Despite Big Wins for Both Trump and Clinton, it is Still Not a Two Person Race

Donald_TrumpReality TV star Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have each come out on top in their respective parties following the votes held in twelve states on Super Tuesday.

Trump won seven of the eleven states voting for the Republican nominee for president, losing three to Texas Senator Ted Cruz and one to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. There is little surprise over Cruz winning his home state, but it is now fairly clear that he is the only one capable of taking down the party’s front-runner.

Clinton has also won seven states, losing four to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who like Cruz also won his home state. Clinton’s win has largely been attributed to her overwhelming support among black and Hispanic voters, both predominant in many of the southern states which form the majority of the Super Tuesday bloc. But unlike on the Republican side, Sanders alone opposes the leading Democrat, and if his momentum leads to wins in the upcoming large states of Michigan, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, the Democrats will actually have a race on their hands.

But if not, Trump will truly become the only one left to beat.

Further reading:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35703911
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/us/politics/democratic-primary-results.html?_r=0
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/us/politics/republican-primary-results.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/super-tuesday-clinton-trump-score-early-wins-160301223826096.html

Image: “Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0

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Ted Cruz Wins Iowa, Though the Trump Card is Still on the Table in New Hampshire

Ted_CruzThe first state to select their nominees for President have selected Texas Senator Ted Cruz for the Republicans, but the vote on the Democratic side has resulted in a tie.

“Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation,” Cruz said after earning 28% of Monday’s vote. His biggest rival, businessman and reality television star Donald Trump, only managed to get 24%, while the remaining began dropping like flies, as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul officially withdrew from the race.

As for the Democrats, the percentage of the votes won by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton differed by less than half a percentage point, leaving it a virtual tie. Nonetheless Clinton is claiming the win, albeit by a very small margin. But it remains very much a tight race, as candidates from both sides vacate Iowa and instead head to New Hampshire, the next state to vote in the extremely long election cycle.

Sanders has a significant lead in New Hampshire, and is expected to win by much more than a fraction of a percent. But the Republican result is less assured thanks in part to Cruz ‘upset’ win in Iowa, but also because the New England state does not have as large of an evangelical electorate as the one that ushered him in on Monday.

Thus only time will tell who trumps who. Pun intended.

Further reading:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/cruz-takes-trump-win-iowa-caucuses-160202032846676.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35468776
http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-35462570
http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/02/03/after-iowa-terrain-looks-more-challenging-for-cruz/?ref=politics&_r=0

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Massacre in Turkey Leads to Further Criticisms of the Government’s Failure to Act

Recep_ErdoganTurkey is planning to increase its border security in the wake of the the latest Islamic State attack which killed 32 and wounded 100 mostly young people in the southern, largely Kurdish town of Suruç.

The suicide attack happened on Monday at a cultural centre, as the students were preparing to journey to Kobane, a nearby town on the Syrian side of the border which has been devastated by the fight against Islamic State, to help with the rebuilding effort. The town had been recaptured just last month, with Islamic State militants obviously livid over losing ground to the Kurds, fighting fiercely to keep their homeland intact. And so they struck the most peaceful people they could find: young humanitarians who were literally risking their lives to help others in need.

In the wake of this massacre, Turks have been laying some of the blame on the government, which had been reluctant to get directly involved with the war in Syria. Protests erupted in Istanbul and Ankara following the attack on Monday, as Kurds across the country accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government of failing to protect them from Islamic State. Turkey has an 822 km border with Syria, and nearly two million refugees have already crossed it to escape the conflict, while countless others have went the other way around, using Turkey as an access point for joining the extremist organization. Yet it took the lives of 32 people to convince the government that tighter border controls were required.

It is likely that Turkey’s reluctance to confront Islamic State is largely related to their much longer feud with the Kurds, who have been fighting for their own independent state for decades. More recently they have been fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in addition to Islamic State, reclaiming substantial territory along the Turkey-Syria border. They now stand to have a greater sphere of influence for making their independence goals a reality, which is likely to make the government in Ankara more than a little nervous.

Leaving them to wonder whether to allow Islamic State to take out the Kurds so that they don’t have to.

