Happy New Years!

Happy New Years 2017! I wish a happy New Year to all my followers, to all those who read this blog, and to the whole world. Say a happy goodbye to 2016 and welcome to 2017! May it be a year of blessings for all of us.

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The December Solstice, a Special Day

Today is December 21, 2016, the December Solstice. It is a special day because it means we have left 10 more days of 2016 and 30 more days of the Obama Administration. We should consider how we are to make the most of what is left of these two periods which we could end up missing, if only briefly, and figure out how to prepare for 2017 and for the Presidency of Donald Trump. How will we spend 2017, and what will life be like under a Trump Administration? These are both important questions in their own ways.

We Remember

Today is the second anniversary of one of the worst terrorist attacks ever. On December 16, 2014, seven gunmen entered the Army Public School of Peshawar, Pakistan, where the children of military officers studied, and indiscriminately opened fire, trying to kill as many schoolboys as they could until they were defeated by Pakistani special forces. In the end, 141 people were killed, including 132 schoolchildren from eight to eighteen years of age. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history and one of the world’s worst atrocities. The people of Pakistan have consistently suffered from terrorism for more than a decade, but this took it to a whole new level.

Each and every child killed in the attack represents the snuffing out of a long life full of opportunity and hope that was ahead, endless grief and suffering for a family, and a loss for the nation. Each of the adults killed, many of whom died protecting students, also is a major loss to their families and to the children of the school who survive. We must never forget them. We must never forget this tragedy.

The most important thing is the lessons to be learnt. We must not allow something like this to ever happen again. The attack moved Pakistan into action and the nation has indeed come a long way in curbing terrorism. We all must continue to act. We need to end the threat of terrorism and to keep our people safe. Pakistan has a future only when its children live in complete safety and security.

And this is why we must always remember.

In Memory of Fidel Castro

Eleven days ago, one of the most remarkable leaders in modern history passed away, Fidel Castro. He was buried yesterday. Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba who ruled for 49 years, died on November 25, 2016. His death comes as the latest gripping news in a very eventful year. His rule, the longest of any contemporary leader save Queen Elizabeth II, is controversial and divisive, unique and complex, and was under a variety of extraordinary circumstances.

Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926. In the mid-1940s, while at the Havana University, he became politically active, making passionate public speeches that were often against the Cuban government under President Ramon Grau, who faced accusations of corruption. Castro’s revolutionary activities got an early start at the same time as he joined an international plot to overthrow the right-wing dictator of the Dominican Republic, Raphael Trujillo. The bid failed due to US intervention, but Castro remained active politically and turned increasingly to Marxism. He believed that Cuba’s economic problems were caused by unbridled capitalism. He participated in a number of protests.

In 1952, a general named Fulgencio Batista overthrew the government in a coup and established his dictatorship. He cancelled elections,  a move that deprived Castro of playing a part in politics. Castro was opposed to Batista’s suppression of socialist organizations and increasing ties with the United States of America. Cuba was under heavy US economic influence. America’s control over Cuba made the Cuban people bitter because of widespread poverty in Cuba. Not only was poverty rampant,  society remained in the grip of organized crime.  Castro founded a revolutionary group called the Movement which aimed to overthrow Batista. In July 1953, Castro tried to start an armed uprising by attacking an army barrack near Santiago in order to procure weapons. The attempt failed and Castro was arrested. During his trial, he brought to the attention of foreign journalists the atrocities committed by the Cuban army. His fame and stature grew after the trial. Sentenced to 15 years in prison, he was in jail for less than two years, during which time he became more radical, before being released in a general amnesty in 1955. Batista continued to persecute opponents and Castro fled to Mexico. There, he met another socialist revolutionary named Ernesto “Che” Guevara and returned to Cuba with 81 revolutionaries in November 1956. There, he launched a two-year guerilla campaign against Batista from the Sierra Maestra Mountains, finally succeeding in overthrowing the government on January 2, 1959, and taking control of Cuba.

