The art of the what?

07chappatte-inyt-master768

The more the president talks about his approach to negotiation, the more painfully obvious it is he didn’t write a single word of The Art of the Deal. He probably didn’t even read it.

Take, for example, Trump’s head-scratching belief that he has a viable “proposal for peace” between the Palestinians and Israel:

“We have a great proposal for the Palestinians, it covers a lot of the things we discussed over the years.”

However, Trump then noted that the U.S. had taken the issue of Jerusalem out of the talks. “They never got past Jerusalem. We took it off the table. We don’t have to talk about it anymore.”

Given that the status of Jerusalem is one of the most critical issues for the Palestinians, and an essential element of any future two-state solution, this simply defies common sense, as Joshua Keating points out over at Slate:

I may not have written The Art of the Deal, but I’m pretty sure that this is not how negotiations work. If I were applying for a job and negotiating salary, benefits, and vacation days, then told that I would be getting no vacation days at all so that the issue would be “off the table,” I don’t think this would make me more willing to compromise on salary and benefits.

The Palestinians certainly aren’t buying what Trump is selling either.

“Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table. The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine,” (Palestinian peace negotiator) Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

Trump seems to think he can blackmail the Palestinians to the negotiating table by threatening to withhold aid, as he did in Davos yesterday. But the Palestinian Authority isn’t some porn star who’s silence he can buy, or some contractor he can stiff on the bill.

“Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation,” (Erekat) added.

As for that “great proposal” of a peace deal that Trump claims is on offer, the Palestinians have seen enough to expect it to be a farce. It denies them a capital in Jerusalem, allows Israel to annex West Bank settlements, gives Israel control over Palestinian airports, seaports, maritime and land borders, and leaves the Israeli military free to continue to operate in what is supposed to be a sovereign Palestinian state.

There’s no deal to be had there. And Trump can neither bully, nor buy, his way to one if those are the terms.

Tribute: Hugh Masekela

(Photo credit: BBC)
(Photo credit: BBC)

 

South African jazz legend and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela has died at the age of 78 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

I first encountered his music in 1987 at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia when he performed alongside Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo as part of Paul Simon’s Graceland tour. Until then my exposure to South African music had been limited to a single album of “township jive” and kwela that I’d found in the discount bin of the used record store near the offices of the newspaper where I worked.

That concert was a moment of musical awakening for me, leading me to explore and fall in love with the richness and diversity of African music, from the Zulu choral tradition embodied by Ladysmith, to the dance music of Senegal and artists like Youssou N’dour, to Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, and beyond.

The video below features a performance from the Graceland concert staged in Zimbabwe in 1987. Masekela is featured starting at the 1:50 mark. The video quality isn’t very good, but the sound is great. Below it is a video of one of Masekela’s most famous songs, “Coal Train,” recorded live at a festival in England in 1986.

This week in terrorism history: Jan. 22-28

Police outside Eagle Ridge Mall, Lake Wales, FLA. (Photo: fox35)
Police outside Eagle Ridge Mall, Lake Wales, FLA. (Photo: fox35)

 

Two homemade pipe-bombs went off  at a mall in central Florida on Sunday evening, causing little or no damage but prompting the evacuation of about 100 shoppers and staff. Police are seeking a “person of interest” described as a middle-aged white man with a heavy build, wearing a gray shirt and hat.

Police have so far declined to label the incident an act of terrorism, which has produced an inevitable reaction from some social media quarters:

Now I fully understand the sentiment at work here, the perception that authorities are quick to cry terrorism when a person of color, typically a Muslim or someone thought to be Muslim, is the perpetrator of some act of violence, but call it anything but when it’s white guy who’s responsible. As I’ve written about before, there’s research that backs up the perception.

But in this case, I’m with the cops. So far they’ve made the right call:

“There is nothing at this time to indicate this act was terrorism,” he said. “At this time, we are checking video surveillance cameras.”

When asked why this incident wasn’t being characterized as terror, (Lake Wales Police Deputy Chief Troy) Schulze said, “We don’t know what the person was trying to achieve.”

