Snowden marking the end of US world dominance?

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In all honesty, this day had to come. Espionage and unlawful surveillance from a country that uses uncommon  acts of terror to justify two full on wars should not be a surprise. In fact it confirms the suspicions of most.  These allegations  now give governments the leverage to eventually say no to the USA, and to say no to it’s invisible hand that has been dominating the world since the 2nd World War.

The government of Hong Kong refused to revoke Snowden’s right to travel, and like most governments instead turns the table on the agenda at hand: it instead asks, what information do you have about us that we don’t know about. Whilst being a ‘threat of national security’, Snowden has done little but highlighted the USA’s impeachment of the fundamental human rights of it’s citizens and of other foreign individuals. This gives significance to the information that he holds. He is seen more trustworthy than the American political and legal system, that is seen to have failed not just the American people but it’s constitution. More so, his has more diplomatic agency than any American consulate or embassy has in the world at the moment.  No country, under international law has to deport Snowden. It is even encouraged by Amnesty International that he should not deported back the USA in fear that he may be tortured or mistreated by US authorities.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/usa-must-not-persecute-whistleblower-edward-snowden-2013-07-02

In many instances, targeted countries would not collaborate with a country that has betrayed them; put them in a collective meeting or alignment in a political summit or committee: this could be most powerful than any legislation or action conducted by the USA.

With the lack of trust in America from the global community (both organisations and nations), it’s economic decline (china predicted to take over by 2017),  and it’s failures in Iraq and Afghanistan: it could be said that America is eventually crumbling into economic, military and political decline. However, unlike Europe’s colonial powers of the early 20th century, it may not be so willing to except this eventuality.

Malaysia’s Racial Politics

“Malaysia truly Asia”: The tourist board boasts beautiful islands, lush, green rainforests and a multicultural metropolis in the name of Kuala Lumpur. For the average tourist, that is probably what you will see. They try hard to hide the underbelly lurking the background: racial politics.

Malaysia is and has always been divided. Unlike the lights of the European system of class, Malaysian politics is more dynamic. It is a turbulent whirlpool of race, religion, place of origin and economic background. It is no longer as simple as whether you are Malay, Chinese or Indian. There is now a growing migrant class in Malaysia, attracted by relative political and economical stability. Without migrants, like most developed and emerging economics, the country would be a standstill; but they are treated as an underclass in society.

Petitions have been published and spread around the web calling for the governments of countries where most of these immigrants originate from to disallow them to vote in the general election. One petition states: “We have gathered solid and undisputed evidence that a great number of them are now being used by irresponsible parties to undermine the electoral process in Malaysia, as they have been granted dubious residential status to vote in our forthcoming general election.” It goes on to request that “those who are found to be involved should be duly punished under your national law.”

Such protesters for ‘fair and free’ elections go further to formate a petition written to President Obama, calling it a “democracy crisis in Malaysia”. It is not just through petitions and slandering quotes on the social media that we see such prejudice, it is also prominent at polling stations. A member of the public proudly publishes a video of other voters picketing a bus of voters, of whom they believe to be immigrants, to deter them from voting. But why do people care?

According to the census of 2010, the population of non- Malaysians is only 8.2%. However with the implementation of a new scheme to record and grant amnesty to over 2 million illegal immigrants, the actual number of registered immigrants could amount to roughly 15% of the entire population. This would make them a larger group than ethnic Indians which only accounts for 7.3% of the population. This act of registering illegal immigrants has obviously been seen as a coy to generate soft votes for the ruling party.

However this was one of many blatant exercises to win votes. Subsidies, government backed loans and bumiputra discounts on properties and other material goods are all symbolic of classical boom and bust economics. Yet there was little complaint of this from the opposition, maybe it was because they benefited. But they don’t feel that they benefit from immigrants.

Prejudice towards the immigrant class has been ingrained in Malaysia for years, and it is them who face the brunt of the unjust diversion of frustration with the ruling party. Most of those who have signed petitions and cooperated in ‘flagging up’ these ‘fraudulent’ voters originate from an ethnic minority. It is a gross contradiction to what Malaysian ethnic minorities are attempting to achieve: fair and free elections, and more importantly equal political and economical rights to all Malaysians.

