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May, 5, 2016

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Commentary > China Post
While I was studying toward my master's degree in journalism at Southern Illinois University, I took a required public opinion survey course. Only seven graduate students took it, and I was the only non-American foreigner. Our professor demanded that every one of us hand in a poll as a term paper. So, all of us concocted it by first deciding on the results and then collecting all the necessary data to fit without choosing the samples. We just made it up. All of us passed cum laude.
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Comparisons between situations political in nature may be frustrating because they tend so easily to lack analysis and depth. Yet, there are times when I find myself falling for that very temptation, wanting to talk about politics from a comparative point of view.
 
British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle greatly raised the prestige of the lowly detective story with his fictional alter ego Sherlock Holmes. One of Holmes' most brilliant insights concerned something which was not present. In "Silver Blaze" a dog's failure to bark in the night provided the crucial evidence.
 
Spring is the time for conferences. I was lucky to join two excellent conferences last week, one in Singapore organized by the Nanyang Technological University Para Limes Institute on "Silent Transformations," followed by another on "Advancing Asia -- Investing for the Future," organized by the IMF and the Ministry of Finance, India in New Delhi.
 
It's a stunning reality check which many diplomats knew but did not expect to hear. That for 2016, "Survival will be an achievement for the National Unity Government" in war torn Afghanistan. The words came as a blunt assessment by the U.N.'s new political point man for Afghanistan, Mr. Nicholas Haysom who warned the Security Council that the beleaguered South Asian land faces a "difficult fighting season" as the Taliban will seriously confront the Kabul government on a nationwide scale.
 
Over the last quarter century, China's economy grew at a phenomenal rate, its diplomatic influence now reaches every corner of the world and its military might is rapidly approaching the level of American military power. Nevertheless, in one area, China remains extremely vulnerable: its human rights practices.
 
The modern age of geopolitics began just over a century ago. The influence of geographical factors on international relations was first highlighted by Sir Halford Mackinder in his famous paper submitted to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904. He extended the scope of geopolitical analysis to encompass the entire world...
 
Altogether 14 officers, including three generals, were disciplined last Friday for involvement in a controversial search of a private citizen in New Taipei City, which is turning out to look like a bad dream for many people. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) released a list of the punished officers, among whom were Lt. Gen. Wen Cheng-kuo, director-general of its Political Warfare Bureau (PWB); Lt. Gen. Hsu Chang, commander of the Military Police Command (MPC); and Maj. Gen. Chao Tai-chuan, director of the PWB Security Department.
 
Perhaps more than the average Joe (which is my middle name), I take a great interest in words. This may be partly due to a problem I've since largely overcome. As a child I stuttered rather badly at times when I spoke. To this day, I do not imitate stutterers to get a cheap laugh when story-telling. I am incredibly sympathetic to people who fight to get their words out because of this affliction. Anyone who laughs at a stutterer is a bully.
 
"Big Brother Is Watching You" was the pervasive punch-line in British writer George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Recent developments regarding business and government relations give fresh currency to the classic.
 
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