Air Pollution in Beijing

Air pollution in Beijing, China has exceeded to an extent in which its government issued a red alert. This put things to a halt; schools, factories, and certain roads have all been temporarily closed. Limits have been placed on the number of cars that can drive on roads and all this went into effect this past Tuesday.

China is attempting to cut car use in half by having only odd or even-numbered license plates on the road at a time. Larger vehicles such as garbage trucks, are banned from the streets. Activities such as fireworks and outdoor barbecuing have also been banned because they’re considered to be polluting industrial activities.

The air quality is regarded as poisonous because it is detrimental to one’s health. The city and its 20 million citizens are living in a hazy, thick cloud of smog. The industrial burning of coal is mainly to blame for this toxic air, in fact Chinese cities have some of the world’s unhealthiest air quality.

The temporary shutdown of schools has affected millions of families, on Tuesday an estimated amount of 2 million students had to say home from school. These schools were closed in order to protect students’ health and to reduce the number of cars on the road, however it was an inconvenience to some. Such as Kan Tingting, a manager of a cafe who stayed indoors with her daughter.

“I had to watch my child because there is no kindergarten today. What bothers me the most is that my child may have a negative view of nature.” she told the New York Times.

 

 

Venezuela’s Opposition Party Claimed the Majority of seats in the National Assembly

On Sunday Dec. 6, Venezuela’s opposition party claimed the majority of seats in the National Assembly in elections. Now a total of 99 seats are occupied by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), while the United Social Party of Venezuela (PSUV) only holding 46 seats.

This is a significant change in power in the legislative branch, the last time a transformation this big took place was when late President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999.

“This is a victory for democracy,” said Jesus Torrealba, executive secretary for the MUD.

Many Venezuelans view this as a historical and successful change, supporters showed their patriotism through voting and posting photos of ink-dyed fingers on social media such as Instagram.

Now that the opposition has control over the National Assembly it can influence new laws and increase or decrease government spending. It also make changes to the constitution that could potentially limit President Nicolas Maduro’s power.

“This election is a real barometer for how Maduro’s government has been doing,” says Christopher Sabatini, a Columbia University scholar in Latin America.

Venezuela is a country that heavily depends on income from oil production, and due to the decrease in oil prices the government is being deprived of money. With this comes economic inflation, a recession and an increase in violence and insecurity.

“It’s a historic victory, now begins the time for change in Venezuela!” Jesus Torrealba said to cheering supporters at MUD headquarters in Caracas.

 

Europe’s Migrant Crisis

 

Thousands of people migrating from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and more to Europe are facing hardships and discrimination. Violence and harsh conditions in these Middle Eastern countries are the primary causes for migration and lots of them will go to extreme lengths to experience a better life in Europe. Migrating from one country to another can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, in some instances people die along the way.

Abdullah Yassouf is a migrant from Homs, Syria who migrated all the way to Germany with his wife and three daughters. They left their city from a violent uprising and fled to Turkey, two months later they were informed that their house and shop they owned in Homs was destroyed. After hearing on the media that Germany was the best place for migrants they decided to migrate there.

He and his eldest daughter traveled to Germany leaving his wife and two younger daughters in Turkey. They traveled by ship and paid smugglers in Turkey $6,000 USD, for each person, to travel on board. In a cargo ship was how they traveled, in it were roughly 1,000 other Syrians. For seven days at sea, the two traveled from Mersin in Turkey to Catania in Italy. “We suffered in the ship from lack of food, water and toilets.” Says Abdullah Yassouf. After they successfully landed in Italy they then traveled by bus to Milan, took a train from Milan to Verona and then another train from Verona to Munich, from Munich they took a train to Saarbrucken, Germany.

Abdullah Yassouf and his family were very fortunate to have successfully migrated from Syria to Germany, however not everyone is that lucky. In the voyage from Libya to Italy, for example, more than 2,800 migrants are reported to have died trying to make the crossing this year. In fact a total of 3,406 people have died in the Mediterranean in 2015 while trying to flee to Europe.

Some of those who do manage to cross over face discrimination. In countries such as Hungary migrants are rejected, recently a border fence was built to keep them out. Their Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, claims that last week that he was defending European Christianity against Muslims. “Everything which is now taking place before our eyes threatens to have explosive consequences for the whole of Europe,” he says.

In my opinion these migrants don’t deserve hate or discrimination, they’ve struggled and worked hard to travel to Europe for a better life. A lot of these people have left behind their homes, loved ones, and their possessions. They’re so desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to escape that they’ll pay thousands of dollars, go days without food, water, or even sunlight. They’ll risk their lives to get what their home country can’t give them: a better life.