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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[LINK] On the affair of John Waters and homophobia

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Some days ago, Joe. My. God. linked to an interview in the Irish Independent with journalist John Waters. Waters, recently the subject of wide criticism across Ireland and the world for homophobic statements, is unhappy that people aren’t happy with his bigoted statements and are saying so.

“I was walking down the street and a guy on a bicycle shouted ‘you f***ing homophobe’ at me before cycling on. I was in a coffee shop on another occasion and a woman waddled over to me with a pram and told me I should be ashamed of myself before walking off. They are cowards, they shout something and keep walking, they don’t want to engage.

“I was frightened almost in a metaphysical way, that people could be so full of hatred. That, in accusing me of hatred, they could manifest a hatred infinitely greater than anything I could possibly imagine.”

[. . .]

Describing the lowest point, he said it was the realisation that no one would speak out in his defence.

“You have a certain hope that somebody, somewhere knows you for who you are, you kind of have some kind of naive hope that one of these people are going to stand up and say ‘hang on, this is wrong, this is not this guy’ and that moment never came.”

[. . .]

In a passionate interview, Waters also defended previous statements he made on gay marriage and adoption which have landed him in hot water.

Questioning gay adoption, he drew parallels with two brothers taking paternal responsibility of a child.

“If two brothers who love each other in a particular way decide ‘we would like to adopt a child’ this society would regard that as an absurdity, they would laugh them out of court.

“Yet if two men who are involved in a sexual relationship go forward to adopt a child we are told now, that should be okay? I find that really hard to understand, intellectually. Why is it that it is okay but it is not okay for two brothers or two straight men? I think that’s a legitimate point.”

He went on to describe as ‘satirical’ the fight to introduce gay marriage, when the core of the traditional family unit remains so broken.

“There is something fundamentally wrong to go off then and to come up with a peripheral issue, which gay marriage is in my view, and to deal with that first, when the raw bloody core of our family law and our family life in this country . . . that is satire. It is a mockery of reality to actually deal with something so peripheral and marginal, when there is such a wound at the heart of our culture. So I make no apologies for calling it a satire. It is satirical.”

He defended his use of the word ‘buggery’, questioning why anyone would take offence to the term.

“People are selectively finding things offensive to suit themselves. But what is so offensive about the word buggery? I mean it’s a phenomenon, it’s a word to describe a physical function. My definition is anal penetration by men. It is very clear what it means. It is a term to describe a physical function, end of story. Why is it offensive? If the act is not offensive to people, why should the word to describe it be offensive?”

Written by Randy McDonald

April 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly makes a case about the benefits of radical honesty.
  • At the Buffer, Belle Beth Cooper describes how she has streamlined her writing style.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China’s space station isn’t doing much.
  • Eastern Approaches observes the continuing popularity of Polish populist Lech Kaczynski.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes the vulnerable popularity of UKIP’s Nigel Farage.
  • Geocurrents’ Asya Perelstvaig comments on the entry of Jewish businessman Vadim Rabinovich into the Ukrainian presidential contest.
  • Joe. My. God. is unconvinced by the suggestion that marriage equality means the end of gay bars.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Erik Loomis speculates about the responsibility of American consumers for air pollution in exporting Asia.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Constantine Tsang describes evidence for volcanism on Venus.
  • Savage Minds interviews one Laura Forlano on the intersections between anthropology and design.
  • Towleroad mourns the death of godfather of house music Frankie Knuckles.

[LINK] “Cutting foreign aid won’t defeat anti-gay laws in Africa and Latin America”

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Via Towleroad I came across Ari Shaw and Mauricio Albarracín’s Global Post article talking about foreign aid and gay rights make some worthwhile points about strengthening local institutions instead.

I don’t think that it gets the quite real differences between Latin America and Africa, not least of which is the much greater extent of grassroots support for gay rights in the first region as compared to the second. Homophobia does exist in Latin America, but not nearly to the same extent as in Africa. Is Africa is uniquely and homogeneously homophobic? No, as Marc Epprecht noted at CNN. It is a world region where, for a variety of reasons, homophobia is especially well-entenched at this point. Different strategies may have to be applied, perhaps including more precisely targeted foreign aid programs.

Foreign governments and international donors seeking to help should, instead, increase financial and technical support for African LGBT rights organizations and human rights institutions.

