South China Sea Ruling Imminent as World Powers Prepare to Test Their Strength

Wang_YiTensions are high between Washington and Beijing this week as the International Court of Arbitration makes it ruling over China’s actions in the South China Sea.

The region, a major shipping route in the region, is largely claimed by China despite it lying within the territories of five nations. These include the Philippines, a long-time ally of the United States, which initially brought the case to the international court. But while the ruling is likely to go in the Philippines’ favour, it is also likely to be more symbolic than definitive.

China refuses to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction over the matter, and save for the widespread condemnation from around the world that probably won’t happen, nothing will stop it from continuing to patrol the waters and build artificial islands. This is because the government believes, and perhaps rightly so, that no one is actually willing to challenge the “authority” of the most powerful country in the region, if not the world.

And that’s where the United States comes in, desperate to maintain its role as the world’s authority. Like China, it has increased its militarization of the region to the largest in twenty years. It appears that both sides are preparing for conflict, and whether it’s all just for show remains to be seen. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Li contacted his American counterpart John Kerry this week to reiterate China’s position, saying that the United States should remain neutral in the dispute and allow China to protect its sovereignty.

But there lies the problem; if the US obeys that order, it would essentially be admitting that China is the stronger player, just as the Chinese would be admitting the opposite if they backed away.

Which makes the presence of all those military forces very, very worrisome.

Further reading:

Image: “Wang Yi 2014 (cropped)” by Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeChinese Foreign Minister CC BY 2.0

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Clinton Not to be Indicted Over Email Scandal, Despite Being Outed as a Liar

Hillary_Rodham_ClintonA week after Hillary Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing in Benghazi, she once again finds herself untouchable by the law.

During those multiple inquiries into the Benghazi attack, it was discovered that Clinton was using a private email server based in her own home during her tenor as Secretary of State. It was subsequently determined that she had been using the account to send classified information, a charge which she denied but the Federal Bureau of Investigation decided to investigate regardless.

The conclusion to that investigation was this week, when FBI Director James Comey held a press conference to say that while Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless,” particularly with 110 emails that did contain classified data. These include some that Clinton attempted to keep hidden indefinitely, leading to speculation on the content that was successfully deleted. Furthermore, Comey said that while there was no evidence of her email being hacked, her carelessness made it likely.

Nonetheless he would not be recommending an indictment as “no reasonable prosecutor” would challenge the Clinton dynasty. Paraphrasing aside, it is true that few would bring charges against her, especially since she’s just weeks away from securing the Democratic nomination for president. Those few of course include Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who had a very suspicious meeting with Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton over the weekend. Officially they did not mention the case to one another, but like those emails that were successfully deleted, few will know with certainty about what was said.

The Republicans at least are not keeping quiet about the case, with likely Republican Nominee Donald Trump claiming that she put the “entire country in danger,” and that her getting away with it was the latest example of just how corrupt the system has become.

And in what could quite possibly be the worst development of all, Trump is right.

Further reading:

Image: “Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chatham House Prize 2013 Winner” by Chatham House  CC BY 2.0

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Political Betrayals Run Rampant in Britain, But Corbyn Remains For Now

corbynIn the weeks following the Brexit vote, the drama is far from over as politicians scramble to weather the storm and come out on top.

The biggest faces of the Leave campaign, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, have both jumped ship, with the former stepping down as leader of the UK Independence Party, and the other, once the favourite to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, announced that he had no plans to seek the position. This was a shock to many, including Johnson himself, who had been preparing to announce his run just moments before, if not for the betrayal that he had just been made aware of. Michael Gove, an old friend of Johnson and presumed campaign chair, announced that he was running himself.

Nonetheless the new front-runner is Home Secretary Theresa May, who has a substantial lead in the ongoing leadership vote over Gove, in addition to Andrea Leadsom, whom Johnson has since decided to endorse.

Betrayal is not unique to the right this summer however, as it has also struck the supposedly left-leaning Labour Party. More than three-quarters of the party’s MP’s went against leader Jeremy Corbyn, now obviously one of the few socialists remaining in Westminster, during a no-confidence vote. Despite this abysmal result, Corbyn, who still maintains the support of the much larger pool of Labour voters, has no intention to stand down, and will run in the upcoming leadership contest triggered by the vote. It’s not clear if he will win with as wide a margin as last fall, if at all, but it is clear that unlike Farage, Johnson, or even David Cameron, he has no intention of running away.

And that is perhaps the most unexpected development of all.

Further reading:

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Following Eighth Benghazi Investigation, Republicans Prepare for the Ninth

Hillary_ClintonThe eighth and latest US congressional investigation on the 2012 Benghazi attack has yet again cleared likely Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton of all charges.

The attacks occurred in the Libyan city on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and resulted in the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Hillary Clinton, then the Secretary of State, was subsequently accused of failing to have the outpost properly secured in addition to not responding to the attack in time. She has since been cleared of any wrongdoing, but Republicans have no intention to let it go, as evidenced by the number of investigations held over the past four years.

Under the guise of wanting to keep Americans safe, the Republicans are tarnishing the memories of the victims by pushing forward with the conspiracy theory that Clinton intentionally planned their murders. And worse still is the fact that such a tactic is actually working, as the issue has haunted her into and throughout her current presidential campaign. The problems that were proven to exist with security and response times have been dealt with years ago, yet millions of taxpayer money continues to be flushed down the toilet while the digging continues to find that one piece of evidence that clearly doesn’t exist.

Nonetheless, said digging is also a valuable excuse to search for more material to attack Clinton with, as was the origin of her current email scandal. Thus perhaps the ninth investigation can attempt to determine whether the order to kill a US ambassador is hidden somewhere within her private server.

