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Maui Set To Impose New Hotel Tax Due To Influx Of Tourists 

The Hawaiian island of Maui has announced that they will now be collecting a hotel tax from all tourists staying there in order to help them deal with the influx of tourists while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The new 3% tax will be collected from all individuals staying at a hotel or short-term rental on the island. According to the Associated Press, this tax comes after lawmakers in the state passed a bill that would change how Hawaii allocated tax revenue to the different counties. 

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Before this new tax was implemented, the state would collect a 10% hotel tax to be distributed to each county. According to Hawaii News Now, the bill is also cutting Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget by 24%. Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee told the media outlet that this change would help the tourism industry in Hawaii thrive overall as the world begins to reopen more. 

“This tax will help tremendously. Instead of $23 million, we’ll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million,” she explained. 

The push for Hawaii’s tourism sector to find new ways to gain more revenue comes as a major increase in travel, and travel plans, have emerged, especially in Maui. Maui’s Mayor Michael Victorino has reached out to certain airlines to start bringing fewer tourists to the island, as they are starting to become overwhelmed with wealthy travelers who want to escape. 

“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” Victorino said to the AP.

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In May 2021, more than 630,000 visitors flew to Maui. In May 2019, before the pandemic, Maui received about 847,000 tourists, so the state is currently witnessing almost pre-pandemic levels of travel while the US is still very much battling this virus and its variants. 

Maui is also one of the easiest places to travel to currently, especially for American citizens. Last week the state removed their requirement for travelers to be tested for Covid-19 before coming to the island; this stipulation only exists for fully vaccinated domestic travelers. 

Those who are not vaccinated still have to provide proof of a negative test from a “trusted medical partner site” in order to skip the mandatory quarantine period once they get to the island itself. 

Hawaii has also recently expanded their partnership with the company Clear’s Health Pass, which offers vaccinated individuals with an easy and digital way of proving their vaccination status to make travel easy. 

Governor David Ige also announced that the state plans to lift all of its Covid-19 restrictions once Hawaii reaches a 70% vaccination rate. Currently 65% of all residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated. 

Group of Protestors

Millionaires Protest In Front Of Jeff Bezos’s Homes In Support Of Taxing The Rich 

A group of millionaires took to the streets this Monday to protest in front of properties owned by the richest man in the world, billionaire Jeff Bezos, in New York and Washington. 

The protest itself was organized by a group known as Patriotic Millionaires, which describe themselves as a “coalition of wealthy individuals who push for progressive policy changes.” The group planned to perform the protest on Tax Day (which was extended this year to land on May 17th) as a symbolic gesture, standing in solidarity with all the lower income Americans who filed and likely paid much more in taxes this year than Bezos and billionaires alike. 

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The group also emphasized their support of Joe Biden’s tax plan which would raise taxes for Americans making more than $400,000 a year. The tax hike would help pay for the president’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. 

Patriotic Millionaires, whose members earn incomes of more than $1 million or have assets worth more than $5 million, protested in front of Bezos’s homes with billboards reading “Cut the bullshit. Tax the rich.”

“We’re ending up with a few rich people and a lot of poor people and that doesn’t work. That’s not a way you can run a sustainable society.” 

Morris Pearl is the chairman of the Patriotic Millionaires board, who explained how while Besox himself said he supported raising corporate tax rates, Amazon has had a long history of avoiding taxes. In fact, according to calculations by the progressive Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “in 2020 Amazon only paid a 9.4% federal income tax rate, less than half the statutory 21%.

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The Biden administration currently is proposing to increase corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%, which would also partially reverse cuts pushed by former president Donald Trump. Until Trump and Republicans in Congress passed tax cuts in 2017, the top US corporate tax rate was 35%. 

Biden’s infrastructure plan would aim to fund childcare and free universal pre-school education, as well as programs to help rebuild, and construct new, transport systems and public-sector housing. 

“It makes much more sense to require the people who have clearly benefited the most from our system to reinvest a huge percentage of their excess wealth back into that system,” Erica Payne, president of Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement.

Protests were also scheduled to take place in front of the Washington home of the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, the New York office of the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and others.

The White House

Biden’s Stimulus Plan Relieves Lower-Income Americans Of Heavy Taxes

The relief law also extends the federal boost for unemployment benefits as well as food stamps and other aid programs for struggling renters and homeowners throughout the country. The overall goal of this relief package was to specifically help lower-income households who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. 

