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The Maastricht Diplomat

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A fine line

[Lockdown] Riots broke out for 2 nights in a row over the newly imposed lockdown. On Friday the 19th, what started as a spontaneous protest in the centre of Rotterdam quickly turned hostile. At least 51 people have been arrested and 2 people have been shot, both of whom are hospitalised. The last time the Dutch police fired shots directly at a crowd was in 2009. The next day, on the 20th, a smaller riot broke out in the Hague that resulted in 5 injured officers and 7 arrests. The lockdown has been in effect for a little more than a week now, showing that despite the progress with vaccines, the nightmare still hasn’t ended. Besides the lockdown, a new proposal is in the works that would make coronavirus passes required for most shops and venues. In addition, a bill for entrepreneurs is being drafted that will allow them to demand a coronavirus code for the workplace, the only question is whether the pass would include negatively tested people, or only those who have been vaccinated and/or recently recovered.

[Inflation] The numbers are out and as reported by CBS (Statistics Netherlands), October of 2021 saw a 3.4% increase in consumer price index (CPI) compared to the same month of 2020, the highest increase observed in almost 20 years. This trend is followed in other developed countries like the UK where prices were 4.2% higher this October compared to the past year.

In general, inflation in the euro area rose from 3.4 to 4.1 percent. In the US, the number was 6.2% marking a 31-year high. The rise is evident in the prices of housing, energy, gas and household items. Generally, the increase is explained by the significant growth of demand that came with opening the economy, while the supply was (and is) still constrained through labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks, among other reasons. The big question is whether those inflationary trends would persist in the future. Policy makers are walking on a thin line because if they enact contractionary policy too soon (policy that would limit the demand and consequently the inflation) that would lead to a contraction of the economy, that could lead to a recession, unless the economy has recovered sufficiently from the pandemic.

[Transgender Day of Remembrance] On the 20th of November we commemorated those who have lost their lives as a result of transphobic violence. The Day was founded in 1999 by a small group of activists, including Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. This year marks the deadliest so far on record for transgender Americans. Partly, that’s the case because the police have become better at reporting the victim’s gender identity while in the past they would misgender them and even sensationalize the tragedy. Even so, that can’t completely account for the increase in casualties. As trans issues have become a more focal point of conversation, anti-trans rhetoric has increased as well. For example, for the US, 2021 was not only record high violence against transgender people, but it was also a record year for anti-transgender legislation, with state legislatures introducing more than 100 bills aimed at reducing the rights of transgender people such as access to healthcare. The Biden administration has made some progress by reversing some of the previous administration’s decisions, like the ability for transgender Americans to openly serve in the military, however, it’s still a long road to true equality.


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