The Globalist http://www.theglobalist.com Daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 At Home in Cuba’s Campoamor Theatre http://www.theglobalist.com/at-home-in-cubas-campoamor-theatre/ http://www.theglobalist.com/at-home-in-cubas-campoamor-theatre/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:00:42 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37934 By The Globalist

Even though the last curtain fell in 1965, one man still calls Havana's Campoamor Theatre home.

Credit: Thomas HecknerEven though the last curtain fell in 1965, one man still calls Havana's Campoamor Theatre home.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

Even though the last curtain fell in 1965, one man still calls Havana's Campoamor Theatre home.

Credit: Thomas Heckner

Photographer Thomas Heckner enjoys traveling and meeting people of different cultures to find out about their ways of living and surviving. “If my protagonists let me take part in their everyday life, I’m happy.” he says.

•  •  •

Central Havana’s Campoamor Theatre opened on October 20, 1921. For more than four decades, it was one of the country’s leading venues for music, theatre and poetry. Singer Rita Montaner, Cuba’s most popular performer from the 1920s until her death in 1958, enjoyed her first major show there in 1924.

But in 1965, six years after Fidel Castro took power in the Cuban revolution, its curtain fell for the last time and it became a garage for pedicabs and mopeds.

It was then that Reinaldo, now 52, started working in the building as a parking attendant. Then the garage, too, closed down. And so for more than 20 years, the former theatre has been his home. His living room is on the first floor in what was formerly a vanity room.

He has a wardrobe for clothes, a bed, a gas cooker, a television, a ventilator to cool the summer air and help keep off the mosquitoes, and — usually — electricity.

Like all Cubans, Reinaldo has a government rations book that guarantees him a supply of food, though not enough to survive. To make ends meet, he works as a cleaner in houses around his neighborhood or takes on other temporary jobs.

For 30 years, he has practiced the Chinese martial art, Tai Chi. Formerly taught by a master teacher, he now practices alone twice a day, for an hour in the morning and another hour in the evening.

Text and photographs by Thomas Heckner








Photographer Thomas Heckner enjoys traveling and meeting people of different cultures to find out about their ways of living and surviving. “If my protagonists let me take part in their everyday life, I’m happy.” he says.

The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project (order here) aimed as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100 and other media rich lists by telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.

Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.

Selected from 11,000 images shot in 158 countries and submitted by nearly 1,500 photographers, The Other Hundred celebrates those who will never find themselves on the world’s rich lists or celebrity websites.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/at-home-in-cubas-campoamor-theatre/feed/ 0
How Japan Bankrupted Itself http://www.theglobalist.com/how-japan-bankrupted-itself/ http://www.theglobalist.com/how-japan-bankrupted-itself/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:44:50 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37144 By Daniel Stelter

The story of Japan's decline -- and the lessons for Europe.

Credit: Lek Changply - Shutterstock.comThe story of Japan's decline -- and the lessons for Europe.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Daniel Stelter

The story of Japan's decline -- and the lessons for Europe.

Credit: Lek Changply - Shutterstock.com

Following the start of Abenomics in 2012, Japan moved back to the center of attention of global financial markets. After two and a half decades of economic stagnation, hopes were high that Japan would escape its long stagnation and deflation.

Plenty of economists around the globe hoped that, in so doing, Japan would show the western world, mainly the Eurozone, the way to do the same and avoid a similar long period of low growth and stagnating incomes.

Conversely, the failure of Abe’s plan for Japan’s recovery would not only be a disaster for the country of the rising sun.

It would also be very bad news for central bankers and politicians in the west as well. It would prove that Keynesian policies don’t work in a world of too much debt and shrinking populations.

To assess the probabilities of these scenarios, it is worthwhile to have a deeper look on how Japan ended up in the current economic malaise.

The erstwhile poster child

Japan served globally as a role model for economic development in the 1980s. After an economic miracle following the Second World War, Japanese companies started to dominate in leading industries like machinery and equipment, automotive and consumer electronics.

Similar to today’s views on China, back then books explaining the Japanese miracle and describing the unstoppable rise of the nation to the leading economic powerhouse of the world were highly popular around the globe.

Japanese corporations also began to invest in prestigious artwork and trophy real estate assets around the world. When the Japanese bubble – like all bubbles – deflated from 1990 onwards, asset prices collapsed. However, credit levels in Japan remained high.

Japan acted just as the Keynesian textbook prescribes. It compensated a deep drop in domestic demand with higher government expenditures. As a result, many companies, which in reality were insolvent, were not restructured – but kept alive with low interest rates and bridge financing.

What happened over the past 25 years is simple: Japan’s corporate sector was a net saver and reduced its leverage. Private households also reduced their savings significantly, from levels of 20% to 3% today. Finally, the Japanese government built up a huge debt load, rising from about 50% of GDP at the end of the 1980s to close to 250% today.

Shrinking workforce and debt service

Despite all of this, the efforts to reignite growth in Japan failed. The only results were a significant increase in the overall debt burden of the country and a change of the principal debtor. That debtor is now the Japanese government — instead of Japanese corporations as before.

At the same time, the workforce in Japan started to shrink. Actually, Japan reached the peak in its workforce at the same time as its financial bubble peaked. That suggests that the peak in the workforce became an additional driver for the build-up of the bubble.

If so, this would be another disquieting parallel to Europe, where the labor force also peaked in parallel to the credit bubble in 2007.

One fact is often overlooked. Precisely because of the Japanese population’s shrinking, on a GDP per capita basis the Japanese economy has been outgrowing the U.S. economy in the quarter century since 1990.

That seems to be good news. Why then worry? Unfortunately, GDP and debt are nominal quantities. Debt can only be served out of nominal income. It thus does not help a country if its GDP per capita grows and at the same time the population shrinks.

Here again, Europe has reason to worry. Europe is in the beginning of a similar demographic development – albeit one that is not as severe in all European countries as it is in Japan, thanks to the European Union’s more open immigration policies.

A bankrupt nation

Japan can therefore be described as a country that has the following features:

1. Above average per capita productivity growth.

2. Shrinking population (from currently 127 million to 87 million inhabitants by 2060).

3. Low real economic growth for decades to come (as demographics continue to deteriorate).

4. Shrinking savings rate, due to an older population which will start dissaving soon and therefore will not continue to fund the deficits of the government as in the past.

5. Corporate sector with a strong balance sheet after 25 years of deleveraging, but with low investments and no inclination to invest in Japan (given demographics). Corporations are thus a net saver.

6. A government with record high debt of nearly 250% of GDP.

7. Debt service already consumes 43% of the Japanese government’s revenues, just to cover interest on the outstanding government debt – and in spite of interest rates being close to zero.

8. A central bank, which adapted quantitative easing already in 2001 and is willing to do everything that is necessary to support its economy.

9. A country that has failed to generate inflation until now, but has rather seen a long period of stable consumer prices and slightly falling overall price level as measured by the GDP deflator.

Simply put, such a country is bankrupt. No economy can sustain a total debt level (for the government, households and non-financial corporations) of more than 400% per cent of GPD without having a nominal growth rate that is significantly higher than the level of interest rates.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/how-japan-bankrupted-itself/feed/ 0
The United States and Cuba: Toward Normalization, Finally http://www.theglobalist.com/the-united-states-and-cuba-toward-normalization-finally/ http://www.theglobalist.com/the-united-states-and-cuba-toward-normalization-finally/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:02 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37855 By Alan McPherson

A victory for diplomacy in time for the holidays.

Cuban President Raúl Castro (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)A victory for diplomacy in time for the holidays.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Alan McPherson

A victory for diplomacy in time for the holidays.

Cuban President Raúl Castro (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Yesterday’s announcement from President Barack Obama that the United States and Cuba would reestablish diplomatic relations is a startling but welcome breath of fresh air in the stalest of international stalemates.

Right after the media reported the mutual release of prisoners, including U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross and the three remaining members of the “Cuban Five,” Obama announced that mutual embassies would soon spring up.

The President added that the United States would also loosen restrictions on travel, remittances, banking and trade. Travelers can now bring back Cuban cigars!

Cuban Americans will now be able to see their families more often and send them greater remittances — from $500 to $2,000 every three months. All sorts of U.S. citizens, from students to religious groups, will be able to travel more easily.

Rational grown-ups and mutual interests

This is a victory for diplomacy — yes, even secret diplomacy. With the Canadian government hosting, U.S. and Cuban negotiators met behind closed doors for 18 months.

If the media had reported on the negotiations, they probably would have been scuttled by Republican accusations. Instead, rational grown-ups identified mutual interests of their nation and moved ahead with bold decisions.

Such progress will probably beget more progress — on immigration, the environment, narcotics and human trafficking. The absence of Cuba promised to derail the next Summit of the Americas and further alienate Washington from every government in the hemisphere. Crisis averted.

Normalization, to be sure, is not complete. Cuba is still not a member of the Organization of American States and joining might take more democratization than Cuban leader Raúl Castro is willing to tolerate.