US & France Wine Tax

Import Tax Likened to “Prohibition” in Latest Trade War

The recent decision by President Donald Trump to increase tax on all European wine imports to 100% has sparked outrage across the industry, with many comparing it to Prohibition during the 1920s and 30s.

The new tariffs are a direct response to the European subsidies for Airbus and American importers are asking Washington to cancel the proposal after it was revealed it would impact around $2.4 billion worth of French products that also include cosmetics and cheese as well as wine.

Washington has challenged the French government’s new digital services tax claiming it is specifically aimed at American technology giants and the retaliating import tax increase is seen by many to potentially be the start of further international trade wars. Although the current trade war with China has seen a preliminary trade deal appearing to be finalized.

While America and France have confirmed a two week period to discuss a deal that would suit both nations — with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreeing to further talks at the World Economic Forum towards the end of January — the European Union has vowed to back France.

A third of America’s wine industry is from imported wines and warnings have already been issued that the tariffs could devastate the $70 billion wine industry that in turn could affect businesses across the country including restaurants, bars, warehouses and even our own wineries, effectively placing thousands of American jobs at risk.

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The recent US Trade Representative (USTR) hearing in Washington saw industry insiders calling for certain products to be excluded from the tariffs, especially considering many businesses are already suffering difficulties thanks to the 25 percent tariffs that were imposed at the end of 2019 on specific German, French and Spanish wines. These tariffs were imposed as part of a different trade dispute regarding European subsidies to many large aircraft makers. The new tariffs proposed by Trump’s administration will cover more products such as sparkling wines.

And with small profit margins on the majority of wines being sold it is virtually impossible for restaurant owners and wine importers to absorb the tariffs meaning prices will have to be increased, hitting the American consumer’s pocket. The National Association of Wine Retailers has already announced they believe that the cost of some bottles of wine could double while others will disappear from our shelves completely as they will become too expensive to continue importing.

Vintage 59 is a small wine import business and partner Michael Daniels commented:

“Any increased tariff burden levied on wines or spirits from the EU… will force our customers to choose different products. Any significant sales losses, even during a short period, will require layoffs. Any extended period of losses could lead to our full-scale collapse.”

There are also major concerns that the tariffs could result in many European wine exporters opting to stay away from America on a more permanent basis which could have dire consequences in the long term as well as the short term.

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Passed in July 2019, the French digital tax saw a 3 percent tax imposed on all revenue generated from digital services and has affected corporations that have global revenues of over $1.1 billion and French revenues of nearly $28 million.

An investigation by the USTR claimed that American companies were discriminated against by the tax resulting in Washington threatening retaliatory tariffs on French imports. France disputed this and explained they were struggling to deal with the way in which they should tax technology corporations that conduct business in their country. Other European countries are now considering similar taxes, which could see further disputes with America.

Senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics Gary Hufbauer has stated that the “thresholds and definitions of ‘taxable services’ ensure that US firms are the primary target.” This follows the Computer and Communications Industry Association imploring the US to react to the tax.
Benjamin Aneff is managing partner of Tribeca Wine Merchants and has likened the tariff to Prohibition commenting, “it is without hyperbole that I tell you that the proposed tariffs would be the greatest threat to the wine and spirits industry since Prohibition, in 1919.”

Trump has said that he believes the two countries will “work it out” however he has also disregarded concerns of wine drinkers saying we should replace French wines with products from wineries across America.

Yet even with the potential for higher sales for American wines Californian wineries have also criticized the tariffs, stating that if people cannot buy their favored wine they may choose to buy anything other than American products, in an act of protest to the government. And with many great wines from countries across the world, including South Africa, New Zealand or Chile, there is still a great range to choose from.

Real Estate Investing

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Real Estate

Investments are a smart way to expand your wealth, as the returns on long-term investments can be substantial. However, when considering how to invest your money, it’s important to take into account various options. While investing in the stock market is common and relatively safe, it may be a better choice in some cases to invest in real estate instead. Buying land as an investment is fundamentally different from investing in stocks, and as such, before you make a decision, it’s best to consider how these differences are likely to impact your returns.

According to Andres Pira, the CEO of Blue Horizons Developments, there are many advantages to investing in real estate. When buying property instead of stocks, you have more control over your profits. Investing in the stock market requires buying stocks when they are low and selling them when they are high, and it can be difficult or sometimes impossible to predict how the stock market will behave. Real estate, on the other hand, is more fixed, as variables like size, location, and features remain in the buyer’s control. Additionally, when selling real estate, you have the power to negotiate your price depending on who you’re selling to, which you cannot do with stocks.