It does not occur to many Malaysians that the majority of immigrants come from marginalised communities. Innocent people from Sri Lanka, Burma and other parts of Asia come to Malaysia to simply seek political asylum, and many of whom do what they can to contribute to the Malaysian economy. These people have chosen Malaysia to reside, they have the legal right to reside and they have the legal right to vote. Free franchise is a basic human right regardless of race, and yes, that also applies to immigrants as well. You never know, they might have voted for the opposition.

We are a business

The interests of the people who simply want to live their lives are put on the back-burner as those who pledge to represent us try to run this country as a business. This goes from the constant belief that the balance sheets have to be evened out, even at the cost of the livelihoods and standard of living of those they are meant to be acting on the behalf of. This is not just judgements made by government bodies but by other public institutions.

British universities, long before the cuts to higher education, have been stretching far and wide for potential international students to profiteer from. There are so many universities these days that public funding is not enough to run all of these costly institutions, and funding has to come from somewhere. And to that extent I understand the need to at least break even. The optimum level of income should be at normal profit for contingency reasons, for instance higher running costs or maintenance in the future. 

But this is not what universities are doing. Sussex alone made £13.8 million in the last academic year, yet tries to justify making cuts in the services sector for money saving purposes. Sussex is a very small university relative to the lights of Nottingham and Manchester. Nottingham University beginning in 2000 began to outsource their education to international branches in Malaysia and China, giving local students a taste of British education without leaving their country. These students are still charged international fees and have the opportunity to go to Nottingham to study as a part of the degree, it is effectively an in-house twinning programme. These programmes are not rare in this part of the world. 

In a way, it gives talented students a means into the British education system, which before hand they would have never been able to afford. But it still attracts an elite, unless one is extremely lucky to receive a scholarship. But it shows that a public institution such as Nottingham University that accepts government funding are trying to run their institution as an expansionist business. Students are now seen as clients instead of a source of intellectual ability. It does not harness the pure purpose of university: To provide an education beyond the textbook and to allow the individual student to research and come up with innovative, new ideas. The only way universities see themselves able to survive is to run as a business, and demand is ever-growing due to lack of alternatives. 

The solution is to simply have less universities and more access into employment for the youth in the UK. Universities are essentially a place of research and innovation, not a assembly line of identically minded young adults to exit with a piece of paper. It should be industry and other public institutions specialising in specific skills that supply vocational skills to those who are not academically inclined or interested. At the moment, for many there is no alternative to university.

With this those who are serious about learning and what to contribute to their field of study can study at a university free of charge, and hopefully will not have to be too concerned of that university’s reputation. Whilst the rest can do what they want to do without being in debt for the rest of their working lives. 

It is time for a new world order

7926126812_33571c3544_b[1]Photo Credit to Luc Forsyth: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75878499@N03/

When the world is ran by some form of imaginary paper and digits on a computer, it is time for humanity to realise that both their perception of economics and politics is based on pure bullshit.

Bitcoin is probably one of the most innovative ways to show how flimsy the whole financial system is, it maybe the means to the solution of devaluing the philosophy associated with imaginary paper, or what we call money. The problem that we are faced with is not the financial crisis, that just flagged up the problem. No, our problem is money itself. Bitcoin is a beautifully simplistic definition of currency. It is deregulated to the fact that there is no single place where it is stored. It is stored on a open source system, so your details are basically decrypted somewhere in the cloud, not in the HSBC ledger. It is not a national currency, it has no central or federal bank and it is ‘mined’ according to the value of the currency against now the USD. And more importantly, its value will not be politically motivated by the lights of China or someone nasty.

But imagine if the Bitcoin  was the global currency and no other currency existed. It was mined to the extent to which the world could feed itself and attain a standard of living that we see acceptable. This is going to be low for our standards in the west, but more than adequate for someone in Haiti who is rummaging through the scraps. But anyway, we get to this stage of equilibrium and no more bitcoins are mined and is distributed evenly. We then just let nature take its course, remembering money can no longer be generated artificially.

