Panama Canal cargo capacity will double by 2016.
August 27, 2014
THE NUMBERS: Panama Canal shipping –
|YEAR||SHIP TRANSITS||CARGO TONNAGE|
|1915||969||5 million tons|
|1965||11,834||71 million tons|
|2013||13,660||320 million tons|
|2016||15,000?||600 million tons?|
WHAT THEY MEAN:
To build the Panama Canal, 56,000 workers cut a trench 41 feet deep across 48 miles, including a mountain ridge 275 high and 8 miles wide at the Culebra Cut. From 1906 until the Gatun Locks opened to the Atlantic on August 15th, 1914, these workers – 12,000 from the United States, 20,000 from Barbados, 16,000 from other Caribbean islands, the remaining 8,000 from Europe and Latin America – moved 177 million cubic meters of earth and rock weighing half a billion tons. A hard sum to visualize, but today’s entire world shipping fleet is thought to have a capacity of 1.7 billion tons of cargo.
The Canal cut ocean voyages from New York to San Francisco from 13,000 miles to 5,000 miles, or from the 59-day steamship record set in 1900 to 30 days in the 1920s. As a quick table shows, this jump equaled the effect of replacing sailing ships with steam a generation earlier. It has taken a full century for maritime technology to halve passage time again:
|Clipper ship record, 1854||89 days|
|Pre-Canal steamship record, 1900||59 days|
|Panama Canal average, 1920s||30 days|
On its centennial, with its millionth ship transit now four years into the past, the Canal remains busy. Nearly 14,000 vessels transit each year – one every 45 minutes – and the 320 million tons of cargo they carry make up 3 percent of world maritime cargo and a tenth of the U.S.’ seaborne exports. But the Canal is also showing its age.
The Gatun Locks, the largest concrete structures ever built until the 1930s, can lift and float ships up to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide. In 1914, this meant nearly all world shipping. Today it is still enough for tankers and bulk carriers up to 60,000 deadweight tons of cargo, all automobile shipping, and container ships carrying up to 5,000 twenty-foot containers. But the largest 1,000 of the world’s 5,100 container ships are now too big for the Canal, and they account for half of all world container capacity. And the Canal can handle only 6 percent of the world’s LNG tankers, which implies a sharp limit on future shipments of natural gas from the American Gulf Coast to China and Japan.
Hence the Canal is being redug. Approved by the Panamanian government in 2006 and now estimated “78 percent complete,” the expansion project will have moved another 52 million cubic meters of earth and stone - about a third of the excavating and blasting work of 1906-1914 – by the time the new locks open sometime late in 1915. The results will include (a) digging new access channels to the Atlantic and Pacific; (b) deepening the Culebra Cut, and (c) building a new set of locks able to handle ships 1200 feet long and 161 feet wide. The Canal will then be able to accommodate all container ships up to the 13,000-14,000-container capacity range (in practice, all but about 70 of the currently active container ships), and tankers of up to 120,000 deadweight tons of cargo, including most LNG vessels. By 2016, it will be able to carry 600 million tons of cargo a year – 100 times the traffic of its first year a century ago, nearly 10 times the workload of 1965, and twice its current capacity.
The Panama Canal Authority explains the expansion project: http://pancanal.com/eng/general/canal-faqs/tolls.html
A live camera at the Gatun Locks: http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
The U.S. Maritime Administration explains the implications of Canal expansion for American trade and ports. (Growth in container trade to ports on the Gulf and East Coasts; more viable LNG shipping to Asia; no changes likely in automobile trade and only minor adjustments in metals and bulk farm products like coffee and grains.) MARAD’s take, from December 2013:
A note on budgets –
The 1906-1914 budget for the Canal was $375 million – equal to half of the $725 million in annual Taft-administration spending – and the Canal builders proudly came in $23 million under cost. An often-used ‘equivalent’ in 21st-century dollars is $8 billion, but because prices are so different today and national economies so much bigger, a different measurement might make more sense. US GDP in 1910 was about $35 billion, meaning the Canal cost was about 1 percent of GDP. A modern equivalent might therefore be a $175 billion 8-year project. The budget for the 21st-century expansion was originally $5.25 billion, and will likely end up (depending on litigation) around $7 billion.