Castro’s government declared that it would work for the poor and give land back to the people. His first controversial move was executing hundreds of Batista supporters, accusing them of crimes. He imposed a one-party system and jailed hundreds as political prisoners. Thousands of people, mainly those from the middle class, fled the country as Castro introduced a socialist system. He said it was not communism but simply “representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.” America became his enemy when he nationalized all US-owned businesses in 1960. The US  put Cuba under a trade embargo. Then, the superpower recruited an army of Cuban exiles to invade Cuba in April 1961 and topple Fidel Castro. The invaders were handed an astounding defeat at the Bay of Pigs, humiliating the United States. Around this time, Castro drew closer to the Soviet Union, which he said he was forced into because of America, bringing Cuba into the Cold War. In 1962, America discovered that the Soviet Union was sending missiles, which were likely nuclear, to Cuba. This put Cuba at the center of a crisis that was the closest humanity had ever gotten to full-scale nuclear war as America confronted the USSR. Fortunately, war was averted when the Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles on the condition that America withdraw its missiles from Turkey.

But America’s animosity with the government of the island that lay just a few hundred miles off its shores became intense and Cuba was besieged. The trade embargo continued, with Cuba finding relief only by trading most of the sugar it produced with the Soviet Union. The CIA began a campaign of covertly undermining the Cuban government, mostly by trying to assassinate Fidel Castro. Some of the more notable attempts were to make him light an explosive cigar, make his lover kill him, and make him put on a scuba diving suit infected with a deadly fungus. The CIA also tried to do other things such as give him a soap that would would remove his beard forever. All the attempts by CIA failed. The situation continued throughout the Cold War.

During this time, Cuba made strides in both domestic and foreign policy. The entire population had sufficient access to free healthcare and infant mortality was as low as in the most developed countries. Standards of living were maintained despite the suffocating embargo. Cuba became the head of the Non-Aligned Movement, a group of countries that strove to be neutral in the Cold War, despite Cuba’s ties to the Soviets. Fidel Castro became involved in African affairs, sending troops to Angola and Mozambique to support Marxist uprisings. This brought Cuba into conflict with South Africa, in which South Africa was defeated. This is widely believed to have contributed to the demise of apartheid, and Nelson Mandela gave Castro credit for it.

As the Cold War drew to a close, many changes came to Cuba, which were for the worse. Under Michael Gorbachev, the Soviet Union stopped trading in Cuba’s sugar, abandoning Cuba to the US embargo. Then, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba completely lost its only lifeline while the US, still being a bitter enemy despite the end of the Cold War, continued the blockade. Where the Cuban people were once relatively prosperous, now the country sank into conditions of poverty. Despite this, Cuba continued with some achievements. It continued to give free healthcare and its doctors even continued to go abroad to care for people in developing countries, especially during times of disaster. In was not until 2014 that change came to US-Cuban relations. President Obama announced that the embargo would be progressively eased. The two countries are continuing along a path towards cooperation, but with the coming presidency of Donald Trump, it seems that it could be reversed, as Trump is a strong opponent of Castro.

Castro continued to remain in power as he grew old. In 2006, just before turning 80, he temporarily gave power to his brother Raul after having emergency intestinal surgery. His health continued to deteriorate afterwards and it was in 2008 that he stepped down from power, putting Raul, even though he was not much younger, in charge of the government. He then largely disappeared from public life. In 2010, he started to make public appearances again and later approved of Obama’s proposed thaw in US Cuban relations, while at the same time expressing distrust of America. It could be said that Fidel Castro continued to exert considerable political influence.

Fidel Castro’s death had a big impact in Cuba and abroad. In Cuba, there was widespread mourning and opposition to the government was put on hold. The exiled Cuban community in America celebrated Fidel’s passing. Among many observers, especially those who were opposed to Castro’s government, there was the perception that his death could lead to change in Cuba. He after all was the face of the revolution and wielded considerable influence up until his death. But I believe that it is unlikely. After all, nothing changed when Castro stepped down from power. The government he left behind still exists. And nobody said that apartheid would return to South Africa after Mandela’s death or that communism would collapse in Russia after Lenin’s death. Perhaps it is just that Cuba’s socialist system is transforming itself and Castro’s passing would nudge the trend. The celebrations are too optimistic. The event in 2016 that is more likely to lead to change in Cuba in the future is the election of Donald Trump, although it is impossible to say exactly what would happen. It could be that President Trump pressures Cuba to liberalize more and become friendlier or it could be that Trump’s animosity puts Cuba off and makes its government more hard-line.

