Archive for the 'World Politics' Category
August 11th, 2008 -- Posted in World Politics |
For the past two days I have watched with disdain, the excessive use of force by the Russian military against civilian targets in the Democratic Republic of Georgia. On Sunday night, watching late edition on CNN, President Saakashvili gave a pitiful request for help. I mean, the guy looked stressed, you should have seen the way he was talking on a cellphone underground somewhere… it was not very presidential to say the least. Russia has always had some dislike for the West, in particular Vladimir Putin who blames America for the collapse of the glorious Soviet Union. This observation was made by former secretary Madeline Albright who includes this observation in her book: “A Memo To The President Elect.”
We have all born witness to the decreasing democracy within Russia as Prime Minister Putin shifted from the forefront of Russian politics to pulling the strings of President Medvedev in the shadows. There should only be two questions on everyone’s minds, how far will Russia go and what do they want? The President of Georgia has been suggesting that the rest of the world should commit to defending Georgia militarily however given Russia’s control of Europe’s energy, i don’t see that happening.
America is already committed to Iraq and Afghanistan, defending Georgia would be the final push the Russian’s needed for World War 3. What that might entail I don’t know, but Prime Minister Putin is a smart guy and if everything former Secretary Albright observed is correct, the Prime Minister has crafted an effective strategy to restore Russia to its former glory including all the territories it lost in previous years.
August 4th, 2008 -- Posted in American Politics, World Politics |
NPR launched a new series on healthcare last week focusing on the healthcare systems of Germany, France, Netherlands, U.K and Switzerland. I just stumbled upon this today, so for the moment I am going to discuss Germany. A few startling facts about the German Healthcare System:
- Germany’s version of universal healthcare has existed for 125 years
- The majority of German patients are happy with the healthcare system the way it is
- The system is financed not by the Government but by the workers and their employers
- Germany has a 99.8% coverage of its 82.3 million people
- Children are completely covered until they are 18
The first part of the German series is just under 9 minutes long so please do go to NPR to listen to it because as soon as I listen to the other recordings, I will post the relevant data here. One of the biggest arguments I have heard against universal healthcare in the USA is that any such system might cause huge waits and a shortage of doctors however this is apparently another conservative rumor because according to the OECD: Germany and the USA have the same number of doctors per 1000 people. Germany beats the USA in specialists with 2.4 per 1000 people compared to the USA’s 1.7.
NPR have also developed a nifty health comparison tool which allows anyone to compare the health system in the USA to other European countries. The fact is that the healthcare system in the United States is in trouble and the best way to fix that system would be to learn from countries like Germany who have been using universal healthcare for the last 125 years and made it work.
The last major argument is about freedom of choice, the German’s have a great term for their support of universal healthcare called Solidarität (solidarity). In America we have a phrase: ” United we stand.” Why does that phrase only extend to national security? Why not healthcare? German society has stood together to support every person for the benefit of the entire country why is that impossible in America? I would like to believe it is not impossible and with an Obama presidency, it can be done.
July 30th, 2008 -- Posted in Chinese Politics, World Politics |
As much as I would like to talk about the burgeoning federal deficit, the endless series of funny McCain viral videos, universal healthcare; today is about the suppression of human rights in China. How many of us know about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? I spoke to some of my colleagues at work yesterday and asked this very question; not one person could name one article from the declaration.
No country is perfect as a Chinese friend of mine texted me the other day when he read a recent article I wrote concerning China on this blog. That being said, when I think about the human rights abuses that have occurred and are occurring in America, I realize there is no excuse and I do not support places like Guantanamo Bay which violate article 9 of the UDHR:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
The violations of the UDHR undertaken by the American Government are serious but the difference between the USA and the PRC are that in America and the West we can actually protest these things. When Woeser tried to leave China to receive awards for her poetry, the Chinese government has denied her a passport because as I wrote in a previous post: her coverage of the Tibetan riots perturbed the Chinese Government and they want to make sure that there is one less critic of Chinese policies outside of China.
People cannot protest in China for the fear of threatening “stability” or “harmony.” Any such protests can sometimes lead to lengthy prison sentences as well as possible re-education. What can we do? We can hope that the media will attempt to make a difference when they are covering the games however this is highly doubtful given that Beijing has already broken the promise of complete media freedom:
Reports have just confirmed that foreign journalists working from the Olympics press center in Beijing are unable to access amnesty.org, the Amnesty International website. In addition, The China Debate, a site recently launched by Amnesty International as a forum to discuss human rights has been blocked in China.
