6
Jul

Throughout the past year, a MIR 2011/2012 student and soon to be graduate, Tomofumi Fukamiya, ran 12 marathons in 12 months in different European countries and environments (including the Swiss Alps) in order to raise money for the victims of the April 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on the east coast of Japan. Not only did Tomofumi complete this impressive challenge but he also raised over 2,100 British Pounds for the victims.

Here is where Tomofumi ran over the past year (2011/2012): Apr: Madrid (4:11:58), May: Copenhagen (3:49:46), Jul: Swiss Alpine (06:06:30), Sep: Warsaw (4:13:26), Oct: Munich (4:06:18), Nov: Athens (3:58:11), Valencia (4:06:16) Jan: Gran Canaria (3:59:53), Feb: Sevilla (around 3:52:00), Mar: Rome (around 3:50:34), Barcelona (4:02:10), Apr: Vienna (around 3:53:00)

 We in the Master in International Relations are very proud of Tomofumi for his commitment to helping his people and country.

For more information please visit: (http://tomofumi-fukamiya.blogspot.com/) and http://www.justgiving.com/tomofumi-fukamiya/ for donations to the cause.

5
Jul

In 2006, Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat portrayed a global population that was more borderless and interconnected than ever before.

By Aaron Levie Co-founder and chief executive, Box

Entire industries are being remade thanks to ever-better connectivity, writes Aaron Levie

Starting in the 1980s and 1990s – with the rise of Netscape, global supply chains, outsourcing and off-shoring – came a dramatic flattening of how we connect and communicate across the world. Since Friedman’s book, we’ve moved even further into the future, with nearly six billion connected mobile devices and two billion people on the internet. Together, these shifts have created a much tighter world economy – an interconnectedness that’s been painful at times given the financial crisis, but with benefits that are also striking. Just pull out an iPhone to appreciate the sophistication of today’s supply chains.

Or look at the near-ubiquitous adoption of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, and other global internet phenomena – transformative technologies that haven’t just bolstered our social lives, but have also catalysed civil wars, toppled political regimes, and helped elect new leaders. And we’re only now starting to see these forces of disruption and levelling at work in the software that powers our businesses.

New wave

Today organisations can tap into scalable, on-demand cloud-computing resources from Amazon Web Services and Google. They can adopt social technologies like Yammer, Jive and Salesforce Chatter to connect globally dispersed employees, and they can implement content storage and sharing services like Box to make it easy for employees to work from anywhere, on any device. This new wave of cloud services is challenging long-standing assumptions about how information should and can be shared, and how organisations should be structured.

Most traditional enterprise technologies were designed to lock information down, confining it to a team, a network, or a physical environment. This silo-ing of information – whether intentional or unavoidable, thanks to rigid infrastructure – has had cultural implications as well, creating and perpetuating silos and hierarchies within and between organisations. Read more…

Aaron Levie is the chief executive and co-founder of Box, a cloud-based online storage company based in San Francisco.

As published in www.bbc.co.uk on June 29, 2012.

4
Jul

By Thomas L. Friedman

Is the election of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, as president of Egypt the beginning of the end of the Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, it could actually be the beginning of a real peace between the Israeli and the Egyptian peoples, instead of what we’ve had: a cold, formal peace between Israel and a single Egyptian pharaoh. But, for that to be the case, both sides will have to change some deeply ingrained behaviors, and fast.

First, let’s dispense with some nonsense. There is a mantra you hear from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel and various right-wing analysts: “We told you so.” It’s the idea that somehow President Obama could have intervened to “save” President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and he was just too naïve to do so, and the inevitable result is that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken power. Sorry, naïveté is thinking that because it was so convenient for Israel to have peace with one dictator, Mubarak, rather than 80 million Egyptians, that this dictator — or some other general — would and could stay at the helm in Egypt forever. Talk about naïve.

I truly appreciate the anxiety Israelis feel at seeing their neighborhood imploding. But it is also striking that a people for whom the Exodus story of liberation is so central — and who for so long argued that peace will happen only when the Arabs become democratic — failed to believe that the liberation narrative might one day resonate with the people of Egypt and now proclaim that the problem with the Arabs is that they are becoming democratic. This has roots.

“In their relations with power, Jews in exile have always preferred vertical alliances to horizontal ones,” notes Leon Wieseltier, the Jewish scholar and literary editor of The New Republic. “They always preferred to have a relationship with the king or the bishop so as not to have to engage with the general population, of which they were deeply distrustful — and they often had reason to be distrustful. Israel, as a sovereign state, reproduced the old Jewish tradition of the vertical alliance, only this time with the Arab states. They thought that if they had a relationship with Mubarak or the king of Jordan, they had all they needed. But the model of the vertical alliance only makes sense with authoritarian political systems. As soon as authoritarianism breaks down, and a process of democratization begins, the vertical model is over and you enter a period of horizontality in which the opinions of the people — in this instance, ordinary Arabs — will matter.” As a result, Israel will have to make the man on the street “not only fear it, but also understand it. This will not be easy, but it may not be impossible. Anyway, nostalgia for dictators is not a thoughtful policy.” Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on July 3, 2012 (a version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 4, 2012, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: What Does Morsi Mean For Israel?).

