willwaddell's Articles, Page 1 of 27

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23 Feb 08

Last Man on Earth = Value-based Leadership Par Excellence

Recently cadets at the U.S. Military Academy decided to honor Dr. Robert Neville, a fictional character played by Will Smith in the big-budget thriller I Am Legend. Cadets chose Dr. Neville as the character best representing "value-based leadership" in the first ever Cadet Choice Movie Award. Neville beat out such impressive runners-up as King Leonidas of 300 and the oft-wounded John McClane of Live Free or Die Hard. One must wonder, however, if the cadets have forgotten that leadership is a relational activity, i.e. a leader needs followers. Dr. Neville, by contrast, spends the the majority of the film alone (an early adaption of this story was entitled The Last Man on Earth), except for his faithful dog and of course the hordes of enraged vampiric zombies that emerge at night. In any event, does this selection presage an end to effective leadership from the hallowed halls of West Point or is this a shameless attempt to turn nothing into something?

14 Feb 08

Mao Offered America 10 Million Women

Today products from China are literally everywhere. It was not always so, however. In 1973 trade between the U.S. and China was negligible. But perhaps China had something to offer. During discussions with then US National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, Mao Zedong, leader of communist China, offered (in jest) to send 10 million Chinese women to America, complaining that Chinese ladies were too fertile and threatened the country with demographic disaster. He also lamented that Chinese women were not ready to fight the Russians. At the end of the meeting, deciding Mao’s comments would anger the public, both men agreed to censor the comments from the official record. Mao’s comments about women are only now made available from recently released U.S. state department documents. Interestingly, though Mao never did send his bevy of Chinese women to America, U.S. families adopt thousands of Chinese children every year, 95% of whom are girls. In 1979 China instituted the one-child policy. Though undertaken to ease the strain of overpopulation, the practical effect of China’s birth control plan has been to create a situation in which China by 2020 will have 30 million more men than women, an issue of potential social instability.

12 Feb 08

Pakistan Atomic Staff Kidnapped

Pakistan, the land of thousand worries, has added one more to the list. Coming on the same day which saw Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan kidnapped, two staff members of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission have reportedly been kidnapped while out surveying the troublesome northwest provinces. The two technicians were conducting a geological survey when their vehicle was stopped by a masked gunmen. It is yet unknown who took the men, but the northwest region of Pakistan is rife with Taliban militants, many of whom it is believed use Pakistan as a base from which to conduct operations in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan, of course, remains in a delicate position following the recent assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. It’s stability is of paramount interest to many outsiders as Pakistan is seen as a crucial arena in the fight against al Qaeda. It’s stability and status are also all the more important because of it’s substantial nuclear arsenal.

11 Feb 08

British Muslims and Inbreeding

They seem to hit the news in some way every week. Most recently the Archbishop of Canterbury said British Muslims should be able to live under Sharia Law. Now there is a new buzz about Britain’s Muslim population – inbreeding. The UK’s environmental minister, with the support of medical experts, has said the Muslim culture of inbreeding, i.e. consistent marrying of first cousins, is leading to a huge jump in birth defects. The claim, which many believe will cause controversy, says that British Pakistanis, while only accounting for 3% of all births, are responsible for a third of those children born with genetic defects. Ann Cryer, an MP who has also addressed this thorny issue, has said the British Pakistani community is "in denial at the moment" over the problems of inbreeding.

02 Jan 08

A Brave New World - Robot Fornication

It was bound to happen and certain science fiction enthusiasts around the world are probably chomping at the bit. What are we talking about? Sex with robots, of course. Scottish chess master David Levy is the latest to tout this potential aspect of our future world in his new book Love and Sex with Robots. Levy views future carnal knowledge of robots optimistically, saying the development of artificial-intelligence will mean "[g]reat sex on tap for everyone, 24/7." When will this all happen? According to Levy, if you’re currently under 35, you will, in all likelihood, live to see robot love.

17 Dec 07

Kosovo Remains in Limbo

The talks have largely stalled and Kosovo’s future hangs in the balance. Though plans have been in the work for some time to transition Kosovo to independent rule, Serbia, who holds official sovereignty over the province, has thus far refused to brook any such recommendations. Russia, Serbia’s chief backer, however, has called for a new "road map; for the Albanian province. Russia maintains that were Kosovo to leave Serbia, the result would be an "uncontrollable crisis." To that end, Russia has proposed extending talks on Kosovo.

12 Dec 07

Bring Back the Emperor

In 1870 the French Army of Châlons, nominally commanded by the Emperor Napoleon III, found itself surrounded at Sedan by the seemingly invincible Prussians. Unable to break out, the French surrendered on September 2, effectively ending the Second Empire. Following his capture the emperor himself was permitted to seek exile in England where he lived out the remainder of his days with his wife and son. The Imperial family now lies in St. Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough. The French government, however, would like Napoleon back. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Nice becoming a part of France (1860-2010), the government would like to return the former president and emperor to the continent. Nice was ceded to France during the reign of Napoleon III. Though France claims a right over the remains, the monks have thus far refused to part with the notable family.

10 Dec 07

Fresh Student Protests in Iran

Their placards read "Live free or die" and "No war, no fascism." They burned a copy of the clerical Kayhan newspaper. They shouted protests against the government, saying Iran "will not become Chile; The latest in a series of student protests in Tehran, Sunday’s activities drew 1,500 people, according to a member of the reformist Office to Foster Unity. The flash-point for the protests has been the detention of three students accused of printing anti-Islamic images in student publications. Calls by reformist leaders to repeal the incarceration have thus far gone unheeded. Despite the presence of riot police, students at Sunday’s gathering managed to break Tehran University’s main gate, allowing others outside to enter the campus. Some commentators see the student protests as a movement that is gaining momentum and therefore will likely come under increasing government scrutiny.

