The State of the World, 2011

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ghost, Mar 17, 2011.

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  1. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    2011.

    It started with the swearing-in of numerous Republican Congressmen in the United States, retaking control of the House, with the year ahead looking to be a big and vitriolic battle over jobs, the budget, and healthcare reform.

    Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a deranged gunman in Arizona, and many others were tragically injured or killed in the shooting, yet she survived and gave us hope with her remarkable progress. President Obama urged the nation to unite and calm down the rhetoric, which the majority of Democrats and Republicans have agreed to, and Sarah Palin's response was received as terrible resulting in her plummeting popularity just as Obama's popularity has soared back to pre-healthcare's 50%+ approval ratings.

    Tunisia's leader suddenly fled the country as a result of a month of protests, and within days protests were forming and significantly growing in Egypt. The world watched on as Mubarak slowly went from denial, to firing his cabinet and naming a successor, to concessions, to relinquishing his power peacefully to the popular Egyptian military. The fall of Mubarak sparked similar protests in nearly every other country in North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco to Jordan to Yemen to Bahrain. Even the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia have are experiencing protests, as well as countries as far away as China and the Ivory Coast. But the biggest story post-Mubarak has been the battle for Libya, with protestors turning into militias in response to Colonel Gadhadi using military force by land and by air to crush them before they could march on Tripoli, and the tide of the civil war is turning in the dictator's favor as he moves closer to retaking Benghazi.

    A terrible 9.0 earthquake hit disaster-prepared and ultra-modern Japan, causing an even more terrible tsunami, and now a crisis of at least partial nuclear meltdown. Over ten thousand lives are projected to have been lost, the Prime Minister says this is their worst crisis since World War II, the Emperor is urging people to have hope, but recovery cannot begin until the slow-moving nuclear crisis is resolved.

    Meanwhile, Americans are aware that somewhere out there, in that city of Washington DC which is so far away from all these transformative world events, they're having some kind of debate over the budget, the debt ceiling, and somehow abortion & DOMA. And the President is going over the country, talking about job creation, talking about education reform with Jeb Bush, now heading down to Latin America for his first visit to our southern neighbors. There's also a long list of unimpressive candidates for the next presidential election. Gas prices are rising due to the turmoil in the Muslim world, and we seem paralyzed to act. Overall, American politics seems almost irrelevant, even to Americans for once.




    I don't think the year 2011 is turning out like how anyone imagined it.

    The unfolding events are truly changing the world, and it is not even Spring yet.

    What effect will these events have for years to come, and how transformative are they? What other events may we expect to happen?

    Overall, what can be said to be the State of the World in 2011?
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    The young people-led rebellions in the Middle East are far and away the most important events of either the oughts or the teens. While the dust is far from settled, when it [i[does[/i] settle we're going to see nothing short of a sea change in Arabic-Western relations. Islamic radicalism has been on shaky ground for several years now; a pro-democratic series of popular revolts is going to relegate it to the same social level as Neo-Nazis in Germany or the Ku Klux Klan in the States: Marginalized and globally irrelevant.

    Japan, as horrible as it is, is probably the least important thing to happen. It's a terrible disaster, but people get over disasters, particularly of the natural sort. Japan survived the deaths of hundreds of thousands in WW2 and went on to become the 2nd most powerful economy in the world; I don't doubt they'll recover from this, too.


    The United States' domestic politics are naturally of international relevance; people with bad domestic-policy opinions almost always have crappy foreign policy when you're dealing with a country as globally involved as ours is. Hopefully Palin's response to the Congresswoman's injuries expose her brand of politics as the hateful, stupid, arrogant crap it is.
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I'd add to that list the ongoing budget/debt crises in western Europe. To me it's part of the same story as the ongoing U.S. Federal and state budget dramas and what was happening in Japan before the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear emergency.

    In short, the OECD countries, increasingly represent a number of economies on their knees. The Cold War/Post Cold War world order has been upended, and the fallout, pardon the expression, will continue for decades. Japan may never again be the same country that it in any case hasn't been for many long and frustrating years. The United States watched an opportunity to intervene in Libya slip away for a variety of reasons not least of which was because we remain a nation economically and militarily overwhelmed and over-committed. Our hands are increasingly tied when it comes to new opportunities to throw around whatever bulk of our once prodigious weight remains in the wake of our Afghanistan quagmire and our lingering Iraq hangover.
  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    This is a weird topic. Generally alarmist. What does Gabrielle Giffords have to do with Japan?

