mfioretti: india* + china*

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  1. The events of the past year have demonstrated a decisive shift in power away from the West, which is facing its terminal decline, columnist Christopher Booker wrote in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on Saturday.

    “What we were seeing in 2015, more than ever before, were the signs of one of history’s great geopolitical shifts, as the centuries-old hegemony of the West gives way to the new powerhouses of the outside world,” wrote Booker.

    The author cited recent visits by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Britain, during which, “led by David Cameron, our politicians could not have fawned more humiliatingly.”

    Flowers, candles and toys to commemorate the Airbus A321 victims, outside the Russian general consulate in Riga
    © Sputnik/ Oksana Dzhadan
    A Year of Terror: the World Bids Farewell to 2015
    Europe’s refugee crisis, the threat of terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East, “reduced to chaos by our vainglorious interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya,” have all shown the inadequacy of the old world order, said Booker.

    “Everywhere we see Western illusions colliding with reality, as when the reckless bid to suck Ukraine into the EU and Nato inevitably provoked a response from President Putin and a Russian sense of national interest that has left us looking pathetically impotent.”

    “We might well be haunted by the brilliant title of that otherwise not very good book written by Otto Spengler in the Twenties, Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West). All civilisations, as we know, eventually decline, and Spengler’s title was just 90 years ahead of its time.”

    ​Booker’s article in the Daily Telegraph, which argues that “our spoiled, emasculated, de‑spiritualised societies in the West are in terminal decline.” A survey of readers that accompanied his column found that the majority agreed with him.

    “The reason why we do not see just how far our spoiled, emasculated, despiritualised societies in the West have lost the plot is that they are the bubble we live in. But these days there is a great big world out there, much less sentimental and much tougher than what we have become used to. Over the coming years, our world is going to change more than we can imagine,” warned the columnist.

    Everywhere we see Western illusions colliding with reality, as when the reckless bid to suck Ukraine into the EU and Nato inevitably provoked a response from President Putin and a Russian sense of national interest that has left us looking pathetically impotent. Likewise, in his support for Syria’s President Assad, Putin has run rings round the West, just as the murderous regime in Iran ran rings round us in that recent “nuclear deal”, so meaningless that Iran’s “moderate” President Rouhani never even bothered to sign it, almost immediately authorising two illegal tests of nuclear-capable missiles, knowing that no action from the West would follow.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world...-the-Westare-in-terminal-decline.html
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  2. Left to nature alone, the population on earth would be give or take 50% men and 50% women, according to what's become known as Fisher’s Principle. The fact that women generally live longer (PDF, page 259) is compensated by the fact of more boys being born than girls (107 boys per 100 girls in 2013).

    In 1961, the earliest year the World Bank provides data for, the world was within 0.09 percentage points of a perfectly equal distribution. Ever since, the gap has widened; now men outnumber women on the planet by almost 60 million.

    The male surplus is the result of various, partly diverging trends. In 2013, female population in individual countries ranged from 23 to 55%. Some countries have seen a change of as much as 19 percentage points over the past five decades, others have had notable ups or downs within relatively short periods.
    http://qz.com/335183/heres-why-men-on-earth-outnumber-women-by-60-million
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-01-30)
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  3. Questa è la lettera aperta di Tiziano Terzani datata ottobre 2001, in risposta all’articolo “La rabbia e l’orgoglio” di Oriana Fallaci, che la scrittrice aveva pubblicato all’indomani dell’attacco alle Torri Gemelle dell’11 settembre.

    è evidente che al fondo di tutti i problemi odierni degli americani e nostri nel Medio Oriente c’è, a parte la questione israeliano-palestinese, la ossessiva preoccupazione occidentale di far restare nelle mani di regimi “amici”, qualunque essi fossero, le riserve petrolifere della regione. Questa è stata la trappola. L’occasione per uscirne è ora. Perchè non rivediamo la nostra dipendenza economica dal petrolio? Perchè non studiamo davvero, come avremmo potuto già fare da una ventina d’anni, tutte le possibili fonti alternative di energia? Ci eviteremmo così d’essere coinvolti nel Golfo con regimi non meno repressivi ed odiosi dei talebani; ci eviteremmo i sempre più disastrosi “contraccolpi” che ci verranno sferrati dagli oppositori a quei regimi, e potremmo comunque contribuire a mantenere un migliore equilibrio ecologico sul pianeta. Magari salviamo così anche l’Alaska che proprio un paio di mesi fa è stata aperta ai trivellatori, guarda caso dal presidente Bush, le cui radici politiche – tutti lo sanno – sono fra i petrolieri.