Fidel Castro’s passing is the end of a remarkable life and a marker in Cuba’s history. Even as the man behind modern Cuba is dead, his legacy still remains. Because of his animosity towards the US, his legacy is extremely controversial to different people. Let us first say that the circumstances in which Castro ruled was complex and so his rule was complex. As he was a socialist, it is people on the right who oppose him the most. Castro can be said to be a dictator. He did not put Cuba under a democracy with elections but instead continued ruling for decades and was very powerful. Freedom of speech and other freedoms were suppressed under his rule and continue to be suppressed, although his rule was never harsh. Tens of thousands of people fled Cuba and have continued to live in the USA ever, since, being cut off from their former homeland, although most of them were not forced to leave.

Castro’s achievements have been absolutely extraordinary. He gave his people high standards in education and healthcare, and this was despite extremely harsh circumstances due to the American blockade. The entire country has basically been under a siege lasting half a century. Under his leadership, the tiny nation stood up to the most powerful country on Earth, resisting every attempt of America at undermining Cuba’s government and its integrity. Castro exerted great influence in international affairs, bringing change to Latin America and to Africa. Cuban doctors still continue to go abroad, helping out in such events as the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2014 Ebola crisis free of charge. Outside of Cuba, much of the criticism of Castro is about the lack of freedoms he has created in Cuba. But one should take into account how precarious the existence of his government was and what he did may have been what he had to do. Within Cuba, people blame him for the low standards of living they suffer. However, they seem to ignore the role that the American blockade plays in the deprivation of the Cuban people. Indeed, the standards that Fidel Castro maintained under such circumstances can be considered commendable. All of this is Castro’s multi-faceted, complex legacy.

I believe the best future for Cuba is one in which the policies of Castro go hand in hand with the opening up of ties between America and Cuba, for Fidel Castro’s legacy is so great that it will always continue to influence Cuba for the foreseeable future.

Happy Birthday, Emma Morano!

Today is the birthday of an Italian woman named Emma Morano. What makes her special right now is that she is the oldest person alive. What makes her even more special, and for all times to come, is that she is the last person verified to have been alive in the 19th century. She was born on November 29, 1889, and it is her 117th birthday, a birthday that is being celebrated more by the world than by her, and we should celebrate it well, as it is likely to be the last anniversary of a birth that took place in the 1800s.

Simply by virtue of her longevity, her life is remarkable. Spending the first one month of her life in the century that saw the life and death of the Napoleonic Empire and European empires spreading across the world, she remembers the Balkan wars, World War 1, the Great Depression, World War 2, the Space Race, the Vietnam War, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, 9-11, and Barack Obama becoming president of the United States. And she has lived to see Donald Trump be elected. Her personal life is also something to note. After the death of her only child, she left her abusive husband in 1938, being single since then while remaining married to him until he died in 1978.

How Emma got to live so long is of course something of interest. It has to be partly due to genetics, as some of her family members have also lived a very long time. When asked about it, Emma has said that in addition to that, her diet of three eggs a day, two of them raw, maintained since a doctor recommended it to her when she was twenty as treatment for anemia, played a big part. She also said it was because she slept a lot and she always thought positively about the future.

Emma’s birthday, the first since she became the only person alive who was born in the 1800s, is being commemorated in the region she lives in, but I believe it should be commemorated by the whole world. She, who will not be around for very long, is the last link to the 19th century. That warrants her being a world treasure. I believe we should see her life as an inspiration to reflect on how the world has changed since she was born. It is always good to reflect on the past and elderly people connect us to that, which has traditionally made them valuable. This value has decreased in the modern world, which is always focused on the new and the latest. Yet, we should took a moment out of our lives to look back to the past of the world, which can teach us valuable lessons. In addition, we should look towards the future, keeping these lessons in mind. Somewhere, somebody alive right now will become the last person to be born in the 20th century, and by that time, who knows what the world will be like?

