EMBASSY ROW — BIDEN’S REAL THINKING BEHIND HARTLEY NOMINATION FOR U.K. AMBASSADOR: Friday’s headlines about the White House choosing Jane Hartley (not yet officially nominated) as the American new ambassador to the United Kingdom focused on her being a Democratic fundraiser. But two people with knowledge of the discussions between Hartley and the White House told Global Translations that’s not the real motivation behind the choice.
Experience is the key word: Of course, it didn’t hurt that Hartley backed the Biden campaign early and stuck with the candidate as his campaign flagged in early 2020. While CNN reported Michael Bloomberg turned down the role, President Joe Biden passed over options including Colin Powell and long-time adviser Ted Kaufman, because Hartley brings three particular levels of experience to the role.
Hartley’s Democratic work experience dates back to the Carter administration; she served as President Barack Obama’s eyes and ears in Paris during a horrific run of terror attacks in France (and nearby Brussels, and indeed even on the train connecting the two cities) in 2015 and 2016; and she was on-hand as the U.S. worked to land the Paris Climate Agreement — meaning she can be up and running on Day 1 for the crucial countdown to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, if confirmed by the Senate.
“The president told her directly she got the job because of her Paris experience. Her agility is her real skill. She will be adept at navigating the U.S. government in a crisis,” said a former Obama administration official close to Hartley. In addition to climate negotiations, those crises could range from further Covid surges and global vaccine rollout problems to tension at the Northern Ireland border.
Biden nominated former New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall as his ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa and the Indo-Pacific. If nominated, Udall would be the third former Senator put forward by Biden, solidifying his pattern of choosing people with whom he has long-standing political relationships. Former Sen. Claire McCaskill ruled herself out of contention for other postings.
Biden on Friday announced three other ambassador nominations: Michael Murphy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Howard Van Vranken for Botswana and Caryn McClelland for Brunei Darussalam.
IN TOWN — JORDANIAN ROYAL FAMILY: President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will welcome to the White House King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein and Queen Rania, along with Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II, on Monday afternoon. That makes Abdullah the first Middle East leader to visit the Biden White House (Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi will follow July 26).
Fly on wall: Global Translations would love to see the King’s reaction to Biden asking him where is his half-brother Prince Hamza. The former crown prince was in April accused of plotting against the King and hasn’t been seen in public since. Two men were recently convicted in relation to the plot.
SOUTH AFRICA — FRAGILE, AT A BREAKING POINT, AND A SIGN OF THE TIMES
As dignitaries from around the world issued their obligatory statements commemorating Nelson Mandela Day on Sunday, a lot was left unsaid about South Africa’s week from hell.
President Biden said Mandela “helped deliver a rainbow nation of all South Africans that was able to grow and thrive.” There’s not a lot of that today: riots and looting have killed at least 200 and saw 2,200 arrested in recent days, exacerbating food and medicine shortages.
But what’s it all about?
Three decades after Mandela’s release from prison and the negotiations to end apartheid, South Africa faces a general unemployment rate of 32 percent — youth unemployment runs to either 63 percent or 74 percent, depending on which statistic you believe. Average income is stuck at 2008 levels, but the average doesn’t mean much, given the staggering inequality in the country. The World Bank calls it “one of the highest, persistent inequality rates in the world.”
Reality check: When it comes to economic inequality, South Africa is more unequal today than when apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated president. “Since 1994 the state has overseen serial failures in ensuring reparation, restitution, redistribution and prosecution,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement.
That’s before we get to the rampant corruption, which compounds and is connected to efforts by allies of former president Jacob Zuma (now in prison for refusing to testify in a corruption case) to sabotage the economy.
Much of this is specific to South Africa, and at the same time, it’s proof — applicable anywhere in the world, as we detailed in Friday’s Global Translations focused on Latin America and the Western Hemisphere — of what happens when inequality is rampant and democratic institutions are weak.
President Cyril Rampaphosa has led efforts to clean-up South Africa’s institutions, but he faces an uphill struggle. The ruling African National Congress inherited a racist system, but after 30 years of virtual one-party rule, the ANC has delivered another kind of massive mess.
Here’s a guide from James Hamill on the clashing factions inside the African National Congress, ahead of local elections in October.
