In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?
Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.
First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.
<p><strong>Then came Kashmir.</strong> Kashmir has long been divided into Indian- and Pakistani-administered sections separated by a "line of control." The two countries have come to blows over Kashmir several times, and some Kashmiris want independence from both. Indian-administered Kashmir has the only Muslim-majority population on Indian territory, and to manage the resulting tensions, Article 370 of India's constitution gave the territory its own constitution and flag — and the right to make its own laws in areas that don't concern India's defense or foreign policy. After years of periodic unrest and insurgency in the province, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered Indian troops into the province in August 2019, and India formally revoked Kashmir's autonomy. </p><p><strong>Now comes Hong Kong.</strong> When Hong Kong passed from British to Chinese authority in 1997, Beijing agreed to respect a plan known as "one country two systems," which allowed the territory to make its own laws, in areas that don't affect China's defense or foreign policy, and to keep its own police force. Freedoms of speech and the media remained in place. After a proposed law that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to face trial on the mainland triggered a tidal wave of unrest across the city, Beijing imposed a <a href="https://www.axios.com/china-hong-kong-law-global-activism-ff1ea6d1-0589-4a71-a462-eda5bea3f78f.html" target="_blank">new security law</a> that undermines basic freedoms in Hong Kong, and would make it illegal for literally anyone on Earth to promote democracy for its people. Without sending in troops, Beijing effectively ended Hong Kong's autonomy. </p><p><strong>These three cases have something basic in common,</strong> despite their dozens of differences. All involve powerful emerging states — Russia, India, and China — with nationalist leaders who used historical claims to seize control of territory they believed rightfully belonged to their countries. And all did so secure in the knowledge that no outside power, or alliance of powers, would be willing and able to stop them. </p><p><strong>So, who's next? </strong>Successive Chinese leaders, including current president Xi Jinping, have made clear that they believe Taiwan is part of China and will one day return to Beijing's control. </p><p>In 1996, China fired ballistic missiles into the sea to intimidate Taiwan, and President Bill Clinton responded by ordering two US aircraft carriers into the Taiwan Strait to send Beijing a message. China backed down. That was 24 years ago. Since then, China has spent trillions to modernize its military and to equip it with 21<sup>st</sup> century weapons. In Asia, at least, the military balance of power has changed. </p><p>Taiwan isn't Crimea, Kashmir or Hong Kong. It's a <a href="http://statisticstimes.com/economy/projected-world-gdp-capita-ranking.php" target="_blank">wealthy country</a> of 24 million people, that is very well armed (by the US).</p><p>But if China fired missiles toward Taiwan today, how would outsiders respond? If the US president flexed America's military muscle, would China's leaders back down? What if they didn't? </p><p>And for how much longer will this question remain hypothetical?</p>
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July 10, 2020
"Neither America first, which is ultimately America alone, nor America the world's policeman," Sen. Chris Coons told Ian Bremmer in describing VP Joe Biden's approach to foreign policy should he win the presidential election in November. In the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Sen. Coons provides details of how U.S. relationships with foreign governments and multilateral alliances could change in a Biden presidency. He also defended President Obama's track record, saying "I think it is a mischaracterization of the Obama-Biden foreign policy for President Trump to say that we were picking up the tab and fighting the world's wars and that we were disrespected." Coons stated that Biden would work to restore U.S. involvement in alliances like NATO, and shore up global support to pressure China on labor and environmental standards. The exchange is part of a broad conversation with the Senator about COVID response and economic relief, Russian interference in elections, and the 2020 presidential race. The episode begins airing nationally in the U.S. on Friday, July 10. Check local listings.
Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:
How is coronavirus jeopardizing the legitimacy of a 2020 presidential election?
Well, what coronavirus is doing is a lot of states are worrying about people who aren't going to want to come to the polling places in the fall, and they're worried about a shortage of polling workers who are going to want to come out and volunteer to get sick by interacting with a bunch people in person. So, what they're doing is they're looking at making a shift to vote-by-mail. Most states allow some form of absentee balloting today. Five states just automatically mail you a ballot and they don't do any in-person voting. But the challenge here is that a lot of states are unprepared for the sharp increase that's expected. In the last election, 25% of ballots were cast by mail. You may see 50, 60 or even more percent of ballots cast by mail this time, which could overwhelm election administration, which happens at the state level.
<p>If this happens, the loser may have grounds to claim that there was voter fraud, vote suppression, there was something wrong with the counting of the ballots or some of the machines broke down. That could take a challenge all the way to Congress or to the Supreme Court. Making potentially a very messy cycle if a close election. If it's a blowout, less of a concern. </p><p><strong>The Supreme Court has been busy recently. What are some of the big decisions that they made? </strong></p><p>Well, they allowed a number of unlawful immigrants who were brought here as children to stay. They extended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to sexual orientation and gender identity. They struck down a controversial Louisiana abortion law. And they allowed prosecutors in New York to get access to the president's financial records. There are a number of conservatives who weren't happy with these decisions and are particularly unhappy with John Roberts, a Bush appointee, who is thought to be a conservative, who is the swing vote in some of these cases. Some observers are saying that Roberts is trying to prevent the institution from becoming just another partisan political institution, like Congress, by preventing 5-4 decisions that go one way. However, remember that President Trump has reshaped the lower courts, appointing over 200 judges since he first came into office, filling every circuit court available, the most since Jimmy Carter. That legacy is likely to outlast President Trump and it could outlast Chief Justice John Roberts. <br/></p>
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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have diverged. As of July 8, the average number of new deaths every three days in the EU had fallen 97 percent since peaking at the beginning of April. The US number, however, has fallen only 67 percent over the same period. That means that although both regions' death tolls peaked with only two weeks difference, the EU has flattened its COVID-19 fatality curve faster than America. Some experts attribute the difference to EU countries' more robust public health systems and better compliance with mask-wearing and other social distancing measures.