Making Sense of this US Election

 

An  election to choose the US president comes every four years by law, but the 2016 US presidential election has not been a normal one. It has been an unusual election in many ways. It has been a particularly intense, bitter, and troubled election. It has been one in which both candidates are among the most unpopular in recent American history, according to polls. Both accuse each other of being unfit for office and one even threatens to send the other to jail. The election is plagued by fears of interference from another country, Russia, which allegedly hacked into Democratic computer servers.  One candidate and his supporters allege that there is widespread voter fraud. Trump says he may contest the election result if he loses. There have been constant protests and violence, including the firebombing of one of the party’s headquarters,  as well as the fear of violence after the election. As Election Day neared, several scandals broke out that influenced the race on short notice, turning the tide back and forth. Finally, one of the two main contenders in this election is a most unusual and controversial candidate in both his personal character and his political policies and his gaining the office of presidency promises to bring many radical changes that are deeply controversial. As a result, America suffers from a combination of uncertainty, pessimism, despair, and fear in one of the nation’s wildest elections ever.

What is badly needed is for sense to be made of this election and the many issues that concern and afflict it, such as Russians, immigration, hacking, emails, Islamophobia, allegations, protests, deplorables, pneumonia, Billy Bush. The focus must primarily be on the two people one of who is destined to be the president. This is my analysis of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Trump is by far the more controversial candidate. Yet, he is also very popular. With roughly half the American populace supporting him and half opposing him, one may say that he is a particularly polarizing candidate. Those who support him do so with great rigor and those who oppose him do so with equal rigor. It is quite amazing that Trump is still so popular despite his innumerable shortcomings. One wonders how popular he would be if his tongue was not so loose. Trump’s main problem may be his lack of political experience and having lived as a billionaire who is used to getting everything he wants. When he is hosting a reality show, he can offend anyone and say, “you’re fired,” but when running for president, you have to win the support of the entire nation and contend with a great deal of scrutiny. Trump does not have the self-restraint necessary and has still not yet learned to attain it, perhaps because it does not hurt him all that much.

What Donald Trump really hates is being criticized. When this happens, he criticizes back harder, often making attacks on the person which create controversy. The worst is the feud with the Muslim parents of a US soldier who died in the Iraq War and who blasted him for his proposal to enact a temporary ban on Muslim immigration at the Democratic National Convention.

His response to the Gold Star family did contain some respect. But among other things, he brought anti-Islam views into the question when he implied that the mother was not allowed to speak. And his last point was the most unintelligent, the sacrifices that he had made. Apparently, Trump does not know that the word “sacrifice” means giving up what one wants in order to advance a higher purpose and instead thinks it means doing good things for other people.

Trump’s biggest problem now is the sexual harassment and assault issue. Among all the criticism of Trump which may not necessarily be trusted, the video provides proof to the people of Trump having harbored unsavory views. It seems he is bragging about committing sexual assault. One has to closely examine those words, which he spoke as part of socializing with the entertainment crew he was working with. What he was saying is that when he kisses women, they let him do it, which is consent, though they may not have given it beforehand. Trump did not exactly say that he grabbed women’s genitals, only that you can do it if you are a star. But I believe that Trump was not socially influenced by Billy Bush or anybody else to say such things and that the tape gives us an insight into his character.

The worst thing about the video is that, besides inspiring the allegations that Trump did what he bragged about, it gave credence to them. Presidential candidates are vulnerable to character assassination just as they are to physical assassination, which the Secret Service protects them from, so some anti-Trump interest could have paid all the women to accuse Trump of sexual assault. But since Trump accused Trump of sexual assault, they have quite something to back up their claims. Otherwise, the large number of the accusers does not mean much, given that the stakes are so high and half the country opposes Trump’s run. But a thorough investigation, not only into the allegations but how Trump has generally behaved, is needed, because we should should know if the man who we may vote into the White House has engaged in criminal and otherwise very nasty behavior.

