Pundit Wire

Not Taking Sides Yet

IMG_20150623_093431-2I’m just back from a week South of the Border with 12,000 of my closest friends.  Information and Computer Technology (ICT) was the subject of discussion, and may yet democratize the world if anything can. I’m not a real teacher, but gave it a shot some decades ago in high school, and again in recent times at the university level.  I use the Internet all the time, consider it a blessing. I receive many messages each day showing methodologies and techniques which can meet the challenges and impositions of the digital age.

Latin America is full of brilliant and dedicated people, and as a continent it benefits from having a lingua franca (well, two or three) and no state-to-state conflicts. We should take closer note of how they carry on, the complete ease in conversing across borders, the many friendly rivalries which seem to benefit all.

Read More »
Also posted in Culture, Education, Media, Technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How Lafayette Routed Napoleon—With a Speech

Gilbert_du_Motier_Marquis_de_Lafayette_-_high_resThe history books tell us that Napoleon was decisively defeated at the Battle of Waterloo two hundred years ago on June 18, 1815. Four days later, on June 22, he abdicated and was exiled by the British to the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic where he died in 1821.

This compressed version of events leaves out a wealth of fascinating details. It particular, it doesn’t tell us how Napoleon schemed to hold power even after Waterloo, and how the immediate cause of his abdication was not the bayonets of Wellington and Blücher, but a courageous speech by the Marquis de Lafayette.

Read More »
Also posted in General, History, Political Rhetoric | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Saved by a Tux

DF-SC-82-05415“Négritude,” fashionable in the first half of the twentieth century, was a precursor of Black Pride for francophone countries.  It was a play on a French word which wasn’t flattering, though a little less abusive than the English equivalent.  It flew in the face of colonial condescension.

Because it had an element of assimilationism, it was rebuked by later generations, but put out some fine poetry while the going was good.

Read More »
Also posted in Culture, History, Politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bronx Cheer for a Danish Court

5In a world of metastasizing injustices, Denmark would be one of the last places to get a red flag for public policy abuse.

Still, the Danish Supreme Court stepped in it June 3 in a case against Bent Jensen, who conveyed declassified records into a publication in 2007. The outcome has Danish writers and publishers running for cover.

Read More »
Also posted in Media, National Security, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Enough to Succeed

IMG_9382May 28, one of these candidates will succeed Donald Kaberuka as African Development Bank president.  Kaberuka’s ten-year run got the African Development Bank (AfDB) up to $3.16 billion in loans and grants per annum to infrastructure projects on the Continent, pretty modest compared to the World Bank’s $15 billion. China puts in about the same $15 billion per annum in investments, which some would consider “real money.”

With Africa’s visible problems, it nevertheless churns on at six per cent growth as a whole, positioning it to move up the world scale in the near future as China’s growth slows.

Read More »
Also posted in Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.K. – United or Federated Kingdom?

6997132774_8fa975c208_oThe big story to emerge from Britain’s recent elections is the remarkable showing by the Scottish National Party or SNP.

The SNP went from 6 seats to 56 seats out of a total of 59 Scottish seats in the U.K. parliament. The upset, which came at the expense of Britain’s Labour Party, makes the SNP the third-largest party in parliament. The SNP is a regional party; it is a party pledged to make Scotland an independent country; and it is a party that is ideologically further to the left than the Labour Party.

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, General, Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ed Miliband: Not Clint Eastwood

Clint_Eastwood-Rawhide_publicityOne of the best quotes about politics and democracy is attributed to US Senator Russell B Long: Democracy is like a raft. It won’t sink, but your feet are always wet.

Here in the United Kingdom our “first past the post” voting system produces some amazing anomalies.  For example, people not familiar with the Splendour that is Westminster Democracy might think it superficially unreasonable that the UK Independence Party received nearly 4,000,000 votes but won only one parliamentary seat, whereas the Scottish National Party received 1,500,000 votes yet won 56 parliamentary seats.

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, Political Rhetoric, Politics | Leave a comment

Lusitania: How the Unthinkable Happened

article-0-14059853000005DC-49_634x380One hundred years ago on May 7, just ten months after the start of the First World War, the British luxury liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank in just 20 minutes. Out of nearly 2,000 passengers and crew only 764 survived. The dead included 123 Americans.

To mark this tragic anniversary, I am reading the much-acclaimed new book by Erik Larson–Dead Wake: The Lusitania’s Last Crossing.

Read More »
Also posted in General, History, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment