Week in Review

25 July 2018

UKIP supporters before the 2015 British general election.

UKIP supporters before the 2015 British general election.



THE DYSFUNCTIONAL CONSERVATIVES ARE MAKING ROOM FOR UKIP. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is back and more vehemently racist and discriminatory than ever. After succeeding in campaigning for Brexit and a defection by their leader, UKIP lost all its parliamentary seats to the Conservative Party with its pledge to leave the European Union. Yet, now that that pledge is bleaker than most thought and even may not happen at all, UKIP is making a comeback in the polls. Without the same leader, the party has taken on a more sinister appeal and undergoing an evolution. It is insisting the release of Tommy Robinson, the founder of an Islamophobic protest movement. Feeding from movements in Europe that are anti-Islam and immigration, it seeks “a broader cultural agenda”.

RIGGING THE GAME. Imran Khan, a former cricket star, has won Pakistan’s election to become its next Prime Minister. This is not without widespread accusations of ballot stuffing and backing by the military. While Pakistan’s 2013 election had minor issues, it was overwhelming considered free. Now all parties have charged foul play being at hand, except, of course Mr Khan’s party, PTI. Paradoxically, he ran on breaking up the corruption in Pakistan’s dynastic politics only to incite a new form of corruption. For weeks the outgoing party warned that the military was planning on ensuring Mr. Khan won by preventing independent organizations to observe the election process. On election night, security officials dismissed the polling agents to manipulate the final counts before they were tallied.

THERE MIGHT JUST BE MARTIANS AFTER ALL. A recent paper published in the Science Journal reports a discovery of a lake of liquid water, 5 million cubic kilometres in volume. Despite Mars’ thin, freezing atmosphere, radar waves have detected liquid water beneath polar ice that has protected it. This is an astounding discovery on its own, but the possibility of life is the most significant question that may now be answered. While liquid water provides strong evidence towards the possibility of life, that fact that Mars has been dry for 3.8 billion years and its polar ice has shift throughout time means, life is still not a certainty.

MUGABE’S GHOST CASTS A LARGE SHADOW OVER ZIMBABWE'S ELECTIONS. After Robert Mugabe stepped down from the presidency last fall, ending his 37-year rule, many Zimbabweans were rhapsodic. When the vice-president, Mr. Mnangagwa, pledged to go ahead with elections on July 30th, it was another good sign for democracy. Now though, there are allegations of threats and vote tampering. The opposition has not been peaceful either, Mr. Mnangagwa was almost killed when a grenade was thrown in a rally, suspected of being from a opposition party member. The public does not see Mr. Mnangagwa as being representative of them, preferring to cosy up to Western nations. It may not matter though, with a biometric voter registration, the government has been accused of surveillance and prioritizing supporters with resources and benefits.

ANOTHER FAILED ATTEMPT. It finally seemed like Facebook had attained consent to open a subsidiary in the eastern province of Zhejiang, China. Within hours of that information becoming public, it was censored and then disappeared. It seems that there were disagreements within China’s complex decentralized political system that ended Facebook’s chances. China remains a huge market for internet and social media companies, but without permitting to censoring, it remains nearly impossible to enter. Google has managed to open an artificial intelligence center recently in China, but Facebook looks eternally set to fail in the vast market after several years of unsuccessfully  wooing China.

A TRUMP-PUTIN ENCORE. After a meeting with Russian President Putin, U.S. President Trump made a series of statements that outraged Americans and allies alike. He seemed to side with Putin on the investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 U.S. election, against his own intelligence services. This has been amid new information surfacing about his own potential ties with Russia. Even with this political storm raging, President Trump invited Putin to the United States for a second meeting, causing further uproar. Ironically, Putin did not seem to accept the invitation, at least immediately, with the Trump administration saying they would wait until after investigation is over.

NEGOTIATE THROUGH UNPREDICTABILITY. Following a back and forth between Iran’s leaders and President Trump, which included a typical disturbing tweet from Trump. These tactics do not look like they will lead to war, rather, they are similar ones that Trump used with North Korea. Erratic, disruptive behaviour from the president causes the other side to cede to his threats to come back to the negotiating table for a better deal. This is the theory at least. Trump does want a better deal on the Iran deal, but it has not yet worked with North Korea. Thus, it is difficult to say whether it will work, especially since Iran, similar to North Korea, is so diametrically opposed to America.