More important is the remaining embargo. The outlawing of most trade with Cuba is the longest embargo ever, in place since 1962.

In the 1990s a Congress and presidents pressured by the Cuban-American lobby codified it into law. So it can only be fully rescinded by another act of Congress.

Republican hang-ups on Cuba

Congress has generally been slow to act on anything, especially on Cuba. And Republicans are, as usual, the greatest impediment to progress.

They have long outdone Democrats in being “tough” on Cuba with their rhetoric in order to win votes in Florida, a swing state. This time will be no different.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush will probably both run for president in 2016. They will try to use U.S-Cuba normalization to paint the Democrats as — God help us — soft on communism.

But Obama should not let the inmates run the asylum. The stakes are too high and too clear. The limited loosening of cash-and-carry trade in food and medicine in the 2000s produced hundreds of millions in sales for the United States yearly.

Cubans are still suffering from a suffocating political and economic system, but they are arguably doing better than since the end of the Cold War.

The Cubans need normalization more than the United States does. There is every reason to think that they will pursue more of it, if the U.S. government remains respectful and stays out of Cuban politics.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/the-united-states-and-cuba-toward-normalization-finally/feed/ 0
The U.S. Torture Report and White Supremacy http://www.theglobalist.com/the-u-s-torture-report-and-white-supremacy/ http://www.theglobalist.com/the-u-s-torture-report-and-white-supremacy/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:55:38 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37829 By Bill Humphrey

How the "debate" over U.S. torture unmasks a wider truth of thinly veiled White supremacy in official policy.

Graphic by Bill Humphrey. (CC BY-SA 4.0)How the "debate" over U.S. torture unmasks a wider truth of thinly veiled White supremacy in official policy.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Bill Humphrey

How the "debate" over U.S. torture unmasks a wider truth of thinly veiled White supremacy in official policy.

Graphic by Bill Humphrey. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The United States already decided decades ago that no human deserved to be subjected to the treatment after September 11th described in the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogations. Such torture – which included sexual assault and partial drowning – was not to be employed by the United States (or any) government.

The United States suddenly restored these horrific tactics in 2001. It did so not just for known terrorists, but also for people mistakenly detained. This decision would supposedly “protect the American people.”

Many in Washington and beyond have continued to insist that the methods employed were effective at promoting national security (and thus self-justifying), despite the report’s findings — and centuries of evidence — to the contrary.

Asking a morally wrong question

But the very debate on the “effectiveness” of immoral methods is itself immoral. Ignoring the taboo on torturing captives necessarily implies that some people are worth so little – when they might possibly pose a threat – that they do not count as humans.

The moment one asks of an immoral action “Did it work?”, the asker has rejected the humanity of those whom it was used upon. And the matter of whose humanity “counts” or is arbitrarily conditional is a major factor behind this efficacy debate’s existence at all.

When effectiveness is considered instead of the morality of abusing or killing fellow humans, such crimes can and will reoccur.

The question Americans must ask themselves and each other is not “Did it work?” – of course it did not, but that is beside the point. It was known full well at the time that they would not. And so the real question is: “Why did we illegally and deliberately decide to perpetrate ineffective war crimes, including torture, in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001?”

When one considers specifically who was subjected to these war crimes, the path to the answer inevitably turns in one direction: racial supremacy and the prioritization of White America’s safety above all else.

Dehumanization abroad

In short, the Torture Report is really about how the United States chose once again, as official post-9/11 policy, to debate the efficacy (not the morality) of doing harm to those bodies deemed sub-human, specifically non-white bodies, in a drive to protect White America.

As it stands, the “efficacy” question itself appears to mask an inexcusably primal desire to seek revenge against the non-White communities from which the terrorists happened (that time) to have come.

The suspension of full human status – and the legal protections that go along with that – for Muslims suspected of terrorism after 9/11/01 is at the core of the CIA’s actions. Sadly, it fits into a broader pattern in American history. It is the same logic that allowed early U.S. leaders to count enslaved Black laborers as constitutionally 60% human.

Nineteen attackers and their supporting network were made to represent an entire people, whose humanity was then stripped away as official policy. Such a broad-brush response did not occur six and a half years earlier when two White Christian extremists with ties to various shadowy anti-government networks destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City.

The former was an attack by the “Other,” the latter was deemed an in-group attack. The fact that those received two entirely different treatments is a testament that the reaction was a matter of race. It is a primordial fear-response befitting a skirmish between prehistoric clans crossing paths, not a 21st century global superpower encountering an aggressive band of malcontents.

Such “Us vs. Them” taxonomies are dangerous. To protect the innocent lives of some, the innocent lives of so many others become purely expendable.

The argument simply boils down to asserting in stark terms: “Our lives are worth ending or abusing yours, even by mistake, just to be 100% sure ours remain safe.”

This is about race

But perhaps this division is just a case of misguided hyper-nationalism or ultra-patriotism by the United States? Perhaps the “Us vs. Them” division is not racially, ethnically or religiously motivated, as I have suggested?

Unfortunately, that does not seem to hold up to scrutiny. For one thing, the United States has acted much more leniently toward terrorists and mass murderers who are White and/or Christian, both at home and abroad.

Instead of being summarily killed or tortured by law enforcement, White mass shooters (in Tucson, Aurora, etc.) and White anti-government bombers (Oklahoma City, Unabomber, Weather Underground, etc.) are often arrested and tried normally.

For another, consider the current “targeted airstrikes” that keep raining down on Arab and Muslim populations, from Africa to South Asia, as encapsulated so neatly in Akbar Ahmed’s parable of “The Thistle and the Drone.” The logic of illegal torture of detainees – from the same populations – was framed in the same terms as the ongoing drones debate: “Does it work?” – instead of “Is it wrong?”

Drones instead of torture?

Indeed, it seems quite possible that drone strikes, with an extreme level of remove from the situation, have replaced torture fairly directly in the counterterrorism toolbox.

According to The Atlantic, the “CIA began moving away from capturing and detaining suspected terrorists in favor of killing them via drone strikes.” There have been around 490 targeted drone strikes, which have been mostly performed by the CIA.

President Obama is not relieved from responsibility simply because he banned (already illegal) torture, since those interrogations had already been replaced by the terminal actions of drone strikes. In fact, 90% of U.S. “targeted strikes” have occurred under the Obama Administration, not the Bush Administration.

Finding oneself accidentally in the wrong place can lead to execution by drone. (Previously the result was extraordinary rendition and torture.)

And that victim will not even be counted as a mistake. According to a New York Times investigation in 2012, under official U.S. policy, “all military-age males in a strike zone [count] as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

Read that last half-sentence again – and again. Their lives are devalued until they are not even dignified with the status of accidental death. Instead, they are chalked up as a win.

The bigger picture

But this trouble made in the U.S.A. does not end with torture and drones. It also includes – closer to home – police brutality and excessive use of deadly force by law enforcement or Stand-Your-Ground vigilantes. What unites all of these tactics is that they have that “Does it work?” calculus in common when deployed by the United States. Morality is out of the picture.

The so-called “post-9/11 environment” – so often touted as a justification for torture and other hysterical overreactions of the era – existed within a wider, darker context.

On a micro level, we hear the same justifications from police and vigilantes who use lethal force by mistake on an unarmed person: I was afraid, and therefore I am not responsible for my actions. In 51% of police shootings, that unarmed victim is Black or Latino, despite those combined groups representing just 29% of the total population.

In truth, that environment beginning in late 2001 was simply American racial and ethnic paranoia writ large, the same as it as always been.

The high toll of White supremacy

In the pursuit of extreme counterterrorism methods, and in police/vigilante shootings, U.S. leaders and their most aggressive defenders have endorsed a view that at its core insists the bodies of (White) Americans must be so priceless that everyone else’s bodies are expendable in the effort to protect the first group.

There is no other way to explain writing off so many innocent lives because someone looked like a threat. There is no other way to explain applying a different set of rules for treatment of White attackers and non-White attackers.

Whether or not that is consciously intended, it is the effect. And it is the most reduced and unadorned version of the arguments offered to justify such policies.

Like Black Americans being gunned down without trial in an apparent effort to protect White neighborhoods, American-born Muslim “terrorist suspects” can now be assassinated overseas, by drone, without trial. The apparent justification there, too, is the quest to protect White America from attacks, real or imagined.

Land of the free, land of the afraid

While the “homeland” – as it was suddenly dubbed after 9/11 – supposedly included everyone, that was never really true. Non-White Americans continued to live in daily insecurity, often by the hands of the very police sent to serve and protect them.

There is an obvious racial callousness in the lack of due process at work. Such policies are hardly more enlightened than paranoid, White-hooded riders of the Reconstruction-era South burning and lynching freed Black slaves. The latter were killed again and again for various imagined offenses and projected future offenses.

Such policies are, moreover, certainly not more effective at promoting safety than traditional due process and rule of law, even from real threats. By definition, it cannot be safer, if that safety clearly only extends to a very limited group of people who are overwhelmingly or exclusively White.

The dozens of innocent lives lost each year in the sweeping efforts to provide national security and neighborhood security evidently have so little value to the U.S. and local governments, weighed against the lives of the White majority, that it is easy to pull the trigger or press the launch button, just as it was easy to begin torturing again.

There is no justifying context

Many conservatives (and a few hawkish liberals) argue that the U.S. Senate’s torture report and the media are leaving out the “context” of the attacks of 9/11 and the environment that followed. But that’s just it: There is not a context justifying torture. Ever.

“I felt threatened so I shot him mistakenly / tortured him mistakenly / droned him mistakenly” is not a rational argument to keep making over and over. Unless, that is, you first believe his life is simply worth less than yours just because of his birth identity.

And that argument, given the racial composition of the United States government and population, effectively amounts to White supremacy when implemented as official policy.

The cost of a better, freer world

“We have to protect Americans, whatever the cost, because they (the terrorists) don’t hold back,” say the defenders of torture and other War on Terror abuses.

The cost of making a better world is that bad things will sometimes happen to good people. You cannot stop every bad person and protect every good person from every conceivable, without eliminating your own freedom and quality of life and ending other people’s lives in a mistaken dragnet.

At the point where innocent men and women – human beings – from a different race become “collateral damage” and “acceptable losses” in your crusade to defend yourself, you have endorsed a racial supremacy paradigm that is no more moral than the racial paradigms of some failed state’s genocidal leader.

Yes, there may be attacks in the short term because you did not do “everything” theoretically possible to protect yourself. But you keep doing good to set a better example for the long run.

Even if individuals are committed terrorists, they should be apprehended and interrogated by normal criminal procedures whenever possible. That is how the system is supposed to work.

The same rights and rule of law must protect all lives and bodies. At home and abroad, there must be liberty and justice for all, not some, even if it means some “bad guys” slip through the cracks.

In combating the opponents of the United States, we cannot validate their propaganda. We cannot let “our adversaries” argue that they adopted the tactics from us, here in the United States.

A history that must be told

The Torture Report is arguably just the latest installment in a complex national history that is riddled with racial supremacist policies. These have been leveled against indigenous peoples, enslaved peoples and the acceptably expendable non-White masses that make up most of Earth’s population.

There will probably be no prosecutions over this report, but it is a story that needs to be told just the same, as the rest of the dark parts of U.S. history must be told.

There is no guarantee that this admission will prevent history from being repeated, but concealing it and refusing to grapple with the underlying justifications certainly does guarantee this will happen again.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/the-u-s-torture-report-and-white-supremacy/feed/ 0
The Globalist’s Top 10 Features on Africa http://www.theglobalist.com/the-globalists-top-10-features-on-africa/ http://www.theglobalist.com/the-globalists-top-10-features-on-africa/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 01:00:59 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37757 By The Globalist

A selection of the most interesting features on Africa published by The Globalist in 2014.

Credit: Anton Balazh-Shutterstock.comA selection of the most interesting features on Africa published by The Globalist in 2014.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

A selection of the most interesting features on Africa published by The Globalist in 2014.

Credit: Anton Balazh-Shutterstock.com

[ 1 ] South Africa: Cry, the Beloved Country

By Ellis Mnyandu | What took South Africa from 1994 to 2014 will not take it to 2034.

Published on November 20, 2014


[ 2 ] Water: A Big Challenge for Africa

By César Chelala | Can Africa provide clean, safe water for its urban and suburban communities?

Published on September 21, 2014


[ 3 ] What Should Scare Us Most About Ebola?

By Laurie Garrett | How wars and climate change affect the health of all the world’s people.

Published on August 4, 2014


[ 4 ] Can Africa Maintain its Economic Growth?

By Arancha González | Smart Industrialization for Africa’s Economic Transformation.

Published on August 4, 2014


[ 5 ] Africa as a Global Test Case

By Ludger Kühnhardt | Has the time for a new global approach to Africa finally arrived?

Published on June 21, 2014


[ 6 ] An American “Reset” for Africa?

By Ellis Mnyandu | Africa no longer needs the U.S. as a benefactor. It wants a relationship based on mutual interests.

Published on August 6, 2014


[ 7 ] Ebola: An Opportunity for Public Diplomacy

By Tara Sonenshine | The Ebola virus is proof that foreign policy is not “foreign.”

Published on August 4, 2014


[ 8 ] Enterprise in Kenya: Small Business is a Big Dream

By The Globalist | Moses has forged a truly successful small businesses in Kenya but his story is a rare one.

Published on November 2, 2014


[ 9 ] Cycling in Eritrea: Five Photos That Capture a National Obsession

By The Globalist | Eritrea has one of Africa’s most unique sporting crazes.

Published on September 20, 2014


[ 10 ] Sierra Leone: From Blood Diamonds to a Market Economy

By Jacob Conteh | Forgiveness, freedom and accountability help to restore prosperity in Sierra Leone.

Published on June 8, 2014

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/the-globalists-top-10-features-on-africa/feed/ 0
CIA Torture: Book the Americans http://www.theglobalist.com/cia-torture-book-the-americans/ http://www.theglobalist.com/cia-torture-book-the-americans/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:37:43 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37806 By Sreeram Chaulia

If ever there is an open-and-shut case for the ICC to raise its stature as a universal upholder of justice, this is it.

(WikiCommons)If ever there is an open-and-shut case for the ICC to raise its stature as a universal upholder of justice, this is it.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Sreeram Chaulia

If ever there is an open-and-shut case for the ICC to raise its stature as a universal upholder of justice, this is it.

(WikiCommons)

As a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and to the various Geneva Conventions that protect prisoners and obligate occupying militaries to behave humanely, the United States cannot just make public what went wrong and hope that the international community will forget or forgive grave crimes.

President Obama’s unfortunate choice to “look forward as opposed to backwards” on George W. Bush’s law-breaking spree implies that the U.S. executive is unwilling to hold its war criminals to account in domestic American courts.

The onus, therefore, falls on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute the CIA and its allied brutal enforcers from dozens of countries.  It was them who set up a vast meat grinder during President Bush’s war on terrorism.

The New York Times cites an aide of the ICC’s chief prosecutor as commenting that “picking a fight with the United States could be damaging to the court’s standing in the world.” But if ever there is an open-and-shut case for the ICC that will raise its stature as an unbiased and universal upholder of justice, it is this.

American foreign policy never tires of reminding (in fact, often hectoring) other countries that no one should presume to be above international law. It is high time that the prime accuser, whose own litany of crimes has piled up, also stands in the dock.

Editor’s note: This essay also appeared in The Asian Age

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/cia-torture-book-the-americans/feed/ 1
Oil: Anatomy of a Bubble http://www.theglobalist.com/oil-anatomy-of-a-bubble/ http://www.theglobalist.com/oil-anatomy-of-a-bubble/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 21:32:25 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37742 By Richard Phillips

Life is good — for oil consuming countries at least.

oil wellLife is good — for oil consuming countries at least.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Richard Phillips

Life is good — for oil consuming countries at least.

oil well

The word “bubble,” when applied to an economy or economic sector, evokes fear and loathing among financial professionals around the world.

The bursting of the U.S. housing bubble in 2008 in particular left people on almost all income levels feeling battered and scarred. But this sentiment may also have created an exaggerated and irrational dread of bubbles – call it bubblephobia.

Bubbles are natural market phenomena. As markets allocate capital to various users, reason is inevitably overtaken by emotional factors.

Careful analysis is brushed aside by greed. And as markets become increasingly overheated, herd mentality and groupthink force capitulation, opening the floodgates wide in the capital allocation process.

And then the bubble bursts!

The bubble du jour

The bubble du jour is oil. The oil bubble burst this summer. A couple of months later, oil prices started to crash. Investor capitulation to supply-tilted price momentum is now provoking across-the-board selling and accelerating the slide.

The ripple effects of oil as a socio-economic meteor are now being felt throughout the global economy.

The oil bubble was triggered by two broad interrelated factors. One factor was change in oil’s supply/demand equation. The second was the adoption of oil as a store of financial value.

Many factors contributed to an oversupply of oil. With oil trading at over $100 per barrel, global exploration hit a fever pitch around the world. New technologies, hydraulic fracturing in particular, enabled energy companies to bring vast untapped reserves into production. And certain countries, including Iraq, increased production following years of political upheaval.

At the same time, a modest slowdown in certain emerging economies, China in particular, softened demand. Globally, conservation driven by environmental concerns and the high price of gasoline further dampened overall consumption.

Energy markets were thus hit by a perfect storm. But even though it was a perfect storm, it needn’t have ended in the bursting of a bubble. Another factor was at play.

Not only supply exceeding demand

Starting in roughly 2000, oil had come to be viewed as a financial investment. Investors of all stripes, ranging from giant pension funds to Florida grandpas, sought exposure to energy. Vast sums of passive capital went into energy markets.

