Connect to share and comment

Voyeurs, cheats and debtors

NYT: slum tourism demeans the poor. WSJ: blood diamonds are no big deal. Straits Times: will US money printing cause trouble in Asia?


Slum Tourism Turns Poverty into a Spectacle

Kennedy Odede, executive director of social services organization Shining Hope for Communities, writes in the New York Times that increasingly popular slum tourism often fails to benefit the communities that are its focus. Real dialogue between tourist and resident rarely develops, and residents often view tourism as an affront to their dignity.

QUOTE: Slum tourism turns poverty into entertainment, something that can be momentarily experienced and then escaped from. People think they’ve really “seen” something — and then go back to their lives and leave me, my family and my community right where we were before.

More U.S. Economic Stimulus could cause Asian Asset Bubble

Goh Eng Yeow writes in the Straits Times that a new round of U.S. economic stimulus, based on increasing the supply of currency, could cause a return to an early-1990s style asset bubble in Asia. Investors would use increasingly cheap dollars to buy up Asian assets, leading to crisis when cheap funds inevitably disappear.

QUOTE: For market strategists though, one immediate consequence of another round of U.S. “quantitative easing,” as this money printing is technically known, will be a further weakening in the greenback. This may, in turn, translate into a rally in Asian equities as yield-hungry investors hunt for assets with higher returns.

Russia’s Fires Create Political Ashes.

The Telegraph’s Moscow Correspondent Andrew Osborn writes that Russia’s heat wave-induced wildfires have laid bare the deterioration of the country’s public sector, where fire safety systems have proven inadequate and clean-air centers have no air conditioning.  Prime Minister Putin has deflected blame to local government, while President Medvedev has appeared detached.

QUOTE: Officials from Mr Medvedev to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister, have had to concede how poor the official response was. Mr Putin described how people had watched the flames approach their homes and frantically phoned local emergency services. Yet, instead of offering advice or assistance, the officials merely hung up, he said.

Much to Learn from Gulf Oil Spill

Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post writes that the Gulf spill has turned into a huge laboratory for how to handle offshore oil disasters. Technology and techniques used in Africa and Europe have been imported on an ad-hoc basis to deal with the spill, while emergency military control over Gulf airspace has made it easier to direct cleanup efforts.

QUOTE: Also yet to be known is how the improvised technology that was ultimately used to cap the gusher will change the way the oil industry operates in the gulf. Before the blowout, [Coast Guard Admiral Thad] Allen said, there was no protocol for handling such an event.

The Debate Over Plagiarism

Stanley Fish, professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, argues in the New York Times that philosophical arguments on the nature of originality can obscure the fact that plagiarism is an absolute, though not always obvious, wrong.

QUOTE: Whenever it comes up plagiarism is a hot button topic and essays about it tend to be philosophically and morally inflated. But there are really only two points to make. (1) Plagiarism is a learned sin. (2) Plagiarism is not a philosophical issue.

Media Misses Mark on Blood Diamonds

In the Wall Street Journal, rough diamond consultant Jack Jolis notes the heavy media coverage of supermodel Naomi Campbell’s toothless blood diamond testimony at the United Nations, and says the blood diamond issue is both overblown and misguided. In fact, the push to eliminate blood diamonds hurts small mining operations and plays into the hands of diamond giants.

QUOTE: But despite what much media coverage would have you believe, the parallel occurrences of diamonds and internecine mayhem in Africa are in no way related – certainly no more than are violence and any other commercial commodity found on the continent.

Israel and the Bomb

Micah Zenko, a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in the Los Angeles Times that Israel cannot effectively participate in the nuclear nonproliferation debate, particularly as it relates to the Middle East, until it comes clean about its own nuclear capability.

QUOTE: By maintaining the fiction that it is not a nuclear power, Israel has pigeonholed itself as an international pariah, similar to its adversaries Iran and Syria. This allows its adversaries and the nonaligned movement to successfully use Israel's bombs to slow progress on nuclear nonproliferation objectives, including preventing a nuclear Iran.

New Attack on Birthright Citizenship

Suzy Khimm, staff reporter at Mother Jones, writes in Foreign Policy that U.S. immigration hardliners have turned their attention to limiting birthright citizenship following a recent watering-down of Arizona’s strict immigration law by a federal judge. Proponents of new restrictions say increasing number of “anchor babies” are being born in the U.S. to ease immigration of entire families.

QUOTE: A handful of Graham's Republican colleagues have agreed that the issue warrants further investigation, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pressing for congressional hearings on what he described as the "burgeoning" business of birth tourism, and House Minority Leader John Boehner arguing Aug.8 on Meet the Press that it's "worth considering" repealing the 14th Amendment.

U.S. to Extend Presence in South China Sea

Syndicated Columnist Tom Plate writes in the Japan Times that the recent sinking of a South Korean naval vessel by the North reveals that South Korea is not yet ready to hand take over command of its military forces from the United States. U.S. command will extend a few years longer, which many Asian countries see as a welcome counterbalance against a China’s increasing influence in the South China Sea.

QUOTE: Nobody in the region wants a fight with China, so none of those worried Asian nations are waving American flags to thank President Barack Obama for ordering more ships into that area. But in fact they are pleased by the move — and by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's firm resolve at a big regional meeting last month in Hanoi.

Job Market Continues to Move in Wrong Direction

Henry Olsen, vice president at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in the Wall Street Journal that the 9.5 percent unemployment rate in the U.S. is worse than it seems. The employment-population ratio, which measures the total number of job seekers, whether currently employed or not, continues to fall as marginal workers give up on improving their lot, while the government fails to adequately focus on job creation.

QUOTE: An administration that pursued job creation – not ideology – would…see how individuals and companies can create wealth and jobs quickly if they have the right incentives. Instead, we have policies that are uncertain and portend higher taxes and greater regulatory burdens.