Events occasionally occur in life in ways that all but disarm us. Matters seemingly quite small, even trivial, enter our consciousness, and leave only faint impressions. Then, unexpectedly, whole worlds of meaning come spinning our way.
Yesterday, I took an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and the result showed that I had a slight automatic preference for European American compared to African American. (Interesting; this means I prefer Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian.)
“I am shocked, shocked to find ... gambling ...” This famous line of the cynical Captain Renault to night club manager Rick in the film classic “Casablanca” comes to mind in reflecting on the practices of American credit rating agencies.
There's been a disturbing decline in global freedoms over the past year with a clear erosion of political rights for the ninth consecutive year. These are among the dire findings of the Freedom House report which rates rights and freedoms in 195 countries around the world.
Among the most ambitious bullet items in U.S. President Barack Obama's US$4-trillion federal budget is a US$1 billion appropriation he hopes will to curb illegal immigration to the United States from three Central American countries.
The hostage crisis involving two Japanese nationals abducted by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS/ISIL/ISIS) has reminded Japanese once again of the threat that terrorism poses and is likely to prod the nation to change how it deals with terrorism.
Just as he re-emphasized on Monday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo's down-to-earth leadership platforms will determine the direction of his foreign policy in the next five years, meaning that there will be little room for jargon and verbose claims of achievements, such as about the pivotal role Indonesia plays in managing international conflicts. But it does not mean the foreign ministry will set aside other basic and traditional missions.
Last September, when new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States, China declared itself unworried. “India will not be a major player in America's game of rebalancing the Asia-Pacific,” the official People's Daily newspaper declared.
Last week a political earthquake took place in Greece when the new party Syriza won the national election on an anti-austerity platform.
Lord George Macartney came to China as King George's envoy to be received in audience by Emperor Qianlong at Rehe or Jehol in 1793. The British lord had to follow the Chinese court protocol and presented gifts to the Son of Heaven. Among the gifts were precious clocks. Qianlong, of course, didn't bother to have a look at the gifts. The British diplomatic mission was a disastrous failure.
- Joe Hung