Sadly, given the state of American politics, that is entirely likely.

Further reading:

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Leave Campaigners Reveal They Were Lying, While Millions Act Surprised

Nigel_FarageThe realization that the United Kingdom continues to slowly sink in, particularly for those who actually voted for it.

Many of the warnings written off by Vote Leave as Project Fear are now coming to fruition, as the pound continues to drop in value and the threat of a recession becomes increasingly likely. An online petition calling for a new referendum had also been circulating, having already garnered nearly 4 million signatures.

Furthermore, folks at both ends of the political spectrum are fighting over who to blame for Thursday’s vote. On the left, 13 Labour shadow cabinet ministers resigned from their posts, as a no confidence motion seems possible against leader Jeremy Corbyn for not campaigning hard enough for Remain. Meanwhile, the Leave campaign finds itself reneging on most of its promises, including cutting immigration and increasing funding to the NHS, both critical issues that had to power to sway people one way or the other.

The revelation that Leave campaigners were spreading lies can be personified by that big red bus that Boris Johnson toured around the country. On the side of the bus it read that “We send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead.” Not only is the real number closer to half of that claimed, but there was never any real intention to actually use the money to fund Britain’s healthcare system, especially since the money would still need to go to Europe if the UK intended to remain in the single market. The only difference would be that they would no longer have a say in what the money will be spent on.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has already made clear that the NHS claim was a “mistake,” though of course he waited until a few hours after declaring victory to say so. Another “mistake” was his pro-Leave poster showing Syrian refugees under the caption “Breaking Point,” despite the fact that Syria is obviously not an EU member and thus its citizens are not covered by free movement laws.

But telling the truth about, well, anything, would be less frightening. And that could have cost them the result that they were so desperate to achieve.

Further reading:–and-alw/

Image: “Nigel Farage” by Dweller  CC BY-SA 3.0

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Hate Has Won as United Kingdom Votes to Leave the European Union

David_CameronFollowing a historic vote in the United Kingdom, Britons have decided to leave the European Union in a 52-48 decision.

It was expected to be a close vote in the weeks and months leading up to the referendum, and after everything was counted it was just that. Soon after hearing the news, Prime Minister David Cameron abandoned ship, announcing his resignation early on Friday. In his place, another politician-likely Boris Johnson, leader of the Leave campaign-will take charge during formal secession negotiations with the EU, which European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said should “get started immediately”.

Those celebrating today include Boris Johnson for obvious reasons, and also UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has called for the day to “go down in our history as our independence day,” claiming that the result was “a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people,” and of course a victory for white people. Although that last point was not part of his speech, the sentiment was obvious. Farage’s Eurosceptic counterparts on the continent also reacted favourably to the referendum’s result, as Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League, and Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front have all called for similar votes in their countries, in what could be the final nail in the coffin of the soon-to-be 27 member bloc.

One who was not happy with the result was Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as Scotland, like Northern Ireland but unlike England and Wales, voted to remain with the European Union. This is especially aggravating to Scots today as just two years ago they voted to remain with the United Kingdom under the precedent that they would otherwise be out of the EU. Now it seems like that is going to happen anyway, making another referendum on Scottish Independence “highly likely,” as Sturgeon has stated. As for whether a similar vote will occur in Northern Ireland, it seems less likely but only time will tell.

All things considered it has been a bad day in the UK, as their standing in the world has begun to fall into disarray, which has already been illustrated as stock markets began to plummet while the pound sterling fell to its lowest value in 31 years. Whether either will stabilize and/or return to normal is still an open question, as the UK, and Europe in general now find themselves in unknown political territory.

But on the bright side, if the UK fails to prosper they will no longer have immigrants to blame it on. Perhaps then real change can be made.

Further reading:

Image: “David Cameron portrait 2013” by Valsts kanceleja/ State Chancellery CC BY-SA 2.0

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If Brexit Debate Becomes a Battle Between Fear and Hate, Nobody Wins

borisThe United Kingdom is facing a once in a generation decision on Thursday as people go to the polls to determine their country’s role in Europe, and in fact the world.

The question is whether or not Britain should remain in the political and economic bloc of 28 nations that is the European Union. There has been much debate over the so-called ‘Brexit,’ or British exit, both at home and abroad, and if the polls are to be trusted it is still too close to say what the likely outcome will be. And tensions are extremely high between the two sides, which has even led to the assassination of a Member of Parliament.

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson has become a leader in the Leave campaign, while current Mayor Sadiq Khan as well as both Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, not to mention a number of heads of state from around the world, want the UK to remain. In a final debate on Tuesday the two mayors pleaded their cases, with Johnson and Khan calling each other’s sides “Project Fear” and “Project Hate,” respectively. Neither seemed inappropriate however, as Khan’s side was listing legitimate fears of what a post-EU Britain would look like, while Johnson’s side had at one point played on racist fears that Turkey would one day join the single market if not the European Union itself.

Fear-mongering aside, the situation is much more clear to those with access to the right information. And the facts are that Britain’s trading arrangements with the continent are already ideal, especially given the value of their currency-which has already had its continued existence secured due to David Cameron’s pandering around the continent earlier in the year. Furthermore, British sovereignty will remain virtually unchanged regardless of what happens on Thursday, especially considering that the UK will still have to abide by EU standards if it wishes to continue trading with it-albeit without having a say in what those standards are.

Though of course, that is assuming that a Leave vote is not intended to be the first step towards a new era of isolationism.

Further reading:

Image by Think London – originally posted to Flickr as Boris Opening Bell solo, CC BY 2.0,

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