Latest activities of group #17 - Can Art Save Iran? Gridlock2013-05-23T18:14:34Z<p style="text-align: justify;">Last year in Geneva during GLOBAL+5, our inaugural festival of global governance, David Held &ndash; a seasoned academic versed in the topic and born to be a member of our jury &ndash; was very much preoccupied. As we walked together into the grand ball room at the Four Seasons hotel, where in the early 1920s ambassadors would meet to socialize and dance between daily meetings to build the first global political entity, Held and I discussed the fact President Woodrow Wilson never received support from Congress for the United States (US) to become a member of the utopian Soci&eacute;t&eacute; des Nations.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">This paradox is still part of the US vision today, in everything that touches on the broad sweep of issues constituting global politics. It is a yes-and-no position, which ends with a &lsquo;no&rsquo; in most cases &ndash; from the law of the sea to climate change, reform of the International Monetary Fund and that too long list with which we are all familiar. Since the fi rst edition of GLOBAL+5, Held has co-written a book with two American academic colleagues about the state of contemporary global governance. Its title? Gridlock. Calling for a far more multidisciplinary approach in the analysis of global issues, the authors wish to see vastly improved effi ciency in collective decision making at a crucial moment in our history.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Though I agree deeply with their call for a more holistic approach to global politics, something seems to be missing. The future is calling across many issues and the answers from our leaders have been found wanting. A vacuum like this cannot last.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Voices will soon be heard, however, as always. One just might be Jaron Lanier&rsquo;s. In the 1980s, Lanier was a leading mind driving us all into virtual reality. Now, this former digital idealist claims free content is bad for everyone, citizens and corporations alike. Today, apart from being a &ldquo;technologist,&rdquo; a serial entrepreneur and an employee at one of the largest US tech firms, Lanier is among the few thinkers one should pay attention to in order to learn why we are heading in the wrong direction when it comes to the digital world. Lanier&rsquo;s new book <em>Who Owns The Future?</em> is THE book younger and elder generations should read together.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Amusingly, the question sounds familiar &ndash; uncertainty over &ldquo;who owns the Internet?&rdquo; has been haunting us for the last decade, since the US government and companies such as Google took it over. Lanier&rsquo;s point is all about one word: &ldquo;value.&rdquo; Lost value, not added value, as the giants of the Internet are milking the value out of people while ultimately shrinking markets. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a hard lesson to learn,&rdquo; says Lanier. &ldquo;As an idealist, I supported an open system for a lot of people to access information, but when a few businesses have the largest computers, it&rsquo;s an ideal business proposition where these few actors demonetize the position of lots of people. It&rsquo;s a non-sustainable solution.&rdquo; The idea of the &lsquo;for-free&rsquo; is indeed unsustainable.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It has always been a pain for an editor like me &ndash; fighting to maintain an independent media voice and platform &ndash; to listen to the former Editor in Chief of <em>Wired </em>being paid a fortune to explain to others that &lsquo;free&rsquo; was the big way to make money. That was certainly the case when he would tour the world being paid to say so. Today, as Chris Anderson is no longer a salaried staffer at Wired, he advocates for the 3D-printing revolution instead &ndash; obviously not a free-3D.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Contrary to what one might think about politics at the global level, it will soon become the true business of many citizens and voters, as any real ability to change the world will always lie fi rst with us. This issue is full of fresh views and new faces &ndash; do not miss those from Iran, Indonesia and Switzerland &ndash; as we keep covering global politics for our responsible readers.</p>Guantánamo: The Endgame?2013-05-23T17:45:40Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2Fd9%2Fd7%2Fd9d7b0c0d52a6fc742014abb9a5cef89.jpg" alt="Fahd Ghazy" width="366" height="580" /></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Fahd Ghazy is known at Guant&aacute;namo Bay as 026, his Internment Serial Number. These numbers were assigned to Guant&aacute;namo prisoners in chronological order according to their arrival. Fahd has a low number because he was among the first prisoners sent to the offshore prison former President George W Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney established to detain and torture captives in the &ldquo;war on terror.