Archive for March, 2008
Good overview at Slate about why China is so interested in Tibet: nationalism mainly, followed by strategic and economic factors (i.e. mountain-range buffer zone and mining respectively. The linked-to article on the Chinese mining industry doesn’t say anything about uranium deposits there, though – which, according to the Tibetan Government In Exile, are the largest high-grade deposits in the world.) There’s also a nice ‘bonus explanation’ as to when Buddhist monks can get violent, ending with the following proviso -
It’s important to note, however, that the actual extent to which monks were responsible for the violence in Tibet remains unclear. Monks instigated the initial demonstrations, but lay Tibetans may have ratcheted up those protests to riot status.
Superb interview, which prompted a personal reflection on his failed 2000 presidential campaign, despite his attempt (‘words fail to describe’ etc.) to evade the question – i.e. ‘shattering’.
From CBS News.
Note Gore’s message – ‘Yes We Can’ mitigate the devastating effects of man-made global warming (which sounds good as far as an Obama endorsement is concerned).
[One of the things I find interesting about his approach is his casting of the issue as a moral-cum-spiritual problem, one that concerns basic survival -
"We all share the exact same interest in doing the right thing on this. Who are we as human beings? Are we destined to destroy this place that we call home, planet earth? I can't believe that that's our destiny. It is not our destiny. But we have to awaken to the moral duty that we have to do the right thing and get out of this silly political game-playing about it. This is about survival," he said.
I had thought basic survival comes first on the (Maslow) hierarchy of needs - with spiritual/moral needs coming later, once basic survival needs have been satisfied. (I kind of like Max Neef's take on this; see the Maslow wikipedia link above. Maslow could have been projecting a whole lot of cultural junk, about the developmental stages of evolution towards 'civilisation', into his hierarchy - but that's a whole other discussion.) Maybe Gore's understanding of the relationship between survival and morality reflects a difference between British and American culture. I don't know. To my mind, matters of survival don't necessitate lofty arguments about morality but rather the finding of food, water, air, shelter and warmth. And probably laughter too. Anyway...]
Perhaps unsurprisingly many are envisaging Gore as a possible bridge between the Democratic party and the White House. What did I say? I still maintain, though, that Obama should be at the top of the ticket.
Some intervention into the presidential campaign his ad campaign could be.
Watch this abc news clip of Obama talking about national and international security, and note his gestures. They have become much more defined since he famously took to the podium at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I suspect this reflects a growing self-assurance and confidence in his own ability. He may have been less confident, understandably, at the outset of his presidential campaign – even if he didn’t show it. Self-belief is obviously a pretty important trait for a leader trying to bring differing constituencies together, let alone a leader of ‘the free world’.
The other thing that strikes me is that the gestures are in tune with, and expressive of, what he’s saying with his words. As Benedict Nightingale, writing in the Times, implies, Obama comes across as (my distinction) being more of a sincere storyteller than, like Tony Blair et al., an insincere actor -
Somehow his serious and sober charisma leaves you feeling that, not only is he the man to heal the divisions left from America’s very beginnings, but that he has the assurance, the intelligence, the stature to deal with such matters as terrorism, global warming, a faltering economy. As as unactorly actor he gets five stars from me. As a president – well, perhaps the world will see.
Thanks to Marion Drobig for the article.
Today, Obama gave the speech of his campaign, maybe his political life. Facing immense scrutiny regarding his alliance with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama had to explain how he could vehemently disagree with Wright’s highly politicised outbursts whilst maintaining his friendship. Andrew Sullivan rightly, I think, says this is a speech America has been waiting for for a long, long time -
This MSNBC discussion confirms the ripples the speech will have.
Another way -
Superb production. Congratulations to Free Range Studios.
You may or may not have heard about the Transition Town movement, which is gathering momentum in the UK and catching people’s attention abroad as well. A place that I consider my spiritual home, for example – Forest Row in East Sussex – officially ‘unleashed’ itself as a Transition Town last Wednesday, on the back of year-long planning. One of the principal speakers at the official unleashing, Mike Grenville, closed his talk
with the oft-cited quote, “if not now, when, if not here, where, and if not us, then who?”
Here is Dr Caroline Lucas, Member of the European Parliament, about the subject of the book, The Transition Handbook -
Courtesy of Treehugger.