S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Breaching boundaries -

A shrinking earth - As national borders become more and more permeable, the earth seems to be shrinking. There is good news and bad news in that. The bad news is that all this global change seems to be happening at an alarming rate. The good news is that countries about which we worry are able to change as they get new and better information. National borders are permeable to news. China's tightly censored information ministry is quite cognizant of climate change, for example. The latest news on energy saving measures that work has been able to get through the Chinese government. Making rapid adjustments produced this headline: "Air-con limits for China workers," from the BBC News (of 6/27/07). To quote from the story,
The government has decreed that they cannot use air conditioning to take the temperature below 26C (78.8F), the official Xinhua news agency reports.

Until recently, the Chinese solution to providing energy in buildings was simply to build more power stations.

Now they are building two a week and still cannot satisfy demand, so they are focusing on saving energy, too.
Borders penetrated - National borders do not always provide needed protections. Those of us who eat more fish as a way to good health have been forced to take a second look at our foreign food sources, namely China. There are times when border protections need to be enhanced. An article in the International Herald Tribune of 6/28/07, was headlined, "Farmed fish from China subject to scrutiny in U.S." To quote from it,
Imports of five species of farmed Chinese seafood will be detained until they can be shown free of potentially dangerous antibiotics, U.S. government health officials said Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration said it would detain the catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel after repeated testing has turned up contamination with drugs unapproved in the United States for use in farmed seafood.

. . . Beyond the fish, federal regulators have warned consumers in recent weeks about lead paint in toy trains, defective tires and toothpaste made with diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient more commonly found in antifreeze. All the products were imported from China.

Ideas sneak through borders - National borders have become more permeable to different political philosophies and ideas. China's government can no longer trust its great wall to maintain Communism in the face of migrating free-thinking philosophies from the decadent West. On 6/26/07, this headline intrigued LA Times readers: "Marx loses currency in new China." It leads a fascinating story by Michael Landsberg. Quoting just a bit from the article,

Teaching socialism is mandatory, but learning it is monotonous for today's students, who revere money more than Mao.

. . . Still, it isn't easy to find students who will expressly renounce Marxism.

It may be because they know that to succeed in China, it helps immensely to be a member of the ruling Communist Party. It may be because Marxism and Maoist philosophy are so deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese life that students take them for granted, the way some American students accept a constitutional democracy without thinking too deeply about the alternatives. It may be because they truly believe in Marxism, and see the current period as a necessary stage on the path to true communism.

Climate ignores man-made borders - No arbitrary national borders can ever protect the earth's environment. We are all in this "tiny lifeboat" together, according to Garret Hardin. One of the most fascinating sections of Landsberg's Los Angeles Times story is about teaching Chinese Junior High students about the earth's environment. Note that the curriculum, amazingly, was developed in part by British oil company, BP. To quote further from the above article,

. . . At the school, students are participating in a pilot program to learn the fundamentals of environmentalism, as part of a "values" class that used to contain a strong dose of Marxist ideology.

Tian Qing, a professor of environmental education at Beijing Normal University, said this was one of 30 schools in Beijing, and a larger number scattered around the country, using an environmental curriculum developed in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund and the British oil giant BP.

. . . Talking over tea at the Education Ministry's modern offices in central Beijing, education official Zhou laughed a bit about today's students.

"They don't believe in God or communism," he said. "They're practical. They only worship the money."

Border gates open - Even North Korea's inpenetrable borders can be breached. Halfway around the world, this so-called "enemy" country is showing a surprising capacity for change. In an amazing turnabout in recent months, this mistrustful nation has admitted nuclear inspectors from the IAEA. Today's headline, "IAEA team completes N Korea nuclear tour," is from London's Financial Times.

The inspectors’ visit will bolster hopes that Pyongyang will make good on its pledge to shut down the 5 megawatt reactor and reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, the source of the plutonium used for last year’s nuclear test.

Price at the border, fuel oil - It took the United States far too long to decide to talk to remote and faraway North Korea. But finally the world dragged us along towards a practical deal. The forces of diplomacy overtook the reactionary, rigid neocon forces that held sway over our current president's mistrustful view. Now we are in "trust and verify" mode. And this is the resulting headline, "North Korea to shut plutonium reactor in 3 weeks" from Quoting the story,

Story Highlights

• Agreement reached after surprise visit by U.S. envoy
• Reactor was to have been closed in April, but separate dispute stalled plan
• $25 million of frozen North Korean money has now been freed

. . . Christopher Hill -- the chief U.S. negotiator at international talks on North Korea's nuclear programs -- said they were looking at a three-week time frame for shutting down the Yongbyon reactor, when asked by reporters on his arrival at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

. . . North Korea is to ultimately get aid worth 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil and other political concessions when it disables the reactor.

Boundaries will constantly change - Because all this global change seems to be happening at such an alarming rate, I will be revisiting this subject once a week via the "Other Nations-Sat" label of the S/SW blog.


  1. Climate Change - BBC News

  2. Environment - Reuters


  4. News from American Association for the Advancement of Science

  5. Sierra Club - E.D. Carl Pope's blog "Taking the Initiative"

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