Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Do you agree with Joseph Stiglitz that inequality is a threat to growth and stability?

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

China recognises the danger of inequality while in the West politicians are silently implementing policies that increase the gap between rich and poor. Watch Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz discuss the pheonomena with Vanity Fair Contributing editor, William Cohan:

Interesting video, isn’t it. Above all how China and the U.S. are responding to the threat rising inequality pose to economic growth and stability. And it is not only in the United States that politicians are actively and quietly making sure the gap between rich and poor is growing. Believe it or not, but even in Sweden the government is implementing policies that take from the poor and give to the rich. So it comes as no surprise that poverty is increasing.

American approach to rising inequality

Simply put; doing nothing and in fact making the gap increase. Median income is the same as forty years ago and medium wealth the same as it was twenty years ago. In other words the US economy is not delivering to a large section of Americans.

For the Chinese it’s a top priority

Whatever your feelings about China you have to give them credit for getting somewhere between 400 and 500 million people out of poverty.

They know what problems inequality entails and reducing the gap between rich and poor is hence a top priority for their leadership. Why? Because they have seen first hand the detrimental impact inequality has on economic growth and stability. And in case you regard them as a communist country, don’t forget that Milton Friedman went to China and taught Deng Xiaoping how to implement neo liberal policies. And to this day the Chinese economy is run according to Milton Friedman’s gospel.

Who’s on the right path?

Sure, China is still much poorer that the US. Their per capita income is about a fifth of that of the United States. But don’t forget that they are growing on average 7-8% a year, while the US and Europe are hardly growing at all. In the not too distant future China will be the largest economy in the world and their voice in the global economy will carry much more impact.

Do you agree with Stiglitz that inequality is a threat to economic growth and stability? Is China right to make reducing the gap between rich and poor a top priority? Or is the US and EU doing the smart thing by implementing policies that increase inequality? What can the West do to increase equality? Do you agree with Joseph Stiglitz that better education for all, investment in technology and infrastructure would have a positive impact? Is that likely to happen in a society where politics are as divided as in the United States? What’s your recipe for reducing inequality? Or maybe you think it’s a good idea for the gap between rich and poor to increase?

Video: Asia Society – You Tube

Move over James Bond – here comes Flame!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Innovation is the name of the game and applies not only to businesses but espionage as well. Gone are the days when 007 was sent to sort out Blofeld. Bond is about to be made redundant and most of his work will be done online. Devote 2 minutes to watching  a cyber security expert explain the workings of espionage program Flame that is targeting governments and businesses in the Middle East:

Iran and Israel/Palestine have been the main targets which have made experts all over the world believe that America and/or Israel is behind it.

The New York Times have looked into Struxnet and Olympic Games (the code name given to it already by the Bush White House) for 18 months. According to their article, Struxnet suddenly started spreading into computers outside the Iranian nuclear plant and the Americans believed the Israelis had done something to enable that. Maybe that was the beginning of Flame? If so, it wouldn't surprise me if the hackers that work for Israel's Unit 8200, that I wrote about in  Cyber Warfare – Hackers to the rescue, were behind it. Maybe it's time to make "hacker" a profession and enable more of them to use their skills in positive ways to protect governments and businesses against this kind of attacks, instead of in destructive ways?

Imagine a virus that can delay exports

Flame not only steals information but is also said to have disrupted oil exports by shutting down Iranian oil terminals. But then again,  Struxnet destroyed some of Iran's nuclear centrifuges. 

What nation state is behind it?

security official in China was arrested this year for spying for the US. Maybe he handed over the information needed to get Flame into Chinese networks and places of interest?

Can't help wondering if some other nation could be behind Flame? The Chinese government is actually known for their cyber activities and so is Russia and Iran. But according to the above mentioned article in The New York Times, the era of viruses such as Flame started when George W. Bush was president. Having falsely accused Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction he had no credibility for, again, accusing a country of nuclear ambitions. And the Iranians knew it. So when Bush was presented with the opinion of cyber warfare he found the sophisticated cyber weapon too good to resist. Obama followed suit and in fact speeded up cyber attacks against the Iranians. 

