The current day Republican party is not exactly known for its appeal and outreach to America’s minorities voters. In fact, the demographics problem is so severe for the GOP that experts predict that unless the party is able to transform its policy positions in order to reach out to more segments of the American population, it will no longer be a national party. This prognosis is usually framed in the context of immigration reform and outreach to Hispanic Americans. However, one minority group, Asian Americans, is growing at an even greater percentage than the Hispanic population and has recently seen a tremendous and almost unprecedented shift from supporting the Republican party to uniform Democratic support.

In 2012, Barack Obama received a staggering 73 percent of the Asian American vote, a number that exceeded the support that he received from Hispanic Americans (71 percent). This has not always been the case. Just 20 years ago, 74 percent of Asian Americans voted with the Republican candidate for president. Bill Clinton received just 36 percent of the Asian vote in 1992, and Obama himself won just 68 percent his first go around in 2008. This kind of dramatic turnaround in support is rarely seen in American politics.

Research suggests that the key factor behind the switch is the Republican party’s hostility towards Asian Americans, often treating them like foreigners even when it is clear that they were born in this country and even when they demonstrate a willingness to vote GOP.

For example, in a recent question and answer session with GOP 2016 frontrunner Donald Trump, when Joseph Choe, an Asian American college student, raised his hand to ask a question, Trump interrupted him to ask “Are you from South Korea?” Choe responded that he is actually from Colorado, a critical swing state for Trump or any other Republican that will win the primary. Trump did not apologize and in fact, Trump’s question and Choe’s response drew laughter from the mostly older white audience. Social media exploded with criticism of the real estate mogul. One Asian American user tweeted “@realDonaldTrump Asked a @Harvard student the one question Asian Americans hate being asked.” David Chan, an Asian American zoning attorney, attended the rally because he was drawn towards Trump’s background in real estate development. Afterwards, he felt ashamed and embarrassed. “I was invited to the event because I donated money to Trump’s campaign. He is a real estate developer and in my field, I trust developers to make the right decision. Afterwards, I felt like Trump insulted me. I wish I could take my donation back.”

Jeb Bush, a self proclaimed “electable” Republican 2016 contender recently referred to immigrants as “anchor babies.” When reporters asked him to clarify, Bush explained that he was actually referring to Asians, rather than Hispanic Americans. The kind of tone and rhetoric used by Trump, Bush and others is an attempt to appeal to nativist sentiment prevalent in the Republican party. Campaign rallies frequently feature supporters that openly express hostility towards any and all minorities.

The Asian American vote is relatively small to the US population, but key in several swing states and is rapidly growing in size. While the white vote has increased 13 percent since 1996, the Asian vote has increased 105 percent. The kind of dog whistle politics that Republicans used through much of the modern era has now cost them another rapidly growing demographic.

Love Kentucky Fried Chicken? Who doesn’t? How about Pizza Hut? Taco Bell? As you may or may not know, these restaurants are all subsidiaries of Yum! Brands, a multi-national, publicly traded conglomerate that also owns WingStreet and East Dawning.

The food at these chains may not be good for you, but boy does it taste good. People all around the world agree. KFCs for instance, have spread like wildfire over the course of the last half century, and it was even the first American fast food joint to open up in China after the normalization of US-Chinese relations.

In an interesting turn of events, Yum! is parting with its Chinese business in the hopes of helping its foreign and domestic units grow.

Recovering from Setbacks

The decision is largely the result of many stumbling blocks currently impeding growth in China. A combination of food safety issues and increased competition from local restaurants has hit Yum! China hard. There was the scandal involving KFC last year in which one of Yum’s major meat suppliers (Shanghai Husi Food) relabeled expired meat. Once word of the situation got out via a television report, consumers avoided Yum! restaurants like the plague for months.

Currency differences and Chinese economic weaknesses have also had an impact on sales. The difference between a strong dollar and a weak yuan, coupled with the relative low income of the average person in China, put Yum! brands at a major disadvantage to local mom and pop restaurants, as well as local chains that sell at lower prices.

That isn’t to say the Chinese unit is a lost cause. On the contrary, the China division alone accounted for 54 percent of overall operating profit in the last quarter. In addition, the Chinese unit is virtually debt-free. Yum! doesn’t want to get rid of their Chinese operations; they just want them run autonomously by people on the ground in China so that they can grow at their own pace while the more mature American division refocuses its efforts at home.

This is exactly what shareholders have been wanting for quite some time now. After the decision was announced, shares rose 5 percent to $75.22.

Bright Prospects Ahead

The Yum! China unit will be based in Shanghai and be publicly traded. It’ll be a franchisee of the parent Yum! Corporation, paying for the rights to KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut with a percentage of its sales.

Although Chinese sales currently aren’t where Yum! would like, hopes for the future are high. It foresees growth from its current 6,900 restaurants to 20,000 within the next few years.

The split is in process–scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2016. By the end of 2016, Yum! hopes to have 95 percent of its Chinese restaurants owned and operated by franchisees. The separation will be tax-free for shareholders.

This move by Yum! entails some risk for the Chinese unit while improving the viability of the parent company. If it works out as planned, it can pay off big time.

Cars are incredibly dangerous. Every year, over 1.3 million people die in car related crashes around the world, with an addition 20 to 50 million injuries or disabilities resulting from auto collisions. In a dangerous world, traffic and road related accidents rank as the 9th leading cause of death, making up around 2.2% of all deaths worldwide. Most of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries in the developing world, where infrastructure is often lacking, cars are typically antiquated, yet the number of cars on the road and the miles travelled continues to go up. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, if no action is taken by governments, traffic accidents will become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, just 15 years from today.


It should come as no surprise to anyone that has visited Thailand that a recent UN study on automotive safety has determined that the country has the 2nd deadliest roads in the entire world. The 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety notes that 14,059 people were killed on Thai roads in 2012, a rate of 36.2 casualties per 100,000 people. The only country that ranked ahead of Thailand in the study was Lybia, with a death rate of 73.4 per 100,000 residents.  Making matters worse, the UN concluded that Thailand regularly under reports road related fatalities due to a lax approach to record keeping and decentralized enforcement. According to WHO, the Public Health Ministry in Thailand understates road fatalities by 42%.


Thailand lacks some basic road safety measures found in many other countries, including in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. For example, Thailand does not have a child restraint or child safety seat requirement, nor a universal seat belt law. New road projects are rarely subjected to safety reviews and audits, and contractors often cut corners to save money on materials. A recently constructed road in the town of Pattaya, which was supposed to separate pedestrians from cars, tuk tuks, and motorbikes, only made the problem worse as the lack of sufficient curb space only encouraged motorbikes to go up on the part of the street that was designed to serve pedestrians, similar to getting a human on the phone at 800 USPS. This has already resulted in fatalities for drivers, pedestrians, and even roadside merchants with stands along highways.


The heavy use of motorbikes is also a problem. The mode of transportation is increasingly convenient as roads become more and more congested. In addition, motor bikes are a staple of Thai culture which prides itself on efficient, low cost transportation options. Nevertheless, they present a far greater risk of fatality to drivers than cars, buses, and even tuk tuks. Tourists in popular destinations like Koh Samui are frequently allowed to rent motor bikes with minimal knowledge of the rules of the road and a complete lack of training.


In addition, road and safety rules are rarely enforced, even with increasing government scrutiny. For example, the national drunk driving limit of 0.05 is lower than in most US states, but is rarely enforced.