eyes on the U.S.

Yes Folks, Donald Trump Is Getting The Keys To The White House

What Trump has done is nothing short of cataclysmic.

Trump speaks to supporters early Wednesday after his victory
Trump speaks to supporters early Wednesday after his victory
Chris Cillizza

WASHINGTON â€" Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Donald Trump, a man who has never run for any elected office before.

Donald Trump, who made his name nationally as a flamboyant billionaire turned reality TV star.

Donald Trump, who built a primary campaign on a pledge to build a wall along our southern border and make Mexico pay for it.

Donald Trump, who, in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino in late 2015, proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

Donald Trump, who faced allegations of sexual assault from a dozen different women in the closing weeks of this campaign.

Donald Trump, who said and did 1,000 things in this campaign that would have lost the race for any other candidate.

Yes, that Donald Trump is going to be the most powerful person in the United States â€" and maybe the world â€" for the next four years.

What Donald Trump has done is nothing short of cataclysmic. He has fundamentally reshaped the political map. He has broken the Republican Party into pieces â€" and its shards still remain scattered everywhere. He has proven that the political polling and punditry industries need a deep re-examination.

But, even more than all that, Trump's victory reveals that many of the assumptions that people have long made about who we are as a country and what we want out of our politicians, our political system and each other are, frankly, wrong.

Trump's candidacy was premised on the idea that everyone â€" politicians, reporters, corporations â€" is lying to you, and lying to you to to feather their own nests. It was a Holden Caulfield campaign: Everyone, except Trump and his supporters, were phonies.

In short: Trump played on the deep alienation and anxiety coursing through the country. Globalism, immigration, a growing chasm between the haves and the have nots, a rejection of political correctness in all its forms. A prevailing sense that things were so screwed up that radical change â€" and make no mistake that is what Trump cast himself as in this contest â€" was the only option left.

Consider this: Just 38% of voters in the national exit poll said that Trump was qualified to be president. (52% said the same of Clinton.) And yet, he won the White House on Tuesday night.

That disconnect can only be explained by a desire to blow up the whole system. And I don't just mean the political system. I mean every elite and establishment institution that's ever assumed they know best â€" the media very much included. Trump is the collective middle finger from all the people who think the elites have laughed them off and dismissed them for too long. It is the average man's revenge â€" made all the more remarkable by the fact that the vessel of this rage against elites and the establishment is a billionaire who tells anyone who asks how smart and rich he is.

How Trump happened then, while remarkable, can be understood and analyzed. What Trump will do as president is a far more difficult question to answer.

Trump's policy positions were loosely defined, at best. His lone consistent position throughout his life is on trade, where he has long favored a more protectionist view, suspicious of broad trade deals like NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His immigration stance â€" build a wall and make Mexico pay for it â€" seems far-fetched. His plans on taxes, on education, on energy are all sketches of ideas as opposed to specific policy proposals.

How does Trump relate to the GOP congressional majorities he is going to enjoy? He ran against the Republican establishment â€" in the primary and general election campaigns. He vilified them as tone-deaf to the changes happening not only within their party but also in the country. What now? Trump sits in the catbird's seat. Republican leaders need to come to him â€" but is he willing to accept them into the new Republican Party he has forged?

And what of the Democratic Party? Hillary Clinton began the 2016 campaign as the strongest non-incumbent front-runner in the history of modern politics. Her presumed strength glossed over the fact that a) a significant amount of liberal unrest â€" represented in the primary by Bernie Sanders â€" remained toward her and b) the Democratic bench is remarkably thin.

What does it mean for world markets, that plunged as the likelihood of a Trump victory shaped up? Or the U.S. relationship with foreign countries? Or our involvement in foreign conflicts?

There are many questions that Trump's victory creates. And more I can't even think of.

Here's what I do know: Trump's victory is the single most stunning political development I have ever witnessed. And it's not close. This is the equivalent of dropping a refrigerator â€" or maybe 10 refrigerators â€" into a smallish pond. There are obvious, giant waves. But there are 1,000 other ripples that we might not even see today â€" or might not even exist today.

Cataclysm. Plain and simple.

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Ecological Angst In India, A Mining Dumpsite As Neighbor

Local villagers in western India have been forced to live with a mining waste site on the edge of town. What happens when you wake up one day and the giant mound of industrial waste has imploded?

The mining dumpsite is situated just outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat

Sukanya Shantha

BADI — Last week, when the men and women from the Bharwad community in this small village in western India stepped out for their daily work to herd livestock, they were greeted with a strange sight.

The 20-meter-high small hill that had formed at the open-cast mining dumpsite had suddenly sunk. Unsure of the reason behind the sudden caving-in, they immediately informed other villagers. In no time, word had traveled far, even drawing the attention of environment specialists and activists from outside town.

This mining dumpsite situated less than 500 meters outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat has been a matter of serious concern ever since the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited began lignite mining work here in early 2017. The power plant is run by the Power Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited, which was previously known as the Bhavnagar Energy Company Ltd.

