An outside observer to the race for Mayor of London could be forgiven for wondering how little has changed since 2008. With the election for what is sometimes said to be the second most powerful role in British politics due to take place on 3 May alongside the election of members to the Greater London Assembly, the three main parties have selected the same candidates who contested the May 2008 Mayoral ballot. Yet, outside of the Mayoral race itself, the UK and London, have faced significant economic and social turbulence since the May 2008 ballot.
Recently, two stories of American advocacy have been making the news, but not in the way their PR teams would have wanted. PBS’ This American Life (TAL) programme retracted contributor Mike Daisey’s story on Apple’s FoxConn factory in China due to exaggerations uncovered in his report, and Invisible Children’s (IC) Kony 2012 media blitz was derailed by criticism of the group’s methods and the arrest of its most visible figure, Jason Russell. These stories captivated American audiences because of the parties involved, but subsequent coverage has focused heavily on the scandals. This has overshadowed the issues at the heart of these stories, and detracts from a larger discussion of modern American advocacy.
Most people are familiar with the periodic table from secondary school, though few have ever paid much attention to the elements in the top row of the separate box on the bottom left. These 15 lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium, are known as the rare earth elements (REE). They are vital to a broad range of technologies, from mobile phones and LCD monitors to hybrid car batteries and missile guidance systems. Like the dragon's pearl that allowed the dragon to ascend to heaven in ancient Chinese mythology, REE are crucial for China's economic rise.
The economic policy of any government is one of the most politically charged elements of its portfolio. This should be an obvious point, but is not always fully appreciated by economists who deal primarily with data and, in the modern form of the discipline, through abstracted models. This point was also obscured for us all during the 2000s boom years when the rising tide seemed to lift all boats, and the great battles over economic policy appeared to be a thing of the past. Tweaks here and there to policy could be left to the technocrats and need not concern the electorate too much.
On 11 September 2001, a great crime against humanity was committed, with the loss of thousands of innocent lives in a series of devastating attacks in the US. However in response, in the days, weeks, months and years that followed, great crimes against human rights were committed, and are still being committed to this very day. With the aim of protecting their citizens from future attacks, the government of the US and its allies began to enact and adopt various counter-terrorism measures and legislation.
Last week saw the deepening of divisions between South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). This comes at a time when the party’s youth league (ANCYL) has also become increasingly antagonistic towards the ANC.
Soft power is widely understood as a state's ability to get what it wants through attraction and moral authority, rather than raw military or economic coercion. Canada is one country that has made soft power a hallmark of its foreign policy. So what is soft power, and what does it have to do with the "hard" dimensions of state power? China seems to be paying attention. Read on to discover why some in Beijing are recommending that the Communist Party take a page out of Ottawa's playbook.