In case you didn’t already hear, China recently removed the 2-term limit for holding a seat in presidency, effectively allowing Xi Jinping to remain incumbent president forever.
As most people already know, the People’s Republic of China is a communist country, governed by the National People’s Congress (NPC), the President, and the State Council. While the three entities work together to pass any legislation, the majority of the power rests with the President, who currently also holds positions as the general secretary of the party, and the chairman of the armed forces. Neither of these seats currently hold any term limits, therefore effectively allowing Xi to retain power in all three areas indefinitely.
The 5 year, 2-term limit was originally implemented in 1982 by Deng Xiaoping following the reign of Chairman Mao Zendong, to ensure that a similar situation could not be repeated.
Since the initial proposition, reporters and countries alike have passed their opinions on why this would be a bad idea. Solidifying the “trinity of leadership positions” held by Xi only strengthens his power as the president.
Going in to the vote however, it was easily assumed that the idea wouldn’t face much opposition internally, as most of the people involved already sided with the party. During his initial climb to the top, Xi had been able to quickly gain favor with the people mainly through his anti-corruption campaign.
Therefore, it wasn’t much of a surprise when 2958 voted in favor of the removal of the term limit, with only 2 voting against and 3 abstaining.
Additional constitutional amendments by the NPC were also made the same day, including the addition of “Xi Jinping Thought,” the President’s political philosophy, to the constitution.
Moving forward from this monumental day we can’t help but wonder what this could mean for China, her neighbours, and the rest of the world. While the party emphasizes that this is a crucial change in order to solidify the strength of the party, one can’t help but look back in time and compare to the many other rulers who were able to gather so much power, so quickly.
One can’t say for sure how this will end, but surely should the situation be reversed, and it was a country like America who had made a similar choice, people might have a lot more to say about it.
Wakanda IRL — What Could Go Wrong?
Apparently a lot.
We’re all coming out of Marvel’s latest release on a high. Yes, Black Panther was an amazing movie. Yes, the soundtrack was lit, and yes, it would be really cool if a place like Wakanda actually existed IRL!
Well it does…kind of.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is lush with resources of cobalt. It’s not the vibranium that was used to make Captain America’s shield, but it’s important nonetheless. The sometimes forgotten metal plays essential roles in our day to day lives. Smartphones, laptops, and electric cars all run off of lithium-ion batteries, all of which use cobalt as a key component. From uses in cancer treatments to the construction of alloys for aircraft engines, we have taken this metal and integrated it into many everyday uses.
Which is great, a little different from Wakanda, where the stores of vibranium were a well kept secret from the rest of the world, despite all the amazing creations that it led to. However, Wakanda as a country was also better off then the DR Congo has ever been.
Colonization by the Europeans in Congo began in the late 15th and early 16th century. From the exploitation of their natural resources, to suffering years of civil unrest, the people of Congo have constantly suffered from times of turmoil. Genocide, slave trading and child labour, are but a a few of the horrors the country has been forced to face. Since 1998, five million people from the DR Congo have died from war or disease. In an article released by The Guardian, it was stated that children as young as the age of seven were being forced to mine for the cobalt that gets used in most household brands today.
As more awareness is created and the realities of the situation in the DR Congo are brought to the forefront, we can only hope that those with the power to make a difference step forward. Apple, Sony and Samsung, all companies that require sources of cobalt for their products, have made claims to take steps against any supplier that violates human rights.
The world was given a chance to get this right the first time. With bountiful resources, a beautiful country with even more beautiful people, the ‘real life’ Wakanda had started off with much opportunity and potential. It took an unstable government, vicious dictators, and unethical capitalists to bring the DR Congo to the state it has now become. Black Panther’s Wakanda paints a radical vision for all of us, of what it could have been.
The World Mourns the Loss of a Great Mind: Stephen Hawking
On March 14th, 2018, the world had to say goodbye to one of the greatest mind’s of our generation, Stephen Hawking.
“It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” – S. Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a rare case of motor neuron disease at the age of 21 and was only given two years to live. Despite the continual deterioration of his condition, he was able to live out his life to the age of 76 and continue to do the work that he so loved.
Author of renowned A Brief History of Time, and known for his work on relativity and black holes, Hawking was able to take his research to new levels despite being wheelchair bound and forced to use a voice synthesizer to communicate.
According to his official website,
“Professor Stephen Hawking ha[d] thirteen honorary degrees. He was awarded CBE (1982), Companion of Honour (1989) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009). He [was] the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, most notably the Fundamental Physics prize (2013), Copley Medal (2006) and the Wolf Foundation prize (1988). He [was] a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.”
All of his award and acclaims notwithstanding, Hawking was also a loving father to three children who gave the following statement following the passing of their father,
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
The world lost a great mind yesterday and as his close friends and family gather to mourn their loss, hopefully it gives some comfort to know, that he will not soon be forgotten.
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