This is will either turn the world into an autocratic quasi-communist system or an autocratic quasi-capitalist system where people will end up starving to death regardless. The problem is still going to be money, but now in the form of bitcoin. We unfortunately value everything that we have on something that is purely meaningless. Before the 1970’s we had the good old gold standard. But as we started growing a conscience in trying to create economic equality in western society, generating wealth out grew the supply of gold. In other words aggregate demand, that was generated artificially by government owned companies employing people who would otherwise be unemployed, led to demand for money. This led to the demand for gold, but there was not enough of it. So the gold standard was dropped.

We come to the system that we have now which is the floating exchange rate. This fluctuates with the base rate (which is rate of interest banks and lenders can charge their creditors) and quantitative easing as it fiddles with the supply of a currency, as well as speculative demand. So one currency is valued against another currency which technically has no value. So money is pointless.

But it has universal purchasing power of absolutely any product that you may need, from a prostitute to a loaf of bread. This is despite money having no value whatsoever. With this absurd logic, a pair of headphones which is priced at $10  is the same price as a grain of rice which is priced at $0.00005 because they are all bought with money which is valueless (10×0=0.0005×0). And it the same logic that leads to the unnecessary deaths of people who die of hunger and malnutrition, or of cold weather during the winter. These people are dead due to a lack of something that has no extrinsic value.

Deregulation was unfortunately necessary during the reign Margaret Thatcher after the collapse of Keynesian economics, it still caused the same problem of generating artificial supply of money. Money was seen to be as bottomless as a root beer float at A&W. It led to risks to be made as gains were seen to be limitless in the banking and insurance sector, as at the end of the day it was a massive ponzi scheme with everyday mortgage holders and loan bearers at the bottom of the pyramid. There is one good thing with bitcoin, it will eliminate the banks but it will not solve inequality.

Watching Malaysia

Whilst growing up I believed that all people were innately evil. Not once did I see an humble act of good will be performed for the general good of someone else. Everything I thought was done for an ulterior motive. As the receipt-ants of the NEP reaped their gains given to them on a plate purely due to their race and religion, the poorest of the minorities scraped a living to make ends meet. No one will ever say that we lived in an apartheid state because the economic climate made it difficult to realise how much discrimination ethnic minorities truly faced.

Sitting a cafe thousands of miles away and being a child of a mat salleh, I am in the firing line to be criticised of having no clue about Malaysian society. But possibly, maybe, coming from ‘the outside’ I would have a point of view that will help one look at the ‘problem’ pragmatically.

Every bus journey home illuminates injustice. Watching the condominiums and shopping malls being built, cleaned and maintained by immigrants being treated as third rate citizens. Seeing them walking home after their hard labour to their make shift shanty towns on the side of a development; and the shameful contrast of traffic consisting of BWMs and Mercs driving by. My academic performance showed that I took education as a gimmick and the bus home made me realise how much I took for granted, how much my peers took it for granted but I suppose I was the only one who realised.

KL seems segregated into class, race and religion. Some of which obviously overlap. Those that do, especially the upper class areas, seem to be characterless and numb. The malls of Bukit Bintang, the cafes in Publika and Bangsar, all seem to be dominated with rich wannabes who lack any form of individuality or taste. It seemed dominated by people who thought that their appearance in such location equated to status and power, looking down at those whom the thought were below them. Their appreciation of art and thought doesn’t come from within, it is influenced by what is popular in western media. It made stealing internet in Starbucks infuriating, you just look at all the fakes walking in- you just think: please, grow a back bone and get a personality; and possibly one day I will earn more than you.

Those who express themselves are in their rarity. They seem to mingle in the only segment of culture that DBKL have maintained: Central Market. Malaysian authors publishing their work in their native language, promoting alternative political and economic thought. It is refreshing, it’s  promising and my goodness it’s what Malaysia needs. In a developing country where growth has attracted more graduates to come home during a global recession, the flow of new ideas is finally coming alive.

