Friday, November 26, 2010

I don't quite understand why FIFA is choosing to nominate the 2022 World Cup at the same time as they are choosing to nominate the 2018 World Cup. Usually a nation should be given about 6-8 years to prepare for a world cup. 12 is a little excessive.

Some of the bidding nations are plausible picks and others are just ludicrous.

Plausible nations for 2018: England, Netherlands/Belgium
Risky nations for 2018: Spain/Portugal, Russia

Plausible nations for 2022: United States and Australia
Risky nations: Japan and South Korea
Unplausible nations: Qatar

Of course I am not a FIFA expert nor do I profess to know that much about soccer but I think that England or Belgium/Netherlands would be a good pick to host the world cup given its plethora of stadiums, tourism, accommodations for fans, history, and distance between each major stadium. The bids have similar strengths and weaknesses but have earned strong government support.

What I am unsure of is how a bid with Spain/Portugal would fare and how Russia would do. Russia is a rather far destination and like South Africa may not attract the same number of fans that previous world cups have been able to. Spain and Portugal are on the brink of default and might need of emergency loans so economically speaking, both countries might not be able to handle a World Cup. They are great tourist destinations but they have bigger issues to solve

I really like both the Australia or the US bids. Australia has plenty of available stadiums and can readily build a few more in 12 years time. The US doesn't even need to build new stadiums. For the US the only concern is transporting between West coast and East coast and selecting cities that can optimally hold tourists. Chartered planes for each country wouldn't be very burdensome either. However FIFA has deemed that the US is a medium risk since it lacks government stability. 2 words: TOTAL NONSENSE. If they believe that Republican opposition will block a World Cup, well remember back to the 80s and 90s where Republicans were a majority in Congress and supported the bid for 1994.

Riskier nations
Japan was able to successfully host the 2002 World Cup but that was with South Korea's help. Without South Korea's help, Japan will need to build some new stadiums and likely support a lot of tourists and fans from everywhere. Same thing with South Korea. South Korea's flaring tensions with the North may not be good business and who is to say that both countries will compromise within 12 years. South Korea's size is a matter of concern when it comes to accommodating tourists and fans.

Qatar, although they claim to have great plans and the president of FIFA Sepp Blatter says the Arab World deserves a World Cup, it seems completely unrealistic. A joint effort would make this possible but 5 stadiums will have to be built in Doha which is slightly unreal considering Qatar isn't a very strong soccer nation that needs all 5 stadiums. Then they have to build several more in the other, smaller cities. Then the conservative fundamentals of Qatar might be overlooked but then the climate is highly unfavorable with temperatures exceeding 100F degrees. The cooling systems that were proposed might work but the financial burden that Qatar faces might not be solved with their oil wealth.
In the past few months, North Korea's hostility seemed to be waning a bit. There was hope that perhaps Kim Jong-Il was becoming too senile and had nominated a youthful, western educated Kim Jong-Un. There was a proposal of reunification and of course North Korea's willingness to participate in the 2010 World Cup.

Well a few days after a devastating attack on a South Korean island should restore the unpredictability that we had grown to ignore.

Why this happened, no one seems to have a clue. South Korea will reassert its claim that it should fear its Northern neighbors with an attack like that. South Korean soldiers are going through different military exercises with the 28000 or so troops stationed there.

A little common sense. Obviously we are all worried that the North will attack again but when you are preparing a country in military exercises with the expectation that there will be another round of military fisticuffs, that's not quite promoting peace either.

Luckily China has decided to step in and promote peace given that it is one of North Korea's few allies, but how effective will they be.

This attack has just given us a reason to perhaps dismiss the possibility of reunification. Our new North Korean focus is how can we lull the angry North Korean government back to a serene state where it is willing to negotiate.

Of course South Korea is angry because about 200 shells were fired at the peaceful island. Right now the West and South Korea should take a more reactionary position and see what North Korea's next move is. In the meantime there should be immediate talks coordinated between the two leaders.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I must say I was rather pessimistic about the result of this election on November 2nd. Although I am happy that some balance was restored to Congress in the sense that we're less likely to see all Democratic ideals passed.

At the same time however, I was not happy by the impact that was created and the Republicans response to victory.

The Republicans in an opportunistic move chose to credit the tea party for their rise back to the top and essentially take credit for their movement's impact. This only gives me the indication that the Tea Party which has very little to offer in terms of fixing the problem will likely dictate terms in Washington.

There are still multiple issues to deal with, including how Barack Obama will have to manage now that his majority in the House has been completely reversed and his Senate is not anywhere near the Super-majority it once held. But in my opinion these next two years will be his greatest opportunity to redeem himself with the American public.

Fiscal involvement: Republican legislation will likely press for tax cuts on all levels and a spending cut. President Obama has stated his intention to return to fiscal responsibility but his record indicates otherwise with a large stimulus and a large healthcare reform bill. President Obama is not in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy but this might be where he'll have to compromise. His best solution?: He would have to either accept Republicans behavior on their tax cut notion and he'll have to cut spending by an even bigger margin.

Healthcare Repeal: President Obama will have to and likely will stand his ground on reform but he said he was willing to make some minor tweaks to the bill. Republicans, particularly Tea Party candidates will want to scrap the bill altogether but this has to be the issue where President Obama keeps his ground. Anyway, a repeal of the bill has little passing success in a still Democratically controlled Senate.

Education Reform: This is one of the President's next goals in mind and he should ask for bipartisan support on the upcoming legislation

Job Creation: The Tea Party has already got the wrong idea and is now criticizing Obama for his 2010 Asia trip starting in India. The president seems to understand 21st century economics in which countries can no longer rely on themselves to recreate jobs. Foreign deals with rising powers have to be made if the US wants to end its unemployment slump. The Tea Party should either recognize this or promote a different solution rather than producing incessant criticism.

War on Terror: This already has bipartisan support and will likely continue although this is a big component in reducing spending. The conflict has to be taken up by regular citizens who realize extremism is crippling their progress. The US has to shift focus towards the people to stand up against Al Qaeda. Kill the philosophy, not the people who believe in it. This is where the focus should turn.