In which….America again came under attack. That’s one way of describing the latest school shooting – this one in Florida on Wednesday which killed 17 people. Former pupil Nikolas Cruz has been charged with murder.
3 of America’s 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern history have occurred in the past 5 months. If these had been terrorist attacks the full weight of the state would now have been deployed in an attempt to end them. Instead we heard the usual platitudes from politicians – their ‘thoughts and prayers’ were with the victims and families. President Trump followed the same path – but didn’t even mention gun control. Many people now appear not comforted by the thoughts and prayers line – but angered by it.
The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a busy week travelling through the Middle East region. In Lebanon he met the President, prime minister and parliament speaker. He told them that Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, is threatening Lebanon’s security, and called for calm on the Lebanon/Israeli border where tensions are again rising.
On to Turkey to see President Erdogan. Turkish soldiers, pushing further south in Syria, are getting increasingly close to US forces fighting with the Turks target – the Kurdish YPG. Details were not forthcoming – nor it seems – was agreement.
Kuwait hosted a donors conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq where $30 billion was pledged. This falls way short of the estimated 88 billion needed to dig the country out of the rubble following the war with ISIS, but is above the 20 billion Iraqi officials say is required to begin the work. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the conference was an “enormous success.” Not everyone agreed.
To South Africa. All change? Yes and no – the ANC’s Jacob Zuma stood down as the country’s President, amid corruption allegations and the ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa took his place. He’s considered a hardworking man of good character – he’ll need all his attributes. Unemployment is high, corruption is rife. Society is unequal. In 2005 the ANC was polling at 70%, now it’s about 54% – there’s a generation of voters who didn’t experience apartheid, Ramaphosa cannot count on being one of the heroes of liberation in next year’s Presidential election.
Finally…..all together now… The North Korean cheerleaders appear to have charmed large sections of the media despite their appearance at the Winter Olympics clearly being part of a very well coordinated propaganda strategy by the North. This was combined with offers for South Korea’s President to pay a visit. This appears designed to buy the North time on the nuclear issue – once the Olympics are over – American pressure will again build. What we weren’t told about the cheerleaders, is that back home their families were probably praying they didn’t defect – as they would pay the price. To ensure this – the young women’s every move was shadowed by North Korean intelligence agents.