China’s Trade Hegemony

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China dominates in the world as a trading country – can that actually be something good?

China, in recent years, has emerged as an important player in the world economy. But that new reality, owing to rapid industrialization efforts, is not a welcome thought for many countries around the world. There is a looming sense of danger that is not entirely confounded that China’s rising economy may, in the end, hurt America’s economy: China’s advances with technology-building is hurting Japan, which is known to be a giant in that particular industry, and the Communist state’s odd penchant for acquisitions in the EU now sees foreign investment over there greeted with stern procedures.

China has come a long way from meager manufacturing outputs of zips and cigarette lighters, to a time when the state supplies cheaper products for good value. All this comes at the heels of China’s export percentages chalking in at a staggering 14percent, and this is the first time that a country has gone so high with export rates, since America in the late sixties, which really challenges competition so much because these cheap products also come with a good reputation in the market. The only way to combat China’s might here is to be innovative with what markets around the world can provide that is a better alternative to what China already offers – this is easier said than done.

So far, the only way to curb China’s growing hegemony over trade is to force it to innovate, with a collective mind – one that is more concerned about sharing trade dominance (China became the top trading country in the world in 2013), with other trade giants, such as European countries, as well. There is no need to build enemies: China is a mammoth developing country and it could use common goodwill over trade dominance with developed countries.

As Xi Jinping, stated at Davos earlier this year – a trade war will declare no winners whatsoever, and it’s very true: China should not be looked upon as a a browbeating state, over the matter of trade. China should really avoid going down the same old path as previous trade giants who dominated on such a massive scale, like the United States, and focus more on being the new and fairer face of globalization.

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Obamacare & the GOP

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The Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act is repealing Obamacare coverage expansion in 2020 and hopefully the expectation that this new act has, that the GOP will come up with a replacement, in the meantime, gets followed through, with amendments, such as a no-enlargement policy towards dependency on Medicaid

Republicans tried very very hard to replace the Democrats-pioneered health care plan ‘Obamacare’ with a GOP-devised plan called the ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)’, which the party had put forward, but that idea came crashing down completely, when two GOP senators, Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kansas) expressed grave dissatisfaction with the party’s new bill.

From President Donald Trump to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican figureheads pushing for a replacement of the 2010-introduced health care bill with an entirely new health care bill, with the GOP stamp on it, have been one-too-many. But there is no reason to fix something that largely hasn’t really been a broken concept for the past seven years and that is just what’s happening as the Senate prepares to vote on an Obamacare repeal sans the replacement.

Republican opposition to the Republican bill, which passed the House of Representatives in May, isn’t too much of a rarity – Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) have also expressed antipathy with the GOP bill. There would be a two-year-delay in repealing Obamacare now and the situation looks very similar to the repeal of the act in 2015, which at the time both Lee and Moran had supported but Barack Obama, who was the President at the time, had vetoed.

The Republican Party doesn’t seem to have any populist inclination whatsoever, when it comes to taking decisions over what to do with Obamacare because most Americans are interested in keeping Obamacare, although with an injection of a few amendments. This is theoretically a great idea because the act certainly needs to be revised over time but there are really some grave problems with what the Republicans have in mind for healthcare: firstly, the GOP wants to propose a very point-blank senseless bare-bones insurance plan, which is low-cost in nature, pioneered by Senator Ted Cruz and it should very much be dropped from the BCRA.

Secondly, the GOP wants to offer tax credits to middle-class Americans and raise the costs for people in an old age bracket and also people who are not so well-off. This might increase the burden on the pre-existing structure of available refundable tax credits for Americans with a low-income, who bought their insurance from government markets, and also received support for extra medical costs. And finally, Medicaid health insurance, which under Obamacare aimed to provide coverage for both the poor and Americans with a low-income, is now, horrifically, being threatened by low funding over the next twenty years.

Food and its relationship with Hunger

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Hunger is still a cause for concern in South Asia, despite numerous countries in the region already meeting its MDG target of halving, by 2015, the number of people, who suffer from hunger

It was the most unfortunate of circumstances when sub-Saharan Africa could not overwhelmingly meet its MDG goals by 2015. It had appeared during the time frame of the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that sub-Saharan Africa would perhaps meet its targets because a lot of the focus was on the impoverished conditions of the region. Furthermore, G8 leaders, from developed countries, such as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom had also committed to increasing aid to Africa by 2010 but what followed was that sub-Saharan Africa has largely fallen behind to address the causes for concern, as outlined by the MDGs, instead.