Nevertheless, it may be that the only people who will ever know whether or not Trump committed harassment and assault against these women are Trump and the women themselves. If that is the case, since Trump’s conduct as president is what is of concern, we need to look at how he openly behaves and what his political views and policies are. It is not good on that front as far as women are concerned. He has frequently behaved in an objectifying manner towards women, although where he did it as a beauty pageant owner is to be rather expected. Some of the remarks he has made, such as, “There was blood coming out of her… whatever,” are of an ambiguous nature. And finally, when it comes to Trump’s gender policies, there isn’t much disconcerting besides his comment, that he backtracked on, that those who have abortions should be punished.

While Trump’s problem is that he has not had a prior political career, Hillary’s problem is that she does. Trump does not have to be scrutinized over any political misdemeanor.  When judging how good a president Clinton will be, one looks to her record as an officer of the state.  The issues she has been beset with dissuade people from choosing her for president. Basically, one has to mostly judge Trump by what he said and one can judge Clinton by what she did. Clinton’s controversies do not look nowhere near as severe as Trump’s. People are more likely to take to heart Trump’s attitude towards people, such as women and minorities, than such things as email usage, donations, and even managing attacks on consulates, which all seem like dull office banter. But if one of these issues carries the possibility of criminal indictment, it means Hillary may be impeached while president and it is better for the nation to not go through that.

Another thing which has become an issue for Clinton is her bodily integrity. Trump has somehow showed restraint and not gone after it very much, but Americans may not want a president who carries the possibility of giving a speech for half an hour and then collapsing on stage. There have been great presidents who have been in much worse health, though their issues were kept secret, and perhaps people would not have voted Roosevelt into office for a fourth time if they knew he would depart the World during its War 2. But Clinton’s health as an issue has faded away now.

I personally prefer Clinton to Trump. But to get subjective about, the main characterization of the two candidates is that Trump is the radical president. Clinton, a long-time politician, will keep things largely as they were during the Obama years and even as they generally are in America. Trump, on the other hand, will overhaul society, will implement radical policies, and will bring change. Whether the change is for better or for worse is both a matter of opinion and should be subject to careful scrutiny.

It has been a colorful race before these two nominees were decided. The number of people running in the election was very high, 17 people for the Republican Party. So, we have had Clinton and Trump contend with so many others, and it has had its share of memorable moments. One just wonders how people as unpopular as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won their party’s primaries. It seems all the others did not have their heart in the game, as they all quit except Bernie Sanders, who may not have a heart set in staying alive very much longer. It seems to be a rather down time for American politics.

Whatever is going on with the people in the race, one expects the race itself to function straight and smoothly. But America instead has suffered unexpected problems.  Democratic computers have come under cyber-intrusions that have been linked to Russia. Given that Trump is friendly towards Russia and Clinton is not, there are allegations that the Russians are trying to influence the US election, a severe violation of national sovereignty. On the domestic side, there have been protests pestering the Trump campaign, which has considered using violence in return. There are fears of violence after the election. There are also allegations by the Trump side of widespread voter fraud, and this fuels Trump’s suggestion that he will bring the election results to court if he loses. I believe this is all a sign of increasing turmoil in American society, which could persist after the election, both if Trump wins and if Clinton wins.

An unfortunate fact is that we cannot make sense of everything. Many of the issues the election is embroiled in have been of a secretive and unknown nature. One does not know the full truth of the new Clinton email matter, the FBI has still refused to disclose all that they know, one does not know if Trump was a sexual harasser, it is uncertain what hand the Russians may be playing, and allegations of voter fraud are unsubstantiated. This uncertainty is the worst part of the election. It makes Americans unsure if they can make the right choice. It makes them apprehensive of what is going to happen.

One final thing we need to understand what the future holds in store after the election. The upheaval of the election may not end with the election itself. If the man who was once just a prominent businessman of the nation takes the helm, we need to brace ourselves for great changes that will not come without turbulence. There is the possibility that Trump will be like Obama and not succeed very much at doing what he says. But it is more likely that Trump will be like Republican presidents typically have been and be successful at carrying out what he wants. And many others will carry out attempts to oppose him. If the woman who is a seasoned political wins, things may carry on as before, but it could be that the attitude in American society sparked by Trump’s campaign will live on and play a major role in the future. It may even impact Clinton’s administration.

