It is completely ironic that you, as a male, wrote what you did. Your health is not at risk – women’s health is at risk. The unintended consequences of what’s happening in Arizona around the Dobbs decision is dire and you reduced it to a conversation around compromise.
Your assessment on who will or will not compromise is wrong. As a female, former Republican lawmaker, I can tell you that there is zero room in the Republican caucus to have fact-based conversations about anti-abortion legislation.
Speak up on abortion bills? You’ll be ‘primaried’
I worked for 10 years to make sure that rough edges were smoothed on the “pro-life” bills passed by the Legislature.
What is even more shocking is our Republican congressional delegation, Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert, couldn’t even muster the courage to protect the right to contraception, voting against a bill that would codify the right to condoms, the pill, IUDs and other forms of birth control as decided by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut.
I served as the House health committee chairwoman for six years. It was nearly impossible to get Republican leadership and enough Republican peers to address the unintended consequences of legislation.
For example, when I tried to get amendments to “pro-life” legislation to address complex policies regarding lethal fetal abnormalities, the risk of limiting training for future OBGYNs in Arizona or the use of taxpayer dollars to advance religious objectives, my objections fell on deaf ears.
I would have members tell me privately, “I agree with you but I don’t want to risk my primary election if I speak out. I am worried about getting attacked.”
They are not wrong. I lost my Republican primary, and the main “attack” on me was related to my work addressing the unintended consequences of anti-abortion legislation.
With 1 party in power, no one compromises
I have spoken privately to many of my Republican former colleagues at the Arizona Capitol and explained the current challenges related to the Dobbs decision. They were shocked to learn what this could mean for Arizona women but expressed the same reservations as before.
They are operating from a place of fear over being called anything less than 100% “pro-life” for having public conversations around the unintended consequences of legislation.
If you truly want compromise, the only path forward is a balance of power. If one party is in charge – meaning the same party in executive office and the majority in the Legislature – there is zero incentive to compromise or negotiate.
If Republican elected officials negotiate within their own party, they will be called out by the party base and will face a massive attack in their next election.
We saw this happen in the Republican primaries, where those Republicans who spoke out – who told the truth about the 2020 election, for example – were called “RINOs” (Republicans in name only) and every single one lost his or her election.
Heather Carter is a former Republican state lawmaker.
The critics are wrong: Voting in Georgia, Michigan and elsewhere is easier than ever
Jocelyn Benson and Brad Raffensperger – October 31, 2022
Voters in recent years have been inundated with disinformation telling them they can’t trust their fellow citizens and neighbors who administer elections. That voting is getting harder, and powerful forces are trying to prevent them from expressing their voice. That in a nation as closely divided as ours, the only secure election is one where the candidate they voted for wins.
These harmful and divisive messages fly in the face of reality. Our nation’s elections are as accessible to eligible voters, as professionally administered and as secure as they’ve ever been.
Voting is already happening in both our states, with high turnout and few if any problems. Voters who choose to vote by mail are receiving their ballots and returning them via mail or drop box, often planning to return their ballots with plenty of time before Election Day, as they should.
In fact, more than two-thirds of states offer these options. Despite what some are hearing, voters in nearly every state will find that voting this fall is familiar and convenient, regardless of what method they choose to use.
That is as it should be – citizens having options and voting conveniently, with maximum confidence in the integrity of the process.
And that integrity is at its peak, as it was in 2020.
Voter lists in our states and nationwide are more secure than ever. Our states and nearly every other offer convenient online voter registration, allowing voters to easily get on the rolls and keep their records up to date.
Our states have led the way in fully integrating data from our departments of motor vehicles to ensure that when someone moves, the voter lists reflect that change. And importantly, our states have joined with the majority of states – blue states like Illinois and Connecticut, and red states like South Carolina and Texas – to administer the Electronic Registration Information Center, which helps let us know when one of our voters moves to another state or passes away, and even helps identify those rare instances when a voter tries to vote twice in different states.
Georgia and Michigan have verifiable, recountable, auditable paper ballots statewide, and we’re not unusual in this regard. Ninety-five percent of voters nationwide are casting paper ballots, including all of the battleground states. And our states, like virtually all the states with paper ballots, audit them by hand to confirm that the ballot tabulators worked properly.
All of the election processes are observed by bipartisan observers at every stage, in our states and others. Voter lists are available to candidates and campaigns at all times. Voting machines are tested in public, in front of observers, and any citizen can attend the testing.
You can volunteer to help with elections
Poll watchers, properly trained and respectful of voters and workers, are entitled to observe voting and counting. Post-election audits confirming the results are open to representatives of the campaign, the candidates and the public.
We and our colleagues in other states open every part of our process to public review. And if doubts still remain, we encourage qualified citizens to volunteer to work at the polls, where they can receive training about the entire process, and see that process from beginning to end, from the inside, while serving their neighbors and fellow citizens.