  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Watto, the examples are meaningless. You have to read between the lines to get to the heart of the matter, which is that Obama is the best President ever. The secondary point is that Sarah Palin sucks, but honestly, I still don't understand why the only people who still talk about her are her so called critics. In a nutshell, it's called "pre-loading the next campaign."

    And Ghost, I know my reply here was admittedly sarcastic, but come on man. You could have created a clearing house thread for notable events in 2011-hence the title, "state of the world, 2011.." Was the added political commentary necessary, given that such political threads already exist?

    Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a deranged gunman in Arizona, and many others were tragically injured or killed in the shooting, yet she survived and gave us hope with her remarkable progress. President Obama urged the nation to unite and calm down the rhetoric, which the majority of Democrats and Republicans have agreed to, and Sarah Palin's response was received as terrible resulting in her plummeting popularity just as Obama's popularity has soared back to pre-healthcare's 50%+ approval ratings.

    Specifically relating to this...How about the fact that since Obama was elected, 218 Us troops have been killed in Iraq? That last year, 499 US troops were killed in Afghanistan, more than the years 2001-2007 combined? 57 have been killed in 2011, and it's only March. 44 police police officers have been killed in 2011, which is an average of 2 per day for every day of 2011?

    Or that 84 people have been killed or wounded in Yemen? Or in Bahrain? The natural disaster in Japan is still unfolding, and could have important ramifications in all sorts of areas? Both Australia and New Zealand were hit by terrible flooding.

    There are all sorts of upcoming election issues that are going to have to play out in the next election, and I'd say it's the exact opposite of voters not being engaged.

    I do think the thread could be so much more than "whew, at least Obama gave a speech, so he has a 50% approval rating..."
  6. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    I find whats going on in Japan and the Arab world related by a single common denominator: energy. Nuclear power has been widely discredited to a whole new generation of Americans (7 out of 10 people now have doubts about its safety), just as we're facing a potential oil price spike. Not that we were going to build a bunch of plants overnight or anything, but a reliable mid-term solution to America's energy problems has just been set back another 25 years.
  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    eh, I'm not so sure. People will pay attention and be all concerned in the short term, but it's not going to change the long term trend. I mean, for all intents and purposes, there's still a 20 mile(approx 30km) "prohibited zone" around Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and Europe embraced nuclear power after that disaster. How often was something like Chernobyl on people's minds before the obvious resurgence in interest? For example, in the US, I still think Illinois is the state that relies most heavily on nuclear power (at least it's still in the top) and new reactors are still in the works, even after Japan. The natural disaster aspect of the current situation allows for differing situations. (I wouldn't bet on new reactors opening up in New Orleans...)

    I think new advances in nuclear technology will be spawned by what's happening in Japan, but resource management makes nuclear power necessary.
  8. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    I hope you are right 44, because as I've said in another thread - there's no reason to fear nuclear power (provided you avoid building a plant in New Orleans or on the San Andreas fault).

    I don't know if there is an an ideal place to put nuclear plants, but could it not be a credible alternative to reviving the post-industrial economies in rust belt states?
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Fear? no. Nuclear power has always been looked at with suspicion and caution, which isn't a bad thing per se. As a result, there's literally a decade (or more!) long process that comprises getting nuclear reactors certified. This existed before the latest disaster, and I don't think this will change better or worse in the aftermath.

    The Japanese situation highlighted the necessicity of having an ongoing process to assess energy needs on a mundane basis. It's my understanding that the worst reactor was also one of the oldest "1st gen" reactors. Japan relied so much on the status quo, even with nuclear reactors, that a couple of upgrade cycles were missed simply because capacity of the reactor couldn't be taken off line to perform them. There was simply no meaningful excess capacity and/or a contingency that could be utilized in the routine, even without gambling on if a "100 year" earthquake would hit or not, or when.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    On the whole, "Resource management makes nuclear power necessary" seems true to me, although I'd add that "resource management" makes oil, coal-fired power, natural gas, wind, solar and hydro power necessary too.

