international relations

China Abandons One-Child Policy

Today, China abandoned its 35 year-old one-child policy. 

Based on the now debunked threat of overpopulation that was popularized by Stanford University scholar Paul Ehrlich, the communist government subjected the Chinese people to forced sterilizations and abortions. Many new-born babies were either killed or left to die. 

Today, the Chinese population suffers from a dangerous gender imbalance that favors boys over girls at a ratio of 117:100, and a demographic implosion that threatens future economic growth and prosperity. 

The one-child policy is a reminder of what happens when governments are allowed to interfere in deeply personal decisions of individual citizens and their families.

‘There Will Be No World Cup’: Brazil on the Brink | The Nation 

For people just tuning in, the idea that people in Brazil would be protesting the 2014 World Cup makes about as much sense as New Yorkers rebelling against pizza. And yet here we are, less than one month before the start of the Cup, and demonstrations bear the slogan #NãoVaiTerCopa, or “There will be no Cup.”

Protests, strikes and direct actions have been flaring up across the country as the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches. Most notably, as many as 10,000 people in Sao Paolo under the banner of Brazil’s Homeless Workers Movement, or MTST, has occupied a major lot next to Arena Corinthians, site of the World Cup’s opening match. They call their occupation “The People’s Cup” and point out that the nearly half a billion dollars that went into building the “FIFA quality stadium” next door could have been used to combat poverty or improve health care. The slogan “we want FIFA quality hospitals and schools” still rings out as it did a year ago, when during the Confederation’s Cup, Brazil saw its largest protests in a generation. Now there is an even sharper desperation as the cup approaches. Maria das Dores Cirqueira, 44, a coordinator for the MTST, told the Los Angeles Times, “When the government told us we would host the World Cup, we hoped there would be improvements for us. But they aren’t putting on a Cup for the people, they’re putting on a Cup for the gringos.”

This belief that the lion’s share of Cup expenditures are for foreign consumption while the disruption and pain will be shouldered by Brazil’s masses is widespread. Every protest, every rally, every cry of despair is connected to the “the three D's’”: displacement, debt and defense. The stats on displacement, debt and defense can be numbing or easy to disregard for outsiders. The numbers on people expelled from their homes vary wildly, but without question, hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable residents in the country have been or will be relocated by either carrot or stick, whether through financial reimbursement or through the barrel of the gun.

As far as debt, this will be the most expensive World Cup in history, with a low-estimate price tag of $15 billion. And then there is “defense.” In addition to harsh new “anti-terror” legislation, Brazil’s government will have more boots on the ground than any World Cup has ever witnessed: more than 170,000 security personnel, 22 percent more than South Africa saw in 2010. This brand of “defense” will drive up the displacement and debt on the ground in Brazil, as “safety” becomes the catch-all justification for President Dilma Rousseff and the ruling Workers Party’s every step. It is also “defense” that is driving people and organizations into the streets to say Não Vai Ter Copa. The “defense” operation has put the near entirety of its focus on internal targets, which creates the appearance that all of this money is being spent to protect wealthy soccer tourists from the people of Brazil themselves. (Yet even some of the internal security measures are not immune from the discontent as stadium security officers went on strike recently saying that they wanted “FIFA quality wages.”)

As Brazilians suffer these unprecedented disruptions into their lives, the words of those in charge could not be more tone deaf. Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo huffed in March that any anger would dissipate by the time the Cup was underway, saying, "People will be more concerned with celebrating rather than protesting.” FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke seemed to pine for the dictatorial Brazil of yesteryear when he said that “working with democratically elected governments can complicate organizing tournaments.” The foot-in-mouth Valcke also commented recently that FIFA has been “through hell" trying to keep the World Cup on schedule. It is safe to guess that the “hell” of having your home bulldozed or being beaten and gassed by police is slightly worse than anything Valcke has had to endure.

The calls for protest aim to highlight the pain as well as show the world who is behind the curtain, pulling the strings. There is a highly sophisticated awareness that just as the government’s World Cup plans for Brazil are designed for international consumption, there is also an unprecedented global spotlight. The great journalist Eduardo Galeano once wrote, "There are visible and invisible dictators. The power structure of world football is monarchical. It’s the most secret kingdom in the world.” Protestors aim for nothing less than to drag FIFA from the shadows and into the light. If they are successful, it will leave a legacy that will last longer than the spectacle itself.

(Photo Credit: AP/Andre Penner | Members of the Homeless Workers Movement protest against the money spent on the World Cup near Arena Corinthians, which will host the tournament’s first match in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

03.06.16 // Things are getting serious. I’ve tacked up little cards with dates for my history paper (and two for stats) on my wardrobe. They’re not exactly in chronological order, but thats the order in which things will show up in my paper.

I wish everyone doing exams luck!

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Days 2 & 3 of my 40 days of Exam Revision:

• Checked a nice library with a solemn architecture on the campus;
• Narrowed the scope of my IR essay and laid out rough outline with some citations;
• Dealt (more or less?) with Poststructuralism (Critical theories are so interrelated and confusing, guys!);
• Went to a Q&A session for the exam;
• Extra: sent my family in Russia some New Year presents & donated unwanted items for charity!