It’s hard to draw comparisons even though both the regions are very poor, indeed, because South Asia is performing a lot better than sub-Saharan Africa, these years. In 2014, sub-Saharan Africa was found to have high hunger rates, much like South Asia; for South Asia, particularly, India has the highest percentage of the global extreme poor (32.9percent) followed by Bangladesh (5.3percent). However, according to latest figures, prevalence of undernourishment chalks at 15.7percent for South Asia and 23.2 for sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the primary causes for concern in South Asia is hunger, which can really give rise to an undernourishment problem, which is a significantly greater problem in South Asia, than elsewhere. Asian nations, such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Malaysia have already met one of the components of the first MDG target:

Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

This is alongside sub-Saharan African states, like Mauritius, Nigeria and Ethiopia, but not Rwanda and Sierra Leone – the two states are expected to reach the target (before 2020) but what is so disconcerting is that the hunger problem still prevails in South Asia. In 2014-2016, hunger percentages from the level in 1990-1992 were slashed by a staggering 69percent for Nepal, a 52percent for Bangladesh and a 37percent for India. In comparison, many states performed very poorly with reduction of hunger, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, food insecurity in South Asia is still a major problem and this is simultaneously also reaping my concerns over consumer affordability because affordability for food is directly proportional to food security. But global prices for foods, such as wheat, vegetable oils, dairy, meat and sugar also recently saw an increase – a rise in prices can mean good profits-wise for agriculture and farming because harvest is managing to rake in such great prices for farmers, which can help them to increase their income bracket and provide the means to afford food more.

The Hunger Problem

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Malnourishment (or malnutrition) is a major cause for concern in numerous countries around the world, from Bangladesh to Madagascar. Prices of food and a person’s diet determines whether or not he or she would rank in the malnourishment scale. It’s not just about less food consumption – if a person’s diet is folded to include an overt amount of rice or corn, it may lead to malnutrition because the diet lacks other necessary nutrition, which a well-thought-of diet would provide, with a lot of simplicity; it’s more close to the scenario of overeating leading to malnutrition, as well.

The time periods 1990-1992 and 2012-2014 saw a 42percent reduction in undernourishment in developing countries. It’s only been lowered by a margin in India and Bangladesh, but the rest of Asia is doing a lot better with the reduction of undernourishment.

The greatest risk associated with malnutrition is how it can affect poor people because of an unequal access to education or them having an uneven income. Previously, in Bangladesh, a poor socioeconomic condition was connected to persistent malnutrition. In developing countries food prices for milk, fruits and meats, should be targeted and lowered, instead of raising it, as is happening. A global food price crisis might not be in the cards, as of now, but it’s definitely not helping poverty groups with their need for basic, daily nutrition.

The targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were met by East Asia, South East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015, as the regions were previously supposed to, within that time frame, in an effort for developing nations to slice in half the percentages of hungry people. It’s important to note that the world does produce sufficient food for every individual to eat. But because the price problem still persists, followed by a low agricultural efficiency and loss subsequent to harvest, issues of hunger still prevails.

Turkey’s New Vote

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New powers and a new reality, following a coup d’etat

Turkey’s new vote on Tuesday on amending constitutional rights and taking the country from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential democracy, resulted in a lead for the ‘Yes’ vote. It’s still pretty early stages but soon, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could find himself granted with more powers and control over the state than before. Erdogan has been in power in Turkey since 2003 and he has grown into a leader who views opposition as enemies to the state.

Turkey is still fragile and healing from the aftermath of a failed coup – tourism in the country already took a bad dent for it. Rooting out corruption, extremism, ensuring greater security is a very bad need in Turkey, and the message from the referendum is loud and clear: the state is placing a great deal of faith in Erdogan’s power despite his checkered equation with democracy itself.

The campaigns put up by Erdogan’s party in power, the AK Parti, dominated both banners placed in town and the media, preceding the vote. The President likes to make the media bend and obey his every command, rather than offering them absolute freedom, and if his latest victory with constitutional amendment is installed, Erdogan will have full control over the budget, as well as cherry-picking parliament members, who do his bidding entirely. That is too much control for one politician to have and it’s not hard to pluck out authoritarian sentiments lining Erdogan’s latest desire.

