The Green Revolution(s) – Gre(at)en Article by Thomas L Friedman

Green Revolution Iran

I particularly enjoyed Thomas Friedman’s editorial in the New York Times (or International Herald Tribune) of June 25, 2009, entitled “The Green Revolution(s)”. For those of you are still not inclined to believe in the need to reduce man-made pollution and join the ecological bandwagon, here is a well written exposé on why we should at least reduce our consumption of petrol in the Western World: reduce the demand of (and the dependence on) oil and prices will tumble. Friedman cites The First Law of Petro-Politics “…which stipulates that the price of oil and the pace of freedom in petrolist states – states totally dependent on oil exports to run their economies – operate in an inverse correlation.” So, regardless of any potential benefit for General Motors and Chrysler and their “Greener” cars, the geopolitics of the world would be a much better place if the “easy money” derived from oil exports was exposed for “bad money” and the auto-aggrandisement and self confidence == that comes from being financially secure — were deflated as speedily as oil prices decreased. Friedman cites Yegor Gaidar, a deputy prime minister in Russia in the early 1990s, as saying that “the collapse of the Soviet Union could be traced to Sept 13, 1985…” date on which Saudi Arabia officially changed its oil policy, unleashed its production and brought oil prices tumbling down and, consequently, the Soviet Union to its knees.

Friedman believes that by reducing the Western World’s dependence on oil, the Green Revolution (the reformers) in Iran will be able to take hold, allow greater freedom for its population and bring down the Islamic dictatorship. Along the way, perhaps the collateral benefits might also be applied to other oil-rich despotic regimes, such as in Nigeria, Venezuela and even the rigid Russia. As Friedman exhorts: “An American Green Revolution to end our oil addiction – to parallel Iran’s Green Revolution to end its theocracy – helps us, help them…”

So, this is just one more reason to take the greener roads, for surely the grass is greener on the other side of this hill.

More Spam Scams on Facebook – goldbase.be

Aside from Iran’s attempts to block Facebook in the run-up to the election (they just lifted the ban, according to this LA Times piece), I have also noticed that there is an increasing number of spam scams on Facebook. In the most recent hack attack, you receive a mail from a friend or even some stranger (as is the case below) inviting you to “Look at this goldbase.net” or goldbase.be some other .be addresses which are obviously bogus. Don’t do it! Delete immediately, without passing go.

Goldbase Scam

And here is another one that is circulating “growerd.ru” from our friends in Russia:

Growerd.ru Scam

If you receive this type of FB mail, it is only your “friend” that is infected, not you. If you find, however, that mail is being sent from your account (someone needs to alert you!), here is the advice from Mashable:

1. As a precaution, go to your browser settings and clear your cookies.
2. Change your Facebook password
3. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and run a full system

Global Gender Gap 2008 Report – Who’s on Top?

The World Economic Forum have just released the results of the Global Gender Gap Report 2008.

Yin & YangThere are a few suprising facets to this WEF report, now in its third year, authored by Ricardo Hausmann, Director, Centre for International Development, Harvard University, Laura Tyson, Professor at University of California, Berkeley, and Saadia Zahidi from the WEF.  First, what strikes me is the tremendous dynamism in the results — from one year to another a country can change by more than 30 places (as France did jumping from 51st to 15th).  Secondly, the list of sponsoring companies for the research includes a number of banks, consultancies and a car company hardly known for women’s equality as well as the employment services company MANPOWER.

Gender Gap
Those quibbles aside, the research shows that there is a “…a strong correlation between competitiveness and the gender gap scores.”  And the report indicates once again the strength of the equality movement in Scandinavia, with Norway coming out on top this year ahead of its neighbouring Scandinavian countries.   Here is the list of the top 10 for 2008.  Noteworthy for being absent from the top 10 (I should say again) are the United Kingdom (13th) and the United States (27th, behind Cuba) which scores highest in “economic participation and opportunity.”  And, fairly astonishing for being in the top 10 are the Philippines and Latvia.  The report voluntarily overweights the importance of having female leadership — as a way of providing visible role models (which clearly boosted the Philippines).  How much credit for France’s rise goes to Ségolène Royal (and Carla Bruni)?.  A