A human perspective -
A century ago, the Canal Commission’s massive Barbadian labor recruitment is said to have brought 40 percent of the island’s adult men to Panama, and cut its population from 200,000 in 1900 to 172,000 in 1910. A tenth of the Canal workforce died during construction – 5,609 people, including 4,290 of the 36,000 Caribbean workers – of yellow fever, malaria, landslides, explosions, railway accidents, and other illnesses and workplace injuries. The Canal Commission’s annual report for 1910, for example, reports 548 deaths among employees, including 164 from industrial accidents (most frequently railroad), 376 deaths from disease, and 8 deaths from causes unrelated to labor, such as homicide and lightning strike. By country, that year’s death-toll included 167 workers from Barbados, 113 from Jamaica, 49 from Martinique and Guadeloupe, 60 from other Caribbean islands, 48 from Spain, 36 from Colombia and Panama, and 31 from the United States. The unsuccessful French effort to build a Panama Canal in the 1880s (before the discovery of the mosquito vector for malaria and yellow fever) was deadlier still, costing a reported 20,000 lives.
If the modern Canal expansion’s finances have been a bit less disciplined than those of 1906-1914, its workers appear much safer. ProgressiveEconomy’s search for a systematic labor-safety record of the expansion project hasn’t succeeded. But here are three indicators: (a) the labor health and safety sections of the annual State Department human rights reports suggest that about 15 people per year die in industrial accidents throughout Panama, but mention no Canal fatalities; (b) a current dispute between the Canal Authority and the International Transport Workers Federation includes a claim by the union alleging “lack of proper respect and bargaining on issues surrounding health and safety provision on the job,” but again mentions no fatalities or individual accidents; and c) Google news searches find three reports of fatal accidents on the Canal from 2012 to the present. These presumably miss some information, but do suggest that contemporary fatalities are extremely rare – perhaps 99 percent below the rate of a century ago.
“We Were Giants” – Barbados remembers its 20,000 Canal-builders at the centennial: http://gisbarbados.gov.bb/index.php?categoryid=8&p2_articleid=12746
And next -
Are the new locks already too small? Bloomberg Newwreports on thinking about a possible fourth set of locks, meant to accommodate the possible 20,000-container ships of the 2020s: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-14/panama-weighs-another-canal-expansion-at-centennial-mark.html
Honduras' murder rate is 15 times the world average, and 20 times the U.S. rate.
August 20, 2014
THE NUMBERS: Murders per year,* per 100,000 people –
Technically ‘intentional homicides;’ source is UN Office of Drugs and Crime, 2012 or most recent year available. ‘Central America’ defined as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
WHAT THEY MEAN:
Writing in the Congressional newspaper Roll Call last week, New Democrat Coalition member Rep. Joe Garcia of Miamia and ProgressiveEconomy co-founder/GlobalWorks Foundation Chairman Claude Fontheim look at the humanitarian crisis posed by the flight of Central American children to the southern border. Drawing some lessons from Colombia’s experience with violence and crime in the 1990s, the two call for a “comprehensive economic development and security program for Central America,” aimed at economic development, capacity-building, and poverty reduction. Background:
The journey from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to El Paso covers 1600 miles by bus, safe house, and top of train; crosses three national borders; and requires trust at every step in the good faith of bribe artists and paid ‘escorts’. An in-depth article in The Guardian interviews people in Mexican detainment centers and Honduras’ commercial capital San Pedro Sula, asking why they would make such a trip. One woman’s account:
“Their problems began, she said, when she refused the advances of a local drug trafficker. Soon after, the family home was sprayed with bullets, and the whole family fled to the capital, Tegucigalpa. When the dealer tracked her down once again, she led her siblings north in the hopes of joining their mother. They got to Chiapas before being detained by Mexican officials.”
And a second, from the morgue in San Pedro Sula:
“Two workers at the San Pedro Sula morgue, interviewed separately, said the number of bodies they receive is significantly higher today than it was a year ago. Stories are also piling up of young children forced to work as lookouts, messengers or spies for the gangs. Eight children, between the ages of 7 and 13, were kidnapped and killed in La Pardera barrio during May. Word on the street is that they were killed for refusing to join the dominant local gang.”
In statistical terms, these gangs and narcotics industries have given Honduras the highest homicide rate in the world: 90.4 per 100,000 people, with rates in San Pedro Sula itself believed as high as 173 per 100,000. Nationwide, this meant 7,172 murders in 2012, in a country of 7.6 million. By way of context, the U.S. had 14,600 murders among 314 million Americans in 2012; the European Union, fewer than 6,500 among 500 million people.
