the land," he promised to pursue any course of action that would lead to their "ultimate citizenship." It was not an idle promise.

That President Grant chose Ely Parker as his Commissioner of Indian Affairs was no surprise to anyone who knew Parker. A descendant of the renowned Seneca chiefs Red Jacket and Handsome Lake, he had been marked for greatness even before birth, when his pregnant mother had dreamt of a rainbow stretching from Tonawanda to the farm of the tribe's Indian agent, which, according to the tribe's dream interpreters, meant that her child would be a peacemaker between his people and the whites.

Parker mastered English in local academies, both on and off the Tonawanda Reserve, and became an avid reader. In 1846, when just 18 years old, he became the official spokesman of his people, who were fighting the U.S. government's efforts to remove them from Tonawanda. He soon traveled with the tribe's leaders to Washington, where he impressed the nation's top politicians, including President James K. Polk. It would take 11 more years of negotiating with the government for Parker to win the right of his people to stay in their ancestral home. During those years, he studied law and even helped argue a case in the Supreme Court on behalf of his tribe, but he was unable to take the bar exam because he was an Indian, so he became an engineer instead. He was overseeing the construction of a customhouse and marine hospital in Galena when he met Ulysses Grant.

When the Civil War broke out, Parker returned to New York and tried unsuccessfully to enlist in the Union Army. Finally, with the help of his friend Grant, who was no longer a failure, but instead a renowned general on the brink of defeating the Confederates at Vicksburg, Parker won an appointment as a military secretary. He first served General John Smith and later Grant himself. From Chattanooga to Appomattox, Parker always could be seen at Grant's side, usually carrying a stack of papers and with an ink bottle tied to a button on his coat. When Lee finally surrendered, it was Ely Parker who wrote down the terms.

The friendship between Grant and Parker strengthened after Grant was appointed General of the Army, a position he held from 1865 to 1869. During these years, Grant often sent Parker, now an adjutant general, to meet with tribes in the Indian Territory and farther west in Montana and Wyoming. Parker listened as tribal leaders described how their country was being overrun by miners, cattlemen, railroad workers, farmers, immigrants from Europe, and freedmen from the South.

Parker reported everything back to Grant and together they worked out the details of a policy with the main goal of citizenship for the Indians. The army would protect Indians on their reservations as they transitioned from their old ways and entered the mainstream of American life, learning how to support themselves through new livelihoods like farming or ranching. It might take a generation or two, but eventually Indians would be able to vote, own businesses, and rely on the protections guaranteed to them in the Constitution.

As president, Grant made Parker his Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Parker began working to implement the president's plans, appointing dozens of army officers to oversee the superintendencies, agencies, and reservations in the West. Grant and Parker were so certain of the wisdom of their policy that they failed to see how many people opposed it. Congressmen, who had previously rewarded their supporters with jobs in the Indian service, resented the fact that Grant had taken away these plum positions. Many Americans, especially in the West, complained that the president sided with the Indians rather than with his own countrymen.