The Editors: Trump’s budget pays for defense by abandoning the war on poverty | America Magazine

A president’s first budget plan is one of the milestones in his or her transition from the nominee of a political party to the leader of the entire nation. Ideally, the federal budget is a blueprint for progress toward several shared goals, including fiscal responsibility, the safety and security of the United States, and the alleviation of social ills including poverty and unemployment. Unfortunately, the 2018 budget plan unveiled by the Trump administration on May 23 is out of balance on several accounts.

Rather than attempting to unify the country after a dispiriting election year, the $4.1 trillion budget plan reflects a radical shift in priorities. In order to pay for a $54 billion increase in defense spending of dubious value and without accounting for the costs of a planned major tax cuts, the Trump administration proposes to slash spending on almost every other discretionary program

Source: America Magazine

The political economy of the Conservative Manifesto: a hallucinatory celebration of the state | British Politics and Policy at LSE

The 2017 Conservative Manifesto opens with the statement that “now more than ever, Britain needs a clear plan”. In the spirit of due diligence, Abby Innes offers the first in a short series of articles on the political economy of the manifesto. Here she considers how the party’s strategy towards the state compares with reality.

“We need a state that is strong and strategic, nimble and responsive to the needs of people”. (p.8)

The 2017 Conservative Manifesto speaks highly of the state, and it speaks highly of the market. But even by the standards of enthusiasm in a political manifesto, this text operates in a fiction of archetypes. The juxtaposition of the manifesto’s celebration of a high-functioning state with the reality of its current institutional crisis verges on the hallucinatory. And yet we need to know how the political parties intend to approach the UK state because the next incumbents will remake it to an unprecedented degree.

Source: British Politics and Policy at LSE

Jacob Zuma’s End Approaches

South Africa’s African National Congress has a National Executive meeting this weekend, which will be more than usually difficult for Jacob Zuma.

Zuma goes into the meeting of the committee facing an unprecedented level of opposition from within the African National Congress and its labor and communist supporters

South African President Jacob Zuma faces a key battle for his political survival this weekend when senior members of his ruling party say they’ll push for its decision-making national executive committee to order him to step down.

Zuma, 75, goes into the meeting of the committee facing an unprecedented level of opposition from within the African National Congress and its labor and communist supporters following a series of scandals he’s faced since he took office in 2009. His vice president, Cyril Ramaphosa, echoed the South African Council of Churches on Sunday by saying the nation is at risk of becoming a “mafia state.”

(RDM)

Adding to Zuma’s difficulties, is that the ANC has just endured a humiliating defeat in the Nqutu municipal by-elections yesterday, in the heart of Zuma’s KZN base . Ever since the August election produced an almost evenly split council, the ANC coalition was unremittingly obstructive, preventing even the election of mayor and speaker. The entire council was ultimately dissolved, and fresh elections held yesterday. The ANC retained only 3 wards on the new council (plus 8 more from the PR list). The IFP, with a total of 19, now have an absolute majority. When even his own hometown voters are deserting him, how much longer can he survive? It’s only a matter of time.

How the capture cancer spread | News24

There are two names and two dates that stand out in the SA Council of Churches’ Unburdening Panel report into state capture.

The first name is that of President Jacob Zuma, the Gupta family’s entry point into grabbing control of the South African state and its entities. The second name is Malusi Gigaba, whose appointment as minister of public enterprises led to whole-scale changes in parastatals and the installation of Gupta-aligned directors.

The standout dates are April 2009, the inauguration of Zuma and the beginning of the pay-off for the Guptas’ investment in the unlikely president. The other is November 2010, Gigaba’s arrival at public enterprises, where he replaced an uncooperative Barbara Hogan.

Source: News24

Taiwan’s top court rules in favour of same-sex marriage – BBC News

Taiwan’s top judges have ruled in favour of gay marriage, paving the way for it to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions.

The highest court ruled that current laws preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated their right to equality and were unconstitutional.

It gave parliament two years to amend existing laws or pass new ones.

Wednesday’s landmark decision came as the LGBT community faces increasing persecution in the region.

In a press release following the ruling, the court said that “disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders” constituted a “different treatment” with “no rational basis.”

The court concluded that “such different treatment is incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the right to equality” as protected by Taiwan’s constitution.