Global Gender Gap Index

Rank 2008
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Country

Norway
Finland
Sweden
Iceland
N. Zealand
Philippines
Denmark
Ireland
Netherlands
Latvia

Score*

0.824
0.820
0.814
0.800
0.786
0.757
0.754
0.752
0.740
0.740

Rank 2007
2
3
1
4
5
6
8
9
12
13
*0 to 1 scale: 0=inequality, 1=equality

The report establishes the following “top line” numbers, indicating that on balance things are tending to get better, although there were nearly twice as many countries where the gap was widening in 2008 versus 2007 as opposed to the prior year.  The big conclusions of the report are that the world has again shown progress in closing the gaps in economic, political and education; however, it has actually lost ground on the health gaps.

Gender Gap 2008 Report

The criteria for selection are worth citing:
Male & Female Signs“The Report examines four critical areas of inequality between men and women:
1. Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2. Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
3. Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
4. Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio”

Meanwhile, tailing off the bottom of the list are a host of countries without need for comment: Saudi Arabia, Chad and YemenIndia (113rd) landed basically on par with Iran (116th).  Japan wallowing in at 98th is a blemish…especially when you find higher up Mongolia (40th), Kyrgyz Republic (41st) and Russia (42nd).  Italy lies at 68th, not exactly brilliant.  Meanwhile, I thought Turkey (123rd) might have ranked higher.

Here is the writeup from the BBC and from TIME (with a good and lively analysis).  If nothing else, the research and report allow for some debate and exposure to this very important issue.

Videocast direct from L’Oreal Business Forum 2008

L’OREAL PROFESSIONNEL BUSINESS FORUM 2008

Coming back from the 7th edition of the L’Oréal Business Forum, held September 29 through October 1, 2008, in Villasimius, Sardinia (Italy), I wanted to share with you the day-by-day videocast which was put up on line as soon as each segment was ended. There were 2,000 L’Oréal Professionnel hairdresser clients coming from 27 countries–largely from Eastern Europe–including nearly 1,000 from Russia and groups ranging from Australia, Canada, South Africa and Iran. A veritable coup to film, edit and post all within an hour so many sessions.

LBF 2008

The Forum included business presentations from Bertram K, Gary Rom, Tanya Chernova and Fred Aunis. Prestige shows from Carlo Bay, Berni Ottjes and Laetitia Guenaou. There were also Master Classes from Petra Mechurova, Bertram, Berni and Laetitia.

Right after each segment, participants were able to see the videocasts directly at an internet café set up outside the main tent. will see the 3 days on the left hand tabs, with a morning and/or afternoon session per day. Click on this and tell me what you think!

If the world could vote … they would vote Obama

If the world could vote in the next US Presidential Election…it would be a landslide

My friend Rodrigo (obrigado) sent me this link and I feel a compulsion to share it.

Below is a snapshot of a poll taken from over 49,000 people around the world currently casting their vote online. Many of the countries, granted have scant coverage, but in the mass, the results are quite remarkable. Naturally, the 122 million or so Americans who vote (as in 2004), the local of issues of economics, health care, education, etc., are not on the radar for the rest of the world. And, like any poll, it is only “intentional”. Moreover, you don’t see any abstentions or undecided. Nonetheless, the question is whether the international “vote” has any impact — and the answer is unfortunately no. Middle America is not preoccupied with the point of view of the rest of the world — too much like the current Administration.

In this poll, incidentally, there is presumably an nonrepresentational vote from 9,129 people (18% of the total in this online survey) in the USA, who are 80% in favour of Obama. That said, the role of the internet is increasing in every political campaign, so it will be interesting to review the numbers of the below poll as we get closer to the real vote — and more emphatically to follow how viral messages start to circulate to galvanize support within the US electorate.

http://iftheworldcouldvote.com/results as of September 20, 2008 at 8am Paris Time.

