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    Saudi Arabia and Russia Have Now Teamed Up in OPEC+

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    Wilma Mankiller, first female principal chief of Cherokee Nation, led with compassion and continues to inspire today

    If you fish in your pocket or purse for a U.S. quarter today, there’s a chance you’ll see Wilma Mankiller’s face. She was the Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief, and she inspired generations of Cherokees and young Native people like me.

    In 2022, Mankiller was one of the first women honored by appearing on a series of quarters, along with renowned poet and activist Maya Angelou and physicist and astronaut Sally Ride. Mankiller’s quarter, issued in the summer of 2022, marks the first time that a Native American woman has been featured on a U.S. coin since Sacagawea appeared on the golden dollar in 2000.

    As a historian of Native American history, I credit my professional career to Mankiller, whom I heard speak at Salem Women’s College when I was an undergraduate student there. I had never seen a non-Native audience listen so intently to a woman who looked like my father’s ancestors and grew up in rural Oklahoma, as he did. Like many young Cherokee people, I was raised outside the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

    Following her lecture, I tore through her autobiography, “Mankiller: A Chief and Her People.” In her book and through her life’s work, Mankiller introduced a generation of people not just to Cherokee history but also to a model of Native women’s leadership, leading by listening to the voices from her community and supporting the programs they sought.

    Early life

    Mankiller’s life resembled many Native people’s lives in the 20th century before she assumed the role of principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985.

    She was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, at an Indian hospital in 1945. She grew up on land secured by Cherokee people over three generations of shifting U.S. federal Indian policies, each with devastating results: the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, the Treaty of 1866 and the Curtis Act in 1898.

    Mankiller’s family relocated to San Francisco in the 1950s after Congress passed the termination and relocation policy, seeking to break up and relocate Native American tribes to assimilate them. In San Francisco she met Indigenous people from diverse communities.

    Mankiller’s duties as chief included attending the Arkansas Riverbed Authority meetings to discuss multiple Native communities’ access to water.
    Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World via AP Images

    She came of age in San Francisco during the Red Power Movement, which was marked by Indigenous people’s activism across the country and aimed to draw attention to broken treaty promises, widespread dispossession and police brutality. She and her siblings supported the occupation of Alcatraz, a takeover by Native activists that lasted 18 months.

    She married young, had children and willed herself through a college education. She divorced and returned home to Oklahoma in 1976 as a single parent with two daughters. Mankiller’s family history, like that of so many Native Americans in this country, cannot be told or understood without understanding changes in federal Indian policy, which often dictated where Native people lived and the economic opportunities available to them.

    What she means to Cherokee people

    Mankiller’s life was similar to those of many families who remained in Oklahoma on allotments or within Cherokee communities after Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Until the age of 11, she grew up in Adair County, which was about 46% Cherokee in the 2020 census.

    When she returned to Oklahoma from California in the late 1970s to work for the Cherokee Nation, she prioritized and supported a community-driven project that brought running water to the Bell community. Bell, a rural community in Adair County, is still home to large pockets of Cherokee people. This effort was later dramatized in the 2013 film “The Cherokee Word for Water.” Mankiller’s commitment to improving the lives of Cherokee people was central to her work, even before she became chief.

    Her rise to the position of principal chief in 1985 coincided with a moment when the efforts of civil rights activists, Black nationalists, Red Power and women’s rights activists of the previous decades were bearing fruit. She represented and modeled what people like Gloria Steinem, with whom Mankiller formed an enduring friendship, hoped to see more people achieve in the larger U.S.

    President Clinton awards Wilma Mankiller the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
    Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

    Mankiller’s impact extended beyond Cherokee people. In a nod to her accomplishments, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. Mankiller understood that she represented how far women leaders had come and the hope we might still arrive where we need to be.

    I still remember learning of her death from pancreatic cancer in April 2010 when I was a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, not far from Salem College where she first inspired me. I, like many others I imagine, wept for her, enormously proud of all she had achieved.