Honduras’ case is the extreme, but the crisis of crime and violence is regionwide. Across the five Central American countries, annual homicides are at 16,200, below the yearly casualty averages during the civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s. Widening the lens to the Caribbean littoral, since 2000 homicide rates have risen from 50.9 to 90.4 per 100,000 for Honduras, 25.9 to 39.9 for Guatemala, 17.2 to 44.7 for Belize, 9.8 to 17.2 for Panama, and 32.9 to 53.7 for Venezuela.
Here is the origin of the flow of teenagers. What can be done?
Garcia and Fontheim agree that emergency humanitarian response at the border is necessary, but find a solution in response to crime and social stability within Central America rather than immigration policy. Colombia over the past 15 years provides evidence that policy can succeed in the midst of great stress: after peaking at 69 homicides per 100,000 in 2002, Colombia’s rate has dropped by 60 percent, through domestic measures combining legal reform, economic development, and training against crime and narcotics-trafficking backed by a $7 billion U.S. commitment under “Plan Colombia.” Drawing on this experience but adapting policy to a different set of challenges – a poorer region, with larger youth gang challenges but no organized guerrilla movement and less-organized narcotics businesses – they call for:
“A comprehensive economic plan to address the deadly combination of extreme violence perpetrated by ruthless gangs, ineffective law enforcement and inadequate administration of justice, and unacceptably high poverty levels in Central America. …. Toward this end, we recommend greatly expanded capacity building assistance to enable market-based economic development that promotes the establishment of a reliable legal and judicial system, transparent and effective government, infrastructure upgrades that enhance trade and competition, as well as investments in education and healthcare. Security, economic development, and an effective legal and judicial system go hand-in-hand. These countries need a holistic approach that addresses all three.”
Claude Fontheim & Rep. Joe Garcia in Roll Call on humanitarian crisis, capacity-building, and response at the source: http://www.rollcall.com/news/confronting_a_crisis_child_refugees_at_our_southwest_border_commentary-235694-1.html
And a look back at Plan Colombia: http://bogota.usembassy.gov/plancolombia.html
Background to crisis -
About 3.1 million Central Americans live in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2000. The region has provided about 10 percent of America’s 21st-century immigrants. Statistical background on Central American migration trends: http://migrationpolicy.org/article/central-american-immigrants-united-states
The Guardian reports from detention centers in southern Mexico and the San Pedro Sula morgue: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/09/central-america-child-migrants-us-border-crisis
The LA Times on the symbiotic relationships of gang affiliates in Los Angeles and Honduras: http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-c1-honduras-violence-20131216-dto-htmlstory.html
And the University of Maryland looks at Central American gangs operating in Montgomery County, Maryland, and El Salvador: http://gangs.umd.edu/Gangs/MS13.aspx
And some grim context on homicide –
The Caribbean/Central American region includes 7 of the world’s 10 highest murder rates in the world, with Honduras 90.4 per 100,000 people first, Venezuela’s 53.7 second, Belize’s 44.7 third, El Salvador’s 41.2 fourth, Guatemala’s 39.9 fifth, and Jamaica’s 39.3 sixth. San Pedro Sula’s 187 homicides per 100,000 people is the highest measured, though no comprehensive city-by-city list exists. The world’s lowest homicide rates are in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Data by country and capital city from the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime: http://www.unodc.org/gsh/en/data.html
By comparison, the U.S.’ national homicide rate is 4.7 per 100,000. This is still high for wealthy countries, but has been cut by half from the 9.3 per 100,000 measured in 1992, and barely a twentieth of Honduras’ figure. The highest rate for any American state is Louisiana’s 10.8 per 100,000 while New Hampshire’s 1.1 per 100,000 is lowest; Detroit’s 54.6 is the highest for any major U.S. city. U.S. homicide rates and other data from the FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/violent-crime/murder
The world spectrum runs from Honduras’ 90.4 per 100,000 to Japan’s 0.3. A list including 34 countries, 17 cities, and 8 U.S. states:
|PLACE||RATE PER 100,000|
|San Pedro Sula, Honduras||173.0|
|Guatemala City, Guatemala||116.6|
|Belize City, Belize||105.0|
|Papua New Guinea||10.4|
|New York City, NY||5.1|
|New York (state)||3.5|
Chinese box office for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" - $115.6 million.
