Not So Cool List

Not So Cool List

National Geographic has published its 2019 “Cool List” of recommended destinations for travelers. Ever since NatGeo began producing Alaska State Troopers in lieu of insightful earth documentaries I’ve relegated it to the Fox category. My opinion now is now only massively reenforced.

The Cool List is one of the worst travelers’ lists I’ve ever seen. I’ll critique the African entries.

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Extreme Responsibility

Extreme Responsibility

A Florida woman canoeing down the Zambezi nearly lost her leg after being attacked by a hippo and undergoing hours of surgery in Johannesburg earlier this week.

Kristen and Ryan Yaldor were celebrating Kristen’s 37th birthday on one of my most favorite trips when I was younger. The guide noticed something unusual to the right, told the couple to paddle to the left, and moments later Kristen was in the mouth of an angry mother hippo.

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Tears for Choice

Tears for Choice

Like many I found my forefinger wiping a tear from my cheek. President Buhari of Nigeria helped me to understand. The angst of the world today – in sorrow squeezed from our souls in grand cathedrals by military philharmonics – comes from our conflict about what the hell to do with our elite:

“President Buhari of Nigeria said of George Bush that “the late president’s love for his family and country” ensures that “his children take up leadership roles and are steadily breeding a new generation of great thinkers and leaders.”

Fertile elite, praised by African elite.

Jealousy, Loss and Anger. Bush was not as spectacular a leader as was his funeral.

Much was said about his excellence in foreign policy and the successes he achieved maintaining a world order post-Soviet collapse. That strikes me as grandiose, but I’m more certain that Bush’s foreign policy in Africa was among the most destructive in American history.

Deutsche Welle’s Isaac Mugabi confirms, “There [was] little reporting in Africa generally about [Bush’s] funeral, perhaps because of his failed foreign policy on the continent.”

Mugabi sums up the many mistakes in Africa that Bush made during his short four years in the single travesty, “Black Hawk Down.”

This incident epitomizes America’s many failures over the last century: Misplaced support for dictators and warlords in conflicts artificially diagnosed globally as East-vs-West, then pitifully restrained military action that fails, followed by an abrupt withdrawal that destroys the initial ally.

This couldn’t be more different from the accolades for Bush’s post-Soviet “global maintenance.”

That’s because in the 1990s Africa didn’t rank “global maintenance.” Its exclusion from the interest of the elite rulers of the world followed their maxim to pay less attention to people than GDPs.

Bush was a good, loyal and faithful family man. He was a steady, institutional conservative ruler. He was part of an elite dynasty that controlled the world.

He could afford to be good and compassionate and humorous, because he and his family were richly protected from the failures he actually suffered. I would love to have had such a life. Now it’s gone.

It’s gone because the power of the elite for the first time in human history is being rattled from pole to pole. Yellow vests and temple shootouts, opioid orgies and neo-fascism, neglected Puerto Ricos and 80 mph speed limits, Brexits and bitcoins – it’s all a massive, indistinct and unstoppable protest against the elite.

Trump and others like him emerge from this maelstrom because the elite still have enough power to exclude any viable alternatives to them. We have no choice.

They force on us the old nostalgia or the random, uncertain reign of the chaotic infidel. We have no other choice, and it’s infuriating. The nincompoop now over reigns the casket. In the moments of peaceful exhaustion this grows tearful.

Clever Cars

Clever Cars

A gigantic difference between places like the U.S. and Africa — between developed and developing counties — is the speed at which things are changing. Progress doesn’t always come with change, but the truth is that progress can’t occur without change.

America, in particular, is falling way behind the rest of the world in “change.” The developing world – Africa in particular – leads the world in change. And perhaps the single most contentious aspect to modern life changing in the developing world is… traffic.

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Magufuli Goes Nuts

Magufuli Goes Nuts

Tanzania’s “bulldozer” dictator plowed into the agricultural arena yesterday slaying down corrupt officials and increasing and strengthening his partnership with China.

John Magufuli’s dictatorial actions should immediately benefit most Tanzanians: Agricultural production should rise, prices for commodities should rise and additional supply should keep consumer prices steady. There’s no way all this “good news” could have been created in such a short time democratically, and there is also no certainty that in the mid- or long-term it’s the right thing to do.

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Congo Cover

Congo Cover

There are other reasons than “the threat of terror” that prompted America to close its embassy in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) yesterday.

I know really good, young people who have recently left the African service of the State Department as the Trump administration systematically hammers down our foreign service. There’s always been terror in the DRC. There’s just now fewer, lower paid, less capable Americans to deal with it.

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Worldwide Evil

Worldwide Evil

Trumpian tactics are now front and center in the highly contentious South African elections. Why? Because they’re so successful.

The leader of the most leftist party, the EFF, which while very radical and occasionally offensive in his criticism of its opponents has rarely deviated into outright lying. Julius Malema is now doing so, “stoking Trumpian fires of anger and violence in [his] supporters.”

