Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 9th, 2012

Western Africa, Rep. of Mali, Azawat, South Sahara Al Qaeda…What’s going on?

What of the Niger River? Looking at the map of western Africa (former French colonial region and still under French economic dominion), the Niger River starts on the borders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and progress northward, crosses Bamako (capital of rep. of Mali), Segou, Tombouctou, Gao, and slant down toward Menaka (splitting  Mali in half).

And the river resumes its descent to the State of Niger, all the way to Nigeria and flows into the Delta in Nigeria (the Niger Delta, rich in oil production, particularly offshore).

The recent news reveal that the Tuareg independentists, men wearing “blue”, (planning for an independent Azawat State in north Mali) have captured the main towns and cities in north Mali, north of the Niger River, such as Gao, Kidal, Menaka

And that the Tuareg Islamic extremists and others from Mauritania and especially from Algeria (wrapped under the veil of Al Qaeda) have captured the historic city of Tombouctou and starting the process of imposing Islamic Sharia (gone the good time of music, dance and bare women faces…)

Minor officers in the army of Mali grabbed on the excuse of the army failure to confronting the advances of the militias up north by carrying on a military coup d’etat.

No States in Africa was pleased with this sudden coup and the rebellious officers had to bow down and promise to restitute power to the civilians.  The head of the parliament of Mali is to take over as interim President in order to organize the election in its due time by the end of Mai.

Azawat State?  

This desert region would constitute 65% of the area of Mali and populated with only 10% of the total of 14 million citizens.

The Tuareg tribes are estimated to be about 3 million people and criss-crossing a desert the size of Europe, sending caravans from and to Mauritania, Algeria, Libya, Niger, Tchad, and even to Sudan (the Darfur region)

What’s the story?

After the disintegration of Qadhafi Libya, around 400 veteran Tuareg soldiers had to return “Home”, and Algeria was happy to let its radical Islamists cross the border to north Mali (Algeria military was in constant battle with the Algerian Islamists for three decades after they won the election and the military refused to acknowledge the radical Islamists “democratic” victory).

What do you expect soldiers and people carrying arms to do in a desert region that no investments were done in schools, dispensary, hospitals, or any kind of infrastructure…?

The successive central governments of the poor State of Mali in natural resources had invested in the most populous region, the south, and let the vast north goes to hell…

The Tuareg were demanding investment in their region for the last 5 decades, but France failed to contribute any major assistance…

First, the Tuareg started taking hostages, European NGO and tourists, and it was a lucrative and brisk business…

After hell broke loose, the region lacked in tourists and in any financial aid, and conquering power was at hand…

Second, there are no military alternatives in these vast desert region…at most a few drone attacks, just to implicitly tell the rebels that the de-facto on the ground status will not be checked, but negotiations are needed that would satisfy Europe and the US economic future interest in oil and rare mineral exploitation and production.

(The later French military intervention didn’t bring tourists, safety and security. In fact, the new elected President of Mali didn’t dare yet visit the northern parts. And the virulent factions have spread and disseminated eastward toward northern Nigeria (Boko Haram connections), Cameroun, and Central Africa)

Third, most Western Africa Sates have artificial borders drawn by France, Spain and Italy, and the people on the borders come and go at will.

For example, Mali has an 800-kilometre border with Mauritania, and about 1,200 kilometres with Algeria, and as many with Niger...

Time to let minority people live in peace and enjoy their own language and life-style: A few million can go a long way in peace time, for basic necessity of survival…and basic preventive health care…

Note 1: This week, Jan. 12, 2013, France decided to come to the “rescue” of the government and army of Mali as the extremist jihadists advanced and captured a strategic city close to Mobti (key city separating north from south mali).

France is bombing the extremist jihadists and willing to send in 2,500 troops to aid the West African States military contingents.

Fact is, unless serious resources are secured to north Mali and political reforms are done in Mali, all of west Africa is liable to fall to the extremist Moslem jihadists.

Note 2: Take a look at this map of where resources are coming from to help France prosecute its war in north Mali. Is it a WW3 on Moslem Jihadists?

“State Designing-in Failure”: Young Indoctrinated to Obey? How?

Chomsky wrote on April 4 (with slight editing):

“Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere.
Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience. Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline.

California is a battleground. The Los Angeles Times reports on the campaign to destroy what had been the greatest public higher education system in the world: “California State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on the November ballot.”

Similar defunding policies are under way nationwide. The New York Times reports: “In most States, it is now tuition payments, not State appropriations, that cover most of the budget: the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the State, may be over.” Why?

There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it’s the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill,” concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.

A more accurate description is “Failure by Design,” the title of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the state of the economy.

The EPI study reviews the consequences of the transformation of the economy a generation ago from domestic production to financialization and offshoring.  By design: there have always been alternatives.