Without immigrants, without our ethnic minorities, Malaysia would be a mere slither of ink drawn onto a map. It is them who build, fund and manage our infrastructure, economy and intellectual capacity. Do not get me wrong, there are Malays who work just as hard and have done some amazing work for the country but it is now that everyone should be treated as equal.

Who should run the country?

Starting a politics orientated course last year popped my abstract bubble of scientific theories, leading me to fall face first into reality. I felt that there was something wrong with the world we lived in, the way our society works, the status quo. I still do and yes, perhaps something should be done but how much does the decisions made by a couple of Eton-educated elitists actually affect our lives?

It is a question that I toyed with when I went back home. The hustle and bustle of South East Asia, the positive economic outlook is blatant: a major contrast to the unemployment gloom we see here. But then a friend points out: it’s the general election next year. And it all falls in place. As a sceptic of everything under the sun it is not hard to come to the conclusion that the sudden wealth is due to the political motivations of the governing party. There is even a smartphone subsidy for youths funded by the Malaysian government. In less fortunate places, government policy and party politics probably  determines if the poorest of the poor have rice on the table. Not being able to question your government and the oppression of negative feedback on their performance is severe.

Here, yes there are cuts, there are job losses but we have a system, that in theory, should safe guard us from extreme poverty. When I’m taxed at work I always ask where the money is going? And I would like to hope that it is going to help those who are vulnerable and need help. In Britain we are free to question, to protest and to be openly sceptical. Using critique affectively and pursuing to be better is never a bad thing. But realistically is what we say being listened to. Even if they are being listened to by our elected leaders? Can they actually implement change?

An elected party, especially in the country like the UK cannot make any long term changes. They have to do what is popular to be re-elected. We see now that the two-horse race consists of teams of career politicians rather than professionals who understand how the government actually works. It is the specifically trained civil servants who spend their careers working in government organisations that run the day to day running of our country. As much as I feel that freedom of speech and choice is important, it is probably more important to give the job of running certain aspects of the country to people who know what they are doing. So we have a bit of a problem.

Correspondence with Mike Weatherley MP for Hove and Portslade

Dear Mike,

I’m sad that this has deterred you from delivering your talk on drug policy reform. As much as I oppose what happened on Wednesday, it is also a real judgement of your character and belief in your policies. Denying yourself to be heard due to such an event about has made me very disappointed. Dealing and persevering with crude opposition is always going to be in the nature of your profession, and you are ever so fortunate to be in the UK. Such timid action is probably a justification for using harassment and intimidation to get a point across, is that a message you would like to portray?

In terms of university security, I’m sure they will learn from their mistake. I don’t think anyone thought this would have happened. (However I am more than happy for you to give management a hard time.)

Thank you for your prompt reply. I’m happy for you to take this point rhetorically.

Kind Regards,

Yasmin Centeno

From: WEATHERLEY, Mike [mailto:mike.weatherley.mp@parliament.uk]

Sent: 16 November 2012 18:20
To: ‘Yasmin Centeno’
Subject: RE: Apologises

Dear Yasmin

Thank you for your kind and well reasoned email.

I wish I could have had the opportunity of explaining why this is a good law – and to hear why persons like yourself disagree with it. But alas that was denied.

I doubt I will be coming back to Sussex Uni any time soon. At the moment they are in denial about their security arrangements which just means my talk scheduled for the 30th November on drugs reform is now cancelled. Such a shame.

In have passed on your good wishes to my staff and they are grateful.

Kind regards and thanks once again.

MIKE WEATHERLEY MP

Hove and Portslade

www.mikeweatherleymp.com

From: Yasmin Centeno [mailto:yhnc20@sussex.ac.uk]

Sent: 15 November 2012 00:19
To: WEATHERLEY, Mike
Subject: Apologises

Dear Mike,

I am a student at Sussex University and I am writing this letter as an individual and not as a representative of any student or official body whatsoever.

