Climate Change Glares in the Face of Pakistan

Climate change has become such a big issue in Pakistan that environmental degradation costs Pakistan 9% of its GDP, according to a World Bank study. In the Sindh province, environmental degradation accounts to 19% of its GDP. Pakistan signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Action, but seems to be slow to actually implement its climate change ideas due to domestic discord. Pakistan does seem to have climate change on its radar, as in 2012 Pakistan was the first South Asian country to construct a Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC). The MOCC has developed National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), as well as ways to implement these policies. However, due to disunity amongst the provinces, many governmental institutions in Pakistan are barely aware of the climate change policy, and have no resources to implement such policy. Dawn, the oldest English language newspaper in Pakistan, suggests adopting a three-pronged approach in which investments in sustainable infrastructure, low carbon development, and provincial capabilities are made. With 70% of Pakistanis predicted to be living in big cities over the next years, it’s imperative that Pakistan gets a hold on climate change.

To read the full article on Dawn click the link below:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1287097

 

What was Russia’s impact on the election?

It seems that we are getting more and more information on the full extent of the influence of Russian hackers on the 2016 Presidential election. Although the efforts by Russian state-funded entities largely went unnoticed and undiscussed for months, it is becomingly increasingly apparent that they were part of a pre-calculated effort to influence our democratic process. As part of the infiltration, hackers gained access to the Democratic National Committee servers and leaked emails showing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign. Some officials from the democrat nominee’s campaign claim that the election results were significantly impacted as a result. However, these statements are very difficult to prove, especially considering the other scandals which plagued both candidates throughout their campaigns.

The issue also raises questions regarding the efficacy of the governments processes in preventing such attacks. The whole situation was riddled with “missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.”  For example, one FBI agent detected the intrusion on the DNC early on, but his call to their offices resulted in him getting forwarded to a help desk, and the issue was effectively lost in red tape. The White House likewise failed to respond with adequate force and speed to Russia’s cyber-advances. The result was the hackers’ ability to scour DNC email servers for about seven months without any intervention.

How should the U.S. have handled this situation differently? How should we handle it now? What does this mean for our relationship with Russia? What does this mean for our election results? What affect will this have on the confidence of the American people in our government and president?

 

Potential EPA Head Signals Complete Policy Flip

08pruitt1-superjumbo

Donald Trumps selection to head the EPA is current Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt. This signals a vast change from the Obama administration’s huge efforts to combat climate change from a national and international level. In the article Mr. Pruitt is quoted as saying “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Beyond words, Mr. Pruitt has acted ceaselessly in office to battle regulations from the EPA, attempting to remove restrictions on air emissions and water pollution.

While in Office, Pruitt has also been very cozy with top oil and gas executives, taking campaign contributions from many of the industry players he was filing lawsuits with. In fact, there are a number of letters that Mr. Pruitt sent to the EPA on state stationary under his name that were in fact drafted directly by industry lobbyists. The companies then praised the letters, without mentioning that fact that they had drafted them in the first place.

What does this signal for the United States’ future involvement in climate agreements? When the head of the EPA refuses to acknowledge consensus on climate change (a fact a simple google search and wikipedia page browsing can refute) where does that leave us? How can someone so closely linked with big businesses intent on profiting from lack of regulation effectively run the agency responsible for protecting citizens with regulation?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/us/politics/scott-pruitt-epa-trump.html

Let Women Drive, a Prince in Saudi Arabia Urges

2016-04-01-13-07-45.jpg

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has voiced his opinion on women not being allowed to drive in his country. Currently, Saudi women are not allowed to drive, rather they have to be shuttled around, which Prince Alwaleed says is an unnecessary strain on Saudi resources.

The deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman voiced his opposing view on the need for women to be allowed to drive. He says that it would cause a large social strain and resistance in society. While there is a religious aspect to not letting women drive, Salman is more concerned with the social implications.

“‘Here we say, ‘Show your face'”

rasouli_amir20130916050837810

Germany has been having problems with the Refugee resettlement in their country. Although Germany and its President, Angela Merkel, were one country that showed willingness to allow refugees to use their country as a home, recently far-right groups have been fighting back. Even people within Merkel’s political party are beginning to have feelings against the immigrants. This has led her to put forth her beliefs in banning veils that cover the whole face wherever possible. She did admit that Germany shouldn’t be so lax in allowing so many immigrants into their country and that this country would be more careful in the future. She also promised her people that Sharia law would never become German law. Many people enthusiastically supported her recently stated stances on immigration. Merkel has previously talked about her views on veils keeping new women in the country from getting fully invovled in the German country and culture. However, given the strong feelings of many people including some Christian groups against the veil, it seems like laws will change. Her bid for reelection likely could also be influencing her choices. She has been nominated by her party to run again, and she has been highly critisized by her handle on the refugee problem. Migration to the country has significantly declined after most of the refugees have been sent to Turkey.

It is interesting to see how politics and fear take a strong stance in so many countries beyond the United States. Merkel mentioned in her speech that the recent US elections would make things difficult in the future. The American President-to-be could make certain international relations less sure. As Americans, we have seen how the country has turned to a candidate that was not a part of the system and has strong views against immigration and the Muslim community. These feelings seem to be in other countries and areas around the world. This will influence the future of international communities and cooperation. Fear and distrust will lead to disunity. I personally was excited when I heard about Germany doing so much to help refugees from the conflict in Syria; however, it is disheartening to see that probably because of politics, leaders will have to shut down their borders at a time when we need to be more accepting. I can say this because I haven’t been as strongly influenced by refugees as people in Germany have. What can we do to ensure that refugees are taken care of, but also that the residents of countries like Germany are safe? Will banning the full head veil really make a difference? It might placate the people enough to get her reelected, but what will it do to the country in the long run?

