Friday, December 9, 2011

EU= Peewee football Team

What does the EU and a typical American peewee football team have in common?
Often, the last picks (read: unpopular kids) end up pulling their own weight on the team,while the quarterbacks and runningbacks enjoy the glory but shy away from real responsibility when the game is lost.

The last picks being Poland,Latvia,Malta,Lithuania,Bulgaria and the like. When these countries joined the EU in the 2000s there was a lot of negative sentiment from the citizens of the already existing EU member countries,which I experienced first-hand while traveling.These 'last-pick' countries seemed unable to convince anyone that they deserved to play in the major league,although they clearly and by their own right, met the requirements for sitting at the big-kid table ,also known as the Copenhagen Criteria.

Nevertheless, the 27 member countries of the EU have spent all year trying to tighten its financial belt, but a lack of consensus has made it impossible to belt that notch. Not surprisingly, smaller, dorkier ,last-pick countries on the pee-wee team have not been the ones gracing the international first-pages with their indecision, rather the larger, more confident countries have. British Prime Minister James Cameron has refused to abide by all the regulations in the new fiscal treaty, claiming that not all of them are in "Britains interest". Someone should have let him know that there's no I in TEAM. Hungary and Sweden are also reluctant to commit. Incidentally, both Britain and Hungary continue to use their on currency, both valued higher than the euro, despite enjoying the rest of the membership benefits of a currency union.

One simply must wonder when all the bickering will end and each nation will realize that joining the EU means taking responsibility for ones own actions but also dealing with the consequences of others'.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Slumdog. No Millionaire.

It comes as no surprise that the capital cities of developing countries tend to be the most densely populated areas of those countries. Globalization is forcing developing countries across the world to undergo their own industrial and technological revolutions in a New York minute,ready or not. Along with revolution comes migration,typically in the way of rural populations moving to the capital city in search of work.Manila,however, stands out from her sister DCs (developing countries), not for being the most densely populated city in the world (111,576 people per mi²) but for having more than 50% of its metropolitan population living in slums.

Manilans are in great danger as population continues to grow and rural communities continue to migrate into the city in search of a meager $2 per day. NGOs worldwide have taken an interest in reducing the slum population, but I cant help but feel repulsed by the Filipino government's passive aggressive approach. Following a steady population growth rate in the late 1990s, a sudden jump in the year 2000 caused great concern when it became obvious that the capital city would be unable to handle the influx of rural migrants. As of 2002, the federal government began encouraging these rural dwellers to return to the countryside in order to alleviate the growth of slums in Manila. According to a report by BBC's Paul Mason, the slumdwellers made it clear that they were unwilling to return to their commerce-starved village centres and depleted rivers and land. Nevertheless, the government has been building homes in rural towns such as Cabuyao and relocating indignant slumdwellers there, to non-electrified, sparsely populated, commercially stagnant communities.The fact that the government is relocating slumdwellers to the exact stale communities they escaped  seems to be of no importance.

Undoubtedly,the living conditions are better than those in the slums,where collapse,arson and flooding are a constant concern due to the poor construction of the dwellings. Even more so in the past few years, with slumdwellers claiming occurrences of mysterious fires following refusal to relocate to the countryside. The government denies any accusations of foul play pointed at it and states that although it is using police forces to enforce the relocation, it has not resorted to arson. Nevertheless, suspicious fires which leave hundreds homeless, sourced to 'faulty electrical wires' have become common in the slum of Tondo in manila,among others. With aggressive relocation to communities with stagnant economies and a passive[read: nonexistent} approach to providing incentives to the slumdwellers, the government is literally putting its citizens between a rock and a hard place.

urban upgrading success stories

I'm all for relieving the slum populace, but ideally, the government would provide agricultural subsidies if indeed the agricultural sector grew by 5.8% in the first half of 2011 as stated by the Philippines Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Additionally, the government could also try to provide or source small-business incentives with micro-credit programs. The more ambitious architects and developmental economists are pursuing variations of urban upgrading , a term coined by MIT to describe the improvement of slums to bring them up to living standards. Urban upgrading aims to add the necessary infrastructure to slums in an effort to avoid forced relocation of slumdwellers to rural communities.

The best solution is likely a combination of both urban upgrading and incentive-driven voluntary relocation outside the over-populated capital, as globalization has a well-earned reputation of producing more slumdogs than millionaires.