I am not politically inclined towards the conservative party however I am concerned about what happened at my university yesterday. It denied you the basic right of being about to talk freely and this troubles me deeply. As much as I disagree with the squatting policy that was passed over the summer I believe that you should have had your freedom to explain your side of the argument. I’m sure I speak on behalf of a majority of politically inclined students and staff when I say that we were genuinely enthusiastic for a lively and evenly matched debate about your stance on this issue.

The actions of a select minority did not just undermine our university but the very liberal morals and ideologies that we collectively stand for in this society. It worries me in a place of study, such as Sussex University, that such acts occurred and I apologise that you and your staff were at the brink of it.

I would like to say thank you for coming to Sussex despite what happened today. Please don’t let the actions of a select minority determine your perspective of the general student and staff population of Sussex University.

Please send my regards to all your staff who were affected by today.

Yours Sincerely,

Yasmin Centeno

Why are students so political? Initial unfinished draft, please comment! :)

Blogging students is a new initiative hosted by the Guardian, and I, being optimistic as ever is hoping to get something on it. A lot of it is to do with very generic student life, like clubbing, exams, internships, sex, drugs and rock and roll: which yes is a big deal but that is certainly not all that happens in student life. The editors, regardless of how bland their uni days may have been should bloody well know this!

First 2 paragraphs…

As a first-year student from an estranged upbringing to the average British undergraduate, it’s hard to not to collude to the thought that I am living in a large student commune of which is Sussex University campus. Regardless of class and financial origin, every student seems to be fairly left wing which contradicts the typical classist stereotype associated with socialism. I thought it was just a reflection on the general liberal vibe that resonates in Brighton but is this endemic of the youth in Britain?

Every university has a democratically elected student union that acts on behalf of the student community, who are affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS). From the nuclear disarmament movement to the abolishment to the South African Government’s Apatite policy, NUS and other specialised student bodies have been actively protesting and lobbying for positive change.  With social-economic turbulence being so close to our home turf, students are beginning to protest for the betterment of their own lives taking the tuition fee protests of 2011 as a prime example.

Note: I need sources! IF anyone want a comment included, I’d be happy to quote you as long as it’s relevant of course!

Should there be a campaign to legalise drugs in the west?

I found this on the web today:

10 Reasons to legalise all drugs
comment from Transform: the campaign for effective drug policy 

1 Address the real issues
For too long policy makers have used prohibition as a smoke screen to avoid addressing the social and economic factors that lead people to use drugs. Most illegal and legal drug use is recreational. Poverty and despair are at the root of most problematic drug use and it is only by addressing these underlying causes that we can hope to significantly decrease the number of problematic users. 

2 Eliminate the criminal market place
The market for drugs is demand-led and millions of people demand illegal drugs. Making the production, supply and use of some drugs illegal creates a vacuum into which organised crime moves. The profits are worth billions of pounds. Legalisation forces organised crime from the drugs trade, starves them of income and enables us to regulate and control the market (i.e. prescription, licensing, laws on sales to minors, advertising regulations etc.) 

3 Massively reduce crime
The price of illegal drugs is determined by a demand-led, unregulated market. Using illegal drugs is very expensive. This means that some dependent users resort to stealing to raise funds (accounting for 50% of UK property crime – estimated at £2 billion a year). Most of the violence associated with illegal drug dealing is caused by its illegality 

Legalisation would enable us to regulate the market, determine a much lower price and remove users need to raise funds through crime. Our legal system would be freed up and our prison population dramatically reduced, saving billions. Because of the low price, cigarette smokers do not have to steal to support their habits. There is also no violence associated with the legal tobacco market. 

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4 Drug users are a majority
Recent research shows that nearly half of all 15-16 year olds have used an illegal drug. Up to one and a half million people use ecstasy every weekend. Amongst young people, illegal drug use is seen as normal. Intensifying the ‘war on drugs’ is not reducing demand. In Holland, where cannabis laws are far less harsh, drug usage is amongst the lowest in Europe.

Legalisation accepts that drug use is normal and that it is a social issue, not a criminal justice one. How we deal with it is up to all of us to decide. 

In 1970 there were 9000 convictions or cautions for drug offences and 15% of young people had used an illegal drug. In 1995 the figures were 94 000 and 45%. Prohibition doesn’t work.

