The earth is on the boil but US President puts America First American President Donald Trump came to power against all odds. For a man who never held government office, who didn’t have the vital support of his own Republican hierarchy, who had the media barking at every turn against his every word and exposing [...]


Trump crushes Paris bloom as he leads world to Armageddon


The earth is on the boil but US President puts America First

American President Donald Trump came to power against all odds. For a man who never held government office, who didn’t have the vital support of his own Republican hierarchy, who had the media barking at every turn against his every word and exposing each indiscretion, it was indeed a modern day miracle that catapulted him to the zenith of global power as the President of a nation that had become the sole arbiter of the world’s destiny.

But this was not a miracle the Almighty wrought; and the question has long lingered on many an alien tongue, whether it was mischief wreaked by the vey devil to create pandemonium on earth: whether Trump is the devil in disguise?

To those familiar with the Hollywood blockbuster, the Omen trilogy, Damien, the son of Satan is mixed up at birth and ends up becoming the son of the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James in England. From there his rise is unstoppable and, overcoming every obstacle, placed in his path, transcends all to become the chief of a massive business conglomerate which post holds in abundance, the awesome power to destroy the world. Fiction finished him off before he succeeded. Damien after all was the manifestation of a novelist’s imagination. But Trump is reality, the real thing.

US PRESIDENT TRUMP: Snubs Paris Accord and leaves the world naked to global warming (Cartoon by Doug Hines courtesy, the Courier

His declared aim to build his Mexican wall on the US border is a matter between the two countries and is of no concern to the rest of the world. His threat to cancel the existing trade relationship with China which he said was grossly unfair to America’s economic interest is also a matter for the American Bald Eagle and the Chinese Panda to tussle amongst themselves. Even his threat to pull America out of NATO and leave Europe naked and defenseless to Russian aggression, is a matter between America and the European nations coming under the NATO umbrella; and even if it may have some ramifications to world peace and economic stability, it is still beyond the jurisdiction of other nations.

But when he announced last Thursday his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord which deals with minimizing global warming to protect the fragile eco system of the earth, he committed a crime against humanity.

And the rest of the world has every right to place him in the dock to answer charges of climate genocide waged against all the races in the world which may well damn mankind to the dinosaurs’ fate in the near and foreseeable future.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) named the Paris Accord was to control and minimise the rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming which endangers life as we know it on Planet Earth.

Its aim was to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. It was a brave bid to significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol which set commitment targets that were legally binding, the Paris Accord was based on consensus. It left the contributions that each individual country should make in order to achieve the worldwide goal to be determined by all countries individually and called “nationally determined contributions”. Each country was asked to declare its target and to abide by it for five years when it will be reviewed. There was to be no mechanism to force a country to set a target by a specific date and no enforcement if a set target was not met. It was purely voluntary, the only incentive for all nations to sign and ratify the agreement, being to save mankind by protecting the earth and its environment.

Of course it was not the panacea for all the earth’s ills but the first cogent step towards minimizing man’s damage wrecked on it. And for once, on 12 December 2015 all of the 195 UNFCCC participating member states accepted the wording of the Paris Accord and promised to reduce their carbon output “as soon as possible” and to do their best to keep global warming “to well below 2 degrees C”. And on 3rd September last year, the world’s two biggest offenders responsible the United States and China ratified the Paris Accord and undertook to limit its greenhouse flatulence to 17 and 20 percent respectively.

With the biggest pollution culprit China and runner up America ratifying the accord, the double threshold stated in Article 21 of the Accord of the need for 55 countries and 55 percent emissions to ratify it to enter into force, was achieved on October 16 and the Paris Climate Agreement formally came into force on November 4th last year. India, another big culprit, ratified it on the same day promising to keep 7 percent emissions as did Sri Lanka, with a pledge to keep it at 0.05 per cent. However Russia, another villain in the pollution piece, hasn’t still ratified the agreement even though it signed it in April last year.