&rdquo; Fahd was initially housed at Camp X-ray &ndash; a makeshift arrangement of kennels recognizable from the iconic photographs of shackled men in orange jumpsuits and blackout goggles. He was just 17 years old, plummeting down a rabbit hole, unaware he had arrived at what would be his home for the next 11 years and counting.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">A few months before Fahd&rsquo;s arrival, it would have been impossible to foresee the tragedy about to befall him. He was married and celebrating the arrival of his baby daughter, Hafsa. He had just received his diploma from Al-Najah, a secondary school near Beyt Ghazy on the outskirts of Sana&rsquo;a, Yemen. An ambitious and capable student, Fahd graduated first in his class. Like any young father, he believed obtaining a university degree would guarantee his family a better life. Sana&rsquo;a University is well regarded, so Fahd applied. He was admitted to the Faculty of Science and awarded a scholarship. The good news reached him in his cell at Guant&aacute;namo.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In 2007, the Bush administration rightly concluded that Fahd did not belong at Guant&aacute;namo and decided to send him home. When I began representing Fahd roughly five years ago, he showed me a worn piece of paper containing the official notice of his impending release. The letter is laconic, stating only that Fahd &ldquo;has been approved for release from Guant&aacute;namo, subject to the process of making appropriate diplomatic arrangements for his departure.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In May, Fahd will turn 29. He is still at Guant&aacute;namo. The notification of his release is meaningless, just a painful reminder of how different things might have been. Fahd and I spoke to each other a few weeks ago and he gave me some news: he is on a hunger strike and has not eaten since February.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As <em>The Global Journal</em> <a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">reported in April</a>, Fahd is not alone &ndash; at the time of writing, the mass hunger strike at Guant&aacute;namo had reached its third month. Fahd and the other men I represent report the strike has near universal participation in Guant&aacute;namo&rsquo;s two main detention facilities, Camps 5 and 6. For all of its predictability, the impact on the prisoners&rsquo; bodies has been no less harrowing. Their weight has dropped so precipitously that some of the men are skeletal. Fahd has begun limiting his movements to conserve energy. Many prisoners are losing consciousness, some repeatedly. Others have been coughing up blood.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The less visible toll of starvation&nbsp;remains unclear. At Guant&aacute;namo,&nbsp;secrecy is paramount. Civilian access&nbsp;to the prisoners is severely restricted.&nbsp;No independent physician has yet&nbsp;evaluated the hunger strikers. Clinical&nbsp;research in the field, however, cautions&nbsp;us to brace for the worst. According&nbsp;to the World Medical Association, at&nbsp;day 40 of a hunger strike, irreversible&nbsp;cognitive impairment and physiological&nbsp;damage can occur. Death soon follows.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Remarkably, the United States (US)&nbsp;government seems untroubled. On 11&nbsp;April, Under Secretary of Defense,&nbsp;William Lietzau, wrote to the Center&nbsp;for Constitutional Rights to assure us&nbsp;&ldquo;detention practices at Guant&aacute;namo&nbsp;are humane.&rdquo; He also reminded us the&nbsp;Department of Defense &ldquo;support[s] the&nbsp;preservation of life through appropriate&nbsp;clinical means&hellip;&rdquo; For the uninitiated,&nbsp;that means force-feeding through&nbsp;nasogastric intubation &ndash; strapping&nbsp;prisoners to restraint chairs, forcing&nbsp;rubber tubes up their noses and&nbsp;pumping liquid supplements into their&nbsp;stomachs. Eleven men at Guant&aacute;namo&nbsp;are being kept alive in this manner.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">A crackdown by the Guant&aacute;namo&nbsp;guard staff triggered the current hunger&nbsp;strike. During cell searches in February,&nbsp;guards confiscated the prisoners&rsquo;&nbsp;personal effects, including family&nbsp;photos and keepsakes &ndash; items of&nbsp;monumental significance when&nbsp;memories of a loved-one are receding&nbsp;into oblivion. But worse, under the&nbsp;pretext of searching for improvised&nbsp;weapons, the prison administration&nbsp;reinstituted a policy of searching the&nbsp;prisoners&rsquo; Qur&rsquo;ans &ndash; a decision as&nbsp;provocative as it was reckless. The&nbsp;Department of Defense knows from&nbsp;past experience that searching the&nbsp;pages and binding of the Qur&rsquo;an&nbsp;constitutes desecration in the eyes of&nbsp;the prisoners and invites the very&nbsp;response that has now jeopardized&nbsp;the lives of dozens of men.