Archive for February, 2020

Is it worth it?

After a chaotic year the residents of Hong Kong are finally hearing some good news. The economy of the city has been battered by political unrest and international economic turmoil, and can only look forward to a prolonged fight against the Coronavirus. The government of Hong Kong has decided to give each of it’s citizens over 18 years old $10,000 HK or $1,280 USD in hopes of pushing the economy back up to speed.

It’s a novel idea that reminds me of the Bush tax cuts or a UBI system pushed by Andrew Yang. But in this case I don’t think that this action will have much of a positive effect on the economy of Hong Kong. The issues that face Hong Kong are not solved. The coronavirus is still going to hurt the economy and after that the  political unrest will resume. On top of that the economy of Hong Kong isn’t  powered by domestic consumption like the US, it’s based off of international trade and finance, so even with out the issues this stimulus will have little effect.

On top of that large sections of the population that live in Hong Kong are not citizens of Hong Kong. There are large sections of Europeans living there temperately and large populations of undocumented filipinos who work as nannies and house keepers who won’t be receiving money.

I have a sneaking superstition that this money won’t have a long term effect on the economy of Hong Kong.

 

Jakob Frederick Harteis

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51640456

Outbreaks in the DRC

On top of the rampant violence that is taking place in the Great Lakes region, of the DRC, as a result of the insurgent activities there. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is also facing a Measles and Ebola outbreak. The Measles situation “has been improving in the past two months. Large numbers of children have been vaccinated and more supplemental immunization activities are being planned.” That being said “given the large scale of the outbreak, the ongoing response is facing several operational challenges, including inadequate logistics and funding. There is a need for the national authorities and partners to scale up and sustain the ongoing response to the measles outbreak to continue with the positive trend being observed.” However, the Ebola outbreak situation is a lot more dire. The Ebola outbreak is occurring in the Great Lakes region of the DRC. Whereas the Measles outbreak is nationwide. As stated above, the Great Lakes region is the most unstable region of the country for a multitude of reasons. The problems facing treatment options in the region are only compounding with the region’s other issues. Thus making it a powder keg for a pandemic that could extend well past the DRC’s borders.

https://www.who.int/csr/don/23-january-2020-ebola-drc/en/

https://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/who-afro-outbreaks-and-other-emergencies-week-8-17-23-february-2020

U.S Intelligence Community Warns that Russia is Trying to Interfere in the Coming Election

According to the U.S intelligence community, Russia is trying to interfere in our upcoming election on behalf of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Sanders has made every attempt to dissociate from the Russian state, referring to Vladimir Putin as an “autocratic thug” and vowing that he would  stand against any attempt to influence our vote. Trump, on the other hand, has denied all allegations and has claimed that the entire story is a partisan hoax.

By all accounts, this seems to be an effort on behalf of the Russian state to disrupt our elections. Supporting both candidates sows confusion and misinformation, a similar tactic that was employed in 2016. Trump and Sanders seem to have differing reactions to the news, with Sanders directly opposing the Russian state and President Trump denying any and all allegations. Such a divided response reflects poorly on our democracy, and sends a mixed message to our allies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/21/us/politics/bernie-sanders-russia.html

Mitch

Russian nuclear attack submarine

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a31081804/russia-laika-nuclear-attack-submarine/

Russia has released plans to create a new class of nuclear attack submarines, the Laika. This class will replace the classes of Victor and Akula and is only the 3rd new class of submarine since the Cold War. It is said to be much larger than the American submarine class, Virginia (displacing 2,640 more tons than its American counterpart), and have a dive capacity of nearly 1,700 feet. It is unclear how long this project will take, but it is expected that about a dozen subs are scheduled to be built. Russia’s continued militarization and strive to match western military technology is obviously concerning. Perhaps this is merely their attempt at deterrence and they are simply dedicated fans of realism. Or, perhaps this is yet another sign of Putin’s expansion plan. Either way, this is not easing tension with the West and the US, France, and Britain will not be pleased to have a looming threat of Russian submarines which can destroy their own subs as well as US aircraft carriers.

  • Patsy D.

Pakistan on “gray list” for terrorism financing

The Financial Action Task Force has voted to allow a four month extension to Pakistan, in order to address the inadequate handling of terrorism financing in the country. Pakistan has had a history of allowing groups to raise funds within the country to support terror groups, and being on the blacklist by this watchdog organization would have had severe economic and political repercussions. The only other two countries on the blacklist are Iran and North Korea. This issue deals with the delicate balance that Pakistan is in, where it is a nuclear power state, it does not really have any leverage within its region. The state’s economic security in terms of investors and businesses having factories within the nation would be questioned if the nation was on the blacklist. The United States should not do anything in this situation but it should remain cautious because this is a nation that has had ties to terror groups in the past, and its major ally in this vote was China who could be a threat to the United States or our ally India. 