August 13, 2014
THE NUMBERS: Box-office revenue leaders in China, 2014* -
|Transformers: Age of Extinction||301.0 million|
|The Monkey King||$167.8 million|
|X-Men: Days of Future Past||$116.5 million|
|Captain America: The Winter Soldier||$115.6 million|
*Data from “Box Office Mojo,” affiliated to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Jan.-June 2014.
WHAT THEY MEAN:
Han Yu, Tang dynasty literary man and patron of cultural nationalism, protests a Buddhist ceremony at the Palace (819 A.D.) as a foreign threat to Chinese culture:
The Buddha was of foreign origin. His language differed from Chinese speech; his clothes were of a different cut. Let us suppose him to be living today, and arriving at the capital as an emissary of his country. Your Majesty would receive him courteously. But only one interview in the audience chamber, one banquet in his honor, one gift of clothing, and he would be escorted under guard to the border that he might not mislead the masses.
Han ungenerously terms the observance “nothing more than a theatrical amusement,” but fears its effects nonetheless, as “the people are foolish and ignorant, and are easily deceived and with difficulty enlightened.” A millennium on, People’s Liberation Army Col. Gong Fanbin feels a similar emotion, but for actual theatrical amusements: Col. Gong fears that Hollywood movies are “changing the thinking and values of the [Chinese] nation’s youth,” are thus an ‘unconventional security threat’ to Chinese culture, and ought to be a national-security priority for the Chinese government.
To start with a particular case: Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened in China on April 4th. Its $39.2 million in Chinese box-office accounted for over half of the film’s $75 million total “international” opening weekend revenue, and for context, nearly 40 percent of the $96 million it earned in its first U.S. weekend. For the year through June, Winter Soldier ranks fourth in Chinese box-office; Transformers is first, the Buddhist-classic/action-flick Monkey King second (a Hong Kong production drawn from the 15th-century novel, and an illustration of how badly Han Yu’s criticism of Buddhism as non-Chinese flopped), and an X-Men installment third.
Now the overall context: According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), China returned $3.6 billion in box-office revenue for 2013 – double the $1.7 billion in 2010, and 10 percent of the $35.9 billion in total international revenue – and became the first country to top $3 billion. Thirteen of China’s top 20 movies so far in 2014 are American-produced, compared to 10 in 2008. A couple of reasons for this surge:
More opportunity: Since 2000, China’s urban population has grown by 300 million, and per capita income (by the World Bank’s count) has risen from $950 to $6,800. So more people live near theaters, and they have more money to spend.
Fewer barriers: Second, more chances to see specifically foreign films. The 1980s revival of Chinese cinema came with a series of protectionist measures: “blackouts” of foreign films, competitive release scheduling, censorship, and a national ‘quota’ of no more than 10 foreign films shown in any single year. China’s WTO membership agreement in 2001 raised this quota from 10 films to 20. In 2012, a successful American WTO case raised it again to 34 films, with an understanding that the additional films would be formatted for IMAX and 3D. (IMAX opened in China in 2007, and now counts 159 theaters there, out of 873 worldwide; 239 more are scheduled to open in ‘Greater China’ by 2021.) The IMAX concentration may give advantage to high-CGI action and sci-fi films, as opposed to more traditional and slower-paced romances, comedies, and dramas; China’s four highest-grossing movies this year are all IMAX-formatted.
Back now to Winter Soldier. What is the emotional appeal of the American superhero to Chinese youth? “Douban,” a review site for film buffs in China, features some unsurprising comments – handsome lead actor, explosions – but also (via Foreign Policy) an observation on the appeal of the film’s corrupt-enemy-within theme and the complex nature of patriotism:
“[The new villain] is the very country he loves and protects….To love one’s country isn’t the same as loving one’s government: This is the main draw of Captain America.”
Col. Gong may well be right to believe foreign films – even CGI-heavy blockbusters – can change thinking and values. However, like Han Yu in retrospect, he looks to be in a minority in believing these changes are bad. A 2008 poll done by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, for example, found 14 percent of Chinese viewing the influence of American popular culture as ‘very positive’ and 57 percent as mainly positive. A modest 19 percent thought the influence ‘mainly negative,’ and only 4 percent shared the Col.’s ‘very negative’ view.