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Hunger strikes are nothing new at&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo. As early as 2002,&nbsp;prisoners resorted to starving&nbsp;themselves to expose the horror of&nbsp;indefinite detention without charge or&nbsp;trial. But this strike is different. It is&nbsp;desperate. Until now, my clients have&nbsp;been surviving at Guant&aacute;namo on&nbsp;hope. For Fahd, who has spent more&nbsp;than a third of his life at the prison,&nbsp;an enduring hope that he will see his&nbsp;daughter again is his only comfort. But&nbsp;hopelessness is an equally powerful&nbsp;sentiment. It has convinced many at&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo to risk their own demise&nbsp;to protest a system of such violence.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">This may be the beginning of the&nbsp;endgame at Guant&aacute;namo. Four years&nbsp;ago, there was consensus across the&nbsp;American political spectrum that&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo should be shuttered. So&nbsp;how did we reach the point where&nbsp;most of the 166 remaining prisoners&nbsp;are engaged in a potentially deadly&nbsp;hunger strike?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The explanation was glaringly&nbsp;obvious at a public hearing in&nbsp;Washington, DC last month. The&nbsp;Inter-American Commission on&nbsp;Human Rights (IACHR), the&nbsp;Americas&rsquo; foremost human rights body,&nbsp;called representatives of the Obama&nbsp;administration to comment on its&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo policy. It was the first&nbsp;time they had done so since the&nbsp;President&rsquo;s re-election. The IACHR&nbsp;asked two questions: does the US still&nbsp;intend to close Guant&aacute;namo? And, if&nbsp;so, what steps are currently underway&nbsp;to achieve that objective? After 11 years,&nbsp;166 prisoners detained in perpetuity (all&nbsp;but a handful without charge), 86 men&nbsp;languishing despite being cleared for&nbsp;release, torture methods with peculiar&nbsp;names like the &ldquo;frequent flyer program,&rdquo;&nbsp;hundreds of attempted suicides and&nbsp;nine deaths, there was nothing else&nbsp;to discuss.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The IACHR posed the questions with&nbsp;the same urgency that recently led&nbsp;United Nations High Commissioner&nbsp;for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to&nbsp;decry the suffering at Guant&aacute;namo&nbsp;and demand the facility&rsquo;s immediate&nbsp;closure. Renewed international scrutiny&nbsp;of Guant&aacute;namo is driven by an abiding&nbsp;concern that President Obama&rsquo;s course&nbsp;of action &ndash; inaction, really &ndash; threatens to&nbsp;normalize one of the most abominable&nbsp;relics of the Bush/Cheney era.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">If the Obama administration shared&nbsp;that concern, detailed answers would&nbsp;have been forthcoming. They were not.&nbsp;Senior administration officials failed&nbsp;to offer a single measure currently&nbsp;underway to close the prison. It was&nbsp;a fine display of diplomatic rhetoric,&nbsp;but offered little for men like Fahd&nbsp;whose very survival may depend on&nbsp;glimpsing light at the end of the tunnel.&nbsp;The most obvious explanation for the&nbsp;administration&rsquo;s silence is also the most&nbsp;disheartening. The President appears&nbsp;to have calculated he can withstand the&nbsp;political costs of continuing to operate&nbsp;the detention facility. He has made his&nbsp;peace with Guant&aacute;namo as an enduring&nbsp;part of his legacy.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Criticism like that seems pointed&nbsp;only if one ignores the President&rsquo;s&nbsp;record, especially in regards to&nbsp;Congress. Obama met every legislative&nbsp;maneuver to keep Guant&aacute;namo open&nbsp;with acquiescence. Congressional&nbsp;obstructionism began with the 2011&nbsp;<em>National Defense Authorization Act&nbsp;(NDAA)</em>, which barred the use of funds&nbsp;to transfer Guant&aacute;namo prisoners&nbsp;unless the Secretary of Defense&nbsp;personally certifies each man for release.&nbsp;Under the legislation, however, such an&nbsp;act is possible only after the Secretary of&nbsp;Defense determines the country slated&nbsp;to receive an ex-prisoner meets certain&nbsp;security conditions &ndash; a practically&nbsp;unachievable qualification.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Each subsequent iteration of the&nbsp;<em>NDAA</em> has included the same onerous&nbsp;restrictions. Congress correctly&nbsp;gambled that the President would&nbsp;fold if the legislation even marginally&nbsp;increased the political cost of releasing&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo prisoners &ndash; hence the&nbsp;cunning, and utterly effective, device&nbsp;of requiring the Secretary of Defense&nbsp;to personally sign off on each transfer.