Category Archives: International Interest

Libyan rebels do it from scratch…and from their arm chairs.

Speaking of Libya and American military intervention, here are a few of the weapons that the Libyan rebels have built themselves:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Fukushima: should people panic…yet?

How bad is Fukushima‘s radiation? It seems like each day brings a new report about contamination in food supplies, water, or a cloud blowing towards north America.

How much radiation is it, though, relative to what we are exposed to daily? Relative to Chernobyl, the poster child for a nuclear nightmare?

Is it bad enough for us to reconsider using nuclear power as a source of energy?

(h/t to Information Is Beautiful)

Meet the Tiger Elders, with lawyers on speed-dial

Age pyramid for China showing smaller age coho...
Image via Wikipedia

Meet the Tiger Elders, with lawyers on speed-dial.

Citing the New York Times, the blog Overlawyered notes that a law has been proposed in China that would require adult children to visit their elderly parents… or face a law suit.

China is facing an aging population that will increase pension and health care costs, Baby Boomers are having on the United States, and decrease the competitive advantage afforded the country due to large quantities of cheap labor as its population leaves the labor force. Due to the one child policy, the squeeze will be much greater in China.

Perhaps requiring adult children visit and pay attention to their parents is a way to provide for the mental well-being of the elderly? And help diminish the costs on state to care for them?

firing a mayor, part 2: still, only in Russia.

Yuri Luzhkov

Image via Wikipedia

On the way to work on Monday I listened to a report on NPR about the sacking of the Mayor of Moscow, Russia, by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Where I’m from, mayors are independently elected officials, so it struck me as similar to President Obama firing Mayor Bloomberg of New York.

Apparently, the Mayor in question–Yury Luzhkov–is considered to be one of Medvedev’s rivals for 2012 (not just a presidential election in our next of the woods, apparently).  Firing him is the Kremlin’s way of removing a major rival before the 2012 elections.  Luzhov, who has been mayor since 1992, came to power under Boris Yeltsin.  Predicatably, Luzhov was not happy about being fired.

“In our country the fear of expressing your view has existed since 1937,” Luzhkov said, referring to the peak of the repression and Great Terror under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

“If our leadership merely supports this fear with its statements… then it is easy to go to a situation where there is just one leader in the country whose words are written in granite and who must be followed unquestionably.”

“How does this stand with your calls for ‘development of democracy’?” he asked the president.

Not that anyone really thinks of Russia of being a “lighthouse on the hill” for democracy, but still… Luzhkov said he believed he was fired because he had sought greater democracy, calling for “reinstalling direct elections for regional leaders which were scrapped in 2004 in favour of an effective direct appointment by the Kremlin.

Medvedev brushed off the criticism. And then he appointed a new mayor of Moscow.

firing a mayor: only in Russia

Just heard this on NPR: President Medvev fired Moscow’s mayor. Can he even do that? Guess democracy isn’t the same world over. More later…