World leaders remain by-standers to Iranian protests

Protests have erupted in Iran, similar to those in 2009, with thousands upon thousands of people demanding the current government either change their course of governance, or step aside.

Iranians are protesting for a various amount of reasons, those being that the cost of living is harming thousands, with some having to work a second job to get by, others are protesting against the government’s lack of interest in fighting corruption & to help turn people’s lives around.

It doesn’t end there though; these protests are unlike any the nation has ever seen in the 38 years that the country has been under Islamic authoritarian rule with people chanting “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!”
Others also are repeatedly shouting “death to Rouhani” & “death to the dictator” whilst supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has seen various threats placed against him.

There has been widespread defiance against the regimes authoritarian rule, most notably against the law of women being forced to wear a hijab and being treated like second class citizens, but also against politicians (with the government choosing who and who doesn’t run, more moderate & parties against the hard line Islamic authority see themselves banned) and opponents of the state being wrongfully thrown in jail.

With all these mass protests taking place, the regime went a step further and shut down the internet (then just slowed it down meaning many had no access at all) & public channels on messaging app, Telegram, to try and curtail protests from taking place, but they’ve so far failed in their endeavours.
Reports so far say that over 20 people have been killed by security forces with over a dozen others injured and hundreds imprisoned.

It is great that the Iranian masses are rising up to the draconian and undemocratic elite who rule over their country, and am disgusted, but sadly not surprised, to see them react with violence.
The masses will never stop fighting for what they believe in, and deserve at that. The Iranian regime knows this, which is precisely why they’ve reacted as they have.

Why should they sit back and do nothing when the unemployment rate is only slightly decreasing year on year? Why should they sit back and do nothing when inflation is projected to be high single figures, again?

Why shouldn’t people of all religions, faiths and beliefs be allowed to live and prosper together?

It is rather worrying that a foreign influence could be at play here and that the Iranian Revolution by the people, for the people could be unsuccessful in that hard time will continue, under a leader who promises change & follows through on nothing, and is rather sympathetic to imperialist nations such as the United States.

What is also frustrating to behold is that the media are showing very little of what is happening which subsequently means that people are ignoring our brothers and sisters in Iran, whom are fighting the same fight we are – against the elites who continue to bleed our societies for their own profit.

Or when the western world ignores those 34 who have died in mass protests against electoral fraud in Honduras, and recognised the results, it makes you wonder, the US & their allies are only interested in citizens exercising their democratic rights against those who are oppressive, when it benefits them.

Regardless of political ideology or stance, we should all champion the current events in Iran that are taking place, as the proletariat and masses will prevail and hopefully bring Iran into the 21st century and ending what was started by their elders, in 1979, that was abruptly taken away.

Gender inequality rife throughout Africa

The largest gender gaps are observed in West and Central Africa, where 79 girls are enrolled in secondary school for every 100 boys.

Although, African leaders declared that this year was “the African youth decade” and launched a number of youth employment strategies to help the increasing unemployment figures, its still on the rise. There is no doubt that more needs to be done to give the youth the educational resources they need to thrive, but as the region continues to increase its military spending, they are cutting education which is having a devastating effect on rural areas.

The rural poverty across the continent is something that is constantly spoken about, so it is not surprising when it is stated that the rural children are at a disadvantage learning only key skills needed for manual labour work. Many parents who send their children to school see this as a way to climb out of poverty, this would be the case if the money is continuously invested, and many of the African countries weren’t exploited by their leaders.

Teachers must be paid a fair salary, and students need up to date resources.

Many of the children who are sent to school still severely lack in the skills necessary for employment. A large focus has been placed on urban areas by ensuring new infrastructure and leisure facilities are built, which is all well for tourism but, does not ensure youth are given the skills they need to contribute to the economy of the region.

To address this education crisis, African governments must direct more resources towards rural areas by implementing policies that give the youth of the region the opportunity to succeed.
Surely, the most urgent priorities for the government besides taking care of the welfare of its citizens should be the provision of schooling for its children. Many were perplexed on the announcement back in 2012 that Western Cape government was considering closing 27 schools in the province but, since then there have been many additional schools built providing the Western Cape with some of the largest campuses in the southern hemisphere.

In South Africa public spending on education is 6.4% of GDP; the average share in EU countries is 4.8%. However the issue that continues to affect school children is not the amount spent on schools, but the quality of the teaching. This has massively affected the results of science and mathematics tests, ranking South Africa 74th out of 75th in the league tables.

A Professor at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol said: “The key message is that a first step to improving education quality and equity in rural areas is through improving monitoring and evaluation systems. The evidence indicates that providing value added data to policymakers and practitioners will improve evaluation processes at all levels of the education system – national, regional, county, school, class and learner”

Another way in which the education system can be ‘enhanced’ is employee education, many children from poor and underdeveloped regions cannot afford education fees and many of them end up giving up school in order to take care of their families or undergo child labour, providing them with skill based subjects and teaching them the fundamentals of surviving in the tough industries whether its crafts, dairy, carpentry etc. This will allow them to have a better and safe employment option rather than core labour.

