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Biden’s shredded agenda and the lessons of history

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President Biden was in Israel when the shocking news came late last Thursday night in Washington:  talks between Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Joe Manchin, the champion of the coal industry from West Virginia, to reach agreement on what was left of President Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda on climate change, health and taxes had collapsed. 

SUMMIT COUNTY COLORADO — Manchin had had enough. He repeated his brutal termination of Biden’s transformative Build Back Better program – the centerpiece of his first term – last December.  

The Biden agenda has been shredded with a vengeance. 

Gone – with no hope for passage in Congress – are Biden programs across education, health care, seniors and income security to help working families cope with the costs of living.  Biden’s program offered universal pre-k, childcare, public housing, paid family leave, dental, vision care for seniors, free community college.

Biden also faces recession fears amid inflation and soar in cost of living.

Gone are minimum taxes on super-billionaires to fund these social equity programs.  Gone is Biden’s proposed global minimum tax Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have asked global economic allies – including Australia – to adopt.  

And gone was any hope for any meaningful progress on climate change – a pillar of Biden’s presidency. 

The inability to pass any legislation to effectively fund the move towards renewables and electric vehicles means that the United States will not meet its 2030 climate targets of a 50% reduction in fossil fuel emissions by 2030.   It means that President Biden, for all his commitment on this issue, can offer only words on behalf of the United States – and not action.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts has been a warrior on clean energy and climate change for decades.  His anger was on display for the world:

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts

“Rage keeps me from tears. Resolve keeps me from despair. We will not allow a future of climate disaster. I believe in the power of the Green New Deal. The power of young people. I am with you. We will not give up.”   

For all his work, Biden will be lucky, come September, to get the Democrats in the House and Senate to unite to pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and extend health insurance premium under Obamacare. 

That’s it.  And that is not enough.

In January 2021, my co-author Bryan Marshall and I wrote a foreword for the new edition of our book, The Committee: A Study of Policy, Power, Politics and Obama’s Historic Legislative Agenda on Capitol Hill.  We saw some important lessons for Biden from the Obama-Biden years over a decade ago.  With the Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, and together with Biden in the White House, we wrote:

WOLPE’S BOOK

We therefore see the course of the first two years of President Biden’s historic legislative agenda on Capitol Hill as revisiting and operating with the benefits of lessons drawn from much of the history from the 111th Congress in 2009–10.

In 2021, the issues include addressing profound issues of economic inequality, racial justice and voting rights, gun control, forging a renewable energy economy, reforming immigration, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.  

If the infrastructure program is enacted, on top of the rescue bill, and health care and education and income security programs are expanded, if real results are apparent by the end of 2021, then the killer midterm history for the incumbent party in the White House, where they lose on average two dozen seats, may not recur next year. This is why the Democrats are insistent this get done. Biden wants— and needs—to show the country, and the world, that American democracy can work again. And Democrats need to show that the Congress they lead can do big things. Because they cannot win the midterms if they cannot govern. 

Biden and the Democrats are paying a vicious political price from their failures in the context of this history

There are no deliverables from this Congress on economic inequality, racial justice, voting rights, gun control, and immigration.  And nothing on climate.  And for American women, their constitutional right to abortion has been lost. And Congress has failed to pass a law to restore it.

The midterm elections are less than four months away.  Biden’s approval rating is in the 30’s. Over 75% of the voters believe America is on the wrong track.  Inflation and interest rates are soaring.  Younger voters are massively turned off.

The midterm elections are less than four months away.

The lessons of history from a decade ago, with a 50-50 Senate requiring all Democrats to stick together – and Biden ensuring that they did – left no margin for error.  America’s democracy is not working.  Congress is unable to do big things. 

The whole world can see it. There is every risk the Democrats will lose their control of Congress in the midterms because they are not governing.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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“These are the guys?” Putin’s Dad’s army

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Vladimir Putin’s army is in a bit of a pickle. They’ve been drafting retirees, and telling conscripts to use tampons for bullet wounds.

This isn’t exactly the most impressive fighting force we’ve ever seen. In fact, they look more like dad’s army than anything else.

It’s clear that Putin is desperate to beef up his forces, but it seems like he’s just throwing bodies at the problem instead of actually preparing them for battle.

Pictures from Sevastopol in Crimea show groups of men — many well into their 50s and 60s gripping weapons and wearing uniforms.

Several appear in questionable fighting shape.

This could be a big problem for Russia if they actually get into a serious conflict. We hope for their sake that they never have to find out.

Thousands of Russian men are fleeing the country to avoid conscription. This just goes to show how unpopular Putin’s policies are, even among his own people.

The Kremlin is now trying to catch thousands of Russian men as they try and leave the country. But it’s not going to be easy.

Many of these men are willing to risk everything to avoid being drafted into Putin’s army.

It’s estimated that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine since the conflict began.

This is a huge loss of life for Russia, and it’s all thanks to Putin’s reckless policies.

Many of these soldiers were just boys, barely out of their teens. They had their whole lives ahead of them, but they’ll never get to experience it now.

It’s tragic, and it’s all thanks to Putin. He needs to be stopped.

At the same time, a video shared on social media shows a Russian officer telling new recruits what to expect.