EXPORTING FEAR — IF YOU HAVE AN OPINION OR A PLATFORM, EXPECT TO BE HACKED: “Military-grade malware from Israel-based NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire outfit, is being used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents.” NSO is also pitching for business with American police forces.
That’s the claim of Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism advocacy group, and Amnesty International, which have collaborated to reveal data demonstrating that — among more than 50,000 surveilled numbers — there are more than 600 politicians and government officials (including heads of state), 189 journalists, 85 human rights activists, and 65 business executives. Citizenlab and journalists from The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and The Financial Times Vu examined the evidence.
Victims include Hatice Cengiz, hacked just four days after her fiance Jamal Khashoggiwas murdered in 2018, and Marisol Toledo, widow of Mexican journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto. Associated Press reported that NSO Group had previously been implicated in other spying on Khashoggi. The government of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán is accused of using NSO spyware to aid its campaigns against skeptical journalists.
The investigation has been branded as the “Pegasus Project” after NSO Group’s flagship Pegasus spyware. Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, tweeted that the revelations demonstrate: “what we and others have been saying for years: NSO’s dangerous spyware is used to commit horrible human rights abuses all around the world and it must be stopped.”
NOT RELATED BUT RELATED: Canada is getting a new refugee stream for journalists and people who defend human rights.
CYBER — US CHARGES CHINESE HACKERS: Move over Russia, you have competition for title of world’s worst hackers. The White House this morning said the U.S. Department of Justice is issuing criminal charges against four hackers from China’s Ministry of State Security. The White House said that the EU, U.K., NATO, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are joining criticism of China’s “malicious” and “irresponsible” cyber behavior, which is “inconsistent with its stated objective of being seen as a responsible leader in the world.” This is the first time NATO has called out Chinese hacking.
A senior administration official said China’s Ministry of State Security “uses criminal contract hackers to conduct unsanctioned cyber operations globally, including for their own personal profit.” In a statement, the White House said China conducted “cyber espionage operations utilizing the zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server disclosed in early March 2021” and “engaged in ransomware attacks, cyber enabled extortion, crypto-jacking, and rank theft from victims around the world, all for financial gain.” Here’s a report on China’s alleged techniques.
ECONOMY — WORLD’S ECONOMIC ENGINES AT RISK OF SPUTTERING: China accounts for around half of global GDP growth in 2021, but continues to crack down on its tech sector and its leaders — which account for up to 40 percent of GDP. The U.S. meanwhile accounts for around 20 percent of global GDP growth, and faces a “fiscal cliff” sometime in the next year: it cannot keep spending at the current rate forever. Unless the world vaccinates quicker and more evenly … there’s not much to fill the gap. More from Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist for Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
COVID — BRITAIN GAMBLES ON WHAT TO DO ABOUT COMPETING RIGHTS. Which right matters most? Your right to be healthy or your right to be free? Does a parent or a government get to decide that for children who can’t decide for themselves?
Britain is lifting nearly all its Covid restrictions today amid controversy. The key data points: around 90 percent of adults have received at least one vaccine dose but less than 1 in 10 of 0-24 year olds have been vaccinated; there’s around 50,000 new cases a day. One group of healthcare experts called the decision “dangerous and premature,” in The Lancet.
Who’s right? Those who want the economy to reopen? Those who fear for young people (who are rarely hospitalized or killed by the virus)? Those who think reopening is fine as long as precautions still happen (Britons have been notoriously mask-averse during the pandemic)? We’re about to find out. Amid such gambles, it’s not that surprising that the Biden administration is keeping the borders closed to Britain.
COVID — FACEBOOK MISINFORMATION REALITY CHECK: The White House and its allies have Facebook in their firing line, as a proxy for under-regulated tech enabling large-scale harm in society. Facebook insists it’s done a lot to boost the circulation of pro-vaccine information. What it’s not doing: telling us how much vaccine misinformation it has allowed to circulate. Until Facebook volunteers or is compelled by Congress or a court to share that information, there’s no way to know whether it’s delivering net benefit or harm when it comes to vaccine take-up.
EUROPE — FLOODS OPEN NEW RISK FOR MERKEL’S WOULD-BE SUCCESSOR: German Greens and Social Democrats are getting a second chance at the chancellorship after Conservative candidate Armin Laschet passed the weekend blundering in his response to Germany’s devastating floods. Laschet is premier of one of Germany’s worst-affected states but has been slow to draw a connection between the floods and climate change, was caught on camera laughing through a somber speech by Germany’s president in one of the flood zones, and addressed a senior female journalist as “young woman” when she questioned his support for fossil-fuel energy generation. “You don’t change policy just because now we have a day like this,” Laschet insisted.