&nbsp;Still, even Congress could not have&nbsp;predicted Obama would abandon his&nbsp;plan to close Guant&aacute;namo altogether.&nbsp;Yet, that is precisely what he has done.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Administration officials disagree. They&nbsp;insist Obama is dedicated to closing&nbsp;the detention facility. Try convincing&nbsp;the prisoners. The numbers speak for&nbsp;themselves: transfers from Guant&aacute;namo&nbsp;have plummeted from roughly 71 in&nbsp;2009-10, to just five in the years since &ndash;&nbsp;not including Adnan Latif, who left in&nbsp;a coffin in 2012. And as far as anyone&nbsp;can tell, President Obama never sought&nbsp;the certification of a single prisoner&nbsp;for transfer &ndash; not even one of the 86&nbsp;men the administration itself cleared&nbsp;for release. Nor did he require former&nbsp;Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, to&nbsp;invoke the waiver provisions that would&nbsp;permit the administration to sidestep&nbsp;the <em>NDAA&rsquo;s</em> most severe restrictions.&nbsp;I see no evidence the President will&nbsp;make recently confirmed Secretary of&nbsp;Defense, Chuck Hagel, break rank with&nbsp;his predecessor.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Equally devastating to Fahd, and&nbsp;the 90 or so of his countrymen at&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo, is the President&rsquo;s&nbsp;persistent defense of his moratorium&nbsp;on repatriations to Yemen. The&nbsp;moratorium was instituted in 2010 after&nbsp;the failed &ldquo;underwear-bomber&rdquo; attack,&nbsp;which was seen as proof that Obama&nbsp;was no longer &ldquo;soft on terror&rdquo; &ndash; a trope&nbsp;that is both cynical and starkly at odds&nbsp;with his wide-ranging and lethal drone&nbsp;program. The gambit paid political&nbsp;dividends, but with it, President Obama&nbsp;gained the unfortunate distinction of&nbsp;adding collective punishment on the&nbsp;basis of nationality to the litany of&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo&rsquo;s human rights violations.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Like Fahd, my client, Tariq Ba Odah,&nbsp;is trapped at Guant&aacute;namo under the&nbsp;moratorium. When I first learned of the&nbsp;current hunger strike, I thought of him&nbsp;immediately. Tariq is what is known at&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo as a &lsquo;long term&rsquo; hunger&nbsp;striker. He began his strike six years&nbsp;ago, in February 2007. Nearly every&nbsp;day since, he has been strapped to a&nbsp;restraint chair and force-fed through&nbsp;his nose. But for Tariq, who has never&nbsp;been charged, to voluntarily accept food&nbsp;from his jailer would be to surrender&nbsp;the last shred of his humanity. He&nbsp;weighs just 90 pounds and is slowly&nbsp;withering away. Tariq recognized long&nbsp;ago that death is probably the fastest&nbsp;way out of Guant&aacute;namo. In any event,&nbsp;it is becoming the most common.&nbsp;More men have died in US custody at&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo than have been&nbsp;convicted by military tribunal.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">President Obama should be&nbsp;deeply concerned Guant&aacute;namo&rsquo;s&nbsp;remaining prisoners are arriving&nbsp;collectively at Tariq&rsquo;s grim conclusion:&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo is a death sentence&nbsp;from which there is likely no reprieve.&nbsp;If indeed this is the endgame at&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo, it will be an excruciating&nbsp;one for the prisoners. Perhaps the&nbsp;President can weather the political&nbsp;costs of continuing to operate&nbsp;Guant&aacute;namo. I wonder though if&nbsp;he has yet weighed the human cost.&nbsp;Inevitably, this will be the measure&nbsp;by which history judges Obama if&nbsp;he presides over the slow death of&nbsp;a population of exclusively Muslim&nbsp;prisoners at an offshore internment&nbsp;camp, most of whom are cleared for&nbsp;release and have never been charged&nbsp;or tried.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">Photo &copy; Center for Constitutional Rights&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">Photo on Homepage &copy;&nbsp;by Edmund Clark</span></p>Moral Machines And The Future Of Warfare2013-05-22T17:56:46Z<p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/s3/cache%2F77%2F00%2F7700828bd61cf18ce02d0662bf30345a.jpg" alt="The Future Of Warfare" width="560" height="376" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">In the second of a regular series inviting prominent members of academia to address key questions of global governance, international politics and the evolution of the international system, Christopher Coker &ndash; a leading scholar of international security and military philosophy &ndash; reflects upon how recent technologies are changing the face of war. As we enter a brave new world of cyber attacks and unmanned drones, Coker warns that in a bid to make war more humane, we are increasingly relying on machines to automate human virtue.