For the Global Thinker

Friday, January 27, 2012

Across the World, Leaders Brace for Discontent and Upheaval

DAVOS, Switzerland — Protesters in Moscow and Cairo fill public squares to demand representative government. Yet on the streets of Madrid and New York — or of Athens, which gave us the very word for democracy — discontent is almost as rampant. 

The only consistent messages seem to be that leaders around the world are failing to deliver on their citizens’ expectations and that Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools allow crowds to coalesce at will to let them know it. This is not a comforting picture for the 40 heads of state or leaders of governments who are attending the World Economic Forum here, including such disparate leaders as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany’s multiparty democracy or Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of the authoritarian state of Ethiopia.
“I think that what we have learned in the last few years since the financial crisis and since the Arab Spring is that brittle states with limited political and economic capital are particularly susceptible to the combination of severe economic downturn and the communications revolution,” said Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm in New York. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Confessions of a Recovering Weapons Addict

F16 Falcon

The US auto industry may have taken a dive, but for the weapons manufacturers...business is still booming... and guess who their best customer is....themselves...interesting article...

Perhaps you’ve heard of "Making Thunderbirds" a hard-bitten rock & roll song by Bob Seger that I listened to 30 years ago while in college.  It’s about auto workers back in 1955 who were “young and proud” to be making Ford Thunderbirds.  But in the early 1980s, Seger sings, “the plants have changed and you’re lucky if you work.”  Seger caught the reality of an American manufacturing infrastructure that was seriously eroding as skilled and good-paying union jobs were cut or sent overseas, rarely to be seen again in these parts.
If the U.S. auto industry has recently shown sparks of new life (though we’re not making T-Birds or Mercuries or Oldsmobiles or Pontiacs or Saturns anymore), there is one form of manufacturing in which America is still dominant.  When it comes to weaponry, to paraphrase Seger, we’re still young and proud and makin’ Predators and Reapers (as in unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) and Eagles and Fighting Falcons (as in F-15 and F-16 combat jets), and outfitting them with the deadliest of weapons.  In this market niche, we’re still the envy of the world.

Read more here...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Best of Kultura 2011 -- Photography

Here is a selection of some of the most intriguing photography that have appeared on Kultura in 2011...Enjoy.

1.  The Work of an Undiscovered Street Photographer Rocks the Art World 

 Chicago nanny Vivian Maier died in 2009, leaving behind 100,000 negatives that no one but she had ever seen. Her work was discovered by chance, and now the photographs she took on her days off are being hailed as 'ranking up there' with the best in 20th-century street photography.  See more here.

2.  America's First People 

 Photo of Ah Chee Lo, a Young Indian Child. It was taken in 1905 

by Edward S. Curtis.

See more beautiful portraits here.

3.  Sicarios: Latin American Assassins

A hooded sicario threatens Javier for a few seconds in zone 14 of Guatemala City.
See more here. 

4.  Strange Rain

A photographer uses an unusual technique to enhance the affect of rain in his photographs.  See more here.

5.  Living Photographs

Some Incredible time lapse photography.
See more here.

6.  Art Meets Music

Awesome art photography with cool selections of music.  See more here.

7. Tweeter Street

Portraits of ordinary people and what they tweeted.  See more here.

8.  Dance

Art Photographs by Seiji Shibuya
See more here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ten Prominent Websites Protest SOPA and PIPA

I really hope they quash this bill...they are definitely laying the groundwork for Internet censorship....

Thousands of websites went black or obscured their homepages on Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), two controversial bills designed to crack down on web piracy. Critics of the bills — which are backed by Hollywood, the recording industry, and major media companies, including Time Warner, the parent of TIME — say they are too broad and could lead to Internet censorship.  Last month, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he was “shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seeds of Dystopia

Global Risks Report 2012 Finds Income Inequality To Be A Threat To Economies Worldwide 

Growing income disparity threatens political backlash
* WEF sees risk of globalisation unravelling
* Report says fiscal crises at centre of economic woes 

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - A backlash against rising inequality -- evident from the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring -- risks derailing the advance of globalisation and represents a key threat to economies worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum.
Severe income disparity and precarious government finances rank as the biggest economic threats facing the world, according to the group's 2012 Global Risks report released on Wednesday...

Rising youth unemployment, a crisis of retirement among pensioners dependent on debt-burdened states and a widening wealth gap have sown the "seeds of dystopia", according to the report, based on a survey of 469 experts and industry leaders.
For the first time in generations, people no longer believe their children will grow up to have a better standard of living.  

"It needs immediate political attention, otherwise the political rhetoric that responds to this social unease will involve nationalism, protectionism and rolling back the globalisation process," said WEF managing director Lee Howell.

Read more here...



And here is an example of that income inequality...