Rohingya crisis: A textbook example of religious extremism

Aung San Suu Kyi, the once inspirational leader of Myanmar, has been stripped of her 2013 Nobel Peace Prize and various other honorary titles after the international community’s increased attention on the so-called Rohingya crisis.

Muslim minorities in Myanmar have faced systematic torture, murder and expulsion at the hands of Buddhist extremists led by the infamous and militant Ashin Wirathu.
The UN has described the Rohingya’s treatment as a “textbook example of religious extremism and ethnic cleansing.”

Religious extremism and ensuing acts of terror are indeed a prominent theme in today’s world, but religious justification for mass violence and terror is actually a well-established trend in human history. The Protestant reformation in the 16th century, the Medieval Christian Crusades, and the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War.

And now the Buddhist-Rohingya conflict. One cannot help to think: why so much hatred against the other in the name of religions that preach love, peace and harmony? Let’s not forget that the religions in question here (Islam, Christianity, Buddhism) all contain teachings that promote peace rather than hate. How is it that these militant groups have derived justification for violence and murder from such polar opposite premises?

The ethical arguments are complex and unique for each case and, in many of these cases, require close examination of the religious evidence that has been misinterpreted and manipulated craftily for evil purposes. Still, one may generalise by pointing out that in all of these conflicts there is a blame-rhetoric of labelling the other side as the aggressor/initiator of violence and hence the culprit of the situation at hand who deserves to be punished by force if not death. This justification for self-defense is then supported and augmented by appeals to religion which function as propaganda in garnering momentum for the mobilisation against the evil common enemy, as is now seen in Myanmar, Syria, Egypt and Iraq.

One falls into a vicious circle – if not logical regress – of mutual finger-pointing unless one manages and dares to identify the root cause of the conflict by discovering the perpetrator of the original act of provocation, which may indeed be very interesting. One thing is for sure, however, and that is the human price of all of these conflicts is always massive and tragic.

The number of deaths and casualties in Myanmar is quickly approaching the millions, of whom the majority are Rohingyan civilians, women and children. If this vicious argument continues, it may be impossible to bring a halt to these acts of aggression.

How the crises in western politics are strengthening China’s autocracy

As 2017 now draws to a close, one’s reflection on current political events might be somewhat bitter and pessimistic. 2016 and 2017 have been years of political consequence, what with the Brexit vote which led to the change in Tory power from David Cameron to Theresa May and the ensuing consequences that leaving the European Union would have on the UK and the rest of Europe, the highly contentious American election which led to the rise of Donald Trump as its 45th President and the implementation of all his controversial policies, the Catalunyan referendum which saw unprecedented levels of violence and tension between Madrid and Barcelona in the history of Spain.

I think most people would agree that western politics is not in a good place right now, and the disheartening thing is that the Europeans and Americans very much brought these troubles to themselves since all these political decisions were the results of countrywide voting and general elections. If one is trying to point fingers, the Westerners may only have themselves to blame, and the culprits, whether it be the Brexiteers/Remainers, Trump supporters/haters and pro-Catalan independistas/Madridistas, count in millions and represent big sections of the population.

It is impossible to pin these troubles down on a single person or a group of people, and if one is trying to put an end to the story by bringing the culprits to justice, one is talking about civil war. Western democracy has tied itself in a knot, which is hardly the image that Western countries want to project to the rest of the world.

For over a century, western powers have prided themselves in being the beacons of democratic values and the champions of human civil rights, yet their recent turmoils perhaps do not support their case that their political system (liberal democracy or sorts in the US, UK and Spain) is the stablest and the best model to have. This is exactly how the Chinese central government have reacted to the West, with the end of justifying their autocratic, one-party rule. As is well-known, Modern China has a funny mixture of political ideologies (which goes to show how simplistic political theories, especially Marxist ones, can be, useful though they may be), since although its sovereign party is called the Chinese Communist Party and is the sole legitimate political party in the whole of China, it has a very dynamic and flourishing market economy that is very active on the global market. China’s economy has been the fastest-growing economy in modern times and is rapidly becoming the world’s biggest economy (tied head-to-head with the US economy). It might even become the financial basis for future investors throughout the world, which explains why Westerners are taking an increasingly strong interest in all things Chinese, as can be seen in Donald Trump’s granddaughter’s impeccable pronunciation of Mandarin on the US President’s latest visit to Beijing.

