Globalisation: Many Indias, many RussiasBy Dr Tomila Lankina, Senior Lecturer at LSE International Relations Department.
Dr Lankina explains the ever-widening developmental disparities at a subnational level in both India and Russia. This is the first of two posts examining parallels and bilateral relations between India and Russia. This article is courtesy of India at LSE, a new blog that seeks to promote India-related research, courses and events at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Russia and India are among the world’s largest countries. India’s Uttar Pradesh has roughly the same population as the whole of Russia – 139 million – and another one, Punjab, that of Australia—20 million (Chandra, 2004). Russia is territorially the world’s largest polity: some of its regions dwarf several European states. The countries’ regions are extremely diverse socially, politically, and economically. Yet, much of the academic, media, and policy discourse on these and other large countries like Brazil or Mexico is framed in nation-state terms. Accounts of underdevelopment often maintain a country focus, and so do those that drum up a nation’s leap into modernity while neglecting regional variations in quality and substance. The sub-national gaps in socio-economic development are widening with globalisation. Bangalore is not the whole of India; neither is St. Petersburg, Novisibirsk, or Tomsk the whole of Russia. Why these enormous variations and why should we care?
These micro-jurisdictions, established within a nation, seek to utilize competitive forces and innovation to combat corruption, insecurity, and a lack of transparency. They also offer an opportunity for trial and error, to experiment with various forms of administration towards environmental management and poverty reduction, among other goals.
More specifically, the Lean City Lab will seek to assist with the initial strategic planning. Examples could include finding the right location, structuring the land-sale processes, and tailoring the institutions for particular contexts. Once a startup city is established, the lab will offer insights from controlled innovations of law, governance, and public policy. The plan is to apply the same experimental economics already in use by both governments and large-scale entrepreneurial ventures.
The results of the latest Global Competitiveness Report (2014-2015) were presented on Wednesday, September 3, at the World Economic Forum (WEF), which applied its Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) data to 144 countries.
The report recommends Latin America initiate immediate structural reforms and productive investments in infrastructure, educational programs, and innovation to reclaim the growth experienced in past decades.
This is no easy task. Capitalism could not be further from the Cuban reality — private property is expressly forbidden as an individual right — and the totalitarian nature of the Fidelista state means anarchism is even more distant.
Discontent with the US federal government has hardly gone unnoticed in recent years. Beyond broad public outcry, from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, it has boiled over into legislative defiance and civil disobedience, under the banner of the Tenth Amendment.
One tactic yet to be utilized, however, is a state-initiated convention to bypass congressional approval and amend the constitution. Although state legislators have the authority to call a convention and make amendments (from Article V), with final ratification from three quarters of the states, they have yet to do so in the more than two centuries since ratification.
Perhaps the most nonsensical aspect of the Venezuelan legal apparatus is the resources spent to chase “criminal” political activists, while the country is overrun by real crime: murder, robbery, and drug trafficking.
Some countries, such as first-ranked Estonia, have solid rankings in each of the categories. Estonia never falls below 11th in any of the observed categories, and ranks first in two: corporate taxes and property taxes. Other countries have exceptional scores in a single category, despite a poor overall score.
The United States and Chile, for example, placed fourth in consumption taxes and fifth in corporate taxes, respectively. Interestingly, the index ranks both Canada (24th) and Mexico (19th) notably higher than the United States in tax competitiveness.
Syrian al-Qaeda Rebels Seize UN Weapons in the Golan
The al-Nusra Front, the Syrian rebel group linked to al-Qaeda, has seized UN weapons, uniforms, and vehicles from peacekeepers in the Golan and set up a zone from which to wage attacks, according to the Syrian United Nations ambassador.
War Correspondent Mike Boettcher on James Foley and Afghanistan
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Kimberly Guilfoyle of Fox News' The Five picked the 2014 war documentary The Hornet's Nest as her "One More Thing" at the end of the show, describing how it told the story of American troops on a dangerous mission in Afghanistan.Perhaps she saw the film, released around Memorial Day, when it premiered on television on September 11 on cable's American Heroes Channel. It repeats there at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, September 22, and at noon ET on Sunday, September 28. As of Sept. 9, it's also available on Blue-ray, DVD, and Digital.
Here's a trailer:
In the middle of a day in which he's working with journalism students as a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma, filmmaker Mike Boettcher--a longtime American journalist and war correspondent--tells Breitbart News why he and his news-producer son Carlos Boettcher were embedded with U.S. forces in combat.