It has never been easier to vote in this country, and we’re proud that our states have led the way. It’s also true that our elections have never been more secure, with verifiable paper ballots, audits and tests of voting machines and more transparency than ever.
This is true for voters across the country – urban and rural voters, white voters and people of color, younger and older voters, Republicans, Democrats and everyone else. Almost every voter will find that methods available for voting in the past are still there, and that their election officials are professionals who will ensure their voice is heard, regardless of whom they vote for.
We come from different states and different political parties. We have disagreements about policy. But we are in absolute agreement that the way to resolve those disagreements is at the ballot box, and through our elected representatives, in a system where all eligible voters find it convenient to vote and have the maximum confidence in the integrity of the process.
Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, is secretary of state of Michigan. Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, is secretary of state of Georgia. Both are running for re-election on Nov. 8.
Lula Defeats Bolsonaro in Brazil, a Crucial Win for the Amazon Rainforest
By: Paige Bennett, Edited by Chris McDermott –October 31, 2022
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva attends a celebration event in Sāo Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 30, 2022. Rahel Patrasso / Xinhua via Getty Images
A tense presidential election runoff in Brazil has led to a victory for left-wing candidate and former president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva against the far-right incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro. But as of Monday, October 31, Bolsonaro has not conceded. Lula is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 1, 2023.
In the initial election, Lula earned 48.4% of votes, and Bolsonaro received 43.2%. With neither party taking more than 50%, the election went into a runoff scheduled for October 30. In the runoff election, Lula won 50.9% of the votes, while Bolsonaro received 49.1% of votes. Bolsonaro is the first incumbent president of Brazil to not win re-election.
Bolsonaro has not yet conceded at the time of writing and has previously made statements regarding voting fraud, leaving some concern on the transition of power.
“So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognize my victory, and I don’t know if he will call or if he will recognize my victory,” Lula told his supporters on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo.
During voting, truckers believed to be Bolsonaro supporters blocked highways. Nasdaq reported that in one online video, a person said truckers were planning to block highways and were calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from becoming president. According to Time, analysts say it is unlikely for military leaders to allow Bolsonaro to attempt a coup. The Guardian reported that a close ally to Bolsonaro, evangelical preacher Damares Alves, tweeted that “Bolsonaro will leave the presidency in January with his head held high.”
Lula’s win is especially crucial for the Amazon rainforest. He hopes to designate 193,000 square miles of the rainforest with protected status, decrease deforestation and offer subsidizing for sustainable farms. He also hopes to form an alliance for rainforest protection among Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia. During his presidency in 2003 to 2010, Amazon rainforest deforestation decreased. Comparatively, over 13,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest were deforested during Bolsonaro’s four years as president.
“The socio-environmental and climate agenda is one of the places where Lula will need to act fast and firmly,” the Observatório do Clima said in a statement. “Stopping the slaughter of indigenous peoples and the devastation of the Amazon will require countering powerful gangs and, very often, the interests of allies and supporters in local governments and the Parliament. Expelling criminals from indigenous lands and reversing runaway deforestation are urgent measures, and necessary to for recover the Brazilian government’s credibility before its own people and the international community.”
Based in Los Angeles, Paige is a writer who is passionate about sustainability. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also specialized in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate degree.
Opinion. The 2022 midterm elections, which are less than two weeks away, are important to the future of our country. On November 9, we will all wake up to discover the pathway to this country’s future.
For the millions of Native Americans who believe in democracy and a pathway to progress for Indian Country, now is the time to pay attention to what is real and what is false.
Last weekend I flew to Madison, Wisconsin to cover the Midterm Elections Town Hall ‘22 event presented by Four Directions, National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund and Wisconsin Tribes. While I was there, I saw a local TV station air an ad that attempted to portray the U.S. Senate Democratic candidate, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, as being “soft on crime.”
The ad showed clips of the Black man convicted recently of running his vehicle into a 2021 Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin that killed six people. The violent ad ended with an image placing Barnes, who is Black, next to progressive Democratic House members, all of whom are women of color.
What the ad doesn’t do is explain how Barnes was in any way responsible for the deadly deed committed by the convicted Black man. Nor does the ad give any explanation at all as to why the progressive Democratic lawmakers are in any way linked to the crime — or why they’re even in the ad.
Never mind facts or logic, this ad is just the latest in a long line of GOP election ads that try to stoke fear among White voters by pushing images and false messages that violent crimes are committed by people of color at a disproportionate rate.
Barnes is running against incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who is an avid Trump supporter and a 2020 presidential election denier.
The attack against Barnes is just one of many GOP ads being shown across the country that imply Democrats are “soft on crime.” The ads reverberate back to the 1988 presidential election when Republicans introduced Willie Horton into the campaign.
