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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

Scott A Snyder

Scott A. Snyder – Korea as a Middle Power

While South Korea has become a major economic power, it is surrounded by far larger players in Asia. It may never be able to play a leading role in shaping both regional and international affairs, but is currently looking for ways to assert itself on the global stage. These aspirations are typical of what scholars define as a Middle Power – an international actor that is neither small nor large.

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Space Law: A New Frontier

Law by

“Space law”, contrary to how it sounds, does not entail any notions of space sheriffs hunting bandits in lunar canyons. In reality, the body of international laws and customs that govern human activities in outer space is what is properly referred to as space law. Before the first human ventures into space, such as Sputnik, there was no clear agreement or conceptualization of what rules and customs should be applied to the new frontier. The US and the USSR both had little reason to extend airspace laws further up as they both would be repeatedly violating each other’s airspace through their space missions.  Scholars discussed some concepts, such as terra nullius, which borrowed from traditional international law. States that were able to venture into outer space had little reason to challenge these developments. The current foundation of space law is built on the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, or as it has more commonly come to be referred to as, The Outer Space Treaty. Key highlights of this treaty are the promise of no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in space,…

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Testing Theories of American Politics

Economics/Politics/US by

While not an altogether new phenomenon, the nature of the US’ democratic system in terms of its responsiveness to the needs of its citizens has been given considerable attention in recent years. Coinciding with this is the emergence of new challenges to the existing system. The Occupy Wall Street movement was an example of citizens protesting the actions of the US government in handling the financial crisis. Riots, such as those in the wake of the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri speak to the racial tension existing there, but also have the political element of expressing anger at the government’s inability to provide necessary access to due process, life, and economic security. Internationally, the US’ democratic system, and the intertwined capitalistic policies has been recently scrutinized with groundbreaking works such as “Capital in the 21st Century” by French economist Thomas Picketty. Testament to the change in dialogue, US domestic discourse now regularly features phrases including “the 1%”, the “one-percenters” or similar terms to emphasize a separation between the average citizen and those who are seen to hold power. In particular, this article will analyze and contextualize a recent peer-reviewed publication that has generated considerable debate in the US. “Testing Theories…

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Technological Advances in M-health

Technology by

As smartphones and wearable gadgets cascade into every crevice of life, the prospect of technological advances in mobile health (m-health) that will usher in a transformative era of healthcare has appeared. M-health refers to the practice of medicine supported by mobile devices. Particularly in developing countries that have experienced a sharp rise in mobile penetration, a flurry of innovative experiments have been under way to revolutionize their ill-equipped healthcare systems and provide life-saving services to those who need them the most. For instance, Dr. Andrew Bastawrous and his colleagues have developed Peek, the portable eye exam kit comprised of a mobile app and a clip-on scanner added to a smartphone that can perform a wide range of ophthalmic tests, such as a cataract diagnosis. With this smart toolkit harnessing wireless technology, his team was able to diagnose eye diseases at an early stage and prevent a host of people in Kenya from becoming blind. The example of Peek epitomizes one of the features of m-health technology, i.e. remote monitoring and diagnosis of patients. This technology allows doctors to remotely monitor patients, systematically analyze vast amounts of health data and effectively provide treatments in a timely manner. Another technological achievement in…

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The New State Nobody Saw Coming

The Islamic State (IS) has achieved many of its territorial and organizational goals during the past year. Operating both on the Syrian and on the Iraqi fronts, it has expended territorially, acquired new financial resources and grown in number its recruits. The rapid and vicious expansion of this well-organized Sunni jihadist group has taken by surprise the Iraqi government and it has de facto split the country between the IS, the Iraqi central government and the Kurds. The already precarious stability and unity of Iraq has been broken by the IS and to date, the country is trapped in a malicious spiral of sectorial and religious violence. The recent evolution of the conflict may have taken some observers by surprise, but it was itself no surprise. Iraq’s current division comes as an exacerbation of pre-existing cleavages between Shia and Sunni, Iraqi and Kurds. Likewise, the Islamic State is not a newcomer, but is a terrorist group rooted in the ten-year history of jihad in Iraq. Arguably, the current state of affairs in the region comes as an output of the US adventurism in Iraq, which brought the conflict to a temporary termination, but not to a conflict resolution. Although the…

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Dragon Ready to Forge Ahead: Will China overtake US?

