- Battles continue with the Kim Loyalists past the new year. However, the war is ended with a decisive strike on Chongjin on January 21. They attempt to capture Kim Jong-Un in order to put him on trial at the ICC for human rights violations, but he commits suicide as the city falls. The Treaty of Kaesong, a peace treaty between the US/South Korea and the Republic of North Korea, is signed February 9, officially ending the Korean War. The date for an election is set at June 21, and there will be elections for the President and the People’s Congress, a unicameral legislative body. Ryong-Hae has already announced that he is founding the Korean People’s Party and will be running for president. There was talk of a plebiscite on Korean unification, but Ryong-Hae struck it down.
- Greece holds a plebiscite on EU membership in March, which a majority of 56% votes No on. The Greek parliament makes moves to attempt to remove Greece from the EU, or to at least reinstate the Drachma as their currency. Many EU members are unhappy, especially France and Germany, and pressure Greece to stay in to their disdain.
- Conflict in Syria and Iraq escalates in majority Kurdish areas midyear. Kurds desire for self-determination begins to escalate, especially with a hostile Shia controlled Iraqi government and a Syrian government founded by a group of people who fought against Kurds in the Syrian Civil War. President Biden makes it clear that he supports a higher level of Kurdish autonomy and discourages tough crackdown on protests.
- Choe Ryong-Hae wins the presidential election in North Korea handily with 67% of the vote. His Korean People's Party (democratic socialists) win a majority of 61 seats in the People's Congress. The US and South Korea have contributed tremendously to the rebuilding effort. Overall, the situation for North Koreans have improved tremendously, and Biden's handling of the Korean War is viewed favorably by 87% of Americans.
- President Biden is able to pass government provided healthcare for veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea, as well as a raising of the minimum wage to $10.00, adding to Obama's accomplishment of raising it to $9.00 in 2014. Moderate Republicans were in support of his decision to provide healthcare to veterans since a vast majority of their constituents were, but they fought hard against the $10.00 minimum wage.
- Preliminary clinical trials show a HIV vaccine with around 50% efficacy, which surpasses the previous well known Thai trial that had around 30% efficacy. The FDA is currently unsure about approving the vaccination, since it barely has a majority efficacy, but many people are petitioning it be passed.
- Midterm elections have Democrats gain ground in Governor's mansions, but lose ground in the Senate and House. They retain very slight majorities in both. A notable election is the ascension of Tim Tebow (R-FL) to the position of Governor of Florida, which he has stated is "the beginning of a new era of his life." The second half of Biden's term will likely see more deadlock than the first half. However, there is increasing signs of discontent between the moderate Republican faction, lead by Christie and Portman, and the more conservative portion lead by Ted Cruz. Others, such as Ayotte and Rubio are mostly vouching for party unity.
In a huge step forward for the fight against AIDS, the FDA has today approved the use of the most recent vaccine tested, which had just over 50% efficacy. This vaccine makes use of recombinant DNA, which means that it is a whole new unique strand of DNA that is not like anything found in nature. This means that there will be no live viruses in the vaccine, which tremendously reduces risk and also helped to increase the efficacy of this trial. Experts are recommending getting the vaccine at the end of the fifth grade, when other vaccines are required such as T-DAP, the vaccine for tetanus. Once production gets underway, the One organization, which has a large campaign fighting against AIDS in Africa, has announced a huge attempt to deliver these vaccinations to Africans. Many more organizations are expected to make this same pledge.
In recent years, the HIV virus and the subsequent AIDS disease that ran rampant in the 1980's and 1990's really began to drop in frequency. Yearly infections dropped from 50,000 in 2010 to what is predicted to be 28,000 this year, which is an enormous jump. The vaccine, while it is still likely going to be required, will not have as enormous of an effect on Americans, but it will likely make the disease relatively more prevalent among people in poverty than people of middle or upper class due to the cost. However, it will have an enormous effect on areas like Africa and China if resources are distributed properly. AIDS is also an issue in the Amazonian interior of Brazil with the indigenous peoples, but it is not as likely the Brazillian government will divert a lot of funds to try and alleviate it. The HIV virus will not dissapear entirely, but experts are predicting it will decrease to levels of incidence below 1,000 in the US. No matter what, we have seen a huge step in the eradication of one of the most deadly diseases.
