Asia had a very different political and economic landscape in the 1930s before the Second Sino-Japanese War. Due to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the Qing Dynasty collapsed into several weak states. This was a far cry from the unified superstate that dominates Asia today.
Andrew Lepore | United States
In 1942, following the invasion of Poland and its defeat by Nazi Germany, Polish diplomats sought refuge in Great Britain. That year received a secret message from their occupied homeland confirming the Jewish genocide at the hands of the Nazis. Rumors of such an atrocity had been circling for years, but with this came the first official confirmation. Newspapers and journals from around the world reported headlines such as “MASSACRE OF JEWS—OVER 1,000,000 DEAD SINCE THE WAR BEGAN” and “NAZI SLAUGHTERHOUSE”—GERMANS MASSACRE MILLIONS OF JEWS IN EXTERMINATION DRIVE”.
Even if Karl Marx has been sleeping with the fishes for centuries it looks like the father of the so-called “people’s revolution” is finally getting a taste of his own medicine. After all the pain and death his writings have caused around the world, individuals are striking back by defiling the fallen comrade’s statue.
Othman Mekhloufi | United States
A government-appointed German ‘Coal Commission’ released a recommendation to the German government on the morning of January 26th. The goals of said recommendation are to curb carbon emissions, turn to renewable energy, and take steps towards the deceleration of climate change.
The 28-member commission represents various German mining regions and utility companies. After 21 hours of negotiations, they reached a decision to fully phase out coal over a 19 year period (by 2038). This move will, in turn, shut down all 84 of Germany’s coal plants. Germany has also moved to fully shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. This decision is part of another report by the commission that was legislated in 2011. As of now, Germany shut down 12 of the 19 nuclear power plants in the nation.
The progress will be regularly reviewed by the commission in 2023, 2026, and also 2029. The goal is to find out if phasing out coal is possibly by 2035. Nonetheless, 2038 will remain the legally defined date to fully phase out coal pending German government drafting legislation based on the report.
The commission’s report is not legally binding as it still requires the action of the federal government. The report holds a set of guidelines and suggestions for the federal government to legislate accordingly in hopes of curbing climate change and CO2 emissions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will likely approve the commissions’ proposal.
Coal in Germany
Coal plants in Germany currently account for 40% of electricity and power production. Renewable energy surpassed coal as the leading source in 2018. It now accounts for 41% of energy use. By fully phasing out coal and nuclear power, Germany aims to rely on renewable energy. Ideally, renewable energy will provide 60%-85% of Germany’s power.
Germany is currently #8 in global coal consumption, although the nation only accounts for 2% of such emissions.
There are roughly 60,000 jobs with ties to the coal industry. Consequently, phasing out coal would put those jobs in jeopardy. There will likely be negative economic repercussions which will fall upon the companies and workers, as well as the families of workers. However, the commission allocated for $45 billion in aid to ease the economic hardships caused by their decision to end the industry. The aid includes an adjustment fund, as well as pension compensation for all employees aged 58 years or older. Younger workers out of a job will also receive aid in the form of education and training for jobs in renewable energy sources.
As we move towards the future, coal is being phased out on a global scale. Climate change is progressing. Therefore, many believe the shift towards renewable energy sources is a must.
Nate Galt | United States
Joseph Stalin ruled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after the death of its founder, Vladimir Lenin, until his own death in 1953. His rule caused millions of deaths in his own country. Stalin was born in Georgia, which was under the control of the Russian Empire. He changed his name from “Jugashvili” to “Stalin,” meaning “man of steel.” He did rule with an iron fist, becoming most famous for his leadership of the Red Army in World War II and for his brutal repression of his political opponents. Commissars, army officials, dissidents, and other perceived rivals of Stalin were either sent to “gulag” prison labor camps in Siberia or were simply executed. Stalin was a dictator who resorted to totalitarian measures, directly ordering the deaths of millions of people.
His totalitarian regime’s victims were not limited to his political opponents. When the Soviet dictator realized that Ukraine was drifting more towards the West, he decided to implement a famine known as the “Holodomor” in Ukrainian. His officers took the vast majority of food from certain parts of Ukraine. A survivor of this genocide recounts the story to a special U.S. government committee. She stated that “all the train stations were overflowing with starving, dying people” and that “there wasn’t a dog, a cat, or a sparrow in our village.” People resorted to cannibalism to survive. The evidence of Stalin’s rule causing the deaths of millions of Ukrainians cannot be denied.
At the beginning of Stalin’s rise to power after the bloody Russian Revolution, he wanted to make sure that he would remain General Secretary of the Communist Party and leader of the U.S.S.R. Part of his plan to do so was his elimination of any opposition. One of his strongest opponents was the Russian Orthodox Church. He wished to “completely eliminate” all religion and wanted more persecution of the clergy, going as far as imprisoning many Catholic bishops in western Ukraine. Joseph Stalin’s rule repressed religion and aimed for its destruction. He even destroyed several historic churches to build monuments and palaces dedicated to the glory of his rule and to his country, a clear sign that Stalin did not respect freedom of religion.
When the German Reich attacked the Soviet Union as a part of Operation Barbarossa, breaking the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Stalin was caught by surprise. Adolf Hitler’s offensive was quick and deadly. Western Soviet cities like Kiev and Minsk soon fell under the control of the Reich. Stalin spoke to his people, saying that the “Great Patriotic War” was a matter of life and death for the people of the U.S.S.R. He wanted absolutely “no mercy for the enemy” and stated that any cowards or traitors should be shot on sight. The Nazi-Soviet war of attrition raged on, with millions of men, women, and children mercilessly slaughtered. After key turning-point battles such as Stalingrad, the Third Reich was forced to retreat.
After the fall of the Nazi capital of Berlin on May 9, 1945, Stalin and the Allies were victorious. After the war, propaganda pamphlets owed the destruction of fascism to Stalin. The cruel dictator’s leadership during the war may have saved his country. Stalin’s supporters and communists point to the Allied victory as a good deed of his. They also point to the fact that the Russian literacy rate skyrocketed during his rule. They say that the economy grew during Stalin’s reign. He implemented a series of five-year plans in order to further industrialize the Soviet Union, hoping to produce more electricity, steel, coal, and oil. The Soviet Union certainly played a major role in World War II and the economy had a noticeable upturn; however, this fact should not distract anyone from the fact that Stalin murdered millions.
While Stalin’s modernizations could be considered a slight success, there were millions of victims of his authoritarian, oppressive regime. Low estimates put all non-wartime casualties at 10 million while the highest estimates state that Stalin was responsible for the death of 35 million people. Joseph Stalin’s methods of maintaining power were totalitarian. He kept the populace in line by the threat of execution or sentencing to a Siberian “gulag” labor camp. Tens of thousands died in these cruel camps as a result of several factors, such as the biting cold, fatigue, or starvation. In all, while Joseph Stalin ruled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and attempted to modernize it, the primary result of his regime is the murder of millions of innocent people. There are thousands of pieces of evidence that prove that these deaths were caused by the government of the U.S.S.R. Despite certain improvements in Russian education, the economy, and the victory in the deadliest war to ever have been fought, the death toll is too great to ignore.
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