Democracy is not to Blame: How Institutions Sink or Float a Country’s Covid-19 Response

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States has stood out for its failure to contain the virus’ spread. Meanwhile, governments in places such as Vietnam and China (after its initial attempts to conceal the existence of the virus) have been noted for the ways in which they have stopped the spread of Covid-19 within their borders. Given that Vietnam and China are both authoritarian countries, and the United States, a democracy, the popular idea has arisen that authoritarian governments are better at adequately preventing the spread of the virus. However, this is false. It is the quality of the institutions that matter, not the type of government.

South Korean Conservatism Perpetuated by the Cho, Joong, Dong

Fox News, CNN, and MSMBC consist leading cable news in the United States in 2020, a mix of liberal and conservative. [1] Chosun Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo are the three most highly circulated newspapers in South Korea, all three of them conservative. As a native Korean, I’ve always wondered how the US has such successful liberal media outlets. Now, as an international student surrounded by peers from all around the globe, I’ve realized the real question is why all South Korea major media outlets are conservative.

Information Warfare: Social Media and the Unfreedom of Speech

The last decade has shown an increase in foreign-spread disinformation through social media, which has been especially highlighted in recent US and EU elections. In May 2018, Christopher Wylie, a whistle blower from Cambridge Analytica, told Congress, “If a foreign actor dropped propaganda leaflets by aeroplane over Florida or Michigan, that would universally be condemned a hostile act. But this is what is happening online.” [1] He went on to argue that information warfare should be taken seriously, but unfortunately, disinformation on social media has already deeply infected Western democracies. This is evidenced by foreign interference in recent elections of the US and the EU as well as civil unrest directly linked to foreign spread propaganda and conspiracies.

Muslims in France: A Double Identity

This past October, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons provoked another deadly incident. After a French teacher showed cartoons of Prophet Muhammed to his class, he was beheaded by one of his students. Days later, three people were killed in front of a church in Nice. President Macron labeled the incident as an “Islamist terrorist attack.” [1] The recent killings have evoked widespread fear and memories of the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the November 2015, in which two Muslim gunmen broke into Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters and killed twelve people, as well as the Paris terrorist attacks. Can France construct a secure society without alienating its Muslim citizens?

Evaluating the Biden Appointments: Hawkish or Progressive?

As Joe Biden unexpectedly became the Democratic nominee after his rival, Bernie Sanders, conceded, there was much debate about how Joe Biden would be able to attract voters to his left. Before the Democratic National Convention, many within the Bernie Sanders campaign were able to push Joe Biden to adopt somewhat more progressive stances on healthcare, criminal justice, and environmental policy. Notably absent, however, were any substantial changes to Joe Biden’s foreign policy positions. The statements, advisors, appointments, and policy proposals of the future Biden administration that are currently available indicate that any substantial structural reform or progressive shift in terms of American foreign policy will not occur during the Biden administration.

The Balance Between Political Freedom and Economic Revival in Southeast Asia

It would be the understatement of the century to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively disrupted nations’ economies. In the Southeast Asian region, where economies are considerably dependent on tourism, economic recovery has been particularly brutal. However, many of these Southeast countries have compromised democratic ideals to revive the economy. For example, Thailand has expanded upon the government’s emergency powers, and Indonesia has enacted procedures to curtail expressions criticizing the government’s COVID-19 response. These actions are worrisome to democracy promoters, but the question remains: is it necessary to limit freedom in times of emergency?

Globalized Hollywood: Good Politics Makes for Bad Art

Since the 1980s, Hollywood films have become an artistic manifestation of American economic dominance. The industry’s major distributors have been able to leverage U.S. foreign power to pave the way for a new international market in countries that have historically shielded their domestic film industry. In 2019, the international box office hit a record $42.5B with Hollywood films comprising 73% of grosses. [1] However, Hollywood’s global power is not without cost. To meet international film-production laws, Hollywood sacrifices artistic autonomy.

Un Término Más para el MAS: Luis Arce’s victory in Bolivia Represents a Resounding Victory for Democracy in Latin America

On November 8th, 2020, Luis Arce was sworn in as the third president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. [1] Before serving as the presidential candidate for the Movimiento al Socialismo party, Arce served as Economic Minister under its previous leader, Evo Morales. During his tenure, he implemented policies that delivered economic growth rates far exceeding other Latin American countries. The Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) noted that during his tenure, Bolivian GDP per capita rose more than 50%- one of the highest in the world. [2] This radical transformation was in part owed to nationalizations he oversaw: from 2006 to 2019, industries such as telecommunications and mining were nationalized to finance anti-poverty campaigns. These programs also paid astounding dividends, with poverty rates slashed in half from over 60% in 2006 to 35% in 2019. [3]

Will K-Pop Really Bring About the Downfall of the North Korean Regime? It’s Not Likely.

In a 2019 interview with Time, North Korean diplomat-turned-defector Thae Yong-Ho boldly predicted, “Materialism will one day bring change.” [1] Like Thae, many North Korea watchers are betting on the power of pop culture and its ability to take down a 75-year-old regime. But is North Korea’s trajectory really pointing toward collapse? And if so, does the credit for that go to Korean dramas, K-Pop, and other flows of outside information? The short answer: no, and no.