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Failed Coup in Turkey Provides Cover for Erdoğan

(Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan)

Turkey faces an uncertain future following a failed coup attempt last week. World leaders denounced the attempted overthrow of the government, launched by dissident elements of the country’s military against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Amidst appeals for faith in the democratic process and a return to dialogue, however, is the specter of Erdoğan’s increasingly totalitarian regime. Critics fear that the coup – which lacked a strong ideological basis and included some soldiers who were not even fully aware of what they were participating in – has laid the groundwork for a speedy consolidation of power.

Events over the past few days may prove those critics correct. Following the arrest and detention of 6,000 people allegedly involved in the coup attempt, the government initiated a mass purge of government and education workers. More than 1,500 university professors have been asked to resign and authorities have revoked the licenses of 21,000 teachers. As many as 35,000 public servants have now been removed as part of the government’s aggressive turn.

To top all of this off, the government has banned all academics from travel in a nod to polices practiced by the Soviet Union.

The perpetrators of the coup attempt certainly have blood on their hands. At least 161 individuals – including many police officers – were killed, with thousands more wounded. Furthermore, these numbers do not include civilians killed in clashes with renegade military forces. But Erdoğan’s overreaction is morphing into a general round up of dissidents, which is in total contravention with the supposedly pro-democratic rationale for defying the attempted coup.

A statement from Amnesty International called for justice relating to unlawful killings stemming from the coup, but warned against the extreme reaction currently underway:

The sheer number of arrests and suspensions since Friday is alarming and we are monitoring the situation very closely. The coup attempt unleashed appalling violence and those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses must be brought to justice, but cracking down on dissent and threatening to bring back the death penalty are not justice.

Turkey’s actions may lead to greater isolation from Western bloc countries, and further dampen its prospects at EU membership. The nation, a NATO member, has long been considered an invaluable ally and asset in a region fraught with war and strife. Indeed, the US has nuclear weapons strategically placed in Turkey, which now pose a big question: how secure are these weapons with view to Turkey’s worsening political crisis, happening concurrently with the intransigent conflict in neighboring Syria? How does all this factor into the increasingly visible terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS throughout the world?

The political, economic, and security implications are immense. The Tap will continue covering events in Turkey as they relate to the social good.

Plagiarism at the RNC: New Low for Trump Campaign

(Donald Trump appearing with his wife Melania Trump at a campaign event)

The first day of the RNC in Cleveland was certainly eventful. From the last ditch effort of the #NeverTrump movement to derail Trump’s nomination to the rampant fear-mongering of the convention’s bizarre speaker lineup, the day threw into sharp relief the divisions within the GOP as well as the rather desperate tactics that the party is leaning on to propel its reality star nominee to the White House this November.

As part of this most unconventional convention, Trump himself made an appearance to introduce his wife, Melania Trump, who held the primary speaking slot for the evening.

This was an unprecedented move. The presumptive nominee for both parties has hitherto appeared only on the final night to formally accept the nomination. And while Trump’s campaign may say otherwise, last night’s shakeup of convention tradition doesn’t stem from Trump’s self-styled spontaneous approach to politics. The breach of tradition instead reflects the party’s inability to fill the speaking slots with high-ranking republicans, who have exhibited historically high levels of reluctance to appear at the convention (or to vocally support the presumptive Republican nominee at all).

But what made the evening’s closing speech most remarkable was the fact that Melania’s speech was plagiarized.

In what may amount to one of the most embarrassing moments of Trump’s entire presidential campaign, Trump’s wife repeated nearly verbatim two paragraph’s from the First Lady’s 2008 DNC speech.

Melania’s speech last night including the following words:

From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise.

That you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow, because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

Following the speech, journalist Jarrett Hill was quick to point out the stolen lines:

While Melania herself likely had nothing to do with the speech’s composition, this blatant plagiarism is yet another example of Trump’s flippant and juvenile organization, which has struggled to exercise the basic functions of a presidential campaign. How his handlers and aids could have overlooked something so egregious is beyond comprehension.

Following the revelations, Trump and his surrogates have offered many excuses, from somehow blaming Hillary Clinton to pointing out that English is Melania’s second language. Mistakes this lazy and unprofessional, however, result from an inward-looking campaign that has prided itself on its lack of political orthodoxy. In the end, there is no one to blame but Donald Trump himself.