    The Cherokee value of gadugi

    Mankiller’s transition to chief wasn’t easy. People initially questioned a woman’s ability to lead the tribe. If there was any doubt of Mankiller’s capabilities as a leader when she took over as chief in 1985, in her second election to office six years later, she received almost 83% of the vote.

    She gained support by exemplifying gadugi – a Cherokee word that means working together collectively for the benefit of the whole community. She drew upon her culture, history and tribal identity as a leader, and she raised her daughters Gina and Felicia Olaya to do the same. Though neither held office, both have worked for and supported the Cherokee Nation throughout their lives.

    During her time as chief, Mankiller provided a foundation for the continued growth of the Cherokee Nation. Enrollment in Cherokee Nation doubled under her leadership. She championed education and secured a US$9 million vocational center. A 1991 Parade Magazine profile described her leadership style as quiet but strong.

    At her mother’s memorial, Gina, who died in October 2022, said that her mother taught her family “how to laugh, how to dance, to appreciate Motown music, to be a humble servant to our people, to love one another unequivocally and to cherish each and every moment we spent together as a family.”

    Mankiller articulated what generations of Cherokee people knew – that Indigenous people are capable of generating the solutions to the problems they face. As chief, she focused on issues that benefited some of the most vulnerable Cherokee people, such as rural development, housing, employment and education. Mankiller listened to community members to determine the way forward. I believe her legacy, now enshrined on a quarter, will continue to inspire new generations of people seeking to make a difference in the world. More

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    A Republican bubble? How pollsters and pundits got the US midterms so wrong

    During the month leading up to the US midterm elections, talk of a commanding Republican victory went from a “red wave” to a “red tsunami”. The Republicans were on for the win. The polls and gambling markets, or so-called “prediction markets”, were confident.

    Only the red wave never broke – Democrats tightened their shaky grip on the Senate and, while they lost control of the House, they did so by a much narrower margin than had been expected.

    As part of my research on political betting and gambling markets, I’ve identified a surge of interest in political gambling since the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election. Underdog victories in these contests alerted many people in the UK and US – but also internationally – to the opportunity to win big by gambling on politics. And, along with the latest polls, what the betting markets are saying is increasingly considered a good predictor of future events. But not this time.

    In the run-up to the US midterm, I was betting (with my own money) against the Republican wave and for a close election – not out of any particular insight so much as caution.

    When the results began to trickle in and it became clear the predicted Republican takeover was not happening, I had an unexpectedly successful few days of profits. Meanwhile, I frantically tried to figure out why the betting markets had predicted otherwise and what this failure meant.

    Why so wrong?

    To understand why the gambling markets got it so wrong, we first need to look at what evidence there was for a red wave.

    1. History says so

    First up there’s historical precedence. The party of a first-term US president almost always loses significant numbers of seats in both houses of Congress in the midterms two years after they are elected.

    2. The polls tightened

    The polls also indicated that a red wave could happen. Democrats took the lead in the polls in mid-June, but the lead started narrowing in mid-September, with the Democrats and Republicans tied on 50 senate seats each on November 1.

    Why was the midterm result such a surprise?
    EPA

    3. Predictions went red

    While some polls indicated a tight race, organisations using more complex predictive models swung towards Republicans. By election day, FiveThirtyEight, the highest-profile of these organisations, was predicting the Republicans would take control of the Senate 59 times out of a hundred – and people listened.

    4. The odds were high

    This meant the markets were heavily favouring Republicans by late October. On the UK site Betfair, the world’s largest betting exchange, the likelihood of a republican majority shot above 50% on October 19 and peaked at 78% on election day – only to crash to 12% a day later as results began to become clear. On the foremost US provider, PredictIt, Republicans were trading at around 75 cents a share (a winning share returns US$1, a losing share 0 cents) before they, too, crashed in the face of election count data.