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;Fifteen years after taking flight, Orville Wright predicted the airplane would make war impossible. Guglielmo Marconi thought the coming of radio would make war &ldquo;ridiculous&rdquo; &ndash; a variation on Oscar Wilde&rsquo;s idea that it would end once it became vulgar, rather than wicked. My favorite example is that of Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, who when asked whether the invention would make war more wicked replied: &ldquo;no, it&rsquo;ll make war impossible.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It was not the case that these failed to promise a better, or even safer, world. But each new development created more problems than it solved. Unfortunately, argues the great technology guru, Kevin Kelly, problems are the answers to solutions. Once a machine is built, we soon discover that it has &lsquo;ideas&rsquo; of its own. Technology not only changes our habits, but also our habits of mind.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Maxim gun was a case in point. Far from making war impossible, the weapon in fact made it all too easy for those who possessed this technical advantage to occupy the moral high ground. Because it originated in the West, the gun was deemed to be the product of a rational society. It followed that those who did not have access to such weaponry (for instance Native Americans) were being irrational in continuing to resist the onward path of westward expansion. Inevitably, American settlers used their newly acquired weapons to make the natives &lsquo;see reason.&rsquo; And of course, it often worked.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">By 1890, the American frontier was officially closed and Geronimo, the last &lsquo;renegade&rsquo; Indian leader, finally captured. Fifteen years later &ndash; after authoring two commercially successful autobiographies &ndash; he rode in Teddy Roosevelt&rsquo;s inauguration parade. Yet, it was all to end badly. Once Western societies turned machine guns against each other, they found themselves in a moral no man&rsquo;s land of their own making.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The question we should ask, writes Kelly, is this: what does technology still want of us? Let&rsquo;s be clear &ndash; unlike human beings, technologies do not have needs or desires. But when new technologies are aggregated they acquire a collective property, just as we talk of the market &lsquo;wanting&rsquo; things. And technological advances and insights often occur at about the same time in more than one place. The evolution of technology converges in much the same manner as biological evolution. Kelly&rsquo;s question can also be seen as a variation of Richard Dawkins&rsquo; influential idea of the extended phenotype. Dawkins suggests birds and nests are one and the same. Without nests, birds could not reproduce. Poorly constructed or poorly placed nests reduce birds&rsquo; chances of reproductive success. Conversely, well-built nests dramatically increase the evolutionary odds. Likewise, we are what technology makes us. No other species has such an extensive phenotype, or, more specifically, its own imprint on the planet.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Technology is simply the further evolution of evolution, and technological evolution results in a variety of gadgets, machines, tools and techniques, which increase again this ability to advance. The latest technologies are becoming smarter and offering new choices &ndash; not only in co-operation with human beings, but for the first time in possible competition. Technology is boosting human intelligence and innovation at the very time it may be about to develop an agenda of its own. Ray Kurtzweil calls it &ldquo;the Singularity&rdquo; &ndash; the day computers become self-conscious (the Skynet scenario for fans of the Terminator franchise).</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Until that day arrives &ndash; if ever &ndash; technology will continue to give us choices. Choices without values yield little but new choices. Yet they may also &lsquo;revalue&rsquo; old values, or devalue those qualities that have traditionally been held in high regard in war, such as sacrifice and heroism. It is simply too early to tell, although in my book <em>Warrior Geeks</em> I argue that this is precisely the direction in which technology is taking us. New developments are devaluing the sacramental ideal of war and persuading us to overvalue technical proficiency.