Brexit & Job Growth: Strong Forecast for Year-End Giving Season

While Brexit has generated anxiety among economists and world governments (which has already abated somewhat), there are some signs that the short-term consequences could actually be a boon for the United States, and in turn may have a positive impact on 2016 year-end giving for nonprofits and fundraisers.

As has already been well-documented (and discussed in detail here on The Tap), Brexit has amounted to a self-inflicted wound for Great Britain, which is reeling in the EU referendum’s aftermath. Britain’s departure from the EU has sent the pound plumetting to a 30-year low. Various industries, including car manufacturing, face an uphill battle as companies’ dollar and euro-denominated debt worsens due to Britain’s monetary collapse. The nation’s trade deficit is also set to expand, as the already high-consumption Britain is set to lose ready access to the EU market for its own goods and services. Various European financial institutions are also planning on relocating London offices to other European cities, such as Amsterdam.

Additionally, the United Kingdom itself could very well dissolve, leaving a diminished and economically anemic England. Scotland – which overwhelmingly voted to stay within the EU – may make another bid for independence. There are also stirrings in Northern Ireland for unification with Ireland, an EU member state. If both of these divisive political developments occurred, Britain would consist only of England and Wales – a mere shadow of Britain’s former self.

While the United States is in some ways affected by the general financial fallout of Brexit, the nation may actually stand to benefit. Economists are predicting that the U.S. real estate market may receive a boost as investors weary of the British economy flock to the United States. With this unexpected stimulus, there is also speculation that the Federal Reserve could forgo raising interest rates for a while longer to take advantage of this unplanned advantage (as well as to quell investor concerns over the general economic impact of Brexit).

As the United States’ trade deficit swings in its favor, with more money flowing into the comparably safer US markets, inflation rates may also shrink, increasing the buying power of US citizens.

This could have two positive implications for nonprofits: with larger financial institutions receiving an influx of investment, companies may be poised for more generous corporate giving; additionally, increased buying power for US citizens could encourage greater philanthropy, especially as low income individuals are already more predisposed to giving than other income brackets.

While increased expenditures on loans and mortgages may result in more savings for average consumers, there is yet one more factor that could lead to a successful year-end giving season: a consistently improving job market. Despite pessimistic outlooks, it appears that employment in the United States is likely to continue improving throughout 2016, according to McVean Trading & Investments LLC.

With a diminished unemployment rate, consumers emboldened by a more competitive dollar, and greater financial investment, nonprofits could see a particularly profitable year-end giving season. Even if the US populace looks toward saving during this momentary economic reprieve, that could still result in stronger giving in FY2017.

The Tap will continue to provide economic insight through the lens of today’s hottest issues for the benefit of fundraisers and nonprofit professionals.

Despite Aquaculture, Overfishing Continues

Bad news for the world’s oceans.

The UN just released its biannual State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report. According to the report’s findings, rampant overfishing continues to accelerate, depleting the seas of vital fish populations while threatening other sea creatures including dolphins, whales and sharks.

For the first time, aquaculture – the farming of fish in tanks or designated coastal areas – provided the globe with the majority of its fish stocks for consumption. Wildfish populations, however, are still overexploited. The numbers are staggering: one-third of global fist stocks face biologically unsustainable levels of fishing. In the Black Sea, 59 percent of stocks face the same hyper-exploitation.

This stems largely from an increase in the globe’s daily fish diet. Per capita consumption of fish is now around 44 pounds per year.

Overfishing has long plagued the seas. The persistence of destructive and illegal fishing practices, such as the use of wide drift nets that indiscriminately capture all creatures within an area, continue to threaten the survival of aquatic birds and mammals.

In addition to ravaging the biodiversity of the oceans, overfishing takes a heavy toll on coastal communities that depend on fishing for their local economies. Newfoundland in Canada, for example, may never witness a comeback of the once economy-sustaining cod, largely due to altering ecosystems that may prevent populations of the formally abundant creature from bouncing back.

Now is an important time to not only think about your own sea food consumption, but to consider the importance of conservation as well. Organizations such as the World Wildlife Federation runs programs aimed at aquatic conservation. Consider supporting this or another affinity organization in order to help stave off a complete collapse of the world’s oceanic ecosystems.

Brexit: What’s in Store for Next PM Theresa May?

(The Home Secretary and soon-to-be Prime Minister Theresa May)

It’s official.