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Another advantage of real estate investments is found in their consistency. If you’re a landlord, you can expect a consistent cash flow in the form of regular monthly payments from your tenants. Generally, as time goes on, the cost of rent increases to match inflation, meaning that if you’re a landlord, you can expect monthly payments to increase with time. While the stock market offers the potential for an unexpectedly high payout, it carries with it a risk of losing a substantial amount of money, given the difficulty of predicting economic changes.

Investing in real estate is also unique in the sense that it enables certain tax advantages. For instance, real estate owners can take advantage of a depreciation expense, which allows them to save money on their taxes significantly and use those savings to reinvest, pay back loans, and more. Real estate can be a tricky market to invest in, however, and investors need to be careful about the property they choose to buy by putting substantial time and effort into research and other due diligence.

There are also a number of disadvantages to real estate investments. For one, property is very expensive; while you can invest in the stock market with a relatively small amount of money and still expect moderate returns on your investment in due time, properties that are worth investing in require a substantial down payment and other upfront costs such as improvements and repairs, as well as ongoing payments like property taxes, insurance, and more. 

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And while investing in the stock market can be as easy as signing up for an app, real estate investments take a substantial amount of your time, particularly if you’re new to the business, as there is a lot to learn when managing real estate investments, during which time mistakes can be very costly.

If you want to invest in real estate, you can be expected to be in it for the long haul, as the best way to invest in real estate involves taking advantage of a long-term strategy for maximizing profits. And while being a landlord seems to be an easy way to generate passive income, tenants can cause any number of problems, and sometimes even sue their landlords over disagreements about their living situation. To make matters worse, the law in many jurisdictions tends to favor tenants over landlords, as a tenant’s right to a suitable living environment is weighted against a landlord’s right to make money off their investment. For these reasons and more, it is essential to exercise good judgment and care when expanding your investment portfolio to include real estate, but managing properties successfully can be very profitable.

USA China Trade War 2

Promising Progress Made In US-China Trade War Negotiations

A new easing of trade tariffs between the US and China has sparked fresh hope that an end to the trade war between the countries could now be in sight.

Since Donald Trump was elected President, discussions with China’s Xi Jinping have remained tense. However, new revelations that some tariffs are to be rolled back has led analysts to predict real potential for growth in the coming months.

The stock market has also responded enthusiastically, and there has also been unprecedented steps by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase their global growth forecasts, should a deal to ease trade tensions come to fruition.

Although the details are yet to be finalised, it has been revealed that the deal will reintroduce the movement of US agricultural goods to China alongside a reduction in tariffs on Chinese imports entering the US. There are also suggestions that US poultry imports could also start flowing back into China.

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The first phase of the deal relies on the US rolling back tariffs on over $350bn of Chinese imports. If this is achieved, Xi Jinping will make the historic journey to the US to sign a partial trade deal with Donald Trump. Such progress is unprecedented and there has been excitement from investors, leading to a surge in stock markets and an all-time weekly high for the S&P 500.

Less than six months ago, further tensions were added as China announced new tariffs on $60bn of US imports, after warnings from Donald Trump against adding further fuel to the fire were ignored. Currently, China’s tariffs affect US imports of soybeans, beef, pork seafood, vegetables, liquefied natural gas, whiskey and ethanol. They range between 5% to 25%. The US currently levies a 15% duty on a range of Chinese imports, from meat through to musical instruments. According to Wikipedia, in 2018, over 1,300 categories of Chinese imports were listed for tariffs, including aircraft parts, batteries, flat-panel televisions, medical devices, satellites, and various weapons. In September, it was announced that China has implemented a 5% levy on US crude oil, the first time fuel had been affected by the ongoing trade battle.

Trump has long believed that China has been operating unfair trade practices which have significantly disadvantaged the US economy. He also accused them of intellectual property theft. The objective of the tariffs was to help boost sales to US companies by making imports more expensive. As overseas imports can often be much cheaper to produce, consumers have increasingly shifted towards the cheaper options, even if it takes a little longer for them to arrive. By focusing on making US products and companies more attractive to consumers, he hoped to give the economy a much needed boost.

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Unfortunately, this objective has not been easy to achieve, nor has it been supported by a wide range of industry experts. The reality is that the ongoing trade war is continuing to not only impact politics but wider businesses and consumers too. And whilst the intention may have been to encourage more sales towards American businesses, the tariffs could in fact have the opposite effect and prevent those same businesses from expanding their operations overseas to lucrative international markets.

With Singles Day fast approaching, this is likely to be the next major event impacted by the ongoing trade war. Similar to Black Friday in the US, Singles Day is a huge sale event which takes place on the Alibaba shopping platform. Most popular with young Chinese people, the event takes place on November 11th, chosen because the number 1 is thought to closely resemble a single person alone. Also known as ‘Guanggun Jie’, analysts have suggested that the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China could affect sales of US products on Singles Day, mainly driven by the loyalty of Chinese consumers, who could actively avoid purchasing products from US companies in retaliation for the way China has been treated.

This viewpoint is reflected in the findings of a recent survey by AlixPartners has revealed that 70% of respondents felt the trade war was influencing their purchasing decisions. Interestingly, over 50% stated that their national loyalty was preventing them from purchasing American brands, suggesting that these brands could see sales adversely affected on Singles Day due to the trade war struggles.

Although the future is still somewhat uncertain, the potential olive branches which are being presented by both parties are being taken as a positive sign that we could be entering a new phase of arrangements between China and the US. Any positive steps towards a renewed deal could not only help to reignite the flow of products between the two countries, but help to stabilize the stock market and provide an optimism across the wider global economy too.

USA China Trade War 2

U.S. and China Discuss Rolling Back Tariffs

President Trump has invoked a trade war between the U.S. and China, resulting in potential economic damage to both countries. After Trump imposed tariffs on goods imported from China, China retaliated in kind, driving up the prices of consumer goods. Now, the two countries have agreed in an initial trade deal to roll back some of the tariffs each country has opposed on the other, pending finalization of their agreement. This development represents a reversal of the Trump administration’s position on tariffs, which they instituted in the first place, forcing China to retaliate. If the deal goes through, the price of consumer goods could decrease, boosting an economy which by traditional measures is already quite healthy.

Though Trump has canceled a planned tariff increase, he has continued to threaten Beijing with additional tariffs if they don’t comply with America’s terms. The battle between Trump and Xi Jinping has lasted for 19 months so far, and has caused pain for businesses, consumers, and investors in both countries. Following this news, stocks soared, as investors anticipate an end to the protracted and arguably unnecessary trade dispute. According to Gao Feng, a spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry, the two countries have discussed resolving their differences over the past two sides, and have agreed to cancel tariffs by stages. However, a timeline has not yet been publicly established.

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As the reality of a deal between the two countries becomes increasingly likely, markets have reacted with optimism, as the S&P 500 rose to more than 3,090, approaching a record closing high. The companies most positively affected by the news are ones that have close ties to Chinese manufacturers and retailers. Despite the positive reaction in the markets, however, other sectors of the economy continue to struggle. In particular, the trade war with China has negatively impacted farm belt states like Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, where economic growth has slowed considerably. Though the Trump administration claims that Americans do not experience the effects of tariffs, businesses and farmers disagree.

This is not the first time that the United States and China seemed close to reaching a deal to end the trade war.

As a result of Trump’s presidency, American tariffs now apply to more than two-thirds of imports from China, whereas Chinese tariffs affect 58 percent of their imported goods from America. Tariffs are paid by consumers in the countries imposing the tariffs, making the trade war destructive on both sides, leading economists to issue warnings about the long-term impacts of ongoing tariffs. The imposition of tariffs on Chinese imports has long been considered a bad idea by experts, who are now vindicated by the Trump administration’s reversal of policy under significant public pressure.

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Issues unrelated to tariffs factor into the negotiations. American officials want China to take more aggressive action on protecting American intellectual property rights, for instance and contend that the ultimate decision is up to Trump. Additionally, the United States wants China to encourage more foreign investment and purchase more goods and services from abroad. This preliminary agreement suggests that China will be willing to make these concessions, but the final details have yet to be ironed out.

This is not the first time that the United States and China seemed close to reaching a deal to end the trade war. In May, the two countries agreed upon a resolution to end the trade war, which included concessions from China to change some of their business and legal practices. President Jinping even gave a speech celebrating the achievement. However, when a draft agreement was sense to the United States, significant changes had been made to the plan, leading Trump to accuse Beijing of reneging on its commitments. The changes to the draft agreement, which included the removal of promises to change domestic laws, were thought to have been personally made by Jinping himself. Only time will tell whether this new agreement suffers the same fate. 

