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Trump Still Opposes The Paris Climate Accord

Donald Trump railed against the Paris climate accord and touted American oil and natural gas production during a virtual session.

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President Donald Trump railed against the Paris climate accord and touted American oil and natural gas production during a virtual session focused on safeguarding the environment on the final day of the Group of 20 summit.

Trump was making what is likely to be his final appearance at an international summit after losing the US presidential election to Joe Biden. His views on the climate crisis — along with a host of other issues, from trade to security — have caused deep fissures in traditional US alliances that President-elect Biden has promised to repair.

Donald Trump participated in his final Group of 20 summit on Saturday by tweeting throughout the opening session and skipping a special side-conference focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a fitting end to Trump’s career in global multilateralism, which he has expressed his displeasure for since his first group summit — a G7 meeting held cliffside in Sicily — resulted in the feeling he was being ganged up upon by other world leaders.

It was unclear all week whether Trump would even be present for this year’s G20, which is being held virtually because of the pandemic. But on Friday evening, the White House released a schedule confirming his participation.

When the event began, Trump was among the nearly two-dozen world leaders who appeared via video-conference, beaming in from the White House situation room.

But only 13 minutes after the scheduled 8 a.m. ET, start time, Trump was sending tweets focused on his efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election.

By 10 a.m. ET, the President had departed the White House on his way to his namesake golf club outside Washington, DC.

He was there when the “side event on Pandemic Preparedness” got underway, featuring remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and several other world leaders. Trump did not participate.

He is due to join another session of the G20 on Sunday morning, according to the White House schedule. But that is likely the last time Trump will meet in a summit setting with other world leaders as the end of his presidency nears.

Trump’s influence on the global stage is at a low ebb after losing the election. Most of the other G20 leaders have congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his victory, with a notable exception in Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There had not been high expectations for this year’s G20, despite a pandemic that will require global efforts to contain the virus. That is partly down to the absence of American leadership, but other world leaders have also struggled to corral their counterparts into a joint effort to combat Covid-19.

Trump has never been partial to summit meetings, even when they were not held virtually. He departed a G7 meeting in Canada early and rescinded his signature on its final communique. Ahead of last year’s G7 in Biarritz, France, he asked his aides whether it was really necessary to attend.

It was Trump’s turn to host the G7 this year, but the pandemic foiled plans to host leaders in the United States. At one point, Trump raised the prospect of convening the G7 after the election, but officials say there are no plans in place now to arrange a meeting before the G7 presidency transfers to the United Kingdom in January.

Trump’s speech on the environment, which was pre-taped from the White House, provided an apt end to his four years of disagreements on the issue with fellow world leaders. In it, Trump called the 2015 Paris agreement “one-sided” and claimed it was designed to inflict ruin on the US economy.

“The Paris accord was not designed to save the environment, it was designed to kill the American economy,” he said, speaking from the Diplomatic Room. “I refuse to surrender millions of American jobs and send trillions of American dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental offenders, and that’s what would have happened.”

Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in the first year of his presidency, resisting some internal pushback among his advisers who worried it would cause tensions with European and Asian allies.

The process of pulling out wasn’t finalized until this month, however, and Biden has said he will reenter the pact after he is sworn in. Trump’s pending departure has brought his influence on the global stage to its lowest ebb. Most of the other G20 leaders have congratulated Biden on his victory.

The environmental video was played as part of a similar session on the margins of the G20, which is being held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s comments were far afield from other leaders’ messages during the session, which focused on multilateral efforts to reduce carbon emissions in a bid to slow climate change.

Trump chose to focus instead on his conservation record in the United States, saying under his administration “environmental stewardship is a sacred obligation.”

He said he’d worked to prevent children from being exposed to lead in drinking water, touted a pledge to plant 1 billion new trees, and said he’d done more than any president for US national parks since Teddy Roosevelt.

But Trump also heralded his efforts to expand American fossil fuels, despite their role in fueling climate change.

“The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world,” he said, citing horizontal drilling and fracking.

“Every day we are proving we can protect our workers, create new jobs and safeguard the environment without imposing crippling mandates and one-sided international agreements on our citizens,” he said.

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Thousands of US Immigrant Workers Forced Into Modern Slavery

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While, on the one end, thousands of immigrant workers are forced into modern slavery, migrant politics is once again taking center stage in the United States. 

