Barack Obama: The Man of Zen

DDI am one of the few who has made the argument that the President’s style is a classic example of the practice of the high art of Zen, one prescribed by its greatest masters and rooted in the classic book of wisdom, the I Ching.

It’s an easy case to make! Zen focuses on inner strength, not outer conflict. It is a quiet and presence of mind that sees both the short and long term by a presence of heart that is calm and reserved; it values wisdom above force.

The comparisons and the parallels with Zen never come up in the media. After hundreds of microphone sound checks by top analysts and thinkers, the Zen meme, in plain sight, is without a peep. It reveals how terribly and narrowly one-sided American thought presented by media has become: they claim insights on world traditions, but they established a multi-channeled agenda to build an intellectual frame, with Obama’s image as the poster of misgovernance.

Zen, by definition, is smart action, wisdom deftly applied. For deep, contextual reasons of power and privilege, Obama was a threat to all a circle of special interests cherished, and they needed desperately to portray him to their followers and to America as dumb.

The I Ching finds its roots in China as a work whose system of insights and actions explains the social and spiritual conditions that at times appear chaotic and bewildering, while at other times appearing calm and clear. Each set of conditions has hidden meanings and passages. If respected and tempered, through actions and virtues, these insights and steps bring forth inner truth, guide choices, and direct the path to change.

Simply, the I Ching defines relations between men, women and the world, and the forces beyond, the unseen conditions once known as the zeitgeist and weltanschauung and the things of heaven. The I Ching defines both the inner and outer nature of conditions and change in society and in the hearts of men and women. It is a manual that tells how to progress and benefit while being morally responsible; it addresses prosperity and security and the attitudes of good and evil; it maps out when to be patient and when to advance and warns of the dangers, both visible and hidden, from people and conditions.

Barack Obama has faced both during his two terms as our elected President; he has faced dangers—from people and conditions. When he stepped into office in 2009, some of the country’s most powerful institutions and people immediately formed organized resistance, and global conditions were at their global worst.

But his refusal to fight was classic Zen: engagement would have only stirred and strengthened evil and confusion. A fight would have only served his enemies. Despite his victory, he and the country were too weak to win and fight when others defined the terms and were willing to weaken the country even further.

His patience served America, and patience is an inner virtue, but in the President, many—both enemies and supporters—called it weakness, indecision. Many were drawn in by the anger his opponents displayed, by the force of their hatred and their demands for absolute power over his office as they blamed him for disturbing the status quo and not submitting to their “compromise.” They shut down the government and said he wouldn’t meet them halfway—to give them all of what they wanted to end their threat. They skipped 200 years of time to draw on a model of government that has no models of success.

The President did not respond until conditions were right. Zen teaches the right conditions are when your opponents think they are at their strongest, but have in their zeal for power left many things neglected, failing to attend to social needs. So after the midterm elections that put Republicans in charge of both the House and Senate, the President has made his opponents look incompetent and revealed them as servants of special interests whose tools are anger and bluster and money and whose goals are power and disrespect.

Like now, when the President without fanfare issued the third veto of his five years in office, striking down a bill in which Congress voted to approve the building of a Canadian pipeline across America’s plains, over America’s vital Midwestern aquifers, across sacred Native American sites, to bring the dangerous Canadian tar sands oil to Texas refineries. His opponents called his veto an “embarrassment.”

So America’s energy policy is a principal concern about not being “embarrassed?” What about merits? Were there none to criticize the President on? Was an embarrassment the worst result of his veto? The criticism hides a deeper failure by his opponents to pass a bill with substance they could defend.