LGBT activists in many African states face highly restrictive and dangerous conditions that limit their ability advocate for reforms. In many cases, these laws not only discriminate against LGBT individuals but also criminalize or severely restrict public dissent and association around LGBT issues.

The burgeoning African system of human rights courts and commissions should be strengthened to provide an important and necessary tool for enhancing LGBT rights and activism in the region.

The experience of LGBT rights activism in another developing region — Latin America — offers insight into the roles regional human rights bodies can play.

In the past several years, advances in gay rights in Latin America have outpaced those in the United States and some European nations. Argentina and Uruguay, for instance, have full marriage equality, while Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia offer some form of legal protection for same-sex couples and families.

Violence and inequality persist, but in many national debates around LGBT rights, the Inter-American human rights system has been an important resource for gay rights activists.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 2, 2014 at 2:36 am

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes that Somali asylum-seekers in the United Kingdom are being deported to Somalia, at great potential risk to themselves, and observes the continuing and self-serving chaos in that country.
  • The Atlantic debunks the myth that GLBT people are well-off relative to heterosexuals in the United States, at least, and uses a San Francisco building’s history to take a look on the history of that city throughout the 20th century.
  • The Atlantic Cities shares a photo essay about Rochester’s subway, abandoned after more than a half-century.
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation shares the news that some ecologists in Australia think that triage should be applied to the continent’s threatened species.
  • BusinessWeek notes that China’s first lady Peng Liyuan may be taking Michelle Obama as a model for her position, and notes that Exxon’s partnership with Rosneft (and other Western-Russian business partnerships) are looking problematic) after the Crimean annexation.
  • CBC observes that the Turkish state has lost in its attack on social networking platform Twitter.
  • Taking on issues of Québec City, MacLean’s observes that getting back the Quebec Nordiques isn’t helped by the resurgence in nationalism, adding also that despite being a potential national capital Québec City doesn’t vote for the Parti Québécois.
  • Open Democracy makes the argument that Scottish separatism is driven by a desire to be a normal European country, in contrast to an increasingly inegalitarian England.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell observes the fine scale of globalization’s movements, which connect nations not so much as they do neighbourhoods.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze revisits the Kepler-9 system and notes the disintegrating sub-Mercury planet that is KIC 12557548b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that waves have been detected on Titan’s Punga Mare.
  • Eastern Approaches takes a look at Slovakian politics.
  • Far Outliers revisits the massive volcanic eruption that hit the Melanesian island of New Britain circa 600 CE.
  • The Numerati’s Stephen Baker wonders if his new novel The Boost is anti-Chinese simply by describing a hegemonic China not acting differently from the United States. (I must read the book.)
  • Strange Maps notes a Turkish exclave in Syria–a tomb of an ancient Turkish hero–that might bring Turkey into the Syrian civil war.
  • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that crystal meth use accelerates the progress of HIV/AIDS in users.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Eugene Volokh notes the death of a Ukrainian soldier on a base stormed by Russian soldiers in Crimea.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the fears of many Crimean Tatars of Russian rule.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell shares his eclectic list of recommended blogs.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO plausibly suggests that a corner of northwestern Toronto, in Etobicoke, has the worst transit service in Toronto.
  • Charlie Stross’ suggested at his weblog that some kind of in-flight depressurization was the only explanation for the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight ML380 that didn’t involve human malice. (Alas, as noted in the comments, it looks like malice was involved.)
  • At The Dragon’s Gaze, Will Baird notes that class O star–very bright, very massive, very energetic–tend to disrupt planets forming in orbit of them.
  • At The Dragon’s Tales, China’s foreign policy re: Ukraine is questioned.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Doug Merrill provides a handy guide to 1930s analogies for Russian claims on Ukraine.
  • Language Hat touches upon the linguistic controversies surrounding migrations between Siberia and North America.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Alex Tabarrok celebrated Open Borders Day yesterday. (Commenters disagree.)
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw wonders if war with Russia has become inevitable.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Panama has just sued Venezuela at the World Trade Organization and counsels against a Ukrainian blockade of Crimea on the grounds that it wouldn’t work.
  • Registan notes that Kazakhstan’s currency is in crisis largely because of its links to the Russian ruble.
  • At Window on Eurasia, Paul Goble notes one author’s talk about tensions in the Russian Ukrainian relationship and observes online separatism in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpak autonomous republic.

