Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Human Rights Watch on Syria

If you read only one thing on the Syria crisis this week, take time to read this Friday's report from HRW about the killing of almost 200 Syrians non-combatants and another 100 hostages taken by foreign opposition forces that may have entered Syria via Turkey.

Report here.


Syria's Refugees

This is one of the better things I've read this week on Syria's humanitarian crisis.
(Eakin has spent a good five years commenting on Iraq and now, Syria, and hosts the occasionally good NYRB podcast interview.  Roth has been reporting on refugees from various conflicts for about as long, and both are among a handful of younger journalists who I think offer empathic and honest reporting on the conflict.)



Lynsey Addario/VII

"In early June 2011, some three months into the uprising against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Syrian government forces began preparing for a large-scale assault on Jisr al-Shughour, a rebellious border town sixty-five miles southwest of Aleppo. The events that led to this operation are a matter of some dispute. Residents of the town said that Assad’s security forces shot and killed an unarmed man during a protest after Friday prayers. At his funeral the next day, thousands of mourners marched to a post office where security forces were ga…

Labor, Energy, Family

Here in the Global Studies Program at the University of Houston I am fortunate to co-teach the American Energy History course with one of the nation's leading energy historians, Joe Pratt. In the scope of the course we are discussiong the technical innovations and social impacts of coal, oil & gas, and renewables use from the mid 19th century to the present day.

Early in the course I shared the first picture below with the class. It is an image, from the 1880s or 1890s of my grandfather's grandfather, James Cox, working in a coal mine in western Pennsylvania or West Virginia. Eventually this Welsh immigrant's family would migrate further west to St. Louis where my grandfather worked for an automobile manufacturer. I am, of course, grateful he sent this picture to me along with an album of other great early family pictures.

A student in the class emailed me this morning with a fantastic family picture of his own. Below you can see his great-grandfather's brother wor…

Revive the Hall

This morning, before class, I was rereading Gareth S. Jones's article on working-class culture in late 19th century London.  Jones is, more or less, making a case for the centrality of the last third of the 19th century in the formation of working class cultural and political life in England, rather than the first third of the century, a la E.P. Thompson's deservedly widely read Making of the English Working Class.  Jones's article originally appeared in The Journal of Social History in the summer of 1974, and I recommend it for anyone interested in academic considerations of the intersection of class and politics, easily available now in pdf via JSTOR.  I first encountered the article in abridged form in an anthology, John Storey's Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader (1998) when in college thanks to one of the many unsung contingent faculty in the English department, Dan Traber.

     (Dan's dissertation on Henry James is also available via pdf, for …

Next WTO D-G now down to from 9 candidates to 2...

http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news13_e/gc_rpt_26apr13_e.htm

As I predicted, the next D-G will be from Latin America, and now the member states are left to choose between Mexico's Blanco and Brazil's Azevedo.  The third and final round of consultations begin May 1, and should be completed by the end of that week. Also, on April 24 the WTO released a 40 page report from the Panel on Defining the Future of Trade, which ostensibly represents the outgoing Director-General Pascal Lamy's outlined hopes for the rest of the Doha Round.  Take a look here

Let the Consultations Begin

The WTO has begun officially deliberating about which of the 9 candidates will replace outgoing Director-General Lamy.  It will take most of April if not May, too, as the heads of the General Council, Trade Policy Review Board, and Dispute Settlement Board committees circulate among the 150+ diplomats representing member nations of the WTO General Council.  The goal is to arrive at a consensus as the field of 9 is winnowed down to a final candidate-- don't expect that for another six weeks.

While waiting, you can hear each of the candidate pitch to the General Council here, at the WTO's blog which has video of each candidate's press conference from late January.
D-G Candidate Press Conference Videos

If you recall, I expect one of the two Latin American candidates to take the D-G, but anything is possible as the consensus building effort gets underway.  Below are videos from Brazil's Azevedo.