Barack Obama has seen the institutions of power align to belittle and willfully oppose his every act, politically and personally. His legislative initiatives were wrong, his vacations too expensive, his head nods were considered bows that displayed gross violations of unwritten protocol and submission to foreign heads of state—even as his opponents were unrepentant about their violations, one yelling out during the State of the Union speech to say to the President, “You lie!” Continue reading Barack Obama: The Man of Zen

Stormy Monday, 2/23/15

StormyMondayIs it that time already? Sadly, yes. CPAC’s 2015 edition gets underway Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center just outside DC. This year’s roster of speakers looks remarkably similar to that of previous years, a cavalcade of crabbed conservative know-nothings preaching ignorance to the ignorant and hate to the hateful. Among them will be Rand Paul, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, Sarah Palin, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Sean Hannity, Bobby Jindal, and of course the Rick twins, Perry and Santorum.

In a clear sign that the world has slipped its moorings, debate continues to heat up over Bill O’Reilly’s credibility, which implies, fallaciously, that he ever had any to begin with. If nothing else, this all might provide a nice diversion for fellow liar Brian Williams as his suspension continues. In O’Reilly’s case, the issue is apparently him claiming to have single-handedly won the Falklands War with a falafel. Or something; I really can’t bring myself to care.

Speaking of liars, Chris Christie presents his sixth budget address to the New Jersey Legislature on Tuesday, with a court decision still pending as to whether he violated a 2011 deal on the public pensions he’ll apparently spend a lot of his address bleating about. Christie is still considering, apparently, whether he wants to try moving up to lying to people in all 50 states or whether he’ll content himself with just lying to New Jerseyans.

Chicago voters go to the polls Tuesday, with incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel campaigning hard to avoid a possible April 7 runoff. The strongest of Emanuel’s four challengers, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, said over the weekend that he expects “a major upset.” If Emanuel does end up with a runoff on his hands, or loses outright, “major upset” won’t even begin to describe the tantrum he’ll throw.

The Department of Homeland Security faces having to furlough 30,000 employees and shut down many of its operations on Friday, because House Republicans – well, “because House Republicans” pretty much sums it up. Despite their own questionable maturity, efforts continue by some Republican Senators to mollify their crybaby colleagues in the lower house but avoid a shutdown. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 2/23/15

Sunday Talks, 2/22/15

ABC’s This Week will feature an interview with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both considering runs for the White House in 2016, will discuss their . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 2/22/15

Friday Talking Points [336] -- GOP's Government Shutdown Showdown

FTP3Hello and welcome back to our Friday political news roundup. I must apologize for not writing one of these columns last week, but I was under the weather and far too sick to type (or think coherently). So the events covered today really encompass the previous two weeks, just to warn everyone in advance. Also, this intro is going to move along at an accelerated clip, because there is a lot to cover. Our awards this week are backwards, and then we’ve got a rant on the Republicans in Congress who are getting ready to have another government shutdown (because the last one worked so well, right?). But enough overview, let’s get on with things.

Congress woke up and realized that they should start debate on Obama’s war on the Islamic State. Hey, only nine or ten months late, but better late than never, right? It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next few weeks.

Health and Human Services just announced that there will be a special one-time grace period for people to sign up for health insurance right around the deadline for filing income taxes. I wrote about this earlier in the week, and am glad to see they made the right call. This is for people who were unaware that not only will they be penalized on their 2014 taxes for not having health insurance, but because the open enrollment period just ended they’d have been locked into paying the penalty next year as well. With the new grace period, they’ll be able to avoid the penalty next year, which is a good thing because it’ll motivate more people to sign up. Obamacare already signed up almost 12 million people this time around (up from 7 million last year), and this will help boost those numbers.

Labor seems to be making something of a comeback, as strikes and lockouts are happening for oil refinery workers and those who unload container ships on West Coast ports. So far, the media hasn’t paid this much attention, but we’ll see where it all goes in the next few weeks.

Gay people are getting married in Alabama and Texas, which at one time might have been a truly shocking headline, but these days it’s almost commonplace to read about. The Alabama case got interesting when the chief justice of the state supreme court tried to have a showdown with the U.S. Supreme Court, but was smacked down in the end. By July, the headline is going to read “U.S. Supreme Court Legalizes All Gay Marriages Everywhere,” of course, but we’ve all still got a few more months of state-level news before that happens.