Corker Slams Obama, Kerry for 'Exercising the Worst Judgment Possible' on ISIS
DHS Chief: Ability to Detect Terrorists in U.S. Hindered by Illegal Population
U.S. Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, while testifying before a House panel today, indicated that the government’s ability to detect terrorists inside the homeland is hindered by sanctuary cities that shelter illegals.Johnson added that America must remain vigilant of the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, or other terrorists potential infiltrating the U.S. through its southern border, adding that his department could use more resources to prevent that from becoming a reality.
The DHS chief made those comments today during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on worldwide threats to the U.S..
Exposed: The Secret Mailing List of the Gaming Journalism Elite
Several prominent gaming journalists across America are part of a secret mailing list on which they discuss what to cover, what to ignore, and what approach their coverage should take to breaking news, Breitbart can reveal.High-profile editors, reporters, and reviewers from heavyweight gaming news sites such as Polygon, Ars Technica, and Kotaku use the private Google Groups mailing list, which is called Gaming Journalism Professionals or GameJournoPros, to shape industry-wide attitudes to events, such as the revelation that developer Zoe Quinn had a sexual relationship with at least one prominent games journalist -- a journalist who had mentioned her and her products in his reporting.
Dear President Peña Nieto:
I read with interest and concern your comments regarding border security on the week of September 11, which called Texas' increased law enforcement presence on the border "unpleasant" and "reprehensible." As neighbors and economic partners, Mexico and the United States are inextricably bound by shared interests and culture. As friends we might not always agree, but we must have an honest and respectful dialogue about the challenges we share, which is why I write to you today.
The teachers’ strike in British Columbia, Canada, is over… almost. On Thursday, 40,000 public school teachers in the province will vote on whether to accept the proposed contract. Neither side got everything it wants, and the main headline is that teachers will receive a 7.25% salary raise over 6 years. The province also pledged to add $100-million to an education fund to benefit BC teachers over the next five years.
Education minister Peter Fassbender is seemingly satisfied at a job well done: “We have guaranteed that every student’s educational journey in this school year will be kept whole.”
Right. Not counting the five weeks of shuttered classrooms lost so far this year. That’s over a quarter of the fall term, for those that are counting.
Premier Christy Clark was also pleased with the deal:
Post-Bin Laden prospects for the peace process in Afghanistan
With all the symbolic allusions to 9/11, including President Obama’s visit to ‘ground zero’ on May 5, at the end of the day the annihilation of the world’s ‘terrorist number one’ in a US covert operation in northern Pakistan turned out to be a highly contextual, instrumental and multi-purpose move. The relevant political contexts are multiple, but the interests, dynamics and implications involved are qualitatively different from the ones that shaped the US-led ‘war on terrorism’ at its onset. A decade since 9/11, the main international implication of bin Laden’s execution is not the most obvious and direct one, i.e. the toppling of al-Qaeda as a major blow to transnational terrorism, but a more indirect and fundamental one.
Open Veins of Brazil: Tension, perplexity and the (re)emergence of popular protestsBy Dr Pia Riggirozzi is a Lecturer in Global Politics at the University of Southampton.
Brazil has posed one of the most puzzling dilemmas for politicians and academics alike: how is it possible that in a country where growth has been sustained for the last decade, where inflation levels have been kept under control, where purchasing power of the average wage has grown in real terms, where unemployment remains at a minimum and where 50 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty to join the ranks of the ‘new middle class’, a massive popular protest has taken to the streets in twelve cities for the last months? Where does this protest come from? Why has neither the government nor the opposition recognised the latent discontent? How can such discontent occur in a country that has consistently expressed high levels of support to and satisfaction with the government of Dilma Rousseff? Brazil is in tension and it is puzzling.
The end of US exceptionalism
The phrase “American unipolarity” shows up in many places, but I learnt it most vividly from John Ikenberry’s beautifully-written 2005 article on “Power and liberal order”. There, Ikenberry wrote:
Seriously? Now? Didn’t the world just enter the age of American unipolarity? Did the BBC not get the memo?
The Nicaragua-Costa Rica Border Dispute – A symptom of ‘Tico’ Decline?
Since the eruption of the border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in October 2010, the supposed causes of the conflict have been widely disseminated in the media. These analyses have often been lacking historical context, and have largely ascribed the dispute to nationalism. Meanwhile, in Central America, one is left to choose between allegations of Costa Rican imperialism on the one hand and Nicaraguan military ‘invasion’ on the other. It could appear that both sides have lost analytical perspective, and that we are witnessing another ‘typical’ bout of Latin American ‘hysteria’. However, ignoring the nationalistic tones of some outbursts and the way they are being portrayed in the English-language media, and instead concentrating on the origins of the recent dispute, we may find evidence of structural tensions in the region, and symptoms of worrying events in Costa Rica.