And that’s the rub. Unless and until we get some evidence that gives us insight into the motivation behind any act of violence, we can’t call it terrorism, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator. This is one of the key lessons that I try to convey to my students when I teach on terrorism.

I’ve written about this before, most recently following last fall’s horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. Even now, after four months of intense investigation, police there are no closer to understanding why Stephen Paddock meticulously planned and executed his attack on concert goers from the window of his high-rise hotel room.

So, did a middle-aged white guy carry out an act of domestic terrorism in Florida last night? Maybe. But maybe not.

Now on to this week’s look back at terrorism history:

  • Jan. 22, 1997 — Martinton, Ill.: Authorities raid the home of accused Ku Klux Klan member Ricky Salyers, a former Marine, discovering 35,000 rounds of heavy ammunition, armor piercing shells, live ammunition for grenade launchers, and other military gear. He was also believed to be a member of Black Dawn, an underground group of far-right anti-government extremists inside the US military.
  • Jan. 23, 2001 — Yemen: A Yemeni airliner is hijacked with 91 passengers aboard, including the US ambassador.
  • Jan. 24, 2011 — Moscow: A suicide bombing at Domodedovo airport kills 36 and wounds 180. Imarat Kavkaz, a Chechen group, claims responsibility.
  • Jan. 25, 1976 — Lisburn, Northern Ireland: A bomb planted by Loyalist paramilitaries at the Hibernian Social Club kills two Catholic civilians.
  • Jan. 26, 2009 — Democratic Republic of the Congo: Attacks are carried out on several villages leaving 36 civilians dead. Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda are believed responsible.
  • Jan. 27, 1975 — London: The Irish Republican Army plants seven bombs at locations across the city, resulting in minimal damage or injuries. An IRA bomb goes off in Manchester, injuring 26 people.
  • Jan. 28, 1982 — Italy: Police rescue US Army Brigadier Gen. James Dozier who was kidnapped by the Red Brigades six weeks earlier.

Troll level: Expert

40-nuclearosis

North Korea got in some expert-level trolling today in response to this week’s meteor in Michigan and last week’s incoming missile alert false alarm in Hawaii.

The Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s state-run news service, issued a press release mocking the United States for suffering from a case of “nuclear-phobia” after those events triggered public fears that America was under possible North Korean attack:

Pyongyang, January 19 (KCNA) — Nuclear-phobia by the nuclear force of the DPRK has now caused a tragicomedy in the U.S.

On January 16 a meteor fell from the sky between Ohio and Michigan with a great bang, brightening the sky.

This sparked off the explosive postage of stories about the “fireball in the nocturnal sky” on the U.S. internet websites.

Internet users admitted that they worried the meteor in question could have been a nuclear bomb flown from north Korea.
A twitter user posted words that when meteor brightened the sky between Ohio and Michigan, all internet network users hoped that it would be a meteor, not north Korea’s missile.

Another twitter user wrote that it was sad to have taken the meteor as a bomb flown from north Korea and to have hurried the car in fear.

Lots of people were reported to have greatly worried about it, taking the meteor as an attack from north Korea.

A people said that it was greatly relieving that the meteor did not pass the sky last weekend when there was a misinformation about the flight of a nuclear bomb.

What was all the more irony was the fuss in Hawaii on January 13.

At 08:07 citizens and tourists on Hawaii received all at the same time the ballistic missile threat warning which urged them to evacuate as there was ballistic missile threat and which stressed that it was not just training.

The citizens and tourists in great disarray went busy evacuating amid the heightened fear and delusion of persecution about the nuclear force of the DPRK.

What is all the more ridiculous is that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission put it that the ballistic missile attack evacuation warning which threw the whole of Hawaii in a great chaos was caused by a mistake of a man who pressed the button during shift period.

Good thing the United States knows what to do with cases of nuclear-phobia. Or, as it was diagnosed back in the ’50s, “nuclearosis.”

But don’t worry, there really is nothing to fear. After all, risk is a regular part of life. And your hair will grow back.