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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Bad Astronomy notes odd changing features in one of Titan’s seas.
  • blogTO U>examines the birth of late-night television in Toronto in the 1980s.
  • Centauri Dreams looks again at the finding suggesting much Earth water predates the solar system.
  • Cody Delistraty considers the unusual joys of being placeless.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the Ukrainian war and notes that China is actively courting other countries to take part in its space stations.
  • The Everyay Sociology Blog considers the import of street food and its authenticity.
  • Geocurrents is skeptical about maps purporting to show state failure.
  • Joe. My. God. describes a flight that was delayed by the refusal of Hasidic Jewish passengers to sit next to women.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the steady decline of Hong Kong’s GDP as a fraction of China’s, suggesting that the territory is becoming dispensable.</li?
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla shares some of the first pictures of Mars taken by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission.
  • pollotenchegg examines the changing shape of Ukraine’s demographic pyramid from 1897 to the present.
  • Torontoist mourns the life of murdered Eritrean-Canadian community activist Nahom Berhane.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reports on the disturbing rise in the United States of inter-party prejudice.
  • Canadian science-fiction writer Peter Watts describes his visit to St. Petersburg.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the papal nuncio in Kyiv has condemned Russian aggression, observes the unpopularity of Ukrainian refugees in Russia, and observes Crimean Tatar complaints about Russian rule.
  • The Financial Times‘ World blog wonders about the future of one country, two systems as a governing principle in Chinese Hong Kong.

[LINK] “EU, Canada to Hail Draft Trade Pact That May Take Effect in 2016 “

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Yay!. From Bloomberg:

The European Union and Canada are poised to celebrate the end of five years of negotiations on a free-trade accord when both sides hold a summit later this week.

The draft agreement, the EU’s most ambitious commercial pact to date, will then go through about nine months of legal checks before being put to the bloc’s 28 national governments and the European Parliament for final approval. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will host the EU-Canada meeting on Sept. 26 in Ottawa.

The deal, projected to take effect in 2016, would end 98 percent of tariffs on EU-Canada goods trade from the outset and 99 percent after seven years. Each side would dismantle all industrial tariffs and more than 90 percent of agricultural duties. Markets for services and public procurement would also be opened under the pact, the EU’s first with a fellow member of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations.

This “is a new generation agreement that will create more opportunities for our businesses, who will receive the same treatment on both sides of the Atlantic, and generate more job opportunities,” Jose Barroso, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said in a statement today in Brussels. “This is no small achievement between two G-7 members.”

The EU is seeking to build on the draft trade agreement with Canada to push for a bigger market-opening pact with the U.S., a step that would expand what is already the world’s largest economic relationship. By contrast, Canada is the EU’s 12th most-important trade partner.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

[LINK] “Moscow’s ‘Mr. Yuan’ Builds China Link as Putin Tilts East “

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Evgenia Pismennaya’s Bloomberg article takes a look at one element of Russia’s forced rapprochement with China.

Vladimir Putin has a secret agent in his campaign to curb the impact of sanctions on Russia’s economy: Mr. Yuan.

That’s what skeptical bankers started calling Igor Marich after he introduced yuan trading in Moscow in 2010, when Russia became the first country outside China to offer regulated renminbi purchases. Now, as sanctions from the west over the conflict in Ukraine prompt more Russian companies to look east for growth, Mr. Yuan has become something of an honorific.

The yuan-ruble trade on the Moscow Exchange, where Marich runs money markets, has jumped 10-fold this year to $749 million in August, though still a sliver of the $367 billion in dollar-for-ruble sales. Yuan buying hit a then-peak of 666 million yuan ($109 million) on July 31, when the European Union penalized Russia’s largest banks, OAO Sberbank (SBER), VTB Group and OAO Gazprombank, over Putin’s support for Ukraine’s insurgency. With EU and U.S. sanctions in place and ties with China deepening, daily trading will soon reach 1 billion yuan, Marich said.

