Much has been written about U.S. brinkmanship with default, but the clear lesson that can be drawn from this unprecedented situation is that a lunatic fringe can block democracy.
A recent report by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
at the London School of Economics called attention to the fact that, at the present rate of inequality, by the year 2025, the United Kingdom will have returned to the unequal society of the end of the 19th century. In other words, we are going back to the times of Queen Victoria!
Few people today know that when the first news agencies were created in the 19th century, the French Havas and the British Reuters divided the world between themselves.
At the last summit of European heads of state held in Brussels at the end of June, the main theme was youth unemployment, which has now reached 23 percent of European youth (although it stands at 41 percent in Spain).
The European Union (EU) has asked its citizens to brace for further economic misery. In a report on European economic prospects released on May 3, the European Commission said that further deterioration is expected to last at least until 2015. But, as every such report says, things will then get better.
For a long time it was a given that while Europe was based on defending a more just society, with social values and solidarity, the United States was based on the glory of individualism and competition, and anything public was considered “socialist”.
The flood of elegiac articles on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is in itself a good measure of how we have all become Thatcherites without realising it. Only those who are not graced by a young age can see how the world and politics have changed so deeply since her days that it is correct to call her a “great revolutionary”.
What is Hugo Chávez's legacy to Latin America? The best way to evaluate a head of state is to examine what is left behind after his or her death. In the case of Chávez, his image is obscured by a series of ideological and cultural prejudices that hide a clear perception of who he was.
For those who think that Occupy Wall Street, the Indignados in Spain, the World Social Forum and the numerous manifestations of protest worldwide are expressions without concrete outcomes, the result of the Swiss referendum on Mar. 3 on capping the salaries and bonuses of banks executives should make them think twice.
The victory of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the recent Japanese elections, with Shinzo Abe coming back as prime minister after five years, will probably mean an escalation of tensions with China. Both countries are embarking on a fresh burst of nationalism, but for different reasons.
In the 1980s, Japan was the dragon of the world. All cutting edge technology cars, gadgets, cameras, medical equipment and new management systems came from Japan. Then the country started to slow down, and it basically went to sleep.
From time to time, we read about the confrontation between Japan and China over some insignificant islands, called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, which are also claimed by Taiwan. Japan also faces claims by South Korea over the Dodko islets, called Takeshima in Japan.
Hardly a week goes by without the disclosure of some new banking scandal. The most recent is the New York State Department of Financial Services' accusation of Britain's Standard Chartered of laundering 250 billion dollars in transactions considered potentially supportive of terrorist activities. Standard Chartered, until now believed to be one of the cleanest banks, agreed on August 14 to pay a gigantic fine of 340 million dollars to stop criminal prosecution.
Like passengers on a ship in a storm, European banks and governments are holding onto each other in a precarious embrace.
A recurrent prediction of western politicians says that China, with its economic development, will inevitably transform itself into a democracy. Nonetheless, after five weeks traveling around the country, I have no doubt that if there were elections today, the Communist Party (CCP) would win elections with a wide majority.