Vasudev Gohil, a 43-year-old resident of Badi village says that though the dumping site is technically situated outside the village, locals must pass the area on a daily basis.

"We are constantly on tenterhooks and looking for danger signs," he says. Indeed, their state of alert is how the sudden change in the shape of the dumpsite was noticed in the first place.

Can you trust environmental officials?

For someone visiting the place for the first time, the changes may not stand out. "But we have lived all our lives here, we know every little detail of this village. And when a 150-meter-long stretch cave-in by over 25-30 feet, the change can't be overlooked," Gohil adds.

This is not the first time that the dumpsite has worried local residents. Last November, a large part of the flattened part of the dumpsite had developed deep cracks and several flat areas had suddenly got elevated. While the officials had attributed this significant elevation to the high pressure of water in the upper strata of soil in the region, environment experts had pointed to seismic activities. The change is evident even today, nearly a year since it happened.

It could have sunk because of the rain.

After the recent incident, when the villagers raised an alarm and sent a written complaint to the regional Gujarat Pollution Control Board, an official visit to the site was arranged, along with the district administration and the mining department.

The regional pollution board officer Bhavnagar, A.G. Oza, insists the changes "aren't worrisome" and attributes it to the weather.

"The area received heavy rain this time. It is possible that the soil could have sunk in because of the rain," he tells The Wire. The Board, he says, along with the mining department, is now trying to assess if the caving-in had any impact on the ground surface.

"We visited the site as soon as a complaint was made. Samples have already been sent to the laboratory and we will have a clear idea only once the reports are made available," Oza adds.

Women from the Surkha village have to travel several kilometers to find potable water

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

A questionable claim

That the dumpsite had sunk in was noticeable for at least three days between October 1 and 3, but Rohit Prajapati of an environmental watchdog group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, noted that it was not the first time.

"This is the third time in four years that something so strange is happening. It is a disaster in the making and the authorities ought to examine the root cause of the problem," Prajapati says, adding that the department has repeatedly failed to properly address the issue.

He also contests the GPCB's claim that excess rain could lead to something so drastic. "Then why was similar impact not seen on other dumping sites in the region? One cannot arrive at conclusions for geological changes without a deeper study of them," he says. "It can have deadly implications."

Living in pollution

The villagers have also accused the GPCB of overlooking their complaint of water pollution which has rendered a large part of the land, most importantly, the gauchar or grazing land, useless.

"In the absence of a wall or a barrier, the pollutant has freely mixed with the water bodies here and has slowly started polluting both our soil and water," complains 23- year-old Nikul Kantharia.

He says ever since the mining project took off in the region, he, like most other villagers has been forced to take his livestock farther away to graze. "Nothing grows on the grazing land anymore and the grass closer to the dumpsite makes our cattle ill," Kantharia claims.

The mining work should have been stopped long ago

Prajapati and Bharat Jambucha, a well-known environmental activist and proponent of organic farming from the region, both point to blatant violations of environmental laws in the execution of mining work, with at least 12 violations cited by local officials. "But nothing happened after that. Mining work has continued without any hassles," Jambucha says. Among some glaring violations include the absence of a boundary wall around the dumping site and proper disposal of mining effluents.

The mining work has also continued without a most basic requirement – effluent treatment plant and sewage treatment plant at the mining site, Prajapati points out. "The mining work should have been stopped long ago. And the company should have been levied a heavy fine. But no such thing happened," he adds.

In some villages, the groundwater level has depleted over the past few years and villagers attribute it to the mining project. Women from Surkha village travel several kilometers outside for potable water. "This is new. Until five years ago, we had some water in the village and did not have to lug water every day," says Shilaben Kantharia.

The mine has affected the landscape around the villages

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

Resisting lignite mining

The lignite mining project has a long history of resistance. Agricultural land, along with grazing land were acquired from the cluster of 12 adjoining villages in the coastal Ghogha taluka between 1994 and 1997. The locals estimate that villagers here lost anything between 40-100% of their land to the project. "We were paid a standard Rs 40,000 per bigha," Narendra, a local photographer, says.

The money, Narendra says, felt decent in 1994 but for those who had been dependent on this land, the years to come proved very challenging. "Several villagers have now taken a small patch of land in the neighboring villages on lease and are cultivating cotton and groundnut there," Narendra says.

They were dependent on others' land for work.

Bharat Jambucha says things get further complicated for the communities which were historically landless. "Most families belonging to the Dalit or other marginalized populations in the region never owned any land. They were dependent on others' land for work. Once villagers lost their land to the project, the landless were pushed out of the village," he adds. His organization, Prakrutik Kheti Juth, has been at the forefront, fighting for the rights of the villages affected in the lignite mining project.

In 2017, when the mining project finally took off, villagers from across 12 villages protested. The demonstration was disrupted after police used force and beat many protesters. More than 350 of them were booked for rioting.

The villagers, however, did not give up. Protests and hunger strikes have continued from time to time. A few villagers even sent a letter to the President of India threatening that they would commit suicide if the government did not return their land.

"We let them have our land for over 20 years," says Gohil.

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