Post-9-11 events and analyses
Ken Novak's Weblog
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
FT.com - Richest 2% hold half the world's assets:
"Personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two per cent of adults own more than 50 per cent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only 1 per cent of wealth .. according to the data from the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-Wider). ..
Adults with more than $2,200 of assets were in the top half of the global wealth league table, while those with more than $61,000 were in the top 10 per cent, [and] to belong to the top 1 per cent of the world’s wealthiest adults you would need more than $500,000, something that 37m adults have achieved. So much of the world’s wealth is concentrated in few hands that if all the world’s wealth was distributed evenly, each person would have $20,500 of assets to use.
Almost 90 per cent of the world’s wealth is held in North America, Europe and high-income Asian and Pacific countries, such as Japan and Australia. While North America has 6 per cent of the world’s adult population, it accounts for 34 per cent of household wealth. The concentration of wealth in different countries varies considerably, with the top 10 per cent in the US holding 70 per cent of the country’s wealth, compared with 61 per cent in France, 56 per cent in the UK, 44 per cent in Germany and 39 per cent in Japan." 11:30:13 PM
Global Voices Online:
Interesting compilation of current blog material from citizens of many counties, including Lebanon, Libya, China, Iran, with coverage of local news. Would provide interesting inputs to the "open source intelligence
" movement. 11:24:52 PM
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Dealing with Tehran:
Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran by former CIA official Flynt L. Leverett, The Century Foundation, 12/4/2006. An op-ed version of this was blocked from publication by the CIA. It "lays out the essential features of a U.S.-Iranian grand bargain. If Washington does not begin to pursue such an arrangement vigorously and soon, the window for this kind of strategic understanding between the United States and the Islamic Republic is likely to close. Under these circumstances, Iran’s development of at least a nuclear weapons option in the next few years is highly likely.
Thus, if it does not pursue a grand bargain with Tehran, the United States almost certainly will have to take up the more daunting and less potentially satisfying challenges of coping with a nuclear-capable Iran. And the standing of the United States in the world’s most strategically critical region will continue its already disturbing decline." See also commentary
from Newsweek's James Dickey. 7:16:57 AM
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker:
"The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province. .. The Marines recently filed an updated version of [the August] assessment that stood by its conclusions ..
The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital. .. True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability.
Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected U.S. drawdown, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that U.S. and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar," the assessment found. .. "Despite the success of the December elections, nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda in Iraq," or a smattering of other insurgent groups, the report says"
From the story on the August report
: "One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost." .. One possible solution would be to try to turn over the province to Iraqi forces, but that could increase the risk of a full-blown civil war. Shiite-dominated forces might begin slaughtering Sunnis, while Sunni-dominated units might simply begin acting independently of the central government."
The more recent story has a video shows Post correspondent Thomas Ricks reporting on an option circulating in the Pentagon to simply side with the Shiites and encourage formation of a large national Shiite-Kurdish army to restore order. This might reduce the importance of Shiite radicals like Al Sadr. Nothing is said in that report about the subsequent fate of the Sunnis in that scenario. 4:21:00 PM
The Election Is in the Mail:
In the 2006 election, "there was one state where all went well: Oregon, where everyone votes by mail. Since Oregon adopted Vote by Mail as its sole voting option in 1998, the state’s turnout has increased, concerns about fraud have decreased, a complete paper trail exists for every election, recounts are non-controvertible and both major political parties have gained voters. Moreover, in doing away with voting machines, polling booths, precinct captains and election workers, the state estimates that it saves up to 40 percent over the cost of a traditional election. ..
[If this was nationwide,] the country’s 35,000 post offices could provide information, distribute and collect voting materials and issue inexpensive residency and address identifications for voting purposes. Perhaps most important, given the concerns about voting machine security, mail ballots cannot be hacked. Tampering or interfering with mail is a federal crime, and the United States Postal Service has its own law enforcement arm, which works closely with a variety of enforcement authorities including the F.B.I. Trained election clerks can take the time to check signatures without delaying or discouraging voters. And the advantages of a paper trail outshine the glitter of black box electronic gadgetry.
Already, in order to help businesses that send out big mailings, the Postal Service uses bar-code scanning to inexpensively track large volumes of mail from origin to destination. With minor but careful modifications, this technology can be adapted for use with ballots — allowing voters to check on their location and status by entering a tracking number on the Internet or by phone." 10:04:41 AM