Willie Horton, an African American man, is a convicted felon serving a life sentence. In 1986, Horton was released as part of a weekend furlough program, but did not return as scheduled. While on a weekend furlough he committed assault, armed robbery and rape in Maryland.
Supporters of Republican nominee George H.W. Bush used the horrific crimes to attack the Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. A political action committee (PAC) paid for the infamous Willie Horton ad, which was a classic dog-whistle tactic.
Here’s the truth about violent crime rates in the country. The Brennan Center for Justice analyzed the trends in murders across the country. In a report called “Myths and Realities: Understanding Recent Trends in Violent Crime” the data shows that jurisdictions run by Democrats are not necessarily more crime ridden than those run by Republicans.
“Despite politicized claims that this rise was the result of criminal justice reform in liberal-leaning jurisdictions, murders rose roughly equally in cities run by Republicans and cities run by Democrats. So-called ‘red’ states actually saw some of the highest murder rates of all,” the report says.
When Republicans show ads that depict Black and brown people are violent, it’s a racist tactic. Clearly these ads love to portray Democrats as “left-wing fanatics” who don’t care about crime.
Republicans for decades have sold the GOP as the party of law and order. One can even hearken back to 1968 when Richard Nixon ran for office as a “law and order president.” Six years later, he resigned the presidency in disgrace because of illegal activities.
The American voter should take into account one of the largest crimes committed against the United States was the January 6th insurrection.
Speaking in Philadelphia this past summer, President Joe Biden said: “Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress: don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on [January] the 6th.”
If Republicans are really the party of law and order, perhaps they should start at the illegal behavior of their “beloved” leader: Donald Trump, who took boxes and boxes of documents that belong to the U.S. Archives–ultimately to the American public. It stands to reason that if anyone else in the general public took government documents home with us, we would be locked up for taking them.
When voting in November, separate truth from what is false.
About the Author: “Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print\/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
What the GOP Response to the Paul Pelosi Attack Reveals About Our Miserable Political Discourse
Brian Bennett – October 31, 2022
Police take measurements around Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s home after her husband Paul Pelosi was assaulted with a hammer inside their San Francisco home on October 28, 2022. Credit – Tayfun Coskun—Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband Paul lay in a San Francisco hospital with a skull fracture from a late-night home intruder over the weekend, Donald Trump Jr. thought it would be a good time for jokes.
The son of a former President on Sunday retweeted a photo of a “Paul Pelosi Halloween costume” showing underwear and a hammer, a reference to a debunked conspiracy theory about the attack. On Monday, he posted to Instagram a lewd cartoon image promoting the same conspiracy theory. “Dear fact checkers this has nothing at all to do with anything going on in the news,” he wrote.
The mean-spirited digs after an act of political violence highlighted the devolved state of American political discourse just over a week before a crucial midterm election in which control of Congress hangs in the balance.
“Some fringe figures think it somehow enhances their reputation to articulate disgusting and revolting messages in the wake of a tragedy,” says Whit Ayres, a prominent Republican strategist and pollster. “Our political discourse continues to spiral down below what acceptable political discourse has been in the past. We will see if there is any bottom. There doesn’t appear to be.”
David DePape, the 42-year-old man accused of breaking into the Pelosi home with zip ties and attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer, was federally charged on Monday with assault and attempted kidnapping. DePape allegedly broke into the Pelosi home prepared to “detain and injure” Nancy Pelosi, and break “her kneecaps” if she “lied,” to him, according to a sworn affidavit submitted by an FBI special agent.
Some senior Republicans who had locked horns with Pelosi over the years in tough legislative negotiations were quick to express their condolences in the wake of the attack. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote he was “horrified and disgusted” by the assault. Former Vice President Mike Pence wrote, “This is an outrage and our hearts are with the entire Pelosi family.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said to Fox on Sunday that he had texted with the speaker. “Let me be perfectly clear, violence or threat of violence has no place in our society. What happened to Paul Pelosi is wrong,” McCarthy said.
The comments echoed those made by many prominent Democrats in 2017, when House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican from Louisiana, was shot at a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game by a 66-year-old man who had volunteered on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and had a history of sending letters in support of liberal policies to news organizations. Nancy Pelosi described it at the time as a “despicable and cowardly attack.”
But in recent days, many prominent right-wing voices have trumpeted fake stories about the politically motivated attack on Paul Pelosi, and tried to link it to broader concerns about violent crime.
That includes the de facto leader of the Republican Party. When asked about Paul Pelosi in an interview over the weekend, Donald Trump conflated the politically motivated attack with crime in American cities run by Democrats, an issue Republicans have been pushing hard in campaigns around the country. “With Paul Pelosi, that’s a terrible thing, with all of them it’s a terrible thing,” said Trump in an interview broadcast Oct. 30 with Americano Media, a conservative Spanish language news outlet. “Look at what’s happened to San Francisco generally. Look at what’s happening in Chicago.”