A federal judge in Texas blocked the implementation of President Obama’s new immigration policy, but that’ll really become bigger news next week, in the heat of the fight over the Homeland Security budget (which we’ll get to in the talking points section).

News from the campaign trail: Jeb Bush gave a not-ready-for-prime-time speech on foreign policy this week. Spoiler alert: he wants his brother’s foreign policy team, because they did such a bang-up job last time. Also, the Bush team went a little too transparent in a dump of emails from when Jeb was Florida’s governor. Problem was, they forgot to strip out such information as addresses and even Social Security numbers. Whoops! And Jeb’s supposed to be the smart one?!?

Rand Paul wants to change his state’s election law so that he can run for Senate and president at the same time. Boy, that just oozes confidence about his chances to get the Republican nomination, doesn’t it?

Scott Walker had his own not-quite-ready moment overseas, when he was asked about his views on evolution. His answer: “I’m going to punt on that one as well.” What wasn’t widely reported in the American press (due to the embarrassment factor, no doubt) was the questioner’s response to Walker [PDF transcript]. First, it was an incredulous: “No, really?” and then the Brit moderator commented: “any British politician, right- or left-wing, would laugh and say: ‘Yes, of course, evolution is true.'” Ah, to have such sane and science-based politics — where such things aren’t even seen as partisan!

Marijuana news: Vermont may become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana not through a voter initiative but through the state’s legislature. The nation’s new drug czar actually supports Washington DC’s legalization law, even though (by law) he must be awfully circumspect in how he speaks of it. The Drug Policy Alliance so far thinks the new drug czar is a lot better than the previous one, as well.

At least one U.S. Attorney doesn’t seem to have gotten all the Justice Department memos on not prosecuting state-legal marijuana operations, but this is no surprise because she’s been pretty gung-ho all along. Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems to be offering up her support for medical marijuana to the highest bidder (pun not intended). Anyone got a bunch of Democratic donation money? Give D.W.S. a call, quick! And finally, Jamaica’s senate passed a decriminalization bill on Bob Marley’s birthday, which couldn’t have been more appropriate. Continue reading Friday Talking Points [336] — GOP’s Government Shutdown Showdown

The Will to Kill

DDWhich of the two holds the greater attraction: helping an organized rebel group under attack by an international coalition to establish a caliphate governed by Sharia law, or the right to kill without consequences far-ranging straw populations turned into enemies? This is the divide which reflects the debate about the global attraction of ISIL. But it’s really a choice that represents the same side: help establish the caliphate and kill; kill and help establish the caliphate.

The two realities are married. The caliphate is a process, a goal to be pursued; its outlines measured in captive cities and mapped territories. The other is a reality shared daily, like the rites of morning prayer or tea.  ISIL’s rituals of death are displayed, taped and broadcast across the globe. The images include fire fights with irregular troops and the defeat of national armies, but more often with a solemn horror, the bodies of civilians—women, children, men and boys, in uniform or out, laying dead, still, scattered in the streets. Or as short and long lines of captives made to kneel as they are executed, their heads whacked with knives or blown away with guns. To an amazed global audience, there are those who want to participate in the killing, drawn to wielding the evil pleasure of meting out death as a witness or by their own hands.

There is a time when activities leap forward to create new forms, and the old thinking is slow to catch up. From where I watch, the old thinking is tied to a conflict narrative of political ideology that misses the new motives. Evidence—the old thinking misses the new evidence. And because it does, it is unable to contain a force whose spread will consume civilization. The caliphate will be a rogue organization with stateless boundaries through which random terror will threaten and disrupt the world order of global societies. The caliphate’s only purpose will be to provide the resources and safety to serve death again and again until fear and grief shut freedom and liberty down.

ISIL is a death cult. It attracts those fascinated with killing. Its main activity is murder. Its survival and media is giving similar-minded groups the will to copy its blood trails. It is swiftly attracting recruits.