In the end, as the campaign is over and Americans head to the polls, the one most important thing that we need to understand is that this election will decide not only the future of America but of the world. But another thing we need to understand is that change does not end at the voting booths and that each and every one of us can always continue to have a say in how society is run.

 

 

What a Nasty Election

The 2016 United States Presidential Election heralds the end of an era, the presidency of Barack Obama, and is the coming of a new leadership for the most powerful country on Earth. It is also one of the most unusual elections in recent memory and to put it frankly, one of the most undesirable. Early on, the Republican Party hosted an astounding 17 candidates, the most in American history, while the Democratic Party had six. Every Republican candidate except Donald Trump quit prematurely, leaving Trump to win the nomination for president unopposed in late May. Meanwhile, by the beginning of February 2016, all Democratic candidates except two dropped out, leaving Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to contest the nomination. Hillary won the nomination. Both the candidates America is now left with are among the most unpopular in recent history, according to polls, so that it seems Americans have to choose for president the person they dislike the least. The contest between the two contenders has been intense and bitter.

It may increase our nostalgia for the Obama administration, especially for a millennial like me, whose entire political memory goes back to the 2008 race and has known Obama as the president since then. These were tranquil and rather good times, but now, by law, it will have to change, and we are uncertain about what is going to come next and what the future holds in store. The outlook is not very optimistic and the next four years may be just as unpleasant as the election. Let us take a look at the two people who are vying for the presidency, both of whom may make the Americans sorely miss as uncontroversial a president as Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton has plenty of political experience, including being the First Lady and Secretary of State under Obama, and her views have been generally moderate. But she has been embroiled in many scandals. Her response to the massive Monica Lewinsky scandal that plagued her husband, Bill Clinton, while he was president, in which she defended him against the allegations of an extramarital affair and then chose to remain in the marriage when the affair was proven, were not controversial at first and indeed made her most popular. It would however, come back to haunt her, as would her defense of Bill Clinton against allegations of sexual assault. As Secretary of State, the terror attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, led to a massive controversy over how she dealt with it, concerning her sending the ill-fated officials there and not giving them appropriate help. Her organization the Clinton Foundation was dogged by allegations of corruption and inappropriate ties to the State Department.  Then, there came the email scandal. It was uncovered in 2015 that she used a private email account for official communications while Secretary of State, which was against government protocols and laws, particularly governing recordkeeping. It was bad on that front because many thousands of emails were deleted by her. There were also allegations that those emails contained classified information. She faced the possibility of criminal prosecution for over a year until July 15, 2016, when the FBI concluded that no charges needed to be filed.

Donald Trump has never held any sort of office. Nor has he had any political experience. He is the first candidate of this kind since 1940. He has only been involved in business, real estate, and entertainment. Many instances of his life have come back to haunt him, such as his behavior towards women and remarks made about them, particularly involving his hosting of beauty pageants. He has called women he does not like, “fat slob, Miss Piggy, dog, disgusting animal, etc.” Women he does like he tended to objectify. He even objectified his own daughter. He was alleged to intrude on women’s changing rooms at the pageants. His many failures in business also do not advance his reputation. His first major involvement in politics has been very controversial: his pushing of the birther theory that Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was born in Kenya.

Apart from the timing of the email investigation, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign itself has been mostly noncontroversial. But the same is far from true for Trump. Right from the start, when he first announced his run for president on June 16, 2015, he said of Latino immigration into America, “”When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” This was extremely controversial, as was his promise to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. After the November 2015 Paris attacks, to deal with the threat of terrorism, Trump called for a database of American Muslims surveillance and after the San Bernardino attacks, he said that when he is elected as president, he would ban all outside Muslims from entering the United States until his administration got a better grasp on anti-terrorism policies, and held onto that position for a long time, causing an intense backlash.