300 Chinese Foxconn Workers 'Threaten Mass Suicide' At XBox Plant.

According to the reports the employees had asked bosses for a raise but in response were told to either quit with compensation or keep their jobs at their usual salary.
Most workers apparently decided to leave, but the company did not hand over the money as promised.
According to the China Jasmine Revolution website, the workers were only dissuaded a day later when the mayor of Wuhan talked them out of committing suicide.
Foxconn factories in China have been the scene of several suicides by workers in the past, including 14 in 2010 alone at its Shenzhen plant, after complaints of low pay and poor conditions.

Read More here...

Lastly, this is an excellent documentary about the influence of Wal Mart and how it destroyed America's economy...very well done PBS.

Is Wal Mart Good For America?

Watch full documentary here...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The US schools with their own police

More and more US schools have police patrolling the corridors. Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to pick up crumbs from the canteen floor. Why is the state criminalising normal childhood behaviour? 

Many of those who appear in front of Meurer have learning problems. Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of police in schools. Simpkins describes the case of a boy with attention deficit disorder who as a 12-year-old tipped a desk over in class in a rage. He was charged with threatening behaviour and sent to a juvenile prison where he was required to earn his release by meeting certain educational and behavioural standards.

"But he can't," she said. "Because of that he is turning 18 within the juvenile justice system for something that happened when he was 12. It's a real trap. A lot of these kids do have disabilities and that's how they end up there and can't get out. Instead of dealing with it within school system like we used to, we have these school police, they come in and it escalates from there.


The Young Turks point at government profiteers as the main drive behind the fiasco...


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Best of Kultura 2011-The Articles

2011 Articles of Note

1.  The Little Trick

By Anton Chekov

A beautiful short story by the celebrated Russian writer.

2.  A Grief Like No Other

By Eric Schlosser


Patty also found consolation at her son's grave. During the first year after the murder she stopped by the cemetery two or three times a day. Usually she'd visit the grave for fifteen minutes or so. At other times, including his birthday, she would sit there all day. His birthday was in February, when the weather was harsh and cold. One thing she could not bear was the thought of snow covering Tim's body. Whenever it snowed, she had to visit the cemetery and clear off his grave. One day after a snowstorm she arrived and found that someone who knew how she felt had already removed the snow from Tim's grave."

3.  Why We Travel 

by Paul Theroux

“Don’t go there,” the know-it-all, stay-at-home finger wagger says of many a distant place. I have heard it my whole traveling life, and in almost every case it was bad advice. In my experience these maligned countries are often the most fulfilling. I am not saying they are fun. For undiluted jollification you bake in the sun at Waikiki with a mai tai in your fist, or eat lotuses on the Côte d’Azur. As for the recognition of hard travel as rewarding, the feeling is mainly retrospective, since it is only in looking back that we see how we have been enriched. At the time, of course, the experience of being a bystander to sudden political or social change can be alarming.

4.  Living in the Moment Really Does Make You Happier 

By Ian Sample

They found that people were happiest when having sex, exercising or in conversation, and least happy when working, resting or using a home computer. And although subjects' minds were wandering nearly half of the time, this consistently made them less happy.
The team conclude that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.

5.  ...the last sentence

The last words of some pretty cool people.

6.  Dummy Land

Writer Avi Steinberg visits a ventriloquist convention...great article.


7.  The Oatmeal

Hilarious comics with a little social commentary added...  By Mathew Inmann

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The "Stans"

Beautiful photographs of the "Stan" countries of Central Asia...

Kyrgyzstan, by Christian Als



Monday, January 2, 2012

Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class

A very interesting look into how TV portrays the working class...

Based on the book by Pepi Leistyna, Class Dismissed navigates the steady stream of narrow working class representations from American television's beginnings to today's sitcoms, reality shows, police dramas, and daytime talk shows.

Featuring interviews with media analysts and cultural historians, this documentary examines the patterns inherent in TV's disturbing depictions of working class people as either clowns or social deviants -- stereotypical portrayals that reinforce the myth of meritocracy.

Class Dismissed breaks important new ground in exploring the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality intersect with class, offering a more complex reading of television's often one-dimensional representations. The video also links television portrayals to negative cultural attitudes and public policies that directly affect the lives of working class people.

Featuring interviews with Stanley Aronowitz, (City University of New York); Nickel and Dimed author, Barbara Ehrenreich; Herman Gray (University of California-Santa Cruz); Robin Kelley (Columbia University); Pepi Leistyna (University of Massachusetts-Boston) and Michael Zweig (State University of New York-Stony Brook). Also with Arlene Davila, Susan Douglas, Bambi Haggins, Lisa Henderson, and Andrea Press.



They are the merchants of cool: creators and sellers of popular culture who have made teenagers the hottest consumer demographic in America. But are they simply reflecting teen desires or have they begun to manufacture those desires in a bid to secure this lucrative market? And have they gone too far in their attempts to reach the hearts--and wallets--of America's youth?
FRONTLINE correspondent Douglas Rushkoff examines the tactics, techniques, and cultural ramifications of these marketing moguls in "The Merchants of Cool."