There is no questioning of China’s economic potential and its emergence as a global superpower, what with its huge population, resources and general enthusiasm in world economy, which has dramatically improved its relations with the rest of the world. It is easy to forget and hard to imagine that half a century ago in China’s early Communist days it was a secluded state with state-owned economy and a major player in the Communist bloc who were sworn enemies to Western capitalism in the Cold War (indeed, it even locked fire and arms with the US in the Korean War and helped secure North Korea as an independent state). However, there is also no questioning that China is not a democratic state in a political sense. Its leaders and party members are elected not through democratic voting but via political and family connections, and there have been numerous incidents where the central government have crushed using military force any protest or call for democracy that has threatened its power and authority (1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre being the most infamous example that still stains China’s record on human rights, global reputation and internal politics, as 4th June, the day the Beijing government opened fire at the protestors in Tiananmen Square and caused thousands of deaths and casualties, is annually ‘celebrated’ by all citizens as some kind of national mourning day).

Those who dream of a democratic revolution in China in the form of the Russian Revolution in 1917, which happened twelve years after a very similar shooting outside the Tsar’s palace in 1905, will be disappointed at the lack of progress in this regard, since there seems to be no letting-up for democracy, political freedom or freedom of expression in China, as seen in the recent house arrests of several political activists, and even in areas where Beijing’s iron fist has less control, democracy is still far from reach, as seen in the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement (2014-) which has been forcefully crushed, made no constitutional impact whatsoever, and has even had its main players (e.g. the 18 y.o. Joshua Wong) incarcerated for civil unrest. Democracy is a frequently debated issue in China, and the latest response from the Party Chairman Xi Jinping is sterner than ever as in his speech in the most recent Party Congress (October 2017) he has cited the current crises in western Europe and America as justification for NOT instilling political freedom in China, alleging that introducing multi-party politics now would only cause chaos and anarchy, ‘as seen in the recent Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in America’. It is a shrewd move for him as a politician to seize on recent events and use them to his advantage, but utterly disappointing for those who fight for political freedom and civil rights in a country that is so prominent in contemporary world politics but has such a poor record in treating its citizens (politically).

Where do we go from here? As with all freedom fighters, one might wonder as to how to pressure the Beijing government into relenting to gentler measures or, if one dreams of being a superhero in the mould of V in ‘V for Vendetta‘, how to defeat them in a revolutionary style.

Keeping the latter option in one’s imagination (though it may be possible), the former is probably more likely and hence worth considering. If one is thinking of foreign intervention in forcing China’s hand, this is verging on impossible, since there is little possibility that China could be forced either economically or politically into making such concessions when its global position is currently so strong. North Korea is the recent victim (and rightly so) of international sanctions and foreign pressure, which may well end up changing the regime and resulting in a long overdue reunification of the two Koreas, yet such tactics could hardly be used on China, given that severing economic ties would only hurt the rest of the world.

Using military force is also unlikely to yield positive results, as China’s military might is only second to the US who cannot possibly bully China in the same way that their joint drills with South Korea have provoked the North Korean government. Pressure from below is also an option, though a highly risky one given the amount of control and censorship the current government seeks to impose on its citizens. Also, with China’s economy flourishing at such an exponential rate, economic stability seems to be relatively accessible for most people in China who would hardly sacrifice that for regime change, especially if it threatens their livelihood. Perhaps wariness of China’s undemocratic policies should have been realized at the beginning of its capitalist revolution in the 1970s when the Western powers (especially the US, then led by President Jimmy Carter who welcomed on home soil the then Party Chairman and sole instigator of Chinese capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, who was also responsible for the Tiananmen Square Massacre and was as paradoxical as China is today) should have tried to curb its autocracy as part of the deal of entering into trading relations with it.

Unfortunately, that possibility is now long gone and one is faced with this giant economic juggernaut that is so important to the rest of the world yet whose policies are not what its people (or the rest of the world) want. The Chinese central government is now at an excellent position to exert its influence not only on its citizens but also on the rest of the world, and there may be no holding them back which may spell the end of democracy in China. I still believe that foreign intervention is the likelier scenario, but first the Western countries need to sort themselves out, which is another long(ist) battle.

Chilean Presidential Election 2017: A summary

On the 17th December, Chileans will vote in the second round of elections to determine the President of the Republic (for a four-year term), as well as 23 of the 43 of the senate to run (for an eight-year term) along with regional representatives for all fourteen regions of Chile. This presidential election also marks a clash between Chile’s centre right and left, socialist and conservative branches.

Whilst the USA and the UK are both democratic counties with a somewhat unmovable two-party system Chile has only recently become a republic of democracy following the fall of Pinochet dictatorship and government in 1990. Typically, most Chileans hold indifference or disdain for politics within their country as a corrupt monopoly. Many people tend to vote for a whole plethora of politicians making it typically unlikely for any one political party to achieve a majority. Therefore, all the presidential candidates are in political coalitions with other parties because individually they usually only gather 10-30% of the popular vote so coalitions are necessary to form a government.