Further reading:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/turkey-bolster-border-security-suruc-attack-150721000033031.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/anguish-turkey-funeral-held-bombing-victims-suruc-kobane-150721183657196.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31088684
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33607629
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/20/explosion-hits-turkish-town-near-syrian-border

Image: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan” by Gobierno de Chile CC BY 3.0 cl

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Greeks Set to Suffer for Years to Come, as the Rest of Europe Claims a Job Well Done

Alexis_TsiprasBanks in Greece have reopened following three weeks of closure, albeit with withdrawal limits still imposed, all while harsh austerity measures begin to take effect in the country.

Sales taxes have now nearly doubled, while the products and services they’re attached to will also increase in price, and pensions are set to be reformed, all in a country that is facing severe poverty and unemployment. These measures-widely seen as worse than those voted against on the July 5th referendum-were loathingly accepted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in an agreement with the creditors of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission in exchange to a bailout amounting to €86 billion. Tsipras made it very clear that he did not believe in the changes that he was being forced to implement, saying that he is doing it “to avoid disaster for my country, the collapse of the banks,” and the likely exit from the Eurozone that would follow.

Unsurprisingly, there has been staunch opposition to the move, with thousands of protesters marching in Athens as Tsipras’ own Syriza party remained heatedly divisive over accepting the cash-for-austerity deal that Tsipras himself had said was akin to blackmail meant to humiliate the Greek people. Former Finance Minister has compared the deal to the Treaty of Versailles, intended to crush and punish Germany for their actions in World War I, saying that this new deal will “go down in history as the greatest disaster of macroeconomic management ever.”

Nonetheless, support for Tsipras has not dwindled as might be expected, with Greeks seemingly realizing how hard he pushed for a better deal. And though he did fail in the end, it was not due to a lack of trying, and instead the bitter resolve of the creditors to kick the Greek people when they’re down. And meanwhile the banks that got Greece-and Europe along with it-into this mess in the first place have been left largely unaffected.

Such a prime example of capitalism at its worst.

Further reading:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/greek-prime-minister-tsipras-shows-greeks-he-can-save-them-a-1044265.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/finance-minister-greek-bailout-versailles-150715164751774.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33578778
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/world/europe/tsipras-is-seen-as-holding-greeks-approval-while-selling-tough-bailout-deal.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/greek-banks-reopen-150720044008477.html
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/07/greece-crisis-banks-greedy/398603/

Image: “Alexis Tsipras Syriza” by FrangiscoDer  CC BY-SA 3.0

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The United States and Cuba Have Restored Ties, but Cubans Still Have Reason to be Wary

Raúl_CastroAfter over fifty years of tensions between the two countries, the United States and Cuba have officially restored diplomatic ties with one another.

The Cuban flag was raised by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at the newly restored embassy in Washington, while the American flag will be raised in Havana once Secretary of State John Kerry visits the island nation in August. It is a good day for many in both nations, however it should be seen as merely a first step and not the restoration of a friendly relationship.

“The historic events we are living today will only make sense with the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes so much deprivation and damage to our people,” Rodriguez said, referring to the withstanding trade embargo on Cuba that can only be rescinded by the US Congress. Furthermore, the issue of returning Guantanamo to Cuba-who insists it is occupied territory-is still a cause for concern.

“A new stage will begin, long and complex, on the road toward normalization,” Cuban President Raul Castro said last week, knowing very well the struggles his country could face when American capitalism becomes more prevalent. Tourism is expected to steadily increase, in addition to sales of world-famous Cuban cigars, which have been illegal-albeit popular-in the United States for decades. But along with this influx of investment on the island, Cubans risk losing their culture, and the ideologies behind the 1959 revolution could become lost as in other parts of the world.

Conversely, Americans could also learn a lot from Cuba. Not everything is perfect of course, as Cuba’s Human Rights abuses are high and freedom of speech is severely limited. Nonetheless, they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world(more so than the US), and its universal healthcare system and medical personnel are praised throughout the world.

Both countries thus have a lot to gain from their new relationship, though Cuba arguably has more to lose.