Just read an article in in Foreign Policy Magazine asking if there are US special ops inside North Korea. Maybe to find the information needed to get Flame into places of interest in Pyongyang? If so, in the future Flame and its successors may take care of espionage in North Korea as well. The new cyber spy tool sounds to me not only to be up to the task but able to penetrate where ops cannot thread. 

The beginning of a new era

Seems to me that using viruses like Flame is the way of the future for espionage. Catch is, all nations will follow suit, if they haven't already. And that includes Iran and North Korea. In fact, how long will it take before Iran pays the US and Israel back for Struxnet?  It's essential for all countries in the world to boost their ability to withstand such attacks. And the same applies to businesses who may otherwise have their secrets stolen and their markets taken away. 

Do you believe viruses such as Flame is the way of the future? Should all countries and businesses increase their ability to withstand such attacks?Are the US and/or Israel behind Flame? Will the number of James Bonds in the world be gradually reduced? Catch is the Blofelds of this world neither are, not will be, in decline. Should hacking be made a profession in order to benefit from their skills? Is privacy gradually becoming a thing of the past? Will we all have to get used to a world where everything is seen and heard? If so, will the 007s or Blofelds be the winners? Or maybe the Bond Girls? If so, hopefully the good flames that end up with Bond in the end. The current Flame beats most honey traps, after all.

Video: ReutersTV -YouTube

Politicizing history serves no useful purpose

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The Swedish parliament voted a few days ago that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago was genocide. It followed a decision by a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives that approved a nonbinding measure condemning the 1915 killings.

Turks today can not be expected to take responsibility for what the Ottoman Turks did a century ago. If they are, then Swedes and Americans can also be held accountable for what happened in Sweden and the US before we were even born.

Why should today’s politicians vote on what happened in another part of the world almost a hundred years ago? What purpose does it serve? How can todays politicians believe they are able to judge historic events in another part of the world and even vote on what took place? What good does it do? Do they really think they are able to objectively judge something that happened a century ago? Members of parliament were not elected to vote on what happened in other parts of the world throughout history but to steer the country they serve, and the world, towards a prosperous future.

Seems that the vote took place because the opposition in Sweden wanted to cater to groups of immigrants to get their votes in the autumn elections. However, it still makes no sense since the leader of the opposition at the same time declares her support for Turkey joining the European Union. Considering the amount of immigrants in Sweden from Iraq and the Balkans presumably the next step will be parliament voting on events that took place in those parts of the world a hundred years ago? What do contemporary Swedish politicians know about that? How can that kind of opportunism be justified? Isn’t there a limit to how far politicians go to get more votes? Historic events in other parts of the world are not part of contemporary Swedish politics.

Genocide is horrendous. But numerous atrocities have been committed throughout history all over the world, unfortunately. The Vikings were no saints, for instance.

Today’s politicians are neither capable of voting on historic events nor is it their job to do so.
What relevance has the 1915 killings to politics in Sweden and the US today? What has already happened can not be changed the only things that politicians can influence is what happens from now on. And it is on such issues that today’s politicians are elected to vote.

Few ,if any, of the current population of Turkey were born when the killings took place, they didn’t commit those atrocities and can not be expected to take responsibility for what Ottoman Turks did a century ago. I certainly don’t want to take the blame for what happened before I was born, for instance neutral Sweden turning a blind eye to the Nazis during the second world war. How would Sweden feel if the Turkish parliament voted on condemning something that happened in Sweden a hundred years ago?

The only thing the votes have achieved is tension with Turkey. In fact so bad Swedish companies have had contracts and business meetings in Turkey cancelled. And for what? Getting a few more votes for the left wing opposition. How does it serve Sweden and the Swedes that Swedish companies lose money which could have a detrimental affect on creating new jobs? Even the Swedish government is against the vote and Prime Minster Reinfeldt made a call to that affect to Turkish PM Erdogan. That the foreign ministers of Sweden and Turkey held a joint press conference condemning the vote is good. Hopefully the fact that the Swedish government stands up and condemns such a vote will put an end to politicising history? If not, we will have to start electing historians for parliament.

photo: Mehrad HM – flickr