This capital grew increasingly oblivious to the real supply/demand dynamics that normally unpin energy markets. This was especially true following the financial collapse of 2008, when the price of oil recovered from its recession low of approximately $35 per barrel to a high of $107 per barrel in June 2014.

During this phase of the energy bull market, oblique supply/demand concepts such as “peak oil” gave way to the widespread belief that oil was an actual store of value.

In the United States, for example, trillion dollar fiscal deficits and quantitative easing established a pervasive attitude among certain investor constituencies that the dollar was no longer sound. The smart alternative to owning dollars was therefore to own “hard assets,” oil in particular.

When oil prices hit their peak in June of 2014, the notional value of the open interest of U.S. oil futures amounted to $181 billion dollars.

According to the CFTC, index investors maintained a persistent long position of approximately $30 billion – nearly 17% of the open interest. After eliminating offsetting spread trades, the long positions of index investors represented over 40% of U.S. futures markets!

In other words, investors and speculators were playing a significant role in setting the price of oil. And much of this investment and speculation was based on US fiscal and monetary policy rather than oil industry fundamentals.

And then, because of the high price of oil, capital flowed into the energy sector as a whole. It went into the common stock of marginal energy producers, the bonds issued to support exploration and production and the master limited partnerships that maintain energy infrastructure.

A perverse outcome

This produced a paradoxical outcome. The investment capital that flowed so freely into the futures markets for WTI and Brent Crude, which are more fragile markets than many investors consider them to be, helped drive up the price of oil. But then, the high price of crude attracted the capital that spurred a production boom, helping to create an overabundance of supply.

Now, the market is awash in crude oil. It will take time to re-establish the supply/demand equilibrium, if it ever does. And investment capital is fleeing energy markets in a rout.

In the United States, the overabundance of supply is so great that some analysts are predicting that America will run out of storage capacity sometime in mid-2015!

Winners and losers

Globally, energy producers will suffer massive shortfalls in income, with dangerously negative impacts on their fiscal and current accounts. Economic destabilization aside, a recent report by the International Energy Agency pointed toward the prospect of political destabilization as well.

Energy consumers, for their part, are likely to see massive benefit. Countries such as China, Europe and the United States will receive a dose of stimulus that would not be feasible through government action.

For these countries, the 45% decline in the price of oil represents an approximately $700 billion annual decline in energy costs. This money will flow into all corners of these economies, reducing input costs for industry and putting extra money in the pockets of consumers.

Financial markets will have to sort through a lot of damage. Although it is unlikely that bailouts will be needed, credit defaults will rise – energy bonds, for example, constitute a whopping 18% of US high yield bond markets. Collective investments, such as pension and mutual funds, will bear the drag of depressed energy sector stocks.

But countering this, industries such as airlines and logistics will benefit. Consumer cyclical stocks will benefit too, along with sectors and sub-industries where energy is a key input.

The net result

The net result of the energy bubble bursting seems to be positive for developed countries, the United States in particular. Even so, critics on the far right and far left of the political spectrum will decry the bursting of yet another financial bubble. But the critics should keep in mind that not all bubbles are created equal.

The critics would be right to point to the calamities of 2008 to decry the damage done by bubbles.

But they should also remember the tech bubble that burst in 2001. Like the oil bubble, this bubble was created by capital being allocated to the tech sector in a herd-driven fashion, willy-nilly and in great overabundance. But the tech bubble funded the backbone of the Internet and related technologies that have fundamentally transformed civilization.

In recent years, capital has been allocated to the energy sector without deeper thought and in great overabundance, too. And the chief outcome of this is that the United States has become energy independent.

U.S. energy independence is good for other importers – with the United States no longer absorbing vast amounts of global energy production, supply is likely to exceed demand for years to come.

The story of the oil bubble bursting is still being written. Right now, it looks like it may be heading toward a happy ending – for oil consuming countries at least.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/oil-anatomy-of-a-bubble/feed/ 0
No NSA Reform, No CIA Reform http://www.theglobalist.com/no-nsa-reform-no-cia-reform/ http://www.theglobalist.com/no-nsa-reform-no-cia-reform/#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 09:00:26 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37695 By Stephan Richter

Reflections on U.S. politics as an eternal talk show.

Credit:Reflections on U.S. politics as an eternal talk show.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Stephan Richter

Reflections on U.S. politics as an eternal talk show.

Credit:

The Democrats serving on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Diane Feinstein of California, have released their summary report on CIA torture. What is ahead now that the report is out?

Expect a merry season of verbose handwringing, with endless protestations of (momentary) embarrassment and mellifluous promise of immediate betterment. Even emphatic claims of “Never Again!”

Just don’t believe it. All the statements by ever so embarrassed Senators, in the end, are but a highly ritualized form of appearing apologetic.

The news of the future will report that, despite the most earnest commitments to “fundamental change” of this “critically important” issue, nothing will happen. There will also be talk to hold an “in-depth national conversation,” including unrestrained readiness to “look deep into our national soul.” But that too is bound to be mostly lip service.

How do we know?

Remember the “major embarrassment” felt about the Snowden revelations that “required urgent changes in the law” in order to ensure that such “gross betrayals” of the rights of American citizens would never ever be repeated?

Or the statements that the NSA needed to be “reined in”? That it was an agency on autopilot? Well, there were high hopes for legislative reforms initially.

There were a spate of news articles and administration statements promising that real reform would come. Some people honestly thought that, given the immensity of the privacy violations by the NSA, this time things would be different.

In a parliamentary democracy, where majorities in the executive and legislative branches are by definition the same, reforms would likely have happened swiftly.

The national security establishment

Not so in the United States, with its traditionally gridlocked domestic politics. There, it is never easy to achieve reforms. Still, after Snowden’s revelations, many Democrats as well as some very right-wing Republicans, such as Rep. Sensenbrenner in the U.S. House, were adamant that things could not go on like that.

With such a wide-ranging coalition, along the entire U.S. political spectrum, what could possibly go wrong? A lot, as it turns out, led by a willy-nilly Obama Administration that always pretends to stand for principle before turning meek.

The Obama team is mere road kill for the U.S. version of the “deep state,” which here in the United States is charmingly called “the national security establishment.”

That establishment’s specialty is not so much torture and waterboarding – for those dirty jobs it has the hapless CIA. The deep state’s particular specialty – from official postings to TV pundit perches – is to bottle up any serious attempt to restrain its own near-unlimited range of maneuver.

At the same time, since the preservation of appearances matters a great deal in a PR-driven culture like the United States, the deep state – very much unlike its counterparts elsewhere — is well honed in paying solid-sounding lip service to reform.

In fact, its eagerness to pretend its readiness to undertake reforms is inversely related to letting reforms happen.

(For evidence, just consider how little movement has been seen on rolling back military equipping of police in the United States, despite months of highly embarrassing news reporting and street protests.)

And just in case there is a momentary element of civic courage in the U.S. debate – say, one-tenth of what became visible on the streets of Hong Kong recently – then the establishment just strikes back mercilessly.

Men like Dick Cheney, the former Vice President, or John E. McLaughlin, the former CIA Acting Director, and Max Boot at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, are very, very skilled in making the American people feel very afraid. That’s not too hard actually – Americans are quite easily scared.

Short attention spans

But America’s deep state has another surefire way of knowing that it will always win. The attention span of the country’s public at large, if it is even tuned into the issue at all, is very short.

Rest assured that by the time the next police killing or another high school shooting roll around, the current “hot” debate on the CIA’s torture practices will be wiped off the agenda. CNN, MSNBC and Fox will gladly switch to the new “crisis” as other “Breaking News.”

And so it was that by November 18, 2014, the much-touted “fundamental” reform of the NSA – the electronic version of the dirty laundry apparatus of the U.S. government – met, as was to be anticipated under the rituals of the American Republic, with its first-class state burial.

It came about as a mere “technical” matter, at the hands of a failed procedural vote to advance to a floor debate.

Never again — again and again

The very same, it stands to reason, will happen with the “CIA reform” that is now talked about. America tortured in the past – and it will torture again. Of course, it vowed “never again” after the Vietnam War, but the CIA was using it again within five years.

So here we are. In the end, all of this raises the question of the seriousness – even veracity – of the entire American enterprise. It used to be said that reform in America only happens when a real, monumental crisis has occurred.

It just ain’t so. Not only did real reform not follow on the Snowden revelations. It also did not happen following the U.S.- and Lehmann-triggered global financial crisis.

Fittingly, it was just this week, as the 113th U.S. Congress is wrapping up its business for good, that Wall Street banks scored another major victory in dulling the very few teeth that had been put in as part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

No, as things stand, indications are that America is not a serious country. Seriously. And that, not the so-called revelations that everybody pretty much knew about beforehand – is the real shame surrounding the CIA torture report.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/no-nsa-reform-no-cia-reform/feed/ 2
Human Rights Day 2014: More Than an Irony? http://www.theglobalist.com/human-rights-day-2014-more-than-an-irony/ http://www.theglobalist.com/human-rights-day-2014-more-than-an-irony/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:12:26 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37708 By Johanna Mendelson Forman

The United States and Brazil issue landmark reports: How can the world really do better?