    A proposito del petrolio, Oriana, sono certo che anche tu avrai notato come, con tutto quel che si sta scrivendo e dicendo sull’Afghanistan, pochissimi fanno notare che il grande interesse per questo paese è legato al fatto d’essere il passaggio obbligato di qualsiasi conduttura intesa a portare le immense risorse di metano e petrolio dell’Asia Centrale (vale a dire di quelle repubbliche ex-sovietiche ora tutte, improvvisamente, alleate con gli Stati Uniti) verso il Pakistan, l’India e da lì nei paesi del Sud Est Asiatico. Il tutto senza dover passare dall’Iran. Nessuno in questi giorni ha ricordato che, ancora nel 1997, due delegazioni degli “orribili” talebani sono state ricevute a Washington (anche al Dipartimento di Stato) per trattare di questa faccenda e che una grande azienda petrolifera americana, la Unocal, con la consulenza niente di meno che di Henry Kissinger, si è impegnata col Turkmenistan a costruire quell’oleodotto attraverso l’Afghanistan.

    E dunque possibile che, dietro i discorsi sulla necessità di proteggere la libertà e la democrazia, l’imminente attacco contro l’Afghanistan nasconda anche altre considerazioni meno altisonanti, ma non meno determinanti. E per questo che nell’America stessa alcuni intellettuali cominciano a preoccuparsi che la combinazione fra gli interessi dell’industria petrolifera con quelli dell’industria bellica – combinazione ora prominentemente rappresentata nella compagine al potere a Washington – finisca per determinare in un unico senso le future scelte politiche americane nel mondo e per limitare all’interno del paese, in ragione dell’emergenza anti-terrorismo, i margini di quelle straordinarie libertà che rendono l’America così particolare. Il fatto che un giornalista televisivo americano sia stato redarguito dal pulpito della Casa Bianca per essersi chiesto se l’aggettivo “codardi”, usato da Bush, fosse appropriato per i terroristi-suicidi, così come la censura di certi programmi e l’allontanamento da alcuni giornali, di collaboratori giudicati non ortodossi, hanno aumentato queste preoccupazioni.

    un giorno la politica dovrà ricongiungersi con l’etica se vorremo vivere in un mondo migliore: migliore in Asia come in Africa, a Timbuctu come a Firenze. A proposito, Oriana. Anche a me ogni volta che, come ora, ci passo, questa città mi fa male e mi intristisce. Tutto è cambiato, tutto è involgarito. Ma la colpa non è dell’Islam o degli immigrati che ci si sono installati. Non son loro che han fatto di Firenze una città bottegaia, prostituita al turismo! E successo dappertutto. Firenze era bella quando era più piccola e più povera. Ora è un obbrobrio, ma non perchè i musulmani si attendano in Piazza del Duomo, perchè i filippini si riuniscono il giovedì in Piazza Santa Maria Novella e gli albanesi ogni giorno attorno alla stazione. E così perchè anche Firenze s’é “globalizzata”, perchè non ha resistito all’assalto di quella forza che, fino ad ieri, pareva irresistibile: la forza del mercato. Nel giro di due anni da una bella strada del centro in cui mi piaceva andare a spasso è scomparsa una libreria storica, un vecchio bar, una tradizionalissima farmacia ed un negozio di musica. Per far posto a che? A tanti negozi di moda. Credimi, anch’io non mi ci ritrovo più. Per questo sto, anch’io ritirato, in una sorta di baita nell’Himalaya indiana dinanzi alle più divine montagne del mondo. Passo ore, da solo, a guardarle, lì maestose ed immobili, simbolo della più grande stabilità, eppure anche loro, col passare delle ore, continuamente diverse e impermanenti come tutto in questo mondo.
    http://www.matteogracis.it/sull-islam-non-aveva-ragione-la-fallaci
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  4. According to a new Cost-Competitiveness Index, the nations often perceived as having low manufacturing costs — such as China, Brazil, Russia, and the Czech Republic — are no longer much cheaper than the U.S. In some cases, they are estimated to be even more expensive. Chinese manufacturing wages have nearly quintupled since 2004, while Mexican wages have risen by less than 50 percent in U.S. dollar terms, contrary to our long-standing misconception that their labors were being slaved. In the same period, the U.S. wage is essentially flat, whereas Mexican wages have risen only 67%. Not all countries are taking full advantage of their low-cost advantages, however. The report found that global competiveness in manufacturing is undermined in nations such as India and Indonesia by several factors, including logistics, the overall ease of doing business, and inflexible labor markets.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/dramati...39.html;_ylt=AwrSyCQzJPVTSxMAuNiTmYlQ
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  5. the carbon footprints of developing countries are oversized in part because they are manufacturing so much of our junk for us. The world’s richest countries are increasingly outsourcing their carbon pollution to China and other rising economie.

    Much of that rise was due to the burning of coal, the report says. And much of that coal was used to power factories in China and other rising economies that produce goods for US and European consumers, the draft adds.

    The heavy reliance on coal by China, India, and the like, combined with the transportation of raw materials and finished goods, actually makes the problem of global warming worse than if we had manufactured our own consumer goods.

    factories in Asia aren’t just pumping out CO2 that’s warming the whole planet. They’re also pumping out air pollutants that cause smog and make people sick, and those pollutants are coming to U.S. shores
    http://grist.org/news/we-export-carbo...tion&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed
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  6. are there alternatives? Very much so. There is an emerging global movement that emphasises increased consumer participation in (ostensibly) ecologically sound and socially just food systems. And for increasing production using ecologically sound methods, – so-called sustainable intensification, – there is a great deal of agroecological practice worldwide that is recognised by researchers.

    In India, farmers are revitalising rice production by applying principles of the System of Rice Intensification. In some states, the technique has been officially endorsed and supported.

    Across Africa, sustainable production practices, designed with farmer participation, have raised yields, and enhanced the agricultural landscape. Such practices have also contributed to a range of human development goals, such as food security, alleviating poverty, and improving skills and knowledge. These systems and practices are designed to do more than just conserve resources and boost yields. More ambitious, they aim to feed people balanced, nutrient-rich diets, while reversing the substantially damaging effects on land, plant and wildlife biodiversity that industrial agriculture has wrought.
    http://theconversation.com/how-to-fee...onversationedu+%28The+Conversation%29
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  7. While stark, bare rock has its merits, it’s pretty undeniable that the Himalaya’s 50,000-plus glaciers add to the scenic appeal. What’s more, a huge chunk of Asia relies on them for water; it’s probably a safe bet that the thirsty multitudes therein will be a bigger problem than a few miffed trekkers.
    http://grist.org/climate-energy/disap...tion&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed
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  8. Instead of increased reliance on gas imports expected five years ago the US now has an abundance of cheap gas for domestic use, and is even projecting LNG exports. Reliance on oil imports has fallen from a peak of 60% (2005) to a current 45%; by 2040 it’s projected to be 37%. The most recent report of the US Energy Information Administration includes projections that shale gas will supply around half of US gas production by 2040. “Tight oil” will make up about one-third of its oil needs.

    In oil markets there is essentially a single world price (correcting for transport costs, grades, sulphur content etc). But gas markets remain regionally segmented. This is reflected in the short term advantage from shale-influenced low gas prices in the US compared with much higher gas prices in the EU and East Asia, where, as a regionally tradable commodity, its price is linked to the high oil prices emerging since around 2004.

    However, once the competitive effects of international LNG trade hit the US domestic market for gas, this locational advantage for gas-intensive industries will be eroded.

    Some analysts claim that the NCP boom can be a foundation for reasserting US global primacy. Indeed, a special policy unit has been set up in the State Department in support of enhancing US global energy strategy, within a system of world power that is no longer unipolar.

    The NCP boom may also present more particular threats to powers viewed as US rivals or adversaries, notably some OPEC states and Russia, reducing their market power or political leverage.

    Both China and India have a substantial need for diverse, secure and relatively low-cost supplies of natural gas.

    As to Russia, expanding US exports of LNG to the EU will undercut its leverage as the EU’s major supplier of gas imported by pipeline. US LNG exports would also tend to reduce Russian export revenues, with an adverse impact on its economy. Hence, Russia is looking for new gas markets in East Asia. The US, in its “new great game” with Russia, to that extent has an interest in diversifying gas supplies to China and the rest of Asia.
    http://theconversation.edu.au/how-is-...affecting-the-rest-of-the-world-12103
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  9. China is already showing signs of fulfilling the prophecy. Its largest quarterly business survey showed that confidence among property developers had collapsed to a point where it was worse than the lowest point in the 2008 recession.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/20.../11/skyscrapers-china-india-recession
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  10. Rising wages are sending its manufacturing jobs to Cambodia, Vietnam, India — and the U.S.
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2078121-1,00.html
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