It is true that no matter the nature of political ideology that the Turkish President likes to portray, with Erdogan in power, Turkey is taking turtle-steps towards bettering national democratic values. Erdogan and his party had once turned a shanty town inhabited by peasants from rural areas (who came to the locality to look for work) into a town filled with apartments, roads and shops. Erdogan had also promised to provide Kurds with rights and help them find peace, previously, although it’s important to note that since 2015 progress has stalled.

The latest military coup has brought back horrible pasts to Turkey, that it had thought it had said goodbye to. The coup d’etat has left Turkish people feeling trapped in their own country. Turkey is no longer the same republic it had been, when it was founded five years after the first world war. The state is a lot more against the West and more religious, nowadays – Turkey is a predominantly Muslim nation. The national atmosphere has been one of defiance following the coup d’etat but there is no denying that the state needs to focus on nation building efforts, again, or nation rebuilding efforts, where the prime focus should be upholding democratic values and it can begin with a vote of confidence in Erdogan once more.

South Korea’s General Elections

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Snap elections were announced following Park Geun-hye’s forced removal from office, and the result of that installed Moon Jae-in as the next President of South Korea

Moon Jae-in was recently declared the winner in the South Korean presidential elections, and his win came as a bit of a surprise, given Moon’s past track record of having constantly protested against dynastical rule by Park Chung-hee and Park Geun-hye. The win for Moon can be regarded as a landslide and it comes as a breath of fresh air amidst the negativity that has been circulating around South Korean politics for quite some time now. Ever since, the last president, Park Geun-hye, was sent to prison following a parliament impeachment because of having taken bribes from large corporations with a friend, as well as both permitting her friend to interfere in policy-making and sharing state secrets with her, the next wise political step for South Korea has been shrouded in confusion.

Moon’s recent electoral victory has largely been about making the Korean state fairer. The gap between the rich and the poor, corruption in South Korean society because of the government’s close connections to big corporations, and the grievous difficulty in securing jobs for the young are major issues, which Moon should use his singular five-year term in power to address. Moon has promised to make his government more kind to the public’s concerns – more than half of his votes came from young people in their twenties and thirties, so over the big question of providing more employment opportunities to young South Koreans, which at the time is tough to get without good connections, Moon has promised job creation, primarily in the public sector, a portion of which will be targeted towards young people in South Korea.

Major challenges also exist for Moon over bettering relations with neighbour states: Japan, China and North Korea. South Korea and North Korea still do not see eye-to-eye on matters very much because of the latter’s constant insistence of ramming up nuclear developments. It’s so tough to imagine a different orientation of matters but Moon has offered to reach out if things improve – at the moment, President Trump is pressing for payment of a US-born missile-defence system (THAAD), which brews concern over South Korea’s relations with China because the communist state is already unhappy about THAAD’s use, leading it to boycott South Korean goods. Meanwhile, Japan’s trouble with South Korea is an entirely different one though – the state is not pleased with a revival of anti-Japan protests in South Korea, over what happened during the second world war.

Snap Elections in the UK

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A deeply unpopular election is to be held on 8 June, which will be contested by all major parties in the country, from the Labour Party to the Lib Dems

Snap elections in the United Kingdom were recently announced by Theresa May but there is no clue whatsoever as to why. Theresa is practically unopposed in both the House of Lords and the Commons, so there is no crisis to her leadership in sight there that would demand a general election so soon but the new Prime Minister took it upon herself to press forward with the decision to hold one anyways. It’s not just that: Britons are not in want of a general election, and earlier on when Theresa took over Westminster following David Cameron’s departure from Downing Street, she had made it clear that no general elections are going to happen until 2020.

A whole host of people are once again running for elections, from Kenneth Clarke MP, who’s a major antagonist to Theresa’s plans in Westminster – he had opposed Brexit, to Jeremy Corbyn, who unsurprisingly (and shamelessly) insists he will still be the Labour leader if he loses this set of elections. It all boils down to how hard it is really to justify the reasons for snap elections however, because there is no war going on and also no news media has been widely (and vigorously) campaigning for one to happen this early, which desperately needs to be addressed. Because of all of that, judgements towards the latest midterm Prime Minster of the United Kingdom simply increases tenfold.

