Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Davos Dithers While Cairo Burns

Per-Gynt-in-the-Hall-of-the-Mountain-King-Dovregubbens-Hall-1913_WEBB

In the pristine air of the Swiss Alps,  the worlds power elites gather at an annual World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.   In this rarefied Hall of the Mountain King’s, Prime Ministers, CEOs and the esteemed emissaries of the global elite get some valuable face-time with each other to assess the world situation and figure out ways to arrange it more to their likeness.   Russian Prime Minister Medvedev  was scheduled to give the welcoming address but had to cancel because a Chechen suicide bomber blew himself up in Moscow’s busiest airport taking a couple dozen travelers with him.

Busy looking inward to protect personal interests,  the fiduciaries of global solvency stew about regulatory overreach and the added burden it creates as the ruling elites balance the demands of worldly subsistence with the perplexities of generating sufficient cash flows to cover dividend payments to shareholders.  More often than not the heft of shareholder concerns outweighs the growing immiseration of the world’s troubled masses.  The deeply held sacred dogma that enlarged prosperity for the wealthy benefits the disenfranchised is being increasingly challenged as the wealth gap rises against a backdrop of growing economic duress and political instability.

The growing movement to topple Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak illustrates the failure of a global trickle down political economy.  Mubarak has held office since Anwar Sadat’s unceremonious removal from office  is receiving urgent signals from the Egyptians that he has clearly overstayed his welcome.  For three decades, Mr. Mubarak and his military caliphate have been the recipients of generous western aid packages designed to maintain a tenuous peace with Israel.  Stitched together at Camp David in the closing days of the Carter Administration; the sibling rivalry between Abraham’s jealous children remains incendiary and its stability will be tenuous at best considering the growing role of  The Muslim Brotherhood in challenging Mubarak’s continued rule.

The United States sends Egypt $1.5 billion in military aid each year.  Its seem a small price to pay to guarantee the peace with Zion and to  underwrite a strategic ally in the volatile Arab world.  It’s also a perfect political foil to counterbalance Israel’s favored nation status.   But US aid and IMF loans have financed Mubarak’s autocracy creating deep political fissures within Egypt.  These aid programs have widened the wealth gap by limiting opportunity to a select few; abetted political disenfranchisement that encouraged social unrest,  fueling Islamic radicalism and the urgent need for democratic reforms.

The game plan followed in Egypt for the past three decades is not working.  The nature of western aid to Egypt and how it was used to benefit the military ruling elites illustrate the conundrum of the Davos Hajiis.   Aligning economic development and political empowerment of the world’s disenfranchised with the needs of the global capitalist elites has failed to deliver on its promise.  The pursuit of Mule and  Sparrow economics have engorged the elites and left the many sparrows emaciated.

When the Davos delegates leave their ski chateaus for an afternoon on the slopes, as they exit the lifts at the top of the world, it may yet still be possible to glimpse the growing crowds amassing in Tahrir Square.  It may still be possible to connect the dots of promoting the inclusive economics of reciprocity and social democracy.  The revolutionaries gathering in Liberation Square  are joining with the dispossessed to give full voice for an agenda of change.

The elites have stored up too much wealth for themselves.  The masses have remained wanting, impoverished of goods and denied liberty, fed a steady diet of repression they stoke fires in Tahrir Square signaling the time for change has arrived.

Music selection: Edvard Grieg: In the Hall of the Mountain Kings

Risk: Middle East, political stability, economic prosperity, global economy, democracy, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Davos, IMF, Israel, Tahrir Square, revolution, military rule, Jimmy Carter, Mule and Sparrow Economics, Camp David Accords, Medvedev, Anwar Sadat, World Economic Forum

 

 

 

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January 30, 2011 Posted by | banking, corporate social responsibility, credit crisis, democracy, Egypt, history, Israel, Middle East, military, Muslim, politics, revolution, social unrest, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaky Reactors, Cyber Terror and Police States

This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
The Hallow Men TS Elliot

A few interesting  news items recently passed without much notice.  Two nuclear reactors located in the Northeast had to be  brought offline due to operational failures.  The Vermont Yankee reactor sprang a leak and had to be shut down.  The other incident occurred at the thirty six year old Indian Point reactor located about twenty miles north of New York City.  The cause of the problem at Indian Point was a transformer fire.  Both reactors  are owned and operated by Entergy and mirror similar problems at the Excelon operated Oyster Creek reactor located in south central New Jersey.