    Even a worst-case scenario in Japan won't keep many countries from embracing nuclear power any more than the Gulf oil spill is going to stop offshore drilling.

    The story after Chernobyl, and it was a pretty good one, was that it was crappy Soviet engineering -- graphite-moderated reactors without containment domes??????, not high tech western capitalist design.

    The story after Japan, and it's a pretty good one, will be that it was crappy American engineering -- elevated cooling pools for spent fuel rods without containment domes????, not high tech Chinese and Indian design.
  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I don't think there's any nuclear installation fathomable that will stand up to any and all forces of nature. There's always a risk. But when I see these anti-nuclear demonstrations that have started appearing on the news again, I can't help but think... ok, people... how do you suggest we solve the energy problem?
  12. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    High tech Chinese and Indian design? Bah. Canadian reactors are ftw. And they have the cutest name, CANDU!
  13. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Seriously? I was just talking about the surprising political reversal, everyone expected Obama's approval to remain low and the Tea Party (of which Palin is a figurehead leader) to keep rising. I just pointed out that the unexpected happened, adding to the general craziness of this year which has barely begun. And I have criticized Obama before, and we have agreed with each other before, so I'm not sure why you're using that tone, was it really called for? I'm ok with overlooking it this time, it's the end of a stressful week for me and maybe you too, I hope you have a good weekend.


    SuperWatto, these have been the main headlines here in the U.S., it's weird as it's moved from one huge unexpected news event to the next, with just a little break of Charlie Sheen. :p But it has definitely been important in possibly taming the U.S. political atmosphere over here. I don't think it's really possible to not mention it, it's how the year started and really snapped people out of the usual routine here, even though the events since are of such a higher magnitude.



    To add to the events unfolding in Libya, the UN has 10-0 declared a No-Fly Zone.

  14. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Still, I'd think it would be more constructive to open up a Japan thread, and maybe a Libya thread. The Giffords and Obama stuff has been discussed ad nauseum, and there's still plenty of threads about 'em. To lump it all together makes for unfocused discussion.
  15. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    But we're not here to talk about Libya (which has a thread) or Japan's earthquake. Just how the events are changing the world, how possibly transformative they are. It's looking like the events of 2011 will be long-remembered, just like 2001 (9/11) and 1989 (Berlin Wall, culminating with the dissolution of the USSR in 1991), and this year has hardly even started.

    In other words, this is more about the Big Picture, how all the little pieces are fitting together and changing our world

    For example, how Japan's nuclear crisis and Libya causing the oil markets to soar are going to shape the Energy Policy of countries around the world for years to come. Or if the uprising in the Muslim world could spread to China, Sub-Saharan Africa (I think Ivory Coast is already facing problems), and former states of the USSR.
  16. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I don't see how the little pieces fit together. It's not a puzzle. Libya has nothing to do with Japan, or with Palin. And these things don't work together to change our world linearly. All the 'little pieces' have different impact on different people in different places.
  17. Eternity85 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2008
    star 3
    State of the world?

    Hard to say.. Population growth = Our greatest challenge; For every baby born in the west, a poor southern family will lose their children.. Something to think about; not everyone is fit to be parents either.. The "one child per family" rule should apply everywhere; not only in China!

    I dont know.. I just think there is enough people in the world, its out of control.. And it will get worse. More people = more powerty! Less people = Hopefully more equality!
  18. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I'm a big picture person, and yes everything is connected. Both the Libyan War and the Japanese Earthquake and American Politics have a significant effect on changing the world, that is what they have in common. 2011 is already a huge year and it's still unfolding. There are years that blend together, and there are years that stand out, it is looking like 2011 is one of those years, and not for one reason but for many reasons.
  19. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    We're all big picture people here. Look at what Eternity just posted...
    But let's face it, for now, this picture is kind of empty. Vague. "The State of the World"... "Kinda queasy"? "Hazardous"?
    "Not enough". "Pregnant for the third time".

