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Showing posts from June, 2015

The United Nations vs. the G-7 and the G-20: Does the UN Still Matter?

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This is my first post about the UN and my upcoming non-fiction book about it - if you missed the "turn" my blog recently took, read the post explaining my approach to "blogging my book" here. What I want to do is share with you some of the major findings that will be presented in the book (tentative title: "Soft Power, How Politics Work at the United Nations").
In a globalized world where traditional states are losing sovereignty to new actors like transnational corporations,  the question arises whether the United Nations, originally conceived as a “club of governments”, still plays a role in international politics.
In fact,transnationals have been larger and moved more capital than many UN member states; a 2007 UNCTAD report provided an arresting snapshot of the "universe of the largest transnational corporations", pointing out that transnational corporations have been driving growth in global trade and foreign direct investment in all sectors s…

Last Euro Days for Greece? A Silver Lining

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Grexit is fast becoming a reality and the blame game has exploded.

The Eurogroup of Ministers of finance were quick to push the Greeks out of their last-minute Saturday meeting that was supposed to wind up the bailout negotiations.

What happened? They reportedly slammed the door after a tweet announced that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had called for a referendum on the proposals of the "troika" - the  European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

A tweet? I am amazed. It seems that Euro-zone Finance Ministers when they meet to discuss a serious matter like what to do with the Greek bailout are actually following Twitter on their phones. Not only that, but they immediately react by saying that if the Greeks go to a referendum, then they have nothing to discuss.

Exit the Greeks.

Perhaps finance ministers are obtuse and don't understand that at this point in the game, Grexit has stopped being a financial or economic matter, it is a …

About Chicha Dancing, Empty Streets and Women Equality

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This is the continuation of the previous blog post that introduced you to Vicky, a tall and elegant American woman in her mid-thirties, a UN official on a project evaluation mission to Peru - the time is the early 1990s. 
She goes to a chicha dancing place in Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon, accompanied by Ben Khedara, the project manager. He is a middle-aged widower of Arab origin, as his name suggests. ( to read the previous post click here). 
Here then is what happens to Khedara and Vicky as they sit down in front of two pisco drinks:  They made an unlikely couple, thought Vicky, in a chicha dancing place lost in the jungle, far away from the tourist circuits. She knew she was the kind of woman you’d never expect to see sitting next to a mature, almost elderly man, with thick glasses and a balding head. Her Parisian chic was a stark contrast to his no-nonsense, middle-class attire of plain cotton shirt and jeans. She was uncomfortably aware that she looked like the kind of wealthy wo…

Peru's Wild Chicha Music

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This is my first installment in this new life for my blog and I thought I'd start with music - if you missed the "turn" my blog just took, read the previous post here.

It so happens that in an early chapter of This Day's Madness, the novel I mentioned in my last post, Peru's unique chicha music plays an unexpected role. Chicha is of course also a drink (usually made from corn, often fermented) and the music is sometimes called "cumbia", a term used in Colombia. But the Peruvians prefer to call it "chicha".

While I had heard chicha when I traveled to Peru in the early 1990's, I didn't bring back any records. So I checked it out on YouTube - ah, the wonders of the digital age, it certainly makes our writer's job of researching a lot easier! And here is what I found:





Do you like it? Yes, a very lively beat, great to dance to. Though it really sounds better if you're actually there, for example, in a Lima club such as this one:

An…

Blogging for a Cause

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This follows on my blog post last week highlighting the gap that exists between the United Nations and the political world as it really is  - the gap between ideals humanity strives for and the stark reality it has to live in, battered by war, pollution, inequality, and I gave the example of the President of Sudan's shameful escape from justice (he was indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, see here).

Dear reader, that insufferable gap is what is pushing me to write about the United Nations.

Of course, I realize that a modest blog and my writing can't change the world. And I don't expect to be able to move many of you (if anyone) to start doing something (anything!) to improve mankind's lot. But if I can bring a little support to the many who work hard every day for a better world, that would be enough for me. That would make me happy.

That's why I've decided to consecrate my blog to the United Nations - fiction and non-fiction.

Now I'm …

Grexit: Europe's Darkest Hour

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Every day, Europe is moving closer to the brink. And the rest of the world - America and China included - will feel the tsunami when the Euro sinks.

The winds of recession are blowing, and their source is Europe and the incompetence of its political leaders. 

Grexit, the possibility that Greece would move out of the Eurozone, was always there of course. It is  at the heart of the Euro crisis, but it was only just that: a possibility. Now it is fast becoming a certainty.

The Greeks themselves have given up in spite of their long-held conviction  that Greece should remain in the Euro - a conviction they have bravely  demonstrated  by their willingness to endure huge sacrifices to stay in, losing 25% of their GDP over the past five years, an enormous amount, not to mention galloping unemployment.

Since Monday, in just one week, Greek citizens have withdrawn €4 billion from their own banks.

A massive run  on banks, the classic scenario before economic collapse.

If the Greek banking sys…

The Gap Between the UN and Political Reality

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A world without war.


That was the dream of the United Nations' founding fathers. They had lived through World War II and they didn't want a repeat of the atrocities and destruction they had witnessed. They wanted permanent peace for future generations.

It never happened.

Seventy years have now passed since the creation of the United Nations, and war goes on, conflicts simmering here and there and exploding now and then. And the authors of those conflicts go unpunished, in spite of the UN efforts.

Why?

Because there is an apparently unbridgeable gap between the United Nations' lofty goals of peace and justice and political reality on the ground.

A gap that has never been larger as demonstrated by the most recent episode in the  Omar Hassan al-Bashir saga, the President of  Sudan who is on the run from the International Criminal Court since he was indicted on charges of war crimes,  crimes against humanity and genocide in 2006, at the express request of the UN S…