Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

The passing scene: Links & comments 10/24/2015

October 24, 2015

Anxious Hours in Pivotland: Where’s My Sailthrough? by Peter Lee for China Matters.

Neither South Korea nor Australia support the U.S.-Japanese opposition to Chinese efforts to claim islands in the South China Sea.  The Chinese Navy meanwhile made a point about freedom of the seas by sailing through Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Trey Gowdy Just Elected Hillary Clinton President by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Or at least greatly strengthened her bid for the Democratic nomination.  The Benghazi hearings made Republicans look like fools and showed Clinton as someone who is a match for them.

Are Canadian progressives showing Americans the way? by Miles Corak for Economics for public policy (via Economist’s View)

America’s Civilian Killings Are No Accident by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

The bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, had many precedents.

What Is life? by Matthew Francis for Mosaic.  (via Barry Ritholtz)

If humans encountered extraterrestrial life, would we know it when we saw it?

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Live long and prosper? A world map

October 14, 2014
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

How long you’re likely to live depends to a large extent on where you’re born.  Somebody born in Japan can expect nearly five more years of life than somebody born in the USA, and 32 more years of life than somebody born in the African nation of Chad.

Click on Global Life Expectancy for detailed maps and comparisons by region, courtesy of Global Post.  Notice that South Africa has the second lowest life expectancy on the African continent.  Is this because the benefits of South Africa’s advanced 20th century economy never trickled down from the whites to the black majority?  Or is it because South Africa’s post-apartheid leaders denied the reality of the AIDS epidemic?  Or something else?

‘What would you have done?’

December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela, who died last week, was mourned by many Americans as a hero.  But there was a time when the American government regarded him as a terrorist.

Double click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

I agree with Newt Gingrich’s judgment.

Mandela was faced with a vicious apartheid regime that eliminated all rights for blacks and gave them no hope for the future.  This was a regime which used secret police, prisons and military force to crush all efforts at seeking freedom by blacks.

What would you have done faced with that crushing government?

What would you do here in America if you had that kind of oppression?

Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country.

After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.

As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny.  We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that “all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Doesn’t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?

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Reflections on the legacy of Nelson Mandela

December 7, 2013

Nelson Mandela was a remarkable and contradictory figure. He was a revolutionary who believed in armed struggle and admired Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. He was a believe in freedom and democracy who refused to hate anyone because of their race. And he was the leader of a government that preserved the economic status quo and protected the interests of corporate business.

The charts below are a snapshot of what he accomplished and what he did not accomplish.

south_africa-1024x744The top chart shows how black South Africans came to identify with their country since apartheid ended, and black South Africans were given the right to vote and equal civil rights with whites.

The bottom chart directly below shows the economic gap between white and black South Africans that still remains. While the incomes of black South Africans, adjusted for inflation, have doubled since the end of apartheid, the income gap between whites and blacks has widened.

sa_mandela (more…)

Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

December 6, 2013

NelsonMandela_NoOneBornHating

My morning newspaper describes Nelson Mandela as a pacifist, which he was not.  He rejected hatred, but not armed struggle.  His achievement was that he was a leader of a mass movement which, unlike so many terrorist and “liberation” struggles of his day and ours,  fought successfully for freedom and democracy.

South Africa today is a deeply troubled country, with a high crime rate and extremes of rich and poor, but still a free country that is hugely better off than under the white supremacist oligarchy.

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The changing world economic balance of power

March 27, 2013

The BRICS nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—are in the process of organizing a new economic bloc that could rival the European Union and the North American free trade area.   They are holding a summit meeting which began yesterday in Durban, South Africa.

Financial Times 2010.  Double click to enlarge.

Financial Times 2010. Double click to enlarge.

Pepe Escobar, the intrepid foreign correspondent of Asia Times in Hong KongSingapore, explained the significance of the BRICS summit meeting.

The BRICS push is part of an irresistible global trend. Most of it is decoded here, in a new United Nations Development Programme report. The bottom line; the North is being overtaken in the economic race by the global South at a dizzying speed.

According to the report, “for the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world’s three leading economies – Brazil, China and India – is about equal to the combined GDP of the long-standing industrial powers of the North”.

The obvious conclusion is that, “the rise of the South is radically reshaping the world of the 21st century, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty, and propelling billions more into a new global middle class.”

via Asia Times Online.

The Economist.  Click to enlarge.

The Economist. Click to enlarge.

The BRICS economies are diverse but complementary.  China and India are important and growing manufacturing nations.  Brazil, Russia and South Africa are important producers of raw materials.

If present trends continue (which may not happen) they could dominate the world economy in a few decades.   RT News reported that the governments of Egypt, Mexico and Indonesia have expressed interest in joining the BRICS bloc.

BRICS representatives at the South African summit discussed creating a new Bank of the South that would give Third World nations an alternative to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, and pledged $10 billion to the new BRICS bank.   They also discussed creating their own credit rating agency, so that their finances won’t be subject to the opinions of Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s.

China and Brazil signed an $80 billion trade agreement in which they’ll trade in their own currencies rather than dollars.  China recently replaced the United States as Brazil’s largest trading partner.

President Obama’s secret negotiations to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which would lock governments in to current rules concerning corporations and finance, can be seen as an attempt to head off the emergence of a new bloc in which the United States would play no part.

I don’t see that I, as a middle-class American, am threatened in any way by the emergence of BRICS.   I don’t think that the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization operate in my interest or the interests of American working people.  We Americans can thrive if we as a nation turn away from military dominance and devote ourselves to creating a productive economy.

The key BRICS relationship is the one between China and Russia.  It brings to mind my reading about geopolitics years ago—whether world power came from dominating the Eurasian Heartland or from dominating the world’s sea lanes.  The nuclear-powered U.S. Navy commands the seas, but doesn’t affect the present-day equivalents of China’s overland Silk Road.

China is turning to Russia for the oil and natural gas it needs to fuel its economic growth.  Since Russia’s own reserves of oil and gas are dwindling, this means Russia must develop new supplies in the warming Arctic in the long run and control the oil and gas of Central Asia—what Pepe Escobar calls Pipelineistan—in the short run.

Last week Chinese President Xi Jinpin met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.  Escobar reported that the result is an agreement by China to pay in advance for Russian oil, in return for a share in Russian oil development projects in Siberia and offshore.  Pipelines across Central Asia will give China access to Iranian oil by land, which would negate any U.S. naval blockade of Iran.  Pepe Escobar explained the significance.

The geopolitical ramifications are immense; importing more gas from Russia helps Beijing to gradually escape its Malacca and Hormuz dilemma – not to mention industrialize the immense, highly populated and heavily dependent on agriculture interior provinces left behind in the economic boom.

That’s how Russian gas fits into the Chinese Communist Party’s master plan; configuring the internal provinces as a supply base for the increasingly wealthy, urban, based in the east coast, 400 million-strong Chinese middle class.

When Putin stressed that he does not see the BRICS as a “geopolitical competitor” to the West, it was the clincher; the official denial that confirms it’s true.

via Asia Times Online.

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