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Jerusalem Issue Saw The United States Stand Alone

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US Consulate in Jerusalem

2017 is a year Americans are unlikely to forget very easily and it’s all thanks to one man: Donald J. Trump. They welcomed the year 2017 amid deep controversy following the election of Mr. Trump as the 45th President of the USA. Since then, Mr. Trump has managed to maintain a spot in the headlines every now and then with a number of his decisions sparking several debates. Now, with the New Year looming large, Americans find their government alienated at the forefront of another controversy; the one that has followed the immensely criticized decision by the Trump government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On December 6, Mr. Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, also signalling the move of the United States Embassy to the hugely controversial city from Tel Aviv. “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital”, he said of the decision. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” One of the promises made by Trump as part of his campaign was to successfully broker a deal in the Middle East and bring an end to decades of conflict between Israel and Palestine. With the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he seems to be doing anything but fulfilling that promise.

Why is the issue of Jerusalem so contentious?

You may as well ask why the move is being given the attention that it has been receiving and what it means. To put it quite simply, the status of Jerusalem has remained unresolved in the context of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Till the Six-Day War in 1967 Jerusalem was controlled partly by Israel in the west and by Jordan in the east. During the war Israel occupied East Jerusalem, thereby obtaining complete control of the entire city. The Palestinians and the Arab world, along with many others in the international community recognized the move as an illegal occupation of East Jerusalem. Palestine also views East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Moreover, Old City in Jerusalem is an important religious site for Jews, Muslims as well as for Christians. Therefore, Jerusalem’s status has been a contentious issue both historically and religiously.

So where does the rest of the world stand?

What has followed since the decision of the United States is a demonstration by the rest of the world on how far they are willing to go against the US or anyone for that matter to condemn what they believe does not contribute to peace in the world. On December 18, 14 out of 15 members of the United Nations Security Council gave a green signal to a measure “expressing deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” Quite obviously, the US was the only country to veto the measure following which Turkey and Yemen took it upon themselves to call for an emergency session of the 193 members strong United Nations General Assembly.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US would be closely watching and “taking names” of those who voted against them. She went so far as to write to more than 180 countries that any vote in favour of the resolution would be taken personally by the President. Mr. Trump himself suggested withdrawal of billions of dollars of aid to countries who would vote against the US. “Let them vote against us; we’ll save a lot,” he said. “We don’t care.” Even right before the voting took place, Haley threatened that the US would cut funding to the UN over the vote. The talk may have swayed some countries to its side which barely amounted to anything. 128 member countries voted in favour of the resolution and only 9 voted against it. Any consolation that the US received from the vote was 35 abstentions from some of its allies. By not voting at all, they neither criticized the move by the US, nor did they voice their support for the US on the issue, if any.

What the measure explicitly says is that any changes to Jerusalem’s status “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.” In addition, it “calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem”, clearly targeting the US decision to move its embassy to the city.

How have the different parties involved reacted?

Ambassador Haley had the following to say of the result that saw the United States pretty much isolated on yet another international issue: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.” She added, “We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.” Regardless of the vote, Haley said the US Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority called Trump’s announcement a “crime” and expressed that he no longer desires the US to broker peace between them ad Israel. In addition, more than 50 countries with a majority of Muslim population signed a statement which declares that the United States has lost its role as a “sponsor of peace” in the Middle East region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, thanked Mr. Trump for his stance on the issue as well as the other countries that voted against the resolution. Also rejecting the measure, Mr. Netanyahu released a statement saying that “Israel rejects the UN resolution and at the same time expresses satisfaction with the high number of countries that did not vote for the resolution.”

The issue remains one which needs to be closely watched to ascertain what the repercussions will be once the decisions and actions of the US, the countries in the Middle East, and Israel play out in their entirety. The United States has already made a move to reduce the contribution of the country to the UN budget. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked, said Nikki Haley of the step, adding that they would look at ways to increase the governing body’s efficiency while protecting their own interests at the same time. At the same time, Guatemala has followed in the United States’ steps by deciding to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well. As 2018 approaches, will this prove to be the new year resolution that remains in focus for more than just the first few weeks of the year? At least the Palestinians will hope so.

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A student of economics with a keen eye for developments in the geopolitical sphere, Manak is a curious individual with a penchant for writing about anything that makes him ponder long enough.

Business

How Will the US Election Impact the Stock Market?

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stocks chart

We all have a lot of questions on our plate following the results of the recent US election. We want to know what’s going to change, what’s going to stay the same and how the general switch from one president to another will impact our lives as a whole. This is perfectly natural. The truth is that with a new president will come new changes – especially considering the party in power will be switching.