As the world rejoiced, US President Obama declared: “History will judge today’s effort as pivotal” and hailed it as the “single best chance that we have to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet. We are moving the world significantly towards the goal we have set.”
True, the agreement on its own would not prevent a rise in global warming by any significant degree. As observers have stated the main reason for that is the main offenders would not agree to anything more to bring a significant climate change. But at least it would do for starters and may move more enlightened leaders in the future to pay more heed to the air we breathe and protect the habitat.

But just when the silver streak had appeared in the dark cloud of greenhouse emissions offering hope that there might be redemption in the air for mankind, along came Trump swaggering to the White House to undo all his more enlightened predecessor had done to extend mankind’s life on earth a little bit longer. Trump chose instead to deflower the Paris blossom of environmental hope by nipping it in its bloom.

Last Thursday, he emerged from the White House portals to step into the Rose Garden to tell reporters his intention to pull America out from the Paris Accord never realising that the roses that bloomed in that special corner of the White House lawn may never blossom in time to come because of the decision he had made and which he stood poised to deliver to the world’s shock and horror and widespread condemnation.
He declared: “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord” and justified his decision solely on the perceived financial gain America stood to receive by opting out of the accord it had already ratified nine months ago.

According to him, the pact allowed China ‘to increase their emissions for another thirteen years to do whatever they want’ but not the States. India, he said, makes its participation contingent ‘on receiving billions and billions of dollars as foreign aid from developed countries.’ China can build hundred of coal mines but not the States. India can double their coal production by 2020”. He said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”.
The reference to Pittsburg was made not merely as an alliteration to go with Paris but because in Pittsburg is found the Pittsburg Coal Seam, the most extensive and thickest and thus the most economically important coal bed in the eastern United States. The reference was to emphasize Trumps determination to coal and other fossil fuels, never mind the extensive damage it would cause to the environment.

Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement for environmental action signed by 195 nations and ratified by 147 so far, including America, was a stunning rebuke to heads of state, climate activists, corporate executives and members of the president’s own staff and even to his daughter Ivanka. She had fought hard to persuade her father to change his mind and had made sure that her father heard from people supportive of the agreement, setting up calls and meetings with world leaders, corporate executives and others. But, alas, it came to no avail. Not even a daughter’s wakeup call could awake the father from his sleep of intransigence. The President even considered the Paris Accord as an attack on America’s sovereignty and said “It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs.”

His intention, he said, was to renegotiate the agreement in America’s interest. “If we can,” he declared, “it’s great. If we can’t, its fine” It was perhaps his boldest assertion of putting America First and unabashedly admitting that hiring police officers to patrol American cities was more important than providing financial aid to poorer nations to help them control pollution that adversely impact the world.

World leaders’ reaction to this dramatic announcement was swift and critical. While China and Russia pledged to honour their commitment to the Paris Accord, France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement saying that the Paris climate accord was “irreversible” and could not be renegotiated.

The newly elected French President Macron even cast aside French pride and opted to speak in English to make Trump truly understand that an agreement signed by 195 nations, and ratified so far by 147 including the USA, was not open to renegotiations to suit the interests of one nation and declared Trump’s decision “was a mistake for the US and our planet.” Britain’s May said she had phoned Trump to tell him of her ‘great disappointment’ over his decision to quit.

But a question remains to be answered. One is that though Trump declared on June 1st that as “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord” whether the USA can do so under its international treaty obligations?

For Article 28 of the Paris Climate Accord states that once a nation has ratified the agreement, it can withdraw from it only after three years. It must give written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which notification may only be provided “after three years from the date on which the Paris Agreement entered into force.” Withdrawal then takes effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt. The Paris Agreement entered into force for the US on 4 Nov 2016. Hence the earliest the US could give written notice is three years later, 4 Nov 2019, and the earliest the US could leave the Paris Agreement is 4 Nov 2020. Until this date the US will remain a Party to the Paris Agreement and shall be obliged under international law not to frustrate or obstruct its implementation.