More at: BBC News

Fr. Bryan Massingale to LGBT Catholics: “Refuse to Be Silenced. Continue to Speak Our Truth.” – Bondings 2.0

“We ain’t what we oughta be. We ain’t what we want to be. We ain’t what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”

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Fr. Bryan Massingale

Fr. Bryan Massingale began his talk on “Pope Francis, Social Ethics, and LGBT People” with these words of an unknown Black preacher, which were often quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Massingale, a theologian at Fordham University, New York, addressed participants at New Ways Ministry’s 8th National Symposium, and asked them this key question:

“What does it mean to be an LGBT Catholic in an age of Pope Francis?”

Read more: – Bondings 2.0

Quality of life on rise for many Africans, report says | MG Africa

Africans are seeing a steady improvement in the quality of their lives, with some countries even nearing world averages, says a wide-ranging report out Monday on the continent’s future.

While large portions of the continent’s 1.2-billion people live in poverty, many of Africa’s 54 nations have made significant progress in health, education and standard of living.

“At least a third of African countries have now achieved medium to high levels of human development,” said the report published by the African Development Bank, referring to a composite measure of a nation’s condition.

Read more at: MG Africa

Taking back control of ideas: How politicians can shape public debates on immigration | British Politics and Policy at LSE

How can people be convinced that immigration is actually not a threat? Christina Boswell and James Hampshire explain that, in shaping public beliefs, narratives and images are more important than statistics. So, politicians who want to challenge the current demonisation of foreigners must construct narratives about immigration and its place in our society which draw on existing public philosophies of openness and inclusion. 

New proposals on how to regulate immigration after Brexit are coming thick and fast. But there’s a lot of muddled thinking from the main political parties, especially regarding how to respond to anti-immigrant sentiment amongst sections of the public.

Politicians and commentators often fall into one of two traps. Either they take anti-immigrant sentiment as a given – a legitimate democratic preference, which needs to be taken at face value and respected. On this view, the role of mainstream political parties is to allay concerns through introducing more stringent controls and tougher integration measures.

Alternatively, politicians and pundits understand anti-immigrant sentiment as a problem of ignorance. On this account, large sections of the public hold inaccurate beliefs about the scale and impacts of immigration, and the answer is to better educate people, supply them with robust evidence and facts in order to bust the myths about immigration, and encourage a more enlightened approach.

Read more at: British Politics and Policy at LSE

Balancing the Budget: Joburg DA shows us the money | Daily Maverick

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has said the city’s first non-ANC administration will be pro-poor, but the proof is in the numbers. Finance MMC Rabelani Dagada on Tuesday presented the city’s coalition-government budget, allocating R55.9-billion in spending over the next year. By GREG NICOLSON.

 Reflecting Mashaba’s recent State of the City Address, Rabelani Dagada dedicated his budget to “Joburg’s forgotten people”, saying it would be pro-poor, provide a business environment to spur growth, and fight corruption. The budget was delivered exactly nine months after the first sitting of Joburg’s new council, which saw Mashaba elected mayor through a coalition with smaller opposition parties and support of the EFF.

Dagada on Tuesday said the country’s economic climate and the risk of a downgrade for the city could hamper the administration’s goal of achieving 5% economic growth, but  through austerity measures and increasing revenue collection, Johannesburg’s finances can be improved, and this will ultimately lead to development for the poor.

Source: Daily Maverick

Blurring the rainbow: South Africa’s inequality is no longer about race | The Economist

IN KLIPTOWN, an old neighbourhood of Soweto, a group of perhaps 30 men stand in a huddle shouting at cars. One drags a large plastic barrier into the road, while a couple of others pour fuel into old tyres to make burning barricades. It is the sort of protest that disrupts life in or around Johannesburg every few days. What the men want is simple, explains Bongani Godfrey Ndaba, a 37-year-old with a thick mat of hair: a better standard of living.

Most live across a railway line from the road they are blocking, in a warren of crumbling old brick “matchbox” houses and newer tin shacks. Mr Ndaba points out the rubbish that litters the entrance to the neighbourhood, and the mucky water that pours down the muddy streets. “The rich get richer; the poor get nothing,” he says. “There are just empty promises.” As he speaks, the boom of tear-gas grenades comes from the road, indicating that the police have arrived.

Source:  The Economist