One area that people are interested in seeing the results of the election’s impact is the stock market. As you can imagine, the stock market will be significantly impacted by a change in presidency. Recently, before the results of the election, the stock market was experiencing instability. Why? Because there wasn’t a clear cut front runner for the presidency – it could have gone either way. This uncertainty results in stock market instability, as investors aren’t sure where to place their money and because hedge funds aren’t sure where to invest their funds. Different presidents mean different policies, which can have a direct impact on which areas and sectors will profit and which won’t.

Now that a president has been chosen, the markets will experience a bounce. They will experience the stability they’ve been craving and more investments will be made as a result. However, as the win was for Biden, this boost will have a limited lifespan. A Trump presidency would have pushed deregulation of the markets, while a Biden presidency is likely to see more regulation. This means that the bounce will be limited.

You can learn more about the US election in the infographic by Pepperstone AE below!


Infographic Design By: Pepperstone AE

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Opinion

America’s Justice System – The Need For Reform

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A recent poll by the National Opinion Research Centre revealed that 95% of Americans favour vital criminal justice reforms. This is hardly surprising, given that several people of varying racial, partisan and ideological dispositions have called out the justice system over its many failures throughout the years. Most Americans received the Trump Administration’s First Step Act as a step in the right direction, as about 60% of people approved the criminal justice reform bill according to a 2018 poll. However, many people still believe the justice system’s approach to crime is ineffective and needs dire change, and these are some reasons why.

Prison population and funding concerns

Research conducted revealed America has about 2.3 million prisoners, making the US the country with the highest incarceration rate globally. Experts estimate that the country’s prison population has grown by a whopping 340% over the past three decades; new prisoner admissions into jails are higher than prisoner release numbers. The cost of maintaining the nation’s prisons at taxpayers’ expense has inspired a lot of backlash and calls for budget cuts. According to research, slashed correction spending was the preferred option by most states to balance their budgets and redirect spending to other areas.

Minimum mandatory sentences

Minimum mandatory sentences are statutes that force judges to give defendants convicted of a crime the minimum prison sentence. Mandatory sentences rob judges of the traditional way of considering the defendant’s character and the unique circumstances surrounding offences. Even when represented by criminal defense attorneys with many years’ experience, defendants often succumb to prosecutors’ pressure to plead guilty or face more severe charges with higher mandatory sentences. The guilty plea bargain consequently resolves about 95% of both federal and state court cases. Research also shows that about half of inmates in federal prisons are doing time for drug offences- causing overpopulation in the prison system.

Growing number of people killed by the police

An estimated 1000 civilians are killed by police officers annually in the US. The frequency of police brutality cases over the years requires immediate reform to the American justice system. Data suggests that the incidence of fatal police shootings is higher among African-Americans than any other ethnicity, inspiring movements like the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign to press on with protests for significant police etiquette reforms towards coloured minorities. The police force faces incessant accusations of racial profiling, indiscriminate use of power, and poor discretion, which has led a reported 58% of Americans to think policing needs major reforms through measures like better-trained officers, and wearing body cameras.

Evolving public opinion on crime

Research released by the Sentencing Project and The Justice Policy Institute reveals that more people in conservative states are embracing preventive, rehabilitative, and alternative sentencing options for non-violent offenders. Most Americans now view the prevention of crime as the most vital function of the justice system, as 77% of Americans think that focusing more on character education and after-school programs would be cost-effective by reducing the number of people going to jail. Almost two-thirds of Americans also believe in the need for lighter sentences with more useful, reformative programs in prisons that will benefit inmates upon release. Therefore, support for harsh penalties that harden criminals and make them a more significant menace when reintroduced into society has dwindled.

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Sports

The Best American Sports You Need to Get Into Right Now

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It’s no secret that sport is a driving force for the culture of America. Both fans and players admire the common values that are shared in all the popular American sports right now. Whether they are joining together to sing National Anthem at the start of a football game or they’re applauding great sportsmanship at the end of a tough match, it is a great way for USA citizens to bond. You might even say that sport is a universal language that everyone and anyone can understand no matter what their ethic, religious or geographical background may be. There are so many sports in action today, but here are some of the best ones in America right now that you should definitely consider following.

Ice Hockey

American Ice Hockey

When you think about some of the best ice hockey players in the world, who springs to mind first? You probably thought of Wayne Gretzky, right? Although he’s Canadian, he reached his peak when playing for the Los Angeles Kings. Surely this means that America helped to make Gretzky who he is today! With the 2020 NHL Playoffs quickly approaching, fans are truly starting to see a rhythm across the teams in each division. It’s always a fun game trying to predict who will reign as champion with the Stanley Cup this year. Before that honor can be granted they will need to earn their title in the NHL Playoffs. Of course, The Rangers are the first American team to win the Stanley Cup (four times to be precise). However, this year the Vegas Golden Knights have been given the best odds this year.