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Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Today begins the long Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. (Canada celebrates it earlier.) Festivities continue throughout next week with many people not returning to normal work routines until a week from Monday.

For many Americans this has become a bigger holiday than Christmas and other end-of-the-year celebrations, which are considered more religious than familial.

In both Canada and the U.S. the holiday week is characterized by copious amounts of food featuring seasonal recipes and lots of sweets. The traditional meat served at the feast is turkey.

The holiday originates with the first permanent settlers to the New World, people who called themselves “pilgrims” who were fleeing England’s restrictive laws on religion. They arrived the northeast coast of America between 1620 and 1621.

They fared poorly in the beginning until two local native Americans, both Wampanoags of the Algonkian-speaking clan, befriended the settlers. Both spoke English; one of them had traveled to England in 1605.

The “Indians” taught the pilgrims how to farm and build homesteads, and the summer planting season was so successful that the pilgrims invited the Indians to a “Thanksgiving” harvest dinner in November, 1621.

Click here for a fascinating account of the first Thanksgiving, what led up to it, and what came afterwards.

The report was first published for the Tacoma School District by a panel of scholars from the northwest. Among the things that stuck out to me was that the first Thanksgiving was an extremely friendly affair that lasted three days between Miles Standish’s pilgrims and the local Alonguin Indians.

Both women and men Indians sat at the Thanksgiving tables, but only Pilgrim men were allowed to sit at the tables since the women were expected to stand behind their men to serve them as needed.

Capt. Standish did, indeed, issue the invitation to the local Indians for the first harvest thanks, acknowledging that his small settler group would not have survived without the Indians’ constant consul and encouragement.

If ever there were illegal immigrants, it was Miles Standish and his band of exiles. But Clan Chief Massasoit threatened no barrier. In fact, the chief gave the Standish clan choice pieces of his own land.

The friendship between the citizens and exiles was so profound that 150 years later Benjanmin Franklin realized that because of the equality that women were given among the native Americans that they should be given an important seat at the table creating a new America.

According to the Tacoma document Franklin invited the principle Indians of the time, the Iroquois, “to Albany, New York, to explain their system to a delegation who then developed the ‘Albany Plan of Union.’ This document later served as a model for the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.”

There are never things lacking for being grateful for. This Thanksgiving remember all those who built our pasts with open hearts and the courage to confront new times and new places embracing, not fearing those unlike us.

Hand IT Over

Hand IT Over

Can you imagine the day when Jamie Dimon’s yacht is taken away from him by a socialist port authority? Or better, when that cottage on the lake you only used a couple times last summer is expropriated by the local county?

Yesterday’s decision in South Africa to proceed with changing the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation shows the desperation that societies which have progressed too far down the path of income inequality will go for recompense. Better watch out. It’s coming soon to your nearby authority.

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Fires & Drought

Fires & Drought

Gov. Brown understands better than anyone in America what Climate Change means: “Things like this will be part of our future … things like this, and worse,’’ he said yesterday of the fires ravaging his State.

And the people of Cape Town understand better than almost anyone in the world the prospect of running out of water. How they reacted to their prolonged drought, and how they managed it so well, is a model for all of us as we confront Climate Change.

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Holiday for War

Holiday for War

VeteransDAyToday is controversial: a very revered American holiday that many of us are reluctant to celebrate because we are so ashamed of America’s wars. Yet we can’t ignore the life stories of those who are conflated with them.

During my life time, which began just after World War II, America has fought many wars and not a single one was justified. I hoped Obama would end some of them, but instead he started new ones. Today, it’s terrifying. The Trump administration has not ended the wars he so vehementally campaigned against, instead supporting Saudi Arabia in its genocide in Yemen. Worse, our Commander-in-Chief has implied he will use nukes.

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Calling Africa

Calling Africa

The long awaited “African Smartphone” had yet another “debut” yesterday when Ugandan billionaire Ashish Thakkar announced targeted investment in manufacturing operations in Rwanda and South Africa.

The much anticipated “Mara Phone” has seen one delay after another. Initially planned to be fully in the market by now, it’s most recent debut was last March. To great fanfare then Thakkar announced “2018 second quarter” availability. To date nothing has been produced. What’s really happening?

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Refugee To Congress

Refugee To Congress

The election to Congress of the first refugee, a Somali woman from Minneapolis has caused furor in Kenya as prominent politicians congratulated her in spite of aggressively having demanded the closure of the refugee camp she grew up in.

Ilhan Omar was the successful Democrat candidate to replace Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) who stepped down earlier this year after sexual abuse allegations which he vigorously denied, and he just won Tuesday’s Minnesota Attorney General’s race.

There’s more: Trump vehemently warned voters against supporting her, claiming that Minnesota “had suffered enough from Somali immigrants.”

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