Last Thursday, two buses carrying immigrants and asylum seekers arrived near the residence of vice president Kamla Harris. Texas governor Greg Abbott said that the state of Texas “will continue to send migrants” until the white house comes up with strict policies to secure the border.

Since April, Texas has sent over 7,000 migrants to New York and Washington, DC. Not long before, Florida’s governor sent over 50 undocumented migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Politicians are, once again, inconsiderately using immigrant men, women, and children as political pawns. But nobody is talking about the suffering and exploitation these immigrants, even with a work visa, are facing.

The Reality of Immigrant Workers: The Operation Blooming Onion

Immigrant exploitation is nothing new in the US. The roots of forced labor — an ugly legacy of slavery — still run deep in the US labor market.

One live example is the recent crackdown in the field of southern Georgia, where 24 people were named in a federal indictment accused of Moder-Day-Slavery. For over three years, the 24 prosecutors trafficked migrant workers from Central America and Mexico and subjected them to horrendous working conditions on the farms in Georgia.

Forced laborers of the operation blooming onion
Forced laborers of the operation blooming onion

On further investigation, the authorities found that the culprits were a part of a transactional criminal organization that has been trafficking immigrant workers since 2015.

The victims were forced to live in cramped, dirty trailers with raw sewage leaking into the trailers, threatened with separation, and detained in a work comp surrounded by a work fence. And this is only a small fraction of thousands of suffering through immigrant exploitation under modern-day slavery.

The Ugly Face of Forced Labor & Modern Slavery in the US

For most natives of developing and under-developed nations, landing a job in the US is a dream come true. The same was true for Jayson, a construction worker in the Philippines, when his boss offered him a handsomely paying job in the states. But it soon became a nightmare. 

Not long after he arrived in the US on a P-1 visa for athletes (as recommended by his recruiter), he realized that he was not here as a worker but as a trafficked laborer.

Jayson
Jayson. Picture by CAST

In the name of safekeeping, the recruiter took Jayson’s passport and asked him to pay $12,000 for a work Visa. Unaware of his rights and visa policies, he worked for the trafficker for nine months (in awful working conditions at a low wage of $400/month) until he was rescued by the FBI.

What’s worst? Jayson is not alone. Lured by the salary, status, and potentially bright future, thousands of temporary migrant workers fall into the trap of forced labor in the US every year.

Read More: Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery Still Exist

The Exploitation of Immigrant Workers in the US

Immigrants from other nations make up a sizeable portion of the forced (enslaved) labor victims in the United States. Most exploited victims suffer because they don’t understand or speak English, nor do they know their rights or the laws.

They decide to immigrate to the United States in the expectation of finding more chances and a better life, putting complete faith in their traffickers, like Jayson, only to find themselves trapped in an unstoppable circle of coercion.

Most immigrants caught in the forced labor trafficking chains come to the United States via student or work (H2A) visa programs. This is where the traffickers exploit the victim’s vulnerabilities, especially when their immigrants are entirely dependent on the exploiters for their basic needs.

The Unfair Power Imbalance

According to recent estimates by State Department, 14,500 to 17,500 immigrants are trafficked into the US every year. But experts believe that the real numbers are much higher since the data on human trafficking are immensely challenging to collect.

As per the Human Rights Center at the University of California, about 10,000 forced laborers are working as slave workers in the US at any given time.

Plus, for the victims who want to take the legal route, the process is complex, arduous, and lengthy. Moreover, the majority of cases are often left unresolved. A recent report by ABC news shows how even skilled immigrant workers suffer from immigrant exploitation and workplace sexual harassment.

All this makes one thing very clear: Immigrant workers are abused, and even after 150 years of slavery abolition, the US is still struggling to eradicate modern slavery.

The Call for Better Visa and Immigrant Protection Policies

In a letter to the government, 18 grassroots legal centers from all over the nation demand essential legislative reforms, such as criminalizing wage theft, enabling migrant workers to take legal action against exploitative employers, and widening the Fair Entitlements Guarantee to every worker, including those with temporary work visas.

But, still, the requests for more robust regulation to prevent the exploitation of immigrants are yet to be addressed.

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The US and Israel are Weaponizing Iran Protests

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The US and Israel have weaponized Iranian protests

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently blamed the US and Israel for the ongoing widespread protests in Iran. He said that the riots had been “engineered” by Iran’s arch-enemies and their allies.