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, Congressman Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, and right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza all mocked the attack over the weekend in social media posts, in some cases suggesting without evidence that it was part of an elaborate cover up.
Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin, who has tried to bring together Forever Trumpers and Never Trumpers within his state’s GOP, had an opportunity to take the temperature down on Friday, hours after the attack. Instead, he decided to use the violent assault as a political dig at Pelosi, and a way to tout the GOP’s effort to take the speaker’s gavel. “Speaker Pelosi’s husband, they had a break in last night in their house and he was assaulted, there’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her back to be with him in California,” said Youngkin on Oct. 28, campaigning for GOP congressional candidate Yesli Vega. “That’s what we’re gonna go do.”
Republicans have for years made Pelosi out to be a villain. In 2009, the Republican National Committee ran an ad showing Pelosi’s face at the end of a gun barrel. On Oct. 26, days before the attack, Rep. Tom Emmer, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, posted a video of himself shooting a rifle with the messages “exercising my Second Amendment rights” and “13 days to make history. Let’s #FirePelosi.”
Such rhetoric doesn’t happen in a vacuum and comes as the country is facing a period of heightened political threats. Local officials and senior politicians in every state have reported receiving death threats, as misinformation and conspiracy theories spread faster online. The deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, saw organized, armed groups battering police officers. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the target of a kidnapping plot disrupted in October 2020.
President Biden, speaking at a Democratic Party reception in Philadelphia on Oct. 28, said that the spread of lies about the election and COVID-19 has eroded the country’s politics and heightened the dangers that public officials now face. “What makes us think that one party can talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘Covid being a hoax,’ ‘this is all a bunch of lies,’ and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced?” Biden said. “What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?”
Who we elect on Nov. 8 to send to Washington as the state’s first new U.S. senator in more than a decade will likely matter for generations to come.
Despite the muck that has been lobbed this election season, it is crystal clear to our board who between Congressman Tim Ryan and author and investor J.D. Vance is best suited to replace Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
With the U.S. Senate split 50-50 and few seats in play, Ohioans — many still feeling the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic — will help decide the Senate’s balance of power.
One thing is for sure, pocketbook issues will and should influence those decisions.
Culture wars may dominate most of the news out of the Ohio Statehouse, but Ohioans are far more concerned about putting food on the table and dealing with high prices than what bathroom a transgender child is allowed to use or whether or not a sixth grader can read Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes.”
Nearly a third of likely Ohio voters are primarily concerned about inflation and its effect on the economy than any other issue, according to a September USA TODAY Network Ohio/Suffolk University Political Research Center poll.
Columbus is seen as the state’s economic bright spot, but things do not shine even here for everyone.
The things he has said about the economy are vague and out of a playbook that focuses on energy independence, bashing the Biden administration on spending and inflation and commending the Trump administration’s trade policy.
He’s been light on details and comprehension of what Ohioans need and want.
“I think this is largely a self-inflicted wound. Global commodity prices are always going to shift here and there in ways that you can’t control. But if you look at things like the Keystone pipeline, shutting down that on day one, if you look at the really low number of oil and gas permits the Biden administration has granted, I think that we’ve really shot ourselves in the foot when it comes to energy prices.”
Ryan has focused his economic message on finding bipartisan solutions, taking on China and stopping “stupid” political fights to end “decades of disinvestment, unfair trade and outsourcing, and policies that have boosted the wealthiest and the biggest corporations at the expense of working people.”
Ryan was asked how he would help Ohioans facing financial hardships during a joint meeting with members of our board and others in the USA TODAY Ohio Network.
Vance was invited but declined to participate in the meeting which included questions submitted by readers from around the state.
Ryan told our board that “political people” get themselves in trouble when they think that things are OK because fundamentals of the economy like wages and unemployment seem good.
Tax cuts are needed for individuals and small businesses because those fundamentals are not being felt by Americans, he said.
“We’ve been to all 88 counties. We are going everywhere. It can be a home health care worker, it can be a construction worker— the gas prices are crushing people (as well as) food and general supply chain stuff,” he said. “You have got to put money in people’s pockets right now.”
“Inflation is a global problem. It is a little bit better here than it is in other places, but that does not eliminate the fact that people are being hurt. (There should be) a straight tax cut. Do what we did with child tax credit, advance it. The earned income tax credit, advance it. And then a general tax cut.”
What about the culture wars and social issues?
News out of Ohio’s Statehouse and words out of J.D. Vance’s mouth leave many with the impression that Ohio is more extreme on social issues than multiple polls indicate.
Ohio needs representation in Washington that appreciates and recognizes the richness and potential of all people — not just those of one particular party or the other.
The 49-year-old, 10-term congressman ran against Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi in 2017 for House minority leader. He has publicly criticized her for a list of issues that include so-called ‘congressional day trading,’ House members using their positions to get rich in the stock market.
