Week in Review
22 June 2018
ONE NEW, ONE OLD. BOTH FEARSOME. On July 1st, Mexicans will likely vote in the first populist leader since the 1980s. He promises to rid the country of corruption that has plagued Mexico for decades. Like most populists, this is a major gamble that could erode Mexico’s young democracy and further plunge it further into the global trade war, waged by President Trump. While across the Atlantic, Turkish President Erdogan is running for reelection after being in power for 15 years. After consolidating power last year, his economy is falling in around him, but he hopes his massive infrastructure projects will propel him to another term. Yet, his once fractured opposition has united against him and may cause a run-off vote. Nonetheless, both these candidates represent rising populism and authoritarianism around the world and they both are expected to win.
DRACONIAN POLICIES. President Trump has signed an executive order to end the separation of illegal immigrant parents and children. Regardless of the order and even it has loopholes, President Trump has demonstrated his vulgarity during his campaign can be transformed into ruthless and oppressive policies. Even the United Nations Human Rights Council renounced Trump’s policies, after which, the administration swiftly announced it will be vacating its seat on the council. To the Trump administration this was a political misstep, but to American democracy, it was yet another assault on its resilient foundation.
GETTING OVER THE WAR ON DRUGS. Prime Minister Trudeau recognized this week that nearly 95 years of prohibition had not worked for marijuana. The government’s passage of legislation to legalize the drug was deemed a win by many. While the government rushed through the legislation without providing clarification on specifics of law enforcement and how to ensure the black market is overcome, this provided momentum to a movement that seeks to treat drug use as a medical issue, not criminal. This government has also discussed the decriminalization of more potent drugs, this could be just the start of a larger movement.
A RECOUNT THREATENS THE INTEGRITY OF IRAQ’S FRAGILE DEMOCRACY. Iraq has been through 15 years of turmoil and the most recent election had made it seem as if the state was finally turning a corner for the better. After a devastating war and Islamic State takeover, elections took place two weeks ago. Yet, with an unexpected result and some voting irregularities, the sitting members of Parliament voted for a manual recount. This will delay formation of government and could threaten the entire election if not done properly. The state needs stability and upset electoral losers are threatening it.
A VICTORY FOR WOMEN IN POLITICS. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern delivered a baby girl yesterday, making her only the second leader of a country to give birth while in office. The first being Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, in 1990. Ardern will take six weeks of parental leave before her husband becomes the primary caregiver. Ardern has become a symbol for how politics should operate across the world. This empowers women to continue their lives in politics as they would outside of it. Despite the negative news in modern media, these stories provide proof that humanity is making progress.
PEACE TALKS IN SOUTH SUDAN GUARANTEE NOTHING. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia hosted South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and the leader of the opposition forces, Riek Machar. The two sides are currently embroiled in gruesome civil war that has created on of the worst humanitarian crises this century. However, this is the first time these men have met in years and their conversations were considered ‘cordial’. This may provide no tangible results now, but some civility may be the first, and necessary step to preventing widespread famine. Even more, if these two can come to some agreement their impoverished society could start to rebuild.
PAYING FOR PEER REVIEW. In recent years, peer-reviewed papers have become increasingly suspect. Since the industry has opened up publications so that knowledge can be spread more widely, it has also allowed papers to be published without being rigorously reviewed. Bogus journals are faking results and their peer-review system. Now institutions are creating black-lists of journals, but these are only so effective. Reformers have offered opening it up even more so that the reviewers become public, but this falls symptom to people’s desire for privacy. Regardless, for the sake of science and objectivity, the industry needs to take action.
THE VISIONARY’S OPPORTUNITY. Elon Musk is often touted as a genius and visionary, but also of being unrealistic. With his boring company being awarded a bid to build a high-speed express train to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, he finally has the ability to prove that he can provide more than just cool ideas. He has already put forth futuristic ideas that look decades ahead of modernity. If he can complete the project on budget and on time, something he is notoriously bad at, he will elucidate what the future will look like.