The caliphate is like the leather jackets of Hell’s Angels or the Disciplines, an identifying style to mark them apart, to signify their outlaw status, a display of their pride in defying the social order for the wild satisfactions of the fringe. Even the motorcycles of the gangs became secondary to the gangs’ corruption that reveled in the dark side of crime and violence. For ISIL, the caliphate, too, is a symbol, nothing more, of those who are consumed with the electrifying rush related to killing, and who seek to establish communities of killers, those who share and glorify the same rush, inflicting death across the globe.

ISIL is not so much a political problem as a psychological one. It is the ground zero point for a part of our culture that many thought had been successfully repressed. But its horrors have risen from time to time, albeit short-lived.

During the Civil War at Ebenezer Creek, Georgia, in a little-known incident, Confederate cavalry leader and West Point graduate Joseph Wheeler killed over 3,500 slave “contraband” who were following the Union army. Their bodies washed out of the black water creek to dam its mouth for six months after the incident. The locals found women, children—infants–men among the dead. At Fort Pillow, Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest ordered the killing of surrendered, unarmed black soldiers and ran the Mississippi red.

Throughout the 20th century, in race riots in Florida, Tulsa, Cincinnati, in thousands of lynching incidents including 15 year old Emmett Till’s death in Mississippi, in officially sanctioned police actions like the one in 1969 that killed Chicago Black Panther Fred Hampton in his bed in a pre-dawn raid as eight police officers fired 99 shots, death has been the quick, easy solution for fears and slights. But its presence in society goes deeper than its ease. Continue reading The Will to Kill

Sunday Talks, 2/15/14

On ABC’s This Week, House Armed Services Committee member and Iraq War veteran Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) will discuss the ongoing battle with ISIS and President Obama’s . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 2/15/14

Three Blind Mice

Grumpy2Grumpy: Hey, Mouse, did you hear this one?

Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran over to London town,
Where tabloids cut off their sorry tales,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?

Mouse: Not sure I like where this is going…

Grumpy: One after another the Teapublicans sent their finest hopes for 2016 into the jaws of the London press corps, where they were all well chewed and promptly spit out to meekly return back to the loving arms of the American press.

Mouse: Ah, yes. If this is about Republicans getting their asses kicked, then I’m all ears.

Grumpy: First up for a healthy dose of reality from the London tabloids was Governor Piyush Jindal. Poor Piyush, he must have thought he was entering the cozy confines of a Fox News studio where he could make stuff up and get applauded for it. On the other hand he may have actually believed the stuff about Muslim “no-go zones” being established in cities across Europe. I wonder where he could have heard that. Those pesky Brits just kept asking him to explain. Have they no respect?

Mouse: When it comes to talking about “Bobby” who in their right mind could have any respect?

Grumpy: Obviously London was having none of it, but the American press didn’t cut him much slack either. If he thought Fox was going to back him up, well, they had already retracted the fantasy of “no-go zones”! Poor Piyush!

Chris Christie apparently decided that he’d show the Louisiana upstart how to handle the redcoats. Christie probably should have paid a visit to his doctor to get a vaccination against those pesky London reporters. The nerve of those people impertinently asking him for his views on the issue of the day, vaccination. The courageous Governor then bravely canceled future exchanges with the British press.

Mouse: Must have been a tough trip for Christie. The British are not known for the yumminess of their cuisine.

Grumpy: Oh, I didn’t even think about the cuisine. I’ll bet he probably warmed up though when he found out that “bangers and mash” is sausage and mashed potatoes. Of course I doubt he really even looked at the menus; he seems more of an “all you can eat buffet” kind of guy.

Before Christie did his disappearing act he managed to slip a jab at the President into his remarks to the press. Speaking on the topic of trade, Christie said, “I think the President has shown over and over again that he’s not the most effective negotiator, whether you’re talking about the Iranian nuclear talks or whether you’re talking about his recent foray into Cuba. The President has not proven himself to be the most adept negotiator, in my opinion, on behalf of American interests.” Has he never heard of the Dixie Chicks? Continue reading Three Blind Mice

Take Five (Well, Shut My Mouth edition)

Take-FiveONE: Vinny Laughs Last

With NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and his career hanging by a thread, it’s been fascinating to contemplate his attempts at apology and explanation for his Iraq tall tale. He claimed he “would not have chosen to make this mistake,” which begs the peculiar question of which mistake he might have opted for instead. He went on to note that he “[doesn’t] know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” Elsewhere, he implied he does know, ascribing his “mistake” to what he termed “the fog of memory.”