5 Provide access to truthful information and education
A wealth of disinformation about drugs and drug use is given to us by ignorant and prejudiced policy-makers and media who peddle myths upon lies for their own ends. This creates many of the risks and dangers associated with drug use.

Legalisation would help us to disseminate open, honest and truthful information to users and non-users to help them to make decisions about whether and how to use. We could begin research again on presently illicit drugs to discover all their uses and effects – both positive and negative. 

6 Make all drug use safer
Prohibition has led to the stigmatisation and marginalisation of drug users. Countries that operate ultra-prohibitionist policies have very high rates of HIV infection amongst injecting users. Hepatitis C rates amongst users in the UK are increasing substantially.

In the UK in the ’80’s clean needles for injecting users and safer sex education for young people were made available in response to fears of HIV. Harm reduction policies are in direct opposition to prohibitionist laws.

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7 Restore our rights and responsibilities
Prohibition unnecessarily criminalises millions of otherwise law-abiding people. It removes the responsibility for distribution of drugs from policy makers and hands it over to unregulated, sometimes violent dealers.

Legalisation restores our right to use drugs responsibly to change the way we think and feel. It enables controls and regulations to be put in place to protect the vulnerable. 

8 Race and Drugs
Black people are over ten times more likely to be imprisoned for drug offences than whites. Arrests for drug offences are notoriously discretionary allowing enforcement to easily target a particular ethnic group. Prohibition has fostered this stereotyping of black people. 

Legalisation removes a whole set of laws that are used to disproportionately bring black people into contact with the criminal justice system. It would help to redress the over representation of black drug offenders in prison. 

9 Global Implications
The illegal drugs market makes up 8% of all world trade (around £300 billion a year). Whole countries are run under the corrupting influence of drug cartels. Prohibition also enables developed countries to wield vast political power over producer nations under the auspices of drug control programmes.

Legalisation returns lost revenue to the legitimate taxed economy and removes some of the high-level corruption. It also removes a tool of political interference by foreign countries against producer nations. 

10 Prohibition doesn’t work
There is no evidence to show that prohibition is succeeding. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What are the benefits of criminalising any drug?” If, after examining all the available evidence, we find that the costs outweigh the benefits, then we must seek an alternative policy.

Legalisation is not a cure-all but it does allow us to address many of the problems associated with drug use, and those created by prohibition. The time has come for an effective and pragmatic drug policy. 

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“If the (drug) problem continues advancing as it is at the moment, we’re going to be faced with some very frightening options. Either you have a massive reduction in civil rights or you have to look at some radical solutions. The issue has to be, can a criminal justice system solve this particular problem?”
Commander John Grieve, Criminal Intelligence Unit, Scotland Yard, Channel 4 1997 

Copyright Transform Campaign for effective drug policy
Easton Business Centre Felix Road Easton Bristol BS1 0HE
Telephone: +44 (0) 117 941 5810 Facsimile: +44 (0) 117 941 5809 Email:rae@transform-drugs.org.uk
web:www.transform-drugs.org.uk

Domestic Politics

The university wants to privatise 10% of their services, mainly to make more money even though they are making profit, will have to hunt for those numbers one day.  I guess technically they don’t have to publish them if they aren’t a public listed company unlike the guys running the Kony campaign. It’s mainly targeting the porters, cleaners, caterers and security guys that always have our back and let us BBQ outside in the sun.

So basically yesterday we gave them a piece of our mind and protested out side the vice-chancellor’s office. Our rather cheesy chants were directed at Michael Farthing, our vice-chancellor, who allegedly wanted to close down the Chemistry School because it wasn’t profiteering as much as the other departments. Besides being a core science, the Sussex Chemistry department is the best in the entire country and world renowned. Other rumours of the past  were where student support units have been striped of almost 90% of their funding in order to save money. Considering the state of the halls half of us live in, it’ll be nice to see some liquidity coming into student welfare rather than academic prestige to attract more full-fee paying international students.

Anyway, enough with my rant- here are some pictures. 

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