How Socialism Differs in Chile:
Before the dictatorship of Pinochet (1974-1990) the last president of Chile was, as the BBC put it, “the first Marxist to become President of a Latin American country through open elections.” Allende adopted the typical policies of nationalization of industries and collectivization. Allende, whilst a controversial figure, was similar in his polarization of opinion to Pinochet. Allende committed suicide during an armed coup backed by the United States in September 1973 becoming a martyr figure for many on the left and creating much resentment for the United States and other imperialistic powers. Many still remember the United States as the entity that brought the violent dictatorship of Pinochet to fruition, living memory of Chile’s violent dictatorship has left a large socialist sentiment in Chile and socialism is far more popular here than in Europe or North America.

Privatization and decentralization are both huge political issues within Chile. In contrast to Allende’s Marxist policies the United States, amid an ideological battle of economics systems known as the Cold War, replaced Allende with Pinochet who enacted many capitalistic policies. Pinochet heavily privatized businesses and many industries within the Republic. There is currently no train line from the North of the country to the South and even the public buses suffer from a degrading lack of standards. This is the noticeable result of Pinochet’s privatization. This adds the motivation for more people to want a more social change within Chile, as the government is currently not responsible for any of these companies, besides the laxed policies that the companies abide by, and the industries responsible don’t want to eat into profits. This inherited cycle of degradation had led many to flock the socialist banner of Guillier and Sanchez in this current election.

The socialist movement in Chile is seen in this election with the two most popular candidates being Pinera and Guillier, who both appear within the centre of the political spectrum, however for this election they may as well be opposite ends. Pinera represents a somewhat more extreme capitalistic outlook, with similar (and more intense) proposals as Bachelet and Goic, whilst Guillier represents the popular support for socialism and change within the country.

The Presidential Candidates:

Overall there are eight candidates running for the position of President of the Republic. One of the main candidates is Sebastian Pinera. This will be Pinera’s third presidential race as he has already served one term as president, being the predecessor of Chile’s current president Michelle Bachelet, from 2010 to 2014, but also running in the 2005 election but being beaten out by Bachelet.

Pinera belongs to the National Renewal party, a liberal conservative party. The party itself is one of four in the conservative coalition called ‘Chile Vamos’ and won the party primary with 58% majority, becoming the official candidate. Pinera from the outset promotes capitalistic ideals. For example, Pinera considerd education a consumer good, which caused student protests for education to be under public ownership in 2011-2012. His proposals for this coming election include a focus on infrastructure (for example extending the Santiago metro system) and employment growth, “duplicating our capacity to grow and create jobs in the next 4 years.” Of most interest are Pinera’s social proposals, stating that, “one of the primary objectives of the social policy of the next government will be to support and strengthen Chilean families.” This means that Pinera would give attention to the more at risk in working-class families, such as children and seniors or people with disabilities, creating a more organised response to the needs of those most vulnerable within the Chilean social system.

Alejandro Guillier, senator for the Antofagasta region and the presidential candidate for the Social Democrat Radical Party and is seen as the closest thing to an adversary to Pinera’s center right policies. Guillier and Pinera are both the likeliest candidates for the next president and both poll high in popularity polls. Although Guillier himself commented on the unreliability of popularity polls, “Let’s not forget what happened in the United States, let’s not forget what happened in Colombia, let’s not forget what happened in England.” A likely outcome will be that neither Pinera or Guillier will gain a majority and a run-off election will be held 17th December to decide the presidency. According to Guillier’ website he promises; free and reduced transport costs for senior citizens; equal pay for men and women, an end to sexist activity within education and a National Plan against gender violence; reduction of working hours, a right to strike in the new constitution. Possibly one of his most controversial proposals was the idea of lending more autonomy to the regions and creating a more decentralized form of government, “Chile will not be a developed country unless we move towards decentralization.”

lowering work quotas of workers from 13% to 9%, while gradually raising the employers’ contribution from 5% to 9%.Beatriz Sanchez is the nominee and leader of Broad Front, a coalition of seven left-wing parties and political movements. Sanchez herself has worked as a political journalist for over twenty years, and is one of the few candidates who advocates for more feminist polices within the Chilean government. Sitting more left than Guillier, her five pillars, or her five proposals, which include pensions, state that Chile has insufficient social security with no gender equality or uniform treatment. Sanchez’ other pillars include, Decent Pensions and Work, including; updating the social security budget for a more modern and sustainable system; increased control of public spending and Health and education are also part of her manifesto emphasizing a better quality in higher public education, duplicating quotas within a period of eight years. Predictably her last pillar focuses on decentralisation, although offers no more information on specific aims on how to achieve this in her manifesto.

The last candidate I will mention is Carolina Goic, leader and presidential nominee for the Chilean Christian Democratic Party (PDC), as well as being the Senator for the Maganalles region. The party is part of a larger coalition called Nueva Mayoria, which Bachelet herself is a part of (although from a Socialist Party), leading many to assume and create similarities between the two. Whilst Goic does not highlight any proposals she largely is expected to continue the same path that Bachelet has been continuing these past four years. Although Goic herself is championing for decentralization with one of her proposals saying, “Santiago is not all of Chile”. Goic represents someone who would make no major alterations to the form of the government in Chile now.