These incidents are endemic to aging nuclear power facilities.  These plants came on line during the the 1970’s and are now approaching the half century mark of service.  When these plants were commissioned it was believed they would have a shelf life of 40 years.   As the expected useful life span of these facilities approach regulators routinely grant extensions to the operators.  Operating these facilities past that point heighten potential risk factors.  As nuclear reactors age, the stress on these complex systems and containment facilities raise risk factors heightening the potential of system failure that lead to catastrophic events.

Leaky plumbing at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant is the culprit in poisoning the Cohansey Aquifer with 180,000 gallons of tritium contaminated water.  Regulators and environmental officials assert that the level of radio active isotopes in the water supply that serves South Jersey and parts of Philadelphia is well within acceptable levels for human consumption.  I guess that all depends on your definition of human; but I and many others remain skeptical on the subject of drinking radioactive laced water.

The aging nuclear infrastructure of the United States is a growing cause for concern.  The nuclear power industry was halted in its tracks in the 1980’s by a strong No Nukes environmental movement.  At the time it was generally understood that the cost of catastrophic risk and the industries inability to solve the long term problem of disposal and management of nuclear waste turned the public against the industry.

The Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania and the disastrous meltdown at Chernobyl in the Russian Caucuses led to a moratorium on new plant construction in the United States leading to the actual abandonment of plant construction in the Washington and New York.  It created a capital market crisis as the fear of defaults on WPPSS  revenue bonds spread to cast long shadows on the entire Muni Bond market.  The state of  New York stepped in to purchase the facilities of Long Island Power in order to make bondholders of the closed facility whole with tax payer money.  It was kind of like socialism for investors.

While most of the world has continued to build nuclear plants to address growing energy needs; the United States has not built a nuclear plant since the 1980’s and has lagged the world in using nuclear power to address energy needs. Sentiment on the desirability of nuclear power is beginning to change.  The Pickens Plan, former VP Dick Cheney’s secret meetings to develop a national energy strategy, the Gulf Oil Spill, the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil and the growing acceptance that the burning of fossil fuels is slowly cooking the planet has placed nuclear power back on the table as a viable component of America’s energy portfolio.

China is committed to building 100 nuclear power plants to wean itself from its crippling dependence on coal.  The United States is charging hard to keep up with its fast growing Asian competitor in a 21st Century nuclear power race.  The aggressive pursuit of nuclear plant development will increase the power and control of corporate entities charged with their construction, management and on going administration.  To accomplish a dramatic build-out in nuclear infrastructure large areas of  land situated near a plentiful water supply will need to be secured.   Environmental impacts, regulatory oversight and public transparency will be sacrificed at the alter of cost efficiency, expedience in implementation and security to protect the vulnerable facilities against the pervasive armies of terrorists that lurk in the shadows near every nuclear plant.

The controversy surrounding the collusion of government and business to exploit the Marcellus Shale natural gas vein is an instructive model of what we can expect from the stakeholders pursuing an aggressive campaign to develop Americas nuclear power infrastructure.  The dismissal of regulatory controls, the eminent domain of corporate interests, the opaque wall that shrouds risks factors and hides the environmental degradation resulting from the practice of fracking and the sacrifice of watersheds and aquifers to the expeditious extraction of natural gas are some of the documented behaviors of  a wanton corporate will imposed on the body politic.  Tragically this near sighted perspective willfully sacrifices the sustainable ecology of communities to the sole purpose of the profitable extraction of resources to serve shareholders of private corporations.   The nature of the nuclear beast will require that its interests be enforced by courts of law guided by extreme prejudice and protected by police battalions, state  guard units and private security groups in the name of national security interests.

