politics

East African humanitarian crisis

https://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/news/refugees-flee-drought-war-in-east-africa-34244347

Severe food and security crises in Africa East Africa is suffering a deep humanitarian crisis brought about a complex interaction between war and climate, with large refugee fluxes affecting at least seven countries. The situation is compounded by strong social inequalities, fragile governments, disorganized states and the deliberate policy of some of them to use…

Un succès mondial qui dure: l’école prussienne

Et qui sert-elle?   L’école primaire obligatoire telle que nous la connaissons s’est mise en place petit à petit depuis la fin du 18ème siècle. Elle est souvent l’oeuvre d’éducateurs, philosophes et théoriciens allemands plus ou moins idéalistes, plus ou moins influencés par les idéaux de la révolution française et soutenus par les monarchies au…

Using an Amazon Kindle in Beijing

Amazon, Google, Democracy, Money…Dear Amazon helpdesk I am writing to confirm, as I have done before, that downloading English books to a Kindle from amazon.com (as opposed to amazon.cn, I assume) takes forever in China. As everyone is well aware, this is a direct consequence of the rather skilful control of dangerous foreign websites by the Authorities…

Why are US presidents taller than ordinary Americans?

From George Washington to Barack Obama, US presidents have been 6 to 8 cm taller than average AmericansMany websites, including Wikipedia, compare the height of US presidents with their main contenders and find that, in most cases, the elected president is the taller of the two. This post takes the observation a bit further –…

Je suis Charlie. OK, mais qui suis-je, au juste?

Il y a d’une part, des terroristes, et de l’autre, des récupérateurs. Pour les terroristes, Mélenchon a raison: leur combat n’est pas religieux, est politique. La cible du combat à mener n’est pas le terrorisme mais l’obscurantisme. Qui sont les récupérateurs? La grande manifestation de tous les Français (mon oeil!) , avec quelques personnages répugnants…

La France remporte enfin Waterloo? La saga continue!

Deux sous de plomb dans l’aile du canard boiteux européenSous la pression de son voisin français, la Belgique – au lieu de crier à l’ingérence – a retiré un projet de pièce de deux Euros commémorant la bataille de Waterloo. Voir Le Nouvel Obs, Le Soir… sans oublier le point de vue britannique, les potes…

African geomatics centres

Many African countries have established and operate dedicated institutions dealing with remote sensing, mapping, GIS, GPS, warning systems and other geomatics applications. In addition, at the initiative of groups of countries, regional development associations such as CILSS and SADC, the Africa Union, UNECA (UN Economic Commision for Africa) and NEPAD (AU New Partnership for Africa’s…

Cellphone and internet boom in Africa!

The adoption of new Information and Communicatons Technology (ICT) at the macro and micro levels in Africa and elsewhere is closely linked to socioeconomic growth and development (Obijofor, 2009).  To a large extent, the rapid – phenomenal  (Nyaki Adeya, 2001) – penetration of modern communication technology in Africa can be linked to the fact that…

Amazing maize…

The post analyses current trends of maize yield and production, and tries to look ahead and see where changes are likely in the future. It is related to a previous post on Global food supply trends in 2014, and beyond!  This note was first published in the August 2014 CropWatch bulletin, pages 85 to 88. The…

NSA 62nd anniversary

The National Security Agency (NSA) was established at the beginning of November 1952 (on the 4th of November, to be precise) . Join me in congratulating them on the occasion of their 62nd anniversary. Do you believe in coincidences? Many things happened on a 4th of November! In 1791, the Western Confederacy of American Indians won a major…

Global food supply trends in 2014, and beyond!

This post analyses the trends of yield, area, and production in the 31 countries that together make up 80 percent of the world supply of maize, rice, wheat, and soybean. These 31 countries (actually 30 + 1, where 1 stands for China) which are the key focus of CropWatch analyses, also provide 80 percent of…

Forecast and even planned: the Vajont dam disaster

The post on the risky business of forecasting is updated every time something happens with the trial of the scientists who failed to predict the L’Aquila earthquake. The trial reminded me of another story that happened in Italy: the Vajont disaster. In this case, the forecast was perfect (and far more certain than earthquake prediction) … but…

The cost of hunger and malnutrition

Malnutrition remains the world’s most serious health problem and the single biggest contributor to child mortality. Nearly one-third of children in the developing world are either underweight or stunted, and more than 30 percent of the developing world’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies (WB 2006, introduction.) Needless to say, many authors, summits and international declarations…

Climate change: vehemence Vs competence

This text by Didier Nordon appeared in February 2011 in Pour la science, the French edition of Scientific American (N.400, Bloc-notes, page 5). Related posts: How difficult it is to be a climatologist. The title is a pun based on a combination of la loi du plus fort (the law of the strongest) with the…

Projects that will (perhaps) save the planet

(Published 20100212 / Last updated 20111207) There are basically three types of BIG problems facing the earth and, ultimately, the survival of man as a dominant species. The majority (1) has to do with the use and the misuse of natural resources, such as oil and water. (2) Then we have the possibility that an…

News from the future

Version française, cliquez ici. After “The risky business of forecasting“, which focused on  natural disasters, here is a note that looks more closely at the broader picture of our societies. It reviews different articles that have recently shown some skill in forcasting the future. The first comprises of simple power law equations the coefficients of…

Are all EC and UN languages really needed

While writing the “fun” post below on Eurobabel, I collected some data on the actual use of European languages. Here is thus a more serious note about the importance of EU languages compared with UN languages, and their cultural weight compared with some reputedly “insignificant” languages such as Esperanto and Latin. Importance is, of course,…

Eurobabel

This post is about the use of languages in the European Commision (EC) and the  European Union (EU). There are at present twenty-two languages, which are designated in the EC documents and websites by their two letter ISO code: EN, FR, BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL,…

Mixing oil, water and food in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20110922 In reaction to the first oil crisis of the mid seventies, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to decrease its dependency on food imports by developing local food production using water from deep, non-renewable aquifers. This has now been going on for about thirty years now, and the country realized that, maybe, water…

Xenophobia: who’s immune?

The extreme right, xenophobia and nationalism are gaining ground in many countries in Europe. Sometimes (Belgium), the situation borders on the ridiculous, but no-one dies! In Norway, after a bomb attack on 22 July, a psychopath took his gun and decided the eliminate the perceived enemy himself, so brutally that even the political parties that…

Le droit d’ignorance, version soft

[Cet article a été écrit dans le sillage d’un cours que j’ai donné en 2009 à l’université de L., et dont je suis revenu catastrophé par l’ignorance et le manque de culture des étudiants.] La première version de cet article n’a pas plu à E. Elle l’a trouvé prétentieux, arrogant et méchant, voire haineux pour…