The fog bank apparently stretched across many months, all the way to New Orleans, where Williams’s recollections of armed gangs, dysentery, and bodies floating outside the Ritz-Carlton are now receiving some Category 5 scrutiny. As are other instances of Williams and the truth not being on the same page; the list will likely be augmented as his suspension continues. His very public humiliation is especially striking set against his remarks to an audience at New York University back in 2007:

“You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.”

Well, of course he hasn’t left that apartment, Brian. Who the hell wants to risk getting hit by an RPG crossing Jerome Avenue?

It’s worth noting that the credentials Williams has spent all his life developing began with his very first job, busing tables at a Perkins. Good thing he has a fallback career. Efficiency apartments, even in the Bronx, don’t come cheap these days.

TWO: Cloudy with a chance of stupid…

Vinny might also be wondering how someone as loathsome and nakedly biased as John Stossel could have won nineteen Emmy Awards. It certainly beats the hell out of me. Stossel has been acting like a jerk for such a long time that it’s pretty much automatic for him these days. Case in point, a recent Fox News appearance with colleague and fellow cretin Tucker Carlson, wherein Stossel got all nostalgic about the real heroes of Katrina. Apparently, it’s a story Brian Williams was too dysentery-ridden to investigate:

“After Katrina, Walmart and private charities helped people in many more ways than FEMA did… because FEMA is incompetent because government tends to be. But also Walmart everyday needs to know what people need, and they were ready. They had more weather forecasters than some of the local governments do.”

Missing from Stossel’s “analysis” were some inconvenient facts: the Bush administration’s initial indifference followed by its comprehensive mishandling of the crisis, the appointment of the monumentally unqualified Michael Brown to head up FEMA, chronic underfunding of federal agencies at the insistence of Republican fiscal hawks-of-convenience, and the general rightwing guiding principle of “if it’s busted, just leave it.” And though I’ve only ventured into a Walmart twice in my life, I don’t recall seeing a weather forecasting department.

THREE: Almost Heaven, part 1

West Virginia may rank 38th in state population, but it’s positively brimming with bonehead Republican politicians enthusiastically elected to public office by bonehead Republican voters. One in the news recently is Delegate Brian Kurcaba. Despite his pre-politics background as a financial adviser, Kurcaba is comfortable pontificating on a range of subjects, like “voter fraud,” traffic in Morgantown, and “Second Amendment freedoms.” Oh, and rape.

Kurcaba, in the presence of a reporter, recently weighed in on the topic during a House of Delegates debate on the imposition of a strict ban on abortions after 20 weeks, something West Virginia Republicans have been trying to impose for some time. While Kurcaba sagely allowed that rape is “horrible and terrifying and brutal… absolutely disgusting,” he managed to find a silver lining to inspire female rape victims everywhere: “But what is beautiful is the child that could come as a production of this.”

Or maybe not. A day later, Kurcaba issued a mea sorta culpa to “anyone who took my comments about the sanctity of human life to mean anything other than that all children are precious regardless of circumstances.” Delegates in West Virginia serve two-year terms. Sadly, then, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more from Brian Kurcaba. Continue reading Take Five (Well, Shut My Mouth edition)

Hillary Clinton: Will Her Economic Policies Follow Best Global Practices?

DDHillary Clinton’s search for an economic policy seems to forget the phrase used to caution investors: “Past results are not indicators of future success.” The world of her husband’s administration is long gone. The great goods of all economies are now commodities; volume produces wealth and flatlines jobs and wages. Apple, Monsanto (80% of world corn seed), American Water Supply (the largest water utility), Pepsico and Google are diverse examples of commodity enterprises operating in global markets that increase capital wealth with little increase in jobs; yet they are vital to economic growth.