The recently discovered Stuxnet computer virus is an indication of how the stakes are being raised in the nuclear power shell game.  The launch of a successful cyber attack on a nuclear facility anywhere in the world is a real game changer.  Self deluded uber patriots act more  like real pinheads if they believe that the destruction of Iran’s nuclear power capability is a harbinger for Middle East peace or enhances the   security of either Israel or the United States.  A nuclear event in Iran or North Korea are real game changers for the course of human history and the well being of  humanity. A clandestine service that can take out Iranian nuclear reactors can also be deployed to take out a reactor that is twenty miles north of New York City.  Or consider the consequences of a summer heat wave ravaging the citizens Philadelphia dying of thirst because the water supply is contaminated with radiation.  The extent of civil unrest would be extreme overwhelming the local law enforcement and judicial capabilities.  If these bleak scenarios come to pass,  Americans will be pining away for the good old days when a quick feel up at the airport by a TSA gendarme is fondly recalled like a high school make out session.  The pernicious yoke of marshal law under the nuclear challenged corporate security state will be incessant in practice and swift, sure and dire in its execution.

You Tube music video: No Nukes Concert 1979: Doobie Brothers Taking it to The Streets

Risk: democracy, energy policy, nuclear power, civil liberties

 

November 22, 2010 Posted by | community, culture, democracy, disaster planning, ecological, energy, environment, government, military, nuclear, regulatory, risk management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marking Veterans Day

Veterans Day is marked today with solemnity, sadness and a renewed expectation that people will find a way to peacefully resolve conflict in a complex world.  Veterans Day serves as a reminder that the cost of war is measured in the sacrifice of human life, the tragedy of casualty and the broken hearts of family, lovers and friends of those wounded and lost in the struggle of deadly battle.

Veterans Day gives us reason to pause and consider the sacrifices of our country’s citizen soldiers.   America’s professional armed services personnel comprise a very small percentage of our citizens.  Yet the brave and select few are asked to shoulder a disproportional burden in the prosecution of our decade long wars.  In many respects the great majority of Americans are insulated from the cost and pain of war.  We go on with our day to day lives while at this very moment a soldier, sailor, airman or marine is walking post under the gray and uncertain clouds that shroud their theater of conflict. Veterans Day helps us to remember that war is real, ever present and remains closer then the names of the honored dead silently scrolled on this weeks honor roll.

Veterans Day is good day to remember the special needs of returning servicemen and women.  They have offered much in service to our country and we must be mindful of their special needs.  Jobs, education, social services, health-care, substance abuse, family counseling and suicide prevention are critical support programs this acutely at risk population dearly needs for their successful integration back  into society.  It is also important that we recognize and care for the emotional and psychological scars of returning warriors.  The  emotional wellness  of the returning veteran is critical to the restoration of their wholeness as a human being.  This takes time, patience, understanding and a good portion of unconditional love to heal the spiritual wounds of our beloved brothers and sisters.

Veterans Day is also a good day to remember that peace is a virtue and that there is no higher calling then its pursuit and preservation.  The wastefulness and abomination of war defiles our humanity and denigrates the Holy Spirit.  Today indeed is a good day to remember that peace is superior to war as life is to death, wholeness to woundedness and understanding to intractability.

We mark today’s Veterans Day with sadness, solemnity, gratefulness and a fervent expectation that the grace of  peace may be with us soon.

Selah

You Tube Music Video: When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Risk: war, peace, freedom

November 11, 2010 Posted by | armed services, death, military, peace, seasons, war | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday USMC

Today marks the 235th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps.   The Marines are a storied branch of  America’s armed services and have always fought valiantly to defend our country.  As we mark this anniversary Marines continue to fight in Afghanistan.  We pray for their well being and for the families and friends who await at home for their safe return.  We continue to work for the cessation of all conflicts and witness for peace.  We also advocate for the returning veterans and their families full restoration and integration into private life.   We salute the USMC for their dedication, sacrifice and service to our country.  Happy Birthday USMC.

You Tube Video: USMC Cadences

Risk: military, democracy

November 10, 2010 Posted by | armed services, military, war | , , | 2 Comments

Profit Us Maximus

The deal is closed.  American democracy has been sold. The US Constitution, discovered in a discount bin at a cheap dollar store at the Mall of America will now be fully privatized to serve the greater corporate interests of America.  The deal will enable the global fraternity of capitalists to finally unlock and fully realize the hidden value of an unencumbered American dream.  Profit-Us-Maximus  will replace E Pluribus Unum as the national slogan.  Undoubtedly it will appear on our national currency for the freedom of commercial interests and the uninhibited power of capital has triumphed.  Commercial interests have trumped “we the people”.  American liberty, a political currency once recognized as the worlds leading example of representative democracy has been severely devalued.