In my honest opinion, it doesn’t really matter whether Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May comes to power because they are both unsatisfactory leaders in their own right. Corbyn is not a popular Labour leader amongst his party contemporaries – in fact, several polls since his election as the leader of the party also suggest that Labour voters want to see him replaced. Meanwhile, the damage that Theresa did to British politics for this decision alone, is hard to recover from because she comes across as a hypocrite and an idiot.

Theresa called an election because she is unable to band together and differences exist in Westminster but that is just what Westminster is. Maybe Theresa should have been more well-versed on that aspect of politics, as well. The tense climate that the country is teetering on at the moment, following a Brexit did not need a further injection of a new general election but that is just what it got because the Labour Party feels like it should respond to this by contesting in the elections too.

If Theresa is looking for support, she must promise that she has the whole parliament’s support for key decisions in the coming months on issues such as Brexit. Under no circumstances can the new election undermine the conditions that Brexit is happening over, if Theresa was to still remain in power, which seems likely. A major poll puts forward the idea of Theresa May as a better political alternative to her contemporaries, particularly Jeremy Corbyn, and the Tory party has not enjoyed this much support since 2008, when Gordon Brown was the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom and national recession was still widespread.

Soul-searching Over A Trump Win

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Trump’s win should be looked upon as a moment to reflect on for the Democrats, about what Americans really want from a presidency, once the disappointment of losing washes away

Having rooted for Hillary Clinton to win and a Democrat victory at the elections, in the aftermath of a GOP win helmed by Donald Trump instead, I feel that it is a time for soul-searching. Although, Trump’s win has been characterized in the media as a disappointment, global reception amongst numerous heads of state was positive. It charted the dawn of a new era, where the white working classes, often feeling neglected by Clinton’s campaign, pre-elections, chose to vote for a more non-liberal candidate than before.

Naturally, the reception amongst Clinton supporters have been nothing less than a mix of fury and a preaching of the necessity of forgiveness, when things don’t turn out the way they had hoped. But amidst all of the understandable grief and catchy euphoria, questions are inescapable – it all boils down to why Trump over Clinton? These Americans, men and women, with their backgrounds of having never graduated from college, preferred Trump because at the end of the day, the campaign on the other side also needed to be sharper: for a start, Trump’s thoughts on the Iraq war must have been comforting to voters because what the war did was grossly undermine the values of lives of soldiers from the working class bracket.

It’s also tough to emotionally connect with an image of Hillary Clinton constantly portraying Democratic values because it doesn’t really address any real issues out there affecting Americans. And this is on top of Clinton pronouncing a push for very little change in the Rust Belt, which as a region is already known as a bit of a decaying pothole. Furthermore, there is the Democrats’ record in office for eight years – what has it meant for foreign policy and it’s relation with war? I think it was more of a missed opportunity because what these wars have done instead is devastate states, such as Afghanistan and Ukraine.

One interesting face of this loss was that white women who abstained from voting for Hillary did so because national culture and class topics were of a greater importance to them than just going out there like fools and voting for a woman to be the first female President of the United States of America. The sexism associated with Trump did not deter female voters – instead, Trump was given a fair enough ground to compete in, and it’s safe to say Hillary’s breeding ground for votes last season amongst American women, were overwhelmingly in the young women bracket, aged 18 to 29.

What was truly shocking though was how forecasts by the media got proven incorrect because before the 2016 elections, Donald Trump was largely projected to lose. It was personally a moment of joy when Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because that means that more Americans voted for Hillary, instead of Trump. However, the victory still surged towards the GOP’s direction because the party had claimed most states – a 304 to 227. So, what’s a Trump win been like ever since last November?

So far, Trump has been signing orders to overhaul rules governing national carbon emissions, promising work for coal miners and also rewarding big corporations if they choose to remain in the United States, which are the good sides of the leadership. But the ugly (and controversial) side isn’t far off: Trump also cut off the possibility of non-government support to NGOs in foreign shores, for all kinds of abortion services and he is still pressing for the building of a Mexican border wall to deter local immigration into the country, and it’s concerning how Mexico’s image is coming across at the moment globally, due to uncontrolled levels of illegal activities, from migration to smuggling.