Then & now–
Then & now–
Han Yu vs. Buddhism, 819: http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/hanyu.html
… the Lotus Sutra: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lotus-Sutra-Burton-Watson/dp/0231081618
… and Monkey King: http://themonkeykingmovie.com/site/
Gong Fanbin vs. Hollywood, 2014: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1404926/cultural-threats-among-five-focuses-new-national-security-panel-colonel
… U.S. journal Foreign Policy looks at Winter Soldier and the Chinese movie-goer: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/04/11/captain_america_captain_china
… and Captain America: The Winter Soldier: http://marvel.com/captainamerica
Chinese box-office figures for the top 89 movies released Jan.-June 2014: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/intl/china/yearly/
The MPAA (2011) on global revenues and the Chinese film-buff: http://www.boxoffice.com/latest-news/2012-03-22-mpaa-global-box-office-climb-continues-in-2011
Box-office by country for Winter Soldier, with China accounting for about 28 percent of receipts outside the U.S.: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=marvel14b.htm
And a list of the 159 IMAX theaters in China: https://www.imax.com/countries/CN/
Policies & attitudes -
The White House reports the US-China film agreement, 2012: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/17/united-states-achieves-breakthrough-movies-dispute-china
The Committee of 100 (a Chinese-American Association) surveys perceptions in the U.S. and China, 2012:
And the Chicago Council’s 2008 poll, with views on American popular culture in five Asian countries at pp. 14-15. Quick summary: Japan 83 percent good, China 70 percent, South Korea 64 percent, Vietnam 60 percent, Indonesia the outlier, with a disgruntled 27 percent: http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/Files/Studies_Publications/POS/POS2008/Soft_Power_in_Asia.aspx
SPECIAL NOTE: Research and drafting for this Fact by Pam Levy, summer research associate for the GlobalWorks Foundation. Ms. Levy is a senior at George Washington University.
Sub-Saharan Africa had 4 million Internet users in 2000; now it has 172 million.
August 6, 2014
THE NUMBERS: Internet users in sub-Saharan Africa* –
* International Telecommunications Union estimates, 2014
WHAT THEY MEAN:
The 47 national leaders attending the U.S.-African Leaders Summit finale this morning are looking back on a millennial boom: since 2000, African GDP has tripled, per capita income doubled, and poverty levels dropped (relative to the turn-of-the-century rate) by about 100 million people. The summiteers are also looking ahead, hoping for a quick and ‘seamless’ renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – the centerpiece of American economic ties to Africa since its passage in 2000, and set to expire in September 2015. The newest paper by ProgressiveEconomy’s Ed Gresser – AGOA 2.0: On-Line Africa and the Next U.S.-Africa Partnership – has an Internet-trade idea for them as they work through the next AGOA this autumn.
A very local example helps explain: Washington, D.C., is home to the largest group of Ethiopian restaurants outside Addis. Menu samples from “Etete” on 9th Street suggest one of AGOA’s gaps.
An Appetizer: Sambusa triangular pastry rolls filled with lentil, green pepper, jalapeno, onion.
Vegetarian Options: Gomen (collard greens), Tekil Gomen (cabbage and carrot), Yekik Alicha (split peas), Yemisir Kik Wat (red lentils), and Yeataklit wat (carrots, potato and string beans) and Salad with Fish.
A House Special: Lina’s Firfir: onion, fresh garlic, jalapeno, fresh tomato cooked into a sauce, mixed with injera shreds to serve. [Injera being the sour, spongy Ethiopian bread.]
Restaurants like these are natural preferential buyers of African foods. Most of these peppers, lentils, onions, collards, along with the flour for the injera, and honey for the tej (a ‘mead’ or honey wine), though, will come from local groceries and markets. In the summer, their ultimate sources (speaking, of course, not of Etete in particular, but of restaurants in general) will mostly be farms in America and Mexico; in the winter, they turn to Mexico, Peru, and Chile for airlifted fresh produce. Ethiopia is no further from Washington than Chile – both a 13-hour airplane trip with daily nonstop flights – but farm imports from Ethiopia are almost entirely dried coffee beans and birdseed. With some attention to 21st-century issues, the second AGOA might be able to help the restaurants feature fresh Ethiopian-grown produce – and by extension, help smaller businesses, farm groups, and community institutions develop direct U.S.-African ties never before possible.
AGOA as passed in 2000 is a three-part program which (a) waives almost all tariffs on African products to give retailers, grocery chains and other big buyers financial incentive to buy African clothes, flowers, shoes, etc.; (b) promotes two-way trade and investment through dialogue and trade-promotion programs; and (c) offers some capacity-building in infrastructure, agriculture, and other technical areas. The program has done reasonably well – clothes from Lesotho and Kenya, cars from South Africa, shoes from Ethiopia – and can do more by adding some new products and improving the capacity-building element.