The statement came after Israel and the US governments lent their support to the protests.

US Response

The US government said that it was “appalled” by the violent response to the protests. President Joe Biden expressed grave concern about reports of the “intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protesters”. According to him, those protesters were calling for “just and universal principles”. He added that the US “stands with Iranian women” who were “inspiring the world with their bravery”. The US also hit Iran with more sanctions. Iran’s interior and communications ministers and several law enforcement leaders were targeted for sanctions.

Also Read: Israel and U.S. fanning flames of Fitna between Iran and Arabs

Israel’s Propaganda

Israel has been running a propaganda campaign on its official social media handles. The official handles shared several videos showing Israeli women standing up with Iranian women.

Widespread protests in Iran were provoked after the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. The protests are led by women. Some men are also standing up to the women and their demands.

 Ayatollah’s Statement

The supreme leader’s statement has the backing of history. Those who are unaware of Iran’s history, the US intervention in countries like Afghanistan to save women and Israel’s purple-washing in Palestine, might dismiss Ayatollah’s statement. They might think that the Ayatollah is looking for a reason to suppress protests and justify the violent repression.

However, there is more truth to the statement than meets the eye.

Iran’s Experience with the US and Israel

When we read about Iran’s recent history, for some reason it always starts with the Islamic Revolution of 1979. However, this author believes that Iran’s recent history should always begin from 1953.

In 1953, the United States and Britain launched a joint operation through the CIA and MI6 to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had tried to nationalize oil companies and reclaim Iran’s oil from the British.

 Further, one year after the Islamic Revolution, a CIA agent sneaked into Iran and took out six American diplomats who were staying in the Canadian embassy after the hostage crisis.

There have also been recent operations by Israel inside Iran. Israel’s Mossad assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020. Mossad carried out the assassination using A. I. and remote control. Additionally, Mossad has killed 5 and wounded one Iranian nuclear scientist in several attacks since Iran began trying to acquire a nuclear bomb.

Also Read: Is Iran really the enemy?

Weaponizing Feminist Movements

The West and Israel claim to stand up for women’s rights around the world. However, they have done more damage to these movements than anyone else by weaponizing the feminist movements.

One of the reasons given by the US to invade Afghanistan was to save the women of Afghanistan. The then-First Lady Laura Bush delivered a speech in 2001 in which she justified the invasion of Afghanistan to protect the women of Afghanistan from the brutal oppression of women.

Israel has also co-opted feminist struggles in order to justify the Zionist movement. It claims to rescue Palestinian women from the evil men of Palestine. It grabs the gender equality slogan to divert attention from its human rights abuses in Palestine.

However, when it comes to women like Shireen Abu Akleh whom Israel kills for doing their duty, Israel conveniently parts its way with feminism.

Right now, what we are seeing in Iran is no different from Afghanistan or Palestine. Israel’s government and its women are standing with women because they hate Iran. They do not care about Iran’s women. It is just that they want Iran to perish from the earth.

Similarly, the US does not care about women’s struggle in Iran. The US does not allow its female citizens the right to choose when it comes to abortion.

It is also interesting that neither the US nor Israel stands up for the feminist activists of Saudi Arabia who are languishing in jails for small acts of defiance. The US never sanctioned Saudi rulers for oppressing women.

Perhaps Israel and the US have this wishful thinking that somehow they could use this uprising to oust the current regime in Iran.

Also Read: Iranian Nuclear Facility Significantly Damaged In A Fire

Conclusion

Iran’s previous president Hassan Rouhani had given more leeway to women in Iran. There was a gradual change happening in Iran. However, Mahsa Amini’s death led to an uprising that has now been hijacked by Iran’s enemies. As a result, Iran seems to consider the current uprising a national security issue.

The West and Israel should leave Muslim women for themselves. They should not be in the job of rescuing Muslim women. It would be more helpful if they do not selectively stand with Muslims of a particular country. They turn feminist movements into national security issues and hence do a disservice to the feminist struggles.

This article deals with only one aspect of the current uprising in Iran. Other aspects have been covered elsewhere.

Read: Death of Mahsa Amini: How Governments are Denying Women’s Right to Choice?

Also Read: The Killing of Mahsa Amini And Other Crimes Against Women- Double Standards of International Media

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China

Will China Invade Taiwan? The Looming Danger of World War 3 Explained

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Taiwan's Military

While the world is engulfed in the Ukraine-Russia war, global inflation, food shortage, and scorching heat, China is preparing to conclude its long-simmering plan to invade Taiwan.