Theresa May will be the next British prime minister. Following the departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Tory leadership race, May is poised to take over the reins from Cameron, who announced his intention to step down following the disastrous Brexit referendum vote that has plunged Europe and world markets into turmoil.

May’s task to extricate Great Britain from the European Union is no small matter. A first for the multi-national body since its foundation in 1958, one of its members will withdraw using Article 50, the legislative tool that British authorities will need to formally trigger in order to follow through with Brexit.

Those wises, however may have changed a bit over the past few weeks. As we discussed on The Tap, many British voters began regretting their decision to vote ‘no’ almost immediately after polling for the referendum ended. Talks of independence and unification are buzzing in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, both of which voted to stay within the EU.

Enter Theresa May, the UK’s home secretary and soon-to-be prime minister. This Wednesday, Cameron will formally end his tenure, beginning the next chapter of the Brexit saga as May navigates the way forward as Prime Minister.

Since her entry into the British political scene as a parliamentarian in 1997, May has operated as a social liberal within her party, supporting equal pay for women and backing gay marriage. She strikes a much harsher line on immigration, for which she initiated draconian rules during her tenure as home secretary that have hurt the British economy and unduly burdened LGBTQ refugees.

May supported the ‘remain’ camp during the referendum, though in an halfhearted fashion. British political insiders consider this a deliberate strategy to position herself as a palatable leader for both the pro- and anti-Brexit camps within the party.

And make no mistake about it, she has every intention of following through with British voters’ shocking decision to leave the EU.

“Brexit means Brexit,” May has repeatedly said. In an interview with the BBC, she remarked that “as prime minister, I will make sure we will leave the European Union,” stating further that there will be “no attempts to remain inside the EU.”

She also maintains that Britain does not need to trigger Article 50 immediately. Pro-Brexit leaders are interested in delaying the process in order to negotiate the best deal possible to keep access to the EU market.

For its part, the EU has no interest in making things easy for Britain as it does not wish to send the message to other nations within the bloc – including struggling members such as Greece – that leaving is good idea with minimal consequences.

This could amount to a politically impossible position for May. As the drama over Brexit continues, we’ll see what path she takes from the current place of ambiguity and uncertainly she currently occupies.

Making Sense of Dallas: Violence, Racism, and Guns

This week, three separate incidents have monopolized the headlines. Two separate police shootings of non-threatening black men in Louisiana and Minnesota brought activists out across the country, decrying the disproportionately violent and harsh treatment directed by police at people of color.

Then, last night in Dallas, at one of scores of marches against police brutality happening across the nation, at least one gunman ambushed police officers who were on scene to direct the march. The shooter killed five officers and injured 7 people, including both police and protestors. The primary gunman was killed by a bomb detonated remotely by the police, while another three suspects – with as of now unknown affiliation to the incident – remain in custody.

During the lengthy negotiations with police that led up to the detonation, the 25 year-old gunman identified as Micah Johnson expressed anger at the recent shootings, his frustration with the Black Lives Matter movement, and his desire to kill white officers in retaliation for recent events.

This week’s events – both delicate and difficult, dealing with some of the most heated debates of our times – have already stirred the pot, heightening tensions over guns and race during an already fraught political season.

The former House Representative Joe Walsh posted an ominous threat to Obama and Black Lives Matter activists, tweeting: “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

By murdering officers as they helped facilitate the expression of protesters’ first amendment rights, Johnson and whoever else was involved in the heinous shooting in Dallas deserve unequivocal condemnation, and any surviving participates in the attack should be prosecuted.

The victims in Dallas deserve justice. So, too, do Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, the men shot to death in Louisiana and Minnesota respectively.

But understanding the complexity of this issue is difficult for many Americans. Consider the pandering of public figures like Walsh, whose vicious tweet itself deserves condemnation. The former congressman has leant his voice to a false narrative – just as the New York Post did with its cover this morning – that there is an unsealable divide in our country that will necessarily result in violent conflict. His pandering is reckless and, yes, racist. What exactly is “real America?” Are people who are outraged over senseless police violence directed at black people somehow outside of that classification?

As for rhetorical excess, it is worth mentioning the dehumanization that anti-police jargon generates. While police forces as institutions are flawed and some officers possess prejudice, police departments are run by many well-meaning people from all backgrounds and ethnicities who have families and aspirations. “Fuck the police” may be a cathartic chant, but it is reductive.