[LINK] “LGBTI Rights and the UN: Where to from here?”

Via Towleroad I came across Paula Gerber’s Global Post article analyzing the different institutions of the United Nations and their role in promoting gay human rights. Some do a better job than others, it seems.

As the body responsible for monitoring state parties’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Human Rights Committee has an important role to play in promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI persons.

There are three ways in which it can do this, namely, in its Concluding Observations, in its General Comments and in its Views on individual communications. The degree to which it has succeeded in raising LGBTI rights through these different avenues is variable.

The Human Rights Committee’s approach to raising violations of the rights of LGBTI persons in its Concluding Observations has been patchy. Although it has improved in recent times, there have still been instances where the Human Rights Committee has failed to explicitly address the fact that a state continues to criminalise homosexuality in clear breach of the ICCPR.

In 2014, the Committee will review 18 states. Of those, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Sudan, Burundi and Sri Lanka still criminalise homosexuality.

Of course, many of the states where homosexual conduct is legal also have significant LGBTI rights violations, because, for example, there is no anti-discrimination legislation that protects sexual minorities.

One only has to look at recent events in Russia, where homosexuality was legalised in 1993, to know that decriminalisation is only the start of the journey towards dignity and equality for LGBTI persons, not the end.

The Human Rights Committee should therefore include recommendations not only about decriminalising homosexuality in its Concluding Observations for these 18 states, but also other reform measures necessary to ensure that LGBTI persons can be free and equal.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 11, 2014 at 3:55 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On the advantages for the economy of Ukraine with Europe, in Europe

Back on the 14th of last month, I linked to a post at the Wall Street Journal‘s Emerging Europe blog about the Ukrainian economy. Author Alexander Kolyandr argued that Ukraine’s economic stagnation has much to do with its unsettled politics, and that–in turn–Ukraine’s political issues aggravated its economic issues. (Volatile prices for raw material exports and the old state of Ukrainian industrial plant didn’t help, either.)

Ukraine’s gross domestic product in constant 2005 U.S. dollars was at $97 billion in 2013, compared to $113 billion in 1992, according to U.S. statistics. The performance looks even less impressive compared to that of the neighboring Russia, whose GDP expanded to $1 trillion in 2013 from $684 billion in the first post-Soviet year.

Using the more conventional measure of GDP adjusted for purchasing-power parity, Ukraine’s performance seems better, as its economy expanded to $341 billion from $267 billion, or about 28% in 20 years. Because Ukraine’s population shrank over the period, GDP per capita expanded by 46% to $7,532 from $5,163.

But those numbers don’t look so impressive next to Russia’s, where GDP grew by 125% for the same period, while the GDP per capita was up by 137% to $18,670, more than twice that in Ukraine.

[. . .]

A string of Ukrainian governments lacked the political will, the clear vision and experienced economists to launch economic reforms and privatization similar to those in Russia or Central Europe.

At the beginning of its independent existence Ukraine’s leadership saw excessive dependence on Russia and nation-building as a primary problem, while the inheritance of the communist system was not given sufficient attention. Unlike in Russia, not to mention the Baltic states, much of the old Soviet establishment persisted in Ukraine. “The old communist elite simply changed their party cards for the national insignia,” as economist Anders Aslund put it.

Ukraine recovered somewhat in the mid-2000s thanks to cheaper foreign loans, abundance of capital and high prices for metals. But all that halted in the 2008 financial crisis, and the country’s economy is yet to reach the pre-crisis level.

Writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Charles Kenny argues (“Why Ukraine Really Would Be Better Off In Europe” that Ukraine would be better off aligning itself with the European Union than with the putative Eurasian Union.

In 1989, average income per capita in Ukraine was $8,629. By 1998, that had collapsed to $3,430. In 2012, GDP per capita had recovered somewhat—but at $6,394, it was still 25 percent below its level of nearly a quarter-century earlier. That puts Ukraine in the middle of the pack of former Soviet states, if you exclude the three Baltic economies of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which are already members of the European Union. But compare Ukraine with four of its former Communist neighbors to the west: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. The average GDP per person in those nations is around $17,000—and they in turn are poorer than West European countries. If Ukraine builds trade and financial ties with Russia and central Asia, it will be a midranking country in a middle-income club. If it builds these ties with the EU, it will be a relatively poor country in a rich club.