Results of the First Round – November 19th:
Sebastian Pinera: 2,418,540 (36.64%)
Alejandro Guillier: 1,498,040 (22.70%)
Beatriz Sanchez: 1,338,037 (20.27%)
Carolina Goic: 387, 784 (5.88%)

Pinera holds a lot of support being the primary conservative candidate, whilst the split in leftist voters is evident by the little difference in percentage and votes between Guillier and Sanchez. A runoff election between Pinera and Guillier will now determine who will become president and start their presidential term on March 11th 2018. With only two candidates, and Guillier attracting many of Sanchez’s votes it will be an even closer round of voting than in the first round.

Results of the Second Round December 17th
Sebastian Pinera 3,793,832 (54.58%)
Alejandro Guillier 3, 157,750 (45.42%)

By a margin of 636,082 votes Pinera has been elected Michele Bachelet’s successor as President of the Republic of Chile, this will be Pinera’s second-term as President. In his first speech since the results were announced on the night of the 17th Pinera said to his supporters, “Lets make Chile into a developed country”. The important aspect however is whether any real change will come to Chile and if any is even necessary.

Pinera’s victory marks a trend within Southern Latin American Countries with the election of conservative right leaders in Brazil, Argentina and Peru. Policies to ensure tax breaks and less ‘red tape’ for companies (particularly mining companies) are sure to be a key policy under Pinera’s government.

Those who were under the Guillier banner argued that Chile’s infrastructure has been neglected for decades without any great improvements, whilst those who were under the Pinera and Goic banner might argue that a developing nation needs investors and the capital investment, progress takes time and that metropolitan areas are becoming more developed, such as Santiago, Iquique or San Pedro.

Pinera represents a more conservative pathway for Chile with a likely chance of enacting many of his proposals, whilst Guillier would have faced opposition from the traditional central conservative government. Guillier, with a liberal and leftist backdrop, would’ve held no easy victories if elected. These are still, however, speculations. However, those who voted for Guillier (nearly half of those who voted) shows a clear divide in Chilean political opinion, and whether Pinera can bridge this gap is something that will be seen over his 4 year term, starting March 11th.

The Method in the Madness: Understanding North Korea’s Nuclear Ambition

The success of North Korea’s recent missile launch, has raised alarms around the world.
Pyongyang claims it is now capable of successfully hitting anywhere in mainland America, bringing the US into the sphere of North Korea’s military reach for the first time. This missile test is just the latest addition to the increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. But what is the aim of North Korea’s nuclear program?
North Korea’s nuclear program has been met with widespread international criticism, even from, surprisingly, North Korea’s only ally, China. Yet, the criticism is only met by further determination from Pyongyang to achieve its nuclear targets.

In August, US President Donald Trump said North Korea’s attitude towards America would be met with “fire and fury”.
The United Nations has acted to attempt to defuse the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, visited North Korea following the missile tests, and met with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. In a joint statement, they said: “the current situation is the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today.”

North Korea is playing a high-stake game against growing opposition. The question is, why Pyongyang is so committed to its weapons programs in the face of rising opposition? It may seem that North Korea is on a path of war, or that the nuclear program is aimed at destruction. However, it is important to understand what North Korea is trying to achieve with its weapons programs. Overall, Pyongyang has one main aim, survival.

It should not be forgotten that North and South Korea have been locked in a 65-year stalemate following the ceasefire of the Korean war in 1953. North Korea proudly boasts its military might as a sign of the regimes power, and clings to it as the protector of the regime.

North Korea currently has the fourth largest standing army, with approximately 1.1 million personnel. However, experts say that North Korea’s military equipment, and technology is outdated, reducing the effectiveness of North Korea’s conventional military. However, both Pyongyang and Seoul realise the mutual destructive reality conflict would bring.

The goal of the Kim dynasty is to solidify their regime. The hostility towards the international community comes from a lack of trust, based on historic events. North Korea believes that both the Giddafi regime in Libya and the Saddam regime in Iraq collapsed because of their abandonment of their nuclear programs.

Libya sticks an alarming comparison to North Korea for Pyongyang, as Libya exchanged its nuclear program to ease sanctions and improve relations with the West, only to find the West not only supported but provided arm for Libyan rebels, who ultimately overthrew the government. North Korea does not trust the West to honour any agreement of improved relations, and therefore only has its nuclear program to counter the deceitful enemy it perceives the West to be.

The United Nations has called to keep channels open with North Korea to ease the tensions on the Peninsula. North Korean state news announced that Korean officials and the UN have agreed to “communication through visits at different level on a regular basis in the future”.

Although communication is progress, it is unlikely that North Korea will be swayed away from its nuclear program.
North Korea’s nuclear program ambition comes from the regimes determination for survival. The nuclear program is the only bargaining chip Pyongyang can believe in, there is simply no trust in western promises, security or economic support.

