World
Ronald & Donald: From Reaganian history to Trumpian future of planet Earth
"Tear down this wall," Ronald Reagan, former Republican President of the US, challenged Mikhail Gorbachev in his speech at Brandenburg Gate, in Germany, exactly this week of June in 1987.
 
Reagan was speaking next to the iconic Berlin wall. He was referring not only to the brick and mortar wall erected in 1961 by the then communist East Germany with unflinching support from Soviet Union, but also to the ideological firewall that separated an inward-looking, isolated, centralised, socialistic economy from the capitalist West. It was a time when open market globalisation was blazing a trail towards a New World Order.
 
During his candidacy announcement speech this month in 2015, Donald Trump, also Republican, first proposed the idea of building a real wall along America's southern border with Mexico. He boasted that due to his real estate experience, he was uniquely qualified for the job.
 
A little over a year after Reagan ended his tenure, again this month in 1990, the demolition of the Berlin wall officially began and was completed within two years. The open market economy and waves of globalisation started sweeping eastward. Regulations started taking a back-seat and creativity draped in innovation began proliferating.
 
Trump, in his bid to "Make America Great Again", has isolated Americans at a crucial time, depriving them of the opportunities offered by a globalising and digitalising world. He is doggedly firm that fulfilling election promises -- at any cost -- is his urgent priority. His unilateral decisions, without multilateral consultative dialogue, is poised to make a serious impact on the social, economic and environmental fabric of planet Earth.
 
When the world, in the 1980s, was strengthening multilateralism, the foundation on which the UN was built, Reagan was riding a wave that was demolishing the archaic walls of unilateralism that dotted the globe. Those dots were the unfortunate post-war memorials of the bilateral and unilateral treaties that started the wars in the first place. Reagan, alarmed by the risks to the planet, engaged his administration in negotiations on multilateral environmental agreements.
 
Reagan's record on environmental protection at the national level may not be without controversies. As Governor of California during 1967-75, his environmental record was highly appreciated by many, particularly his path-breaking California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
 
But his first term was marked by "Reaganomics" -- tax reduction, economic deregulation, reduction in government spending and an aggressive policy of issuing leases for oil, gas and coal development on tens of millions of acres of national land. Later, in his second term, he signed into law 38 bills that added more than 10.6 million acres of spectacular forests, mountains, deserts and wetlands to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
 
Trump has a "hate at first sight" relationship with multilateralism, particularly its recent product -- the Paris Climate Agreement. That starkly contrasts with Reagan's consultative and multilateral approach. Trump is wading through unilateral processes by connecting the dots of American job-loss, rise of China and India, and loss of US' manufacturing base and trying to present the climate change crisis as a diversion from his "America First" slogan.
 
The multilateral negotiations under the UN held 30 years back to carve out the global environmental treaty, the Montreal Protocol, skilfully traded by Reagan in the wake of threats to American industry and jobs, was an extraordinary example of Republican stewardship. The Montreal Protocol was aimed at protecting the life-saving Ozone layer threatened by man-made chemicals. Without Reagan's leadership, a depleted ozone layer could have resulted in millions of deaths due to skin cancers and other diseases.
 
More than $125 billion worth of equipment in American supermarkets, buildings, automobiles, electronic instruments and foam blowing relied on the Ozone-depleting man-made chemicals which were proposed for phase-out under the Montreal Protocol were at risk of premature obsolescence when the Reagan administration was negotiating the treaty under the umbrella of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
 
American chemical industries sold about 100 ozone-depleting chemicals at the time of negotiations. Just one of them -- CFCs -- was valued at half a billion dollars annually. The value of goods and services from these chemicals was $28 billion every year.
 
The predicted American job losses due to provisions of the Montreal Protocol were threatening not just base of Republican popularity, gained by Reagan over his two terms, but the very tenets of American superiority and competitiveness. The "hoax" cries against the science of Ozone layer-depletion by human interference echoed all over America, just like what we hear today from the lawns of the White House on climate change.
 
Reagan, in partnership with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and, surprisingly, USSR President Gorbachev, held a number of informal consultations on the possible options of negotiations of the Montreal Protocol, including financial and technical support to developing and emerging countries like India and China.
 
Many diplomats have termed the Reagan-Gorbachev summits of 1987-88 that included ozone and climate issues as "Ozone-Glasnost". Reagan and Gorbachev even collaborated on stratospheric ozone research through joint satellite missions. For the troika, "Planet First" was the slogan.
 