“I love the president,” Ryan said at the time. “He’s done a lot for manufacturing. He’s helped us in Youngstown, and he understands the value of manufacturing. But on this particular issue, he is not fully seeing what we should be doing with the American economy.”
What’s important to Ohio?
Ryan supports issues many Ohioans say are important to them: including expanding the economy and supporting seniors, abortion access, affordable health care including mental health, affordable housing, upholding democracy, ending racial disparities and increasing equality for those in the LGBTQ community.
During that recent meeting with the editorial boards, he expressed understanding that Ohio’s future growth cannot be placed squarely on the shoulders of Columbus, which is experiencing the challenges that come with rapid growth including an affordable housing shortage.
Endorsement editorials are our board’s fact-based assessment of issues of importance to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff members, who strive for neutrality in their reporting.
Just 2 Minutes of Exercise Daily Can Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease and Cancer, New Study Says
Madeline Buiano – October 31, 2022
skynesher / Getty Images
If you want to start exercising but can’t find time in your busy schedule, you’re in luck. A two-part study conducted by scientists in Sydney, Australia found that just two minutes of exercise daily was associated with a lower risk of death.
To obtain their findings, the researchers included adults ages 40 to 69 years from the UK Biobank. Each participant wore an activity tracker on their wrist for seven days straight to measure motion and bursts of activity at different intensities throughout the day.
The first study enrolled 71,893 adults with an average age of 62.5 who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer. The scientists measured the total amount of weekly vigorous activity and the frequency of exercise lasting two minutes or less. All of the participants were followed for an average of 6.9 years. During that time, researchers observed the connection between the volume and frequency of vigorous activity with death and incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
According to the study results, the risk of death or incidents of cardiovascular disease and cancer reduced as vigorous physical activity increased. In fact, up to two minutes of intense exercise four times a day was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of death. The researchers note the more exercise the better, though; they found that about 53 minutes of activity a week was associated with a 36 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
In the second study, researchers analyzed 88,412 adults with an average age of 62 who were free of cardiovascular disease. The scientists estimated the volume and intensity of physical activity then observed the participants’ connection with cardiovascular disease. They followed the second group for an average of 6.8 years.
Here, the researchers found that both higher amounts of exercise and greater intensity were associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. When the intensity increased, the risk of heart disease decreased. For example, the rate of disease was 14 percent lower when moderate-to-vigorous activity made up 20 percent, compared to 10 percent of activity.
“Our results suggest that increasing the total volume of physical activity is not the only way to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease,” says Paddy C. Dempsey, study author and medical research scientist at the University of Leicester and University of Cambridge, in a press release. “Raising the intensity was also particularly important, while increasing both was optimal. This indicates that boosting the intensity of activities you already do is good for heart health. For example, picking up the pace on your daily walk to the bus stop or completing household chores more quickly.”
How Xi sacrificed China’s future in pursuit of total power
Szu Ping Chan – October 30, 2022
They called it the Shanghai diet. Every morning during the two-month lockdown in China’s most populous city, Maggie found herself in a bidding war for spinach and pak choi.
At 8am, supermarkets would update apps with what was available on their virtual shelves that day. A rush to snap everything up would ensue.
“It was like a competition,” the marketing executive says from her Shanghai apartment. “Most of the food would be gone within seconds.”
While she was rarely left empty-handed, rationing meant most of her meals during the 70-day enforced confinement were either missing meat, vegetables or sometimes both. Maggie and her husband often did without. But they wanted to ensure their three-year-old son had enough to eat during the spring lockdown. “I actually lost a few kilograms,” she says jokingly.
The lockdown created an atmosphere of fear. “Everyone felt scared. Not of the virus. But about being sent to these makeshift Covid hospitals,” says Maggie, who didn’t want her surname to be used.
“You didn’t know where you’d be taken to, or how long you’d be there. Some people had their flats broken into in the middle of the night and were taken away. Or their homes were ‘sanitised’ when they were in quarantine and a lot of their belongings were ruined. I didn’t believe this would happen in Shanghai.”
But she believes she’s lucky. A white-collar job meant she could work from home. Others haven’t been so fortunate.
Handed an unprecedented third term in office earlier this month, his political position unassailable and his every utterance carefully studied by adoring supporters, Xi Jinping is in total control of his country.
His power, and the sense that he is determined to enforce China’s cultural and military dominance even at the expense of prosperity, has sent a chill through domestic investors and the world order alike.
Proof of Xi’s apparent lack of interest in the economic consequences of his actions can be seen in the Communist leader’s choice for his second in command.
Striding out behind President Xi Jinping at the country’s recently ended Communist Party Congress last weekend, Li Qiang has become a symbol of China’s future.