The North Korean government will continue to develop its weapon technologies, undeterred by any condemnation. Whether this development will lead to conflict remains to be seen, but we can be sure the consequences will be historic.

The UK media is failing to report on the Israel Palestine conflict accurately

Last week, Donald Trump announced the United States will now officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

This announcement has caused outrage across the world, especially in the Arab world.
Demonstrations and marches quickly followed to send a message to Trump and the US administration that recognising Jerusalem as the capital of an Israeli state is not only unjust due to the fact East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, but it will also delay the peace process indefinitely. David Hearst, editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Eye said: “there are 300,000 Jerusalemites who are residents, but not citizens of, the freshly declared Israeli capital and Trump has just thrown a grenade in their midst.”

2017 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, the event that saw Israel occupy substantial parts of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, displacing over 250,000 Palestinians. The subsequent occupation of Palestine by Israel has been declared illegal by the United Nations as well as the International Court of Justice.

The British media’s reporting of Trump’s announcement has been largely predictable, downplaying actions of the Israeli military and overplaying the reactions of Palestinian resistance. The right-wing press has tended to focus on it being Muslim anger, continuing the fear-mongering narrative of anything Islam-related. For instance, the Daily Mail ran a headline beginning with “Muslim ‘day of rage’ against Trump turns deadly.” Such language provokes a reaction that Muslims are to blame for anyone dying, taking any responsibility that Israel may have in preventing violence and killing away.

It takes little effort to see how misleading such a headline is.

In 2015, it was reported by the International Institute For Strategic Studies that $18.6 billion was spent on the Israeli military, including US foreign military assistance. The United States and Germany are also suppliers of the IDF, meaning the latest intelligence, technology and arms will be at their disposal. One of the most heavily backed defence forces in the world should be better equipped at dealing with stones and burning tyres, and should not have to resort to killing.

Once these additional details of the ‘Day of Rage’ are added in, it’s difficult to overlook the failings of the UK media to report on the events fairly. Peter Beaumont, the Jerusalem correspondent for the Guardian, reports on the Israeli airstrike that killed two in Gaza. Beaumont accurately reports that this airstrike was a response to rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas. However, he fails to comment on how there were no Israeli casualties. This is largely due to the Israeli military’s capacity to effectively intercept rockets fired at them, which it dutifully did for one of at least two projectiles.Palestinians do not have this luxury, meaning any exchange of attacks will inevitably lead to more Palestinian deaths than Israeli. We need to ask whether an Israeli retaliatory strike is truly fair given the defensive capabilities of each side.

Beaumont also fails to comment on the fact that twenty-five civilians were wounded by Israel’s military in the counter-airstrike. The Palestinian Health Ministry, though, did report on this and revealed that of the twenty-five wounded, six of them were children. In addition, the location of these wounded civilians was not on military sites, as the Israeli military has reported, but on a building near the military site according to witnesses. Questions, thus, must be asked whether this airstrike carried out by the Israeli military was deliberately targeting civilians. If so, then the Israeli military has committed a war crime and should be at least reprimanded by the UN Security Council.

Once additional details and facts are filled in, the UK media can be largely seen as guilty for failing to accurately represent the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Accurate reporting of the events is vitally important so that serious questions can be asked and investigated, like whether or not the Israeli military’s response is proportionate, or whether or not war crimes are being committed.

Libya – The conflict we forgot about

The battle between whether or not Europe’s borders should be open for immigrants has been a continuous war between political parties. Over the years governments have been limiting the numbers of immigrants allowed to cross the boarder of European countries such as Italy. However, the people of these war torn countries are desperate, and therefore forced to rely on people smugglers who charge an extortionate fee for the service. In 2015, a statement was made by Italian leaders stating that they would allow a more even distribution of refugees to pass the border more safely without resorting to illegal people smuggling, since then we have seen no major change.

In London’s most recent news the topics have been centered around the prolific slave trade in Libya. Many of these people were caught trying to escape the country and start a new life in Europe, but as it becomes increasingly difficult to leave, those without the means to pay for safe passage, end up stuck in a vicious trade cycle.

Video footage of Libyan citizens being auctioned for less than $400 were released Mid November by CNN. The footage brought to light the conditions and concerns for migrants who try, but fail, to escape the borders.The EU have forged a plan to launch “concrete military action” with additional humanitarian aid to maintain stability of the region. However, it is difficult to forget that just 2 years earlier the EU were propping up detention centers with funding and training to ensure desperate migrants did not leave the war torn region.

Libya is the perfect destination for these ‘slave masters’ because of the perpetual flow of Africans trying to travel to Europe by sea. It has been estimated that more than 1000 people try to cross the Mediterranean Sea every few months. To try and mitigate the crisis, the Rwandan government issued a press release headlined “Rwanda’s door is open for migrants held captive in Libya”. Although. Rwanda has offered a very generous offer, it is quite clear to say that it may not be the best option, below are three reasons why.

