A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • The Cranky Sociologists notes the dynamics and statistics of global aging.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the effect of tides on Mercury, Jupiter’s moon Io, and exoplanet Kepler 10c.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the deployment of Russian nuclear-armed missiles within range of China and questions the possibility of an astronomical event in the 9th century.
  • The Financial Times‘s The World notes that Germany and Italy are disputing the governance of the Eurozone.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the United Nations is now recognizing the legal same-sex marriages of its workers.
  • Language Log looks at the new Chinese tradition of water calligraphy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the risk of cruise missile proliferation in Southeast Asia versus China.
  • Window on Eurasia notes concern among some Russians that China might want to take over parts of Siberia Crimea-style.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Discover‘s Collideascape notes that, even as agricultural land is falling worldwide, the productivity of this land is increasing even more sharply.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper examining the extent to which saline water might make cooler planets better for live, and to another paper suggesting that planetary magnetic fields are so importance for life (and oxygen levels) that brief reversals in the history of Earth have led to mass extinctions.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a Ukrainian report that the country’s military has captured a Russian tank.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that vehemently anti-gay Minnesota archbishop John Nienstadt is being investigated for allegedly having sexual relationships with men.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, despite economic collapse, there are some jobs (like low-paying fieldwork) that Portuguese just won’t do.
  • The New APPS Blog’s Gordon Hull notes the gender inequity involved in the recent Hobby Lobby ruling in the United States.
  • pollotenchegg maps the slow decline of Ukraine’s Jewish population in the post-1945 era.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle writes eloquently about his connections to and love of Lake Erie.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs links to a cartographic examination of the time spent by French television news examining different areas of the world.
  • Towleroad notes a faux apology made by the Israeli education minister after attacking gay families.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Jonathan Adler notes the future of contraception coverage under Obamacare.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on fears that Crimean Tatar organizations will soon suffer a Russian crackdown, and suggests that the West should reconsider its policies on Belarus to encourage that country to diversify beyond Russia.

[LINK] “Guaranteed $20K income for all Canadians endorsed by academics”

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The Canadian Press via the CBC reports on the latest Canadian proposal for a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens.

A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income — whether or not they have a job.

Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.

“For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty,” Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.

“That’s essentially what we’re striving to achieve.”

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.

The project appeals to me.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 1, 2014 at 4:00 am

[LINK] “Colonies Turned Creditors”

I came across a brief article at Ozy by Pooja Bhatia noting that prosperity in former colonies is leading to the reversal of traditional patterns of post-colonial dominance. The effect is perhaps biggest in the case of Portugal, which is the smallest and poorest of the former imperial powers and has (in Brazil and Angola) larger and richer colonies. Spain, too, is noteworthy: Spanish-speaking America is much more populous than Spain, and has in aggregate a bigger economy.

In recent years, investors from Angola, former colony of Portugal, have bought significant chunks of Portuguese companies. Spanish officials are urging their counterparts in South and Latin America to come invest — never mind the conquest. And an exodus of bright young Portuguese is seeking opportunity abroad — often in erstwhile Portuguese colonies like Brazil, Angola and even East Timor.

It’s a significant reversal from decades past, when former colonies went begging their former masters for investment, aid and trade preferences, while stomaching the brain drain of their best-educated graduates. Now the roles have reversed, at least in some quarters. Some former colonies have become emerging markets, logging fast rates of growth, while the erstwhile imperialists are scrambling to stay afloat in the global recession.

Nowhere has the reversal been as dramatic as in Portugal and Angola. The former colonizer expects its economy will shrink 1.8 percent this year, while Angola, fat on diamonds and oil and Chinese love, grew nearly 12 percent annually from 2002 to 2011.

To be sure, the phenomenon is neither widespread nor particularly thoroughgoing. The Democratic Republic of Congo remains mired in terrible conflict, while its former overlord, Belgium, enjoys relative peace and absolute wealth. And for all the Indians snapping up real estate in the United Kingdom, hundreds of millions of Indians still struggle well below the poverty line. Angola’s riches, meanwhile, are concentrated among a handful of oligarchs, including the daughter of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who is worth some $3 billion. (She’s got a half-billion-dollar chunk of a Portuguese media company.) Moreover, the country’s relationship with Portugal got testy just last month, with dos Santos complaining that Europeans were casting aspersions on the ethics of Angolan investors.

But nowhere are northern countries’ woes on better display than in the reversal of migration patterns. Migrants tend to vote with their feet. Since widespread decolonization in the mid-1950s, they’ve tended to stream from global south to global north, often to the imperial motherland. After India’s independence from Britain, for instance, Indians tended to immigrate to “Commonwealth” countries, for instance, while Haitians often went to Francophone ones like France, French-speaking Canada or Belgium, and Angolans headed for Portugal.

