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Demonstrations, Democrats, Failures and Fires

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Message Arshad M Khan

If President Trump watched his prospective challengers debate, it certainly gave him cause for a Merrier Christmas and a Happy New Year! The latter is a foregone conclusion for him given the woebegone state of the Democratic candidates ... unless the eventual challenger can resurrect him-or-herself.

In the meantime, it is the season not for goodwill as much as demonstrations and ... impeachment. If the debate was soporific, the reason was abundantly clear: the raison d'etre was so insignificant that many among the public did not think any wrong had occurred, and polls show the for and against are locked in a dead heat. House and senate are divided along party lines, the whole presenting the appearance of a political hatchet job.

The public egged on are into demonstrations on both sides without changing any one's mind. Moreover, the senate trial requires a two-thirds vote for conviction -- an outcome equivalent in likelihood to hell freezing over as Republicans are in the majority. What a way to spend the holiday season? Fortunately for the Democrats, voters do not have a long memory.

Demonstrations also in India against Mr. Modi's new asylum law specifically excluding Muslims. Taking his cue from Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, he and his party are dreaming of a Hindu nationalist state and sowing the seeds of strife and unhappiness in a country that is already near the bottom at #140 in the world happiness index. Why is it that culturally and economically similar Pakistan is a much happier country at #67 even if blighted by religious extremism not infrequently.

Demonstrations also at COP25, the climate conference in Madrid. It was to be in Santiago, Chile but the unceasing anti-government demonstrations there forced a move and Spain generously offered to host it at short notice. It was a shameful fiasco.

That despite a world suffering fires and floods on an unprecedented scale: The Australian bush fires started two months earlier than normal, and the authorities are concerned they might run short of professional firefighters who share their expertise and services across the continents. Now with fires overlapping in California and Australia the old arrangement is threatened.

All of this made no difference to the rich countries at COP25. They refused to aim for the recommended (by scientists and COP25) temperature rise goal of 1.5C above the preindustrial mean global temperature. Of course, the US (read Trump administration) was busy twisting arms, carrot and stick style, of small countries aided as usual by rich fossil fuel producers, notably Saudi Arabia. That despite its declared intention to leave.

And Santa Claus was seen on his sleigh flying through the clouds coughing and sputtering on the exhausts of the rich. They, too, were flying ... but to private paradises, far away from the northern cold, on islands in the Pacific, Mediterranean, Caribbean, or elsewhere comfortably warm and absent the hoi polloi.

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
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