GLOBAL PULSE: Americans are not winning in Afghanistan, punishing nations that don’t take refugees and being blocked by Trump


US Defense Secretary James Mattis made an alarming admission: “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now.” And Senators criticised Pentagon leaders for not coming up with a new strategy for the 16-year-old war. John McCain threatened: “Unless we get a strategy from you, you’re going to get a strategy from us.” The US has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, and the military has asked for more troops. But the Trump administration is pushing for Nato to contribute more troops. The Taliban’s resurgence and the growing threat from Islamic State militants has led to a recent string of American deaths. “Let’s not ask these families to sacrifice any further without a strategy which we can then take and implement and help you,” said McCain.



The European Union has begun a legal case against three countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – for refusing to share the burden of refugees arriving on the bloc’s southern shores. This is the first time the European Commission, has flexed its legal muscle over the divisive issue. The bloc’s original goal was to resettle 160,000 migrants throughout the member nations to relieve pressure on Greece and Italy, the main arrival points. Instead, only 20,869 people had been relocated. France and Portugal have given refuge to significant numbers. But some Central and Eastern European countries with relatively homogeneous populations and little experience with multiculturalism have resisted. The Court of Justice of the EU could eventually impose fines, but that could take years. The commission first must write a series of warning letters.



After Jeremy Corbyn’s recent gains, some in Britain argue that the term “moderate” – which implicitly portrays the left as dangerous extremists – should be abandoned for ever. Nearly 13 million British people voted for a Labour party led by Corbyn, after all, and it’s not exactly feasible to dismiss them all as extremists. Tony Blair had said in 2015 he “wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform”. Now people are asking if Blairism, or the New Labour of Tony Blair, is dead. It owed its hegemony to, frankly, despair: the idea that socialist policies were electoral poison. But Labour just won its biggest increase in vote share since 1945. The idea that centrism is the only possible route for electoral victory is buried.



Over the last decade, a glut of cheap natural gas from hydraulic fracturing has driven hundreds of dirtier coal plants in the US out of business and is pushing many nuclear reactors into early retirement. The fleet of 99 nuclear reactors supplies one-fifth of the country’s electricity. Wind and solar cannot expand fast enough to replace the lost power. In Pennsylvania, Exelon recently announced that it would close the last remaining reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant by 2019 unless policy makers stepped in to support it. Cheap natural gas had cut electricity prices in half, pushing the reactors toward unprofitability. State legislators formed a “nuclear caucus” to explore policies to keep the plants open, following recent moves by New York and Illinois to compensate nuclear operators for the carbon-free power they produce. This has become one of the more contentious climate debates today.



It doesn’t take much to provoke President Trump into blocking a follower on Twitter — anything from an insult to an unflattering GIF to a mild “covfefe” joke seems enough to do the trick. Horror fiction author Stephen King and a Trump critic has been added to the #BlockedByTrump list. King tweeted: “Trump has blocked me from reading his tweets. I may have to kill myself.” Author J.K. Rowling offered help. She tweeted: “I still have access. I’ll DM them to you.” King replied: “I’ll always have Pence.”  Trump also blocked VoteVets, a progressive advocacy group that claims to represent more than 500,000 veterans, military families and supporters. Some questioned whether it is unconstitutional for a president to prevent certain citizens. The Knight First Amendment Institute said it was a violation of the First Amendment.


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