The flow appears to be reversing — at least in Portugal and perhaps in other places. Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, young Portuguese have been streaming not only to wealthier European countries but also to former Portuguese colonies like East Timor, Brazil and Angola.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 25, 2014 at 7:34 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Centauri Dreams hosts a speculative essay by one Adam Crowl imagining how life could endure for eons beyond the death of stars in an aging universe.
  • The Cranky Sociologists’s SocProf studies the interaction between national identity and team sports in an era of globalization and migration.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper analyzing the connection between a star’s metallicity and the likelihood of it hosting giant planets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by itself lengthens the growing season, irrespective of warming.
  • Eastern Approaches looks at the scandal in Poland following the sharing of Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski’s impolitic words about NATO and the American alliance.
  • The Financial Times‘s The World blog wonders what the jeering of a female politician by her male peers means about gender equity in Japan.
  • Language Hat looks at the languages used in soccer.
  • Personal Approaches’ Jim Belshaw deplores the imprisonment of Australian journalist Peter Greste in Egypt.
  • At the Planetary Science Blog, Bill Dunford celebrates the many achievements of the Cassini probe at Saturn.
  • Van Waffle of the Speed River Journal writes about the return of bullfrogs to his local lake this year, in the context of issues for amphibians generally.
  • Torontoist features trans male Alex Abramovich’s writings about the personal and broader importance of pride.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining what happens to complex organic chemicals in emergent planetary systems when irradiated.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the impact of Antarctic sea ice on ocean flows.
  • Joe. My. God. shares Jimmy Somerville’s revisiting of his 1984 hit “Smalltown Boy”.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper claiming tax evasion is responsible for the developed world’s financial ills.
  • Steve Munro revisits the issue of articulated buses on Bathurst Street.
  • Towleroad notes Nate Silver’s argument that most people belonging to Hillary Clinton’s demographic would have been in favour of same-sex marriage as early as the early 1990s.
  • Transit Toronto points to a screening next week of three transit-related films.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that Argentina is now vulnerable to American creditors wanting state-owned property as compensation for Argentine debts.
  • Window on Eurasia considers federalism in Azerbaijan and wonders about prospects for Chinese guest workers in Russia.

[LINK] “Portugal indebted to Angola after economic reversal of fortune”

The Guardian Weekly‘s Claire Gatinois reports on the controversies surrounding Angolan investment in former colonizer Portugal. Portugal, in a pronounced economic slump even before the global economic slowdown in 2008, is increasingly dependent on oil-rich Angola, whether as a destination for Portuguese migrants or as a source of investment. Many Portuguese seem skeptical of this, whether because of skepticism about the good sense in cozying up to the Angolan kleptocracy or because of resentments dating from the colonial era.

There was no doubt about the firm handshake, but the smile looked a bit forced. The date was 17 November 2011, the place Luanda. Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese premier, had just completed talks with the president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, sealing an agreement that was both a boon for Portugal and deeply humiliating.

Six months earlier, Portugal, verging on bankruptcy, received a €78bn ($100bn) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange Lisbon agreed to radical austerity measures, leaving the population poorer and sapping the welfare state. In a curious reversal of fortunes, the former colonial power was in poor shape, but its ex-colony, finally at peace, was awash with oil dollars.

Angola was a Portuguese colony for more than 400 years. It gained its independence in 1975 after a long struggle, but a devastating civil war ensued, only ending in 2002. Dos Santos has been in power since 1979 and the country now enjoys growth rates of between 5% and 15%. Portugal, heavily in debt and struggling to climb out of recession, finally exited its bailout last month.

[. . .] “Angola is looking for recognition and makes it very clear where the money is, sometimes to the point of humiliation,” says French historian Yves Léonard. In February, when the cash-strapped government in Lisbon raised the possibility of selling 85 Miró paintings, an Angolan millionaire, Rui Costa Reis, offered to buy them. Well-off Angolan families are now the only people who can afford to shop on the capital’s upmarket Avenida da Liberdade. They are investing in luxury apartments at Cascais, a fashionable seaside resort, and buying up companies hastily privatised by the authorities. They – and the Chinese – are the prime beneficiaries of the “golden visas” that the government has promised to anyone investing €500,000 ($650,000) in the country.

In a detailed survey, O Poder Angolano em Portugal (Angolan power in Portugal), Ceslo Filipe, the deputy head of business magazine Jornal de Negócios, has charted the extent of Angolan assets in Portugal. According to his calculations Angola has invested between €10bn and €15bn, with a wide range of interests: in the media (Impresa), energy (Galp), banking (Banco Comercial Português, Banco Português de Investimento), building and agrifood. Dos Santos and his entourage have played a leading role in these investments, according to Filipe. Meanwhile, the president’s son, José Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, now heads Fundo Soberano de Angola, controlling assets worth about $15bn.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Caitlin Kelly at the Broadside Blog lists five reasons to become a free-lancer and five reasons not to do so.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster looks at the oddly misaligned planetary system of Kepler-56, possessing three known planets orbiting at different inclinations to their aging and expanding star’s equator, two of which will fall into their star shortly.
  • The Cranky Sociologists’ SocProf quite likes sociologist Saskia Sassen’s new book Expulsions, which examines the way people and regions and things are and aren’t included in a globalizing economy.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper on planetary formation in binary systems that seems to suggest it might be easier for planets to form in some binaries, owing to lower impact velocities of planetesimals.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Canada is set to purchase 65 F-35 fighters, notwithstanding political controversy.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas wonders about the potential anxieties associated with having a smart, on-line, home.
  • Language Log shares an interesting study suggesting that the phenomenon of “vocal fry” doesn’t hurt the credibility of speakers, so long as the speakers aren’t trying to hide it.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Jason Davis explores the so-far promising crowdsourced attempt to reactivate the decades-silent ISEE-3 probe.
  • Registan’s Casey Michel argues that the new Eurasian Economic Union isn’t that significant, given the reluctance of its member-states to accept transferring sovereignty to the centre and the growing influence of external powers including China.
  • Towleroad notes the late great gay icon Freddie Mercury.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Stewart Baker suggests that France and Belgium may well have direct wiretap access to telecommunications.
  • Window on Eurasia links to a Russian writer who argues that the net effect of Russian policies has been to shrink the Russian sphere of influence, by alienating first Georgians then Ukrainians.

