8 September 2018   Leave a comment

Visual Capitalist is a web site that publishes beautiful graphics to demonstrate economic facts.  It has published a stunning graphic of the world’s rich (those with wealth above $50 million) which shows where the global economic elite live.  The distribution of that elite is not surprising, but the rate of growth of that elite in each area reveals a great deal.  Of particular interest is the fact that in two countries, Great Britain and Turkey, the number of the very rich is declining:  the effects of Brexit and Erdogan are obvious.  Some conclusions are important:

“North America still reigns supreme, but Asia is fast catching up and has already surpassed Europe in this measure of wealth. It’s worth noting that in the one-year span between 2016 (Q4) and 2017 (Q4), the ultra-wealthy population for Asia grew a solid 15%….

“The U.S. holds about 30% of the world’s ultra-wealthy population, while China adds up to nearly 11% when including both Mainland China and Hong Kong in the calculations.

“Switzerland (8.4 million people) punches above its weight class, hitting the #9 spot globally, while Canada takes the #5 spot despite having fewer people (36 million) than the majority of the countries on the list.”

 

The World's Ultra-Wealthy Population, in One Chart

 

The Trump Administration continues to cut funding for the Palestinian people.  It has cut virtually all financial assistance to the Palestinians, including critical funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).  This time, the US has cut $25 million earmarked for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.  According to the World Health Organization:

“The six East Jerusalem hospitals have had an historic role in the development of the Palestinian health care system and training of health professionals.  They have been the main providers of tertiary referral care for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for health services for which the Ministry of Health is unable to provide, such as cancer care, cardiac and eye surgeries, neonatal intensive care, children’s dialysis and physical rehabilitation of children.”

The cuts are an attempt to pressure the Palestinian Authority to accept the still-unveiled peace plan being formulated by the Trump Administration.  On 6 September, President Trump made this comment in response to a question from Alan Dershowitz:

“And the other thing I did, Alan, I will tell you, is I stopped massive amounts of money that we were paying to the Palestinians and the Palestinian leaders. We were — the United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money. And I’d say, you’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying. And that’s going to have a little impact.”

Political pressure to force a deal is entirely legitimate, but this money was the last part of the money the US has historically given to the Palestinian people.  So there are two points to ponder.  First, the US no longer has any financial leverage over the Palestinian Authority.  When the peace deal is made public, there will no longer be any way to exert financial pressure toward its acceptance.  Second, putting pressure on sick people does not put pressure on the political authorities.  Indeed, the move smacks of collective punishment on the most vulnerable, and it makes the US seem completely unfeeling.

 

China is consolidating its control over the South China Sea.  China claims the South China Sea to be part of its national territory, using what it calls the “Nine-Dash Line” to outline its sovereignty.  The international law of the sea does not recognize the Chinese claims and instead uses the more traditional techniques of measuring the seas from the coastline of the states that abut the sea.  The map below shows the difference in the two claims:  the Chinese claim is the line in red; the international law basis for territory is outlined in blue.  In order to buttress its claim, China has been building up reefs and shoals in the South China Sea and building military installations on those artificial islands (international law does not recognize artificial islands as a basis for sovereignty).  Because the Chinese consider the artificial islands to be sovereign territory, it believes that it has a 12-mile buffer from international waters.  The US and Great Britain have challenged that belief by sailing their naval vessels within the 12-mile limit asserting their rights to sail through international waters.  At some point, push will come to shove in this diplomatic tussle.

Posted September 8, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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