Further reading:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/world/americas/cuba-us-embassy-diplomatic-relations.html?_r=0
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-33590417
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/cuba-flag-raised-embassies-washingt-dc-havana-150720145923135.html
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/20/cuba-embassy-washington-flag
http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/20/politics/cuba-u-s-embassies-opening/

Image: “Presidente de Cuba, Raúl Castro, visita Salvador” by Agecom Bahia CC BY 2.0

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Supposed Proxy War in Yemen Would Only Help Islamic State and Al Qaeda

Mansur_Hadi

Forty-eight people were killed and 182 injured in the Yemeni port city of Aden on Sunday, with Iran-backed Houthi fighters taking the blame.

The Houthis are a group of Shia Muslims which are prominent in the north of Yemen, who captured the capital Sanaa in a February coup which saw president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi flee to Saudi Arabia. The ensuing conflict has led to the deaths of over 3500 people, many of which from Aden. However the Saudi-led assault had thought to have recaptured the city, to such an extent that Hadi announced that it had been “liberated.” But unfortunately for everyone involved, that was not the case.

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in league with the Houthis, but the Saudis also suspect that Iran, a Shia state and long time adversary to Saudi Arabia, is arming fighters to exacerbate the conflict. Iran has of course denied this, but there appears to be enough evidence to at least question that claim.

In any case, if Iran is sponsoring a proxy war on its rival’s back door, it could become yet another pawn in destabilizing the region. Furthermore, the fight with the Houthis is only benefiting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in addition to Saudi Arabia and Iran’s common enemy of Islamic State, both of which are present in Yemen. They want chaos to coat the region, allowing for more recruits to add to their ranks, in addition to weaker foes to defeat.

And if things continue the way they are, that is exactly what they’ll get.

Further reading:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32622680
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33586062
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/houthi-shelling-blamed-deaths-yemen-aden-150719132800084.html
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Rebel-shelling-kills-at-least-45-in-Yemens-Aden-Officials/articleshow/48135983.cms

Image: “Sitting down for a meeting, Yemen President Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi listens as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel welcomes him to the Pentagon July 30, 2013” by U.S Defense Department  CC BY 2.0

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Greeks Say No to More Austerity as Tsipras Prepares to Confront his Creditors

Angela_Merkel

Greek bailout negotiations are once again underway after Alexis Tsipras reaffirmed that an overwhelming majority of his citizens support him.

Greeks gave the rest of Europe a resounding “NO” on Sunday’s referendum, with 61% of people voting against the harsh austerity measures that were demanded of the country. With that result Tsipras appears confident that he can negotiate a better agreement in order to get his country back on track. He will address a summit of eurozone leaders on Tuesday to present alternative proposals to those previously dictated-the nature of which are currently unknown. What is known is that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will no longer be part of the process, following his resignation shortly after the referendum. He was clearly disliked by his counterparts across Europe, especially after accusing them of terrorism, so he decided to step aside to let the process continue without him. He announced that he “shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride” before hopping on his motorcycle and riding into the sunset.

Meanwhile in Paris, French Prime Minister François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were meeting to discuss the next step. Hollande said that “it is now up to the government of Alexis Tsipras to make serious, credible proposals so that this willingness to stay in the eurozone can translate into a lasting programme,” while Merkel added that “it will be important tomorrow that the Greek prime minister tells us how things should proceed and what precise suggestions he can submit to us” in regards to getting Greece on its feet again. Merkel is vehemently against debt relief due to her belief that Greece has not yet done enough to warrant it, and also the fear that it could start a dangerous precedent for the eurozone as a whole.

That could all change on Tuesday however, as Europe waits for Tsipras’ next move. Despite calls that Greece is on course to leave the eurozone altogether, he refutes this, saying that the referendum was merely meant to give him a stronger hand at the negotiating table.

Because abandoning the euro sets a far more dangerous precedent.

Further reading:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/greece-is-divided-as-the-referendum-approaches-a-1042045.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/greece-present-aid-deal-proposal-eurozone-summit-150706132522772.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33413569
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2015/07/lies-eurozone-150706192727859.html
http://www.france24.com/en/20150706-live-blog-greece-no-vote-day-after

Image: “Angela Merkel (2008)” by א (Aleph)  CC BY-SA 2.5

Posted in Europe, Greece | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment