Thursday, May 31, 2007

Life + Debt (2001)

In 1962, Jamaica won its independence from the United Kingdom, and the island nation, which had long struggled with poverty, attempted to use its agricultural resources in order to create a sound economic base. As Jamaica's financial problems grew more severe with time, prime minister Michael Manley struck a deal in 1977 with a consortium of economic institutions through the International Monetary Fund, who would loan money to the nation in exchange for removal of trade restrictions and subsidized exports. Twenty-five years later, most Jamaicans would agree that the deal drove a stake through the island's agricultural and industrial economy; imports from America have ruined the island's dairy industry, interference from growers and merchants in the United States and Latin America have effectively ended the growing of onions, bananas, carrots, and potatoes as cash crops, the value of the Jamaican dollar has plummeted, and the island is now seven billion dollars in debt to the IMF, with interest driving that figure higher each day. Filmmaker Stephanie Black examines the sad state of Jamaica's economy in the face of "free trade" in the global economy in the documentary Life + Debt, which includes interviews with Michael Manley and IMF director Stanley Fischer; the Jamaica Kincaid novel A Small Place provides some of the text for the film's narration. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Most of the film is narrated by

Well so far it is an attack on the IMF-as expected. But for them to say the IMF made them devalue their currency denies the reality of the situation. If their currency did not indicate a devaluation then the reserves of the country would have increased substantially but I am safe to say that that never happened in the 25 years. And like usual, the IMF does not go out of its way to loan currencies at below market prices; the countries seek out IMF support not the other way around.

According to the film the IMF was built to loan short term loans to members of the winning side at the end of WWII. But then why did nearly all nations of the world become members. Aside from North Korea, Cuba and a couple of small islands, all nations of the world are members now.

MM describes the oil embargoes of the 70s as merely oil price increases. It is not like any country besides oil exporters that really benefited from the oil embargoes. The faced stagflation and slow growth for a decade at least. So it is not like Jamaica was targeted. It is interesting that close to the end of the film that there was riots over subsidized gas prices. I wonder if this was going on in the 70s also. That would explain a lot...

Jamaica first tried the private banks, and of course in a world wide melt down very few sources of free capital was available. Then he tried going to the IMF and asked for long term loans (5 years). Since 1977 they have established different lending modes that allowed for longer term loans, but initially the IMF was set up for SHORT-TERM loans to correct Balance of Payments issues-especially with respect to the current account balance. Yes, he is correct IMF was not interested or even has expertise in long term development as of the 70s.

As of December 2005, Jamaica owed nothing to the IMF and is a current member. Jamaica: Financial Position in the Fund
as of April 30, 2007
and a link to the latest Jamaica: 2007 Article IV Consultation - Staff Report; Staff Supplement; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for Jamaica, which is always a good read. Note that the IMF thus did not consider them eligible for HIPC debt relief. Well that proves to me that Dr. Michael Witter (Professor of Economics University of West Indies) is wrong that the IMF set "conditions that the government could not meet". He also assumes that health and education is the only two components of the Fiscal budget. And the IMF then is saying you have to cut these programs. Of course in the last decade some of the more stringent rules have been changed, as in Silva cutting defense budget and actually increasing health and human services.

But he is right that the terms of trade get worst for a country that devalues. And maybe the IMF should have considered the Absorption approach to the Balance of Payments effects.

A girlfriend of mine and myself did visit Jamaica and yes we did visit all the touristy places and enjoyed the beach. But she was Puerto Rican and so did slip away and visited with some natives. No revolution but she did smoke some weed. The resort that they show even looks like the Sandal resort we stayed at. Why would it matter where the food came from?

They talk about globalization and that they wanted their "own markets back" but then do not recognize that their massive tourist business is a derivative of globalization. I guess they would rather be like Haiti and not try to use their comparative advantages. Nothing says anything about have no restrictions on imports only they can't be arbitrary about the rules.

Those bad consumers decided that powdered milk was better than fresh milk? Something seems wrong with that picture. In the USA they can't give away powdered milk. It was claimed that the subsidy on powdered milk was 137% from the USA. They should have complained the WTO. ***

The Lome agreement (ACP countries) they state gives Jamaica a tariff free guaranteed market. Boy globalization sounds good to me.

Jagdish Bhagwati has shown that industrial free zones grow faster and develop faster than other parts of the countries that he has looked at.

Spring Valley Chicken Plant Jamaica, lost the market share since the US market has a high demand for chicken breast but this leaves a surplus of dark meat on the market which is sold on the Jamaican market.

Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Not too long after, it was settled by human rubbish from Europe. We used enslaved but noble and exalted human beings from Africa to satisfy their desire for wealth and power. Eventually the masters left, in a kind of way. Eventually the slaves were freed, in a kind of way. Once you ceased to be a master you're no longer human rubbish, you're just a human being and all that adds up to. And so too with the slaves, once they are no longer slaves, once they're free they are no longer noble and exalted, they are just human beings.

Good creation of binary oppositions.

It has in the bonus section a slide show on anti-globalization movements.
While the mainstream media readily focus on the confrontations, they rarely examine the critical issues that join such a rich cross-section of voices together in global protest. these images reflect a worldwide affirmation by millions of the need to make equality in economic opportunity an international priority.

But do these images conveyed any thought beyond "Bush is evil" and globalization is bad? No deep thoughts here is anyone was looking. It is amazing that I am sure 90% do not understand what they are protesting against.

Repost from: RDRutherfordMovieReviews

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

U.S. ranks 96 in new peace index|Global Peace Index

I just wanted to get this information out to reference and to direct people to the links so far. I will hopefully update the information as I find more.

The ranks by country on the study is located at: VoH Rankings. Obviously this looks biased when the USA is 96th and Israel is 119 out of 121 countries ranked. Surprise, surprise, surprise Jimmy Carter is involved as well as Professor Joseph Stiglitz from Key Endorsers for the Global Peace Index.

Some of the factors that do not make sense to me as with respect to USA is:
Ease of access to weapons of minor destruction 3
So it is like you sin if you give the citizens freedoms. It would be like judging sins of Christians by how close they are to a bar.

Number of jailed population per 100,000 people 5
A large percentage due to "War on Drugs". Sorry it is not a "War". But does jailing people mean that you are more peaceful or less. They assume the more you incarcerate the less peaceful you are. Maybe we give more freedoms like the weapons issues but prosecute more.

Potential for terriorist acts 4
Punishing the innocent again. Potential is not the issue only how it is prosecuted.

UN Deployments 2006-07 (percentage of total forces) 5
Why rank low for trying to maintain "Peaceful" UN deployments around the world? Isolationists do better.

Military capability/sophistication 5
PLEEEEEEEEEEAAAAASE, we will all live in peace and harmony if we only had sticks and stones. I think Rwanda shows that this is a logical fallacy.

Estimated number of deaths from organised conflict (external) 3
Again, punished for outside sources beyond our control.

Well I do like these types of reports but in the end I am greatly disappointed by the obvious bias and non-logical thinking, even if you use statistical measures.

Global Peace Index

Welcome to the Alliance for Peacebuilding!

Global Peace Index Report-PDF


Deconstruction/Binnary Opposition

Bumped for edit below.
I wanted to give a couple of links to look at deconstruction.
Usually the best place to start is Wiki so: Deconstruction.
What deconstruction is not

It is easier to explain what deconstruction is not than what it is. According to Derrida, deconstruction is not an analysis, a critique, a method, an act, nor an operation (Derrida, 1985, p. 3). Further, deconstruction is not, properly speaking, a synonym for "destruction." Rather, according to Barbara Johnson, it is a specific kind of analytical "reading":
Deconstruction is in fact much closer to the original meaning of the word 'analysis' itself, which etymologically means "to undo" — a virtual synonym for "to de-construct." ... If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. A deconstructive reading is a reading which analyzes the specificity of a text's critical difference from itself." (Johnson, 1981)

In addition, despite what Derrida's many detractors claim, deconstruction is not the same as nihilism or relativism. It is not the abandonment of all meaning, but attempts to demonstrate that Western thought has not satisfied its quest for a "transcendental signifier" that will give meaning to all other signs. According to Derrida, "Deconstruction is not an enclosure in nothingness, but an openness to the other" (Derrida, 1984, p. 124), and an attempt "to discover the non-place or non-lieu which would be that 'other' of philosophy" (ibid. p. 112). Thus, meaning is "out there," but it cannot be located by Western metaphysics, because text gets in the way.

It would also be good to read the link under Approaching a definition of deconstruction and understanding Binnary Opposition is also useful.

This next link has a interesting way of trying to teach Deconstruction: Tamara Door.
And for a pretty indepth look at Deconstruction: BEYOND DECONSTRUCTION.

Before I make your head explode, this next site is the first that says How To Deconstruct Almost Anything.
This is the story of one computer professional's explorations in the world of postmodern literary criticism. I'm a working software engineer, not a student nor an academic nor a person with any real background in the humanities. Consequently, I've approached the whole subject with a somewhat different frame of mind than perhaps people in the field are accustomed to. Being a vulgar engineer I'm allowed to break a lot of the rules that people in the humanities usually have to play by, since nobody expects an engineer to be literate. Ha. Anyway, here is my tale.
So, what are we to make of all this? I earlier stated that my quest was to learn if there was any content to this stuff and if it was or was not bogus. Well, my assessment is that there is indeed some content, much of it interesting. The question of bogosity, however, is a little more difficult. It is clear that the forms used by academicians writing in this area go right off the bogosity scale, pegging my bogometer until it breaks. The quality of the actual analysis of various literary works varies tremendously and must be judged on a case-by-case basis, but I find most of it highly questionable. Buried in the muck, however, are a set of important and interesting ideas: that in reading a work it is illuminating to consider the contrast between what is said and what is not said, between what is explicit and what is assumed, and that popular notions of truth and value depend to a disturbingly high degree on the reader's credulity and willingness to accept the text's own claims as to its validity.

If I have not bored you to tears the next one is presenting the techniques in a fairly easy way to understand: Using Deconstruction to Astonish Friends
& Confound Enemies (in 2 easy steps).

Misc. links:
deconstructmusic(deconstruct punk band)
25 Rules of Disinformation

Edit (5-8-2007):
Deconstructing the Hebrew University's Embrace of Fatuous Pseudo-Thinking was an excellent critique of Deconstructionism and some dangerous Liberal group think.

Edit (6-11-2007):
"neoliberal polyarchic pseudo democratic [promoting] globalism"

Edit (7-20-2007):
binary opposition
Just a couple of more definitions (above) but the following two on the movie Pi should be interesting.
Pi Intro
Pi the Movie


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Darfur? It's the Oil, Stupid...

Honestly I have not followed the problems and the news as much as other parts of Africa, but this untitled article from ET raised my desire to look into these issues more.
The case of Darfur, a forbidding piece of sun-parched real estate in the southern part of Sudan, illustrates the new Cold War over oil, where the dramatic rise in China's oil demand to fuel its booming growth has led Beijing to embark on an aggressive policy of--ironically-- dollar diplomacy. With its more than $1.3 trillion in mainly US dollar reserves at the Peoples' National Bank of China, Beijing is engaging in active petroleum geopolitics. Africa is a major focus, and in Africa, the central region between Sudan and Chad is priority. This is defining a major new front in what, since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, is a new Cold War between Washington and Beijing over control of major oil sources. So far Beijing has played its cards a bit more cleverly than Washington. Darfur is a major battleground in this high-stakes contest for oil control.

Where are our geo-strategic/geopolitical experts when we need them. Oh that is right, we get their advice on G/G only when it involves the USA.
So why is China not described in terms of the Evil Empire? They are in control of the global imbalances and thus have a supposed power over the USA and the world economy, but no words of criticism of that. Imagine if the USA had that power...
And are we to assume that if a battleground is going to occur then both sides will not hold up human welfare as the prime motive?

I am so confused on this...
U.S. senator calls for American troops in Darfur
U.S. Sen. Joe Biden said that he would commit U.S. forces immediately to stop militia in Sudan's Darfur region as long as there were reports of genocide.

Is Biden part of the neocons and the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy".
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdelhaleem, however, was angry at the comments, saying the senators "should first come with clean hands and apologize to the U.N. for the mess the United States did in Iraq."

He said Sudan would decide on a peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops and police after the United Nations and the African Union had agreed on a plan and sent it to Khartoum.

"There is good momentum in the region," he said, calling Biden's remarks "unwarranted and out of context."

Yes luckily no one remembers all the blocks on allowing even humanitarian aid in.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More Crazies at UCSB-But do have a plan for reducing obesity!

The title link is to a blog that is suppose to keep track of their endeavors in fasting to stop all nuclear research in the UC system.
University of California Students and Alumni to Hunger Strike to Demand Nuclear Weapons Lab Severance

WHAT: UC Student & Alumni Hunger Strike
WHEN: Wednesday, May 9th until ?
WHERE: UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley
WHO: The Coalition to Demilitarize the UC and supporters

Students and alumni at three UC campuses will begin a fast this week to demand that the University of California stop designing, engineering and manufacturing nuclear bombs. Many of them pledge to go without solid food until the demand is met. The hunger strikers are calling on the Regents to pass a resolution at their next meeting -- scheduled for May 17th -- severing all ties to the nuclear weapons complex (see attached). The UC has managed, since their inception, the two US national labs responsible for all nuclear weapon design in the U.S., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Hunger strike against weapons
A group of more than 30 protesters at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz said Wednesday that they have begun a hunger strike to oppose the University of California's role in nuclear weapons production.

The group includes six UC Berkeley undergraduates who say they are prepared to fast for eight days -- until UC's governing Board of Regents takes up an emergency resolution opposing the university's management of federal weapons production at the Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories.

The students, including 17 at the Santa Barbara campus and 11 at Santa Cruz, are members of a statewide group that has been demonstrating for UC to cease involvement in nuclear weapons production. The protests have been continuing for five years.

And I did find this quote of note:
"I don't think education and mass destruction should go hand in hand," said Amanda Cocking, a third-year student in conservation and resource studies at UC Berkeley. The fast is her first experience with political activism, Cocking said.

I think that maybe she is right, defense of a country should not be go hand in hand with education.

High comedy from a jackass

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Sorrows of Empire

I have no intention of reading the whole book by Chalmers Johnson, but wanted to look into some of the information on chapter 6.
I just want to look at a few nations and the break down of USA military persons there. It is worth noting that Johnson likes to include number of dependents stationed there also, like that means something.

Ok, so are we to assume that each entry is a base above? And what the note on the the chart says:
Only those countries with at least 100 active-duty U.S. military personnel are listed. Totals of the listed countries do not add up to the regional totals because the latter all countries with any U.S. troops, regardless of the size of the contingent.

So I just conclude with the question to Chalmers Johnson: are some of these "bases" actually 1 person bases? That would be the most stupid thing I have heard about in a long time.