By Camille Shen
In response to last year’s first-ever Women’s March, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote?” This year, marchers have answered the President’s inquiry with a brand-new rallying cry: “Grab ‘em by the Midterms”. The Women’s March has transformed from an angry and impassioned mobilization protesting Trump to a movement urging women to vote Democrats into office as a means to manifest change. This new objective has made it clear that women across America are ready to make political and social advancements happen.
This year’s march, with a total of between 1.6 and 2.5 million participants, was far from the previous year’s attendance of over 4 million. However, what the march lacked in numbers it made up for in spirit. In the midst of the #MeToo movement and government shutdown, the tumultuous political climate gave many a reason to march– spurring a special ferocity in the protests for sexual violence and immigrant rights. The pink cat-ear hat worn by thousands of marchers, a reference to Trump’s comment claiming he could grab any woman’s genitals without her consent, has become an emblem of both the movement and the persistent battle against sexual harassment. With the recent exposures of powerful men for their sexual abuse of women, #MeToo has generated additional momentum to the march as celebrities and ordinary citizens alike come together to express their solidarity with victims. In Las Vegas, the “Power to the Polls” rally made the fight for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into a point of unity; activists proclaimed that the government shutdown should not end until dreamers, or immigrants brought to the United States as children, earned legal status.
Yet, immigration and sexual violence have also become areas of contention. As the movement becomes synonymous with progressive issues, it has created a division between the far left and those who dislike Trump, but do not agree along the lines of abortion, healthcare, and other policies. Furthermore, the overall pivot to voter registration and participation has caused the march to lose support. Organizers of this year’s march had put particular emphasis on “Power to the Polls” in an effort to dismantle Republican control of Congress through mass voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections. However, this shift in focus prompted many to sit out on this year’s march, as they felt it had become too fixated on electing Democrats at the expense of other issues, especially those concerning people of color. Many believe the march caters mostly toward middle class, straight, white women, creating an exclusive basis on which to fight oppression, much of which affects and requires the support of the very minorities it has alienated.
Despite disagreements on agenda and inclusivity, a once-rare popular mobilization against a sitting President looks to be a regular occurrence for the next two years of Trump’s term. After the shock of Trump’s election in 2016, the winning battle for women’s rights had suddenly been threatened with the new administration, inciting fury and passion that characterized the first march– and impacts of the second have already manifested. A record number of Democratic women have announced their intent to run for office, indicating growing momentum for the Democrats in the status quo. This growth could impact not only midterms, but the 2020 election as well, if supporters of the march continue to advocate for voter awareness and succeed in electing progressives into office.
While the Women’s March has a ways to go in terms of truly uniting liberal females– in all its diversity– the support for DACA and #MeToo have been a step in the right direction for inclusivity and solidarity, even at the expense of some moderate voters. Simply protesting these issues, however, is meaningless without action. By recognizing the first step to change as targeting national voter registration to elect progressive women into office, the Women’s March has established that a new era of female politics is on the horizon. Thus, it looks like 2018 will give Donald Trump the voter engagement he asked for, though perhaps not how he pictured it when the wrote the tweet. The call to voter action indicates that even as women’s rights still have a long way to go, the fight for gender equality persists, with November midterms as just the beginning.
By Erin Flaherty
As technology has developed, the state of the world’s economy has changed along with it. From the new opportunities it's opened up for businesses to run more efficiently, to the augmenting concerns of artificial intelligence taking the jobs of workers, technology has unarguably transformed labor economics worldwide.
The World Economic Forum, held yearly in Davos, Switzerland, has always had the same slogan, “committed to improving the state of the world”. However, it has had an ever changing agenda as issues surrounding the economy have been heavily affected by advancing technology. The forum has been held for over four decades and brings together world leaders of different economic views under various panels and discussion groups.
The forum’s three main categories of focus are global security issues, global consensus on issues, and mastering the fourth industrial revolution, which the organization that runs the forum claims is happening over the next decade, as technology is reshaping the economy as we know it. The organization says that “potential for positive global change exists at the intersection of these three challenges, and that progress will come through bringing together leaders from all walks of life to forge common understanding, purpose and, where appropriate, action”
The main discussions at this year’s event certainly reflect these focuses. Talk of rising cyber security issues dominated the conversation on global security. This year, the Managing Director of the forum announced the plan for a Global Centre for Cybersecurity in Genova, Switzerland. Most countries currently have private organizations to deal with the rising number of cyber attacks.