The Supreme Courts decision overturning laws that restrict corporate freedom of speech now allows corporations the unrestricted right to financially support candidates for public office.  This paves the way for an installation of  a more corporate friendly oligarchy to rule over the citizens of the worlds first and now defunct representative democracy.  The courts ruling in the Citizens United vs. the US Federal Election Commission overturned existing laws that prohibited corporations from exercising free speech.  The ruling now sanctifies the corporate purchase of air time to fund media campaigns that support or attack candidates running for public office.  The wisdom behind the overturned law was to protect the interests of citizens from a corporations ability to use its considerable capital resources to finance and influence the election of  political candidates favorable to their corporate interests.  That law is yesterdays newspaper.

The decision opens the possibility that the governance of our nation, states and townships will be administered by elected officials financed and paid for by corporate largess proffered with the proviso to do their bidding.  America risks becoming one giant company store.  Once free citizens endowed with the protection and empowerment of a Constitution and a Bill of Rights will become beholden to the whims of corporate paternalism.

If your a shareholder in one of the corporations this is a bullish market event and your equity position has surely appreciated in value.  The special dividend of political power born from purchased access to legislators will accrue favorable returns to investors in The United Corporate States of America.  No longer will senators hail from the great state of Georgia or the Live Free or Die State of New Hampshire.  It’ll be the senator from “Do No Harm” Google or “Have It Your Way” Burger King.

There will be a million unintended consequences resulting from this decision.  How government administers and delivers services and how institutions fulfill their social mission will drastically alter.  Institutions and functions that serve and support education,  military, roads and infrastructure, health care, consumer and  environmental regulations, labor protection laws and provision of social services will be transformed.  The very nature of the liberal nation state will change.

This decision will create conditions for the privatization of governmental assets and institutional service structure  to accelerate at mind numbing speed.  The New Jersey Turnpike can now be sold to a private equity firm from China.  Drilling and the exploitation of resources found on National Parks will proceed without prohibition.  Public schools will be offered on a Dutch Auction hosted on e-bay; attracting the participation of a well capitalized confederation of publicly traded Charter Schools.  The mission to acquire the listless brick and mortar carcass of a once  venerated public school system will commence.  The promise of the systems renewal with the breath  of a new life fired by entrepreneurial zeal and taxpayer support will create a new Dow Jones Index constituent,  Education Inc.   Many functions of government will be downsized and outsourced to sophisticated data processing and business process companies.  Military units will also be privatized, becoming mercenary divisions of corporate security firms.   This will enlarge their market opportunities because they will no longer be beholden to exclusively serving the needs of a single client, the USA.

As Keith Olbermann pointed out in his Special Comment concerning the Supreme Court decision, the parallels with Dred Scott Decision are ironic.  The decision ruled that Dred Scott was not a man, but merely a commodity to create wealth for a person with full rights of citizenship.   Now corporations are blessed with all the rights and privileges of a person and the rising ascendancy of their power will soon supplant the interests of individuals.  In so doing, the Supreme Court has once again proven itself to be an activist  political tool to protect the interests of political and economic elites.

We can at least be thankful that the Supreme Courts decision allows us to dispense with the charade of participatory democracy.  Rampant cynicism about the unfair influence of money on the political process has always been understood as a problem.  This has undermined the people’s trust in the electoral process.  It has  eroded a collective sense of political enfranchisement.  It has contributed to creating a pervading  malaise of ambivalence within the electorate.  The monied interests with fathomless pockets can now come out into the open and make their presence plain for all to see.   It remains to be seen how this will alter the structure of K Street.

A new business model for how money is dispensed to politicians will need to be considered .   Perhaps a new derivative  called  a PIMP, (Politician In My Pocket) should be considered.  A PIMP Exchange could be set up in Washington DC.  This future exchange would surely prosper and would propel Washington DC as the fast rising global financial center on  the come.    PIMP trading would be recognized as a fast growing emerging market.  The trading in PIMPs would attract capital from all over the world and may even rise to supplant the future pits in Chicago as the place “where the world goes to manage risk.”