</p> <p>&copy; U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Pete Thibodeau&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><em><br /></em></span></p>The Meteoric Rise Of Joko Widodo2013-05-22T16:41:12Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2Ff0%2Fcc%2Ff0cc98c7f5d4ee3c39a600399147b512.jpg" alt="Joko Widodo" width="560" height="389" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Beset by multiple corruption scandals, the Democratic Party of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is yet to designate a candidate to contest next year&rsquo;s election. In the meantime, change is in the air. Since taking office in October, Jakarta&rsquo;s unassuming governor, Joko Widodo, has turned the country&rsquo;s political establishment on its head. Touted as &lsquo;Indonesia&rsquo;s Obama&rsquo; for his consensus-based approach, broad popular appeal and outsider status, Widodo is increasingly being talked about as a contender for the top job in a nation on the rise.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">With simple speeches delivered in a country drawl, untucked white shirts, rolled up sleeves and black Airwalk sneakers, Joko Widodo makes an unlikely politician. But the former furniture businessman turned mayor has used his common touch to win the leadership of Indonesia&rsquo;s most important city, Jakarta, and the cult formed around him has seen him elevated into a national phenomenon. In this cluttered, creaking metropolis &ndash; one of the world&rsquo;s largest &ndash; Widodo, affectionately known as &lsquo;Jokowi,&rsquo; has captured the trust and support of millions. His visits to Jakarta&rsquo;s raucous neighborhoods elicit cheers from men and women who gaze upon him star struck. At schools, students whoop when he enters a room, their teachers enraptured by his unconventional charisma. Just six months after assuming office, Widodo has surprised seasoned political analysts by becoming a household name.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;He is now a national figure,&rdquo; says Marcus Mietzner, a political scientist at the Australian National University in Canberra. &ldquo;He has now transcended Jakarta and is as popular in Kalimantan as he is in Papua as he is in Sumatra.&rdquo; Widodo&rsquo;s meteoric rise was built on a promise of &ldquo;a new Jakarta,&rdquo; sparking hope amongst ordinary Indonesians that politics, long dominated by former generals and elites tied to fallen autocrat Suharto, may be changing.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Mietzner calls him a &ldquo;pop culture phenomenon&rdquo; in much the same way current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was in 2003, when he first ran for office. At the time Yudhoyono was a little known minister with few accomplishments to speak of, but appealed to an electorate looking for a non-combative leader who would build bridges and strive for consensus. &ldquo;With Jokowi it&rsquo;s the same thing,&rdquo; says Mietzner. &ldquo;Just one decade after that we have different requirements. What people want is an anti-SBY &ndash; somebody who goes beyond the pompous state language &ndash; they want somebody who goes to the grassroots and tries to solve problems,&rdquo; he adds, referring to Yudhoyono by his initials.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">When Widodo came out on top after the first round of voting in the race to be Jakarta&rsquo;s governor last July, political commentators said the surprise win illustrated that the city&rsquo;s residents were fed up with Jakarta&rsquo;s graft-ridden politics and were eager for reform. Incumbent Fauzi Bowo had powerful political backers and financial heft at his disposal &ndash; his assets included a Hummer SUV and a Van Gogh painting. Widodo, on the other hand, had a reputation for being clean &ndash; a rarity amongst politicians in a country ranked by Berlin-based Transparency International as one of the world&rsquo;s most corrupt. He also had a track record for transforming Surakarta, the mid-size city where he served as mayor, into a model of efficiency.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As mayor, Widodo helped relocate vendors sprawled along the city&rsquo;s streets to ease the flow of traffic. He also introduced a modern tram system and upgraded traditional markets, providing support to the many vendors who depended on this infrastructure for their livelihoods. After a main river, the Bengawan Solo, spilled its banks in 2007, inundating poor neighborhoods, he helped relocate more than 1,000 households by providing this sizeable population with land and subsidized housing. In the following years, he worked in close contact with groups like Solo Kota Kita, a local non-profit organization that supports participatory planning. Taken together, that work landed him a nod from the City Mayors Foundation, an international think-tank that ranked Widodo as the world&rsquo;s third best mayor in 2012.</p> <p><span style="color: #888888;">Photo &copy; Reuters/Supri</span></p> <p><span><br /></span></p>Made In China2013-05-22T15:33:56Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F5b%2F4e%2F5b4ee00af69840af4f83d8d35e320101.jpg" alt="China&rsquo;s Silent Army:" width="350" height="537" /></p> <blockquote> <p>China&rsquo;s Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders,&nbsp;Fixers And Workers Who&nbsp;Are Remaking The World In Beijing&rsquo;s Image, &nbsp;Juan Pablo Caedenal &amp; Heriberto Ara&uacute;jo, Allen Lane, &pound;25.