Clinton’s advisers don’t seem to get this paradox: the modern economy is built on essential commodities that transfer wealth without the traditional means of adding value through labor and large workforces. In fact, work itself is becoming a commodity, priced by industry and region, in the same way as good and services.

Clinton economic panels ignore this reality. Yet the US economy is deeply entwined with monopolies by companies and by regions (China’s Pearl River zone, Foxconn; Vietnam, Indonesia, clothing; Brazil, agriculture; the big banks, cell, music and cable services; et al.). Working around the economic margins through taxes and fees will not restructure a system designed to vacuum up cash and maintain rock-bottom wages while the private sector shifts social costs to government.

But more importantly, her panels of economists overlook global best practices and opportunities! They agree and disagree about the wrong things! Models in several countries have successfully produced rapid growth and gains for the middle class in the last two decades (interrupted by the global recession) and continue to do so!

To cite four: China, Brazil, Botswana (per capita income, $17.1k, one of Africa’s highest!), and Mexico. Each country has structural issues, several confront major corruption and crime, but their political economies have increased wages and the size of the middle class by taking advantage of training, government partnerships, economic planning and global growth.

All four share two essential features: modifying social capital to invest heavily in health and education incentives, and protecting wages and investments for families by safety nets and identifying markets through planning with high-paying, sustainable jobs.

US politicians look at polls and avoid plans. The US creates international agreements, but lacks domestic strategy. The private sector and conservatives applaud the open market, but ignore its chaos and corruption, and see government as an adversary rather than a partner, a view contrary to the emerging global vision of government’s role in expanding national economies.

On taxes, Congress closes doors and opens loopholes. The controlling party of Congress wants to tell the sick they are unaffordable, the illiterate they are flawed, and to describe the jobs in which workers are stuck for decades as entry-level. Their proclamation of progress has no plan or specific details. We are deluding ourselves. Especially if we think only the market can pick winners and losers.

Successful models don’t debate ideas, abandon common sense, or solve blame. They don’t tilt policy to accelerate the flow of wealth to the rich while blaming others for the lack of virtues that supposedly cause income inequality and static wages. Successful models promote growth. They engage stakeholders and establish activities—real organizations and businesses supported by advanced knowledge and research, highlighted and included in state and regional plans, aided by federal policies that will innovate as markets expand.

This approach would give rebirth to America’s economy. Developing global models are driving micro (for families) and macro (for companies) growth and job expansion around the world (except Haiti, close to home). Here in the US, partisan calculations blot out the rich benefits of using the models’ far-reaching economic calculations.

Three Global Opportunities: Rails, Smartphone Operating Systems, Hydro and Solar Energy

Though it expands year over year, the US has abdicated the global rail market to China and Europe. It is a huge missed opportunity. Rail’s five main market segments (high-speed, mainline, freight, light rail, metro) include 150 or more sub-industries, among them electronics, safety, signaling, communications, maintenance, interiors, metallurgy, construction, power engines and assembly, and will have steady long-term growth, powered by the need to transport grain, coal, chemicals, automotive, intermodal freight and urban ridership.

But rail’s sustained, high-wage jobs are ceded to Canada (Bombardier), Germany (Siemens), and France (Alstom), among others. In a global market approaching a trillion dollars annually, two-thirds of rail revenues remain directly accessible to the US—orders are open and awarded to the best bids from competing global suppliers! Yet, as an example missing the present and future, the US share of the rail car market is only 5% and is not using its superior financing, technical and research knowledge, experience with large-scale projects and skilled workforces to compete for dominant share.

China holds two of the top three positions as manufacturers and suppliers of rolling stock equipment, positioned to take advantage of new sales: in the next ten years, Europe will replace 10,300 locomotives, and Africa’s demand for rolling stock will double.

