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Malaysian politics in turmoil amid talk of new coalition – National Post

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KUALA LUMPUR — The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition hung in doubt on Monday, after surprise weekend talks between Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s party and other groups on forming a new government that would exclude his anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim.

The tussle between old rivals Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, has shaped Malaysian politics for decades and tension has persisted, despite their alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.

Hit by the uncertainty, stocks fell more than two percent to their lowest since 2011 after Monday’s opening.

On Sunday, Anwar accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid widespread corruption accusations.

Sources said Mahathir’s party and a faction within Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and the Islamist party PAS in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.

One source said the new grouping had more than the 112 members needed for a parliamentary majority, should they stake a claim to form a government.

“In terms of numbers, the new coalition has more than enough,” the source added.

Holding fresh elections was an option, said two of the sources.

All the sources sought anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private discussions with the media.

Mahathir’s party, the opposition UMNO, the Islamist PAS and Anwar’s party faction did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mahathir’s party, UMNO and PAS met the king on Sunday, media said, though it was not immediately clear what they discussed, and whether the new proposed coalition would secure backing from the king, who plays a largely ceremonial role in Malaysia.

The king can dissolve parliament on the advice of the prime minister and his assent is required for the appointment of a prime minister or senior officials.

But it is unclear what his role would be if the ruling coalition changed without a change in prime minister.

Anwar was due to meet the king at 0630 GMT on Monday, his spokesman said, but gave no details of what he would seek.

Also set to meet Mahathir, sources said, were Anwar and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, leader of the Democratic Action Party, dominated by ethnic Chinese, which is the second-biggest group in the current coalition.

BY-ELECTION LOSSES

Anwar and Mahathir united ahead of the 2018 election to drive out the UMNO-dominated Barisan Nasional coalition that had ruled the Southeast Asian country for six decades in a surprise victory.

But tension between the two in their Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition had been growing, as Mahathir resisted setting a specific timetable for keeping his promise to hand power to Anwar.

The coalition’s political fortunes have been waning with defeat in five recent by-elections. Last month, Mahathir warned the coalition might be a single-term government if it did not make changes and stop infighting.

Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy when the latter was prime minister during his first stint from 1981 to 2003. But Mahathir sacked him in 1998 after they disagreed over how to handle the financial crisis.

Soon after Anwar was jailed for sodomy, charges he says were trumped up. He spent close to 10 years in jail on two sentences for sodomy, which is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The developments come as the economy grew at its slowest pace in a decade in the fourth quarter. On Thursday, the government is to announce a stimulus package to alleviate the impact of a virus outbreak. (Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Clarence Fernandez)

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Opinion: Iowans want health care focused on patients, not politics, and Democrats are delivering – Des Moines Register

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President Joe Biden’s health care proposals have received widespread support from voters across the political spectrum.

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Joe Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act to tackle climate, health care

The legislation signed by President Biden aims to address climate change, lower prescription drug costs and provide health care subsidies.

Anthony Jackson, USA TODAY

  • Matt Sinovic is the executive director of Progress Iowa, a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization.

No matter where we live or the color of our skin, we all deserve to get the care we need without going broke. Luckily, President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have delivered on their promise to lower costs and improve health care for American families. Along with making key investments in climate and energy, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 drives down prescription drug prices by giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, institutes a cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, and protects Americans against outrageous and arbitrary price increases. The legislation also includes measures that will lower health care premiums for millions by extending Affordable Care Act financial assistance for three years. 

This bill is testament to the Democrats’ unwavering commitment to ensuring health care is affordable, accessible, and equitable for every American. While Biden and Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to lower health care costs for people like me and other Iowans, Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley are continuing their attacks on health care, putting their own political interests over the health and financial well-being of their own constituents. 

Every single Republican in Congress opposed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. By voting against the bill, Republicans voted to raise health care costs for working families and maintain Big Pharma’s broken system. Even worse, Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst helped block a critical provision that would cap insulin costs at $35 per month for millions of diabetics with insurance. As many as one in four of the 7.5 million Americans dependent on insulin are skipping or skimping on doses, which can lead to death. As voters across the political spectrum have demanded action to rein in drug prices, Republicans have opposed any meaningful reform. 

Another View: Opinion: Democrats’ big government law will hurt Iowa’s families and small businesses

Instead of offering solutions to curb inflation or lower people’s cost of living, Republicans have laid out a radical, corporate plan that would raise costs, threaten Medicare coverage for millions, and rip protections from people with existing conditions. Republicans are still fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to make premiums more expensive for middle-class families. 

The Republican war on health care doesn’t stop there — Republicans have worked to undermine access to care for women, seniors, and people with disabilities. Republicans, especially those aligned with former President Donald Trump, have attacked abortion rights and opposed legislation to end the maternal mortality crisis. They voted against capping drug costs and extending hearing benefits for seniors. Republicans in Congress also continue to fight closing the coverage gap in 12 states that have rejected Medicaid expansion, which has left more than 2 million vulnerable Americans uninsured. Failure to support these policies disproportionately harm people of color, who face increased barriers to accessing care and worse health outcomes. 

By fighting efforts to lower health care costs, Republicans are turning their back on the American people. It isn’t surprising that Biden’s health care proposals have received widespread support from voters across the political spectrum. However, if it were up to Republicans, health care costs would skyrocket, the rich would become richer and millions of Americans would be thrown off their coverage with nowhere to turn. 

The contrast is clear: Between fighting to lower health care costs and expanding affordable coverage to working families in Iowa, Democrats are working tirelessly to lower everyday costs for all Americans. Meanwhile, Republicans unanimously oppose legislation to lower health care costs, expand affordable coverage, and give families more breathing room to pay for other essentials like food, child care, and rent. 

Some things never change: Republicans want to raise health costs, ditch critical protections, and put profits over patients.

Matt Sinovic is the executive director of Progress Iowa, a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization. Year-round, Progress Iowa promotes progressive ideas and causes with creative earned media strategies, targeted email campaigns, and cutting-edge new media.

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Mintoff seeks return to politics, running to be Tiny mayor – MidlandToday

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A former Tiny Township councillor, who abruptly resigned in September of 2021, has decided to jump back into the political arena and is seeking to become the municipality’s mayor.

“I truly believe that Tiny’s at a crossroads right now,” said Tony Mintoff. “I think that there has been a need for strong, decisive leadership and a steady hand at the helm, and I think I can offer that to the residents.”

Mintoff has entered as a candidate for mayor of Tiny in the Oct. 24 municipal election. (Recently, David Evans also announced a candidacy for the mayor’s seat next term.)

“I think the elephant in the room is that I resigned my position (as councillor) this current term, this past year. A number of people have some concern about that, and I understand that,” said Mintoff.

Despite plans of a relaxing retirement, the 71-year-old Tiny resident chose to enter the mayoral race after seeing the experience others were offering to bring to the role.

“I’m really concerned, to be quite frank, that we could very well elect both a mayor and deputy mayor that have absolutely no municipal experience or political experience,” Mintoff explained.

“Having gone through the learning curve of just being a councillor who got on with a number of other members of council who had experience, I found it to be a pretty steep and difficult learning curve,” he explained.

“I think, given the fact that the mayor and also the deputy mayor would be not only trying to manage and steer Tiny but also to participate at the county council as well is a pretty tough act if you have no experience or background at all.”

With this intention, Mintoff simultaneously declared a joint candidacy with fellow resident Steve Saltsman as a candidate for deputy mayor.

“You’ll see our campaign signs showing up pretty soon, and you’ll see that our signs have two names on them, not one. We are running as a tandem,” Mintoff said.

As for the mayoral candidacy, Mintoff has more than 40 years of municipal and provincial experience with roles as a Toronto firefighter, fire chief, and throughout six years as an assistant deputy fire marshal for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. He served on Tiny council for 10 years leading up to his resignation.

His reasons for leaving as councillor were multi-faceted involving several concerns, some of which included the municipal handling of short-term rentals, aggregate operations at French’s Hill near Wyebridge and the threat to clean water in the township, and contentious beach ownership along the township’s shores of Georgian Bay.

These issues are on Mintoff’s campaign list to address, along with affordable housing and the potential opportunities the Huronia Airport can provide.