Election season has officially kicked off with the announcement Ted Cruz will be seeking the Republican nomination for President. In a speech to supporters, he heavily emphasized a return to conservatism and the need for somebody like Reagan to occupy the White House once again to "stop America from crumbling away." The Republican nomination is expected to be extremely hotly contested with debates between the conservative and moderate factions and the unaligned portion of the party. It will also likely have a lot to do with electability and who could beat the fairly well liked President Biden. Some in the party are pointing to his age and suggesting that he will not opt for a second term, but many consider this an unlikely scenario.
Other Republicans that have hinted at a run are Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Senate Minority Whip Rob Portman of Ohio, and former Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. The moderate faction has been calling Huntsman, who has had a lot of positive time in the spotlight as Secretary of State and through the pre-war hostage crisis. He has stated that he has not completely made up his mind, but he has worked well with President Biden and would prefer not to run against him. The conservatives have already stated they would vehemently oppose a Portman or Huntsman nomination.
A new economic report came out today that shows a healthy and steady improvement of the economy since President Biden's taking office in 2016. Unemployment levels have fallen from hovering under 8% to falling to 5.6% as of the start of this month. We also saw a slowly shrinking deficit during the first year of Biden's term, which grew some during the Korean War, and then shrunk again up until now. His policies of giving government healthcare to veterans for life is something a lot of people thought would damage the economy, and it made a small dent, but whatever impact it made has been alleviated by veterans purchasing larger homes and stimulating the economy through the purchase of more goods. The one thing that has not been seen yet is the major cuts to military spending. Small cuts have been seen, but they been kept small because of the Korean War and the president's clear support for an independent Kurdistan.
Elections took place in Canada to determine whether Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal Party would retain their plurality or be ousted by the NDP or Conservatives. With 37.1% of the vote, the Liberals were elected to another term as government. Trudeau has stated that he is excited that the Canadian people have decided to give his party another chance to keep improving the country. The Liberal party took a very tough blow in the 2011 elections, winning only 3rd place with only 35 seats out of 308. It came back strong with the leadership of Trudeau in 2015, winning 39.8% of the vote and pushing the Conservatives to 3rd place behind the NDP. While the Conservative party has recovered slightly in this election, they still remain just behind the NDP. Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the NDP, has stated that he his happy that they have become a true fighting force in government and he hopes to shoot for a victory for his party in the near future.
In recent days, rumors over President's Biden's health and whether or not he was going to take up a second term are abound over the past few days. He has had two hospital trips over the past two months, one to deal with a brain clot similar to what Hillary Clinton had in 2012 and another to deal with reoccurring lung infection. Neither of these are serious conditions, but they could point to more serious causes. This has caused a lot of speculation about whether or not the President will pursue a second term. Thus far, the White House has not released a statement other than thier reply that the President is in good condition and his health should not be a concern.
This speculation has fueled more Republicans throwing their hat in the ring for their parties nomination. Last Saturday, Senate Minority Whip Rob Portman announced his campaign, with his speech focused on running a campaign for the American people and not catering to any special political niche. Yesterday, Marco Rubio announced his campaign, and called for unity in the party. Today, former Governors Susana Martinez and Scott Walker announced their campaigns. Martinez's speech called for moderation and bringing the GOP into a new age, while Walker pulled the more conservative card with a speech similar to Cruz's. However, there are still a lot more names that have yet to be called. Former Governor Christie has stated that he is mulling the possibility of a run, and has stated that his decision will be made soon. Below is the current preliminary polling: so far, Senator Rubio is leading the polls.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 30%
Fmr. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 25.2%
Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico: 16%
Senate Minority Whip Rob Portman of Ohio: 13.5%
Fmr. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin: 10%
We have some breaking news to bring after President Biden's address. Biden has stated that he would not be seeking a second term as president. He stated that recent health issues were preventing him from executing the office to the best of his ability, and that he wanted to pass the torch to the next generation in order for them to gain experience in leadership. During his speech, there were a few boos that came along with his statement, but he was met with thunderous applause at the end of his speech as he exited the room. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has stated that it is lamentable Biden has chosen to be a one term Presdient, but he fully respects his decision feels he accomplished more in one term than a lot of two term presidents have. Ayotte has stated that he put up a tough fight, and that even though she does not agree with everything he does, feels like he did many good things for America.
