Tuesday, November 7, 2017
The stakes of the closely fought race were especially high for Democrats, who were desperate to hold on to a governorship in a state with a popular Democratic governor and where Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 5 percentage points in 2016.
The outcome provides rank-and-file Democrats with a much-needed injection of optimism, averting the catastrophic scenario of another crucial loss. It also deals a blow to the Trump-like right-wing populist playbook that Gillespie employed in his bid to win.
“Democrats were anxious all along, at the very end, about whether this thing would go their way, whether their core vote would turn out for them. And it did. It turned out just enough to give them a close win,” said Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. “They’re breathing a sigh of relief.”
Northam had held a modest advantage in an average of major polls on Election Day. But the wide variation in individual polls toward the end of the contest spooked many Democrats who had anticipated a more certain victory.
Northam, 58, a pediatric neurologist and the current lieutenant governor, ran a mainstream Democratic campaign that emphasized his all-American biography. Northam is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute who served as an Army doctor during Operation Desert Storm before establishing a practice in southeast Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.
Northam campaigned on continuing the work of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who has presided over sustained economic growth and restored the voting rights of 168,000 former felons.
Northam also proposed increasing public school funding, providing tuition-free community college education in key areas of study for students who pledge a year of service, and using Affordable Care Act funds to expand Medicaid.
Given the reality of ongoing Republican control of Virginia’s House of Delegates, however, Northam is more likely to follow in McAuliffe’s footsteps as a “brick wall” against socially conservative legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers. McAuliffe proudly vetoed more bills than any other governor in Virginia’s history, stopping efforts to restrict reproductive and voting rights and to expand handgun access.
Northam will have the important opportunity to play a role the next time the state legislature redraws congressional and state districts in 2021. As governor, he will have the power to veto a plan submitted by the Republican legislature if he believes the makeup of the new districts is unduly partisan.
More than any one policy outcome, however, Northam’s win delights progressives for what it denies the GOP: another vindication of Trump-like race baiting.
Gillespie, 56, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a Beltway lobbyist, once embodied the socially moderate, fiscally conservative establishment wing of the Republican Party. And to some extent, Gillespie maintained this profile, emphasizing economic policy on the stump, including a proposal to cut Virginia’s income tax rates by 10 percent across the board.
But in a bid to shore up a wayward right-wing base that nearly handed populist Corey Stewart the nomination in a tough GOP primary, Gillespie embraced the Trump playbook.
In a barrage of negative advertisements, Gillespie sought to paint Northam as a frightening radical who would enable convicted sex offenders, undocumented immigrants and members of the El Salvadoran gang MS-13 to run amok in the Old Dominion State. He also claimed that Northam wanted to take down the state’s Confederate monuments, despite Northam’s assurances that he would allow localities to decide.
Ultimately, Gillespie’s approach scared off too many of the voters he needed to win in the increasingly Democratic-leaning state. “Gillespie tried to do two things: He tried to run on white identity politics and Republican economics,” Kidd said. “Republicans have to decide which of those two they’re going to run on because they probably can’t do both at same time.”
Northam, meanwhile, has tried to unite Democrats' centrist and progressive wings, but the sitting lieutenant governor upset the latter last week when he said he would be willing to sign a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.
Polls in the final days showed a close race in Virginia, with Northam having a slight edge. The same wasn't the case in the other major 2017 governor's race, where New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy is expected to easily best Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Outgoing GOP Gov. Chris Christie's numbers have plummeted in the Garden State, and Trump remains deeply unpopular there as well. https://www.npr.org/2017/11/07/562348581/election-night-2017-close-virginia-governors-race-could-offer-midterm-clues
Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) on Tuesday for the governorship in New Jersey. Murphy’s victory was expected, as New Jersey is a heavily blue state. Murphy, who served in a senior role at the Democratic National Committee and was previously a Goldman Sachs executive, will succeed Republican Chris Christie. The race comes as one of the state’s senators, Bob Menendez (D), is on trial on corruption charges. If Menendez is forced out of office, Murphy would choose his replacement.
‘Afghan women would not be setting themselves alight unless the pain she has inside is more than the pain of flames,’ writes Dr Ayesha Ahmad.
Climate change is having a huge impact on Afghanistan's agriculture-based society. Despite changing environment patterns, Afghan farmers have a limited understanding of how climate change is affecting their livelihood.
For generations, Salman Mohammadi's family has worked on a farm in the Lal Wa Sar Jangal district in Afghanistan's central Ghor province. Mohammadi inherited the family farm from his father, who had received it from his ancestors. The 32-year-old farmer cultivated vegetables and rice on his farm, storing a portion of the harvest for his family and selling the rest for money. The farming, he recalls, was hard but the life was simple.
"There was enough to eat, and we earned enough money to buy other things that we could not grow on the farm," Mohammadi told DW.
But things started to change in the past few years as Mohammadi noticed a disturbance in the rain and snowfall patterns. The problems for him and many other Afghan farmers peaked during the 2008 drought that hit parts of the country.
The livelihood of almost 85 percent of the Afghan population - living in rural areas and largely dependent on agriculture - has been severely affected in the past few decades due to prolonged droughts and declining water sources.
"Our problems increased due to bad harvests," Mohammadi said, adding that he had to give up on his family occupation and leave his village because he could not make both ends meet.
"I was not able feed my family, so I moved to Kabul," Mohammadi said.