“I believe we can see this result within a year,” the 40-year-old sports enthusiast said in an interview at the exchange in central Moscow, where he started working in 2000, the same year Putin became president.

Marich’s goal may come sooner than he thinks. Russia is considering accepting yuan for gas under the $400 billion, 30-year supply deal that China signed during Putin’s visit to Beijing in May, according to four senior Russian officials and executives who asked not to be identified because a final decision hasn’t been made.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2014 at 7:34 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO shares pictures from last weekend’s Ukrainian Festival.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly started a discussion of the merits of small town life or vice versa, coming down decidedly against.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the concept of the Venus zone.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a study suggesting that the Moon’s gravity is not high enough for humans to orient themselves.
  • Eastern Approaches looks at the elections in Crimea.
  • Language Hat examines the story of the endangered language Ayapeneco, apparently misrepresented in an ad campaign.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the American left is starting to win on cultural issues.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the collapse of Scotland’s industrial sector has led to a certain deglobalization.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes the discovery of a potential landing site for Rosetta.
  • Torontoist looks at a local model airplane club.
  • Towleroad notes the lead writer of Orange is the New Black has left her husband and begun dating one of her actors.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests many Westerners haven’t taken the shift in Russian politics fully into account.

[LINK] Charlie Stross on “The referendum question”

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In a post at his blog, science fiction writer Charlie Stross announces his support for Scottish separatism. This support, it turns out, is not only motivated by support for the independence of Scotland. Stross favours the more general breakdown of nation-states.

In the long term I favour a Europe—indeed, a world—of much smaller states. I don’t just favour breaking up the UK; I favour breaking up the United States, India, and China. Break up the Westphalian system. We live today in a world dominated by two types of group entity; the nation-states with defined borders and treaty obligations that emerged after the end of the 30 Years War, and the transnational corporate entities which thrive atop the free trade framework provided by the treaty organizations binding those Westphalian states together.

I believe the Westphalian nation-state system isn’t simply showing its age: it’s creaking at the seams and teetering on the edge of catastrophic breakdown. The world today is far smaller than the world of 1648; the entire planet, in travel terms, is shrunk to the size of the English home counties. In 1648 to travel from the south of Scotland (from, say, Berwick-upon-Tweed, the debatable walled border city) to the far north-west would take, at a minimum, a couple of weeks by sea; to travel that distance by land was a harsh journey of hundreds of miles across mountains and bogs and through still-forested glens, on foot or horseback. Today it’s a couple of noisy hours on board a turboprop airliner. Distance has collapsed under us. To some extent the definition of the Westphalian state as being able to control its own internal territory was a side-effect of distance: a foreign army couldn’t rapidly and easily penetrate the inner lands of a state without fear of retaliation. (Tell that to the residents of the tribal provinces in Pakistan.)

Moreover, our nations today have not only undergone a strange geographical implosion since the 17th century: they have exploded in population terms. The population of the American Colonies in 1790 is estimated at roughly 2.7 million; the United States today has over 300 million inhabitants. In 1780 England and Wales had around 7.5 million inhabitants; they’re now at 57 million. So we have a 1-2 order of magnitude increase in population and a 2-3 order of magnitude decrease in travel time … and possibly a 3-5 order of magnitude decrease in communications latency.

Today we’re seeing the fallout from this problem everywhere. Westphalian states can’t, for the most part, control their own territory to the extent of keeping intruders out; just look at the ghastly situation in Ukraine right now. Non-state actors play an increasingly huge role in dictating our economic conditions. And it seems to me that something goes badly wrong with representative democracy in polities that grow beyond somewhere in the range 5-15 million people; direct accountability vanishes and we end up with what I’ve termed the beige dictatorship. Beige isn’t the worst colour‐some of the non-beige contenders are distinctly alarming—but their popular appeal is a symptom of an institutional failure, a representational deficit: many voters feel so alienated by the beige that they’ll vote for the brownshirts.

