World Military Expenditures

We were discussing something in our recent UIL Current Issues and Events meeting – I can’t remember what – and this came up.  I knew we spent almost as much on military expenditures as the rest of the world combined, and here it is in a pie chart.

No wonder we can’t afford Pell grants – we’re too busy giving money to Boeing and XE  Services.

Global warming: Not a Myth

earth see from the moom

Global warming: Propaganda creates myth of disagreement « Summit County Citizens Voice.

Scientists nearly unanimous on climate change; public not getting the message

The fact that climate scientists agree that global warming is taking place is not getting through to the public, due in large part to a misinformation campaign.

George Mason University researchers recently discovered that there is still a high degree of public confusion about the level of agreement among researchers.

About two-thirds of the respondents in a national survey said they either believed there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening (45 percent), that most scientists think it is not happening (5 percent), or that they did not know enough to say (16 percent). These respondents were less likely to support climate change policies and to view climate change as a lower priority.

If you don’t think its true, then of course you wouldn’t support policies aimed at studying and reversing it.

“It is no accident that so many Americans misunderstand the widespread scientific agreement about human-caused climate change. A well-financed disinformation campaign deliberately created a myth about there being lack of agreement. The climate science community should take all reasonable measures to put this myth to rest,” said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

There are many things we can do to help minimize these changes, as well as help nations such as the Maldives and Bangladesh deal with the consequences of human-caused climate change.  But first, we have to understand it really is happening.

Count Your Blessings

	 Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times  Dao Ngoc Phung, center, is obsessed with education as a way for the family to get ahead. She devotes herself to overseeing the schoolwork by her younger brother, Tien, and sister, Huong.

via Girls Just Want to Go to School –

Phung wakes her brother and sister, and then after breakfast they all trundle off to school. For Phung, that means a 90-minute bicycle ride each way. She arrives at school 20 minutes early to be sure she’s not late.

In a poor village in Vietnam,  Phung dreams of being an accountant.  During the week, she is the parent to her younger siblings while her father works in the city.  Their mother died of cancer a few years ago.

But Phung, and millions of other Asians in poor situations like hers, persevere because they know that education is their only hope to lift them out of poverty.

For all the differences between Vietnam and America, here’s a common truth: The best way to sustain a nation’s competitiveness is to build human capital. I wish we Americans, especially our politicians, could learn from Phung that our long-term strength will depend less on our aircraft carriers than on the robustness of our kindergartens, less on financing spy satellites than on financing Pell grants.

We have the luxury of a outstanding public education system, and few of our students have a 90 minute bike ride to attend their local school.  We need to do a better job of convincing children and their parents that it matters, or we’ll end up with Vietnam outsourcing their jobs to us.

The Winter of China’s Discontent

Sephora store at the mall in Shanghai, China

via Social tensions in China: Beware low-flying aeroplanes | The Economist.

Toddler playing, Nanjing, China

TWO recent trends show the tensions that are growing at both the top and bottom ranks of Chinese society. The first concerns artist-cum-activist and all-round scourge of the Communist Party, Ai Weiwei.

After he was charged with a $2.4m tax bill, Mr. Ai’s supporters began sending him money.  Some is even sent over his garden wall in paper airplanes.  The Government, of course, doesn’t like it one bit.

The Chinese government, desperate to prevent such shows of support for a man it considers to be deeply subversive, has attempted to prevent the contributions.


And then, at the other end of the spectrum are those with disabilities.  In China, they are usually kept out of sight, hidden away and doomed to a pitiful existence.  And then suddenly this:

Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist being held under house arrest in the eastern province of Shandong. Mr Chen, who lost his sight as a child, became well-known between 2000 and 2005 as an outspoken supporter for the rights of the disabled in China.

He was jailed for speaking against forced family planning measures, and now his village is “guarded” by government thugs.

But in recent weeks, using their mobile phones and the internet to organise, groups of ordinary Chinese people have begun to show up at Chen’s village. Some, including one intrepid group of disabled people from Anhui province, have travelled hundreds of kilometres to demonstrate moral support for Chen’s stand.

What outsiders don’t realize is how dangerous it can be for an ordinary Chinese citizen to associate with a dissident.  “Guilt by association” leads to prison time in China; there is no presumption of innocence.

So ordinary people are finally starting to take tentative steps toward standing up to the Communist government.  In the cities, things are changing, too.

For the past several years the Communist government has relied on the rising wages and prosperity of the people to allay discontent.

The Chinese government has long relied on the anaesthetic of prosperity to keep urbanites happy and to keep them from mobilising politically. And, having seen how the movement was suppressed in Tiananmen Square in 1989, urban Chinese have been only too happy to stay clear of politics and concentrate on making money.

But among those at the very top, that is changing.  Although they are not politically active in China, they are voting with their feet – and moving out, taking their money with them.  Reasons for the exodus of the wealthy include the horrid pollution, corruption, and wanting a better education for their children.

So, not only is discontent bubbling up from below, but it is clearly fizzing at the top as well, where confidence that China can continue on its present path seems to be decreasing. The two segments of society, so different on the face of it, are in fact two sides of the same coin. They show that China’s model for development is increasingly unable to contain the society it has created.

How long will it be before enough people have “had it” with the Chinese government?  What will happen then?  Or will China change enough to prevent another revolution?  Only time will tell.

Arrgh! Chinese Navy to fight Somali Pirates

via Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 — English Window to China News.

Chinese Navy personnel, members of the 10th naval escort flotilla, wave goodbye from on deck of the missile destroyer Haikou before departing yesterday from Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province. The Haikou, along with the frigate Yuncheng, is bound for the Gulf of Aden and waters off the coast of Somalia to protect merchant vessels against pirate attacks. The ships will relieve the Wuhan and Yulin from the Chinese Navy’s ninth flotilla, which has patrolled the area since July. The new warships will join the Qinghaihu, a supply ship in the region.


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