“We’re just on the cusp of that now,” said Mintoff. “There’s a huge opportunity there to develop some of that property to create aerospace-type jobs, or even unrelated jobs, that would be higher-end scale and that would employ skilled workers.

“I think creating jobs for people is just as important as creating houses for them. If you create the jobs around here, then, hopefully, they’re going to want to live around here. They’re hand in hand.”

Tiny council chambers remains physically closed to members of the public, although meetings are livestreamed and archived for residents to participate through phone or by virtual means. However, Mintoff feels more could be done.

“We really need to do a better job to engage the residents, to give them the sense that in a democratic society they have access to their elected representatives in a meaningful way, not just through Zoom,” he said.

“I think what we need to do is open the council chambers. The province has been open for months. There is no legitimate reason for the council chambers to be closed still. People know that. They’re very offended by it; they’re angry about it.”

He added, “People are starting to become apathetic, which is probably one of the worst ways to undermine our system.”

Information on the Tiny municipal election can be found on the Tiny Township website.

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The politics of climate change | TheRecord.com – Waterloo Region Record

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In her brilliant 2019 article “The challenging politics of climate change,” Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow with the Washington-based Brookings Institution, explores how “the lack of intensity around (climate change) is simultaneously incomprehensible and totally understandable.”

She offers four explanations: “complexity; jurisdiction and accountability; collective action and trust; and imagination.”

Our climate crisis is a political hot potato because it is complex and voters don’t like complexity. As well, it isn’t obvious how our actions impact the climate — for good or bad. We can’t see greenhouse gas emissions the way we can see water pollution from a chemical plant, or toxic smoke pouring out of a smokestack.

Kamarck says climate change and cybersecurity are “two of the stickiest problems of the 21st century … because it’s so difficult to nail down jurisdiction.” Who is responsible for what? Where does the buck stop? And do we trust our government and politicians to do the right thing?

A half-credit of Civics in high school is not enough for most of us to untangle the Gordian knot of responsibilities in the multiple levels of government impacting our lives.

The politics of climate change is about government action, or the lack of it, but it’s also about navigating the strategies we use to tackle the issue. Since we politicized climate change in the 1970s, our response has been highly divisive. This has to change because everyone is affected and a vigorous and collaborative political response is essential.

Despite the sound science, we still have climate deniers and liars, who come in many forms. The Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, categorizes them as “the shill, the grifter, the egomaniac and the ideological fool.”

In a Scientific American interview, climate scientist Michael Mann, famous for his hockey stick graph showing the exponential growth in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from human activity, said that climate deniers have been replaced by inactivists. The deep pockets from the fossil fuel industry are now funding “legislative efforts blocking clean-energy policies” through “deflection, delay, division, despair mongering, doomism.”

Both the oil and tobacco industries share the same devious strategy to shift the blame and responsibility from the corporation to the individual. In 2005, British Petroleum created a marketing campaign for people to calculate their personal carbon footprints. There is no question that we each bear responsibility for our own actions to live sustainably, but who is holding corporations to account?

For the past 10 years, Ottawa-based Gerald Kutney has taken on the climate denialists, bots and trolls to clean up the Twitter-verse. His goal is to stop the propaganda and lies being repeated by the “denial-saurs” from becoming the truth.

Kutney picked Twitter because it’s “the best, ongoing teaching ground about climate denialism in the world, day in and day out.” To counter the piling on from followers of the biggest climate deniers, Kutney introduced #climatebrawl. Just like the bat signal in Batman’s Gotham City, the hashtag alerts an international support system prepared to do battle, armed with the truth about our climate crisis.

We have to trust the evidence-based solutions from our best climate scientists and not the ramblings and rants of disbelievers. Denial-saurs, like most of the contenders for the Canadian Conservative party leadership, are treating our future like a political football.

Kutney’s best advice is “Vote. Just vote,” and hold our elected officials to effective climate-action plans. We cannot afford to be silent in our winner-take-all electoral systems unless we want to be governed by the choices of a minority of climate denialists.

This goes for municipal politics as well. There will be many new faces on councils after this fall’s municipal elections. Our future depends on their commitment to climate action.

Susan Koswan is a freelance contributing columnist for The Record, based in Waterloo Region. Follow her on Twitter: @SKoswan

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