While politicians work to fit this week’s events into their narratives, it’s worth acknowledging the objective horror and injustice of violence generally, and gun violence specifically. It’s possible to both adamantly oppose racist violence against black citizens, and to also wholeheartedly oppose the exercise of violence against police officers, many of whom have provided countless hours of civic service for communities across the country.

At the heart of all of this rests that specter of American violence – the gun. As yet another week yields more gun deaths, the United States government cannot bring itself to define the issue in terms of public health. By granting adequate resources to studying and weeding out violence in our communities, we can look at the variegated factors that contribute to this persistent menace, instead of pitting Americans against each other and ignoring institutional flaws that perpetuate injustice.

Trump Uses Antisemitic Meme to Justify Antisemitic Meme

Donald Trump is certainly no stranger to controversy. The highly unpopular presumptive Republican nominee for president has alienated a number of demographics through his improvisational, reactive brand of demagogic populism. From mocking a disabled reporter to accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists, Trump’s most offensive moments have somehow left the reality star-turned-candidate relatively unscathed.

That may be changing.

Following his rivals’ departure from the GOP’s presidential primary, Trump’s mercurial temperament may finally be catching up to him as the general electorate scrutinizes his unsavory and offensive style, which often veers into blunt racism and fear-mongering.

His favorability ratings are abysmal, particularly among important demographics including women and latinos, groups whose support is essential for a winning Republican coalition in November.

Trump now appears to be digging himself into an even larger hole. One of the candidate’s recent tweets featured a meme calling Hillary Clinton the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever.” The image also featured a Star of David overlaid on a pool of cash. It remained on Twitter for several hours before being taken down and replaced with a doctored version.

The website Mic was able to trace the meme to a forum popular with the “alt-right,” a movement steeped in neo-nazi ideology and antisemitism.

At a rally this week in Cincinnati, Trump expended a considerable amount of energy defending the image, accusing the media of dishonesty in bringing up its racist undertones. Much to the confusion of political commentators who figured that Trump would make political use of recent developments pertaining to Clinton’s private email server, Trump instead focused on the meme, stating that if he had the opportunity again, he would have left it up.

The mogul has since tweeted another image depicting a sticker book themed with Disney’s film Frozen which also includes a Star of David, rhetorically asking if the book should attract the same degree of outrage sparked by the Clinton meme. Ironically, it turns out that image itself was taken from yet another antisemitic user from the same racist web forum that gave us the Clinton meme.

Trump completely missed the original point that juxtaposing the Star of David and a pool of money peddles very dangerous anti-Jewish stereotypes that we have seen before.

Whether or not Trump’s continued inability to rebuke his antisemitic followers or cease his own dissemination of racist memes changes the landscape of the general election remains to be seen. But if his horrendous track record offending women or latinos had any correlation to Trump’s poor polling numbers with those groups, then the candidate will fare even worse at the polls than he is currently slated to.

Breakdown of the 2016 DNC and RNC

(Pro- and anti-Trump protesters could clash in Cleveland during the RNC)

Philadelphia and Cleveland are preparing for the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention respectively.

The scale of these events is quite massive. In Philadelphia, more than 50,000 visitors from around the country will gather July 25-28 to watch political and cultural luminaries speak, as well as the Democratic candidate accept the nomination at the Wells Fargo Center – home to the Flyers and the 76ers. Approximately 20,000 individuals from national and international media outlets will be in attendance.

As part of the city’s welcoming preparation, Philadelphia has commissioned and displayed 57 painted donkey statues throughout town.

While some commentators argue for the economic benefits of hosting the convention in terms of national visibility and long-term tourism promotion, there are other cost burdens on the hosting city. National conventions have a long history of attracting large protests. Half of nearly a dozen requests for protest permits have been granted for this year’s DNC, with more unplanned protests expected to pop up around the city.

The 2000 Republican National Convention, which occurred in Philadelphia, culminated in nearly 400 arrests.

Concerns over security and violence this year, however, are even larger for Cleveland, which will host the RNC at the Quicken Loans Arena. Donald Trump – the presumptive Republican nominee – has run perhaps the most contentious and polarizing campaign in modern US history, attracting condemnation for racist and controversial statements while shoring up support among predominately white populations across the country dismayed with the political elite.

Cleveland anticipates 50,000 visitors for the RNC, scheduled for July 18-21. Hate groups, including white nationalist and neo-nazi organizations, as well as the anti-LGBTQ Westboro Baptist Church, are among those planning to travel to the RNC.

