The 'Rat Tribe': Beijing's Dungeon Apartments

The 'Rat Tribe': Beijing's Dungeon Apartments

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Beijing, a Chinese city that has nearly tripled in size since 1995 from eight million to 21 million people in 2013, has come up with some bizarre methods of housing its people. With very loose building codes, Beijing has taken advantage of all its space and is essentially packing in its 20 million plus residents wherever they can. I was always under the impression that American college housing was bad... and then I became aware of what researchers have labeled the “Rat Tribe” in Beijing, and never have I been so wrong.

In China, they have developed a system of household registration called Hukou. The Hukou system has significantly stratified, or in this case demographically segregated, China’s massive population into economic and origin groups. The system has had a significant impact on rural migrants who are looking for jobs in big cities, where they are abundant. The "Chinese dream" that most of these migrants are in search of comes with a cost, and the Hukou is to blame. Because they are leaving their so called “assigned” registration area, the migrants are unable to apply for low-income (government regulated) housing, nor can they participate in public schools or collect government welfare simply because they are not registered to live in the city. Therefore, China has a part of the population, which is registered to live in the big cities, enjoying the benefits of the culture, art, and economy of the big city, and migrant workers simply have no place to go.

With demand for housing so high in Beijing, the only place migrant workers have been able to look to for housing is down below. Beijing has become home to nearly one million underground residents who live in refurbished bomb shelters from the Cold War period (1960s to 1980s) and these “apartments” do not fit the American definition or standard of what an apartment is, whatsoever. Dark, windowless, damp, and lacking fresh air, these living quarters range in sizes up to 300 square feet, down to as little as 6 feet, 5 inches by 7 feet, 4 inches. Some residents, who live in quarters only the size of a twin sized bed, only have a twin sized bed in their room. Some apartments are as much as three to four stories below ground and access to them is only by bomb shelter style doors at the surface leading to the bustling city of Beijing. Residents share communal toilets and pay about 50 cents to take a five-minute shower. The biggest complaint is lack of sunlight, but workers compromise because of the amount of money they feel they save by living underground.

The modest beginnings of these Chinese dreamers, who consist of young actors, hair stylists, newlyweds and street sweepers, are more than humble to Americans, and are, arguably, unacceptable. In America, we often complain about what we have or more commonly, what we lack. After learning about the Rat Tribe, I personally have become more grateful for my dirty bathroom, runny faucet, my fan that is missing a blade, and my sliding door without a handle. How lucky are we? We have it made here in America.

For more information on this and to check out some of my sources refer to these websites: 

http://projects.aljazeera.com/2015/01/underground-beijing/

http://www.npr.org/2014/12/07/368760646/a-universe-beneath-our-feet-life-in-beijings-underground

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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Beto O'Rourke Is The Future For The Democratic Party

Democrats need a new voice, and now they have him.

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As a self-professed progressive, the 2016 presidential election was one of the darkest days of my life. Every day I wish that the election had turned out differently. But if there's a silver lining, the Democratic Party has almost completely reinvented itself and has a chance to move forward.

Barack Obama was an amazing leader for the party for a decade. Hillary Clinton was arguably the most-flawed candidate the modern-day Democratic Party has ever nominated, and she lost to the most-flawed Republican ever nominated. So now the Democrats need someone to look up to and lead the way past the regressive presidency of Donald Trump. That man is Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke is a representative of Texas's 16th congressional district, which covers the city of El Paso. But right now people in the political world know him as the guy who is running against arguably the most-hated man in the Senate, Ted Cruz. Former House Speaker and fellow Republican John Boehner once said that Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh."

Cruz prides himself in being hated by Washington politicians, but hatred from his current colleagues could come back to bite him. "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," said Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina.

If O'Rourke wins in November, he'll take down Cruz, who is one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in Washington despite being hated. And it could launch Beto to even higher office someday.

Even if he loses to Cruz, Beto has an extremely bright future ahead of him because he's just what the Democratic Party needs right now. He's young, passionate, communicates extremely well and is a perfect representation of what the face of the party should be.

This year, O'Rourke has been setting an example of how Democrats should run their campaigns. Beto has traveled to every single one of Texas's 254 counties. Ever since the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC (2010), Democrats have pushed for campaign finance reform, and O'Rourke is leading by example with his campaign. Beto has taken $0 from Political Action Committees (PACs). All of his money comes from individual donors. Cruz has taken PAC money, but O'Rourke still holds a significant advantage in fundraising.

O'Rourke in his campaign emphasizes that Texas has among the highest immigration populations in the United States, but the senators from Texas, Cruz and John Cornyn, do not accurately represent the diversity of the state. O'Rourke has separated himself from Cruz by speaking out against the proposed border wall and the separation of immigrant children at the border.

I'm not from Texas, but I'm just as excited for this senate race as I was when Doug Jones won in my home state almost a year ago. Beto O'Rourke has an opportunity to make positive change in our country and actually bring people together. If he doesn't win in November, Beto should make plans for 2020 because he can become the face of the Democratic Party.

If you'd like to learn more about, join, or donate to the campaign, here is a link.

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