March 16, 2020
What We’re Standing For
Kindness and common sense
It’s been a tough week, and the weeks ahead may get tougher. As we face new health challenges and growing uncertainty, we can never have too much kindness and common sense.
Let’s remember that we can all play a role in curbing the spread of coronavirus – and yes, it will require personal sacrifices. Let’s remember that panic will not cure what ails us and will only make a difficult situation worse.
We WILL get through this, but we will get through it faster if we all work together and look out for each other.
Visit www.coronavirus.gov to make sure you have the most up-to-date information and are taking the right steps to stay healthy.
what we’re standing against
Oil market manipulation 🛢
Oil prices plummeted this week amid a price war between two of the world’s largest crude producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia. While neither country is innocent in this ongoing ego battle, Russia has sought to exploit the crisis to hit the American economy.
Why did oil prices drop so low? As coronavirus spreads, global oil markets took a hit. Fewer people traveling and factories halting production – especially in China – means less demand for oil. And as oil demand decreases, prices fall.
What does that have to do with Russia? Saudi Arabia called on OPEC members to cut oil production to stabilize prices globally, but Russia refused to comply, triggering a price war between the two oil-rich countries.
What’s Russia’s beef? Putin was motivated partly by simmering Saudi-Russian tensions, but also by a desire to undercut the United States economically. Thanks to America’s domestic shale boom, U.S. oil has become a cheaper energy alternative, with the United States overtaking Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer. Americans no longer rely on foreign oil like they used to, and American oil and natural gas are valuable exports around the world. After losing significant marketshare, Putin now sees an opportunity to disrupt U.S. companies, shore up his own economy and power, and retaliate against Washington for recent sanctions.
Who will win? The Wall Street Journal points out that a prolonged price war would certainly hurt U.S. shale production, but would hardly defeat it. America has the the natural resources, the infrastructure, the smarts, and private institutions to weather this battle between Putin and the Crown Prince. Both Russia and Saudi Arabia’s economies, however, rely too heavily on oil. A prolonged price war will hurt them more than it hurts us. Plus, lower prices are good for American consumers and businesses.
Read more: Putin’s oil antics coincide with constitutional changes that will allow him to run for president yet again in 2024 and remain in office through 2036. Russia’s parliament backed the changes nearly unanimously, with one lone vote of dissent.
The International Criminal Court ⚖️
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has officially ruined any shred of credibility with its announcement that it intends to move forward with an investigation into the United States for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan – despite the fact that it has no legal authority to do so.
What is the ICC: The ICC was created in 2002 in The Hague with the goal of trying crimes against humanity when a country refused or lacked the ability to do so on its own. Hint: not the United States.
Is the United States a member? The Clinton administration signed the United States on to the ICC, but the Bush administration withdrew from it in 2002. The Bush administration argued – correctly – that a politically-motivated ICC would target the United States and infringe on American sovereignty.
How did this happen: A year ago, the ICC unanimously rejected the request to open the investigation, a decision applauded by the Trump administration. Now the court’s Appeals Chamber is giving the go-ahead. The kicker? The court will investigate America alongside the Taliban. Talk about false moral equivalence.
How has the U.S. government responded: In an emoji: . The Trump administration correctly argued that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the ICC as “an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body.”
Read more: The ICC is also targeting Israel. In December 2019, the ICC’s chief prosecutor announced it would investigate Israel for alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, at the request of, you guessed it, the Palestinians.
Our takeaway: Just like the UN Human Rights Council, the ICC has devolved into a politically motivated circus, taking potshots at democratic countries when it should be focused on trying evil dictators across the globe. Bashar al-Assad and Nicolás Maduro come to mind.
what we’re smiling about
COVID-19 may have isolated some of us, but communities are still coming together in spirit. This week, parents at two Vermont schools set up a fundraising campaign for janitorial staff who went “above and beyond” to sanitize their kids’ schools. Over $6,300 was raised as a token of appreciation for staff who worked tirelessly while the schools were closed.