”The new Global Centre for Cybersecurity is designed as the first platform to tackle today’s cyber-risks in a truly global manner,” Alois Zwinggi, current Managing Director at the World Economic Forum and future head of the Global Centre for Cybersecurity stated.
The conversations on global issues and the fourth industrial revolution merged as new technology and its resulting consequences were discussed. One of the main concerns put forth was the inevitable possibility of artificial intelligence and automation replacing jobs. At a panel called “Putting Jobs Out of Work”, sociologist Arli Russell Hochschild stated that “I think we’re facing a crisis we aren’t talking about … we need continuing education [in response to automation]”.
Another issue is the implication of these new innovations. An initiative called “Closing the Skills Gap 2020” has been launched in order to encourage businesses to train their workers with the skills required for usage of artificial intelligence. 26 companies have already partnered with this plan and by 2020 nearly 8.1 million workers will be trained with new skills for the industrial changes to come.
This year’s forum has resulted in many plans of action priorly mentioned such as centers to focus on specific issues and technology training programs, but the main and biggest project announced is for the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The goal behind this center is to enhance the benefits of upcoming technology while controlling and minimizing the consequences. Huge companies and associations such as Microsoft and the American Heart Association have partnered with the center.
Plans like this distinguish this year’s forum in Davos from all previous ones. They show the initiative that the World Economic Forum is taking through announcing new programs and projects. If these centers are carried through and announced programs are implemented, they would be major steps towards the forum’s vision and commitment to improving the state of the world in the face of rising issues.
An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos
By Kishan Gandham
As a culture, we thrive off listening to others’ success stories. It’s no surprise that a nation founded on the tenets of idealism and independence finds solace in the promises and security of the American Dream: that anyone in this country can become something.
“Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. This is how he gives away his billions.”
“Warren Buffett is worth $87 billion—here are 24 facts about him.”
“Jeff Bezos net worth: Amazon CEO now the richest person in history.”
The gold-plated narratives of these men never seem far away from headline news. However, sometimes, against our better judgment, we miss the headlines that matter.
“Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett are wealthier than the poorest half of the US.” Despite how much we believe in the American Dream, it’s time to wake up.
Income inequality and poverty only begin to describe the myriad of problems affecting thousands of people in this country—which is why it is so important to do something now. When Jeff Bezos announced that he was looking for a new location for the next Amazon Headquarters, a place set to employ 50,000 people, nothing short of a bidding war commenced, with cities offering donations, money, and gifts in order to convince the richest man in America to move his warehouse to their streets and grab a piece of the resulting profits. However, it's not New York, Sacramento, or even Newark that deserve those jobs. People from any of those cities will agree that it’s places like Keyser, Huntington, or Boone County, West Virginia who need these jobs, places that have seen staggering drops in coal jobs for the past decade. Move the new Amazon HQ here, Mr. Bezos. The New York Times notes in September of 2017, that with the shift towards natural gas and the increase in green energy projects, coal mining in places like Wyoming or West Virginia has become nothing more than a pipe dream. But the politics of coal mining jobs in America’s heartland affect far more than we think it does. Consumers make the world go round. Yet, when people lose their jobs they don’t have the wages to actually go out and spend—neither unemployment insurance nor welfare can cover spending that would produce an economic impact. Why’s that bad? Keynesian economics calls it the paradox of thrift—essentially the spending that one household pours in the economic system is the income that another household brings in, and so on and so forth. When coal workers lose their jobs, and the mines close for the last time, opportunity closes too. When people don’t spend and hold onto whatever money they have, local businesses surrounding the area of these mines don’t see enough revenue or profit to keep all of their employees. In turn, people working in local industries who have their jobs could actually lose them. The cycle continues, as jobs are lost, more jobs are lost, and more jobs are lost until coal towns turn into shantytowns. Truth be told, the loss of coal jobs is indicative of a move towards the future, where automation has become a new norm. However, that’s exactly why big corporations need to move to areas like these: corporate giants like Amazon, Google, or Facebook could have the potential to change the norm themselves.