    Inflated victory

    Now looking back, it’s clear that a market bubble had inflated around a Republican victory. One of the maxims repeated in political betting circles is “bet the trend, not the poll” and the trend, as evidenced in the polling, started shifting sharply towards Republicans before then levelling off. Betters and modellers projected the original trend towards Republicans and ignored the levelling off.

    There were some in the community who were arguing against the crowd – that the odds had shifted too far towards the Republicans. But their voices were drowned out in a sea of optimism (or pessimism, depending on your politics). Indeed, Matthew Shaddick, head of politics at the UK betting exchange Smarkets, spoke about it on the company podcast. He said that the last month before the election was “one-way traffic” with everyone wanting to back Republicans.

    Not quite as expected.
    EPA

    The sophistication and budgets of election campaigns in the US are also so extensive that considerable effort is made to influence the narrative through polling. According to my contacts, there was a flurry of Republican-leaning polls that were pushing their chances. And, as we know, polls influence people’s decisions when it comes to betting.

    I’m also often asked whether political parties might bet on themselves to improve the perception of their campaign. While this is less likely to have any consequence with larger events such as the US elections, as with polling, at a smaller scale it can have an effect on a candidate’s implied probability of winning, which can then filter into the media.

    There is more research to be done, but this failure of prediction could not come at a worse time for US political gambling providers, styled as prediction markets. They have been trying to convince a sceptical regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, that political gambling markets add value to politics and financial traders because of their predictive potency. Indeed, gambling markets are usually considered much more accurate than polls, but it’s hard to see the midterms as anything other than a failure of prediction. More

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    The Destiny of Pakistan’s Totalitarian Proxy Regime in Afghanistan

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    A Magical Tale: Not Trekking in the Himalayas

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    Portuguese UN Chief Preaches to India: Is it White Savior Complex?

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    US politics: midterm elections have handed Joe Biden a divided Congress – history tells us that's bad for good government

    Contrary to the expectations of many observers, the “red wave” stopped at the House of Representatives and only delivered the Republican Party a small majority. The Senate, though, will remain under Democrat control. So the US Congress will be divided until the 2024 election and the Biden administration no longer has the numbers to get its legislative programme through without a fight – or at least, negotiation “across the aisle”.

    And that can be a problem for US governance – sustainable solutions to major policy issues need both congressional and presidential approval. A failure to provide answers for pressing issues will further depress public opinion about the government and democratic institutions.

    From now until January 2024, presidential influence on lawmaking is largely diminished. To become a law, a proposed bill requires first the approval of both chambers and second the signature of the president. If the two chambers are unable to agree on a common version of a bill or if the bill is vetoed by the president, the proposed policy change is not enacted and the status quo prevails. The production of laws therefore needs a higher level of bipartisan support.

    Divided government increases the chances of political gridlock and reduces the likelihood that presidential proposals will become law. It raises the chance of a government shutdown and corresponds to fewer acts of significant legislation per congress.

    Two factors will make the next two years particularly difficult. The first stems from accelerating levels of polarisation among legislators. The second is the presence of presidential reelection concerns, if Joe Biden decides to run again in two years time.

    Polarisation has reduced Congress’s capacity to legislate and, as a result, public policy is unable to adjust to changing economic and demographic circumstances. As the distance between the preferred policy of legislators, less legislation is created and eventually passes Congress. Policy debate is replaced with acts of obstructionism and acts of grandstanding, where politicians simply signal their policy position to their constituents.

    Situations that combine polarisation, divided government and reelection motives of presidents reinforce these tendencies. Consider the 112th Congress after the first midterms during Barack Obama’s administration which ran from 2011 to 2013, or the 116th Congress which ran from 2019 to 2021, after the midterms during Donald Trump’s term of office. Like Joe Biden now, Obama and Trump faced a divided government after the midterms and both were up for reelection. The graph below shows that this resulted in particular strong falls in the number of new laws passed (25% for Obama, 22% for Trump).

