Biden’s first budget proposal embraces bigger government | Vox


There’s a consistent theme in President Joe Biden’s first budget proposal, released Friday morning: The federal government can help solve big problems. But to do that, the country needs to reinvest in areas it’s neglected for decades.

The $1.5 trillion discretionary funding request is only a proposal — and not even a complete budget proposal, with a more comprehensive version including mandatory spending and tax changes coming this spring. But it’s an important window into the new administration’s priorities, calling for a boost in domestic spending on issues ranging from education in poor communities to the opioid epidemic to climate change to pandemic preparedness.

Source: Biden’s first budget proposal embraces bigger government – Vox

Why Older Americans Are Taking on More Debt | Knowledge@Wharton


Older Americans are accumulating more debt as they near retirement, according to recent research that reveals a troubling trend in personal finance among people in their 50s and early 60s.

Just when they should be reaching the peak of their retirement savings, this group is still paying off mortgages and grappling with credit card debt, medical bills, and student loans. The burden is leaving them stressed, harassed by bill collectors, and worried about their financial future as the clock ticks down on their income-earning years.

Source: Why Older Americans Are Taking on More Debt – Knowledge@Wharton

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan: Who Are the Winners and Losers? | Knowledge@Wharton


The American Jobs Plan (AJP) proposed by President Biden on March 31 would spend $2.7 trillion and raise $2.1 trillion dollars over the 10-year budget window of 2022–2031, according to the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), a nonpartisan initiative that analyzes the economic impact of public policy proposals.

The AJP’s tax and spending provisions would increase government debt by 1.7% and reduce GDP by a quarter percentage point by 2031, the study projected. By 2050, however, government debt would fall by 6.4% and GDP would decrease by 0.8%, according to its estimates.

Source: Biden’s Infrastructure Plan: Who Are the Winners and Losers? – Knowledge@Wharton

‘Fighting for Survival.’ Mongolia’s China Problem | Time


Back in August of 2014, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj had Xi Jinping over for lunch.

Mongolia’s then president had been coached by Chinese officials about the pomp expected when entertaining their head of state—but it was a tall order. “In Mongolia, we don’t have many rooms for dancing,” Elbegdorj laughs.

He decided instead on a more low-key approach. Elbegdorj, Xi and their wives enjoyed a meal of Mongolian staples—grilled meat, cheese, dumplings—at the president’s residence in a southern part of the capital Ulaanbaatar. In these quiet surroundings, Elbegdorj says the two leaders broached several sensitive issues. They discussed the potential for ethnic Mongolians to freely travel between Mongolia and the Chinese territory of Inner Mongolia. They also spoke of nationalist Chinese calls for Mongolia to be absorbed into the People’s Republic, and even discussed Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is venerated by Mongolian Buddhists yet reviled by Beijing as a dangerous seditionary.

Source: ‘Fighting for Survival.’ Mongolia’s China Problem | Time

COVID-19: Experts Say India Worst Hit Country in World | Time


India became the country with the world’s second highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, surpassing Brazil, and now second only to the United States. But experts say that low testing in the country suggests the real total is far higher than both.

India now has 13.5 million confirmed cases, compared to the U.S.’s 31.1 million. The country is currently in the midst of a second wave of the virus, with confirmed daily infections reaching an all-time high of 168,912 on Monday.

But the official numbers only tell part of the story, according to multiple studies.

Source: COVID-19: Experts Say India Worst Hit Country in World | Time

Toxic and Radioactive: The Damage From Mining Rare Elements | EcoWatch


More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.

Though made in large part of plastic, glass, ceramics, gold and copper, they also contain critical resources. The gallium used for LEDs and the camera flash, the tantalum in capacitors and indium that powers the display were all pulled from the ground — at a price for nature and people.

“Mining raw materials is always problematic, both with regard to human rights and ecology,” said Melanie Müller, raw materials expert of the German think tank SWP. “Their production process is pretty toxic.”

The gallium and indium in many phones comes from China or South Korea, the tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo or Rwanda. All in, such materials comprise less than ten grams of a phone’s weight. But these grams finance an international mining industry that causes radioactive earth dumps, poisoned groundwater and Indigenous population displacement

Source: Toxic and Radioactive: The Damage From Mining Rare Elements – EcoWatch

Nineteen Burmese protesters sentenced to death—Europe get off your sofa! | Frank Hoffer

The military in Myanmar is fully aware of Europe’s response to the killing spree against democracy protesters. It is not impressed.

Nineteen protesters were sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Myanmar last Thursday. Since February more than 700 people have been killed by the military. The junta is is trying to terrorise the people of Myanmar into submission.

Source: Nineteen Burmese protesters sentenced to death—Europe get off your sofa! – Frank Hoffer

The European Union and global governance | Guido Montani

The EU’s strategic ambition must not be just to carve out a niche for itself among the major powers but to reshape global governance.

With a conference in February organized by the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Portuguese presidency, the EU launched a public discussion of the main objectives for its foreign policy and the means for their realization. The resulting ‘Strategic Compass’ is expected to be adopted in the first half of 2022.

Source: The European Union and global governance – Guido Montani

Despite China threats, Lithuania moves to recognize Uighur genocide | EURACTIV.com


After Brussels moved to impose sanctions on China in March, Beijing retaliated by targeting four Lithuanian politicians among more than a dozen European diplomats and officials. Now, despite direct pressure on Lithuanian MPs, Vilnius is planning to recognize as genocide China’s repression against Uighurs. EURACTIV’s media partner LRT.lt reports.

Lithuanian MP Dovilė Šakalienė was added to the Chinese sanctions list as one of the founders and leaders of the Interparliamentary Alliance on China, which brings together 100 MPs from 19 countries.

Together with other Lithuanian MPs, she has received “very strict, categorical and pressuring letters from the Chinese Embassy.”

According to Jakub Janda from the European Values Center for Security Policy in the Czech Republic, “China tracks closely who is exposing Chinese hostile behaviour in particular countries, Chinese Embassies in particular countries attack these individuals, so this Is just a collective Chinese action altogether.”

Source: Despite China threats, Lithuania moves to recognize Uighur genocide – EURACTIV.com

Xi urges Europe to ‘make positive efforts with China’ in Merkel call | EURACTIV.com


President Xi Jinping told German leader Angela Merkel during a phone call Wednesday (7 April) that he hoped Europe would “make positive efforts with China”, Chinese state media reported, following an international row over the treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.

The call was Xi’s first with a European leader since last month’s tit-for-tat sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, which drastically soured relations between China and the EU.

Source: Xi urges Europe to ‘make positive efforts with China’ in Merkel call – EURACTIV.com