The next US presidential election is scheduled to be held on 3rd November 2020. This may perhaps still give hope that the Paris Accord will survive to bloom despite Trump’s decision to crush its bud. For all his belligerence, America will remain bound by her international treaty obligations and Trump will be legally chained from flouting the international obligations under the Paris Accord until his own first term of office comes to an end in November 2020. Mankind may have received grace until then. But if Trump is reelected so will the spectre of damnation rise again. For if the second biggest polluter America exit the agreement, the Paris Accord itself will go up in smoke. Even if other nations honour their obligations and minimise emissions, a reelected Trump America’s mass emissions will serve to significantly increase global warming in the years to come.

Every leader of every nation on earth has the right to place the interest of his country first. In fact it will be a dereliction of his duty if he did not. As the President of the United States, it is Trump’s right and duty to consider the best interest of his country: to put America First.
But even as he rides rough shod, throwing America’s bulk about, over other nations he should not forget that if he doesn’t put Mother Earth First, there will be no America First or Last to think of. By then the world would have met its Armageddon.

Susie’s bid to turn her silver into gold

Seventeen years ago at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Sri Lanka sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe came third in the 200 metre event and was awarded a bronze medal. Nine years later her bonze turned silver when the winner Marian Jones confessed she had taken performance enhancing drugs prior to the Olympics. She was stripped off her gold medal and Susanthika was awarded the silver medal by default. Now Susanthika plans to turn her silver to gold.

Last week she announced plans to auction her Olympic silver and said she was forced to do so in order to feed her children since the Government had stopped paying her the salary promised. Susanthika, who contested the Kegalle District on the UPFA ticket in the 2015 general election and lost, claimed that the Sports Minister who had promised to pay her a monthly salary of Rs 80, 000 only paid her a sum of Rs 60,000. And claimed that even that had been stopped since April.

She said:”The Minister gave me the appointment letter in July, 2016. Though they gave me the appointment letter, I wasn’t assigned to do any work. They didn’t include a job description in my letter. I had no higher official to ask what my duties were. So I was clueless. I wrote to the Ministry several times for clarification, but got no reply. I wasn’t signing or placing my fingerprint anywhere and I had no office. I got no salary for April and May, but I spoke to the Minister’s Additional Secretary and he asked me not to create an issue over it. He informed me to come and collect my cheque in two days. “

She also claimed that the Minister Dayasiri called her ‘thamuse’ and told her to come and collect her cheque. She told the media: “I wish to tell the minister not to talk to me the way he does on political platforms. I like to tell him that it’s not just Rs 60,000 but more than the way he became the sports minister, I am a sports woman who has brought historic Olympic victory to Lanka. “

Her announcement to auction her silver medal seems to have so shocked the Government that it was even deemed worthy of presidential intervention as if she had just announced plans to auction off the nation’s crown jewels. Susanthika put the auction on hold and the nation’s silver was safe when a presidential aide informed her to keep cool, give time and assured her the matter will be sorted out. The auctioneer’s hammer was thus stayed.

OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST SUSANTHIKA: Claims her medal is worth Rs 250 million

The Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera – himself a no mean athlete specializing in the political pole vaulting event , who earned a bronze for jumping from the UNP to the SLFP and then aimed for silver in a post 2015 Rajapaksa Government by spouting offensive and derogative references to the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, competing with Wimal Weerawansa in the expletive stakes to gain Rajapaksa appreciation, but flopping midway, did a reverse jump in the political Olympiad to the Sirisena camp the instant Sirisena was elected President; and received his silver coin, 20, in fact, by being named the sports minister of the Sirisena government – reacted strongly to Susanthika grievances.

He said Susanthika was paid 60,000 a month but did no work – supposedly in the same manner most MPs are paid a basic salary of Rs 65,000 and do no work. Susanthika responded by saying that she was not given any responsible work to do – supposedly in the self same manner ministers often complain they are denied any responsibilities that would enable them to do an honest day’s work. Dayasiri also claimed that Susanthika was paid Rs 60,000 a month by the army for being a trainer and said: “I do not know what she does there.”
As the row between the two continued to rage, Sports Minister Jayasekera declared that he intends to bring laws to prevent sportspeople from selling their medals won at international events. He told Parliament on Tuesday that since the government had paid for their training any medal they win should become the property of the state.