    The figure calculates the number of laws by congress. Switches from unified to divided government are highlighted in yellow.
    Author calculations. Data: https://www.govinfo.gov/

    Beyond the quantity of legislation, the shift from unified to divided government during the Obama era also influenced the type of legislation enacted. The laws that passed after the midterms in 2010 were more often related to public goods, such as defence or infrastructure, rather than private legislation. Moreover, the share of bipartisan co-sponsors on passed laws grew from 38% to 47%, while minority party support in voting climbed from below 40% to about 60%. The graph below demonstrates that approved laws became more complex (3% for Obama, 8% for Trump) as they had for example more exemptions built in to attract a degree of bipartisan support.

    The figure calculates the complexity of laws, defined as the share of sentences with contingencies, by congress. Switches from unified to divided government are highlighted in yellow.
    Author calculations. Data: https://www.govinfo.gov/

    Legislative footprint of the next congress

    The result of the recent midterms is likely to shape the legislative footprint of the government even more when compared to those historically comparable cases.

    This is because of the extent of polarisation between the representatives of the two parties in the US Congress. As this polarisation keeps increasing, we believe that the drop in the number of new laws passed will be even sharper than in the previous cases. Growing polarisation reduces the policy space on which legislators are willing to compromise and thus leads to more gridlock.

    This naturally translates into a high chance of government shutdowns as strongly partisan legislators are determined to undermine their opponents’ political agenda regardless of the costs. For example, the upcoming negotiations between Biden and House Republicans over raising the debt limit will be a particularly thorny issue.

    Added to that, the democratic majority in the Senate and the possibility of a Biden veto makes the passage of partisan bills proposed by Republicans in the House virtually impossible. But the same thing cuts both ways – and Democrat-sponsored legislation that gets through is unlikely to include progressive social policy proposals on Bidens’ agenda – for example provisions that protect Roe v. Wade or ban assault-weapon sales.

    There is also a likelihood that the quality of the legislation might deteriorate. Recent research suggests that excessive legislative activism by either side worsens the quality of laws. As this study investigates a period when congress was substantially less polarised (1973-1989), the currently much higher level and continuing rise of polarisation in the American public creates powerful incentives for legislators to demonstrate their activism to their constituents via the bills they propose. This will limit Congress’s ability to carefully improve submitted legislation.

    Phases of divided government with reduced legislative activity have also been associated with positive reform of institutions such as the civil service. But the current environment – with the severe distrust in institutions and politics that prevails – makes such efforts unlikely.

    This could become everyone’s problem. The divided Congress is likely to mean a reduced chance of policy agreement on issues such as climate change or the US approach to the Russia-Ukraine war. It’s that serious. More

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    Nancy Pelosi was the key Democratic messenger of her generation – passing the torch will empower younger leadership

    The announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she will not run for another senior post opens the door for a new generation of national leaders in the Democratic Party.

    Pelosi confirmed she was stepping down as Speaker of the House on Nov. 17, 2022, a decision that jump-starts a process that has long been desired by younger Democrats: generational change and with it, potentially, new ideas to take the party forward.

    That shift to younger leadership was shelved in February 2020. Then – after poor performances by Joe Biden in early primaries – Democratic primary voters unified with astonishing swiftness behind his candidacy. The thinking was that a veteran party establishment official was needed to block Donald Trump and that the progressive agenda desired by some younger Democrats might pose too great an electoral risk.

    Turnover in the youth-challenged leadership of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses has similarly been frozen since then, with all Democratic legislative leaders over 70. As a professor of public policy who served as an assistant to members of leadership in both houses of Congress, I understand why Democratic voters opted for stability in 2020. But now the coming change may be welcomed by Democrats and Republicans alike as an opportunity to pass the torch to a new, post-baby boomer generation with fresh ideas. Generational change may soon come on both sides of the political aisle.