But the missing piece, from a 2014 vantage point, is an Internet and small-business dimension. The gap is understandable – in 2000, Africa counted only 4 million Internet users, and e-commerce was a curiosity. But in this decade, Africa has been the world’s fastest-growing adopter of Internet use and mobile phones. As of 2014, ‘on-line Africa’ is a virtual nation of 172 million people, growing by 2 million per month. This opens possibilities for a large and diverse set of smaller-scale relationships as well as the large-business trade flows ‘AGOA 1.0’ supports: telemedicine partnerships between American hospitals and African clinics for specialist care and patient monitoring; options for African-American community institutions to join large retailers in buying directly from clothing factories in Lesotho and Kenya; and ways for D.C.’s Ethiopian restaurants to buy directly from Addis Ababa food companies, with teff flour, chickpeas, lentils, and fresh produce arriving from the source daily.
The paper explains in detail. A brief summary of the roadmap looks like this: agreements and capacity-building to promote universal Internet access; commitments to free flows of data; support in developing secure payment sites; encouraging access to low-cost tablets and smart-phones; trade facilitation and port improvements; and waivers of U.S. fees and taxes on small ‘de minimis’ shipments of African goods to the United States.
ProgressiveEconomy’s newest – a AGOA 2.0: Towards the Next U.S.-African Partnership: http://progressive-economy.org/2014/07/28/agoa-2-0-on-line-africa-and-the-next-u-s-africa-partnership/
The Summit & AGOA -
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/us-africa-leaders-summit
The African Growth and Opportunity Act, with coverage, eligibility criteria, slightly dated statistics, etc.: www.trade.gov/agoa
From the Administration, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman surveys the AGOA record and next challenges at the Senate Finance Committee (July 2014): http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=f5251f60-5056-a032-52f0-742dc672610d
On-line Africa –
Infrastructure – In 2000, only one fiber-optic cable touched African ground. (At Djibouti.) By 2009 there were four; now there are 16, reaching each littoral African state and every coastal city but Bissau. The cables and their extensions inland bring 380 million people within reach of fiber access nodes. Adding in satellite coverage, Africa’s Internet bandwidth has grown from 1.2 gigabits per second in 2004 to 1,479 g’s per s. at the end of 2013.A quick visual history of fiberoptic cable connection to Africa, 1999-2014: http://www.slideshare.net/ssong/african-undersea-cables-a-history
Kenya’s seven-year-old ‘on-line wallet’ m-Pesa service serves 17 million customers: http://www.safaricom.co.ke/personal/m-pesa
Microsoft/Africa promotes wireless access through adapting unused TV stations and radio towers: http://www.microsoft.com/africa/4afrika/
Google runs wire to Kampala: http://ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story.php?s=58342
International charity Oxfam runs an Internet-based distance-education project, also in Uganda: http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/development/uganda/internet-now-helping-fund-education
And the International Telecommunications Union has up-to-2014 data on Internet and mobile use by region and country: http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx
And last –
A sample Ethiopian restaurant menu: http://www.eteterestaurant.com/menu.html
World War I Centennial
July 30, 2014
THE NUMBERS: World War I casualties –
|Military enrollments||65 million|
|Military deaths||8.5 million|
|Civilian deaths||~7 million – 10 million|
WHAT THEY MEAN:
Throughout the morning and afternoon of July 30, 1914, emperors, ambassadors, prime ministers etc. were exchanging proposals, guarantees, reassurances, and threats. Russia’s military “mobilization” order came that night – it was a Thursday – and afterwards their efforts shifted from attempts to prevent the Austria-Serbia conflict from turning into a general war, to preparing for the one that actually began on Sunday. By 1918, the four combatant European empires were all destroyed, 15-20 million people had been killed, the issues which turned a Balkan-peninsula conflict into a global war had become irrelevant, and the eruption of communism and fascism posed more dangerous challenges for the surviving Allies than those they had planned against before the war.
A century later, the event and its aftermath still pose disturbing questions of politics and human nature: the reasons diplomacy and deterrents can fail in crisis; the relationships between the abstract policy and tactical decisions of governments and military commanders, the moods of publics, and the experience of common soldiers; most of all, the unforeseeable consequences of conflict.