Barack Obama 85.6% (41,987 votes)
John McCain 14.4% (7,059 votes)

Total number of votes: 49,046
Countries voted from: 149

Countries with a reasonably significant number of voters (ie above 60) where the proportion selecting McCain is higher include:

Czech Republic 42%
Venezuela 33%
Poland 28%
And, it would seem that the former USSR states are a little more right wing.

Another notion that is striking in this online survey are the countries with the largest number of voters (absolute numbers as of this morning).

Poland 7213, Spain 5283, Portugal 4493, France 2870, Iceland 2832, Canada 2058, Iran 1588….Israel 48 (and split 50-50).

Below is what it would look like if the world could vote in the presidential election, with the blue for Obama and the red for McCain.


A few others blogging on the same topic:
Paper Blog (Franco-English)
Boboleechronicles
BlackManx

Or again on Facebook: If the world could vote

Asia Cup 2007 – West Beats East (aka Iraq beats S. Korea)

On 25th July, Iraq beat South Korea, one of the cup favorites, in a nail-biter, where the 0-0 regulation time score led to a penalty shoot-out win 4-3 in the semis. (BBC report). A country deprived of joy for four years, Iraq has the potential to hoist its first ever continental cup. It will be Iraq’s first visit to the Asia Cup finals. And, Iraq is not without merit in the football world. It is worth noting that Iraq scored a similar penalty win (4-3 penalties after 2-2 draw) over Syria in the Third West Asian Games in 2005. And, more recently, Iraq lost to Iran 2-1 in the 2007 West Asia Cup final in June.

This latest Iraqi victory was sadly met by 2 car bombings killing 51 people and wounding 90 more. Yes, politics and sports meet again. And what should have been a rallying cry spilled into yet another bloodbath. The team is, without doubt, a magical multi-ethnic team, with a Kurdish winger, star Sunnite forward (Qusai Munir) and a Shiite goalie (Abbas, who managed to save one of the penalties). But, the national team and leading members of the football organization have been peppered with kidnappings, death threats and more over the last couple of years. Is there any hope that such outlandish in-house violence may create a pan-religious rallying cause to curb the violent antagonists.

On 29th July, the final in Kuala Lumpur will be played against Saudi Arabia who, no less surprisingly, beat Japan 3-2 to make an Arab final as opposed to a Far Eastern Asian final between two long-term foes. It was Saudi Arabia’s first victory over Japan in the Asia Cup, and they evidently deserved the victory.

Personally, I would be thrilled if an Iraqi victory in the Final on Sunday managed to galvanize some kind of truce.

B…logan (or b-Logan)

Even if the bloom is off, I admit to being fascinated by Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan. Not a highly original thought, but he is a Brasilian native, to French parents with a Lebanese heritage, sporting a Spanish first name, running a Franco-Japanese company. And, notwithstanding the Nissan turanaround, there are many doubts about his current reign and the promised $3,000 car.

Whatever one might say about the occidental Logan and the slagging top line (not to discard the improving bottom line), for the version of the new Logan destined for India and built via a JV with Mahindra Renault, the company has managed to come in under cost and ahead of schedule for the $7,100 car. Including supped-up suspension (to handle the Indian potholes) and improved air conditioning (vital), this new car is a phenomenon.

Then, I hear of the new factory in Iran, in conjunction with IKCO (ever heard of them?)*. In an agreement set up prior to the UN sanctions, this factory is producing the local version of the Logan, the “Tondar.” They have registered more than 100,000 pre-orders for this car. It resonates with me to say that this is the first “modern” car to be available iin Iran for an entire generation. A way to win the hearts & minds of the Iranians (ref to my prior blog on “Containment”)?

Ghosn is perhaps small and frugal, but his impact is enormous, worldwide, and even generous!

——

* if you didn’t know, Iran Khodro is the Middle East’s biggest car maker. I certainly had no idea. Makes me ponder my level of ignorance that I have never heard of them. Courtesy of my father, Victor Dial, I am emboldened to give a little history:

“They assembled a Chrysler-Simca-Talbot-Peugeot car (based on the Sunbeam). It was called the Peykan. Imported cars were strictly licensed. You had to assemble to sell, and you needed a license for that. There were only three such licenses and these were awarded based on the number of cylinders in the engine – a unique method. Iran National (later Khodro) had a monopoly on 4-cyclinder engines. Citroen had the monopoly for 2-cylinder engines (Citroen was the only manufacturer producing such an engine), and Jeep US had the monopoly of 6-cylinder engines. Iran National, as it was called then, had about 90% of the market. The Shah had a majority, but secret interest in Iran National, which also made Mercedes trucks and busses. When Khomeni took over it was obviously nationalized, and the name was changed to Khodro.”