Back in 2002, the Social Democrat candidate Gerhard Schroeder turned his candidacy around — and won — after rushing to the scene of flooding on the River Elbe as Conservative Edmund Stoiber dithered. The Green party’s candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, needs the boost: she has been hit by allegations of plagiarism and résumé inflation in recent weeks.
Extreme weather reality check: As the U.S. faces its biggest known wildfire, in Oregon, Somini Sengupta argues that “the world as a whole is neither prepared to slow down climate change, nor live with it.”
Olympic fact of the day #1: With the first wave of positive Covid tests for athletes and officials rolling in, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s approval currently rests at 27 percent, with 61 percent of Japanese adults disapproving of his job performance.
Olympic fact of the day #2: The Tokyo Olympics will be the first major test of a 2020 U.S. law criminalizing doping. The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act was developed in response to recent Russian doping scandals and asserts that the U.S. has extraterritorial criminal authority to prosecute doping as fraud — with corrupt administrators, officials, doctors and coaches the target of the law. Supporters say the law complies with the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sport, a Senate-ratified treaty The FBI views the law as a “massive hammer.”
The Helsinki Commission, a U.S. Government agency that promotes human rights in wider Europe will hold a hearing Wednesday on the law’s application. h/t Paul Massaro
$7.25 MINIMUM WAGE DOESN’T WORK: “There is no state, county or city in the country where a full-time, minimum-wage worker working 40 hours a week can afford a two-bedroom rental, a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition showed. A full-time minimum-wage worker in the United States can afford a one-bedroom rental in only 218 counties out of more than 3,000 nationwide.
A BORDER CRISIS — OR A CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS? Guatemalan migrants have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border more than 153,000 times this year, according to Customs and Border Protection figures. A survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration finds that fleeing from natural disasters and climate change is now one of the top reasons for migration north. Sabrina Rodriguez has the full story.
UNDERSTANDING ESG RISKS FACED BY SMALL BUSINESSES: Credit rating agency Moody’s is promising real-time ESG scores for 140 million public and private small- and medium-sized enterprises around the world, “to help investors and companies leave no stone unturned when identifying and analyzing ESG risks and opportunities,” Andrea Blackman, Moody’s top ESG executive said in a statement.
THE MAN KEEPING AMERICA CLOSED TO MOST FOREIGNERS: Critics of the U.S. government’s travel bans point to Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus pandemic response, as the main obstacle standing in the way of easing the longstanding restrictions, Anita Kumar and Theo Meyer report.
ERIC ADAMS HEARTS IRISH AMERICANS: New York’s Irish Democrats thought they would be enjoying a quiet (and long) night at the bar Saturday, but things got quite excited when the party’s mayoral nominee Eric Adams turned up unexpectedly. Asked if Adams, who is Black, had any Irish heritage, Brian O’Dwyer, board member of Irish American Democrats, told new POLITICO recruit Suzanne Lynch, “we’ll find it.”
CAITLYN FOR, ER, SYDNEY? Caitlyn Jenner is campaigning very hard to be California’s next Republican governor … by flying to Sydney, locking herself in a 14-day hotel quarantine, and participating in a local VIP edition of Big Brother.
JESSE JACKSON AWARDED LEGION OF HONOR: President Emmanuel Macron has awarded Reverend Jesse Jackson with the Legion of Honor to the rank of Commander. “The values promoted by the Reverend Jackson are universal and are those of our Republic,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
Paris Playbook author Pauline de Saint-Remy notes that some in Paris are recalling the time, in 2016, when far-right former presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen tweeted a photo of Jackson seated alongside him at a dinner, with a note signed with the words “keep hope alive,” the chorus phrase from Jackson’s 1988 Democratic convention speech. Jackson replied to Le Pen: “Did not know you were coming to dinner. Never met you before. Do not share your beliefs.”
Thanks to editor Ben Pauker and Sue Allan.
Source of this news: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/global-translations/2021/07/19/how-to-wreck-nelson-mandelas-legacy-493637
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