Here’s how we fix it. Mr. Bezos, I know you’ve created a short list of 20 different cities that you plan to move your headquarters to, but throw out your list. Consider, instead, the benefits of bringing back jobs to sectors and regions that currently have none, of bringing jobs to West Virginia. Here’s how this works—first, it brings in thousands of high-earning, highly skilled workers to this area that can spend. The fact that these individuals pull more than $100,000 at the least, means that the local diners and grocery stores will finally see customers filling their dust-caked aisles and tables. Furthermore, with the added rise in populations, other businesses must follow. Places in West Virginia and Wyoming oft lack large populations which means that when 50,000 new jobs and people show up in these small towns, local laundromats, dry cleaners, plumbing services, car mechanics, convenience stores, movie theaters—you name it, have to be there to provide services for all these added people. That’s job creation or job immigration. For people who work in the coal mines who are laid off, living on welfare, these low-skill, high-need jobs are perfect especially because they do not necessarily require much educational training. This fills the gap in jobs that exists in the status quo. But, regardless of whether Amazon is employing these West Virginia natives, the new businesses that are created can. Nevertheless, when people have more money to spend, this, in turn, bolsters local businesses and expands them, encouraging them to start higher more people and potentially, increase wages throughout. If people in these small economies began to spend more, if more people move into these areas, those are more people paying SALT taxes and federal income taxes in these poor states. This in turn not only gives state governments more money to attempt public works programs or to get pork barrel projects to again, stimulate jobs, but also gives the federal government revenue when more and more people began to get employed rather than lose their jobs.
So Mr. Bezos, whether you decide to listen is your prerogative, but if not you, convince your contemporaries to do something. I don’t suspect that your net worth will fall anytime soon, but the disparity of your wealth compared to a poor America will only continue to grow.
Mr. Bezos, you, unlike the government, unlike the state, have the ability to do something important and impact thousands of lives. In your keynote address to Princeton University, you addressed the graduating class with advice that you once received yourself: “It’s harder to be kind than clever.” So please Mr. Bezos, choose kindness.
Just like we’ve done in the past, success stories will continue to make headline news. Except for once, I think it’s time we stop listening to the headlines and starting thinking of the people starving in the breadlines.
By Robert Johnson
On February 4th, 2018, Nicos Anastasiades was elected President to a Cyprus riddled with economic trouble, international conflict, and an ever-increasing divide within politics. Winning with just 56% of the electoral vote, Anastasiades must now run the country through the growing issues facing the small country off the coast of Turkey. Cyprus sits at a crossroad, with questions developing about the road to take with competing nations, conflicting political parties, and an economic crisis that has plagued the nation for a decade; the fate of the nation now lies on the ability for the incumbent president to keep his promise—to take “steady steps ahead” with the future of the nation.
The ethnically Greek Cyprus originated in modern history as a colony within the British empire, first established in 1878. The nation would remain in the dominion of the British until 1960, when they forced the imperial power to negotiate with them for independence. However, the native Cypriots developed resentment toward one another quickly after gaining their freedom; an ethnic divide between the large Greek majority and a Turkish minority living on the island would grow rapidly after they achieved sovereignty. The two groups came to a head in 1964, leaving 500 dead [UNFI] in hostilities across the nation before the British could step in and set up a United Nations peacekeeping force, which formed the line dividing the land into two distinct ethnic boundaries that remain in the country to this day.
A lasting ethnic dispute is not the only problem Cyprus faces today. The U.S. subprime mortgage disaster of 2008 rippled across the globe, extrapolating to countries within the EU; Cyprus, one of the many casualties, fell into an economic crisis, reaching a 16.8% unemployment rate in 2013.
Nico Anastasiades was first elected into office in 2013. A member of the right wing Democratic Rally party, he was at the forefront of the economic collapse of Cyprus and has seen each failure in negotiations between the conflicting ethnic sides of the country. While he’s been able to assist in the rebuilding of the economy of Cyprus, with unemployment falling 5% in the past five years, it was at the expense of his citizens as he issued a bank payout similar to Greece at the expense of the taxpayers and account holders.
With the issues riddling the country and unpopular actions from the incumbent president, it is unsurprising that the recent election has been divisive. The first stage of the two party election system ended without any of the nine different candidates getting close to a majority of the votes; the top two candidates, Nicos Anastasiades and Stavros Malas, both generally resented by the public, were left to move onto the second stage of voting.
The final runoff of the election shaped up to remain the most divided Cypriot election in recent history. Losing parties refused to support either of the two competing candidates. Many Cypriots even rejected voting outright, with 75% of first time voters not even registering to cast their ballots, mainly due to indifference and a lack of trust in the so far ineffective government.
Nicos Anastasiades won the nomination for President of Cyprus, but one has to ask what impact the enduring president will have. Was a shift in the status quo necessary to bring change to an unevolving political system? Will the country be able to overcome the numerous challenges building up on its doorstep with the Democratic Rally president at its head? Cypriot citizens and the outside world can only wait to see what changes Anastasiades will bring, taking “Steady steps Ahead” with Cyprus.