    Power as a means, not an end

    Pelosi’s decision is both practical and timely. It comes as the Republicans retake the House with a wafer-thin majority and a divided GOP caucus at war with itself. Even former Republican speakers John Boehner and Newt Gingrich, Pelosi’s longtime critics, are acknowledging her historic accomplishments, while noting her legacy will now include stepping away while at the top of her game.

    Pelosi rose to become the most powerful woman in American history and the most effective legislator of the 21st century. She accomplished this at a time when polarization in politics meant she has endured vilification from political opponents that has had a direct and violent impact on her family.

    A key to understanding the Pelosi legacy is weighing what she chose to do with her power. As I have written elsewhere, some politicians seek power fundamentally as a means to an end. For them leadership posts offer the tools needed to improve citizens’ lives or to advance an ideology. Such figures can be seen across the political divide in Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Gingrich. You don’t have to agree with their politics to see that they sought power primarily as a means to change policy: They had active legislative agendas.

    Other leaders, however, seem to seek out power as part of a never-ending vanity project.

    The history of Pelosi’s two four-year speakerships – from 2007 to 2010 and then again from 2019 to 2022 – provide evidence that she had an action agenda. Pelosi is on record repeatedly insisting that when one gains power, one should use it – and risk losing it – to promote the national interest and protect the most vulnerable.

    Her record bears out that approach. In 2008 through 2010, she pushed controversial measures through the House, including the TARP economic bailout, the stimulus package, the Affordable Care Act, and the cap and trade climate bill – risking her political capital and imperiling the Democratic majority in the House.

    Similarly in 2022, she pursued an ambitious legislative agenda despite concerns that it might contribute to a Republican “red wave” in the midterm elections. That wave did not materialize, but historically small Republican gains were enough to mean she would lose the speakership of the House.

    Managing imperiled presidencies

    The longevity of Pelosi’s tenure is all the more remarkable given the fact that she worked alongside four different – and often troubled – presidencies. She first became House speaker in 2007 under the lame duck presidency of George W. Bush.

    Nancy Pelosi looks on as President George W. Bush delivers the State of the Union address.
    Rich Lipski/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Then she served that role under Obama just before his “shellacking” in midterm elections; Trump through two impeachments and an insurrection; then Biden, saddled with bitter national divisions. The Pelosi speakership was the one constant as four different presidents dealt with national threats.

    Yet Pelosi managed to work through a deeply polarized Congress scores of bills that impacted the lives of everyday Americans. Her legislative accomplishments include her stewardship of the landmark Affordable Care Act. She worked with Bush to rescue the American economy in the financial crisis of 2008 – when the Republican caucus refused to provide votes needed to shore up the economy.

    She also worked with the reluctant Trump administration to provide pandemic relief amid a global health crisis and in early 2022 shepherded through Congress the largest infrastructure investment bill ever.

    Toughness leading a divided caucus

    Profiles of Pelosi invariably comment on her toughness, a quality admired by both Obama and Boehner. She also led a Democratic caucus often divided by ideology, region, culture, identity politics and generational differences. Some on the left suspected her establishment ties. Critics on the right gleefully vilified her as some “San Francisco socialist.”

    Even the professorial Obama confessed he sometimes felt hectored by her passionate advocacy. Republicans campaigned repeatedly on the simple pledge to “Fire Pelosi,” spending hundreds of millions on crude ads devoid of a legislative agenda.

    One can disagree with her positions, however, while still recognizing that Pelosi has been a fierce and effective advocate advancing her majority’s agenda.

    The record shows that her results-oriented approach has been consistent in its goals and clear in its principles. Such clarity has provided leadership to the nation in fractured times. Her singular focus on advancing her caucus’ legislative agenda has made her the key Democratic Party messenger of her generation.

    She has now had the courage to step back, making way for a new leaders and new ideas. More