In the meantime, a recent profile of Indonesian candidate Mari Pangestu in th…

D-G Lamy Interviewed by India's Business Standard's Nayanima Basu

This week the Indian English-language newspaper, Business Standard, ran an interview of the outgoing Director-General Pascal Lamy.  At several points Lamy is reflective about the his role in the accomplishments of the WTO and expresses a general hope that the institution can be revived as the central forum for trade negotiations.  As reported in earlier posts and noted by Lamy, the volume of negotiations occurring in other forums remains clear evidence that trade liberalization is a high priority of developing nations.   Below is the interview, originally here. From Nayanima Basu:
"The coming trade ministers’ meeting in Bali, Indonesia, for concluding the Doha Round of talks under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) might finally yield positive outcome in some areas, though an agreement is far from reality, says WTO’s outgoing director-general, Pascal Lamy. In India for the Confederation of Indian Industry Partnership Summit 2013 in Agra, he talks to Nayanima Basu on the talks and…

Optimism in Africa, Pessimism in Asia, Pragmatism in Russia...

Amid recent news of the impending change at the top, not all observers are as pessimistic about the WTO’s near future.  With the Indian Expressreporting that outgoing Director-General recently advised the next round of negotiators, and by implication the next Director-General, to aim for “low-hanging fruits” instead of holding to grand aspirations or seeking an unforeseen breakthrough between the more than decade long impasse in the WTO others continue to hope for something more it is not clear just what the new D-G’s goals will include.  (The Times of India also noted Lamy’s low expectations.) GEGAFrica released a notice two weeks ago expressing a genuine (if, sadly, na├»ve) optimism that reaching some agreements on freer agricultural trade would allow African nations to diversify into export oriented industrialization.  The authors and optimistic readers should be careful not to characterize this hypothetical, future shift as a potential avenue that would allow African nations to co…

Introducing the Next Director-General...

Winter break is over, as is the first week of spring semester classes, so I am jumping back in here to keep an eye on the latest news regarding the Doha negotiations. The most immediate issue of interest is the completion of the nominating process for the next Director-General to replace Director-General Pascal Lamy who has held the office since September 2005.  The next Director-General will be selected by the WTO out of a pool of nine candidates including who I believe are front-runners from Brazil, Mexico, and Ghana. On January 9, the WTO released a short list of the candidates with links to their experience in international trade, each of whom merits a little consideration. From Latin America, Brazil’s Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo, Costa Rica’s Anabel Gonzalez, and Mexico’s Herminio Blanco.  Azevedo has tremendous experience negotiating on behalf of Brazil in the Doha round as well as within the Mercosur negotiations.  Gonzalez held similar posts on behalf of Costa Rica in its neg…

Managing Bali, Managing Expectations

In the absence of any breaking news on the Doha Development Agenda, I wish to take the time to look more closely at the December 7, 2012 statement by Director-General Pascal Lamy.  Links to audio and transcript are here. After thanking attendees, Lamy begins managing expectations for the 2013 Bali meeting with a now familiar expression in his prefatory comment that “we still have a long road ahead of us.”  Lamy then reminded us that the list of extant items from Ministerial Conference 8 (MC8) which concluded in Geneva in December 2011 was long, that since January the WTO has made little progress, and earlier this year sought to clarify that there was little hope of closing the Doha Round, now in its twelfth year, anytime soon. Lamy however is optimistic that a positive momentum this summer and fall, reviewed at this now closed MC9 last week can be continued in the spring.  Trade issues, particularly regarding agricultural goods, have been stalled for years, but the other half of the …

On the Doha Round

Welcome!  I am reminded by this past Saturday’s closing event at the UNFCCC Doma Climate Change Conference that Doma is home to another piece of unfinished international business: the WTO’s eleven year long and occasionally drama filled Doha Round. A little by way of background:  The Bretton Woods convention convened at the close of WW2 and established a tariffs and trade forum known by its acronym, GATT, where nations could peacefully negotiate trade related grievances under U.S. leadership.  Like the UN and NATO, and other components of the Bretton Woods system such as the IMF and the World Bank, this organization rested upon the shared aspirations of the Atlantic nations Allied in the fight against fascism, principally the U.S., U.K., Canada, and France, but also would later include postwar Germany and Japan.  These nations formed the essential core of global capitalist trade in the decades following the war and met, along with many other nations, in a series of eight GATT sponsor…