One primary justification for the design is what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz called the “religion” that “markets lead to efficient outcomes,” which was recently dealt yet another crushing blow by the collapse of the housing bubble that was ignored on doctrinal grounds, triggering the current financial crisis.

Claims are also made about the alleged benefits of the radical expansion of financial institutions since the 1970s. A more convincing description was provided by senior economic correspondent for The Financial Times Martin Wolf: “An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.”

The EPI study observes that the “Failure by Design” is class-based. For the designers, it has been a stunning success, as revealed by the astonishing concentration of wealth in the top 1%, in fact the top 0.1 percent, while the majority has been reduced to virtual stagnation or decline.

As  “the Masters of Mankind” have the opportunity, they pursue their vile maxim of “all for ourselves and nothing for other people,” as Adam Smith explained two centuries ago.

Mass public education is one of the great achievements of American society. It has had many dimensions. One purpose was to prepare independent farmers for life as wage laborers who would tolerate what they regarded as virtual slavery.

The coercive element did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders call for popular education because they fear that “This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats.”

But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and train them for obedience.

The “vile maxim” and its implementation have regularly called forth resistance, which in turn evokes the same fears among the elite.

Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience: The breaking free must resume and continue.

Mid-age crisis, my familiar narrative, consistent unhappiness…? How to let go?

Once again, I am just reposting three of Seth Godin short comments, and a few of mine.

Mid-life crisis Not an aberration: Extending the narrative?

(Do you think people by the story of the product brand or their own story that they keep narrating to themselves all along?)

We dismiss the mid-life crisis as an aberration to be avoided or ridiculed, as a dangerous blip in a consistent narrative. But what if we had them all the time? (Almost all the time with memory lapses so frequently?)

Did you wake up fresh today, a new start, a blank slate with resources and opportunities… or is today yet another day of living out the narrative you’ve been engaged in for years?

For all of us, it’s the latter. We maintain our worldview, our biases, our grudges and our affections. We nurse our grudges and see the very same person (and situation) in the mirror today that we did yesterday. We may have a tiny break, a bit of freshness, but no. Can’t we ever have a complete fresh start available to us?

Marketers have been using this persistence to their advantage forever. They sell us a car or a trip or a service that fits the story we tell ourselves. For example, “I don’t buy it because it’s the right thing for everyone, I buy it because it’s right for me, the us I invented, the I that’s part of the story I’ve been telling myself for a long time”. (Bragging in the wrong direction?)

The socialite walks into the ski shop and buys a $3000 ski jacket she’ll wear once. Why? Not because she’ll stay warmer in it more than a different jacket, but because that’s what someone like her does. It’s part of her story. In fact, it’s easier for her to buy the jacket than it is to change her story.

If you went to bed as a loyal company man or an impatient entrepreneur or as the put-upon retiree or the lady who lunches, chances are that you woke up that way as well. Which is certainly safe and easy and consistent and non-confusing. But is it helping?

(Am I still  dismissing the mid-life crisis as an aberration to be avoided or ridiculed, as a dangerous blip in a consistent narrative?)

It’s painful to even consider giving up the narrative we use to navigate our life. We vividly remember the last time we made an investment that didn’t match our self-story, or the last time we went to the ‘wrong’ restaurant or acted the ‘wrong’ way in a sales call. No, that’s too risky, especially now, in this economy.

So we play it safe and go back to our story.

The truth though, is that doing what you’ve been doing is going to get you what you’ve been getting. If the narrative is getting in the way, if the archetypes you’ve been modeling and the worldview you’ve been nursing no longer match the culture, the economy or your goals, something’s got to give.

When decisions roll around,from what to have for breakfast, to whether or not to make that investment to what TV show (or none) to watch on TV tonight, the question to ask is: “Is this a reflex that’s part of my long-told story, or is this actually a good decision?

When patterns in engagements with the people around you become well-worn and ineffective, are they persistent because they have to be, or because the story demands it?

Speechless: My unhappiness is compounding.

Unaddressed, unhappiness compounds into frustration.

And frustration is the soul killer, the destroyer of worker and customer relationships, loyalty and progress.

The solution is pretty simple: address the unhappiness. Change the system or talk about the problem or acknowledge it if that’s all that can be done. None of this can happen, though, unless there’s communication.

Most open door policies are window dressing. Most of the “is everything okay with your dinner?” is rote.

True communication, actual intention (and action) in digging deeper, is difficult work. If it doesn’t feel like you’re working at it, you’re probably not doing it right.

How about making a ruckus in your industry?

Bring forward a new idea or technology that disrupts and demands a response:

1. Change pricing dramatically

2. Redefine a service as a product (or vice versa)

3. Organize the disorganized,

4. Connect the disconnected

5. Alter the speed to market radically

6. Change the infrastructure, the rules or the flow of information

7. Give away what used to be expensive and charge for something else

8. Cater to the weird, bypassing the masses

9. Take the lead on ethics

(Or you could just wait for someone to tell you what they want you to do)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2012
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