Microsoft

Following Criticism, Elizabeth Warren Offers to Speak with Bill Gates

Bill Gates, who is known not only for his humanitarian work and his pioneering role at Microsoft but for having amassed massive amounts of wealth, recently sat down with columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times DealBook Conference to discuss matters of finance, philanthropy, and politics. In response to a question about taxation on wealthy individuals, Bill Gates said that he had paid over $10 billion in taxes, and that he’d be happy to pay $20 billion, but he is skeptical of tax rates higher than that. Gates insinuated that under Warren’s plan, he’d have to pay $100 billion in taxes, which he considered unacceptable. (He clarified that he meant that statement as a joke immediately after.) The interviewer then asked Gates if he had ever spoken with Warren about the topic, and he replied that he hadn’t, and that he didn’t know whether she’d be willing to “sit down with somebody, you know, who has large amounts of money.”

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Gates’ comment about Warren’s tax plan, as well his comments about the election more generally, received a lot of attention in the media, potentially damaging Warren’s campaign. In response, Elizabeth Warren tweeted yesterday that she’d be happy to sit down with Gates, and that she’d “love to explain exactly how much [he’d] pay under [her] wealth tax.” She promised him it wouldn’t be $100 billion. Gates responded to Warren’s tweets by applauding her commitment to proposing solutions to many of the world’s greatest problems, including climate change and global poverty, and said that he respected her ambition despite their disagreements. Gates added that he’s “always willing to talk about creative solutions to these problems,” suggesting a conversation between the two may be in the works.

Gates is one of several billionaires who has recently expressed doubts about tax plans like Warren’s

Gates, who said during the recent interview that he wasn’t going to make any “political declarations,” stated nonetheless that he is likely to vote for the more “professional” candidate. This comment was criticized as a tacit endorsement of Trump, as many commentators felt that it should have been easy for Gates to denounce the sitting president. However, Gates is known for choosing not to give political endorsements, as he doesn’t want to influence the political process in that way. In fact, Gates’ preference for the more “professional” candidate could easily be read as an implicit criticism of Trump, who defies conventions of professionalism at every opportunity.

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If Warren’s tax plan were passed into law, Gates’ taxes would surely go up, though not to the levels he suggested. Under Warren’s plan, fortunes over $1 billion would be taxed at 6%. As Gates is worth roughly $107 billion, this would mean he’d pay at least an additional $6.42 billion in taxes, a far cry from the $100 billion tax he joked about. Nevertheless, while Gates asserted that he supports progressive tax policies, he voiced skepticism and concern about Warren’s plans specifically, asserting he’d prefer “a middle-ground approach.” Notably, Sanders’ tax plan was not discussed, even though his plan calls for even greater taxes on the wealthy than Warren’s does. Perhaps a more significant source of disagreement between the two results from Warren’s proposal to break up big tech companies, which Gates opposes, though he has admitted his bias in favor of Microsoft.

Gates is one of several billionaires who has recently expressed doubts about tax plans like Warren’s; the prospect of paying more taxes drove one billionaire to tears on CNBC, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon worried that Warren “vilifies successful people,” and expressed concern about her use of “harsh” language.

Oil and Gas Plant

How Oil and Gas Companies are Grappling with Climate Change

Climate change presents a major problem for nearly every industry in the world, but the oil and gas industry is perhaps the most directly affected one. As the burning of fossil fuels is the most significant contributor to the greenhouse gas effect, oil and gas companies remain the target of blame for the crisis around the world. As such, these companies are faced with the challenge of reconciling their responsibility to the planet with their obligation to generate profits. Although the science on climate change and the activities that contribute to it has been settled for a long time, it has only been in the past few years that oil and gas companies have come to an agreement about the nature and urgency of the crisis. How they are adapting to a near-global consensus about the need to reduce carbon emissions, however, is more disparate, with some companies investing in alternative energy solutions and others focusing on improving the efficiency of oil and gas consumption.

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Perhaps the most striking example of the oil and gas industry’s involvement in shaping the future of energy consumption is the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which was formed by many of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, and whose members include BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron, to name just a few. The initiative’s stated goal is to “deliver solutions for a sustainable low-emissions future,” and their member companies are “dedicated to the ambition of the Paris Agreement to progress to net zero emissions in the second half of this century.” The initiative’s plan for reaching this goal includes three components: reducing the energy value chain footprint, accelerating low-carbon solutions, and embracing a circular carbon model.

The first objective refers to reducing the amount of methane released into the atmosphere during each stage of the process of energy production, from transport and distribution to usage by final customers. Of all of the greenhouse gases, methane traps the most amount of heat in the atmosphere, making its release a primary concern for oil and gas companies looking to reduce their impact on climate change. The second objective refers to optimizing the efficiency of fossil fuel use by investing in technologies that are more energy efficient and researching new low-emissions pathways for the mid and long-term. The last objective refers to capturing carbon emissions and storing them safely or using carbon in products, and then neutralizing any remaining carbon.