Consider these recent global rail projects:

  • In Basque, a 172km high speed network in Spain between three regional capitals.
  • In Algiers, Africa’s second metro system carries 300,000 daily riders underground on a 9.2km line, with ten stations.
  • In Ankara, Turkey, three new lines, Kizilay-Cayyolu, 16 stations, 18km; Ulus-Kecioren, six stations, 7.9km; TBMM-Dikmen, five stations, 4.8km; 108 metro cars.
  • In Warsaw, a 19km route with 19 stations.
  • In Mexico City, North America’s second largest rapid transit, a new Gold Line, 24km with 18 stations.
  • In Brazil: Bidding a 511km high-speed line (with 90 km of tunnels!) with contracts for tracks, stations and infrastructure.
  • In Argentina, a 710km high-speed line, $4B.
  • The Trans-Asian Railway, a 14,000km main rail link between Singapore and Istanbul, with connections to Europe and Africa.

US companies received none of these bids or subcontracts, missing out on 80,000 to 250,000 new jobs. Nor do they recognize a key value of rail is its stable long-term growth through flexible and sustained mobility.

With rails, entrepreneurial opportunities exist in adhesives, sealants and fixings; cables, hoses and connectors; paint and protective coatings; electrification, power supply, lighting, electromechanical systems and drives; fire safety, detection and suppression; computer hardware and software, controls and monitoring systems, door systems, gangway systems, public address and alarm systems; track engineering and construction, track maintenance and repair; fare collection and ticketing; noise, shock and vibration control; heating and cooling systems and compressors; and wash plants—leaving aside the importance of locomotive, rail and passenger car design.

Research for innovation include sensors, computers and digital communications to collect, process and disseminate information to improve the rail safety, security and operations. Research also includes alternative fuels and energy sources, reducing life-cycle costs while increasing reliability of equipment and infrastructure assets, and maintenance.

Chinese high-speed train makers are increasingly selling their products to Western countries. Experts say the established European firms in the sector urgently need to develop strategies to counter the competition.

Chinese high-speed train makers are increasingly selling their products to Western countries. Experts say the established European firms in the sector urgently need to develop strategies to counter the competition.

In fact, the US is absent from rail and many economic niches.

Apple dominates the high end of the smartphone market, but opportunities exist and are expanding for inexpensive models, a market in which India and China lead with no US competition. The Indian smartphone market for phones under $200 grew 186 per cent in the first six months of 2014. Other developing countries hold the same market potential.

Recently, Google announced Android One, a standard operating system intended to become the first choice for millions of new customers globally. Continue reading Hillary Clinton: Will Her Economic Policies Follow Best Global Practices?

Stormy Monday, 2/9/15

StormyMondayFrantic efforts by the College Republicans chapter at Texas Tech continue as the little dweebs try to thwart Thursday’s scheduled speech by counterculture icon Angela Davis. The group has helpfully offered up alternative names like Condi Rice, Gwen Ifill and Mia Love. After all, they all look alike, right, College Republicans?

David Letterman’s producers are hunting down a fill-in for Thursday’s show following the announcement that scheduled guest Brian Williams has canceled. Williams previously shared with the Late Show audience his fanciful tale of taking ground fire while in a helicopter in Iraq, but of course is now taking time off from his NBC Nightly News gig to spend more time with the truth.

Nigeria’s presidential election was originally scheduled for next Saturday, but has been postponed until March 28 by the nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, which cited security concerns over continuing Boko Haram violence. John Kerry described the US government as “deeply disappointed” by the postponement.

The marriage license obtained last year by star-crossed lovebirds Charles Manson and Afton Elaine Burton expired last week, but cheer up, fans of true romance. According to James McGrath, a photo editor who knows Burton, she’s intending to apply for a 90-day license and will make a husband out of Charlie yet. Manson is eligible for parole once again in 2027, by which time he’ll be a mere 723 years old.

European finance ministers gather in Brussels on Wednesday to brainstorm the question: “How do you solve a problem like Greece?” Angela Merkel will do the same on Thursday when she sits down with new Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, who has emphatically rejected further austerity measures advocated by Germany and other EU members. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 2/9/15