ICC Logo (Wikicommons)The United States and Brazil issue landmark reports: How can the world really do better?

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Johanna Mendelson Forman

The United States and Brazil issue landmark reports: How can the world really do better?

ICC Logo (Wikicommons)

Did you notice the irony this week? On the one hand, the world celebrated International Human Rights Day on December 10, a commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states every human being anywhere and at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights.

On the other hand, as if to underscore the importance of that mission yet sorely unfulfilled, we were also treated to the release of not just one, but two landmark reports that coincided with that commemoration day. The first one was issued in the United States on December 9, the second one in Brazil on December 10.

A tale of two reports

Much of the world’s attention has been on the report which California Senator Diane Feinstein released in the U.S. Senate following a five-year study on the abuses and torture perpetrated by the Central Intelligence Agency upon foreign prisoners taken after the attacks of 9/11.

4,400 miles (or 7,000 kilometers) further south, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff used the day to announce the findings of the country’s National Truth Commission Report. It documented the horrific acts of murder, torture and the disappearance of more than 400 civilians by the Brazilian military from 1964-85.

To Rousseff, that report was anything but an abstract matter. She was herself a victim of torture by the military regime.

Both reports underscored the ongoing challenges we face in living up to the principles of “never again” that originally led to the creation of the United Nations as well as the drafting of the Universal Declaration after the Second World War.

In the United States, the Senate’s meticulously documented report, based on evidence from contractors, secret government reports, as well as the testimony of victims, reaffirms that the national security state went berserk after 9/11.

That is a painful admission by the very country that likes to hold up its democracy as a model for the rest of the world.

Brazil’s response to the Truth Commission Report also bears considering. Speaking about the Commission’s findings, Rousseff said: “We hope this report prevents ghosts from a painful and sorrowful past from seeking refuge in the shadows of silence and omission.”

Emotions aside, the sad reality is that an amnesty law passed in Brazil in 1979 to protect the perpetrators of that violence is still on the books. The new report took the bold step of recommending its repeal.

Not one person has been prosecuted for crimes committed for human rights abuses during Brazil’s two-decade long dictatorship period, which began exactly half a century ago, in 1964.

A mentality of fear

Both the crimes committed in Brazil and by the United States, while decades apart, are the result of a mentality of fear that led nations to pursue those who were considered threats to its internal security.

The anti-Communist fervor in Latin America, in part stoked by the United States response to the Cold War, condoned military dictatorships as a necessary evil to prevent the Soviet Union’s influence in the Americas.

By the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter began a campaign to bring the protection of human rights back to center stage as a core value of the U.S. relationship with Latin America. The policy led to the unraveling of some repressive regimes.

Those were the more glorious days of U.S. human rights policy. More than a decade after 9/11, we Americans are left with a profound question: How to deal with truth and accountability? Constantly referring to “external” and “internal” cannot explain away many of the abuses that have occurred.

Moreover, the evidence suggests that those torture actions, at the very best, do as much harm as good in terms of long-term prevention of terrorism.

In Brazil, the risks of not prosecuting those responsible for the deaths and disappearance of more than 400 citizens in the 1970s only reinforces a sense of impunity that has plagued the judiciary of Brazil ever since.

Governments need to be accountable

What is the point in having the nation’s constitution guarantee respect for human rights and due process, if no proper action is taken about the past crimes that were undeniably committed?

For a new generation of Brazilians, people who were not even born during those dark years of the dictatorship, the urgency of dealing with the past collides directly with the present.

What should happen today? In a nation where police are still literally allowed to get away with murder, the corrupt judicial system has been unable to provide much hope to the families of many victims. Yet Brazil, a leader of the Global South, is a democratic state.

What the two reports call into question are the limits of sovereignty when we are dealing with crimes of such gravity and with transnational implications. They clearly suggest that, in order to overcome the burdens of the past for real, it is impossible to leave punishment only to the state.

International law demands international justice. We must consider ways to manage these types of crimes in venues that provide justice and restore international confidence in the ability of democratic states to face up to violations of basic rights that compromise our security and freedom.

Democratic states may want to argue that using the international system may be too destabilizing and that therefore one must find other methods of managing the past.

Just look at the debate that still plagues U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court, which was founded in 2002 to address crimes against humanity and the prosecution of human rights violations.

But that is not a convincing argument. There cannot be one set of laws and rules applied to African despots – and quite another to Western governments. The rules ought to be the same.

And punishment, if any, ought to be meted out based on the gravity of the crime committed – and not reflect the cultural or developmental sphere one lives in.

As the world gradually learns the basic tenets of truly global justice, let us just resolve one thing: Strike all that vapid talk about “Never again!”

Resolute as that sounds, it is an empty phrase until a country’s government is ready to move toward having actual criminal proceedings into the matter. Until such time, however, it is a gross insult to the victims of the acts of torture that were undeniably committed.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/human-rights-day-2014-more-than-an-irony/feed/ 0
The Homeless in Tokyo: An Understated Issue http://www.theglobalist.com/the-homeless-in-tokyo-an-understated-issue/ http://www.theglobalist.com/the-homeless-in-tokyo-an-understated-issue/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 09:00:41 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35055 By The Globalist

Homeless people in Tokyo number more than the government wants to admit and sleep in the shadow of City Hall.

Credit: Samuel Zuder - The Other HundredHomeless people in Tokyo number more than the government wants to admit and sleep in the shadow of City Hall.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

Homeless people in Tokyo number more than the government wants to admit and sleep in the shadow of City Hall.

Credit: Samuel Zuder - The Other Hundred

Based in Hamburg, Germany Samuel Zuder works on commission for international magazines, advertising agencies and other businesses. He also exhibits his own works focused on Asia that have made it into museums and Galleries all over the world.

•  •  •

At the heart of central Tokyo’s Shinjuku district stands the 235-meter-high Tokyo City Hall, one of the city’s most famous buildings, designed by star architect Kenzo Tange and home to the Tokyo metropolitan government. Every morning, as hundreds of suited officials enter its doors, another local community sets off on its daily commute.

From Shinjuku Central Park, literally in the shadow of City Hall, a community of homeless people dismantle their shelters made of blue plastic sheeting and cardboard, pack them and their other belongings into trolleys and head off to their work – collecting plastic bottles from around the district.

Every evening, after a hard day’s work, these communities pass each other again. As the homeless return to put up their temporary shelters for the night, the formally dressed bureaucrats hurry through the park to Shinjuku station and the trains that will take them back to their homes and families in the Tokyo suburbs.

In the mid-1990s, the city government tried to banish the homeless from the district. Their efforts failed as it proved impossible to stop people returning each night to sleep wherever they could find a spot to lie down. Officials have been more tolerant since, accepting that while office workers can relax and eat their lunch in the park during the day, at night it belongs to those with no homes.

Text and photographs by Samuel Zuder


tokyo - shinjuku central park - shinjuku gyoen - homeless people living in boxes and tents in the park - man sleeping on the ground at the mainstreet to shinjuku central park Enlarge   Beside the main street outside Shinjuku Central Park, a man sleeps, oblivious to traffic and the all-night glare of street lighting.

tokyo - shinjuku central park - shinjuku gyoen - homeless people living in boxes and tents in the park - man having dinner next to his hut - Enlarge   A homeless man eats dinner next to his shelter. Officials put Tokyo’s homeless population at around 3,400 and Japan’s at 16,000 (aid groups put the national total much higher, at 25,000-50,000). More than 90% of these people are single men and most are over 50.

tokyo - shinjuku central park - shinjuku gyoen - homeless people living in boxes and tents in the park - man sleeping on the steps - Enlarge   A man sleeping on the steps.

tokyo - shinjuku central park - shinjuku gyoen - homeless people living in boxes and tents in the park - woman learning english by watching Sesame Street on her portable tv phone - Enlarge   A woman learning english by watching sesam-street on her portable T.V. phone.

tokyo - shinjuku central park - shinjuku gyoen - homeless people living in boxes and tents in the park - yamamoto-san is living for more than 4 years in his box at the main entrance of the park Enlarge   Yamamoto-san has lived for more than 4 years in his box at the main entrance of the park.

Based in Hamburg, Germany Samuel Zuder works on commission for international magazines, advertising agencies and other businesses. He also exhibits his own works focused on Asia, that have made it into museums and Galleries all over the world.

The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project (order here) aimed as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100 and other media rich lists by telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.

Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.

Selected from 11,000 images shot in 158 countries and submitted by nearly 1,500 photographers, The Other Hundred celebrates those who will never find themselves on the world’s rich lists or celebrity websites.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/the-homeless-in-tokyo-an-understated-issue/feed/ 0
10 Facts: Literacy Rates in India http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-literacy-rates-in-india/ http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-literacy-rates-in-india/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 07:00:27 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37085 By The Globalist

India faces a large gender divide when it comes to literacy rates.