    I mean, what can you say about the state of the world except: well, this is quite the year!
  20. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    I think I understand what Ghost is getting at. For me, I see this as an unravelling of the illusion of separation. We're actually seeing the mass media spell things out to "the common man," thankfully. Now people are starting to understand how world finances can take an upturn on the news of aid to Japanese earthquake victims. Or how SEC regulators watching teh pr0n for hours on end was part of a domino effect that threatened to ruin world commerce. Or how a revolt on the shores Tripoli can impact the price of food at a store in Lebanon, Missouri.

    [Obi-Wan]"Symbiant circle,"[/Obi-Wan] and all that.
  21. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    How Japan's Crises May Change the World

    There are events in history that sear themselves into the world's collective imagination, and enter the realm where myth meets heartbreaking reality.

    Japan's tragedy is one of those events. Already, it seems reasonable to surmise it could prove one of the most significant calamities of our time ? one that shapes policies, economies, even philosophies for decades to come in an increasingly interconnected world.

    There is the sheer, surreal force of the images emerging from afflicted zones: cars perched on rooftops, ships sitting in rice paddies, helicopters in a David-and-Goliath battle against radiation-spewing nuclear reactors.

    And the way it haunts us with some of our most basic fears: Death by water. Or rubble. Or nuclear fallout.

    Add to that, it's a crisis with an impact that will be felt around the planet: Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world, its third-largest economy, its most successful car-seller and its second-most generous giver of foreign aid.

    "This event has the potential to be the most globally disruptive natural hazard in modern times," said Rob Verchick, a disaster expert at Loyola University in New Orleans. "And it may just be, in the context of globalization, of all time."

    The Asian tsunami of 2004 killed more people. The fall of the Twin Towers launched two wars. The collapse of the Berlin Wall spelled the end of an empire.

    But in this event, psychological, even philosophical, shock over the confluence of human tragedy and nuclear catastrophe yields some fundamental questions. If a technological power like Japan can be so vulnerable, who's safe? Is even minimal risk, as with nuclear power, too much risk? Do we need to rethink the role of government in protecting the public?

    Shaking us from modern-day hubris, we're forced to think about whether even the most advanced societies, with almost obsessively meticulous safety backstops, are still pitifully at the mercy of the elements.

    But amid tragedy, Francis Fukuyama, the eminent Stanford philosopher and author of "The End of History and the Last Man," sees the possibility for the crisis to become a galvanizing force for political change in the world.

    "It does seem to me a natural disaster like this, because it reminds everybody of how commonly vulnerable they are, could be used as an opportunity to reshape the whole tone and character of politics," Fukuyama told The Associated Press.

    The unbelievable sight of rich Japan ? famous for trains running like clockwork, state-of-the-art gadgets, concern for safety and order ? laid low by a freak force of nature beyond human control has been a terrifying wake-up call. On Friday, Japan's government acknowledged that the triple blow of quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster completely overwhelmed even its elaborately laid out, and fastidiously practiced, emergency response systems.

    "The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

    There's another great earthquake that changed the world: Lisbon, 1755. The tsunami-churning temblor flattened the Portuguese city, killed tens of thousands of people, and caused Enlightenment thinkers to re-imagine the role of government and community.

    Experts say this crisis could become another historical turning point that may alter mankind's perception of its relationship to the world, and societies' relationship with one another in an age of globalization.

    "What the Lisbon earthquake experience contributed to Western history (was) this move of government being responsible to its people and protecting them in a community-driven way," said Verchick. "Is there anything like that that might happen as a result of the Japan tsunami and earthquake
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It's startling to discover what it takes to erase the difference between someone living in one of the richest countries of the world and someone living in a destitute half-failed state like Haiti. The earthquake made Haitians out of several hundred thousand Japanese, if only temporarily. They're short of food, with their housing destroyed, with virtually no modern energy, with little access to drinking water and no personal property but the clothes on their back.
  23. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
  24. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    It's most certainly Jabba....

    That is until you look over his left shoulder and see the photo of Richard Marcinko, which is autographed no less. Statistics say that an autographed copy of Marcinko is 35% more likely to harm the members of the household who owns it, unless its kept in a mylar sleeve and locked in a safe.
  25. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    ... because he was a consultant on G.I. Jane, right?

    Anyway, you have to admire an end-of-the-worlder who doesn't pay the rent; at least he's consistent.
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