Homelessness in New York

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Homelessness (or prospective homelessness) is a problem, which I would equate with the national government spending a lot of time just watching from the sidelines, and unable to do anything to improve matters. The irony of that statement is that it looks a lot like they have homeless people’s problems themselves when they do that (which they obviously don’t) but the misery associated with homelessness is not a joke. In New York, homelessness is a major problem – the tabloids might make it look like homelessness happens only to drug addicts or mentally ill people, but the truth is that it affects New Yorkers of all shapes and sizes, from teachers to postal workers.

The previous New York mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg (CEO and founder of Bloomberg) deliberately moved away from specially allocating homeless families public housing, and also giving it to them at an affordable price. This is in addition to cutting off special privileges to ‘Section 8’ – a voucher program funded by federal cash, which aims to aid with problems associated with looking for a place to rent.

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The Bloomberg administration explained this problem by saying that too many people were homeless and new spaces needed to be made for people who were recently homeless, by moving people who have been homeless for longer and from before, out of public housing, rather than doing something about increasing the capacity in shelters. It’s not just that: Bloomberg also took away the 2007-introduced Advantage program in 2011, which was supplying homeless people with monthly vouchers, leaving many people stranded with no help whatsoever.

Homelessness means coming to grips with the horrible reality of now having to sleep on subways or in parks.

Bill de Blasio, who succeeded Bloomberg in 2014, wanted to make everything better for people, who were always left out of New York’s success. And despite doing just that by increasing assistance for people who may get evicted any day now and other such means to help homeless people, the problems with homelessness in New York have only increased.

Other towns, such as Los Angeles and Chicago are far worse off than New York on the homelessness scale but the numbers in New York, like homeless people’s problems, are still mammoth: 60,000 people in shelters alone and the incredibly long waiting lists for public housing – one, in particular, has a 270,000-long waiting list. Another problem happening with Bill de Blasio as the mayor is that he is refusing to shut down a type of shelter program, known as ‘cluster sites’ and for the type of people reliant on soup kitchens, living in shelters is anything but ideal because the spaces are replete with violence and robbery.

SNP’s Second Try

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SNP wants to launch another independence referendum after losing the last one in 2014

One of the the most horrifying political gaffes ever made has to be Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister demanding another independence referendum for Scotland, where it is to ask for independence from the United Kingdom, just two-and-half years after the previous one. It is far too close to the last independence referendum for Scotland. It does not matter if Scotland hasn’t been allowed enough room to be a part of the EU single market, following Brexit because there is no need to cry for independence over that – unity over political decisions is a good thing.

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, post David Cameron, is horsing around with the statement, it seems. At one point in time, May is against it, and at another point in time, her office, Number 10, sends out mixed messages that another independence referendum could happen but not before Brexit is officially wrapped up. When the SNP wrote in their manifesto pre-elections that another independence referendum could be called in the future if the situation dictated it, did they think it would be this close to the past one? It’s unclear but the party had stated that 2014’s referendum was a rare event.

There is no doubt that what the Tory government did was very wrong because Britain’s place is really with the EU, not independent from it, and it is truly asking Scotland an awful lot of getting along to do, when the nation overwhelmingly voted against a Brexit. However, when differences of opinion arises, compromises are necessary because the two countries did choose to remain united only recently and having unity isn’t always easy in the face of political decisions of whoever, or whichever party is in power. Politicians in both Westminster and the Scottish parliament should really be doing their jobs in government instead of running after independence referendums for the billionth time.

Meanwhile, Scotland is to learn of the conditions of Brexit later than when done because of how EU negotiations are carried out. So far, the idea of another Scottish independence referendum doesn’t seem to have picked up momentum anywhere else but in Number 10 somewhat, but if it were to happen, it is a little bit vague as to why because SNP is contemplating thoughts of Scotland, if the EU gives approval, joining the European Economic Area (EEA), in a manner similar to Norway’s, which would permit the country to be a part of the single market – this is despite the fact that the UK is Scotland’s biggest trade partner, so if this new independence referendum is supposed to be about the economy then it’s not supposed to be in favour of the Scottish economy doing very well.