Greenhouse trade sanctions

BBC: Demand for ‘Kyoto tax’ on the US.

“New Economics Foundation spokesman Andrew Simms told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme EU countries would be within their rights to “work out the cost of the free ride America is getting” and raise that amount.

“There are very few signals the United States understands – they do understand economic signals,” Mr Simms added.”

Excellent idea. I’d love to see how the idea would fair under challenge within the WTO.


CS Monitor: Taiwan tempers provocative question.

This whole situation is looking rather hairy. All I know is that the US and Australia are highly unlikely to come to Taiwan’s aid if things get ugly, despite the US interest in Taiwan.

To put this into context for myself, I imagine this situation as like America claiming Australia as a state, and threatening to maintain that status through military force. Now, I don’t know a lot about how this situation came to pass, I really need to learn more about the history of the “one country, two systems” plan and of Taiwan/China relations. But it doesn’t seem right how things are panning out at the moment…

Dean campaign

I meant to post this weeks ago – found it in a folder today and put it up. Better late than never…

Jay Rosen calls this Ed Cone piece the “definitive piece” on the Dean campaign. He may well be right (I recommend reading both pieces – they’re longish, but worth it). It is an excellent outline of why the Dean campaign is not only important, but why it is vastly different to previous campaigns. It seems that the campaign leaders have struck on a number of ways that they can engage the community, not only in the campaign, but in politics as well.

I saw an interesting piece on SBS the other day as well that re-inforced Cone’s and Rosen’s message. That there’s more to this campaign than just money and a promising candidate. And it is interesting, for a technologist like me, to see how the campaign is using the net to facilitate much of this activity.

The determined use of Internet tools alone won’t get the job done. Even after 10 years of growth, the Internet is used by just 59 percent of American adults, according to the Pew Internet Project, a research organization that has been tracking online usage since 2000.

But online organizing may help bridge the so-called digital divide. About one-third to one-half of meetup attendees don’t hear about the events online, coming instead after seeing a poster, article, or item in a community calendar, or being invited by a friend. “From organizing online, we create pods of people who can organize offline,” says Silberman. The campaign, for instance, has reached out to blacks and other minority voters in Philadelphia and parts of Georgia, Teachout says.

One of the things that I have pointed out previously is that all of the hype around blogs and the 2004 presidential election misses an important point – there are very few people using and/or reading blogs. They are part of the puzzle. Dave calls this a big insight, but it’s been obvious to me from day one.

I think the recognition of this fact by the organisers of the campaign is what is key to its success so far. Teachout is “obsessed with offline”. That’s a good thing to be obsessed about. It’s where action happens, whether it means letter writing, meetings, protests, voting. These are not an online activity (I think thankfully!)

The Cluetrain Manifesto is also mentioned:

“Cluetrain” describes markets as conversations, in which companies engage customers with an authentic human voice and respond to their needs, rather than pushing one-size-fits-all information out to them in mass broadcasts. “They are as close as I’ve seen to structuring a political campaign around the Cluetrain themes,” says Weinberger, who is working as a consultant to the Dean campaign. “They are quite focused on routing around the broadcast paradigm by enabling supporters to connect with one another.”

I have read this book and it changed my perspective on so many things. The book is focussed on marketing, but it is great to see the ideas it puts forward being used in other cultural contexts – in this case to build a movement. Very cool.

The closing quote in the Cone piece fills me with hope. We will have to see how the reality washes up, but with this attitude, I think there is as good a chance as any:

In a Nov. 12 email to campaign workers, Trippi put it this way:

“The pundits still don’t get it. They see your incredible fundraising numbers – and that’s all they understand. But our campaign was not built just by money – it was built by the full participation of you and thousands of others who believe that each of us has the power and the duty to participate in our democracy.”



Outlandish Josh: The Big One.

The entire post resonated with me, but some highlights:

On ambition:

“There’s an element of potential madness to any ambition. Some people have vision, others visions. It’s a fine line. We’re in this to affect the 2004 election and something more, but why? And what happens afterwards? You say you want a revolution…

How radical are we? Are we for the elimination of poverty? Global equality? Are we for a cultural shift that moves away from television, fear and blind consumption and towards something else?”

On internet people:

“See, internet people aren’t glued to their screens the same way as couch potatoes. We probably spend a lot of time in front of the keyboard, but the whole thing is ultimately a driver of experience, not a flickering electronic sedative. We’re hungry to do things, to make things, to have feelings and thoughts.”

On connecting people:

“Forget opening new markets to Wall-Mart; let’s go build fuel-cell powered internet hookups in Africa, start a whole new thing.”

(I’m up for that, btw. In addition to the Laos article i mentioned today, I also read an article a few months back on how the shortwave radio network was being used to connect remote communities in PNG with other communities in the region – for social and educational purposes. That inspired me and said to me that yes, in fact, technology, when applied appropriately, can make a positive difference.)

Remote Village Technology in Laos

WorldChanging: “The Jhai Foundation’s Remote IT Village project is creating innovative technology to better the lives of poor rural villagers, and creating a global model in the process.”

It’s a good model too – very exciting. Why? Because it is developing technology that serves the needs of the local community, using low power, wireless and open source technology to overcome infrastructure problems. It is not trying to graft western tools and systems onto a community with the aim of “improving” the community – it’s a different, bottom-up approach. Excellent! This is the sort of stuff I want to be involved in!