Asia/Economics by

The Chinese juggernaut is expected to overtake the American eagle by 2021 in terms of GDP, according to The Economist’s latest estimates (Aug 2014). In fact, China already outpaced the U.S. as the world’s largest manufacturing power in 2010. Since then, it has been further widening its lead, according to the 2013 UN research. Notwithstanding a small dent in its recent growth trend line, partly owing to a slowdown in export demand from key markets (e.g. U.S. and EU), China has been able to achieve its growth target of 7.5% in the second quarter of 2014. Yet a fleet of naysayers still do not believe these numbers indicate an upcoming shift in the world’s power distribution and, in the face of cognitive dissonance, cling to a weakly-grounded belief that United States of America continues to be the one and only hegemon at least until they rest in peace. Stiff opposition to an impending appearance of Chinese hegemony is predicated on two assumptions. The first one is that China cannot sustain its astonishing growth and is soon doomed to fall from its grace. The other is that even if China is able to surpass the U.S. in the economic area, the…

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All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Asia/Economics by

China’s fundamentals may not be as strong as you’ve been told. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. The fix is in: China will be the next superpower. We’ve been told the economic projections all assure it, but do they? The same projections were made for the Eastern bloc in the 1960s, Japan in the 1980s, and the Asian Tigers in the 1990s. In each of those decades the conventional wisdom, particularly in the United States, whipped policymakers into a frenzy over the implications of dizzying growth numbers. And yet to varying degrees, history has proven the conventional wisdom wrong. Just as history has a tendency to repeat itself, there is strong evidence to suggest it may be wrong on China as well. First, let’s examine economic strength, upon which most “China superpower” predictions are predicated. One of the most oft-cited figures is China’s GDP. In 2013 China met its target to expand by 7.5% – more than double that of the United States, but also only slightly more than half the 14.2% it recorded only 6 years earlier. And how do these numbers stand up qualitatively? Even as GDP has plummeted, it is increasingly being funded by credit accumulation, with…

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Causality and Big Data

Technology by

“You see there is only one constant. One universal. It is the only real truth: Causality. Action, reaction. Cause and effect.“ The Frenchman America Online’s 2006 crisis and Edward Snowden’s disclosure got great amounts of public attention, criticizing surveillance parameters and the ethics of big data usage. In this article, I want to look beyond privacy and rather talk about institutionalization. The first thing we should ask is fundamentally how does a search engine work? As any statistical correlation study, big data also starts with sampling but rather than random distribution it collects everything possible where sampling becomes equal to all of the data. Interpreters then make several correlation studies, but usually interpretation ends up with probabilistic causality (factors increase the probability of another). This is normal because as the numbers get bigger, distortion becomes less visible and lets us see things that we have never thought about. Though as we have ‘smoking causes cancer’ signs on cigarette packages, we also should have ‘big data does not mean causality’ because things are getting wrong without any regulation and we have only started to see its implications. Causality is the relationship between one specific event with another and is generally used…

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Decentralization of Production and Customization Culture

Business/Technology by

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” Henry Ford Fordism, named after Henry Ford, refers to a modern economic system built on a standardized form of mass production using assembly lines. It was preceded by Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management techniques whose objectives were to improve efficiency and achieve economies of scale. Thereafter, benefiting from standardized production methods, outsourcing models were developed and became a trend to reduce labor costs. As a result mass production became a major factor of international trade. Three years ago I wanted to produce mouthwash dispensers. They had a simple plastic design but the investment amount for 10 units was nearly the same as 500,000 units. This restrained me from testing the market because there was too much risk to produce without knowing market demand and whether the product would be easily replicable. At the time 3D printing was not popular, but now things have changed. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing method that melts plastic wire to create an object layer by layer. It can produce a variety of products by changing print heads using different types of material including plastic, metal, ceramic,…

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