The PIMP Exchange will add that much needed transparency on how the political influence market is performing and what the going price is to buy and sell politicians.  We should be grateful to the Supreme Court  Decision  that laid the judicial foundation that will finally shine light on this aspect of our political process.  Now that its out in the open its all above board.  No more under the table deals will be necessary.  This ruling and the PIMP Exchange makes it very easy to follow the money.  Perhaps legislation should be considered that require senators and congressmen to wear the corporate logos of their three largest sponsors.  If a corporation wishes to remain anonymous feeling that the  interests of their shareholders are better served they can continue to operate under the radar.  A Generic Omnibus  Politician In My Pocket or a (GO PIMP) will be  designed specifically for this purpose.

The laissez faire approach to freedom of speech unfortunately confers all the power to those with the deepest pockets.  “Politicians will be bought and sold by the gross”, according to Alan Grayson a congressman from Florida.  Mr. Grayson is proposing legislation to protect citizens rights from being trampled by an avalanche of corporate money.  The first amendment guarantees citizens that no one shall abridge or prohibit the free and open expression of ideas.  Unfortunately money speaks the loudest and facilitates access to media channels and distribution. The free and open internet provides an individual little protection.  The tussle in China between Google and the government is an instructive warning of what we can expect to occur as corporate control of the internet grows.  It is an indication of a growing rift born from competitive postures of power capitalist institutions.

Our birthright of liberty was orphaned by a pervading cynicism and the seeming ambivalence of citizens who cared little for the rights democratic republics confer and understood less about the responsibilities required to guard them.  The decision by the Supreme Court is a watershed event.  Our political culture has changed.  The United States model for governance is moving closer to the Chinese model of governance.  The state capitalism of the United States is is a mirror image replication of the Chinese model.  A ruling oligarchy of economic interests acting in concert with its hand picked governmental representatives is common to them both.

Did we awaken this morning to the sober realization that American’s best hope is a trust in a benevolent corporate paternalism?  Can we believe that the rule of unencumbered enlightened capitalists is the way to realize the promises of a post scarce society? Can we still believe in the promise that innovation and social progress  and our democratic impulses will continue to inform America’s historical evolution?  Has America and the rest of the world arrived at a tipping point, a harbinger of a dystopian future where property right trumps human rights and the hard edges of economic deprivation, class marginalization and political disenfranchisement are ills that continue to infect society.  We need a doctor.  We need a strong antibiotic to cure this disease metastasizing in the body politic.

You Tube Music Video: Tennessee Ernie Ford: 16 Tons

January 22, 2010 Posted by | China, Civil Rights, corruption, culture, democracy, economics, elections, environment, Federalism, government, infrastructure, institutional, LGBT, military, politics, private equity, psychology, regulatory, taxation, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Day of Infamy

USS Shaw

Sixty seven years ago today, on an early Sunday morning the US Pacific Navel Fleet at Pearl Harbor was attacked by an air assault launched by the Japanese Imperial Navy. It was an audacious attack that caught the US by surprise. The attack killed over 2000 servicemen and women. The bombing also claimed a number of civilian casualties and it destroyed or disabled a good portion of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet. The attack at Pearl Harbor forced America to enter WWII as it declared war on Japan with a Day of Infamy speech made by FDR.

This day is worthy of remembrance for so many reasons. First and foremost is to recognize those who fell in service to our country and the many civilian innocents who always comprise an awful toll in the casualties of war. This attack should also be remembered as the day when the illusion of American isolation dissipated into the billowing smoke plumes of the burning destroyers inside a presumably safe harbor. Fortress America was under the false impression that its security was guaranteed by the large expanse of two of the worlds great oceans and by borders with friendly nations.

As the United States entered the war it mobilized its significant resources, will, talent and determination. It was the sleeping giant at the time, still licking its wounds from a debilitating recession and political uncertainty. But Pearl Harbor served as a focal point to fuel national sentiment for the US to take the lead in the great global crusade against fascism. Studs Terkel called it the “Good War” fought by America’s “greatest generation”. Americas successful prosecution of the war and its role in it positioned the country to ascend as the preeminent world power.

The world has known other days of infamy since then. But Pearl Harbor set the world in motion to create an intricate weave of connections that accelerated the pace and depth of global transformation. The era witnessed the terrible consequences of modern global warfare and created the necessary conditions for a nuclear fueled modernity to collide with humanity’s delicate mortality.

