The World Today for November 23, 2017

NEED TO KNOW

Dear Readers,

Today is Thanksgiving Day in America, a time of gatherings, feasting and gratitude across this vast nation and among our compatriots across the world. To celebrate, we are taking a respite from the world’s troubles and, instead, offering a special essay to mark the holiday.

We at DailyChatter wish you a day of peace, happiness and good cheer.

THANKSGIVING

With Charity For All

In these difficult times, it is well to remember that Thanksgiving became a national holiday in perhaps the darkest moment of America’s history.

Though the observance of a harvest festival had been around since Pilgrim days, it was Abraham Lincoln who anointed Thanksgiving Day – the last Thursday in November – as an annual time to pause, reflect, and give thanks for our blessings, both national and personal.

The new holiday came in the fall of 1863, in the wake of the Battle of Gettysburg the previous July. On November 19, 1863 – just before that first national Thanksgiving Day – Lincoln delivered his inspiring Gettysburg Address, promising that a government “of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

At the time, this was a proposition in some doubt. With all of the challenges and difficulties swirling around our troubled world, it is easy to feel that these hallowed principles are also in doubt on this Thanksgiving Day.

But in the spirit of Lincoln’s optimism and belief in the future, let us today pause, reflect and give thanks, for there are blessings we need to cherish on this special day.

Begin with the astonishingly unlikely fact that one is alive at all. Each singular human being could only have been born as the person they are if things in centuries – indeed, eons – past had not unfolded exactly as they did. Someone might be alive if any particular egg had been fertilized by a different sperm over the history of the world, but that person would be someone else.

The odds of being born are too astronomical to calculate, so start your Thanksgiving with the reassuring knowledge that you won the most unlikely lottery possible to imagine. In comparison, winning Powerball is like a sure thing. You are, literally, a winner in life’s lottery.

Along with being one of nature’s winners, each of us has another great blessing – some time. It may be short or long, but we each have a bank account that is stocked with hours and days and months which we can squander or invest.

Mercifully, we can’t spend this precious time faster than second by second. There is no provision for early withdrawal from a time-IRA to be spent on a special trip. So there is always hope that we can use wisely the unspent time we still have.

To go from the sublime to the world of now, we have seen that the American people are capable of being roused against bigotry and hate and internal division, and also of rising to defend our nation and others against terrorism and war. When we follow our better selves, we seek to lead the world on the basis of values, values that are perfectly embodied in two other great speeches by Abraham Lincoln – his inaugural addresses.

In his first inaugural address, he was speaking to a bitterly divided America. “We are not enemies, but friends,” he said. “Though passions may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when, again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Four years later, after the deadliest war in our history, our country was torn apart in the most violent and hate-filled way. The Civil War had created a nation in which terrible damage and pain had been inflicted, fostering a lust for vengeance and resentment on every side.

In this bitter environment, Lincoln inspiringly declared that we should “bind up the nation’s wounds,” and we should do so “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

This Thanksgiving let us hope that leaders of nations throughout the world will heed Lincoln’s example and be courageous enough to emulate him. That would truly be a cause for Thanksgiving in the years to come.

— Alex S. Jones, Co-Executive Editor, DailyChatter

WANT TO KNOW

BOSNIA

Tough Enough?

The United Nations hailed the conviction of former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic on multiple counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by an international tribunal as a “warning” to other such perpetrators.

But even though Mladic will die in prison, that warning may not have been stern enough, Ed Vulliamy opined in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Mladic was convicted of genocide for the mass murder of more than 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica over five days in the summer of 1995 and sentenced to life behind bars on Wednesday by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. However, as Vulliamy points out in the Guardian, the court declined to define serial atrocities committed elsewhere in Bosnia by troops under Mladic’s direct command as genocide.

“Beyond those bereaved by Srebrenica, not one shared in the celebration of Mladić’s conviction,” he wrote of phone calls with survivors.

There’s an ominous caveat, too: By some accounts, at least five other genocides are underway today in Sudan, the Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria, South Sudan, and Myanmar, notes Business Insider.

PAKISTAN

Free Radical

10 months after he was placed under house arrest, a Pakistani court ordered the release of the alleged terrorist who India and the United States accuse of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The founder of the banned terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed remains a popular figure in Pakistan, thanks both to his fiery rhetoric and the charitable activities conducted by another organization he heads – widely considered to be a front for LeT.

His release – which follows US President Donald Trump’s tough talk on Pakistan in October – will free him up to take a more active role in politics, the New York Times noted.

The court ruled that the Pakistani government failed to prove Saeed is a threat to public safety or that his release could lead to international penalties for Pakistan.

Amid a general but resigned outrage, the Times of India noted that a US Senate decision earlier this month to drop from a defense bill a provision that would have required Pakistan to prove it’s taking a tough line against LeT might have helped lead to Saeed’s release.

VENEZUELA

Selective Justice

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro said six executives of US-based refiner Citgo arrested on corruption charges in Caracas this week will be tried as “corrupt, thieving traitors,” despite a request by the United States to free them.

Five of the six executives are US citizens, while acting Citgo President Jose Pereira, has Venezuelan citizenship and US permanent residency, Reuters reported. On Wednesday, Maduro named Asdrubal Chavez, a former oil minister and cousin of the late president Hugo Chavez, as Pereira’s replacement.

“These are people born in Venezuela, they’re Venezuelan and they’re going to be judged for being corrupt, thieving traitors,” the agency quoted Maduro as saying. “They should go to the worst prison in Venezuela.”

The arrests come in the wake of US sanctions against Maduro and some of his allies, as well as economic sanctions that have impeded the OPEC nation’s access to international banks. Meanwhile, Venezuela has also defaulted on sovereign debt and bonds issued by state-owned oil company PDVSA after failing to make timely payments, a New York-based derivatives group ruled on Thursday.

DISCOVERIES

Be Thankful – It’s Good For You

Remember the old adage, laughter is the best medicine? Well apparently, gratitude, too, is beneficial for our mental and physical health, according to recent studies.

“Gratitude is good medicine,” Robert A. Emmons, psychology professor at UC Davis and founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, told the Los Angeles Times.

Among many beneficial effects, it boosts self-control, and helps you sleep better. Being grateful also can empower people and help them fight off addictions, which “come out of spiritual thirst,” Kristi Nelson, executive director of gratefulness.org told the newspaper. These come “as a result of focusing on what they have to feel grateful for versus what’s missing in their lives.”

Instead, gratitude focuses on resilience and optimism, which can help in fighting off depression.

It also makes one a better parent, child, friend, neighbor and boss, helping to foster a sense of community.

So this Thanksgiving, enjoy the turkey and trimmings, the game and friends and family. And give yourself a big helping of gratitude on the side. It’s good for you.

Click here to read all the 10 benefits of gratitude.

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