4. International

It aims to offer outlooks on international affairs – tell us more about your own country!

  • Big businesses own the US Congress

    Today, I was going to write a post related to ecological matters, but I just stumbled upon an article from the magazine Mother Jones which I thought was very much worth sharing. Indeed, the journalist Dave Gilson has recently wondered what if members of the US Congress were seated not by party but according to the industries which gave them the most money over their entire careers? Interesting question indeed. He gave it a try and presented the following charts, representing lobbies “seating” at the Senate and at the House. I copied both charts below, as well as a selection of interesting Congressmen’s profile based on their top donors. There…

  • Muslim women in Western Society – to veil or not to veil

    On Friday night, over dinner, a group of friends started debating the topic of the French Senate recently passing a bill banning women wearing the Islamic veil (Niqab – full body covering) on public streets and other places.  I (CJG) spent some time listening to everyone’s views and soon realised that generally people are either… really confused what to think because they don’t think women should be forced to cover up but don’t feel quite right about a ban on a piece of clothing either.. or… they simply outright agree that the ban is a good thing. People who think that the veil should definitely be banned generally argue these…

  • Scents of faded grandeur in the ‘West’?

    Have you noticed the number of times news report that the ‘West’ is fading? How many times do we hear of the decline of the West, and of the rise of the ‘rest’? There are indeed many indicators underlining this gradual power shift. Only recently, I’ve read that China is willing to buy Greece’s debt – getting much sought-after transfer of skills in maritime know-how in the deal; that Saudi Arabia and Brazil are both becoming heavy weights in the realm of humanitarian affairs; that Bollywood increasingly invests in Hollywood; that eastern companies are increasingly buying shares and controlling western companies – think the Indian Tata owning Jaguar and Land…

  • Dictator International Fashion Show

    Foreign Policy has a string of nice pictures showing some of our preferred authoritarian leaders in different outfits. When the magazine stated that “shoes are height enhancers for the diminutive [leader]”, I first thought it was referring to President Sarkozy, but I was wrong, they were talking of the Great Leader Kim Jong-Il. Please note that “the chest full of medals [remains] the ultimate dictator bling”, and that “the walking cane is this season’s hottest accessory”. Anyway, enjoy these pictures even if you are in the office. Given the traditional seriousness of Foreign Policy magazine, you can still pretend you were reading international analysis. Leave This Blank:Leave This Blank Too:Do Not Change…

  • Immigration: how much is enough?

    This, of course, is a politically incorrect question to ask – and that’s precisely why I’m raising it. Indeed, given the massive migrations to come, due among others to climate change and economic opportunities, it’s a question that needs some proper thinking. As a reminder, let me quote a 2009 United Nations Populations Fund report: “Estimating future climate change-related population flows presents [a great] challenge, with figures ranging wildly from 50 million to 1 billion people by the middle of the century, either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. The most widely used estimate of people to be displaced by environmental factors by 2050 is 200 million” – compared to the…

  • Daunting: Arsenic in water poisoned 77 million Bangladeshis!!!

    Following a publication in the Lancet Journal, news recently reported that “up to 77 million [out of 162m] Bangladeshis have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from contaminated drinking water”. The water was mainly originating from wells that are said to have been built in the 70s, including by aid agencies. Gosh, 77 millions people! Although I’ve heard of this news for the first time only recently, it’s not a recent discovery – nor did it happen just in Bangladesh. The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) was already concerned by the problem in 1997. According to a paper published in the Bulletin of the WHO in 2000, ” the contamination of…

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