Soccer

Soccer definitely earns the top spot when it comes to sports in Europe, however it still stand strong amongst the most popular games in America. US citizens have shown consistent support for soccer games, which stems way further than the Major League Soccer. You could say that the arrival of David Beckham to LA Galaxy really sparked interest and raised the bar for American Soccer at that time. People that were following the sport soon became die hard fans. The 2019 Women’s World Cup was won by the USA and almost 15 million viewers chosen to tune in. Interestingly, this was a huge increase compared to the Men’s World Cup Final in 2018. Many say that soccer will never quite surpass the popularity of American Football, but you never know what could happen!

American Football

As mentioned, this is one of the most popular sports in America right now and has been for decades. The annual Super Bowl brings Americans together every single year and is a much anticipated event in every sports fan’s calendar. You could even say that the Super Bowl’s halftime performance is bigger than many other sporting events! The National Football League has steadily increased viewers over the years and in 2019 over 6 million people tuned in to watch the NFL draft. Similarly, when you try and name some of the biggest sportsmen in America you immediately think of those who play American Football, such as Joe Montana and Dan Marino. We might be right in thinking that American Football has and always will be number one in the USA.

Mixed Martial Arts

Having spent years flying under the radar, Mixed Martial Arts has finally made its way into the pool of mainstream American sports. You could say that the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) put MMA onto the global map. As soon as the UFC was televised Mixed Martial Arts quickly become one of the most popular sports in America. Some of the biggest names that put MMA on the map are Conor McGregor and female champion Ronda Rousey. 2016 was the biggest year for Mixed Martial Arts and it has only grown bigger and bigger since then.

Basketball

America wouldn’t be America without Basketball; both professional and college level basketball are extremely popular in the United States of America. This could be because most of the top performing college players often get brought into the NBA draft each year. It goes without saying that Kobe Bryant has made a significant impact on the world of American Basketball. He leaves a strong, honorable and everlasting stamp on USA basketball and will be missed by sports fans for years to come. The terrible helicopter accident that occurred earlier in January 2020 will be a moment that many basketball fans remember vividly. Bryant was one of those players who helped to keep the fire alive in American basketball. It is safe to say that basketball isn’t just one of the most popular games, it is one of the most treasured and truly loved games in America and all over the world.

Baseball

Baseball is known as the USA’s national pastime and sports lovers never cease to show their appreciation for baseball. The Major League Baseball event receives a high number of viewers every single year and continues to grow every season. The popularity of baseball began in the early 20th Century and hasn’t moved from top position since then. Babe Ruth, Aaron Judge and Jackie Robinson are some of the most popular names in American Baseball today and the New York Yankees are known globally for their popularity and talent.

Golf

You can’t mentioned golf in America without acknowledging the legend that is Tiger Woods. He was definitely pivotal to bringing the game of golf into the forefront of American sports fans. Golf is a hugely competitive sport, especially in the most recent years. As the competitiveness has increase, so as the attention from golf fans all across America. It is certain that golf stands as one of the top ten most popular sports in the USA right now and half of the top golfers today are all Americans.

Tennis

Venus and Serena Williams are definitely the biggest names in American tennis to date. They, like many have consistently helped tennis to get on the sports map. Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras also put tennis on the map for America, even before the Williams sisters stepped onto the scene. The US Open is a hugely popular even on the sporting calendar with consistent increases in viewers every single year.

Boxing

Muhammed Ali is undoubtedly the greatest boxer of all time and he’s an American citizen through and through. Ali didn’t just have all the skills the best boxer in the world should have, he also had charisma, nerve and the ability to communicate with the public like no boxer had ever dared to before. Joe Frazier, his main rival at the time was also American. This gave boxing a hugely, popular push in the world of sports in the USA.

Wrestling

Wrestling is most certainly one of the most popular and most watched sports in the United States of America. There are so many wrestling super stars that reached their peak of stardom so much so that they have landed film and television roles. The WWE or The World Wresting Entertainment is renowned for in the wrestling industry. This is also the reason why many people have become attracted to this sport, because of the entertainment factor.

So, there are some of the most popular sports in America right now. You may be a die hard fan of some of them or you may follow them lightly whenever you can. No matter how much you love American sports, it’s safe to say there will always be plenty to choose from!

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