Credit: De Visu / Shutterstock.comIndia faces a large gender divide when it comes to literacy rates.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

India faces a large gender divide when it comes to literacy rates.

Credit: De Visu / Shutterstock.com

1. India’s adult literacy rate is 63%.

 
2. Despite improving from a level of just 48% in 1991, India still ha a relatively low literacy rate — especially compared to other major emerging markets in Asia.

3. A relatively low literacy rate is a severe disadvantage as countries try to advance their economic prospects.

4. A particularly dire aspect of India’s illiteracy problem is the large gap between male and female literacy.

5. About 75% of Indian men had at least a basic level of literacy — 24 percentage points higher than the 51% literacy rate for women.

6. The gender gap is lower — but still wide — for young Indians. The 88% literacy rate for young Indian men is 14 points higher than the 74% rate for young women.

7. All over the world, women account for almost two-thirds (496 million) of the illiterate adults worldwide.

8. More than one-third of all women around the world who are illiterate are Indian women (187 million).

9. Worldwide, there are only ten countries in which the number of illiterate adults exceeds ten million — India (286 million), China (54 million), Pakistan (52 million), Bangladesh (44 million), Nigeria (41 million), Ethiopia (27 million), Egypt (15 million), Brazil (13 million), Indonesia (12 million) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12 million).

10. These ten countries were home to 556 million — or more than two-thirds — of the 781 million illiterate adults worldwide.

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics with analysis by The Globalist Research Center.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-literacy-rates-in-india/feed/ 0
India and the Great Game of Energy http://www.theglobalist.com/india-and-the-great-game-of-energy/ http://www.theglobalist.com/india-and-the-great-game-of-energy/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:55:09 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37655 By Sanjeev S. Ahluwalia

Will signing two big energy deals with Russia irritate both China and the U.S.?

Pete Burana / shutterstock.comWill signing two big energy deals with Russia irritate both China and the U.S.?

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Sanjeev S. Ahluwalia

Will signing two big energy deals with Russia irritate both China and the U.S.?

Pete Burana / shutterstock.com

India has negligible resources of oil and gas in the context of our future needs and from the perspective of the currently available extraction technology.

If 25% of our energy needs are to be met by gas – one of the cleanest fossil fuels, we will have to ramp up our gas imports. Today, households still cook with wood, charcoal or kerosene because domestic gas supply is so constrained.

Enter Russia: President Putin could be the White Knight meeting India’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand. Of course, selling gas to India is a propitious move, as the post Ukraine sanctions are hurting Russia and it needs to have reliable, long term arrangements for selling gas and oil.

Welcoming India into the fold

India is not a party to the sanctions and it is in its self-interest to focus on energy during the Modi-Putin talks in New Delhi this week.

Russia hasn’t exactly been sitting on its hands to counter the U.S. sanctions. It has already mended fences with China, with which it has concluded oil and gas supply deals.

More generally, it is leaning towards China as a natural partner in the global clustering against the U.S.-led set of allies. Russia would like to induct Iran and India as partners in this grouping.

India is a marginal player in this “great game.” It would be a complete mistake for India to barter our acceptability to all sides by putting our eggs into one basket. There is little reason for India to choose between the Great Powers.

Just consider the case of Australia, a close U.S. ally. It relies on China to absorb its energy exports and keep its economy humming.

It is to India’s advantage that we have extraordinarily good relations with Japan and other East Asian allies of the U.S. A long-term contract for Russian LNG can be used to swap Russian LNG cargos (meant for India) with LNG coming from Qatar to Japan, cutting transportation costs for both.

This could become a trilateral arrangement between Russia, Japan and India – once the sanctions get diluted.

A nuclear family

Nuclear energy is the second area where India badly needs Russian help. India needs an additional 10 GW of nuclear power. The state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is the monopoly operator of all civil nuclear assets in India.

It has lobbied to ensure that the Nuclear Liability Act, approved by the Indian Parliament in 2010, exempts the “operator” from all risk and liability in the event of a nuclear incident and loads it instead on equipment suppliers and project developers.

This has effectively ensured that no private insurance company is willing to bear the unlimited risk of a nuclear mishap. Private banks would not finance such a project either.

The only players left in the field could be state-owned corporations, both Indian and Russian. State-owned General Insurance Corporation of India could provide insurance cover and a Russian state-owned project developer could build the plant.

Implicitly, the risk will devolve onto the governments of India and Russia and the world of bank finance would view this then as a matter of sovereign — hence bankable risk.

Clearly, this is not a commercially palatable deal, but it can be the classic outcome of G2G cooperation, in the spirit of the Russo-India friendship. Russia has helped India out of a jam of its own making before: Bangladesh’s liberation in 1971 is one such example.

Will sealing these two energy deals by India with Russia irritate both China and the U.S.?

Well, we Indians are perpetual wafflers and fence sitters. We gladly hop from one transactional advantage to another. This is perfectly aligned with our relatively diminutive economic stature and pressing domestic concerns. No one expects anything different from us.

There is no reason to blur mutual economic self-interest with ideological compatibility. To be sure, Washington won’t be happy.

Waking the dragon?

What about China’s perspective? It makes sense for India to use its growing markets to bind China more firmly to the India growth story — much like China itself has done vis-à-vis the United States. It is a matter of false ego on the part of India to try to keep China out of South Asia, just to protect our “dominance” in the region.

Regional dominance has to have economic underpinnings. China has the fire power. We don’t. Trying to wean our neighbors away from China can end up impoverishing India.

Regional trade and output enhancing strategies have to include India simply because of its size and central location. It provides assured access for Nepal and China to the Indian Ocean.

The nations of East Asia are keen on assured access – via Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – to Turkey. In short, all of these links serve to bind the economic interests of our neighbors with our own.

India has to boogie with the United States, China and Russia, but openly recognize that, in this group, we are the “little fish.” We can be a “large fish” – but only in some other small pond with shrinking water levels. The question is which pond serves our national interest better.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/india-and-the-great-game-of-energy/feed/ 0
France’s Sudden Chinese Impulses http://www.theglobalist.com/frances-sudden-chinese-impulses/ http://www.theglobalist.com/frances-sudden-chinese-impulses/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:24:51 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37641 By Stephan Richter

Why is the French finance minister invoking other cultures’ diplomatic style to defend France?

Michel Sapin (Wikicommons)Why is the French finance minister invoking other cultures’ diplomatic style to defend France?

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Stephan Richter

Why is the French finance minister invoking other cultures’ diplomatic style to defend France?

Michel Sapin (Wikicommons)

Chinese leaders have long been famous for their mantra-like reference to the principle of non-intervention in other nations’ domestic affairs.

The typical line from the country’s Foreign Ministry is something very close to the phrase “mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit and non-interference,” often repeated multiple times in a single statement.

Noble as that sounds, the point of stating this is not really the officially stated reason (creating more sovereign space for other nations).

The real purpose is to have a diplomatic vehicle available to fend off moments of potential unpleasantness in the international realm.

What is novel in today’s world is that the French government is apparently adopting China’s non-interference mantra within the EU debate. Case in point: France’s finance minister Michel Sapin just opined, “People have to be careful from the outside on how they express views on France.”

German interference?

With that remark, he tried to fend off recurring German criticism – no matter how polite – of France’s persistent lack of a reformist spirit in the management of its economy.

Mind you, an open debate about each other’s economic and fiscal performance is part and parcel of having moved to an economic and monetary union – as the Eurozone countries very much have.

Among close partners, there really cannot be topics that are vital to the EU’s ultimate success that are then declared off limits by a government currently having trouble performing (as previously advertised by itself).

Whatever drove the French finance minister to issue his China-style warning, Germany and France are neighbors – and have been keeping very close watch on each other for centuries. They are hardly cultures alien to each other. As remote as Franco-German relations sometimes still are after decades of EU integration, it’s definitely not like China and the EU.

That fact did not keep Monsieur Sapin from warning the Germans. In fact, beyond the China “non-interference” defense, he also stated that there is a need in Europe to “respect” each other.

The value of friendly criticism

Contrary to Mr. Sapin’s sentiments, criticizing a long-time partner is actually a sign of respect. That’s what friends do for each other – telling each other the truth and trying to help each to improve their respective lots.

Mr. Sapin’s drawing a line in the sand via the “respect” motif is all the more surprising as Germany and France – and indeed much of the EU – have a long history of using the (better) performance of the other at a given time as a motivating tool in the domestic debate to do better in the future.

That deliberate shame and blame-game mechanism (blame Brussels, blame Berlin, whatever it takes to build a domestic reform coalition) has been deployed many a time in order to get the holdout nation to move at long last.

There were times in Germany not so long ago when there were rallying calls for reform in the German Bundestag, exhorting members to pass certain legislative measures in order to “catch up with the French.”

Failing to live up to obligations

Mr. Sapin’s claim that what is needed is “to respect each others’ history, national identity and points of sensitivity” – if indeed intended with the absolutist rigor that he seems to be conveying – is an obvious non-starter. It cannot have any place among nations that have vowed to move into an economic, monetary and political union.