9/11 and last weeks Mumbia attacks are events that exhibit similar characteristics of a causal event that spawns and accelerates a series of transformative effects on a global scale. Undoubtedly military and political experts will study Pearl Harbor to discern what eventual outcomes will emerge as we pursue different strategies to protect our national interests and security. As they should. But perhaps the real opportunity these terrible events present is how best to discern considered responses that can transform conflict into peace to avoid the possibility of any more days of infamies.

You Tube Music Video: Glenn Miller Orchestra, Moonlight Serenade

Risk: extreme risk events, cause and effect, unintended consequences

December 7, 2008 Posted by | jazz, military, war | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Semper Fidelis

From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli the USMC has fought our country’s battles bravely and heroically since 1775. These fighters and defenders of our country are celebrating the Corps 233rd birthday. The Corps are always at the tip of the spear in fighting for our country and all American’s owe them a debt of gratitude for their selfless service.
Happy Birthday Marines.

Thank you for your service, sacrifice, courage and conviction.

May the good Lord bless us with the grace of peace.

Semper Fi

You Tube Video: USMC Running Cadences

Risk: freedom, national defense

November 10, 2008 Posted by | folk, holiday, military | , | Leave a comment

Many Concentric Disturbances

If President Bush sits atop the Dome of the Rock during his visit to Jerusalem and takes a 360 look around he will witness the widening concentric circles of war and violence that continue to expand throughout the region.

Looking north, Lebanon appears to be on the precipice of all out civil war. Iran and Syria are doing all they can to destabilize Lebanon’s weak government by supporting Hezbollah. They have formed some type of unholy alliance to flex their muscles with the development of a nuclear power infrastructure while they continue to extend their tentacles of influence into the civil war in Iraq.

Up the coast where Europe meets Asia, Turkey embarks on periodic bombing runs against the Kurds in Northern Iraq while Russia continues to put out pesky flareups in it’s former Black Sea Republics. To the south and down to the tip of the Red Sea, Ethiopia is being drawn into a war with Somalia and to the west the great powers of the world shadow box in Darfur, stoking the flames of a proxy war between Chad and Sudan. If Mr. Bush strains his neck, way to the east he’ll be able to see the continued disintegration of political stability of Pakistan, Islam’s only nuclear state and Afghanistan’s inability to shake the Taliban infection.

As Mr. Bush sits atop the holy space where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, where Jesus Christ proclaimed peace to the people on earth and where Solomon installed the Arc of the Covenant, it will serve the world well for him to look into his own soul and examine how his actions and inactions have contributed to the regions instability. The escalation of war and hostilities is never a harbinger of peace. War is averted and peace is won through negotiations, communications and the building of trust through the recognition and pursuit of shared interests and objectives.

As a Christian, Mr. Bush should be able to grasp the need to make sacrifices to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East. Mr. Bush’s ego may just be “the perfect sacrifice” the world needs to set the region on a track of peace. Mr. Bush can begin with a de-escalation of the rhetoric about Iran, speaking with Hamas representatives in Gaza and the immediate commencement of peace talks in line with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group to end the war in Babylon.

Sacrifice is a sign of strength Mr. Bush. The alternative is ceding power to the regions growing conflicts. The overlapping rippling effects of these concentric disturbances threatens to immolate the entire region. Consider an Israeli bombing run on a nuclear reactor in Iran, or the fall of the Pakistani government to a Taliban friendly regime. It is time to make the perfect sacrifice Mr. Bush.

You Tube Video: Santana at Royal Albert Hall, Soul Sacrifice

Risk: Political, War, Middle East, Nuclear Exchange, Peace,

May 15, 2008 Posted by | Bush, geography, government, jazz, military, Palestine, psychology, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disaster Response Triad

The earthquake that devastated the Sichuan Province in China, the cyclone that flooded the Irrawaddy River delta in Myanmar and the hurricane that leveled the beloved American city of New Orleans is an interesting study in comparative approaches to disaster response.

All of these natural disasters were terrible human tragedies. The significant loss of life, the destruction of property and environmental damage has forever altered the way of life for millions of people. These disasters have also revealed telling insights into the values of the national governments responsible for rescue, relief and recovery efforts.