Had this been given sufficient thought or was it one based in anger against Susanthika’s announcement to auction her Olympic silver and for her outburst against Dayasiri for stopping her salary? It may be true that the government may have sponsored an athlete but has the minister even considered that no amount of money can purchase the copyright of the fruits of hard training, discipline and dedication that goes to win it? So many are sponsored, but only a handful wins the Golden Fleece. The fame can belong to the country, but the medal must belong to the athlete.
Self interest is a potent incentive to spur an athlete to run the extra mile with greater vigour and more determination. Not all can be expected to possess the same patent patriotism as held by Minister Dayasiri to give their best, motivated solely by a deep rooted searing altruistic love for country in the manner the Hon. Minister has admirably demonstrated on public stages on countless occasions, now can they?

Secondly he also announced plans to bring laws to give pensions for life to sportspersons who bring fame to Lanka. What authority or what sports minister can quantify fame and decide who merits public funded pensions? Does winning a cricket match and bringing fame to Lanka, like for instance the Sri Lanka cricket team did this Thursday when they won against India, qualify the entire team – for cricket is a team effort – for a pension? What happens when the same team lose in disgrace on another day?

Is the Minister — who may perhaps have earned more than a pension for his political pole vaulting — going to encumber the masses with having to pay pensions for life to another set of sacred cows merely because they have won a match even as the public now have to pay MPs pensions for life merely for warming their seats in parliament for five years? And this pension made to them, after getting a whopping Rs. 30 million duty free vehicle permit immediately encashable voucher the moment they first step into Parliament?

Meanwhile Susanthika claimed that her silver medal was worth Rs 250 million and that several Sri Lankans and foreign buyers had expressed interest in it at that price. “They have offered as much as Rs 250 million”, she said on Tuesday. “I can easily earn a fortune by selling my medal.”
Well, good for her. But she should not raise her hopes too high and build castles in the air from such puffs. Sorry to break her heart, but it may well do her good to be brought down 250 pegs to reality. For starters, her Olympic silver medal consists approximately 500 grams of sterling silver and the base value is about $305, or approximately Rs. 45,000. What price such a medal will fetch at a public auction will depend on the performance record, fame and personality of the winner.

For instance if Mark Spitz, the famed American former competitive swimmer, nine-time Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in 7 events who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics were to auction one of his gold medals it may even cross the two million dollar mark. Even more.

Just as Michael Phelps the most decorated Olympian of all time, who holds the all-time records for Olympic 23 gold medals, would get if he were to auction one of his. Not to forget, of course, what Usain Bolt, the eight time Olympic gold medalist who won the 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m relay at three consecutive Olympic Games, would get for one of his medals? Record breaking prices, no doubt.
Currently, the highest price paid at an auction for an Olympic gold medal is held by Jessie Owens, the legendary black American athlete who won gold in the 100m and 200m, 400m relay and long jump at the Games attended by Adolf Hitler, at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Three and a half years ago, in December 2013 its then owner sold it in an online auction for a record breaking sum of US $ 1,466,574 or Rs. 216 million. And that was a gold medal.

What makes Susanthika’s flight of imagination leap sky-high in the hope that a one off bronze medal that turned to silver due to fortuitous circumstances won by an unknown Sri Lankan lass would suddenly turn to gold at a public auction and fetch Rs 250 million or US$ 1,690,000 dollars and set a new record over that of Jessie Owens’s gold.

This sporting event is still not over. The swords remain drawn in the Lankan fencing event. But Susanthika should bear in mind that ‘the race is not the swift’ when it comes to demanding her Rs 80,000 monthly salary based solely on her past Olympic spurs. And Minister Dayasiri should be told that the battle is not to the politically strong when it comes to introducing laws smacking of malice merely to trip Susanthika in her sprint “but that time and chance happeneth to them all.’

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