Stanford University’s Center on Poverty and Inequality releases an annual report on poverty in the US. In its 2016 report, the Center did a cross-national study investigating nine different variables in 10 countries: Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US. The results were disappointing for the US. According to they study:
“…the U.S. has the lowest overall ranking among our 10 well-off countries, a result that arises in part because it brings up the rear of the pack in three of the six domains covered here (safety net, income inequality, wealth inequality). Even when the comparison set is expanded to include the less well-off countries, the U.S. still ranks a dismal 18th (out of 21 countries), with only Spain, Estonia, and Greece scoring worse.”
Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, is currently conducting a study of poverty and inequality in the US and is expected to release the findings of this study on 15 December. The Guardian describes the basis for the UN’s investigation:
“With 41 million Americans officially in poverty according to the US Census Bureau (other estimates put that figure much higher), one aim of the UN mission will be to demonstrate that no country, however wealthy, is immune from human suffering induced by growing inequality. Nor is any nation, however powerful, beyond the reach of human rights law – a message that the US government and Donald Trump might find hard to stomach given their tendency to regard internal affairs as sacrosanct.”
The reference to human rights law stems from the US’s ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right to “subsistence”. It is difficult to believe that the US will have any official reaction to Alston’s report. But the rest of the world will be listening very carefully.
Robert Manning, a former State Department official, has written an editorial for The Hill analyzing the logic of a “preventive” war against North Korea (to be clear–an attack does not qualify as “pre-emptive” unless there is clear evidence that an attack is urgently imminent). Manning argues that the logic is quite flawed, but suggests that US President Trump has more or less painted himself into that corner. The US should drop its objective of denuclearization and deal with North Korea as a nuclear power. Such a change in policy might persuade North Korea to pause its testing program long enough to begin sustained negotiations. But Mr. Trump appears to be afraid of the political consequence of being the President that allowed North Korea to threaten the US with nuclear weapons. There was a parallel debate in the US after the Chinese Revolution succeeded in 1949. The politics of the “Who Lost China” debate poisoned American politics for years.
Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn (Cohn remains in US politics as an adviser to President Trump) in the 1950s
There are reports that the Trump Administration will announce on Wednesday that the US will recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel while keeping the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Previous Administrations have refused to make that declaration since the Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the future capital of their state when it is officially recognized (right now, 135 countries recognize Palestine as a nation-state). Mr. Trump promised to make this change when he was a candidate. The Palestinians will most likely protest the move by breaking off all negotiations with Israel, even as the Trump Administration has been trying to rebuild those negotiations from their current standstill.