The Myanmar effort or more appropriately, non-effort to address the mass misery of its people is a stunning example of authoritarian ambivalence towards the suffering of its subjects. This abomination is more criminal then tragic and is a striking example of the lengths a despotic ruling clique will go to preserve its power through control of the means of subsistence.

Myanmar’s paranoid government uses obfuscation to conceal the impact of its governance practices on its people is damning. Clearly the world has a clear understanding that the Emperor has no cloths and hopefully it will not be long before the people of Myanmar will be able to fully execute its will and rid itself of a repressive government that’s sole purpose is the perpetuation of its oppressive rule.

The Peoples Republic of China’s response is the antitheses of Myanmar’s government’s non-response. China has quickly and efficiently mobilized its state apparatus with military precision. China’s militarization is pervasive and its army is a powerful extension of the state that touches many aspects of daily life and serves as an organizational focal point for the culture and the country’s rural political economy. Here the military is an instrument of relief not of repression as in the case of Myanmar. To be fair the economic strength of China puts it in a better position to respond and provide the relief that a disaster of this magnitude demands. The earthquake has silenced the public relations debacle of the worldwide tour of the Olympic Torch. The Olympic Torch tour has served as a focal point of protest and has eroded the stature of China’s reputation. The earthquake has helped to create some sympathy for the people of China and has shown that the rulers of the Forbidden City are very capable managers of a very formidable state apparatus.

The US Government’s rescue and response efforts following Hurricane Katrina have been scrutinized, dissected and politicized since the time of the event almost three years ago. Lots has been written and we should examine in more detail the risk management lessons from the numerous historical, political, economic and cultural dimensions of the Katrina event. The most salient feature of the US response was how FEMA and Homeland Security could organize and manage a market solution to Katrina. Wal-Mart had the trucks and the logistics, Home Depot had the generators, AT&T the phone cards, General Honore brought the honor and President Bush dispensed funds from the Federal treasury.

I suspect that the Federal Government’s initial reticence to respond to the Katrina crisis was the ideological conviction that the market will provide a solution. Bush’s circle knows that capitalism like nature abhors a vacuum. The spirit of entrepreneurialism will fill the breech that Katrina blew into the intricate levee structure of America’s most idiosyncratic city.

You Tube Video: Dr. John, Sweet Home New Orleans

Risk: Force Majeure, Government, Market, Political, Civil Stability

May 14, 2008 Posted by | China, government, infrastructure, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel 60 Years of Swords and Ploughshares

Israel is marking its 60th anniversary as a country today. Established by the UN Mandate for the

Partition of Palestine in 1947, Israel has been embroiled in a constant state of conflict with Palestinian Arabs and the neighboring Arab and Persian nation states since its inception. The founding of Israel was seen as one of the better fruits borne from the trauma of World War II. Part blessing, part curse Israel’s establishment in Palestine is small consolation for the nightmare of the Jewish Holocaust and desire to exorcise the stain of Nazism from the collective soul of modern civilization.Unfortunately, Nazism as a political expression of a modern civilized state is a telling oxymoron that continues to play itself out in today’s world as the hope and promise of tolerance and the uncertainty of secular democracies battle the intolerance of fundamentalism and theocratic certainty. Israel’s founding provided hope that the pedagogy of the oppressed would not be lost on hardened hearts of civilized nations. Israel is living evidence that world powers could be trusted to rectify and eradicate problems through decisive action. Some might say a modern day metaphor of Solomon’s wisdom. Israel’s founding was a moral hope of the global community and evidence that out of horror and hate something good, just and enduring could be borne. But history and the geopolitical realities of scarcity, the complex web of political interests and the resourcefulness of the power elites to protect their privileges continues to conspire against a right and just course of action to follow a roadmap to peace in Palestine.

More of Solomon’s wisdom is called for today. Solomon’s judgment precluded the use of the sword. Today we cannot distinguish plaintiffs from defendants. Both sides are victimized by their own intractability. The sword is the only way. The blessed baby is bleeding to death.

We pray that Israelis and Palestinians will beat their spears into pruning hooks to mend and stitch the shroud of permanent and lasting peace.

Shalom

You Tube Video: Theme from Exodus

Risk: Political, War, Peace, Religion, Poverty, Death, Life

May 8, 2008 Posted by | Bible, military, Palestine, politics, soundtrack, war | , , | Leave a comment