The Trumpian stance today on Paris Climate Agreement, his alleged cyber space-affair with Russia and his buzzing campaign of "America First", in comparison to the Reaganian past, appears to be in pitiful defiance of the gravity of the situation.
 
Thirty years back, Reagan sent the Montreal Agreement for the Senate's ratification stating that, "In this historic agreement, the international community undertakes cooperative measures to protect a vital global resource of ozone layer." The Senate approved Reagan's recommendation unanimously.
 
Three decades after, Reagan, an actor-turned-politician is remembered as the key contributor to the unique success of the Montreal Protocol, implementation of which averted a global catastrophe.
 
Wonder how, 30 years from now, Trump, real estate businessman-turned-politician, would be described by historians.
 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Four recent examples which show real life is imitating the movies (The Funny Side)
You know that movie where someone jumps out of a building and lands safely on a passing truck? I think it was called Pretty Much Every Movie Ever.
 
Well, a reader sent me a link to that exact clip -- only it was a real-life news report. A building in Hebei, in the north of China, was ablaze, and several people jumped out of high windows on to a truck filed with vegetables, escaping completely unharmed.
 
Makes you think, right? Next time you've finished work and the lifts going down are full, check the passing traffic. Perhaps the Uber people could provide options. "I'd like to order a truck of vegetables outside my building at 5.30, please." "Certainly, sir, cabbage or lettuce?"
 
This correspondent has noticed that "life-is-a-movie" items usually appear in batches, as if Destiny decides to recycle old film storylines for a while.
 
The same day a reader sent me a link to another news video of real life imitating art: A beaver was seen guiding a herd of 150 cows in Canada. Perhaps the beaver had actually seen the movie Babe, about a pig doing the work of a sheepdog, and wanted to try it himself. Beavers are smaller than pigs and cows are bigger than sheep, so real life beats the movie.
 
A third example arrived a day later. A man broke up with his girlfriend and went off to marry someone else. The annoyed girlfriend turned up at his wedding with a gun and took him away. Police thought it was so movie-like that it must have been staged.
 
I would agree, except for one crucial thing: The incident happened at an Indian wedding, which is famous as vortexes in which anything can happen.
 
Example: At a recent wedding in Uttar Pradesh, the bride refused to marry the groom after discovering that he'd provided a meat-free banquet. She instead married a man from among the wedding guests.
 
Reports of brides marrying wedding guests are not uncommon in India, and it puzzles me that ANY single men dare to attend such ceremonies.
 
Several times a year, young men must come home and have the following conversation. MOM: "How was your roommate's wedding?" SON: "The usual. By the way, meet my wife, Aditi."
 
A fourth news report in this category arrived that night. Two people in the US state of Washington discovered that they were born on the same day of the same month of the same year in the same town -- and eventually learned they were twins. Yes, it's the exact plot of the hit movie "The Parent Trap". But that's about two young girls.
 
In the real life version, a man and a woman found they were twins after they got married. The scientific term for this is "awkward". No doubt they are taking classes in Sibling Rivalry and Cutting Remarks so they can be "normal".
 
If Destiny is reading this, can I put in a request for the movie "Almost Famous" to come true? In that film, the beautiful Kate Hudson falls in love with a not-very-good, not-very-famous journalist.
 
Real-life Kate, whoever you are, I'm here.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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ED seizes Rs 7 cr of Delhi jewellers in Panama Papers case
The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday said it has seized Rs 7 crore of Delhi-based Mehrasons Jewellers in connection with its probe into the foreign exchange violations revealed in the Panama Papers leak case.
 
The ED in an official statement said it has seized Rs 7 crore lying in various bank accounts in India related to A.K. Mehra, Deepak Mehra, Shailini Mehra and Naveen Mehra of Mehrasons Jewellers of Delhi, which was its first seizure under Section 37 A of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999.
 
The ED investigation revealed that huge amounts were sent out of India by the four accused by mis-utilizing the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) of the Reserve Bank of India in the garb of making investments abroad. 
 
"The amount remitted outside India was given as interest-free loan in individual capacity by the said persons to two companies in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands and later, transferred to a company in the United Arab Emirates, which is owned by one of said persons," the agency said. 
 
The agency also claimed that around Rs 10.54 crore was still illegally parked outside India by the said persons.
 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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