Li Keqiang, the market-orientated premier, has been sidelined. As have central bank governor Yi Gang and China’s top trade negotiator Liu He. Technocrats are out. Loyalists are in.
“China has paid a high price economically in order to maintain low Covid infection,” says Vera Yuen, a lecturer in economics at the Hong Kong University Business School.
“That zero-Covid policy is likely to continue. That will affect China’s connectivity with the rest of the world.”
The emphasis at the congress on security, science and technology over economic growth and reforms also frightened investors. Not only was Xi unrepentant about lockdowns, but his tighter grip on power has paved the way for him to rule for life.
Ken Rogoff, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says this will put China on a path of slower growth and greater isolation.
“If you take the post-financial crisis period running to 2020, the IMF says China contributed more than a quarter of global growth,” he says.
“That’s phenomenal. But when China slows down, it’s going to have huge ripple effects. In Europe for example, which is very dependent on selling industrial and luxury goods to China.”
The IMF warned this month that repeated lockdowns meant the Chinese economy would grow by just 3.2pc this year because of strict Covid controls. An ongoing property crisis has also triggered a wave of debt defaults.
Rogoff, now a Harvard economics professor, said that the economy will struggle to hit 3pc growth for many years. If he is right, the economy will struggle to overtake the US in nominal terms in the next few decades – a task that will become increasingly difficult as its population gets older.
Economic growth isn’t everything. But pulling back from the rest of the world is also likely to accelerate China’s slowdown.
Rogoff says Xi’s “Made in China 2025” initiative, which is designed to reduce Beijing’s dependence on foreign technology, will also struggle.
“China’s talking about catching up in technology. President Xi talked about that a lot. But it’s hard to see how that’s going to work when you’re cracking down on entrepreneurs. State-owned enterprises are not going to be making technological breakthroughs.”
They’re the basic building blocks inside all modern technology. Smartphones, laptops, televisions. Aircraft, cars, cruise missiles. All are powered by tiny chips that make it all possible: semiconductors.
There’s only one dominant manufacturer. And it’s based in Taiwan.
The island, which drives just 1pc of global economic output, punches well above its weight because it’s cornered a large share of the market. Just under 40pc of the world’s processor chip manufacturing capacity is Taiwanese, while its high-end dominance is even greater. Ninety-two per cent of the most advanced semiconductors are made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
While TSMC’s boss recently warned that advances in the technology are slowing down, nowhere else has been able to catch up yet. China has tried. But after a decade, it’s largely failed. Its global share of the market for semiconductors remains stuck below 20pc, according to Capital Economics.
“It hasn’t increased at all, despite all the money Beijing has spent trying to lure Taiwanese engineers to come over to China to help them,” says Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at the consultancy.
“I think it just proves how difficult it is for others to replicate what Taiwan has done since it gained this comparative advantage,” he adds.
A decade behind Taiwan
It will take a long time to change this reliance. Precision engineering means building a semiconductor factory takes between two and three years, suggesting the rest of the world is at least another decade behind Taiwan.
Rogoff says it will take this long for the US to catch up, and even longer for China.
“It is remarkable what the Chinese have done,” he says.
“There are certain areas in technology where they are pretty easily on par with the United States. But in terms of private sector commercial activity, they’re behind and cutting themselves off. It’s not a recipe for growth. It’s very worrisome.”
The US is also doing its best to slow China down. It introduced strict export controls on semiconductors made with US technology in October, and also limited exports of manufacturing tools and advanced technology.
Chips for use in artificial intelligence and supercomputers can now only be sold to Beijing with a hard-to-obtain licence. Washington also introduced tough vetting standards for US citizens who want to work with Chinese chip producers. The aim is to stop China looking under the bonnet and stealing America’s intellectual property.
China’s Communist Party knows this. Beijing enshrined opposition to Taiwanese independence in its constitution last weekend, in another thinly veiled threat towards an island that has been governed independently since 1949.
Analysts fear a Chinese attack on Taiwan risks drawing the US into a war.
“If there was a war between Taiwan and China, you could potentially see a complete decoupling of trade between China and the US,” says Leather.
This would put $600 billion (£518 billion) of annual trade between the countries at risk. China is still by far America’s largest goods trading partner, with $559.2 billion sent to US shores in 2020, with machinery, toys, furniture and clothes the biggest imports.
And this has severe consequences for the rest of the world. “If you think about all the goods that we import from China, suddenly cutting them off would have quite catastrophic consequences for the global economy,” Leather says.
He believes a full-blown war is unlikely. “It is possible to imagine another scenario, for example, where China might, for example, want to have a blockade around Taiwan,” he says.
You’d assume that in this scenario, basic trade between the US and China would continue. But a semiconductor shortage would become apparent quite quickly.
Capital Economics says shortages will push up prices of everything from cars to computers around the world, as they did during the pandemic. It estimates that a 50pc rise in semiconductor prices would add around 2.5 percentage points to global inflation at a time when prices are already in danger of spinning out of control.
Countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany, which are key carmaking hubs, will suffer most from shortages, alongside Taiwan and South Korea.
Leather adds: “Without ready access to the fastest chips, innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence will slow.”
China may have sent missiles over Taiwan in August to send a message, but Leather believes it will maintain a cautious approach because the leadership has seen how a war can leave a country ostracised.
“Given how badly the war in Ukraine has gone for Russia, I think it will make the Chinese think very, very carefully about what they’re going to do with Taiwan,” he says.
“All the sanctions that the US has introduced has made China realise how difficult it could be.”
If there’s any doubt over Beijing’s desire to control citizens’ lives, look no further than the city’s Weather Modification Office. Officials here literally try to make it rain. And they’ve succeeded. There were clear skies during the July 1 Communist Party centenary celebrations thanks to a “cloud-seeding operation” that sprayed chemicals in the sky to bring downpours forward.
This idea of creeping control has also spread to Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong.
A security law introduced two years ago changed the lives of many Hong Kongers, and left a profound impact on the rule of law in the former British colony.
Thousands of international businesses have left or are considering leaving the city, while more than 100,000 Hong Kongers have been granted visas to the UK through a new scheme introduced last year.
Beijing has noticed the brain drain. Hong Kong’s new chief executive John Lee has been given access to a $3.8 billion fund to lure big business and top talent back to the city, but many have grown weary of repeated lockdowns and the uncertain political climate.
His plans largely failed to reassure investors. The Hang Seng share index is down almost 40pc this year alone. The Shanghai Composite index is down 20pc.
“Talent is leaving Hong Kong, mainly due to the stringent Covid-19 policy,” says Vera Yuen.
“This means its economic growth is more dependent on the Chinese economy than ever. More diversification and internationalisation will be needed for the city to continue to shine.”
Those left are also feeling the impact of slower global growth.
“Business hasn’t been that great,” says Herbert Lun, managing director of Wing Sang Electrical, which makes hair dryers and curling irons that are mostly sent to the US. Lun is based in the city and he also employs 500 people at a factory in Shenzhen.
“Traditionally, manufacturing in China would peak at around June, July, August for the Christmas season. And the rush would run through to September,” he says.
“This year, we haven’t actually seen a peak. Since about May a lot of our suppliers and competitors have seen a lot of cutbacks and slowdowns. Everybody’s buying just enough to cling on.”
Lun has been forced to cut his prices to remain competitive, even as the cost of production has gone up sharply.
He says more Chinese businesses are looking to branch out overseas, where pay is lower and workers more abundant. He even considered it himself.
“It used to be all ‘made in China’,” he says. “Now it’s made everywhere. And so we have to make decisions that are best for our companies. And we have been focusing more on automation to essentially that labour shortage out of our equation.”
Rising global interest rates also make it harder to do business. Hong Kong’s monetary policy runs in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve because of a peg that keeps its currency in a tight range of 7.75-7.85 per US dollar.
“I think that’s going to depress a lot of investment going forward. If we look at past experience, where we had drastic rate increases, that always led to some sort of financial crisis in the rest of the world,” says Rogoff.
“Everyone is being a little bit more careful about taking on debt going forward and doing a little bit less investment. All of this is going to have a chilling effect on the economy. And I think that’s where the biggest uncertainty is going to be. How long is this rate hike cycle going to last? And how high will interest rates go?”
Rogoff believes the policy pivot will also transform the economy. “We’ve hit peak China,” he says.
“Historically China’s priority has always been giving people growth. And if you give people growth, they accept intrusion into other parts of their lives. But now growth is going to play second fiddle.”
Rogoff has led warnings about the dangers of a widespread collapse in Chinese property prices. While much attention has been focused on the country’s biggest cities, he says the smaller so-called “tier 3” cities, which account for more than three quarters of China’s housing stock and 60pc of economic output, have suffered from the biggest rates of overbuilding.
Any house price crash will most certainly begin here.
Against a gloomy global backdrop, all this suggests China may no longer be the powerhouse it was.
For decades, it served as the engine behind 90pc of economic growth in East Asia and the Pacific. But analysts at the World Bank now believe the economy will expand by just 2.8pc this year. Growth in the rest of the region is expected to average 5.3pc.
This puts China’s growth rate behind its neighbours for the first time since 1990.
While India continues to expand at a rapid pace, overtaking the UK as the world’s fifth largest economy this year, its trade links are far less established than its eastern neighbour. This leaves no obvious contender to pick up China’s mantle.
Either way, China’s fortunes will continue to be intertwined with the rest of the world.
Economists at Axa believe a “crash-landing” scenario, where the world is plunged into a deep recession like the global financial crisis, will push China’s exports down by 20pc and result in a 3.5pc hit to the economy.