Monday, March 29, 2010

All The World's Estranged IV

Libya and the EU kissed and made up this week by lifting visa bans on each others citizens. The session was complete with an apology from the Spanish Foreign Ministry for blacklisting Libyans, all of which began two years ago when Hannibal Gaddafi was arrested in Geneva and Switzerland initiated a diplomatic tiff.

In the DRC a massacre by the LRA in December has finally come to light, revealing the continued threat of the terrorist group despite the assurances of the government. A former LRA spokesman has denied the association, claiming that it is the Uganda People's Defense Force that is carrying out the killings. After mounting pressure in Washington from groups such as Invisible Children and Resolve Uganda the Senate passed a bill this month authorizing funding for humanitarian efforts in the region as well as military action against the LRA  which the US will likely effect using AFRICOM, the US military command in Africa.

Drilling efforts to reach the largest body of freshwater on the continent and the fourth largest lake on the planet are close to fruition as a multi-national team of British, American and Russian scientists revealed today that they are 300 ft of Lake Vostok. The project is fueled in part by a quest for life on the planet's most harsh environment as well as beyond (Mars, Europa), and also in part by a search for more answers on the prospect of climate change.

Korea is joining the list of nations securing plots of ice for building research stations in Antarctica. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs plans to complete the $88 million research site by 2014 at Terra Nova bay

The NLD, Burma's  main opposition party has declared that it will not participate in the country's first elections in 20 years, after the Junta banned its leader Suu Kyi from participating in the process due to a criminal record. The junta recently passed electoral laws stating that parties may not have members with criminal records, which excludes many NLD members who have been prison records for activism.

The theme at the 2010 AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)  meeting was" Israel: Tell the Story" , which seems to emphasize the revelation of a side of Israel that is often hidden. The council aimed to convince those in attendance that Israel "that Israel is making the world a better place", although some critics viewed it as another "bomb Iran special".

Partyiers in Sydney spend a few more minutes than usual in line at Home nightclub in order to get their pictures taken and fingerprints and IDs scanned into a bio-metric system being tested at club. While Home nightclub is the only one to use the fingerprinting technology, other clubs are using a variety of 13 ID-scanning technologies for the stated purpose of increasing safety for their patrons. ID-tect, the software company which provides the software states that if the patron is not a "ban list", their information is deleted within 28 days, otherwise it may be stored indefinitely.

In Mayo Clinic v CSL Limited, the renowned Mayo clinic has made allegations of conspiracy against  CSL, Australia's largest health care company of forming a conspiracy between its wholly-owned blood-plasma subsidiary CSL Behring and Baxter International, the health care industry's peak medical products company.

The largest trade union in Britain has revealed that it has a piggy bank of £700,000 which it plans to use to aid its British Airways members who are facing up to £900 pay cuts for participating in the recent cabin crew walkout.

Last week's EU summit saw Greece receiving a sustained brush off from Germany, which for the past two years has consistently vetoed proposals for bank bailouts. Germany has a well-known post-war policy of placing European unity before national interests which has been upheld by all post-war chancellors up to this point which is why Chancellor Merkel's ardent stance on the Greek bailout has caught some off guard.

Brazil's is the country of the month, with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledging mid last week to maintain a steady stream of economic stability and later showing a bit of prowess after receiving authorization from the WTO to enforce cross-retaliation measures against the US cotton policy which was found to be illegal in 2008. Brazil has already applied surcharges to many of US products and will be announcing more on US IPR. GM also announced that it will invest $780 million in two Brazilian plants towards adding two new models to the country's lineup. Furthermore, the WSJ sang  Brazil's praises and speculated on a promising future for the biggest economy in Latin America and the 10th biggest in the world. Da Silva also found his popularity rate at its highest since taking office as he finishes his last term.

A Guardian article raises the question, 'when is the last time Haiti was run by its own government, and not NGOs?'. Clinton, the US special envoy to Haiti publicly questioned this week whether US aid was actually materializing into self-reliance in Haiti despite his role in the historic sandbagging of Haiti by the US.

For a president who did not finish paying off his college loans until taking office due to the increasing costs higher education, one would expect Obama to place higher education initiatives high on his priorities, which he did, for a short while.In the summer of 2009 Obama unveiled a plan to propel 5 million university graduates by 2020, however the education bill that was pork-barreled with the recently passed health care bill catered meagerly to higher education and in almost no way to community colleges, which typically receive no attention from the federal government.
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