Europe/Americas update: January 8 2018



The Social Democrats took a step closer to forming a governing coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance on Monday…by compromising their environmental policies! GREAT!

Germany’s would-be coalition partners have agreed to drop plans to lower carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, sources familiar with negotiations said on Monday — a potential embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel.


Due to strong economic growth and higher-than-expected immigration, Germany is likely to miss its national emissions target for 2020 without any additional measures.


Negotiators for Merkel’s conservative bloc and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) told Reuters the parties had agreed in exploratory talks on forming a government that the targeted cut in emissions could no longer be achieved by 2020.


Instead, they would aim to hit the 40 percent target in the early 2020s, the sources said, adding that both parties are still sticking to their goal of achieving a 55 percent cut in emissions by 2030.

Well, they’re sticking to it for now. Check back in 2028, when they’ll still be promising to hit 40 percent before mid-century. I mean, check back in 2028 assuming your house isn’t already under water by then. Anyway you have to admire the SPD heading into these talks promising not to get rolled and them preemptively rolling themselves.



The New York Times‘ looks at a new and simultaneously intriguing and troubling phenomenon in Mexico–localities are effectively seceding from the rest of the country and actually doing better because of it:

Tancítaro represents a quiet but telling trend in Mexico, where a handful of towns and cities are effectively seceding, partly or in whole. These are acts of desperation, revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat.


Visit three such enclaves — Tancítaro; Monterrey, a rich commercial city; and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, just outside the capital — and you will find a pattern. Each is a haven of relative safety amid violence, suggesting that their diagnosis of the problem was correct. But their gains are fragile and have come at significant cost.


They are exceptions that prove the rule: Mexico’s crisis manifests as violence, but it is rooted in the corruption and weakness of the state.

The militias that citizens in these places are forming are often less corrupt than local or state police, who contribute to the violence as much as they fight it. But the gains are incredibly precarious–those militias themselves are unaccountable, so it wouldn’t take much for them to become part of the problem.


In a move that was expected but is still loathsome, the Trump administration announced on Monday that it will strip Temporary Protected Status from 262,000 Salvadorans currently living in the United States. These people, an estimated half of whom have been in the US for at least 20 years, will now be subject to deportation. Which would be disgusting enough, but they’re going to be deported back to a country that is one of the most violent on earth and was made so largely because of US foreign policy:

In the 1980s, for instance, the U.S. backed the Salvadoran military and its death squads in a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that left tens of thousands of people dead or disappeared. The civil war helped fuel an exodus of refugees to the U.S., with many Salvadorans landing in cities like Los Angeles — the first use of TPS was, in fact, designed as a protection for Salvadorans fleeing the conflict. Growing up in struggling communities, some first-generation Salvadorans came together to protect themselves against American street gangs, sparking the creation of Salvadoran criminal groups such as Mara Salvatrucha, otherwise known as MS-13.


Following the end of the civil war in the early 1990s, the U.S. began deporting Salvadorans in large numbers. With El Salvador’s weak institutions incapable of responding to the influx of violent actors, gangs like MS-13 steadily gained power in El Salvador itself, which in turn gave rise to an increasing number of Salvadoran civilians fleeing to the U.S. border seeking asylum. The cycle was evident in a surge of Central American refugees arriving at the U.S. border during the Obama administration, many of them Salvadoran families and unaccompanied children.


In recent years, the so-called Northern Triangle, which includes El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, has been routinely described as the most violent region of the world outside of conventional war zones. The inability of the Salvadoran government to protect its people — not only from gangs but also from its own unaccountable security forces — is a critical factor in why TPS recipients and their advocates have argued for the program to remain in place. Indeed, gang violence was among the factors the U.S. government cited in renewing TPS for Salvadorans in 2016, and there is scant evidence to indicate a dramatic improvement on that front in the year since.

It is a gross violation of international law, to say nothing of basic human decency, to deport people into a war zone. El Salvador may not be at war, strictly speaking, but its conditions are functionally equivalent to those of a war zone. But they’re immigrants, and Hispanic, and so they’re an easy target for Donald Trump and the klavern he’s led into the White House.

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