Unlike 2008, Beijing won’t be there to spend the world out of trouble.
But economists like Rogoff have warned about China’s troubles and its Great Wall of debt before. They were wrong then.
More than two decades after it joined the World Trade Organisation, China remains the world’s factory and a leader in payments technology. Rogoff concedes this, but adds that while a downturn may not be imminent, it is inevitable.
“There’s a famous saying from my thesis adviser, Rudi Dornbusch, that unsustainable situations go on for longer than you think,” he says.
“And when they collapse, that happens faster and harder than you think. It’s very hard to call the timing of these things. And China has seen remarkable growth. Their infrastructure is better than in almost any advanced economy. But you can’t keep the economy growing by just building more and more of it.”
Vaccines and lockdowns remain a crucial factor going forward. “Outbreaks have continued to flare up and mobility control has persisted,” says Wei Yao, an economist at Societe Generale.
“We think China needs much more preparation for a smooth exit, especially a much higher vaccination rate among the vulnerable. Currently, the three-dose vaccination rate for people aged over 60 remains insufficient and has been stagnant since summer.”
The shops and schools are back open in Shanghai, but many believe the city is far from open for business.
More than half of the Chinese companies surveyed by the US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai believe the country’s economic management is in decline. Its poll last week showed a fifth are cutting back on investment as a direct result of its zero-Covid policy.
For Maggie, who was confined to her apartment yet again last week as part of the city’s aggressive contact tracing policy, nothing will ever be the same again.
“It has changed my life completely,” she says. “I can’t plan any more. I live with uncertainty every day. I worry my son will be taken away on his own to a quarantine hospital.”
She reflects on the future: “In our society, being obedient is very important. For your career, or to get ahead. It’s not about doing the right thing for other people, it’s about following the rules.
“But many people in Shanghai have completely lost their trust and faith in the authorities now. I always believed that Shanghai, my city, would get better. I thought we had better transparency, more justice and less corruption. I’ve lost this belief now.”
Will DeSantis run for president? The candidate I saw during the Florida debate is worrisome.
Carli Pierson, USA TODAY – October 30, 2022
If there were a recipe to make another Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis it might go something like this: Grab some playground bully off the shelf with a heaping teaspoon of science denial, a swig of race-baiting and a lump of LGBTQ bigotry for good measure.
If it sounds nasty, that’s because it is (recipe and politics).
As a former Floridian who visits as often as possible, and because I have close family that still lives there, I care deeply about what goes on in the Sunshine State and worry about where DeSantis is heading politically.
Not everyone agrees with me. During the first and only gubernatorial debate with former Republican Gov. and now Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist on Monday night in Fort Pierce, DeSantis got a concerning amount of applause for his hateful, misleading and divisive comments. Before the debate, DeSantis was also leading in the polls and has proved to be popular in Florida.
After the debate, he went back to being favored to be a GOP candidate running against former President Donald Trump (should he run) in the 2024 presidential election. It’s with that in mind that I’m writing about the debate. What kind of candidate would DeSantis be for the 2024 campaign? And, God forbid, what kind of president?
The debate was a good window into that.
What DeSantis said during the debate
I didn’t ever imagine myself saying this because I am an atheist, but as I watched Monday night’s debate, I found myself praying Crist becomes governor again. No matter how much I dislike millionaires getting into politics, DeSantis’ far right ideology makes me nervous. But how will more centric and independent voters feel about his rhetoric?
DeSantis made some really troubling comments during the debate. He also has a record of troubling, bigoted leadership that has no place in 2022 America, or 2024:
►When asked by local news anchor Liz Quirantes about his “Stop WOKE” Act and his Florida Parental Rights in Education Act – which critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law because it bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade – DeSantis went on a tangent dog-whistling about keeping Florida free. He also stooped to his habitual race baiting saying, “I don’t want to teach kids to hate our country,” and claimed that it was false that the United States was built on “stolen lands.”
DeSantis isn’t mature enough to be governor or president
DeSantis, like others in his party, seems to be unable to realize that he is (and would be if elected) the governor of all Floridians, not just the ones who agree with him. But his radical positions send progressives, moderate Democrats and even independents running in the opposite direction.
That won’t stop if he decides to run for president.
DeSantis’ inability to answer Crist’s question about whether he would serve the full term, if elected, made it painfully clear that he doesn’t care about being governor – he wants to be president. Rather than answering the question honestly, he mumbled something and then reverted to his inner playground bully by calling Crist a “worn-out old donkey.” A “yo mamma” joke would probably have had the same effect: Rally the base; make everyone else cringe.
DeSantis doesn’t really want to be governor for much longer and he doesn’t want to listen to American voters – he wants to be president so he can push his radical agenda from the White House.
Carli Pierson, a New York licensed attorney, is an opinion writer and a member of the USA TODAY Editorial Board.