Mohammadi's case is not unique. Over the past decades, many Afghan farmers have had to leave farming and move to the capital Kabul to earn a living. Although the worsening security is one of the reasons behind this exodus, climate change, too, plays a role.
Creating climate awareness is a challenge
Mohammadi, as well as other farmers, are unaware of the impact of climate change on their lives. Most of them attribute it to the will of god.
"Climate change and environment protection are relatively new concepts for Afghans, but we are trying to raise awareness about them," Samim Hoshmand, an official at the National Environment Protection Agency, told DW.
"Our awareness campaign can help farmers undertake certain measures to protect themselves from the negative effects of the global climate change," Hoshmand added.
Afghanistan only contributes 0.06 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, but it is among the countries most vulnerable to changes associated with climate change, according to a 2016 study, titled Climate Change in Afghanistan: Perspectives and Opportunities, carried out by Heinrich Böll Stiftung Afghanistan.
As harvesting in Afghanistan mostly involves traditional methods, farmers are unaware about the modern techniques with which they can cope with climate change.
Afghan officials also have to deal with a number of cultural and religious taboos when educating farmers about global warming and climate change phenomena.
For example, Mohammadi believes his country is experiencing less rainfall because "god is punishing" them for the ongoing violence and war.
Also, Mohammadi is not interested in understanding the reasons behind the changing weather patterns. It is certainly not his top priority as he has to deal with the harsh city life in Kabul.
Punjab has been deeply gripped by smog, leaving extremely low visibility in most parts of the province. Similar situation is being reported from Karachi. Even the smog phenomenon travels from central Punjab to the federal capital Islamabad as well, leaving us to believe that trans-boundary phenomena affect everyone across the geographic limits. How the wrong doings of one not only impact him but others too. The atmospheric smog in Punjab province has disrupted life and health of millions, besides claiming lives of many by causing accidents, asthma and eye infections. Many flights have been cancelled due to insufficient visibility.
Daily Times correspondent Humaira Saeed has reported that the Punjab government has hurriedly drafted a smog control policy that is not more than eyewash. The policy was prepared in consultation with the Environmental Protection Council (EPC) headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and featuring 35 leading environmental experts on its board. These experts were responsible for providing expertise and advice on policy formation. And they stated that the policy was hastily drawn out without proper consultation with the stakeholders as well as experts as they were given only a two-day notice to make themselves available for the meeting where the draft was to be reviewed. Resultantly, many members on the council were unable to attend the meeting to review the draft. So, the half cooked policy is on for its mere implementation. I doubt it would deliver the desired results.
We are good at making policies while our implementation mechanisms are simply the worst. Environmental pollution cannot be controlled until the pollution watchdogs — the environmental protection agencies are working under government and any senior officer in the environmental watchdogs can influence or manoeuvre the implementation of the policy. Same is the case with the smog phenomenon. The people are suffering from it for years now. Simply, it is not only a local phenomenon now rather it has spread over the region and a trans-boundary challenge caused by the atmospheric pollutants or gases that are released in the air when the fuels are burnt. When sunlight and its heat react with these gases and fine particles in the atmosphere, smog is formed. It is purely caused by air pollution.
It is not only the smog that the people of Punjab are trapped in because of the unwise and irrational decisions. The other biggest pollutants in Punjab include the unchecked vehicular pollution, environmental unfriendly industry, untreated industrial waste, sewage and solid waste (mis)management
The Punjab smog control policy could be a reasonable framework if it had included input from the relevant experts. Strangely, no step has been taken over the years to reduce air pollution in the province. We bought and installed the coal-fired power plants in Punjab and other parts of the country that have intensified the problem. The situation would worsen in the days to come resulting in health issues including respiratory and eye infections. I strongly believe that the Punjab government in controlling the smog in the province.
We are unfortunate neighbour of the two mega polluters, China and India. On the other hand, we are blind-folded with the bids of economic cooperation from China that is very vital for our economic growth. But our choices has been unwise especially when it comes to the kind of machinery we are importing from China and other countries is neither energy-efficient nor environment friendly. No environmental experts were taken on board to make environment unfriendly decisions. They should not be taken or consulted even now when we are severely gripped by the air pollutants.
It is not only the smog that the people of Punjab are trapped in because of the unwise and irrational decisions. The other biggest pollutants in Punjab include the unchecked vehicular pollution, and environmental unfriendly industry, untreated industrial waste, sewage and solid waste management. The solid waste management company, a Turkish enterprise, has turned to be another white elephant for Lahore.
If the government is interested in controlling smog, it has to vigorously act to control air pollution by taking stringent steps to monitor the air quality. It should set an example by developing a well-equipped independent EPA staffed with the independent experts that shall be answerable to the parliament only, not to the provincial government. The authorities need to review another strange decision to close down the power plants being run with furnace oil and other fossil fuels. Interestingly, there is no check on the coal-fired power plants that would turn to be a big source for the atmospheric pollution and disastrous for the human health and other living creatures.
The new decision of the government to control the smog by shutting down the furnace-oil-run power plants is itself ‘smogged’. It would serve to further disturb the supply of electricity to the households, educational institutions and businesses. It would increase the fossil fuel consumption by the electricity generators installed by individuals, offices and businesses. The decision turned to be ‘penny wise, pound foolish’. Still, the authorities need a reality check in consultation with the relevant experts to check and control the atmospheric smog as well as the geopolitical and the strategic ones.