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A Week Is A Long Time In The Trump Administration

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

It is becoming increasingly obvious that if you want job security, whatever you do, don’t  accept a post in the Trump administration. 

Still only in office for a short time, the settling-in period has been  a series of comings and goings, reminiscent of an old-fashioned wooden weather clock which featured a man and a woman dressed in farming clothes, one of whom appeared from out of a little door to forecast sun and the other who appeared when rain was on its way.  Those little figurines, though they might have led an idle life here in Botswana, would make their entrances and exits with mind-boggling alacrity in changeable European weather conditions, rather like the constantly changing guard at Trumpington Palace.  

So true to form, as soon as the White House announced the  appointment of a new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation, citing differences of opinion over the new appointment.  The world’s press corps breathed a sigh of relief at the imminent departure of the gaffe-prone Spicer.  In one press briefing he told journalists that Iran had attacked an American warship; it hadn’t and he had to be corrected by one of the journos in the audience. That was in February this year.  2 months later he excelled himself still further by stating that chemical weapons were not used in WWII and that Syrian leader Bashar-al-Assad was worse than Hitler.

 "We didn't use chemical weapons in World War Two. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't descend to using chemical weapons….So the question is if you're Russia ask yourself is this a country, is this a regime you want to align yourself with. You have signed on to international agreements. At what point do they realise they are getting on the wrong side of history in a really bad way? This is not a team you want to be on."

As anyone who knows even the tiniest bit about World War Two well knows,  Hitler did not use chemical weapons on the battlefield, but he used gas chambers while murdering six million Jews and the Spicer’s rewriting of history could not have been made at a worse time, coming, as it did, in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

But as the saying goes, better the devil you know, for no sooner had Scaramucci’s name been announced, than he launched into what the press called a ‘foul-mouthed rant’ aimed at Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's chief strategist, as his feud with senior White House figures escalated.  He also accused Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff of damaging information leaks. In a phone conversation with a reporter for New Yorker magazine, Mr Scaramucci accused Mr Bannon, the controversial alt-right former media executive, of serving his own interests.

"I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own —-," he said…..I'm not trying to build my own brand off the ——- strength of the president. I'm here to serve the country." Priebus was the man credited with having hired Sean Spicer earlier in the year, an appointment that Donald Trump was said to have opposed. Well, after such a x-rated temper tantrum and tirade, no amount of backtracking and apologising was going to work and Scaramucci was fired before he had even officially taken up his new position, due to become effective in mid-August.

Of course the press had a field day.  If you look up the word ‘Scaramucchi’ or ‘Scaramouch(e) in the dictionary, you will learn that he was a stock character in the classical Italian Commedia dell’arte, a theatre form that also gave us Pierrot and Pierrette, Harlequin and Pantelone, all figures of fun; Scaramouche is described as ‘a boastful coward’ and a clown – well, if the cap fits……..

Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up and it’s hardly surprising that there have been several press and social media references to the phrase that Trump made famous in his reality television show The Apprentice.  Only time and history will tell whether Trump stays the presidential course and uses his prodigious power and influence to achieve something positive but it is certainly true that he was a huge success in his own right as host and head of the television show. 

Originally dismissive of reality TV, describing it as being for the ‘bottom-feeders of society’, he was immediately attracted to the idea of The Apprentice, realising at once the boost it would give the Trump brand.  And as soon as production began, he took it and ran with it, much to the delight of the show’s producers and later, the audiences who tuned in in their millions for a total of 14 seasons.  According to Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher in their book ‘Trump Revealed’ the original format had envisaged a different mogul as the star for each season – Richard Branson was pencilled in for one of them – but that all changed.

“That notion fell by the wayside during the taping of the first episode. The script for The Apprentice called for the host to play a relatively modest role. The show was about the contestants and Trump was to introduce the challenge that contestants faced at the start of each episode, then appear in a brief boardroom scene at the end, when he would decide which contestant had performed poorly and would not return the next week.  Trump took to his TV role as if he’d spent his life preparing for it.

The taping went on for nearly three hours, well longer than planned. A couple of days later, when NBC executives screened rough cuts of the boardroom scenes, they were unanimous: the show’s script needed to be revised. Trump’s scenes were gold. “After the first episode,” Gaspin recalled, “we said we want more Trump.”  So did the viewers, 20 million of whom tuned in to the first episode—an audience that would build to 27 million by the end of that first season. The show was built as a virtually nonstop advertisement for the Trump empire and lifestyle “I’m the largest real estate developer in New York,” Trump’s voice-over boasted. “I own buildings all over the place.

Model agencies, the Miss Universe pageant, jetliners, golf courses, casinos, and private resorts like Mar-a-Lago. . . . I’ve mastered the art of the deal and have turned the name Trump into the highest-quality brand. And as the master, I want to pass along some of my knowledge to somebody else.  What would become the show’s catchphrase, “You’re fired,” was not scripted. Although TV reality shows generally follow a detailed outline, Trump made clear from the start that he intended to just wing it.

He didn’t like the idea of memorizing lines. He would read the outline for the episode ahead of time, but once the camera was rolling, he would improvise his part, just as he always had at speaking engagements. In the first boardroom scene, when it came time for Trump to decide which finalist would not return the next week, he blurted, “You’re fired.” Backstage, the production crew immediately cheered the line, cementing its place in future episodes.”

Given his enthusiasm and total commitment to the show, it’s hardly surprising that he was disappointed at its eventual demise, not long before he decided to run for a top job himself.  Is it just me or is he running the White House like an extension of The Apprentice, offering a bunch of hopefuls a chance to shine or screw up and when they do,  treating them to his famous catch phrase ‘You’re Fired!’.  That would certainly explain a lot!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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