The article is here.

Taxes Under Trump: Almost Everyone Pays Less; Richest Pay a Lot Less

In the The Wall Street Journal, there were some news regarding Trump’s tax policies. According to that report that the top 1% will benefit from everyone paying less taxes. The middle class will get a tax cut but also the rich will get the same. In Trump’s plan, the top 1% of earners would pay a smaller share of total federal taxes than it does right now. According to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis, “nearly half the benefits of Mr. Trump’s tax plan would go to the top 1%., households earning more than about $700,000 annually”

Another complication with this policy is that the tax breaks for individuals are unevenly distributed. So high earners are more able to pay more taxes than lower earners, yet lower earners still paying higher taxes.

Trump promised he will make America Great again, however, there are so many questions regarding how he can deal with the current tax code. Like it has been said before regarding a Trump administration: only time will tell.

Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan sends nearly half the benefits to the top 1%, households earning more than about $700,000 annually, while reducing their relative contribution, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington. Read the full story

A near global disaster: the Yellow Fever outbreak

06yellowfever1-master768

While during the beginning of this year, the West was focused on the Zika outbreak, another global health emergency was taking place in Africa: an outbreak of yellow fever. The outbreak was stopped only because donors (like Brazil and South Sudan) donated millions of doses of the yellow fever vaccine, which had been depleted before even one city in Angola was fully protected.  Dangerously, the virus reached Asia for the first time, a continent with no yellow fever immunity. Luckily it did not get a foothold, because if it had, there would have been a global medical emergency, with many medical experts saying that an outbreak in Asia, “could make the Ebola and Zika epidemics look like picnics in the park!”

Half of people with cases of yellow fever die. Epidemics of Yellow Fever are not new. In 1794, a tenth of the population of Philadelphia was killed by the virus, and New York City was emptied out several times as people fleed the epidemics. The virus can cause urban outbreaks with it is transmitted from forest mosquitos the Aedes aegypti, mosquitos that live among humans and transmit the virus. The outbreak in Africa happened quickly, and while tens of millions of people were at risk, the emergency vaccine stockpile only held six million doses. Profits from the vaccine are low, so pharmaceutical companies dropped it. I traveled to Tanzania this summer and had to visit five different clinics in the Washington D.C area before I could find one with the Yellow Fever vaccine, and the one I received was one of their last. Vaccines are of vital importance, and while understandable that pharmaceutical companies want to produce profitable products, there needs to be more preparation for outbreaks such as these, which can explode in an instant and affect millions of lives.

Who Won? The Dakota Pipeline

On Sunday the Army announced it would halt the construction of the Dakota Pipeline and find a new route for the pipeline. The protestors were victorious, but was the right decision made?

This problem was steeped in issues of history, culture, and legal rights. In November Jack Healy wrote that local people were afraid for their safety and they felt threatened by the protestors. Law enforcement, police officers just trying to do their jobs, also expressed concerns about their safety. Protests affected some ranchers’ ability to make a living during that time. On the flip side, protesters reported being treated badly and in ways that denied them their human dignity by law enforcement.

Ta-Nahisi Coates argues in favor of reparations being made to the descendants of peoples and races wronged throughout American history. The native people of the United States has endured an incredible amount of poor treatment in the past. There may not have been a good solution to this issue but I do believe the best solution possible, considering the circumstances, has been reached.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/04/us/federal-officials-to-explore-different-route-for-dakota-pipeline.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fjack-healy&action=click&contentCollection=undefined&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

Premier To Resign, Surprising New Zealand

new-zealands-prime-ministerThe country of New Zealand has been left in shock after finding out late Monday that their prime minister had intentions of resigning. John Key will be resigning next week to spend more time with his family. Key has been in office since 2008. He has led the National Conservative Party to two victories and was considered to be the favorite for next years election. Initially, Key had no desire to be a politician. He is exactly sure what he will be doing next. Key has given so much over the years to the best he could for the country he loves, however he explained, “all of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me – my family.”

On December 12, Key will resign and his party will select a new prime minister. Key says he will support whoever his party choses. However, Key said that he wound vote for his deputy prime minister, Bill English. Mr. English has been involved in many of Key’s initiatives including the initiative to partially privatize state-owned utilities. English also was a supporter of the trans-Pacific Partnership. Nonetheless it will be very interesting to watch how this will play out over the next few months.

Over the course of the past few years, New Zealand’s prime minister has done a large amount of good for the country. The people of New Zealand have come to love him and will be sad to see Key go. However many New Zealanders are excited for change and the future to come.

Read more here. 

Japan Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbor: A Moment in History

On this past Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan announced that he will be visiting Pearl Harbor during a trip to Hawaii this upcoming December. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be the first leader from Japan to visit Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor is the site of Japans attack 75 years ago on the United States. This attack killed over 2,000 Americans, and a day we have not forgotten as a country. Pearl Harbor was the greatest terror attack on the US up until 9/11. During WWII, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese town, Hiroshima. Many presidents have visited Hiroshima, though President Obama was the first sitting president to do so (others did so before or after their presidency). I find this move by the Japanese Minister to be very honorable, and continues to show that we have a strong and humble relationship with Japan. How do you believe this relationship will change with the next president, Donald Trump? Or do you feel it will stay the same, and continue to grow?

ph-flag-memorial

You can read this article online here, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/05/world/asia/shinzo-abe-pearl-harbor-japan.html?_r=0