A number of other websites are also reported to have been blocked, including Taiwan newspaper Liberty Times and the Chinese versions of both Germany’s Deutsche Welle and the BBC.
The media can be ruled out, so as citizens of the world, we have to pressure our respective governments to push China to use the Olympics to showcase its support for human rights. I must give credit where it is due, President Bush has done exactly that in recent months and I hope he will keep up the pressure throughout the Olympic Games so that we can see some sort of positive impact generated rather then support of the status quo. Today Politics Across The Pond stands with those people in China who want freedom:
This will be the only post available today, I will restore the usual settings of this blog tomorrow. Thank you for supporting this day and please stop by the Dragon Lady’s Den where can you can see censorship at work (could not get the code to work for this site).
July 26th, 2008 -- Posted in Book Reviews, World Politics |
I don’t actually have 500 ways to change the world but it is the title of a book I recently completed today. It has been published by Harper Collins in conjunction with the Global Ideas Bank. The Global Ideas Bank is a project of the Nicholas Albery Foundation based in the U.K. The website itself has existed since 1995 and is the best place to visit if you are an idea guy/girl like I am, and would like to examine some of the creative ideas of other people.
You can order the book from Amazon.com in the U.S however they are out of stock as of today but you can easily get it second hand for as low as $2.71. The European cover is slightly different to the American cover however most of the people that read this blog are from the States therefore I will post the American cover:
The book contains 500 ways to change the world separated into categories ranging from relationships to the international and developing world for a total of 18 chapters. I would be remiss to mention that there is also a chapter devoted to political ideas that could change the world which I will discuss a little later in this review. The 500 ideas fit in 400 pages for a book that is fairly small but is quite heavy for its size, not something I would recommend you to carry if you are traveling anywhere.
It took me 40 days to finish the book; not because it is comprehensive, but some ideas are quite philosophical nature and require some thinking to really appreciate the writers concept. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in the possibilities that society holds for the future. My favorite idea was written by Michael Laub entitled: “post proposed bills for public perusal”
Prospective (or existing) laws, constitutions, bills of rights, and charters should be publicly posted for discussion. The general public could then list the reasons for believing they are good or not so good in columns provided alongside the documents. These reasons could then be reviewed to gauge whether the public thinks such measures are valid, feasible, and worth introducing, and what percentage of the respondents support their implementation. This concept could provide a simple, cost-effective exercise for all political parties to conduct research, and for all the public to communicate their views and wishes outside of the traditional political system.
This is my favorite idea because I beIieve that there is a certain disconnect between politicans, the bills they pass and the public. You can easily access the various bills, resolutions and measures via the Thomas website but the required information is often not easily accessed. I would like summarized versions of bills to be posted in major newspapers if not websites that recieve significant traffic so that more people can be engaged in matters that matter to them. I would give this book a rating of 7 out of 10 for being an overall good read but not everyone’s cup of tea.
July 7th, 2008 -- Posted in American Politics, World Politics |
Bill Gates has been credited with saying the following:
Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.
That statement coincides with my beliefs when it comes to technology, I believe it can provide the solution to many of mankind’s problems if we allow the relevant research. The world’s greatest invention came from America in the form of the first microprocessor created by Intel and technology will play an even more pivotal role in the future of America for generations to come. The government and the leadership of the United States has a role to play in this process by doing everything possible to foster the growth of the science and technology industry to hopefully maintain America’s domination online and offline.
The problem as noted by Mother Jones is that on Senator McCain’s website, his policies with regards to technology vary from general to non-existent:
John McCain, as of yet, has few such fans in the tech sector. His campaign website does not have a section about technology. Sprinkled throughout the site are a handful of references to tech issues
Senator Obama’s website on the other hand has a specific section of his site designated as a place for people to inform themselves about his stance on issues of Technology:
The two points that Senator Obama stresses that I feel are quite significant are the lack of emphasis on math and science in schools today. If America is to remain competitive in the technological environment, it needs to source its future engineers, scientists, and programmers from within the country rather than importing people from India and China . Federal funding should be increased for schools to provide more comprehensive education in the sciences and mathematics fields and maybe even financial incentives for students to enter these fields after high school.
For America to truly succeed in the 21st century, it needs a leader who is in touch with the way technology influences our lives. This influence is only going to grow and being able to effeciently intergrate technology into all levels of society will create a new kind of America, a better America where the United States continues to lead the world in innovation, invention and intellect for centuries to come.