Smart Picks -- America's Shifting Friends and Rivals, What Women Want, Public Spending Ban, Burqa Divide, Still Crazy
There are three central premises behind Canada's Excellent Future. First, that the international system has evolved to respect the legally equality of nations. Second, that the United States (Canada's only continental neighbour) will always respect Canadian sovereignty except when Canadian territory could be used to threaten American life and liberty. Third, that the combination of these two facts gives Canada enormous domestic policy space to craft its own future, excellent or otherwise.
This happy combination roots Canada's relationship with the United States and while there are always winds that stir that relationship, it remains relatively unchanged no matter what happens elsewhere. What then of America's relationship with other long time friends like Israel and Japan, and what of America's relationship with rivals like China and Russia. Today some interesting commentary on all four as well as the spin off impact on Pakistan, India, and South Korea.
What do women want? Some thoughts about motherhood and careers, and new British thinking about rape. Back in Canada, the public is convinced that there is room to cut government programmes to rein in public deficits, and how immigration has permanently changed Canada. Finally, some books on politicians, these ones in the United States, yes still crazy after all these years.
Israel's expanding settlement poke in Vice-President Joe Biden's eye last week raises questions whether Washington can tell Jerusalem to get lost.
I am a big Joe Biden fan. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/opinion/14friedman.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
A discussion about the sustainability of US-Israeli ties. Still very deep.
The Post asked former officials and policy experts whether there is a divide between the Obama administration and the Jewish state. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/12/AR2010031203570.html?wprss=rss_opinions
As China rises Japan is forced to navigate its need to trade with the looming threat to its security. How to play the American card particularly as the lost decade becomes the lost century.
In different ways, two articles published in Western media outlets this week suggest the emergence of a new narrative concerning Japan in elite circles in the United States. http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2010/03/13/western-medias-new-losing-japan-narrative/
In the summer of 1992 having been famously wrong about the positive impact that falling interest rates would have on the Japanese economy, I began to rethink the risks to Japan. By January 1993 I began to make the case that what ailed Japan was not cyclical but structural. Trying to get Japanese policy makers to listen was impossible. Seventeen years later the evaporation in confidence today may be even more dangerous than the overconfidence then.
Japan’s vast confidence that its companies had perfected the route to the future lingered for years after 1992, when the Great Bubble burst. While an investment analyst for Kleinwort Benson as-was, on a mission to Tokyo to recommend British printing and media stocks, I remember standing at the hotel window, 20 or so floors up, looking across the skyline at the neon logos of the world-beating giants of Japanese industry and seriously considering getting straight back on the plane home. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article7061726.ece
Strong India-Russia relations born of India's non-alliance strategy, and Sino-US rapprochement, remain an important feature Asian strategic thinking. Getting out of Afghanistan, the Great Game of central Asia, and China's rising influence are once again bringing these two very different countries together.
Even though Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin's India trip lasted just about 22 hours, it was no quick stopover. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Old-Friends/articleshow/5682877.cms
The Economist shines on light on the great divide between the state and society in Russia, and how this is preventing an excellent future from taking root.
IMAGINE a town or settlement of 30,000 people, probably near Moscow. Its high-tech laboratories and ultra-modern glass houses make California’s Palo Alto look ancient. It has a greater concentration of scientists than anywhere else in the world. The atmosphere in the town is free, cosmopolitan and creative, almost anarchic at times. Police harassment is minimal, “at least to start with”. Riff-raff and drunks from surrounding villages are kept away by tight security. http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15661865
The case for a tougher line on Chinese currency manipulation.
Tensions are rising over Chinese economic policy, and rightly so: China’s policy of keeping its currency, the renminbi, undervalued has become a significant drag on global economic recovery. Something must be done. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/opinion/15krugman.html?ref=global-home
China's inflation fears. Does this mean that the currency will be allowed to appreciate or that state driven bank lending will be slowed or both or neither? Who knows.