Despite the abundance of natural resources, Rwanda is currently over populated with a population of 11.2million – with 57% of people living below the poverty line.The most immediate argument AGAINST sending the Libyan citizens to Rwanda is the fact that the people within Rwanda are already physically and mentally abused. Like many African countries today, corruption continues to tear the country apart.Government Protection and healthcare is scarce, which only serves to exacerbate the devastating impact of poverty and HIV/Aids on Rwanda’s development.

Many disagree with the idea of migrating the victims of the slave trade to a country that is already overwhelmed by its native population, while others have applauded the country for taking immediate action to help those in desperate need. But one issue about the whole tragedy is the lack of coverage by economically stable nations. This is what provoked the people of London to create a petition in order for the UK government to have a more active role in securing the stability of the region. It seems the conflict is beginning to get more attention on the global stage with celebrities such as Giggs getting involved on twitter by sharing a petition started by Constance Mbassi which led to a further 10,000 signatures.

Even though our governments have been slow to respond, people with prominent platforms are helping keep the story relevant, and hopefully this will lead to an organised effort to stop the suffering of the Libyan people.

We must move away from Neo-Liberal economic illiteracy

Neoliberalism has been at the forefront of mainstream economics since its popular use by Augusto Pinochet, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Its ultimate aim was to undermine the use of Keynesian policies; moving away from a planned economy approach of the “Golden Age of Capitalism” to a new open economy with more private corporations and a stress on individualism. Throughout the thirty years of its use there have been countless theoretical and data inconsistencies. We find economic think tanks such as the OBR continuously moving back their predicated date to when the UK government will “plug” the government deficit (it was supposed to be plugged by 2015). Wall Street has had almost universal failure to actually predict market factors and Mark Carney from the Bank of England has himself stated “we are probably not going to forecast the next financial crisis”. This inconsistent data and theory is ultimately down to how vague the language is used by neoliberals. Some neoliberals, such as Blairites within the Labour Party, are economically liberal. This is in stark contrast to neoliberals on the right who argue for a laissez-faire/free market economy, which is ultimately doomed to fail in nature.

Yet despite these inconsistencies its use is still mainstream. Whilst the language is vague neoliberals do have a good use of metaphors which, to most people who don’t study economics, makes sense. Being told that a government budget is like a household budget and that there is no “magic money tree” seems easy to believe. This argument is then used to follow up with the idea that we need to plug the deficits, because deficits are bad. The final step for neoliberals is to argue for a tax cut so everyone can spend their increased disposable income into the economy. Neoliberals have simplified economics for most people to understand.

But here’s the catch. The argument they propose is nonsense. There is a magic money tree. Deficits aren’t necessarily bad. Tax cuts don’t work for everyone and in fact normally hurt the poorest.

Let’s touch on the idea that government budgets are like household budgets. It would be nice to think that Westminster is symbolically a big household trying to look out for everyone. Normal households have massive financial constraints; we heavily rely on one or two incomes within a household and need to spend just to get into next month. Normal households can possibly save, but that usually occurs with only higher earners since those at the bottom end are spending every penny to feed themselves and others at home. In 1983 Margaret Thatcher made a similar point in her party conference speech, arguing:
“The state has no source of money, other than the money people earn themselves. If the state wishes to spend more it can only do so by borrowing your savings, or by taxing you more. And it’s no good thinking that someone else will pay. That someone else is you.”

Thatcher was unsurprisingly wrong with this point. Unlike normal household budgets the government can find a way to spend more without borrowing, that being the very currency states issue. I myself can’t print my own money at home (that would be illegal counterfeit with me quickly going to jail), but governments can legally do this. If the UK government issues the pound then how can they run out of them? Simple, they can’t. As modern monetary theory works upon, any state that issues its own currency can never run out of money. Yet despite this we see many on the left play along with neoliberal language. Politicians such as Labour MP Liz Kendell argued that former chancellor, George Osborne, had merits in his budget. This is incredibly damaging to the image the left want to create. As the SNP have successfully done in Scotland, Labour must universally move away from the economic illiteracy of the Conservative Party and their use of language. And it’s on the right path with the leadership election of Jeremy Corbyn, but it must do so as a party to start arguing that there is in fact a magic money tree. By issuing our own currency and not borrowing from private banks this also has the added benefit of not paying anything on interest. And we use tax as a tool to remove money from circulation to control inflation.