What Sapin is, in effect, saying is that he wants to eat his cake – and keep it too. France wants whatever benefits it can derive from the European process, but not accept the directly related need to live up to commonly agreed performance standards. (Some of which France itself pushed for during the EU’s formation!)

The German worries are getting louder, given that France is even failing to live up to its fiscal targets. Overshooting the budget deficit criterion of 3% by half the target — current European Commission forecasts for the 2015 French deficit are in the range of 4.5% – do give Germans reason to pause. Generally, the French may not be doing so swimmingly on structural reforms, but – ENArques administration that they are – they would at least manage to do the right thing on the budget. Not so anymore.

Hyper-nationalistic politics?

Sapin’s final trump card is to argue that German criticism of France’s performance is helping “extreme parties grow.” That sounds like an important point to make. After all, who would want Madame Le Pen to take an ever-larger share of the French vote?

Unfortunately, Sapin’s argument in this regard does not really hold water either, for one simple reason: Ultimately, it is the persistent lack of courage of launching reforms in France – a malperformance that both major political parties in France are co-culpable for – that has led to Le Pen’s rise.

The far right may well argue that benefit cuts are forced on France by Europe. If only that were true. In reality, France still benefits greatly from its eurozone membership, not least via very low interest rate spreads.

More important, the money for merrily doling out benefits just isn’t there anymore – EU or no EU. Financial markets will quickly put an end to it, if they get convinced that France can’t change course. For now, they are still hopeful.

It is precisely because the French have postponed reforms for so long that they are digging an ever-deeper hole for themselves. If anything, it is an act of outright cowardice by Mr. Sapin, and all who spin this tale of brewing hyper-nationalism, to blame Germany for what is the consequence of French elites’ very own unwillingness to do what needs doing.

At present, France is at least a decade late to launch the reform process. The later it starts, the longer it will take to get the economy growing again. A growing economy, though, is the prerequisite to have the public means to support those who really need public support as demanded by the post-industrial far right (and their forebears on the industrial far left).

French leaders may blame the Germans all they want. But raising now the specter of Germany bringing the ghosts of Weimar over today’s France is a blame-shifting attempt far too transparent and straightforward to be convincing.

On a final note, maybe what’s really going on in France is a good guy-bad guy routine. According to this school of thought, the Sapin rhetoric is probably designed partly to score points with the Socialist Party’s left wing, letting them vent some steam.

After all, French economics minister Emmanuel Macron has just presented his reform program. It is pretty modest, but in the statist politics of France still a step forward. Sapin’s real point may have been to close party ranks a little in what will be Prime Minister Valls’s fight of his life to get that program through the French parliament.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/frances-sudden-chinese-impulses/feed/ 2
6 Facts: Literacy Rates of Young People http://www.theglobalist.com/6-facts-literacy-rates-of-young-people/ http://www.theglobalist.com/6-facts-literacy-rates-of-young-people/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 07:00:17 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37213 By The Globalist

Literacy rates among young people are improving.

Suzanne Tucker / shutterstock.comLiteracy rates among young people are improving.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

Literacy rates among young people are improving.

Suzanne Tucker / shutterstock.com

1. The global literacy rate among young people — as calculated by UNESCO for those between the ages of 15 and 24 — is 90%.

2. Even a youth literacy rate of 90%, high as that sounds, means that there are 126 million young people around the world who cannot read or write a simple sentence.

3. That number is about the same as the population of Mexico, the world’s 11th most-populous country.

4. The literacy rate among young women worldwide is 87%, compared to 93% for young men — a six percentage point gap.

5. While there has been a persistent bias against the education of girls in many societies, the literacy gap between young men and women has narrowed by one-third over the past two decades.

6. In 1990, when the literacy rate was 79% for young women and 88% for young men, the gender gap was nine percentage points.

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics with analysis by The Globalist Research Center.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/6-facts-literacy-rates-of-young-people/feed/ 0
First China, Now India: Putin’s Tilt to Asia http://www.theglobalist.com/first-china-now-india-putins-tilt-to-asia/ http://www.theglobalist.com/first-china-now-india-putins-tilt-to-asia/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:23:57 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37139 By Nick Butler

President Putin puts on the hard sell in Asia.

Vladimir Putin (Credit: ID1974 - Shutterstock.com) President Putin puts on the hard sell in Asia.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Nick Butler

President Putin puts on the hard sell in Asia.

Vladimir Putin (Credit: ID1974 - Shutterstock.com)

When it comes to the much debated and much promised tilt to Asia, it seems that President Vladimir Putin is winning the game.

In the last six months, he has signed two major long-term gas supply deals with China. Major new pipelines are to be built from East Siberia – funded by the Chinese. In total, Mr. Putin has snapped up at least 20% of the Chinese market for the next two decades.

His next stop is New Delhi to meet the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Another major energy deal will be signed, which will involve both Rosneft, Russia’s main oil producer, and Gazprom.

While the details are not yet public, it seems that Mr. Putin will be signing a deal which gives Russia a key strategic role in meeting India’s energy requirements for many years to come.

Mr. Putin starts with a weak hand

Without a doubt, Russia’s economy has been much damaged by the fall in oil prices. There also is the risk of further damage from the creeping impact of sanctions designed to punish Russian behavior in Ukraine. The ruble falls day by day and there has been a large exodus of capital from Russia.

The Russian economy remains dependent on oil and gas production and exports. The state budget is just beginning to be adjusted downwards, as it becomes clear that revenues in 2015 will not match the planned figures – all of which were based on world oil prices of $90 a barrel or higher.

This is a weak hand – but President Putin is playing it well. He knows the global energy market better than any western leader and has seized the opportunity. That is why he is signing large-scale, long-term deals with two of the very few countries in the world that are anticipating rising demand and hence an increasing import requirement.

From Russia’s perspective, the deals sacrifice price to market share. Mr. Putin is more interested in securing export volumes than in the price paid. As the Chinese and the Indians well understand, the world has moved into a buyers’ market.

There is more supply than demand. With the added ingredients of political support and, certainly in the case of India, the added bonus of sales of defense equipment, Mr. Putin is moving to secure his objective by making energy trade part of much bigger bilateral relationships.

In neither the Chinese or Russian case are the buyers frightened by the prospect of dependence on Moscow. They will have other supply lines and must be well aware that in a market of surplus gas, Russia cannot afford to risk its future by using supply as a political tool.

Asia is the market of the future

However, at a moment of strategic weakness, Moscow is in no position to impose political terms – a fact which makes the deals all the more attractive to the buyers.

Mr. Putin’s tilt to Asia is rational for a resource-dependent economy. With North America soon to be effectively self-sufficient, Asia is the market of the future.

Mr. Putin’s approach – cool and logical, reflecting the realities of the new global economy – contrasts with the complexities of the U.S. position. That position remains mired in past commitments to old allies such as Taiwan and in domestic political concerns over issues such as human rights. That is a topic one can bet President Putin never raises on his foreign trips.

More serious, though, is the continuing American reluctance to accept that the world as a whole has not become a U.S. sphere of influence. China, and now India, are significant powers which have to be treated as such. Lecturing to others is not a good basis for an effective foreign policy.

Mr. Putin goes to New Delhi not as a leader of a superpower, but as a salesman. As a salesman, you have to start by using what the customer wants and working to provide whatever is required.

To succeed in the tilt to Asia, the United States would do well to start by listening and by treating others as sovereign powers with interests of their own. If it doesn’t, it may find that the world is starting to organize itself without the United States.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/first-china-now-india-putins-tilt-to-asia/feed/ 7
8 Facts: Adult Literacy Rates http://www.theglobalist.com/8-facts-adult-literacy-rates/ http://www.theglobalist.com/8-facts-adult-literacy-rates/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:00:48 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37079 By The Globalist

Adult literacy rates have been improving year on year since the 1950s.

literacy bookshelfAdult literacy rates have been improving year on year since the 1950s.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

Adult literacy rates have been improving year on year since the 1950s.

literacy bookshelf

1. The global literacy rate for adults is 84%, according to UNESCO data.

2. This means that there are 781 million adults worldwide — or about one in every ten people on the planet — who cannot read or write a simple message.

3. In percentage terms, however, the global literacy rate has increased dramatically over the last several decades — from 56% in 1950 to 76% in 1990.

4. Progress since 2000, when the global literacy rate was 82%, has been relatively slow.

5. Much of the recent progress has come in South and West Asia, where since 1990 the adult literacy rate has increased from 47% to 63%.

6. For South and West Asia’s young people, the gains have been even greater — from 61% to 81%.

7. About 597 million of the world’s illiterate population live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. That is 76% of all the illiterate people in the world.

The Upshot:
 
 
Ten of the 11 countries in the world with adult literacy rates of less than 50% are in Sub-Saharan Africa. This underscores the region’s dire lack of economic development and educational resources. Haiti is the one outside of Africa.