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, put tackling inflation at the top of the policy agenda on Sunday and suggested that the survival of Communist party rule might depend upon it. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3120b1fe-2f6b-11df-9153-00144feabdc0.html
As the bunting comes down on the third session of the 11th National People’s Congress, what do China-watchers know now that they didn’t know a week ago? Not a lot. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3/aa24ac6a-2f8c-11df-9153-00144feabdc0.html
If a trade war erupts over Chinese currency policy, the South Koreans would be caught in the middle.
The Chinese economy has performed better than any other economy around the globe. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2010/03/202_62401.html
Pakistan positions itself as a key player in dealing with Afghanistan in part to gain leverage over India.
There is confidence in Islamabad that its new importance to international interests in the region can be leveraged to secure its own interests vis-a-vis India. http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article102550.ece
I am convinced that measureable goals will be part of the building blocks of an excellent future. At the centre are changing today's worst in class Canadian Aboriginal education, health, community and economic outcomes to best in class Canadian outcomes, and moving women to the centre of power such as representation on the boards of director of publically listed companies and political representation. Today thoughts on the latter, and putting motherhood part at the centre of the solution and not the problem.
For today’s women “motherhood, not sexism, is the issue”. So says The Economist (“We Did It”, 30 December 2009), noting that “women who prosper in high-pressure companies in their 20s drop out in dramatic numbers in their 30s and then find it almost impossible to regain earlier momentum”. http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-make-politics-fit-womens-lives-not-viceversa-18285.html
A new report on rape in the United Kingdom.
The reporting, investigation and prosecution of rape in England and Wales must undergo a fundamental change or thousands more women will continue to be failed by the criminal justice system, a landmark review finds today. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/britains-rape-laws-to-be-rewritten-1921407.html
The six percent claim.
Persistent claims that only six per cent of rapes end in conviction was seen as a useful "campaigning tool " by some but was "extremely unhelpful", warned Baroness Stern, the cross-bench peer who carried out a six month review in to tackling rape. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7442785/Rape-conviction-rate-figures-misleading.html
Lisa Longstaff, a spokeswoman for Women Against Rape, said the report was a whitewash.
"The reason that six per cent figure is there is because we have fought for it. We want to know how few reported rapes get to conviction," she said. She said it reflected the failure of the justice system. http://www.womenagainstrape.net/
Canadians are convinced that there is room to cut government spending. Union officials warn that Canadians will miss government services. And 'round and 'round we go. It is inconceivable that an institution -- the Canadian federal government -- that spends $230 billion a year is doing things that are not out dated, not driven by ideology, not determined by privilege and politics. What is required is a statement about how public policy should be determined and what are the key goals. How about, inclusive, affordable and measureable, and how about the goals of best in class education, health, community and economic outcomes?
Canadians think the best way to balance the federal books is on the backs of public servants, according to a new national opinion poll. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadians-back-public-sector-cuts-as-deficit-fighting-tool/article1500553/
One thing all Canadians do is eat, I guess that passes the inclusivity test. Are US food safety standards protecting Canadians more than Canadian food safety standards, or is this just protectionism.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is scrambling to maintain an increased presence at dozens of large meat-processing plants after auditors from the United States Department of Agriculture found inspections were too infrequent to meet U.S. food-safety standards, newly released internal records show. http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2682381
Look around, Canada is the world, the trick is how to make the world Canadian. The great Canadian burqa divide is an interesting start.
A baby born in Toronto or its suburbs today will attend grade school in a region where the white population is in the minority, Statistics Canada reports. We are fast becoming a global community that glories in its diversity, vibrancy and cultural riches. The world is us. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/778668--a-muslim-veil-roils-quebec
Finally, a review of a couple of books that reveal how out of normal politicians, at least in the US, really are.
It was 1976 and I was interviewing Democratic presidential candidates as they came through Boston for the Massachusetts primary. One of them was Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, who came into our radio studios with a small entourage. The Washington state Democrat talked about his issues, mostly national defense. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703625304575116091277942862.html?mod=rss_opinion_main
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