F&O Weekend

Weekend reading on F&O includes a thoughtful essay on human security, a note on an American state’s dalliance with discrimination, and a disturbing allegation that criminal gangs are behind suppression of democratic reform in Hong Kong.   

 The Decline in Global Violence.  Expert Witness essay, by Andrew Mack (Public access)

In the new Human Security Report, The Decline in Global Violence: Evidence Explanation and Contestation, global security specialist Andrew Mack examines the question: Has the long-term threat of violence — war, terrorism, and homicide —  been decreasing or increasing worldwide? For some, the answer seems clear. Many in the strategic community concur with General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has said today’s world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.”  But Mack writes that there is little evidence to support them.

NOTEBOOK: Arizona’s Test Column, by Deborah Jones (Subscription)

American politics have become increasingly polarized, harsh and discordant. Then, every so often, a clear note carries through the din. This week that note sounded in Arizona, where Republican governor Jan Brewer vetoed legislation passed by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and Senate.

“Patriotic” triad thugs attack Beijing’s critics in Hong Kong. Column, by Jonathan Manthorpe (Subscription)

There is renewed suspicion in Hong Kong that Beijing is using hit men from triad criminal gangs to attack outspoken advocates of freedom in its truculent territory, and to intimidate other campaigners for democratic reforms. The latest example of the Communist Party’s apparent use of triad thugs against troublesome opponents came this morning when Kevin Lau Chun-to, the recently sacked editor-in-chief of Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, was brutally attacked after he left a restaurant in the city’s Sai Wan Ho district. In a classic triad-style assault, Lau, 49, was slashed six times with a butcher’s meat cleaver on his back and legs.

Elsewhere on the Internet:

On March 7 the next round of the Olympics, the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, will begin, though anyone relying on news outlets to follow the games might not even be aware the torch relay for them began Wednesday. All eyes are instead riveted on Russia’s response to turmoil in Ukraine. The Paralympics never get even a smidgeon of the attention lavished on the Olympics — but this year tensions within Ukraine and between Russia and other countries have sidelined them. The world managed to pay close attention to the actual competition at the Olympics despite the furor over human rights and environmental issues in Russia. The least we should do for the Paralympics is rouse ourselves to notice.

For a visual grasp of the political and other divisions in eastern Europe, Ukraine in Maps, by the New York Times, is recommended.

Recommended: The Banks that Ate the Economy, Project Syndicate.

Howard Davies examines whether financial-sector growth reduces productivity growth in other sectors, its impact on the health of the “real economy,” the cost to taxpayers, and whether talent and resources are syphoned from other areas.

Recommended: The Mammoth Cometh, New York Times Magazine, by Nathaniel Rich

Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.

Last but not least, take a couple of minutes this weekend to watch a Kingfisher in action. They’re called “kings” for good reason.

Have a good weekend.

— Deborah Jones