[LINK] “Visa, MasterCard Weigh Russia Exit as Ukraine Vote Looms”

Bloomberg’s Elizabeth Dexheimer reports on the possibility that Visa and Mastercard might effectively be forced out of Russia by proposed new banking regulations prohibiting either from blocking transactions to groups named under sanctions. The symbolism of this would be noteworthy.

Visa Inc. (V) and MasterCard Inc. (MA) have about six weeks to decide whether a new Russian law requiring them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to operate in that country is worth the cost. For now, Visa’s answer is nyet.

Russia’s current demands “just go beyond what we’d be willing to do,” Visa Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf said yesterday at an investor conference in Boston. “I would hope that we get to a different conclusion than to get to July 1 and just say we’re not willing to participate.”

Scharf and MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga said yesterday they’re talking with Russian lawmakers about making changes to the legislation, passed in response to sanctions the U.S. imposed to protest the Russian role in Ukraine’s turmoil. At stake is about $403 million in combined annual revenue for the two payments networks as well as their foothold in a market that’s shifting from cash to electronic forms of payment. U.S. threats of even more sanctions ahead of next week’s Ukrainian presidential elections loom over the discussions.

“They’ve got three options — do we stay, can we leave or can we negotiate?” William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C., said in a phone interview. “If additional sanctions are introduced after the Ukraine elections, then it’s less likely that the Russian government will back down.”

[. . .]

Should the two companies completely withdraw, the biggest effect would be on the 15 percent of Russia’s population who regularly travel abroad, Aslund said. The firms’ decisions will be closely watched by all U.S. companies that do business in Russia, Pomeranz said.

“What happens to them will be a signal of what’s ahead,” Pomeranz said. “If Visa and MasterCard can’t work there, who is going to be able to work in Russia?”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

[LINK] ““The Big Bang Theory” and Our Future with China”

Evan Osmos’ blog post at The New Yorker arguing that popular culture can bind China and the US together makes me think hopeful thoughts. (Hope can be good if founded in something, right?)

On April 26th, the Beijing government abruptly banned the country’s most popular American television show, “The Big Bang Theory.” Earlier that month, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, had launched the latest in a string of campaigns to clean up the Web, to rid it of porn, rumors, and other “harmful information.” It is part of a broader effort to push back the tide of foreign pop culture that has eroded the state propaganda agencies’ control over what people in China watch. Online video revenue grew more than forty-one per cent from 2012 to 2013; the number of visitors using phones and other mobile devices to view that video grew by seventy-three per cent, to a hundred and seventy million.

“The Big Bang Theory” was a prime beneficiary. After seven seasons, the subtitled Chinese version of the show had achieved iconic status—all without the remotest involvement of the government’s vast media apparatus. By the time the show was banned, Chinese episodes had been watched online no fewer than 1.4 billion times. When the actors, such as Johnny Galecki, visit China, they are mobbed by fans. In Beijing, any tall, slim, dark-haired American male is likely to have been told once or twice that he looks a bit like Sheldon, the most Spock-like character on the show.

Young Chinese, who have grown up in an age of prosperity and stability, are typically the most passionate defenders of the Chinese political and economic way. When the government, for instance, breaks up demonstrations in the name of defending China’s stability, or blocks Web sites to protect China’s honor in the long-running divide with Japan, it is often the self-described “angry youth” who rise in defense of the flag. But in this case, the ban hit a nerve. In the city of Wuhan, in central China, student members of the Center for Protection for the Rights of Disadvantaged Citizens of Wuhan University issued the rough Chinese equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request, demanding to know why they had been deprived of their favorite show.

In response, the state agency that oversees the broadcasting and censorship of media explained, vaguely, that “The Big Bang Theory” and three other banned shows (“The Good Wife,” “NCIS,” and “The Practice”) were either out of copyright or had been found to violate Clause 16 of the rules around online broadcasting, a clause that prohibits pornography, violence, and “content that violates China’s constitution, endangers the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, provokes troubles in society, promotes illegal religion and triggers ethnic hatred.” That explanation was met with guffaws. On Chinese social media, people joked that they should rename their own country West North Korea, and censors soon blocked that phrase.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 21, 2014 at 11:04 pm


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