Met with an enthusiastic round of applause and cheers, US President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law on Aug. 16, 2022. In his address to the American people, Biden triumphantly said the IRA–a bill dedicated to fighting climate change and reducing fossil fuel emissions in a way that will also lower inflation–is one of the most significant laws in American history.
Journal of Political Inquiry
Between the ages of seven and thirteen, I lived in an illegal kindergarten in Tehran, Iran. I know what you’re thinking. No, it wasn’t a child labor facility. Quite the contrary, my mother ran a high-end English learning center that offered a variety of classes, services, and care unlike any other in Tehran. What made it illegal was that everything was taught in English. The Iranian regime allows a few hours of English classes per day but forbids teaching classes like math, ballet, or music in English except in schools affiliated with foreign embassies. My mother’s subversive, entrepreneurial solution was to turn our family home into an undercover school. She made a profit by defying the regime.
On Tuesday, November 15, Poland reported two missile strikes against the town of Przewodów, located 6 kilometers away from the Ukrainian border. The strike resulted in two civilian casualties. While Russia was initially suspected, it has since been confirmed that the missiles were fired by Ukrainian air defenses against an incoming Russian missile. Regardless of the missile’s origin, we have never been closer to the risk of a global war since the start of the Ukrainian conflict.
The 27th UN Conference on Climate Change, COP27, saw a pronouncement from French President Emmanuel Macron that the Bezos Earth Fund had pledged $1 billion to protect carbon reserves and biodiversity. With such a prominent pledge, many have begun to ask, what is the Earth Fund, and where is it situated in the architecture of global environmental governance? Non-state actors are not new to the area, with NGOs and activists becoming increasingly prominent at these international conferences. But philanthropic groups like the Bezos Earth Fund are comparatively new. While they may be able to bring large amounts of money to the table, these actors raise concerns about legitimacy and the power of wealthy individuals like Jeff Bezos. As a result, the fund and its plans are worth a closer look.
The melting of the glaciers is changing geopolitical arrangements. In the Arctic, global warming is opening opportunities for the allocation of needed resources even to non-Arctic states. The region is indeed opening up to new power dynamics and competition as states propel their economic, military, and political claims. New powers, such as China and India, have joined the resources race; but what can they really gain from the frozen Arctic lands? And how will this affect the regional and global balance of power?
Held from October 16 to 22, China’s 20th Party Congress was a series of political spectacles. President Xi Jinping cemented his status as Paramount-Leader-For-Life, after being confirmed as General Secretary for an unprecedented third consecutive term. This not only broke the two-term limit established four decades ago by Deng Xiaoping, but also made Xi the first Chinese leader to rule for more than two consecutive terms since Chairman Mao. Xi ushered in a new guard to helm the Politburo Standing Committee, all promoted based on their personal loyalty, and ensured the systematic removal of any factional opposition within the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Most publicized of all was the political farce that played out as former President Hu Jintao was physically removed during the closing ceremony before the new leadership was announced, in front of a baffled audience of foreign media outlets and journalists. The show of force and shift in new leadership firmly established Xi’s undisputed control over party and country, making the entire week-long affair seem less about confirming political appointments, and more of a coronation ceremony for Xi.
It has been almost three months since the British-American writer and faculty member of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage during a literary event in New York by Hadi Matar at the Chautauqua Institution. On October 14th, 2022, I virtually joined an event, An Evening for Salman Rushdie, organized by PEN International at the British Library to celebrate his strength and dedication as a writer and a champion of free expression. In a way, it was also an evening of reflection. As horrifying as the assault on Rushdie was, it was 33 years in the making. Upon the Satanic Verses publication, protests broke out in India, the novel was banned, and footage of book burnings was widely broadcast around the world. Above all, a fatwa was issued against Rushdie by the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini which sent him into hiding.
When the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress concludes, it is a ripe time for many observers of Chinese politics to look at the new set of appointments and get a sense of the direction in which the country might be headed. Backgrounds of leaders elected to the Politburo Standing Committee (the highest decision-making body in the party) or the Politburo (the second-highest decision-making body) are revealed at the end of the Party Congress, and they would stay in power for the next five years. In Leninist-Marxist regimes, these leaders–who have historically been mostly men– are the living embodiment of the ‘five-year plans’ that rule planned economies.
In the last few weeks, climate activism groups have filled the news, social media, and online conversations after a series of art attacks. Last week, demonstrators from the Letzter Generation (Last Generation), a German group, threw mashed potatoes on a Monet painting in Potsdam, Germany. At the same time, Just Stop Oil advocates, a UK based group rapidly expanding in Europe, pied a statue of King Charles in Central London and glued themselves to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting in The Hague. These events seem to be increasing in frequency lately, certainly due to a culture based on meme imitations and sensationalism. However, they also appear to create even more polarization than the US midterms or the roulette of British PMs.
What does it mean to be Chinese? Am I Chinese? With my recent move to New York City, I am surprised at how often I am asked this question: Are you Chinese? I struggle to respond every time because the word “Chinese” can mean a lot of things – a nationality, an ethnicity, a language, and even a culture. And it requires much more than a simple yes or no to answer.