Here’s an in-depth report:

Will China Invade Taiwan: An Overview

China’s goals for Taiwan are well known. Tensions between the two nations have been stoked for years by opposing perspectives over the sovereignty of the little island country. And now, they are reaching boiling point.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province even though it has never been a part of China. Moreover, the so-called reunification with Taiwan has been a top priority for the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, ever since he came to office. And he hasn’t ruled out using force to do this.

Taiwan’s military, which has 169,000 active soldiers, is outnumbered by its superpower neighbors’ million-strong army by over a 20 to 1 margin. And, with the looming danger of China’s invasion of Taiwan; expert fear, the world is inching closer to a World War situation.

Why does Taiwan Matters to the World?

If China were to Invade Taiwan, two nuclear power heads, China and the US, could war head to head into what could escalate into world war three.

But why is Taiwan so important for the world, especially for the US?

South China Sea Dispute

The South China Sea is one of the most important regions for global trade because over 30% of the world’s shipping passes through the passage, which amounts to $3.37 Trillion in trade per year. The sea also homes 11 billion barrels of untapped crude oil and 190 Trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

And most important of all, the country controlling this region will have significant military benefits.

For years, China has been keenly taking control of the region. To an extent, where the Sino military has created an artificial island to claim the South China Sea as its own.

artificial island by China
China’s artificial island on the South China Sea

So, if China succeeds in invading, it will have the upper hand in the second most important region in the world, handing China significant military dominance in the area.

US’s Promise in Question

The US does not recognize Taiwan as an officially different state. But, the Taiwan Relations Act 1979 does require the US to aid Taiwan in self-defect. President Bidden also testified that in case of Chinese assault, Washington would protect Tawain with force.

Though Biden has framed US support for Taiwan in terms of ideals, such as the defense of democracy against despotism, many analysts point out that Washington also views the island as strategically significant.

Furthermore, if China invades Taiwan, the US will be forced to reciprocate to honor its promise. Failing to do so would put Washington in question even with its strongest allies, including NATO.

Taiwan: The Semiconductor Hotstop

From laptops to game consoles and automobiles, most of our electronic equipment is powered by semiconductors chips manufactured in Taiwan.

Taiwan alone has 63% of the market share in the global semiconductor industry. By one measure, TSMC (Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing company) holds over 54%. It’s a vast industry worth over 100 billion USD in 2021.

Therefore, Taiwan is the world’s semiconductor hotspot that powers significant tech companies, including Apple, Intel, and Nvidia. And, with China in control of Taiwan, it will directly take over one of the world’s most vital industries.

Can China Takeover Taiwan By Force?

The People’s Liberation Army has significantly improved under president Xi Jinping to an extent where invading Taiwan is possible.

However, one key determiner is how close PLA is to mastering the skills required to deploy thousands of troops to Taiwan by air or sea, take over the island and push over to size crucial areas like railways, ports, and communication.

However, even if LPA- the biggest military force in the world- wanted to annex Taiwan, doing so would be fraught with danger.

While subjected to naval and aircraft bombardment, the Sino military will have to cross Taiwan bay with over 100,000 soldiers. And, even if the military were to reach Taiwan’s coast; landing aircraft to unload armored personnel carriers, artilleries, and tanks would be a challenge because of the island’s rocky shoreline.

The invasion will further provoke large-scale combat between the US and China.

Taiwan Brace for China’s Invasion

With China’s aggressive military power demonstration near Taiwanese borders and Nancy Pelosi’s visit, the Taiwanese authorities are preparing for the invasion. Now, allies are pumping in more military aid while the neighbors are arming with new fighter jets.

According to Chinese officials, live-fire sea and air exercises are being conducted in six different regions around Taiwan. The drill includes over 100 planes, including ten warships, bombers, and fighter jets.

Six Chinese military drill zones in south china sea
Six Chinese military drill zones (Source: Al Jazeera)

However, Taiwan is also setting the stage for strong retaliation.

Last week, Taiwan conducted its largest ever military drills that stimulated the repulsion of an invading force. City across Tawin shut down for thirty minutes for nationwide military exercises.

And now, with China set to orchestrate fresh military drills near Taiwan; the island nations say, “Our military will be ready but will not ask for war.

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