3
Jul

The Return of the Mexican Dinosaur

Written on July 3, 2012 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Americas, Culture & Society, Democracy & Human Rights

Mexico’s pretty-boy president is more dangerous than he looks.

By John M. Ackerman

Mexico has apparently decided to turn back the clock. Widespread frustration with 12 years of uneven political progress and stunted economic growth under the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) has driven part of the Mexican electorate to desperately call the old-guard Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) back to power. Meanwhile, in a repeat of the country’s last presidential race in 2006, the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) has once again finished a close second.

According to the most recent LatinBarometer study, a whopping 73 percent of the Mexican population is dissatisfied with the performance of democracy (Mexico is tied with Guatemala for last place in Latin America in this category.) Such an attitude can be healthy for political development if it pushes citizens to work on improving the political system. But it can also produce a dangerous social malaise, which is the perfect breeding ground for the retrenchment of authoritarianism.

Last November, for instance, Guatemala voted in retired General Otto Pérez Molina as its new president in a worrisome embrace of the past. Pérez Molina has been implicated by civil society groups in systematic violations of human rights during the civil war that wreaked havoc in the country between 1960 and 1996. Activists have even filed a formal report with the U.N. special rapporteur on torture accusing Pérez Molina of war crimes for his direct role in the protracted conflict, which left more than 200,000 people dead and tens of thousands “disappeared.”

Mexico has now followed Guatemala’s lead. Instead of trying something new and joining the “pink tide” of progressive social democratic politics that has swept through Latin American in recent years, a plurality of Mexicans has apparently succumbed to frustration and turned back to the past.

One of the clearest messages from yesterday’s election is that Mexicans are fed up with sitting President Felipe Calderón. They bitterly punished the PAN’s candidate, Josefina Vázquez Mota, by relegating her to a distant third place with only 25 percent of the vote. This should come as no surprise after five years of non-stop violence, with more than 50,000 violent deaths due to the failed “drug war” during the Calderón administration alone. Read more…

John M. Ackerman is a professor at the Institute for Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review and a columnist for Proceso magazine and La Jornada newspaper.

As published in www.foreignpolicy.com on July 2, 2012.

2
Jul

Shifting economic and political fortunes lead us to ask what makes a nation grow powerful enough to impose its will on others.

By Moisés Naím

It was one of those turning points that just go unnoticed in the media. According to the Australian Treasury Department, on March 28 of this year the economies of the world’s less developed countries, taken as a whole, surpassed in size those of the richer ones. “We can now see it for what it was — a historical aberration that lasted about 1½ centuries,” wrote the Australian columnist Peter Hartcher, referring to the fact that, until 1840, China had been the world’s largest economy. “The Chinese look at this and they say, ‘We just had a couple of bad centuries’,” wryly remarked Ken Courtiss, a renowned expert also quoted by Hartcher. Courtiss adds: “In the blink of a generation, global power has shifted. Over time, this will not just be an economic and financial shift but a political, cultural and ideological one.”

Will this be so? Taken together the comments of Hartcher’s readers inadvertently offer a revealing synthesis of a debate that is consuming politicians, generals and academics everywhere: Which nation will dominate the 21st century? Derek, for example, in Canberra, says: “I don’t think we’ve got much to worry about… On paper China and India are power-houses, but most of their citizens don’t even have access to sewerage or electricity. They are still basically third-world countries…” Another reader, who identifies himself as Barfiller, adds: “And let’s not forget other ‘emerging economy’ considerations: border conflicts; water and resources rights; patents and other intellectual property; ethnic, religious and ideological differences; cultural diversity; historical arguments and wars; etc, etc. It won’t be all sweetness and light for the newly developed nations.” Another reader, David, stresses the need to consider the “distribution of wealth within the populations of these countries. The difference between the ‘wealth’ of the average Chinese and their privileged comrades in the party is, in my opinion, an un-fillable gap (as per India). In China that’s due to a deeply controlled corruption and in India, an indelibly, culturally/religiously controlled class division.” Thus, according to these opinions, China and India are countries too weakened by their poverty, their divisions and other internal problems to become the world’s leading powers.

But the problems of these rising countries are no longer exclusively their own. They affect others. Caledonia, a reader writing from Sydney, believes that the other readers fail to notice the danger that looms: “If China’s economy comes crashing down, you will find yourself in an unemployment queue and feel lucky if you can get a job as toilet cleaner.” Read more…

Moisés Naím is an internationally renowned columnist and commentator on globalization, international politics and economics whose columns are published every Sunday by Spain’s El País, Italy’s La Repubblica and Brazil’s Folha de São Paulo and reprinted by more than forty leading newspapers worldwide.

As published in www.elpais.com on July 1, 2012.

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