The war also has a less complex economic lesson: linkages of trade, information, and finance are fragile; restoring them, once broken, is very difficult. J.M. Keynes’ introduction to The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) is the classic statement, reflecting on the era of ‘globalization’ from the 1870s to the 1910s – steam replaces sail, submarine cables begin transmitting information across oceans, lower-income Europe escapes hunger, wealthier Europe becomes astonishingly rich – and how unexpectedly it vanished:
“The pressure of population on food [in Europe and the U.K.], which had already been balanced by the accessibility of supplies from America, became for the first time in recorded history definitely reversed. As numbers increased, food was actually easier to secure. … In this economic Eldorado, in this economic Utopia, most of us were brought up.
“What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages.
“The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; or he could decide to couple the security of his fortunes with the good faith of the townspeople of any substantial municipality in any continent that fancy or information might recommend. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality… and would consider himself greatly aggrieved and much surprised at the least interference.”
Much of this broke up during the war and the subsequent revolutions; the high-tariff, more isolationist economies of the 1920s and 1930s then made their own contributions to the troubles of the next generation. Attempts at analysis suggest that, measured by trade flows or international investment, the world economy did not recover until the late 1980s or even the 1990s.
Having described an environment so similar to that of the early 21st century – except that the escapes from hunger and poverty are worldwide, the large middle classes with easy access to the world’s goods have appeared in Latin America, China and Southeast Asia as well as in traditionally wealthy countries, and container shipping and Internet have taken the place of steamships and submarine cables – Keynes closes with a sentence describing a state of mind. Because the optimistic attitude it describes is so familiar now, and was so unfounded then, it seems especially unsettling on this anniversary:
“But, most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable.”
The eerie “Willy-Nicky” exchange – The German and Russian emperors attempt to talk one another off the brink by telegram, July 29-August 1, 1914: http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_Willy-Nicky_Telegrams
A casualty table from PBS, by country: http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/resources/casdeath_pop.html
And Keynes’ Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1919: http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/303
Some looks back from 2014 –
The Washington Post‘s Shelly Tan has a set of black-and-white 1914-1918 photographs, digitized to allow mouse-swipes revealing the same buildings and landscapes, in color, in 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/28/the-hallowed-ground-of-world-war-i-then-and-now/
The Guardian’s interactive commemoration, with extensive 1914-1918 and pre-war video and looks at the war as seen in India, Iraq, Africa, China, Gallipoli, the Balkans, Russia, the U.S., and the Western Front:
And the International Museum of the Horse in Kentucky has an interesting perspective on a familiar topic. One reason World War I was so lethal for soldiers is that it combined 19th-century tactics – mounted officers and bayonet charges – with 20th-century machine guns, strafing airplanes, barbed wire, and gas shells. Not lethal for soldiers only – according to the Museum, the U.S. shipped “nearly a million” horses to Britain and France between 1914 and 1918, and brought another 182,000 with the American Expeditionary Force. 200 of them got back: http://web.archive.org/web/20100926051214/http://imh.org/legacy-of-the-horse/the-horse-in-world-war-i-1914-1918/
Four first-hand classics –
Jaroslav Hasek’s Good Soldier Svejk (1922) on the Czech experience and Austria’s war: http://www.amazon.com/The-Good-Soldier-Svejk-Fortunes/dp/0140449914
Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) on the Western Front from the British side: http://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Infantry-Officer-Siegfried-Sassoon/dp/1931313814
Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel (1920), from the German side: http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Steel-Penguin-Classics-J%C3%BCnger/dp/0142437905/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_z
And S. Ansky’s The Enemy at His Pleasure (1919) on a 1914-15 relief mission to the Jewish communities of northern Austria and Poland, after the passage of the Eastern Front armies: http://www.amazon.com/The-Enemy-His-Pleasure-Settlement/dp/080505944X
And two explanations –
Christopher Clark’s Sleepwalkers (2012) lays blame on all combatants (except Belgium), but appears to lean more heavily toward Russian and French responsibility: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sleepwalkers-Europe-Went-1914/dp/006114665X
Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August (1962) agrees with Clark that “Europe was a heap of swords” and the start of the war more attributable to confusion, panic, and fixed military timetables than to deliberate aggression schemes, but lays more blame on Germany, sympathizes with France, and probably makes Russia seem more passive and confused than it really was: http://www.amazon.com/The-Guns-August-Pulitzer-Prize-Winning/dp/0345476093