My feeling is that we’d be better served by a group of much smaller nations working in a loose confederation or treaty structure. Their job should be to handle local issues(yes, this is localism) while compartmentalizing failure modes: the failure modes of a gigantic imperial power are almost always far worse than those of a smaller nation (compare the disintegration of the Soviet Union with that of Czecheslovakia). Rather than large monolithic states run by people at the top who are so remote from their constituents that they set policy to please lobbyists rather than their electors, I’d prefer to see treaty organizations like NATO and the EU emerging at consensus after discussions among numerous smaller stakeholder entities, where representatives are actually accountable to their electors. (Call me a utopian, if you will.)

Yes, this is also an argument for Wales, the North of England, and London itself all becoming independent nations. But they aren’t on the ballot. So Scottish independence is a starting point.

Thoughts? I’m rather more skeptical of this argument for a general breakdown than Stross, or many of the commenters at his blog. Isn’t the construction of larger federations with some degree of democratic responsibility preferable to more fragile and less legitimate coalitions of smaller states? There’s room for flexibility, but a general reconfiguration strikes me as a non-starter.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 16, 2014 at 3:59 am

[LINK] “$24B left Canada in 2012. Here’s what happened to it”

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This June Toronto Star article by the paper’s Jennifer Quinn about remittances from Canada, one of a series, does a nice job introducing the issue of remittances in Canada’s immigrant economy.

The money sent overseas each year by people living in Canada could buy about 70 jumbo jets, mountains of sparkling engagement rings, or more than a third of Starbucks Corporation, depending on the day: $24 billion goes a long way.

According to the World Bank , that’s how much ordinary people living and working here sent to their home countries in 2012: The money may go to a grandmother in Beijing, a niece in Kingston or a cousin in Jaipur.

It might be for groceries, the electric bill or school fees; or it could be meant to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or a wedding. It may be earmarked to repay a debt or help start a business. Most aren’t sending much money at any one time: $200 is an average sum.

So Sheryl Jacosalem is both typical and extraordinary.

She came to Canada from the Philippines — via Hong Kong — in 2009 and worked for more than three years as a nanny in Thornhill. Every payday, she would send at least half of her earnings, sometimes more, home to her family.

It was about $500 on the 15th of every month; if she could, and it was needed, she would send a bit more at the end. That money put four sisters and a brother through school, and now — three of her sisters have joined her here in Canada — the family is putting the finishing touches on a house they have built for their parents in Iloilo.

“We grew up with nothing, and so we want them … we don’t want to worry,” Jacosalem, 36, says. “We just don’t want to worry that we’re here in Canada and we don’t know what’s going on with them there. We want them safe and we want to make sure they are always OK.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO shares pictures and photos of Toronto overhead from 1879 on, noting the ever-rising skyline.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the fascinating results of an in-depth study of the emerging planetary system of HD100546.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper looking at causes for orbital eccentricty of planets in trinary systems.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the current state of eastern Ukraine and notes that Australia’s Lynch Crater apparently conserves records of forty-five thousand years of human influence on the global environment.
  • Joe. My. God. observes that Finland’s Tom of Finland-themed stamps are a huge hit.
  • The Planetary Society Blog charts patterns of growth of planetary exploration by probe over 1959-1989.
  • pollotenchegg examines ethnically-driven patterns of support in Belarus’ last free elections.
  • Spacing Toronto reviews the 2014 State of the World.
  • Supernova Condensate shares pictures of the Space Cats.
  • Towleorad notes that Toronto school trustee Sam Sotiropoulous shuts down when asked on television about his transphobic and homophobic statements.
  • Why I Love Toronto notes that Toronto’s new streetcars are great.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that on economic issues Putin is not Marxist but rather statist, and observes the long-term consequences of the utter breakdown in Russian-Ukrainian relations.

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