First though, a little history. Following independence from Spain, the countries of Central America were united in a Central American Federation. Nicaragua was at the time one of the largest Central American countries, with territory that extended northwards into what is today Honduras, and southwards to include the whole Nicoya peninsula and the province of Guanacaste, which is today the north of Costa Rica, from Pacific to Caribbean. The then-Tico (Costa Rican) border ran along the Matino river, several miles south of the San Juan river, which forms the current border. The loss of these regions (amounting to some 30 thousand square kilometres) in the 19th century is what stimulates Nicaraguan sensitivity to border issues. This sensitivity is exacerbated by what they perceive as the Colombian occupation of the San Andres islands, which severely limits the extent of Nicaragua’s claim to its maritime shelf in the Caribbean.
Latin America leads drug policy reformBy Benoît Gomis, research analyst at the International Security Research Department of Chatham House.
On 17 May, the Organization of American States (OAS) published the results of a year-long review into drug policies in the Americas, highlighting the limits and flaws of the current drug policy regime and outlining potential scenarios for the future, including regulation. Almost four months later, it is clear that the report broke new ground in drug policy. In August, Uruguay’s House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing marijuana and regulating the production, distribution and sale of the drug by the government; US Attorney Eric Holder announced that the federal government would order prosecutors to sidestep federal mandatory minimum sentencing in certain low-level drug cases, as a way to reduce prison population; the Attorney General also confirmed that the Department of Justice would not seek to challenge the marijuana regulation laws in Colorado and Washington.
As part of its Drugs and Organized Crime project, Chatham House has recently produced a number of resources related to drug policy developments in the Americas:
Venezuela: The Failure of the Fifth RepublicProfessor Maxwell A. Cameron, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, University of British Columbia.
The turmoil that has rocked Venezuela since early February has resulted in almost 30 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and 1,500 detentions (see timeline here). Although such protests were never likely to threaten the survival of the regime, their intensity, breadth, and duration have exposed the deep cleavages and polarization in Venezuelan society. The intent of many of the protesters is clear: to bring down a government elected less than a year ago.
After 15 years in power, why is the Venezuelan political regime still vulnerable to anti-system opposition? One might ask, to steal a line from Mario Vargas Llosa, ‘en que momento se jodió?’ most from the beginning, I would say. What we are witnessing in Venezuela today is a crisis brought about by the failure of chavismo to adhere to principles of its own ‘Bolivarian’ constitution—indeed, principles inherent in any constitution.
2002 was a year of crisis between Pakistan and India, which almost resulted in war.
This was also the year of the first Asia Security Summit, convened in Singapore by the London head-quartered International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS): the Shangri-La Dialogue. The IISS chief executive Dr John Chipman informed the audience in that year’s Dialogue about the connection between the Indo-Pakistani conflict and the summit’s mitigating role, showing that summit diplomacy can mean more than simply words to be forgotten. Apart from the role of the Shangri-La Dialogue in appeasing the Indo-Pakistani conflict, another example he quoted was of the IISS’s Middle East Manama Dialogue 2013, where Chuck Hagel promised to foster links with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and followed up on that task in 2014.
The BJP’s resounding victory in the 2014 elections is undoubtedly the start of a new era in Indian politics. It will reverberate regionally within South Asia, as well as globally with international investors and governments keen to enter the Indian market. In retrospect we might see the Congress victories of 2004 and 2009, significant as they were, as merely an aberration in the longer march of the BJP since the 1980s. Rising from the margins with a base among traders and small business, the BJP with its superior organizational skills and energetic cadre gradually extended the party’s reach not only among the urban middle classes but to farmers, tribal communities, and sections of the working poor. Its mantra has always been anti-corruption, but the particularly strident pro-business and Hindu nationalist combination has had massive appeal in the country’s majority Hindu population, and is unlikely to fade in the near future.
At the recent summit of major emerging economies called the BRICS (B for Brazil, R for Russia, I for India, C for China, and S for South Africa), they announced the establishment of a new development bank and fund, in order to have an alternative to the old-order World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund). These institutions have served the world’s financing needs, especially in the areas of development and crisis management, since post-war times.
Scottish nationalism stands apart from other secessionist movements for being civic in origin, rather than ethnic
Scottish nationalism stands apart from other secessionist movements for being civic in origin, rather than ethnicThe contrast between the SNP and other nationalist movements and parties is striking, argues Elliott Green. The SNP explicitly promotes civic nationalism, claiming that membership in the Scottish nation is to be defined not by blood but by voluntary attachment to Scotland and participation in its civic life. This has paid off, with high support from ethnic minorities for independence.
