April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016

NEED TO KNOW

Crumbling from Within


Ukraine became the victim in a war two years ago that made clear Moscow’s new aggressiveness outside its borders.

Now, the country is falling apart.

After Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and separatists declared two independent republics in the country’s east, a series of corruption scandals have rocked Kiev – including revelations in the Panama Papers that President Petro Poroshenko established an offshore tax haven to reduce his tax bill while young Ukrainian men were dying at the front.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned, saying someone new needed to jumpstart efforts to oversee a ceasefire with Russia and rebuild the former Soviet republic’s moribund economy. “The process of changing the government turned into a mindless running in place,” he said.

The Ukrainian public was sick and tired of Yatsenyuk, mainly because he was perceived as catering to the oligarchs who operate corrupt networks throughout government. He survived a no-confidence vote earlier this year by a hair’s breadth.

Jockeying among candidates to fill Yatsenyu’s seat has begun. Now Ukraine can decide whether or not it wants the old regime to remain in power.

Vladimir Groysman, the parliamentary speaker and a close political ally of Poroshenko, is among the would-be replacements. Yatsenyuk endorsed him. Groysman’s rival is Natalie Jaresko, the country’s current finance minister who grew up in Chicago as the child of Ukrainian immigrants. Foreign investors favor her.

After he announced his exit, the prime minister kept saying that Ukraine’s current political crisis was “artificial,” and that the country is facing a crisis of ethics as much as politics. Yatsenyuk was suggesting that political infighting had diverted attention from the country’s most pressing problems.

He’s right.

The OECD on Saturday said Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels had violated the February 2015 ceasefire between the two sides at the highest rates so far this year. The organization’s monitors came under fire during their inspection of the ceasefire.

Ukrainian experts are warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin might be planning another offensive this spring.

President Barack Obama is unlikely to change his noninterventionist policies. Meanwhile, the EU is not embracing Ukraine either, even though the country incurred the wrath of Moscow in the first place by seeking to draw closer to Brussels.

Dutch voters rejected an EU-sponsored deal with Ukraine last week in a nationwide referendum.

Within the EU, the vote was a win for xenophobic anti-EU politicians who not only don’t want Europe to expand farther east but also wouldn’t mind if the Netherlands left the EU in the manner that Britain is considering.

And then there's Russia's 'silent' victory, too.

WANT TO KNOW

To Remember or Not To Remember


The choice of Hiroshima is loaded with symbolism for an era understandably concerned about terrorists setting off a mushroom cloud in some great metropolis in the world.

In 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima that wiped out around 70 percent of the city and killed 140,000 people. It was the beginning of the end of the war in the Pacific.

John Kerry’s visit to Hiroshima Monday is the first by a serving secretary of state. He made it clear before he arrived that the US had no intention of apologizing for the bomb. But his schedule includes a somber stop at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

The big question now is over President Barack Obama's visit to Japan next month for the annual G-7 Summit: Some are calling on the president to visit the city and memorial, given how he claims to put nuclear nonproliferation at the top of his agenda.

Peru: Fujimori Again?


The Peruvian presidential election is headed for a runoff and some controversy, after Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, prevailed in the first round of voting Sunday.

Fujimori will likely face off against Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peru's former finance minister, in the second-round runoff June 5. With 38% of votes, Fujimori had a substantial lead in the first round over Kuczynski, who won 25% of votes.

While Fujimori describes the results as proof of a desire for reconciliation among Peruvians, Kuczynski has said he will reach out to other parties to gain support.

Polls show a defeat for Fujimori in the second round is likely, according to the Wall Street Journal, given “her high unfavorable ratings”: She is still associated with crimes her father committed while in office in the 1990s – when Fujimori served as first lady.

The former president continues to serve out a 25-year prison sentence for embezzlement, bribery, and establishing a paramilitary group.

Earthquake, Know Thyself


An estimated 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan, India and Pakistan on Sunday, rattling Kabul and Lahore and halting the metro in Delhi, with at least five dead in Pakistan.

The region was lucky – this time.

In October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude trembler killed more than 300 people in the same region. Over the weekend, a quake of 4.5 magnitude in Nepal was determined to be an aftershock of the earthquake that killed 9,000 in Nepal on April 25, 2015.

Natural disasters in Asia can seem a world away. But they are happening on the same world that everyone else shares.

Experts just last month said again that the US has been lucky that the Big One hasn’t struck yet and how experts expect it to.

Most believe the US is unprepared: The Los Angeles Times’ 2013 investigation illustrated how many concrete buildings would buckle and fall in the event of a major quake.

This South Asian trembler is yet another reminder that we might not always remain so lucky.

DISCOVERIES

Trump Foretold


The front page of The Boston Globe on Sunday featured Donald Trump and a headline that read “Deportations to Begin.”

Actually, it wasn’t the first page. It was a fake front page drawn up for the opinion section to foretell the future if The Donald became president. Other headlines on the faux front page described the military refusing to kill the families of Islamic State members and new libel laws against ‘absolute scum’ journalists – all plausible news pieces given Trump’s comments on the stump.

Given how Trump is expected to win in the big state of New York on Tuesday, the Globe’s uncanny fake page might turn out to be an accurate prediction.

Still, President Trump might prefer less coverage and more opportunities to actually write the news himself: On Monday, his column in Scotland debuts.

The DailyChatter staff wishes you a wonderful day. Write to us with tips, feedback and suggestions at [email protected].

Compiled and written by Jabeen Bhatti.

jbhatti
Mon, 04/11/2016 – 05:57