05 Dec 07

Immigration Prompts Nazi Remark

The topic of immigration is not just big news in the U.S. It seethes across Europe as well, and in Italy the rhetoric, at least in one area, has become particularly controversial. In Veneto, a rich region of northern Italy, Giorgia Bettio has got himself into some trouble. A city councilor for the city of Treviso, Bettio is none too fond of immigrants, especially after one reportedly threatened his mother. Bettio’s response at a recent council meeting: "With immigrants, we should use the same system the SS used, punish 10 of them for every slight against one of our citizens."

25 Nov 07

Archbishop to USA: You're the Worst

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, isn’t too impressed with the United States. Impugning the notion that the U.S. is a "chosen nation," Williams said that the U.S. is a worse imperial power than Britain. The Archbishop insisted that while America eschews territorial acquisitions, the cornerstone of British imperialism, America drives after "influence and control." Calling on the U.S. to demilitarize its presence in the world, Williams offered up Britain’s management of colonial India as a better example of imperial administration, arguing that Britain "pour[ed] energy and resources into administering it and normalising it." Describing Iraq, the Archbishop attacked what he sees as the American imperial modus operandi: "go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together." Williams’ remarks were part of an interview he gave to Emel, a U.K. Muslim lifestyle magazine.

09 Nov 07

Outsourcing Pregnancy

Outsourcing to India has become all the rage. From customer service calls to tech support, even insurance claim processing has moved to the subcontinent. Now, however, Indian outsourcing has taken on a new dimension – pregnancy. Increasingly poor Indian women are making their wombs available to foreigners who otherwise cannot carry a pregnancy. Surrogate motherhood, a procedure that can cost literally tens of thousands of dollars in the U.S., can be accomplished in India for as little as $5,000. Currently, in just one district of the Indian state of Gujarat, over 50 women are acting as surrogate mothers. While critics claim these women are being exploited, Dr. Naina Patel of a fertility clinic in Gujarat, says they are simply providing a "global solution" to a "global problem."

05 Nov 07

Chinese Mega-Company Makes Debut

Energy is always a hot issue these days, and from the looks of things, it’s about to get hotter. China’s oil and gas colossus, PetroChina, is set to open on the Shanghai Stock Exchange this week. The company, already traded in New York and Hong Kong, is valued at $460 billion, a mere $26 billion behind ExxonMobil, the most valuable company in the world. This will simply add to China’s ever-growing list of immense businesses, which already includes the world’s largest bank, insurance company, telecommunications service, and airline.

25 Oct 07

Matryrs Brigade's New Targeting Program: Google Earth

Google Earth is an amazing tool, but it seems every silver lining must have its dark cloud. A satellite mapping program of the earth’s surface, Google Earth puts topographic information, including oftentimes very detailed 3D images, at the world’s finger tips. The world, however, includes the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade which has used Google Earth to help plan rocket attacks against Israel. One of the group’s leaders said they are able to "obtain the details from Google Earth and check them against our maps of the city centre and sensitive areas." Though not a "real-time" asset, Google Earth has definitely aided the Brigade in their not infrequent rocket attacks, typically Qassams fired from Gaza.

22 Oct 07

When Monkeys Attack

Intelligence experts have long warned that apes may be plotting to revolt and displace the human dictatorship of the world. It was after all Curious George who said, "We have nothing to lose but our chains." Well it now seems the opening shots of the monkey/human war have been fired. SS Bajwa, the deputy mayor of New Delhi, was assaulted by a horde of wild monkeys at his home this week. Though rushed to a nearby hospital, the mayor died from his injuries. Protected by Hindu religious sensibilities, authorities have found dealing with the animals a vexing situation. In fact the primate anarchists have repeatedly shown their contempt for human authority, attacking on numerous occasions government offices and temples. This latest incident, however, leads many monkey terrorism experts to speculate that a worldwide ape revolution may be in the offing. It is furthermore feared that "rogue states" may seek to arm the monkey international with nuclear weapons, a move which threatens to undermine the fragile strategy of deterrence that has so far kept monkeys in check. All observers now agree, it would seem, that all policies of monkey appeasement must come to an end.

18 Oct 07

UK Obese: Victims of Circumstance

Is a new UK study stripping all human agency from the problem of obesity? On the face of it, that’s what some may say. This new report, the largest ever conducted in the UK, has concluded that weight problems are now the norm in society. But what’s more is that the researchers on the study say that obesity was inevitable, given the cheap foods, easy transport and rather sedentary lifestyle that typifies the modern West. One scientist went so far as to say that it is, in fact, surprising that anyone has remained thin and uses this as support for her notion that looking at obesity as a product of individual indulgence is now outmoded. According to the report, UK people "are not more gluttonous than previous generations and individual action alone will not be sufficient." Seeming to therefore focus on government programs to combat the obesity epidemic, the British Health Secretary argued that "[s]olutions will not be found in exhortations to greater individual responsibility or in the futility of isolated initiatives." As the cost of healthcare for obese individuals continues to climb, the British government is increasingly hard-pressed to find answers, and may pursue cross-governmental strategies.

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