2006 Failed States Index

The Failed States Index was

first introduced in the July/August 2005 issue of Foreign Policy magazine. The second FSI was published in the May/June issue. Click here to go to Foreign Policy’s website to view the articles. In 2005, we rated 75 countries, and in 2006, we expanded the Index to include 148 countries.

The index is compiled using the Fund for Peace’s internationally recognized methodology, the Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST). It assesses violent internal conflicts and measures the impact of mitigating strategies. In addition to rating indicators of state failure that drive conflict, it offers techniques for assessing the capacities of core state institutions and analyzing trends in state instability.

The list is quite compelling; check out numbers four and ten in particular. Didn’t see that coming, did you? :-p

Films Preserved In The United States National Film Registry

The United States’ National Film Registry is:

the registry of films selected by the National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. Established in 1988, the National Film Registry is meant to preserve up to 25 films deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” each year. To be eligible, films must be at least 10 years old. The films do not have to be feature-length or to have had a theatrical release. The Board and Librarian try each year to select an eclectic list of diverse films representing the broad range of American cinema history, from Hollywood classics to silent films and landmark independent, documentary, and avant-garde masterpieces. As of 2005, there were 425 films preserved in the National Film Registry.

The most recent film is Toy Story (1995), and the oldest film is Blacksmith Scene (1893).

Wikipedia maintains a list of all films preserved in the United States National Film Registry. It’s quite a diverse list, containing a lot of films that I’d never heard of and many I’m glad made the list.

Finally, Star Wars Original Theatrical Releases On DVD

Star WarsI guess all of my rants about George Lucas not releasing the original theatrical released of the first Star Wars Trilogy were not in vain. USA Today reports that on September 12th, two-disc versions of the original Star Wars trilogy will be released that “include the films as they first appeared in theaters, along with the new, restored versions,” which were released on DVD in 2004.

The article reminds us that “Back in 2004, Lucas told the New York Post, ‘The special edition is the one I wanted out there,” but Lucasfilm’s Jim Ward claims that this release “does not constitute ‘George changing his mind… What we’ve always said is George viewed the revised versions of the films as the definitive versions.”

Yeah, whatever. As much as I welcome (and will probably buy) this release, I think the real reason for it is a transparent attempt at further cashing in on the franchise. Lucas has made no secret of the fact that he is remastering the entire Star Wars series in 3D, and besides that release there is sure to be some kind of HD remastering, so this definitely won’t be the last time we see these movies re-released…

“George W’s Palace” In Iraq

The Times Online reports on the construction of the US Embassy in Iraq:

In a week when Washington revealed a startling list of missed deadlines and overspending on building projects, Congress was told that the bill for the embassy was $592 million (£312 million).

The heavily guarded 42-hectare (104-acre) site — which will have a 15ft thick perimeter wall — has hundreds of workers swarming on scaffolding. Local residents are bitter that the Kuwaiti contractor has employed only foreign staff and is busing them in from a temporary camp nearby.

The question puzzles and enrages a city: how is it that the Americans cannot keep the electricity running in Baghdad for more than a couple of hours a day, yet still manage to build themselves the biggest embassy on Earth?

Irritation grows as residents deprived of air-conditioning and running water three years after the US-led invasion watch the massive US Embassy they call “George W’s palace” rising from the banks of the Tigris.

In the pavement cafés, people moan that the structure is bigger than anything Saddam Hussein built. They are not impressed by the architects’ claims that the diplomatic outpost will be visible from space and cover an area that is larger than the Vatican city and big enough to accommodate four Millennium Domes. They are more interested in knowing whether the US State Department paid for the prime real estate or simply took it.

While I understand the need for an embassy, I think that its construction should be balanced with the need to provide basic services to the rest of the city (and country) too…