Lecture at Yale: “Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror”

I managed to make it to a couple of lectures during my 20th Reunion Weekend at Yale. The standout lecture was from Professor Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Henry R. Luce Director of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale. The title of the lecture is also the title of his recent book, available at Amazon (among other places). The general gist of his 45 minute speech, delivered I might add with precision and wit, was to propose a revised version of George Kennan’s Containment Strategy in the Global fight against Terrorism. There were several parts to his lecture that struck me.

– As in Kennan’s strategy, it is important to win the hearts and minds of countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan & Iran by demonstrating the success of democratic capitalism. The most important country to “seduce” is Iran. And it is true, the media has generally helped to distort the image that the West has of Iran – obscuring the beautiful land & music, exceptional fruit, enormous history & culture…not to mention the increasing population of women activists and a more enlightened youth. Since President Ahmadinejad‘s party lost ground in the last local elections, hopefully, this is a harbinger of things to come for Iran to move to a more secular, more democratic, more liberal state. While we should positively figure out how to win the hearts & souls of the local population, I note that the Iranian diaspora seems to be doing a better job of the reverse (winning our [or at least my] heart & soul). I have frequently received disarmingly beautiful slide shows of Iran via emails. Iranians in their country need to know that we are also good people and be able to see beyond the politics just as we Westerners must look beyond President Ahmadinejad. There is much work to be done on this count: maybe we should create an online community of West meets {middle] East to share virtual home-made apple pie?

– As Kennan said about Communism not being sustainable because it could not create viable economic prosperity, the same is true of Islamic fundamentalism (long term). No argument there if you consider that the oil supply will eventually run out and/or conversely the price of oil will finally oblige the West (and East) to find alternative (and hopefully) less polluting sources.

-Shapiro’s two adjustments to the Kennan Containment strategy are (1) to fight the war on terrorism only via international legitimacy (recognize the imprimatur of the United Nations, ironically an institution to which Kennan was opposed); and (2) to create international regional alliances of a NATO-like character. Specifically, Shapiro would like to see a Syria/Iran alliance crafted around common interests (getting rid of the Taleban, territorial integrity of Iraq and keeping the peace [there has been no attack by Iran since the 18th century]).

-Shapiro refers to the need to create a strategic opening AND containment between US, Iraq and Iran, much like we saw in the Cold War between US/China/Russia.

-Shapiro talked about the current situation in Libya as being proof of the success of containment: recognition of involvement in and compensation to the Lockerbie victims, giving up of the Libyan nuclear program, curbing terrorism, etc. And, for my understanding, that does seem to be a victory. The picture (to the right of Blair with Gaddafi) tells a thousand words and shows who “won” and might have felt “vanquished”. This meeting took place in the Sahara Desert on May 31, 2007 – potentially a win that Blair would like to own in his legacy.

The best quote of Shapiro’s lecture: “The Bush Doctrine is the Monroe Doctrine on crack.” The Bush Doctrine establishes that nowhere is off limits in this war on Terror. We are no longer operating in spheres of influence. What is scariest of the Bush Doctrine is the acceptance that the war on Terrorism is an infinite war as no armistice will ever be reachable, since there is no representative able to sign the “other side’s” peace agreement.

And, while Shapiro was critical of President GW Bush (Doctrine) as well as the Democrats (no well articulated alternative policy), in the end of the day, whomever is the next US President will need to find and construct a new path and avoid giving a greater “common cause” behind which to rally Islamic Fundamentalists across the region. And it is hard not to want to find a way to render the war finite.

Finally, I cite this TigerHawk blog for widening the discussion with our brethren from Princeton.