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While the Oil and Gas Initiative is certainly a step in the right direction, the organization has plenty of room for improvement. Though many of the world’s major players in the oil and gas space are represented by the initiative, the organization accounts for only 30% of the world’s oil and gas production. And the initiative is mostly focused on making existing fossil fuel consumption methods more efficient rather than switching over to renewable energy platforms, like wind and solar, though they consider renewable energy as a necessary component of the future of energy production. 

Many critics, however, suggest that the approach taken by oil and gas companies is inadequate, and insist that the transition to the energy economy of the future necessitates intervention from governments around the world. These critics, which include organizations like the Climate Action Network, blame the oil and gas industry for suppressing research about the effects of carbon emissions, and claim that major political change is necessary, as meaningful change will not come from oil and gas companies acting alone. The Climate Action Network, as well as other environmental organizations around the world, call for policies like a carbon tax, government investment in renewable energy, and an elimination of subsidies on oil and gas. That being said, global demand for energy, and specifically fossil fuels, is higher now than it’s ever been, and even the most ambitious plans for reducing carbon emissions still recognize that fossil fuel use must continue in some capacity for decades to come.

Paris Police

Massive Paris Police Protest Sets Records

On Wednesday, roughly 27,000 police officers in Paris took to the streets to protest what they claimed were bad working conditions, a lack of respect from the general public, and a string of suicides in their ranks this year. The protest was the largest police demonstration in almost 20 years, and officers wore plain clothes, as the law does not allow them to protest in uniform. Although the protest complained about not being respected by the general public, the police officer’s public image in France has suffered as a result of the protests, which have drawn criticism about how harsh their tactics are. Protestors claim that the high number of suicides among police officers, totalling more than 50 this year alone, are a consequence of the intense degree of stress and public scrutiny associated with the profession.

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According to a French parliamentary inquiry, the French police are affected by a number of problems which lower morale, such as unpaid overtime and poor working conditions. It’s not uncommon to find anti-police graffiti in France, and anti-police slogans have grown popular among crowds. The protestors claim though they are obligated to provide public service, they get nothing but scorn and derision from the public, making the job untenable and leading to the conditions that resulted in the tragic suicides of several dozen officers.

For a number of reasons, the police in France differ fundamentally from the police in the United States and other countries. For one, they don’t walk a beat, and instead the police are a national force, which uses aggression to handle conflict but otherwise doesn’t often interact with citizens. This style of work hasn’t done favors for the police force, who are sometimes taunted with encouragements of suicide and shot with rubber bullets. Although the government has promised psychiatric intervention to address the problem of rampant suicides, little other action has been taken to address the underlying causes of the crisis.

Although protests are fairly ubiquitous in France, they are generally uncommon among police officers, and as such the recent protest highlights the severity of the bad working conditions police have been complaining about. Although the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has promised more money and hires for the police, this did little to quell the concerns of protestors. A government plan to revise pensions for police officers was criticized for jeopardizing the unique retirement benefits enjoyed by police officers.

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The police officers’ protest comes in the aftermath of, and in some ways as a response to, the Yellow Vest Movement earlier this year which became violent after 13 consecutive weekends of demonstrations. The movement, which protests the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, started as a response to fuel taxes and other environmental policies that reduced the standard of living for the French population. Among the demands of the Yellow Vest protestors are the resignation of Macron, an increase in the French minimum wage, an end to austerity measures, an improved standard of living, greater transparency and accountability in the government, and better government services for rural areas, among other goals. While these protests are ongoing, the French government has made some concessions to protestors, including the cancellation of the fuel tax and the elimination of a tax on overtime and end-of-year bonuses.

The Yellow Vest protests have led to the deaths of 11 people, some of whom were protestors killed in traffic accidents while blocking roads, with an additional 4,000 people injured. The movement is a populist and economic one, focused on reforming the government to reduce the cost of living for the middle-class. Some protests have become major riots which have been described as the most violent ones in France since 1968. The intensity and size of the protests has led to a large-scale response from the police, who wear military-style riot gear, which has intensified criticism and public distrust of the police force. Both the Yellow Vest movement and the recent police protest signal a tremendous degree of social unrest among France’s citizenry, which is a trait shared in many countries around the world in the current global political climate.

Featured image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kristoffer-trolle/25037207098