The second point is the idea that a state must plug the government deficit. The deficit is the difference between how much a government spends into the economy in a given year and how much it gets back from taxation. So for example if a government spends, say, £100 million into the economy but only collects £80 million from taxation then our government deficit is £20 million. Neoliberals will screech to no end at how horrible such a scenario is and will label this as uncontrolled spending. Once again this language makes sense and is easy to simplify for others. In parliament any legislation proposals that could increase the deficit are quickly shot down with not much further analyse. But there is another side to the story which political commentators and politicians don’t tend to comment on as much. A government deficit of £20 million means that there is a public surplus of £20 million for the rest of society. So really a government deficit adds pound assets to other parts of the economy. What we must instead ask ourselves is if the deficit we currently have is serving a purpose that does good for the broader public.

So yes, it’s okay to have a deficit. What we want to achieve is an equitable balance in the distribution of a surplus for the majority.

The third argument employed by neoliberals is tax cuts. They argue that by cutting taxes for everyone (although you find most right wing parties tend to cut it far more favourably for the rich and maybe do the opposite for the poorest) that this will allow households to increase their disposable income and spend it into the economy. And once again it does make sense at face value. But this goes against the understanding of how people actually spend their disposable income. If you are amongst the poorest in society then in reality you are likely to face a tax rise whereas the benefits of a tax cut will actually go to the top 10%. If you’re in the top 1% then these tax cuts almost guarantee you a lifetime of partying with your rich mates.

When studying economics we use a term called the “marginal propensity to consume” (MPC) which helps us understand how much every extra pound we receive will be spent into the economy. If you’re a fan of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime then ask yourself this: what is Jeremy Clarkson going to spend his increased earnings on? Or what about some of the wealthiest footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo? If they gain, say, around £500 million from these tax cuts then how will they spend it? Will they decide to buy a dozen more cars from the ones they already have? Will they take their families of more vacations throughout the year? Maybe around 1% of the 1% may do this, but the vast majority of them won’t.
The wealthiest have already consumed what they’ve always wanted. By increasing their disposable income they won’t actually add anymore new spending into the economy. We won’t see new spending help create jobs for those who seek work. What this tax cut really allows is for the wealthiest to buy shares, stocks and real estate. These investments with their new disposable income benefits the top 10%. What we instead find is that such investments actually driving up prices and lock out millions of consumers. Whilst real estate markets could go up in wealth what we won’t see is a large increase in growth and employment.

The vast majority of the time since the 80s the UK has had a deficit. Whilst neoliberals have obsessed in trying to close it they have only allowed inequality and poverty to increase. It was only a few weeks ago we heard that research from the British Medical Journal found that austerity has killed over 120,000 people in England and Wales alone, despite the slow decrease in the deficit. We must move away from the neoliberal argument and instead form a new debate. The question no longer is about how we close the deficit but instead how we use it.

We must form new language and metaphors to counter the illiteracy of the right. What we need more than ever is a new economic approach for shared prosperity.

A modern revolution: How Zimbabwe got rid of Mugabe

November was a time of celebration for the citizens of Zimbabwe as the brutal Mugabe era finally ended.

Mugabe’s failing regime caused continuous devastation; a lack of healthcare, minimum funding for the education system and underpaid doctors. This forced the people of Zimbabwe to strike and march for his resignation.

The former president was highly respected at the beginning of his 37 years in power, because of his victory against the segregationist rule in the 70’s, and winning the country’s first independent election in the 80’s. Several people have blamed his wife Grace Mugabe, also known as Gucci Grace for his downfall. The former first lady, who had hopes of succeeding her husband, had only one qualification for the role, being Mugabe’s wife. The news that Robert Mugabe had fired his powerful vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, which cleared the way for his wife, sparked immediate attention and her ambitions were impeded when the army seized power. The army insisted it was not a coup, though, it was quite clear, it was.

A week later former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old liberation war veteran and stalwart of the ruling Zanu-PF party, nicknamed the crocodile has been appointed.

In his first speech on Friday at a graduation ceremony west of the capital, Harare, he announced his ambition to modernise Zimbabwe and fix the country’s failing economy. He said: “the world has grown fiercely competitive and Zimbabwe must learn to deliver finished products to markets and extract the most profit from the country’s natural resources.”
Despite his gravitas many people do not believe that he is the right man for the job. He has a fierce reputation, as Mugabe’s enforcer, he was also directly involved in the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s, in which 20,000 killings occurred. Whilst many hold his past mistakes against him, others believe he will undoubtedly be a less awful president but, he is hardly considered a democrat.

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has named his cabinet, appointing senior military figures to high-profile positions.

As read on Times Live – Africa a major outcry surfaced from the youth and adult citizens of Zimbabwe stating that Mr Emmerson had made poor decisions on the cabinet positions, the education minister who was rewarded a cabinet due to his participation in the removal of Robert Mugabe has been dropped earlier today [2nd December 2017] due to the continuous outcries made by the people, in addition to this removal Mnangagwa has also taken action to remove primary and higher education minister Lazaraus Dokora after a number of people complained about his poor performance and undermining Zimbabwe’s education system.

Despite these changes there is no doubt that copious numbers of Zimbabweans are disappointed with the line up as they hoped that things would change and drift away from the Mugabe era.