Think Tanks, often linked to a party in the nation’s political system, are becoming increasingly popular (particularly in the US and the UK), receive funds, and produce very easily digestible research, ready-made for the rushed politician. Think Tanks do not have to adhere to the same quality standards that university research has to or, when they are supposed to meet similar standards, there is no effective means of monitoring it. Ethical issues, ethical conduct of research and often methodology remains unexplained in reports written to impress more than explain complex issues. In an era where simplification often resembles “The Complete Idiot’s” guides, Think Tanks provide a fast, public friendly, easy to use policy support for difficult decisions.
Days have passed since the so-called ‘Gaza Flotilla’ was brutally raided by Israeli forces. As usual in these cases, I tend to take my time before writing my opinion. Let me start from some simple observations:
The Gaza blockade is irrational. It breaches international law and affects the most vulnerable people within Gaza. By contrast, politically, it reinforces Hamas. Indeed, anybody with even a minimum of knowledge or contacts in Gaza knows that supporting Hamas or becoming an active member remains the only solution to enjoy some benefits and relieve one’s family from the hardship of the illegal embargo, enjoying the few products smuggled through the endless number of Egyptian border tunnels controlled by Hamas. Continue reading
Obama’s speeches are becoming a classic, no less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for those studying English, at least in Japan. Certainly, after eight years of Bushisms, Obama’s words sound like Shakespeare. Hence, few would have complained if the Nobel committee would have awarded him the Nobel in literature. Notwithstanding that, in listening to Barack Obama’s 36-minute Nobel lecture we may wonder whether a mistake has been made and if the President was supposed to receive the Nobel in Philosophy for his contribution to contemporary Sophism instead of Peace. Indeed, if Barack Obama should be compared to somebody for his Laureate Speech, it would certainly not be Martin Luther King or Gandhi, but perhaps rather John Lennon. Continue reading
In the last few days on our newspapers we have read a series of news which seems to have attracted not so much attention within academia, but which are an important social political indicator. Although I am not going to discuss them in detail, I am referring to the cases of Irfan Raja, Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik and Akbar, whose conviction of Internet terrorist activity has been quashed by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, 13 February 2008; the government apologies over the rendition flights on 21 February 2008; the full apologies of the US government for lying to the British one over the rendition flights; the quashed control order against the convert to Islam Cerie Bullivant because of a total lack of the secret evidence provided by MI5 (merely that the accused knew some people involved or engaging in ‘terrorist activities’); and the increasingly substantiate allegation that British troops executed and tortured Iraqi prisoners. Continue reading