“I say right away if you are near the fire, you are f***ed,” she says, before reeling off a list of items they will need to acquire themselves before entering the war zone.

“Take sleeping bags with you, you will sleep where you have to.”

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IRAN PROTESTS | Are countries using religion as an excuse to violate basic human rights?

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Iran protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression

IRAN PROTESTS – The story of Iran is one of a country that has been through a lot in recent history.

An uprising of both men and women has engulfed Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini. Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.

From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.

Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.

“It’s a totalitarian regime… Islam is being used to deny freedom of speech, freedom of education, freedom of movement.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

There is a feeling of discontent among the Iranian people. The economy is struggling, and many young Iranians feel they have no future.

They are fed up with the corruption of the government and the lack of opportunity.

Mahsa Amini’s brutal death

On top of this is the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman.

Amini was arrested by the so-called morality police for “improperly” wearing her mandatory hijab.

Reports suggest she was beaten so severely that she went into a coma.

Mahsa Amini protests in Iran

Three days later, she died, and many suspect it was a direct result of this police brutality.

Amini’s death has fuelled further anger and extreme protest, with widespread condemnation from Iranians, denouncing her death and the regime that caused it.

“There were 10-11 blows to her head… She was beaten while still in the van…When her body was delivered to the family they saw bruises to her neck and head.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

The incident has brought attention to the plight of many Iranians who feel they are living under an oppressive regime.

While it is difficult to predict what will happen next in Iran, many hope the death of Amani will not be in vain.

Many pray the protests will lead to real action and a country where women are treated as equals. They want a country where there is opportunity for all.

Women in Iran and around the world are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption and human rights violations.

In 2022, many are angry that men are controlling what women do with their bodies and what they wear.

However, the Founder and Director of Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute Mariam Memarsadeghi explained its women who are enforcing the strict rules too.

“It’s actually women also who are policing other women to wear hijab… It’s a very Handmaids Tale situation.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

Will this drive change?

In Iran, many young Iranians are showing the world they don’t want this system any more, that they want democracy.

They’re cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, they’re putting their own safety on the line to take a stand against the regime that has silenced them for so long.

This generation is very different, but it doesn’t guarantee that this uprising will fuel any real change.

However, Memarsadeghi said “there is no way back from here.”

“It’s very dangerous, there is a tremendous amount of respect for the men and women on the streets because each and every single one of them risks being beaten, killed, tortured, maybe even executed.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

How can organisations and world leaders help?

Iran is in the midst of a political upheaval and the world is watching.

Scenes of protest and violence are being shared far and wide on social media. The world has a front-row seat to the unfolding crisis.

However, the Iranian Government has responded by imposing a sweeping internet ban, cutting off the protesters from the outside world.

This only adds to the urgency of the situation, as Iran’s people are now risking their lives to speak out against their oppression.

World leaders and democracy advocacy groups are already discussing ways to help the people of Iran and hold their violations to account.

“The solidarity and attention from celebrities, athletes and world leaders has been extremely helpful… The future of freedom is what these men and women in Iran are doing.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

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How close to a full scale nuclear war are we really?

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Since President Vladimir Putin’s latest warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, the question of whether or not the former KGB spy is bluffing has become much more urgent.

There are several reasons why Putin’s nuclear warnings have the West worried. First, Russia has been increasingly aggressive in its actions in recent years, from annexing Crimea to intervening in Syria. This has led to a feeling that Putin is becoming more and more reckless and unpredictable.

Second, Russia has been beefing up its nuclear arsenal, with reports indicating that it now has more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world. This increase in firepower makes Putin’s threats all the more credible.

Last but not least, there is the fact that Putin is a former KGB agent. This means that he is no stranger to playing games of brinkmanship and bluffing. In the past, he has used nuclear threats as a way to get what he wants. For example, in 2008, he threatened to aim nuclear missiles at European cities unless the United States agreed to drop plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The West is worried

Given all of this, it’s no wonder that Putin’s latest nuclear threats have the West worried. Only Putin knows if he is actually bluffing, but given his track record, it’s certainly a possibility.

If a nuclear weapon were used in Ukraine, it would cause a massive humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people would be killed or wounded, and millions more would be displaced. The economic and social damage would be enormous, and Europe would be plunged into chaos.

In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also have devastating consequences for the rest of the world. The nuclear non-proliferation regime would be dealt a serious blow, and there would be a renewed risk of nuclear war.

The world would become a much more dangerous place.

Nuclear impact

A nuclear explosion in Ukraine would have a regional impact, but it could also have global consequences. The use of nuclear weapons would violate the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and this could lead to other countries acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition, the risk of nuclear war would increase, and this would have a negative impact on the entire world.

The UN has condemned Russia’s threats of nuclear war, and it has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. The UN Secretary-General has said that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and he has urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.

Russia has several allies in its war against Ukraine. These include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia also has the support of China and Iran.

The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on energy prices.

Due to the conflict, there has been a disruption in the supply of natural gas and oil from Ukraine. This has led to an increase in prices for these commodities.

The West can only threaten Putin further, as they’ve done all year, since President Biden warned that Russia was about to invade Ukraine.

Every step of the way, Putin has done exactly what the West has feared.

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