Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
⇒Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Four top State Department officials, all political appointees, fired (NBC) New administration will appoint its own people.
Comment: Lots of my friends, who know a great deal about foreign affairs, are deeply concern about the resulting loss of experience. I am not.
Although I have many concerns about Trump’s foreign policy, reorganizing the State Department is not among them. First, these were political appointees, even though they had begun as foreign service officers. A new administration has every right to bring in its own people in top positions. Second, I have real concerns about several of these fired employees, some of whom were enmeshed in Hillary’s email scandals and other policy fiascos. Third, if there is one thing Rex Tillerson, the next Sec. of State knows, it is how to build and control a bureaucracy.
Bottom line: I am concerned about US policies and several of Trump’s major initiatives, but cleaning house in Foggy Bottom is good news, not bad.
◆ British Prime Minister Theresa May to meet with Trump on Friday (BBC) The meeting follows May’s very positive speech in Philadelphia urging a renewal of the “special relationship” between the US and UK.
Comment: Theresa May has proved herself very adroit so far and willing to listen to voters. She opposed Brexit, but, after it was approved by the voters and she entered office (replacing David Cameron), she has moved strongly to implement it. In short, she listens to voters. Second, as Britain leaves the European Union, it needs to renegotiate all its trade treaties (since they are now done through the EU). A strong trade relationship with the US is crucial.
◆ The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moves its Doomsday Clock closer to midnight “thanks to Trump” (Washington Post)
⇒ The full, thoughtful statement from the Bulletin’s scientists is here. They have now set the clock at 2 and 1/2 minutes til midnight.
◆ Google Pixel: onward and upward Pixel 2 said to be faster, stronger, water-resistant,says C|Net, and may be complemented by a new, budget version.
◆ This is news! Scientists say they have discovered how to put the flavor back in tomatoes (Business Insider)
Comment: Today’s tomatoes have been bred for long shelf-life and long-distance transportation. They taste nothing like summertime tomatoes from the backyard. Any tech that can improve this unhappy result will be most welcome.
◆ Comment: The US-Mexico relationship is in deep trouble over two big issues, trade and immigration, and is likely to worsen as the rhetoric ramps up.
The US has tremendous negotiating leverage because Mexico depends on the US market for its goods. But pushing that advantage will surely bring anti-American politicians to the fore in Mexico, pushing left-wing populism. And it may become politically difficult for Mexico’s centrist leaders to push compromise solution.
In the US, the risk for Republicans is continued alienation of Hispanic voters, a growing segment of the population. Although they generally vote Democratic, some state parties, like Texas Republicans, have won significant Hispanic support and will be very edgy about a deteriorating relationship.