Wednesday, March 20, 2013

News Round-up: greed and power-dependence block healthy decisions

A roundup of news leaves one struck with the observation that too many issues around the globe are unresolved, unlikely to be resolved and unlikely to attract willing participants to "step up to the plate" as leaders of incipient and potential coalitions, the only vehicle that can and will save us from ourselves. There are simply too many ways to duck, dodge, dissemble, blame others and escape from having to take responsibility for making important, if extremely difficult, decisions. And the retention of the status quo, that is of current power-positions, on the part of all players and potential players, lies at the heart of the empty playing field.

News that:
  1.  the government of China is actively purchasing, and providing the networking necessary for the acquisition, ivory tusks from forest elephants in Central Africa, reducing the population of that species by some 62% in the last decade, while generating substantial income from ivory carvings targetted at the growing upper middle class in China.
  2. American Congressmen and women are actively and incestuously (politically) embedded, enmeshed, in a scheme of tax extenders, providing both lucrative incomes for lobbyists (former members of Congress a mere twelve months previously) because the extenders are usually of a two-year life-span,
  3. American corporations like Whirlpool, are producing high-end appliances, targetted at rich Americans, on the strength of their lobbyists' success in achieving tax extenders rendering their corporate tax to a figure less than 1% last year.
  4. other American-based international corporations, like General Electric, are also enmeshed in the same, or a similar scheme of tax avoidance, (all of it quite within American law) rendering their tax to a minus fugure
  5. money-movers are able to, at the push of a button, transfer billions from one country to another, instantaneously, for their own purposes, without the country where the transactions were conducted, or where the official bank accounts are located with official addresses, having any option to capture tax dollars from such seives;
  6. obesity rates, linked to smoking rates, linked to other forms of mostly preventable illnesses are sending increasing numbers of individuals to the health care system, impacting the capacity of the systems (in all countries) to withstand the additional fiscal and professional pressures;
  7. in both Canada and the U.S. large majorities of prison inmates come from clearly disadvantaged and racially discriminated populations (Black and Latino in the U.S. and First Nations in Canada) demonstrating the bias of the justice systems in both countries;
  8. the military budgets of both Canada and the U.S. are ostensibly outside the reach of budget cuts, as both governments play to their "fear-based" hard-line protectionist electorates;
  9. the right wing in both Canada and the U.S. is enmeshed with the energy sector (the oil and gas segment) to the degree that all meaningful attempts to wean both countries from fossil fuels and onto alternative energy sources are blocked, starting with the necessary, inevitable and long-overdue carbon tax;
  10. apparently one of the most obvious and most profound differences between the Muslim world and the 'western' world is the relationship between a man and a women, especially if that man is husband to that wife: as guardian, permitted to beat her, and when a beating occurs, the woman must bear a considerable perentage of the responsibility for that beating, and the woman must also consent to having sex if and when her husband asks (from an interview  today on WHYY's Fresh Air, with host Tery Gross interviewing Shereen El Feki (who) spent five years traveling across the Arab region asking people about sex: what they do, what they don't, what they think and why. Her ambition was to learn about the intimate lives of people in the Middle East, and how the sexual aspects of their lives reflect larger shifts. Shereen El Feki's book 'Sex And The Citadel' Peeks Inside Private Lives In The Arab World. Ms El Feki was raised in Canada of an Egyptian father and a Welsh mother and now divides her time between Cairo and the U.S.
  11. Female Genital Mutilation continues to be practiced, with both the consent and recommendation of the mothers and grandmothers of young women, in Muslim countries (also according to the interview of Shareen El Feki on WHYY's Fresh Air, with Terry Gross). Apparently the rate of FGM has dropped, however, in more recent years.
  12. there is no global concensus to bring an end to the slaughter in Syria, in spite of the claims that one or both sides threatens to use, or has used, chemical weapons, on a population in which over 70,000 have perished in the last two months. Mentioned as reasons for the lack of international co-operation are such historic debacles as Vietnam (discouraging additional attempts to intervene) or Rwanda (encouraging international attempts to intervene, given that some 800,000 died while the world did nothing)....without adequate responsibilty for discerning the significant differences between those chapters in world history and Syria today;
  13. talk about any potential peace agreement between Palestine and Israel is, once again, garnering some ink, now that President Obama is visiting the region, with little optimism that anything substantive will emerge from the visit, including the resumption of formal talks between Abbas and Netanyahu;
  14. North Korea and Iran are reported to have renewed and strengthened their "friendship"....but how do a tin-pot dictator from North Korea and an exiting President from Iran accomplish anything more than another photo op generating bluster?
  15. The Cyprus individual investors could face significant withdrawals from their personal bank accounts to pay for a bail-out of the Cypriot government, facing collapse...and also facing an imminent deadline primarily engineered by Germany...leaving the world financial markets wondering where the next Improvised Explosive Device (of economic, fiscal, debt origin) might explode.

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