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">More than a sporting event, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 marked the beginning of a new era for China on a global scale. In the wake of this coming out party, journalists Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Ara&uacute;jo set off on a journey to investigate China&rsquo;s economic activity in the developing world. They tracked China&rsquo;s presence in untapped markets &ndash; from the extraction of raw materials in Russia&rsquo;s taiga and Burma&rsquo;s jade mines, to gigantic construction projects in some of Africa&rsquo;s most turbulent states.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">While the rest of the world suffered the economic consequences of the financial collapse, Beijing&rsquo;s intervention in the financial system allowed China to sidestep the recession. The Asian giant is buying debt, giving out loans, investing and acquiring assets globally. But economic success has a cost &ndash; Chinese banks are financed by the deposits of millions of Chinese savers receiving negative returns, combined with strict controls on capital outflow. China&rsquo;s steady expansion is indeed led by a &ldquo;silent army&rdquo; of millions of anonymous citizens &ldquo;with a limitless capacity for self-sacrifice&rdquo;.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Through countless stories of ordinary Chinese emigrants working in the developing world for minimal salaries, without job security, contracts or medical insurance, in <em>China&rsquo;s Silent Army </em>the authors provide readers with a first-hand, detailed and vivid account of China&rsquo;s global reach.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank"></a><em></em></p>Give It Up2013-05-22T15:26:09Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/photos%2F2013%2F05%2F59b0ab9d6bd27146.png" alt="Give it up" width="380" height="587" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Why Philanthropy&nbsp;Matters: How the&nbsp;Wealthy Give, and&nbsp;What it Means for Our&nbsp;Economic Well-Being,&nbsp;Zoltan J Acs,&nbsp;Princeton University Press,&nbsp;$29.95.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">In <em>Why Philanthropy Matters</em>, Zoltan Acs traces the role of philanthropy in the history of the United States, arguing the practice is a cornerstone of American-style capitalism and intrinsically linked to entrepreneurship, opportunity and wealth creation. In Arcs&rsquo; view, the success of the American model has developed through a dynamic process both enabling and requiring philanthropy: giving is a catalyst for innovation (proxy for wealth creation) and a creator of opportunities (softening inevitable inequality). The combination of capitalistic entrepreneurship and philanthropic giving is depicted as unique among developed nations and ripe for export.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The numerous examples Acs supplies may be enticing, but the assumptions and conclusions remain unpersuasive. The role of philanthropy in shaping the uniqueness of American-style capitalism is neither proven, nor convincingly demonstrated. Indeed, one could argue philanthropy was not an inherent cultural element, but a necessary offset to a weak social system. Moreover, philanthropic initiatives not focused on innovation and capitalistic progress &ndash; for instance, those devoted to the arts, environment and labor rights &ndash; are merely considered. The same goes for international aid.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">While punctuated by amusing anecdotes, this is an American-centric book valuable mostly for the insights it offers on why American philanthropy has mattered to America.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">-MC</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank"></a><em></em></p>Lost And Found In Global Politics 2013-05-22T14:19:52Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/photos%2F2013%2F05%2F184984d16692c1c5.jpg" alt="Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing When It&rsquo;s Most Needed" width="360" height="542" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Gridlock: Why Global&nbsp;Cooperation Is Failing&nbsp;When It&rsquo;s Most Needed,&nbsp;Thomas Hale, David Held &amp;&nbsp;Kevin Young&nbsp;Polity Press,&nbsp;&pound;55.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Gridlock</em> sets out to explore a growing failure in global governance, whereby countries are increasingly unable to cooperate effectively on issues of pressing global concern. The authors point to the multiple factors and pathways blocking international action &ndash; a governance gap affecting nearly all areas of global activity.