Normally we think of nationalism as a right-wing ideology, where members of the nation are considered superior to non-members, and the latter are excluded from becoming citizens or full members of the nation. This ideology becomes especially pernicious when membership of the nation is defined along ethnic lines, such that foreign immigrants are permanently excluded from becoming part of the nation, no matter how much they might want to assimilate.
Jim Tomlinson. Political decisions made about public spending in Edinburgh, within some constraints imposed from London, matter a great deal. He argues, therefore, that there is now more of a ‘national economy’ than ever before in Scotland’s history.
Recent developments have made Scotland more of a ‘national economy’, imagined as an ‘economic community of fate’, than at any time in its modern history. This argument relies in part on the view that talk of the alleged triumphs of neoliberalism in the UK has obscured important trends.
For all the rhetoric about Britain living in a ‘neoliberal’ society, one of the most striking features of the last forty years has been the growing, direct, role of the state in sustaining employment. Since the 1970s the UK state has begun to subsidise wages by tax credits on a large scale, and, particularly important here, continued the long-run trend towards providing increasing volumes of employment directly in the public sector. This development has gone on largely un-avowed by the London political class, the post-Thatcherite ideological consensus having ruled out positive accounts of the benefits of public sector expansion, despite de facto recognition that such expansion must be sustained if electoral support is to be secured.
Why the Economic Gender Gap Will Eventually Close
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Reconquista (Mexico)Mexicans in the Southwestern United States, an area that was part of Mexico before the Texas annexation (1845) and the Mexican Cession (1848), as a trend leading toward territorial losses by the United States. The characterization, and the term itself, was popularized by contemporary Mexican writers Carlos Fuentes and Elena Poniatowska.
The characterization was originally a jocular analogy to the Spanish Reconquista of Moorish Iberia, as the areas of greatest Mexican immigration and cultural diffusion are conterminous with the territories the United States gained from Mexico in the 19th century. However, certain groups that identify themselves with the modern Hispanic Mexico, such as the Mexican Nationalist Front, see the losses of northern territories after the Mexican War as illegitimate and seek a restoration of the earlier borders.
Mexican Nationalist FrontThe Mexican Nationalist Front opposes Anglo-American culture influences and rejects the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, as well as what its members consider the "American occupation" of territory formerly belonging to Mexico and now form the southwestern United States .
On its website, the front states:
The march of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, across a swath of Iraq has fractured a nation and spurred Republican attacks that the Obama administration is on the verge of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro tied President Barack Obama to the roots of the current assault. On June 14, Pirro offered listeners this insight into the ISIS leader. (ISIS is also called ISIL, for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.)
"The head of this band of savages is a man named Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the new Osama Bin Laden," Pirro said. "A man released by Obama in 2009, who started ISIS a year later. And when Baghdadi left Camp Bucca, where the worst of the worst were held in Iraq, he threatened his American jailers saying, ‘I’ll see you in New York.’ "
THREE OF FIVE DETAINEES SWAPPED ARE NOW ISIS LEADERS
Remember when Obama committed treason by bypassing Congress and swapping five high-value detainees for one American traitor?
Remember the speech Obama gave last week telling Americans that we must take on ISIS?
Put together the two and you have a case for charges of treason against Barack Hussein Obama.
It is being reported that at least 3 of the 5 detainees involved in the swap have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq as commanders and are using that rank to usher in an "Islamic Caliphate" (a Sunni Islamic Theocracy - contrary to Obama's claims that ISIS is not Islamic).
It seems pretty obvious that basing one’s society on a single work of (poorly written) fiction is folly, but for many adherents of Ayn Rand and her seminal book of Objectivist allegorical grandstanding, Atlas Shrugged isn’t just any book. It’s about as close to the Bible that many libertarians have — apart from the Bible, of course. It’s influenced an astounding number of conservative public figures — from Ron Paul to Rand Paul to Ronald Reagan. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s Rand-loving running mate and probable 2016 presidential contender, said it was his favorite book growing up.
How to Get It Wrong
After recently discovering U.S. based militia groups’ plans to close several bridges between Texas and Mexico, authorities in Texas are preparing to use “whatever force is necessary” to prevent the groups from continuing with their plans.
Militia groups across the area are calling on members to block traffic in the Rio Grande Valley on Sept. 20th, 2014 to protest the federal government’s failure to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
One law enforcement officer commented anonymously about the situation, explaining that the bridges were not symbols of illegal immigration, but they are vital parts of the local economy:
“We will not allow these groups to disrupt the economic commerce of our region and we are prepared to use force to keep the bridges open. We cannot allow them to be shut down by lawless behavior from people who claim to be promoting the rule of law.”