While organizers point out the safety and successful security perimeters of previous conventions that attracted large protests, this year’s RNC is unique. Left-wing protesters usually predominate at Republican conventions. Authorities anticipate anti- and pro-Trump protestors clashing in the streets, largely because they expect large volumes of right-wing protesters for the first time in recent history.

If the violence of previous Trump rallies is any indication, this mixture of political voices could prove combustible.

Indeed, the Trump campaign has created a safe space for racist nationalists. A racist organization at the center of recent violence in California announced plans to “protect” Trump supporters.

The Tap will cover events at both conventions while they unfold, and will explore the economic, cultural, and political aftermath of both the RNC and the DNC during this contentious political season.

Report: Most Walkable Cities Also Most Equitable

(Walkable New York City)

In an era where gentrification is pushing out lower income residents with deep roots in their neighborhoods, methods for ensuring equality in urban centers is paramount.

Soaring housing costs in cities such as San Francisco have created a crisis in which members of particular industries and income brackets gain an almost exclusive right to live in desirable areas. As tech companies bloom and add even more jobs across the western seaboard – from the Bay Area to Seattle – the process repeats itself, driving housing costs up and lower income residents out.

Popular cities across the country have experienced similiar patterns in recent years, as well.

A new report has pointed out an interesting factor that contributes to greater urban equality, however, and may show how some cities struggling with social stratification can improve the overall quality of life for residents.

According to Smart Growth America, the most walkable cities are more socially equitable than their car-centric, spread-out counterparts. Researchers at the nonprofit compared cities’ walkability ratings to their rank on the Social Equality Index, which rates the equality of cities based on variables including housing costs, access to employment and transportation costs.

Their study found that the most socially equitable cities in the United States – New York, Washington, DC and Boston –  are also the most walkable.

While those cities have high housing costs, this is offset by very low transportation expenditures.

According to Michael Rodriguez, the director of research at Smart Growth America, walkability eases financial burdens:

People can rely on automobiles less than they otherwise would, or not at all, and thereby save in transportation, get to destinations, and have more destinations near them. Those are equity points because the moderate- to low-income family needs jobs, they need ways to get to jobs, and they need housing.

The report looks to promising developments in cities not necessarily known for easily navigable layouts for pedestrians. These future walkable metropolises include Detroit, Phoenix, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Miami, Atlanta, and Cleveland.

By exploring ways to easily connect residents from all income levels to the destinations they need to reach, these cities can not only combat social inequality, but also help improve the overall living standard and health of their populations by encouraging people to get out and move.

Read the whole report here.

Berlin Joins Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

(The Berlin skyline)

The city of Berlin is doing its part to combat climate change, voting last week to purge the German capital’s pension fund of its investments in fossil fuels. Berlin’s parliament passed the legislation as part of the city’s long-term goal to become “climate neutral” by 2050.

The new policy will rid the $852.8 million fund of investments in RWE and E.ON – two German companies – as well as the French company Total.

Berlin joins a group of other Western cities acting as examples for the divestment movement, which looks to eliminate investments in dirty energy in order to lessen the financial incentive of investing in fossil fuels.

Other cities that have taken a similiar stand against dirty energy include Stockholm, Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, Seattle, Portland, and Melbourne.

According to the activist nonprofit We Are Power Shift, a group that promotes divestment as a strategy for fighting climate change, the divestment movement

…started on university campuses, but has spread to cities, faith-based institutions, foundations, pension funds, and more, all over the world. Our goal is to diminish the influence and power of the fossil fuel industry in the market, our political system, and in the social conscience overall.

Christoph Meyer – a leading campaigner with Fossil Free Berlin – remarked on the Berlin parliament’s decision:

Berlin’s decision to blacklist fossil fuel companies is the latest victory for the divestment movement, which serves to remove the social license from companies whose business model pushes us into climate catastrophe. We will keep a close eye on the administration to make sure it upholds today’s commitment and urge the city to now take quick steps to break its reliance on coal power.

While there is debate about the effectiveness of divestment, advocates see it as a strategy to speed up the process through which investments become “stranded.” As public attention grows and support for regulation intensifies, the idea is for investors writ large to grow weary of such ventures due to the prospect of further diminishing profits.

As more of the world’s biggest urban centers jump on board, it’s safe to say that this push is gaining more-and-more momentum.

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