By Caroline Sha
“You have your own life at stake. Every additional year of Putin staying in power is one more year of decay,” declares a modestly-dressed blue-eyed man in a YouTube video. This is Alexei Navalny, a man often considered to be Vladimir Putin’s greatest threat. What he is encouraging in the video is a widespread protest against the Russian election scheduled to take place the next Sunday. And it clearly worked. Despite the freezing temperatures, on January 28, 1,500 protesters lined Moscow’s Manezh Square in solidarity with his cause, chanting “Down with the Czar!”
The overall goal of these protests was to express dissent over Navalny’s barring from the election. In December 2017, the Russian government announced that Navalny would not be able to run as a presidential candidate in view of a fraud conviction he received earlier that year. This move was criticized by Navalny’s supporters as a play to stop Putin’s most potent competitor from directly challenging him. That is, if Navanly was to run, it would upset the carefully planned landslide victory that Putin has planned for himself.
Putin is set to run against seven opponents who many critics say are planted by the Russian government to create a semblance of democracy. Because of Putin’s tight control over his country, there is an extremely low chance that any of them would actually win. Considering the government monopoly on Russian television, hardly any of them would be able to transmit their messages. There are no presidential debates and no significant rallies. Now that Navalny is out from the race, Putin’s biggest concern is rather the expected low voter turnout. To him, this election is about showing the world that Russia wants him and broadcasting his tight control over the nation. In fact, Putin is so unworried about his chance of winning that he is trying to put on a fair election. In 2012, he was accused of rigging the vote for his presidency and it seems like this year, he doesn't want a repeat of that disaster. There is no chance that anyone can take the reins of the Kremlin from him.
However, perhaps in the future, Alexei Navalny would be able to bring the liberal shakeup that some in Russia have desperately been waiting for. Charismatic and tech-savvy, he embodies the idea of a modern statesman. Navalny often employs memes in his videos and has a strong social media presence. A scroll through his Instagram reveals a family man with a penchant for taking selfies. To the Russian youths, Navalny is relatable and in touch with modern culture. Contrast this with the traditionalist Putin whose official press releases show him as macho man riding horses shirtless and going in submarines. The culture clash between these two men is glaring.
But Navalny did not rise to popularity just through selfies. Throughout his career as a blogger, he has criticized Putin without fail. As head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, he and his colleagues spend much of their time investigating corruption among high officials in Russia. From spokesmen to oligarchs, there is perhaps no one from whom Navalny cowers from criticizing. Despite the multitude of Putin dissenters who have been killed in the past for speaking up, Navalny constantly tackles issues like the expensive homes of government officials who, according to public records, are not making nearly enough to buy them. As a result, he has become a sort of hero among Russia’s grassroot movements, positioned against the oligarchy and bribery that permeates the entirety of Kremlin. From the 2011 protests to now, he has been through it all and his popularity is remained especially high for an opposition leader.
But that doesn’t mean Navalny’s road has been an easy one. Even though he has been fortunate enough as not to be killed, he still has had to face the law. In October of 2017, he was sentenced to twenty days in jail for calling his supporters to an unsanctioned protest. Hours before the January 28th, his headquarters was broken into by the police during a live video broadcast on suspicions of a bomb threat. And during the protests themselves, he was arrested once again and later freed, ordered to appear in court at a later date. The law is not on Navalny's side, yet he still wades on.
However, Navalny isn’t exactly a liberal saint. His previous actions seem to betray some nationalist views or at least a willingness to appeal to the far-right patriots in Russia. In August 2008, Navalny supported Russia’s war with Georgia while calling for all Georgians to be expelled from the Russian Federation. Though he apologized for the derogatory names he called the Georgians in his statements, he has not recanted the views themselves and has even said he still supports the same position. Moreover, he has also appeared at the Russian March whose purpose is to bring together all kinds of nationalist Russians, casting doubts on how progressive he really is. Furthermore, he has supported the Stop Feeding the Caucasus movement, which calls upon the Russian government to stop giving money to the governments in the Caucasus region. But racist or not, the strong left-leaning backing he owns has not yet faltered from him greatly.
What do these protests spell for Russia? For the near future, nothing much. Much of Russia still has some confidence in Putin and it is unlikely that anything new will happen during the election. Putin will secure the victory, though perhaps not by the margins he desires. There is a long and cold path for Navalny supporters and for Navanly himself. Will Russia reinvent itself in the 21st century or even the next one? Perhaps, but until then, only the tides of time will know what the future holds for the land of snow.