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics with analysis by The Globalist Research Center.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/8-facts-adult-literacy-rates/feed/ 0
Uber’s Constant Overreach http://www.theglobalist.com/ubers-constant-overreach/ http://www.theglobalist.com/ubers-constant-overreach/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:00:18 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37242 By Stephan Richter

India is not alone in battling the U.S. app phenom.

uberIndia is not alone in battling the U.S. app phenom.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Stephan Richter

India is not alone in battling the U.S. app phenom.

uber

Don’t get me wrong. Real innovations are important – and increasingly hard to come by. In a never-ending flood of app offerings created in Silicon Valley, Uber seems to be one of the few based on a really good idea.

Also see Stephan Richter’s article in India’s The Hindu newspaper:

Uber’s constant overreach

Unfortunately, the way in which Uber is going its business is more reminiscent of the operating style of the George W. Bush Administration in Iraq and elsewhere. He was famous for the “invade first, ask questions later” model.

National laws don’t apply to us

The most breathtaking element of the Uber standard operating formula is to argue, as the company’s top executives regularly do, that no laws apply to the company. Why? Because – get this – the sharing economy wasn’t invented yet when the relevant laws and regulations for taxicabs were written. Ayn Rand, the godmother of all libertarians in America, must feel like resurrecting herself in excitement.

Uber’s mantra – saying it’s an app and therefore it’s different – begs disbelief. Most nations have established rules to introduce a taxi service. And that is exactly what Uber offers, no matter how much the company tries to spin itself away from that basic fact of life.

Uber can file applications, and once it meets the standards and tests others have to meet, it can start operating.

But whenever companies – as Uber does – argue that they are preternaturally above the law, that unfortunately demonstrates exactly the type of hyper-arrogance which much of the world by now has come to expect from U.S. businesses. Such an attitude, while perhaps pleasing private equity company investors, ultimately neither helps Uber’s, nor America’s, principal causes.

Make no mistake, Uber must follow nationally established laws and regulations, provided they are not overly onerous or a tool to protect market insiders.

We’re good for the entrepreneurial ecosystem

According to the breathless apostles of the sharing economy, Uber will do wonders to promote micro entrepreneurship. The basic hoax behind this claim, as far as the field of car sharing is concerned, has been exposed in plenty of news storie.

This is true even in the United States itself, where Uber is also running into a barrage of problems in a whole host of cities. There, fleet drivers are still essentially at-will employees and can be easily terminated.

Another country resisting the Uber invasion is Germany. The taxi business there also happens to be plenty entrepreneurial. Many operators are family-owned businesses – and hence represent a true blue case of entrepreneurship. Uber’s entry into that market will thus not really add to more “entrepreneurship,” as it claims.

Mind you, none of the arguments presented above are a case against Uber per se. It can – and, in all likelihood, it will – find its place in the marketplace, whether in the U.S., Germany, India or elsewhere. But it needs to observe global differences, cultural preferences and applicable legal obligations.

A different case for a different country

In the United States, Uber has been a success largely because many cab systems in major cities feature outdated clunkers as cars. Standard cab service in many a city amounts to a Soviet-style approach in terms of product diversity – and service reliability.

For example, in Washington, D.C., the capital of the mighty United States where I live, cabs literally disappear when it starts raining. Cabbies here also still resent the introduction of metered fares, a rather recent innovation.

Uber has also helped me out of a pinch many a time when I had to make sure that dinner guests could get a ride back from my home to their hotel and there were no cabs to be found. I haven’t seen that to be a problem in many other countries I am familiar with.

No doubt, in such a country, Uber can be put to good use. Contrast that with the basic situation in Germany or Delhi. Taxi service there basically runs like clockwork. When you need a cab, you call a phone number and reliably expect a cab in front of your door within 5-10 minutes.

Plus, Uber isn’t such an innovation. Chinese cities have plenty of black cabs – and India has its Toyota Innova white cars.

One thing is for sure after the recent rape incident in Delhi as well as courts standing in the way of Uber’s global victory tour in Germany and elsewhere: Uber’s current stance – “My way or the highway” won’t fly.

Yes, we definitely need constant innovation to find a suitable way to a prosperous future. But we also need a better balance between the need to innovate and the need to have everybody play by the same rules.

That’s a lesson Uber – and indeed other imperially acting, made in the USA businesses like Google and Facebook – still have to learn.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/ubers-constant-overreach/feed/ 2
Turkey and Russia: Alliance or Battle Over Energy? http://www.theglobalist.com/turkey-and-russia-alliance-or-battle-over-energy/ http://www.theglobalist.com/turkey-and-russia-alliance-or-battle-over-energy/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 07:00:46 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36868 By Ariel Cohen

Turkey and Russia form stronger bilateral ties with a new extensive energy deal, but is it sustainable?

erdoganTurkey and Russia form stronger bilateral ties with a new extensive energy deal, but is it sustainable?

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By Ariel Cohen

Turkey and Russia form stronger bilateral ties with a new extensive energy deal, but is it sustainable?

erdogan

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced the cancellation of the $20 billion South Stream natural gas pipeline. In its place, Russia will build a natural gas hub on the Turkish-Greek border.

This is another example how energy has become an umbilical cord connecting Moscow and Ankara.

Putin has made the dramatic announcement during a press conference following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara. The proposed alternative pipeline would go through Turkey and is expected to carry 50 billion cubic meters of gas to a hub near Turkey’s border with Greece.

The new project is part of a $100 billion by 2020 bilateral trade target set by the two Presidents. Turkey will receive a 6% discount on gas as part of the deal.

However, Putin’s request to route the new South Stream via Turkey puts president Erdoğan in a difficult position. He already has committed to the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline and to Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.

On top of that, turning Turkey into an energy hub for Russian gas will not be politically palatable. Forcing Turkey to decide between its major energy and trade partner Russia and its brotherly nation of Azerbaijan may boomerang against Moscow.

Yet, there is much more to the bilateral relations than energy.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/turkey-and-russia-alliance-or-battle-over-energy/feed/ 0
America’s Unfulfilled Promise: An Economic Bill of Rights http://www.theglobalist.com/americas-unfulfilled-promise-an-economic-bill-of-rights/ http://www.theglobalist.com/americas-unfulfilled-promise-an-economic-bill-of-rights/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 07:00:10 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37106 By The Globalist

Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union message to Congress shows the U.S. the way forward.

burroughs-walker-evansRoosevelt's 1944 State of the Union message to Congress shows the U.S. the way forward.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union message to Congress shows the U.S. the way forward.

burroughs-walker-evans

This nation in the past two years has become an active partner in the world’s greatest war against human slavery.

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known.

We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people — whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth — is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights — among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however — as our industrial economy expanded — these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights — for it is definitely the responsibility of Congress to do so. Many of these problems are already before the committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation.

I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.

Our fighting men abroad — and their families at home — expect such a program and have a right to insist upon it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying.

Each and every one of us has a solemn obligation under God to serve this Nation in its most critical hour — to keep this Nation great — to make this Nation greater in a better world.

Editor’s note: This text was adapted from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union message to the U.S. Congress on January 11, 1944. The full text can be found here.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/americas-unfulfilled-promise-an-economic-bill-of-rights/feed/ 0
11 Facts: China’s Improving Literacy Rate http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-chinas-improving-literacy-rate/ http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-chinas-improving-literacy-rate/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 07:00:06 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=37073 By The Globalist

Since 1990, China's literacy rate has been rapidly improving.

Credit: LIUSHENGFILM- Shutterstock.comSince 1990, China's literacy rate has been rapidly improving.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
By The Globalist

Since 1990, China's literacy rate has been rapidly improving.

Credit: LIUSHENGFILM- Shutterstock.com

1. As of 2010, China’s literacy rate was just over 95%.

 
2. This is an impressive improvement for a country which, as recently as 1990, had a literacy rate of just 78%.

3. Even though just 5% of Chinese adults are illiterate, that still means an estimated 54 million people aged 15 and older are unable to read and write a simple sentence.

4. By comparison, the adult literacy rates of the advanced economies of the West are virtually 100%.

5. China will almost certainly attain this level over the coming decades.

6. Clear evidence of that is the fact that the literacy rate for China’s young people (ages 15 to 24) is now 99.6%.

7. Also encouraging is that China has dramatically reduced the gap between male and female literacy.

8. Back in 1990, the adult literacy rate was 87% for men and 68% for women — a difference of 19 percentage points.

9. By 2010, the gender gap was just five percentage points — 98% for men and 93% for women.

10. Among China’s youth, the gender gap is almost nonexistent: the literacy rate is 99.7% for young men and 99.6% for young women.

The Upshot:
 
 
Several other developing countries in Asia have mirrored China’s improvement, including Thailand (with a 96% literacy rate), the Philippines (95%) and Indonesia (93%).

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics with analysis by The Globalist Research Center.

©2014 The Globalist

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You can join the conversation about this story on the original post on theglobalist.com.

]]>
http://www.theglobalist.com/11-facts-chinas-improving-literacy-rate/feed/ 0