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In highlighting the historical contingency of no longer effective mechanisms, the authors are not just pessimistic, but almost frightening. In their telling, gridlock results in further gridlock and the condition will only become more pervasive. Abandoning traditional knowledge silos, the authors endorse a multidisciplinary perspective. For those who would seek a way out of the present predicament, however, <em>Gridlock</em> might be disappointing. While very convincing when it comes to examining systemic reasons for failure, it does not prove multilateralism is an unfit basis for global cooperation and governance.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The need for more global governance is evident &ndash; too bad <em>Gridlock </em>provides few serious paths towards a more constructive future. When the authors mention &ldquo;bottom-up solutions working without a central solution,&rdquo; it is certainly interesting. But these small-scale initiatives are immediately challenged by the lack of broader, if not global, cooperation. Maybe time to risk throwing some utopian ideas into the mix to shake up the analysis of a &ldquo;global box&rdquo; slow death.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p>Feeding The Market2013-05-22T14:16:03Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2Fe0%2Ffb%2Fe0fbe23314658735cb3925099919c04a.jpg" alt="The Secret Financial Life Of Food:" width="360" height="540" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Secret Financial&nbsp;Life Of Food: From&nbsp;Commodities Markets To&nbsp;Supermarkets,&nbsp;Kara Newman,&nbsp;Columbia University Press,&nbsp;$26.95.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">From <em>haute cuisine</em> to gastro-anthropologic travels to simple recipes, television programs and books alike have celebrated in the past few years the rise of food as a fundamental element of contemporary pop-culture. In these gastronomic journeys, food is depicted in all its forms and shapes, but the link highlighting its path from farm to table rarely gets a look in.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em>The Secret Financial Life of Food</em> departs from this &lsquo;food-porn&rsquo; paradigm to bring us back to the real world where food is treated as a commodity and traded in massive quantities of standardized quality. In the book, the Spirits Editor at <em>Wine Enthusiast Magazine</em>, Kara Newman, gives us a thoughtful and tightly packaged historical perspective on the evolution of commodity markets in the United States, from the early days of the republic onwards. In each chapter, she presents a different commodity &ndash; from pepper to corn, cocoa to soybeans &ndash; documenting in a clear and succinct way the fortunes (and misfortunes) of related trading.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Where the book promises somewhat more than it delivers, however, is in drawing a clear connection between commodity trading and culinary and grocery practices. Nevertheless, <em>The Secret Financial Life of Food </em>is a thoughtful, historically grounded and sharply writtern book opening a window on a theme that, despite its importance, is seldom discussed off the trading floor or outside specialized courses.</p>When Black Gold Runs Dry2013-05-22T13:01:48Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/photos%2F2013%2F05%2Fd1484de16084b298.png" alt="Wheel Of Fortune" width="300" height="440" /></p> <blockquote>Wheel Of Fortune: The Battle For Oil And Power In Russia, Thane Gustafson, Harvard University Press, $39.95.</blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><br />In<em> Wheel of Fortune</em>, Thane Gustafson explores the imminent challenges faced by Russia if it is to remain a global heavyweight in the oil sector. He traces the tumultuous evolution of the Russian oil industry from its controversial beginnings with <em>perestroika, glasnost</em> and the demise of the Soviet Union, to the era of unregulated privatization and subsequent rise of the so-called oligarchs. This in-depth account, featuring rare interviews and biographies of influential figures examines the vast and often murky extent of mutual dependence that exists between oil and the Russian state.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Gustafson's thesis is that the Russian oil economy has reached a critical crossroads.Stagnant levels of oil production due to decaying infrastructure and falling reserves mean a destabilizing fiscal adjustment is on the near horizon. Simply put, if petrodollar revenues are not &ldquo;channeled by the state to support Russia's other strategic industries" major economic and political turmoil lies ahead. Gustafson argues the impact of any fiscal upheaval would have dire consequences for global economic - and thus political - stability.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Thankfully, Gustafson does offer a glimmer of hope. Paradoxically, the future of the Russian oil industry is contingent upon Russia&rsquo;s ability to diversify by growing other sectors of the economy. Whether or not the political will exists in Russia to choose this path remains an unanswered question.</p>