 

-Olivia

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fatf-pakistan/global-watchdog-keeps-pakistan-on-terrorism-financing-gray-list-idUSKBN20F1ZF

Iran is Spreading Coronavirus

Iran has been struggling to contain the outbreak of coronavirus within the Qom region in Iran. It is emerging as the second focal point for the virus after China. It is spreading the virus to many ill equipped countries within the Middle East. Experts even say that the Middle east is the perfect place to create a pandemic due to the constant circulation of of Muslim pilgrims and itinerant workers. Iraq has already shut it borders to Iran but because both countries are so close to each other it is difficult to monitor everyone that goes in and out of the countries. The spread of this virus in the Middle East is not good. This can lead to even more people in the United States and other countries to become infected and the scare of the virus can come back as it did when it initially broke it. If the virus does begin to spread to more of the Middle East in high numbers, the Trump administration should limit travel there so more cases do not erupt in the United States. Other countries should also do this to prevent the spread of the disease even further. -Kevin Bach

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/24/world/middleeast/coronavirus-iran.html

London Woman Pleads Guilty to ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Plot

Last Friday, February 21st, Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, from Hayes, west London, pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel. Shaikh was “was born Michelle Ramsden to a non-Muslim family and converted to Islam in 2007. She began to follow extremists online and by 2015 had become radicalized, the prosecution alleged.” (Media) In an encrypted message to an undercover officer, Shaikh said she wanted to “target a church or somewhere ‘historical’ on a day like Christmas or Easter to ‘kill more.’” Later, she met with an explosives agent, who turned out to be an undercover agent. In October 2019, police forced their way into her home and arrested her (Media).

The Trump Administration should pressure the UK to be harder on terror threats and put harsher punishments in place for ISIS supporters. While UK counterterrorism efforts have been successful in stopping some attacks like this one, more needs to be done by the UK government to combat ISIS-inspired terrorists. The Trump Administration should also make a statement denouncing ISIS members and supporters.

Media, PA. “Isis Supporter Admits Plot to Bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and a Hotel.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 21 Feb. 2020, www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/21/isis-supporter-admits-plot-bomb-st-pauls-cathedral-hotel-safiyya-amira-shaikh.

Post by Katherine

What will Turkey do now?

Turkish President Erdogan has made a fateful error. After assuring President Trump that Turkish forces would contain ISIS forces should the US pull out of Syria, he attacked more US-allied Kurdish forces than ISIS forces. Now, with Russian-backed Syrian forces moving to reclaim lost territory, Turkish forces are in the crosshairs of Syrian, ISIS, and Kurdish forces. Should Syrian forces attack Turkish forces within Syria, NATO has no requirement to reinforce. Erdogan’s lies to the US assures that no help will come his way outside of Turkey’s borders. His request for Patriot missiles will also fall on deaf ears. Past flows of refugees to Europe have changed European minds about accepting anymore, so Erdogan can no longer threaten to send them north. How will Erdogan save face to the Turkish people should his forces be forced to withdraw from Syria? His only option is to bow to demands from NATO and realign with the alliance. Maintaining and protecting US military bases within Turkey would be a good start.

Jim

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-us/will-us-and-nato-deliver-patriot-missiles-turkey

To Extradite or Not to Extradite?

 

The Guatemalan Attorney General María Consuelo Porras had requested the extradition of Thelma Aldana. Aldana, predecessor to Consuelo Porras, fled Guatemala for the US last spring after the DEA discovered an assassination plot against her. Aldana is well known for her anti-corruption work and claims allegations against her (corruption during her time as Attorney General) are false (Latin America Daily Breifing). Corruption is a rampant problem for the region, but individuals like Aldana must be protected from the systems they wish to reform. I find it unlikely that the allegations are entirely legitimate, but even if they are Aldana should not be extradited until the US can confirm that the allegations are not political and Aldana’s safety in returning to Guatemala can be ensured. Giving in to Guatemala’s demands would set a dangerous precedent that risks discouraging future officials from taking a stand against corruption. The US must be explicit in its allegiance to politicians and activists like Aldana.

Dillon S.

Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups working together in West Africa

Groups that are linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are working together (although at war in the Middle East) to take control of large territories within West Africa. US officials say that this is sparking fears that this is going to grow into a global crisis. Fighters seem to be coordinating attacks and taking agreed-upon areas in Sahel. Officials also say that these attacks are not random under a terrorist name, but calculated tasks attempting to get multiple terrorist groups under a common cause. They officially say that this could threaten the U.S. They are sophisticated and have moved deeper into places such as Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. In order to avoid scrutiny from the west, they have not officially claimed a caliphate.

This is a very concerning article that was released. We can keep sub-terrorist groups under control in different parts of the world, but it is going to get more difficult if they are starting to join up and have the same goals. As explained in the article, a united terrorist group threatens the security of many different powers and it is very worrying if they are taking major territories. Joining together allows them to have more money, an increase in man power, and support. I will keep watch on this specific subject since it is one that threatens US interest.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/al-qaeda-islamic-state-sahel-west-africa/2020/02/21/7218bc50-536f-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html

-Alexis B.

Return top