To be sure, being poor relative to everyone else isn’t a great recipe for rapid growth, despite the apparent advantages of being able to borrow technologies, techniques, ideas, and money from richer countries. Indeed, the last 200 years have been a period of incredible global income divergence—poor countries have grown more slowly than rich countries. In 1870 the world’s richest country was about nine times richer than the world’s poorest country. By 1990, that gap had grown to a 145-fold difference. The past 10 years have seen poor countries growing faster than rich ones in average–income convergence—but they are the historical exception.

[. . .]

Nonetheless, regions within countries often do converge—in the U.S., the gap between rich and poor states has traditionally fallen by about 2 percent a year (although that process has slowed in the past couple of decades). Within regional groupings of countries, there is stronger evidence that poorer countries benefit. From 1937 to 1988, poorer parts of Eastern Europe (Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria) grew faster (pdf) than richer countries (Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary). The story is similar in Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, and Columbia grow faster than Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina). The Economic Community of West African States is following a similar pattern. Perhaps of most relevance to politicians and protestors in Ukraine, there’s some evidence of convergence within the European Union—although perhaps unsurprisingly, newer members are converging toward a common income with each other faster than they are converging to the EU average.

There’s nothing automatic about convergence within regions. Take Greece, which had an average income worth 82 percent of France’s income in 1981 when it joined the European Community, and had income of only 74 percent of France’s 30 years later. But there’s still an opportunity for Ukraine in Europe—take Portugal, where incomes have climbed from 59 percent of France’s average when it joined the European Community in 1986 to 71 percent 26 years later. The potential for catchup is even greater for the former Soviet Republic, since its current income per capita is only one-fifth that of France.

When it comes to convergence within economic communities, the evidence suggests that two lessons of real estate apply: First, you’d rather be the last house on the right side of the tracks than the first house on the other side. Second, if you want your investment to appreciate, it’s best to be the cheapest house in an expensive community than the luxury condo in a lousy neighborhood.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 3, 2014 at 8:39 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Beyond the Numbers suggests that talk of an African demographic dividend may be overstated, in that the young cohorts need–among other things–education.
  • Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram talks about the ethics of open versus closed borders, suggesting that the latter is only acceptable if there actually are other ways to help.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes exoplanet WTS-2 b, a hot Jupiter set to spiral into its orange dwarf sun in 40 milion years.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that the ancestors of the Americas’ indigenous populations apparently hung out in Beringia for ten thousand years before moving south, observes that Moldovans now have visa-less travel rights to the European Union, and comments on the still unknown composition of Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos.
  • At A Fistful of Euros, Edward Hugh argues that Abenomics in Japan is turning out to be a huge, expensive, mess.
  • Language Hat observes that many Soviets learned Polish in order to partake in the freer and more cosmopolitan literature of Poland.
  • Language Log notes a new Chinese word for nerd.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that many religious conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage just don’t get it.
  • Marginal Revolution observes that China is now India’s largest trading partner.
  • Savage Minds features a guest post from anthropologist Douglas La Rose talking about debt.
  • Torontoist notes Doug Ford’s media tour against police cheif Bill Blair.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Ilya Somin argues that migration should be talked about in light of the needs of immigrants, too.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO chronicles the time when Toronto bus transit went as far as Niagara Falls.
  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that falling global mobility is combining with low fertility rates to produce labour shortages.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster, thinking of pulsar planets, starts a discussion about science fiction set in extreme environments.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the complexity of discovering exoplanets around young–hence very active–stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales, meanwhile, observes evidence that the Indus Valley civilization collapsed because of climate change.
  • Far Outliers observes the speed with which German and Austro-Hungarian fronts collapsed in 1918 and comments on American respect for their German counterparts in the First World War.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a paper claiming that immigration doesn’t undermine public support for welfare states.
  • Livejournal’s pollotenchegg maps the distributions of Russians and Crimean Tatars in that autonomous–and contested?–Ukrainian peninsula.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer thinks that, though things are bad in Venezuela, they aren’t nearly as bad as one database on democracy claims.
  • Peter Rukavina shares the story of how much he cost the Prince Edward Island health system and how he found out.
  • Towleroad goes into greater detail about the changes in royal nomenclature forced by same-sex marriage.
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