27/04/2012

The Trial of Anders Behrig Breivik and Insanity

Mass killer Anders Behrig Breivik is fighting in Norwegian court to be considered sane. Originally considered criminally insane, he was later judged to be sane and responsible for his actions.  Admitting to killing 77 people in a bombing and youth camp massacre, he said that no one would have asked for a psychiatric examination if he had been a "bearded jihadist". Two psychiatric examinations have reached different conclusions about his mental state.

The Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine has asked for additional information from the two psychiatrists who found him sane. Jon Hestnes, who heads a support group for victim's families and survivors, was quoted as saying, "He's not in our world".

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23/04/2012

Kissinger Speaks on the Arab Spring

In the April 2 edition of the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times, Henry Kissinger wrote an op-ed piece entitled "Defining a U.S. role in the Arab Spring". (Disclaimers: Henry Kissinger was raised in the Washington Heights section of the Bronx; I was raised in the Van Cortlandt Park section, further to the North. We both have PhDs in international relations.) For a host of reasons, nothing Dr. Kissinger writes is without interest, and an examination of one or two of his assumptions is quite revealing. When Henry speaks, those in power listen, while those out of power merely deconstruct.

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15:12 Publié dans Arab World, USA | Lien permanent | Commentaires (1) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

19/04/2012

The American Election: Where is the Passion?

I have recently been to the United States twice in the last three weeks. There was passion for the finals of the college basketball season. There is passion for the finals of the professional hockey season, professional basketball season and the beginning of the baseball season. People were glued to their televisions to watch the Masters Golf Tournament to see if Tiger Woods would win again. What I didn't see was passion for the November presidential election. Why?

The obvious answer is that the election will take place in November; seven months is an eternity in politics. While there was some excitement during the Republican primaries with a series of candidates - Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum- challenging Mitt Romney, there was no real passion behind the candidates. Mostly the rhetoric was either Anyone but Romney or Anybody but Obama.

On the Democratic side, President Obama has not been able to maintain the excitement of 2008. He has certainly had some accomplishments, but the soaring speeches of his campaign, the narrative of the first African-American as President have not been translated into a genuine transformation. This is not to say that all the blame should be placed on the President's shoulders, but merely to note that his 50% popularity ratings should be higher at this point for a sitting President.

Just as the Republicans have accepted Romney with considerable reservations, the Democrats are set to rally behind Obama, but the thrill is gone. The young who left school to ring doorbells for candidate Obama are and will be less present in 2012.

The Presidential election in the United States traditionally has been a global story. After all, historically, it has been the choosing of the leader of the free world. Perhaps another reason for the lack of passion is a realization that whoever wins will have a limited role in world affairs as well as limited options domestically. The unipolar world seems well past and perhaps with it the importance of the U.S. President.

 

11:21 Publié dans Democracy, USA | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

09/04/2012

WRS: Why should we listen to English?

The Head of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation recently announced that he was seriously considering stopping the English radio channel or putting it up for sale. According to Roger de Weck, World Radio Switzerland (WRS) was no longer a priority for the state subsidized television and radio conglomerate since English was not a national language. (Disclaimer: I am a regular contributor to WRS.) Money was not a consideration since the station represented a tiny percentage of the overall budget.

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