Friday Wrap-up

What’s happened in political economy, conflict and tech this week?  Every Friday I’m going to take on the personal challenge of writing a wrap-up with a bit of analysis, along with the usual longer posts and book reviews.  So without further ado…

Mining strikes continue in South Africa after the Lonmin miners’ strike in August.  Miners at the Kopanang gold mine are now demanding increased wages.  The recent strike at the Lonmin mine, which included a great deal of violence and the killing of 34 miners, did indeed lead to negotiated wage increases.  Miners at Kopanang are striking for a wage in crease of 50%, and if these strikes set a precedent there are concerns that wage increases could lead to inflation rates passing the target 5% rate.  This is a tough rub, I’ll unpack why inflation would be affected by wage increases in a post next week.

Violence is still going on in the Muslim world in response to the video depicting Muhammad.  Protests have been ongoing in Pakistan, where 15 people have been killed in violence across Karachi and Islamabad.  My undergraduates have been fantastic the last week or so unpacking this violence.  We’ve had really good discussions in class about the violence, using levels of analysis to understand individual motivations, political motivation, and historical narratives that converge to create an environment where this rather unremarkable video can spur such a significant backlash.

Finally, on the tech side, former Secretary of State Colin Powell was talking about social media and foreign policy recently at the Dreamforce ’12 conference.  While it was pretty general in nature, what I liked was the fact that he was encouraging folks his age not to be afraid of technology – indeed it’s just part of the modern professional operating environment.  Here’s to hoping more leaders of his stature and age range are going to be willing to step out of their comfort zones and engage with the technology that’s increasingly available to military, diplomatic and development professionals.

That’s it, have a great weekend and I’ll start to thinking about the post on mining wages and target inflation!

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