As of the president's announcement, his approval rating rose to 59%. Over 90% of members of the Democratic Party are dissapointed with his leaving, but respect his decision. Many politcal analysits are already saying he will be remembered very highly in a ranking of all presidents, likely in the top 20, in the future. Now we will face a primary season for both major parties. Democrats are looking at Vice President Gillibrand as a very likely contender, with numerous possible wild cards. This announcement also opens up the Republican field to Jon Huntsman, who stated earlier that he was out of the contest mostly because of the president.
We have a menagerie of entries into the political race today on the heels of the President's announcement yesterday. First off was Vice President Gillibrand announcement that she will be seeking nomination, which was largely expected as of yesterday. There was also a less expected, but unsurprising entry of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Hickenlooper. He did not win any primaries in 2016, but he is predicted to be a much bigger contender this time around with more experience and national exposure. In his speech, he talked about his sucessful bipartisan campaigns as governor of Colorado and how much progress he was able to make, which turned the state into one of the fastest growing state economies in the US. Here is the current preliminary polling for the Democratic Party:
Vice President Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: 63.1%
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development John Hickenlooper of Colorado: 31%
The Republican field also grew even larger today. Secretary of State Huntsman announced his candidacy, along with former Governor Chris Christie, both major players. Both new candidates are considered to be aligned with the more moderate portion of the GOP, and they both focused on American unity. Christie is popular among general Americans, but less so among Republican Party members. Huntsman is very popular, and similar to Christie, is popular among the public but not among his party. Here is the polling for the new Republican field:
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 21.9%
Fmr. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 20.9%
Secretary of State Jon Huntsman of Utah: 13.5%
Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico: 12.4%
Fmr. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey: 12.1%
Senate Minority Whip Rob Portman of Ohio: 11%
Fmr. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin: 6%
Today, we have even more announcements to round up from both aisles. First we have our new Democratic nominees, Secretary of Agriculture Brian Schweitzer and Senator Martin Heinrich. Schweitzer emphasized continuing and extending the bi-partisan attitudes of President Biden, while Heinrich emphasized a lot more progressive reform in government. There was also a big push for the already leading Gillibrand with the endorsement of President Biden, who stated that she had the vigor of youth along with experience to bring to the office. Here is the new Democratic polling, with Gillibrand still maintaining a large plurality over the rest of the candidates:
Vice President Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: 43.9%
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development John Hickenlooper of Colorado: 24.8%
Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico: 14%
Secretary of Agriculture Brian Schweitzer of Montana: 13.1%
Yet again, the Republican field has swelled even further with former Governor Brian Sandoval and former Senator Scott Brown declaring their candidacies. Both fall into the more moderate camp, making the nomination group much more tilted toward the moderate side. However, the more conservative candidates Rubio and Cruz are topping the polls by a decent margin compared to the other candidates. Cruz has already stated that he is concerned how many Republican candidates are ones that have become "ideologically impure" and abandoning traditional values. The Iowa caucus on the Republican side will likely be an enormous factor in what happens for the rest of the season and who could clinch the Republican nomination.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 21%
Fmr. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 20.9%
Secretary of State Jon Huntsman of Utah: 12.5%
Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico: 11.4%
Fmr. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey: 11.1%
Senate Minority Whip Rob Portman of Ohio: 10%
Fmr. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts: 5%
Fmr. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin: 3%
Fmr. Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada: 2.9%