All throughout his campaign, Trump had held very controversial political positions and has made many controversial remarks. He has also frequently changed positions and flip-flopped on issues, which is perhaps necessary for him but also gives him a bad rep for inconsistency. He said he would deport all illegal immigrants en mass. He said that women should be punished for having abortions and then, the same day, he said only the physician should be punished. He apparently mocked a reporter’s disability. He said that Vietnam War vet John McCain should not be considered a hero due to the fact that he was captured and made a POW and that he only likes soldiers who were not captured. He said that the US should kill terrorists’ families. He mocked the looks of Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiona, saying, “Who would vote for that face?” After an argument with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, he said, “There was blood coming out of her eyes. There was blood coming out of her… whatever,” which people took to mean he was talking about her menstruation. At the Democratic National Convention, the Muslim parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in the Iraq War stood up to verbally attack Trump for his views on Muslims, with the father saying that Trump has a black soul, that he has never read the constitution, and that he has sacrificed nothing and nobody. Trump then insulted the Gold Star family and said, ““I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard,” he said. “I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs — tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.” At a debate, he interrupted Hillary by saying, “What a nasty woman.”

It was on October 7 that Trump’s campaign hit rock bottom in one of the biggest October surprises ever. A video released by NBC from 2005 when Donald Trump was getting off a bus to go onto the set of a soap opera. In it, he boasted of trying to seduce a married woman and just before meeting a soap actress, he said, ““I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful- I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” And then several women came forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault. When I saw him Trump attack his accusers and joke about one of them on TV, that she was too unattractive for him to want to grope, the feeling really rubbed into me that his campaign is sinking badly. Fortunes were reversed as the final October surprise was reserved for Clinton; a revelation by the FBI that they had found emails from an unrelated case (which involved possible child pornography charges against Anthony Weiner, no less) which appear to be related to Hillary Clinton and that the investigation into her email usage had reopened, making her a candidate who faced the possibility of criminal prosecution. Donald Trump also has such a problem, as he was scheduled to go on trial for fraud and child rape after the election.

The bad reputation of both of the candidates has been seized on by each other to make the election bitterly contested. In a typical election, the candidates simply disagree with each other and tout themselves as being better as president. But this election is unusual in that both Trump and Clinton have called each other unfit to run for president. Trump has even said that when he becomes president, he will send Hillary to jail. From the start, Trump’s presidential campaign has continuously suffered from protests. One of his events in March, 2016 was cancelled because of protesters. The possibility of violence and rioting among the American people during and after seems to be real. Perhaps the most serious election trouble is the concern of Russia interfering in the election. In late July, computer systems of the Democratic National Committee were cyber attacked by what are believed to be Russian foreign intelligence groups, creating fears that Russia is trying to either sow chaos in the US election or trying to help Donald Trump, who has shown affability towards Russia’s Putin. In addition to this are allegations of ties between Trump and Russia. Finally, when we all wake up on the morning of November the 9, it may not be the end of the saga. The Trump campaign has started to believe there is widespread voter fraud slated in favor of Clinton and Donald Trump has said that if he loses by a narrow margin, he will contest the election results.

Many of the issues in the election have been of a secretive and unknown nature. One does not know the full truth of the new Clinton email matter, the FBI has still refused to disclose all that they know, one does not know if Trump was a sexual harasser, it is uncertain what hand the Russians may be playing, and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud are being made. This uncertainty is the worst part of the election. It makes Americans unsure if they can make the right choice. It makes them apprehensive of what is going to happen.

When it comes to the question of who will win, opinion polls in this election constantly fluctuate, but generally show Trump and Clinton to be close. It is now only two days before the election, yet it is impossible to predict who will become president. Right now, the polls show that Clinton has a lead by three points over Trump but it is decreasing. Even with such little time left, there is good possibility that people’s opinions will rapidly change as has been the pattern.

Whatever the uncertainty in what is going on, at least, one generally thinks that the one thing we can be certain of is that in two days, Americans will cast their ballot and will learn the next morning who will be president of the United States for the next four years. But even this is not so, as we may face the possibility of a cyber-attack preventing an easy determination of the results, the loser contesting the results by going to court, and the president may not remain in office for four years. An election is usually about the people’s choices, but in this election, it looks like the American people have no choice, or their choice is not entirely secure and valid. One thing that is likely is that a lot of people probably wish by now that the term limit could be repealed and that Obama remains our president.