Saturday, 14 July 2007

Protests shut down Starbucks in Forbidden City International discohesion Snubbing the hegemon's "soft power"
N Korea 'closes nuclear reactor' International cohesion North Korea is complying with the hegemon (US) - the playing field is un-levelled in the favour of the US and its allies. Another question arises: Does the shutting-down of the reactor imply a serious crisis within the North Korean leadership?
Baby boom times return for Germany "The excitement is understandable. Germany not only pioneered Europe’s downward turn in fertility rates 30 years ago but also has among the continent’s lowest birth rates at 1.34 children per woman and its population is shrinking...“German-speaking countries are unique in having a full generation that has come of age seeing childbearing as abnormal,” says Wolfgang Lutz, the director of the Vienna Institute of Demography. “This has affected the psychology, with a third of young men now saying they never want to have children."" Internal re-cohesion?
Bid to ban 'racist' Tintin book "The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is calling on high street books to pull a Tintin adventure from its shelves over claims it is racist...A spokeswoman said the book contained "words of hideous racial prejudice, where the 'savage natives' look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles"." Internal discohesion One may agree or disagree with the point made by the CRE that the Tintin children comics are racist. What we from the dark age team are interested in is the continuing process of self-delegitimisation and self-flagellation in Western societies.
Russia suspends arms control pact "The 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) limits the number of heavy weapons deployed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Urals mountains...The suspension is not a full-scale withdrawal - but it means that Russia will no longer permit inspections or exchange data on its deployments." International discohesion Whilst there is no new "Cold War" between the West and Russia, relations have cooled down significantly over various issues in recent years. Russia's ability to effectively influence world events is a mere shadow of what the country was capable of in the past. However, from the view of the mightiest world power, the US, it still has vast potential to cause significant disruption in the world system. See also: Russia rejects plan for Kosovo...Lawmakers Threaten Britain with Retaliation
Airport security costs 'too high' "Costs have risen by 150% since new security measures were brought in after the 11 September attacks in 2001. Security now costs a quarter of major airports'income." International disintegration-internal disorganisation coupling? Western societies have become saturated, their primary aim being to protect what has been achieved in the past. There is an obsession with avoiding death and pain. Some have deemed Western societies "post-heroic societies".
Spain's counterterrorism policy under challenge "The dual terrorist threats, one from at home and the other from abroad, confirm what many political analysts have been saying for a long time: Despite the best intentions of the Spanish government, its counterterrorism policy has not yielded the desired results." Internal discohesion As wealth differentials between the various regions grow, expect separatist tendencies in the UK, Spain, Italy and elsewhere, to increase in popularity and strength.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Russia gives Gazprom right to form armed units "The weapons that Gazprom and Transneft armed units will be allowed to carry under the new law are restricted to hand-guns and pump action shotguns. The law includes no restriction on the number of armed employees...One security analyst said it was already common practice for big companies to have their own armed security units, but their legal status was murky." Internal disintegration? We may remember, for example, that the British East India Company had the right to recruit armed forces and construct fortresses during the expansion of the British Empire into East Asia. Still, the question arises whether some principle of subsidiarity is in operation or whether the state's monopoly of legal force is gradually being softened. Considering the ongoing rise of private security firms across the world, including the massive deployment of military security companies in Iraq, the news from Russia seems to be in line with the trend of mercenaries taking over duties from an increasingly overburdenend state.
Mounting toll in Mexico's drugs war "The very audacity of cartel members moving round the country in military-like formation is itself chilling. It's also a reminder of how far out of control they have become...It is thought as many as 120,000 soldiers have deserted the regular army in the past eight years. Even if a small percentage join the cartels, that's still a lot of guns for hire." A clear sign of internal disintegration The state's monoply of legal force being snubbed. Do not expect South America to turn into a bastion against the rising disorder any time soon. See also: Rebel turf war forcing Colombians to flee
SA violent crime 'unacceptable' "The statistics published by the South African Police Service (SAPS) showed there were 19,202 murders between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007, an increase of 2.4%...The number of bank robberies more than doubled and there were also an increase in the number of burglaries and car hijackings. However, there was a significant fall in the number of rapes and common robberies." Internal disintegration Although crime statistics are often known to be unreliable, the continuously frequent incidence of murder in South Africa doesn't bode well for the country's future in an era where almost in every developed country, there is a problem with overcrowded prisons and underfunded police forces. There are serious questions as to the viability of South Africa as a complex economy and society.
Secret list of universities facing collapse "Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act name for the first time 46 institutions which the government feared could collapse even after the introduction of tuition fees boosted university funding." Internal disorganisation ahead While during times of prosperity, education is provided to an ever greater section of the population, in times of retrenchment, it is set to become a luxury.
Pakistan mosque siege intensifies "Heavy bursts of gunfire and explosions rocked the Red Mosque overnight after armoured vehicles moved in.Police also seized control of a seminary several kilometres away, which is run by clerics from the mosque." Internal (dis-)integration

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Airports, shopping centres and Wimbledon locked inside 'rings of steel' "Hundreds of high-profile destinations - rainging from airports to shopping centres - will be subject to "ring of steel" security measures as part of a huge crackdown. The nationwide alert has also seen the rail network flooded with extra police patrols and even the genteel Wimbledon tennis championships have seen concrete blocks placed in perimeter roads." Internal disintegration "The walls going up". For further explanation see post below. On the other hand one might argue that the arrest of a suspect in Australia only a few days after the attempted attacks in the UK are an impressive indication of international integration (i.e.: governments succesfully coordinating their efforts at apprehending dangerous individuals).

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Fortress Olympics - counting the cost of major event security "The scale and scope of threats arraigned against current major events is of an entirely different order to that which faced planners in 1972...The security budgets for both Beijing 2008 and London 2012 are likely to supersede that of Athens 2004, although Athens had a lower security infrastructure base to start with in comparison to a city such as London." Expanding world We believe that such events will eventually cease to be held in the west, due to political reasons and security-related fears. The ever increasing sums invested into security and surveillance are a testimony to the rising disorder and the growing distrust in western societies. It may be worthwile remembering in this context that during the final stages of the Roman Empire, individual households were belted with fortifications - an unmistakable sign that political authority was fragmented and increasingly ineffective. Today, instead of massive walls there are CCTV cameras, barbed wire, metal detectors etc.
International aid workers become targets "Caught in the crossfire, executed in cold blood or simply hounded out of violent regions, aid workers seem more under fire than ever before and their killers are rarely, if ever, brought to justice...In 2006, 85 aid workers — almost all of them local staff employed by international groups — were killed, the most since 2003, when numbers were swollen by a bomb attack on the United Nations' compound in Baghdad that killed 22 persons." Expanding world? The world becoming a more dangerous place? International organisations such as the Red Cross, médecins sans frontières, Oxfam and others can be understood as spearheads of "late" Western "soft power" (i. e. cultural). The fact that they appear to be encountering growing difficulties and outright hostility may be seen as an expression of growing international discohesion and as in accordance with the west's diminishing overall leadership.