Ammon News, View Points

Jordan: A Failed State?

[6/9/2018 7:21:40 PM]

AMMONNEWS -By Madeleine Mezagopian- The Fragile States Index (FSI,) formerly called Failed States Index, appears among the quantitative measurement tools of state failure. Through adopting socioeconomic and political indicators e.g. demographic pressures, poverty and economic decline and corruption, in its list for 2016 FSI ranked Jordan within the category with features that renders its society and institutions vulnerable to failure. Some scholars focus on the capacity and effectiveness of the government to determine if a state is failed or not (Patrick, S. 2007). While J. Goldstone in his paper Pathways to State Failure (2008) defines a failed state as one that has lost both its effectiveness and legitimacy with the former meaning the capability to carry out state functions and the latter involves the support of important groups of the population. The current developments in Jordan clearly indicate the government with its two components executive and legislative authorities failed in carrying out its functions which resulted in losing the support and confidence of important segments of its people. Jordanian people protesting against the decisions taken by the executive authority reflects the failure of the legislative authority that failed in promoting and advocating peoples’ aspirations, wishes and interests and not least failed to adequately monitor the performance of the executive authority and bringing to justice those who depleted the national treasury. Whereas the three interrelated outcomes of the bad performance of the executive authority throughout the years, unemployment, poverty and inflation, is very much linked to the shrinking middle class in Jordan the key employer which has been negatively impacted by the investment law, financial policies and market monopoly by the few linked to or themselves having privileged status. Through resorting to the socioeconomic and political indicators adopted in measuring the fragility of a state, several factors inter alia poverty, economic decline and corruption indicate Jordan’s fragility as a state. As with regard demographic pressures, the crucial argument of the Jordanian government in eclipsing its failure, yes Jordan did and continue to suffer of demographic pressures of influx of refugees the last several decades with accompanying socioeconomic and security challenges especially in the aftermath of the proxy war in Syria. However, Jordan with its limited natural sources and sensitive geographic location abandoned its viable foreign policy of neutrality resulting in antagonizing states in the region and beyond and losing their in kind and financial support. Diverse pressures beyond the control of the Jordanian government were further aggravated with failed executive and legislative authorities, but foremost through deep rooted and widespread corruption that left no sector untouched including those dealing with the most vulnerable segments of the society. This said, Jordan’s standing in the FSI did improve during 2011-2016 foremost with HM King Abdullah II championing political reforms. Yes bridges are rebuilt between the Monarch of Jordan and the Jordanian people with the ongoing concern of the Monarch in and apt directives towards alleviating the hardships of Jordanians. However, the sustainability of these bridges warrant restructuring yet another element of the government the Royal Court, that is entrusted with the responsibility of and has a crucial role in delivering the Monarch's visions and concerns, not least securing open channels between the Monarch and the Jordanian family, especially the excluded intellectual elites of Jordan. The excluded intellectual elites and Jordan’s youth in general who together with Jordan’s security apparatus vehemently revived Jordan’s culture of peace and gained worldwide respect during and post the peaceful protests and emerged as the true heroes of Jordan. Last but not least, it is imperative to underline that security issues did gain priority over political reforms, a prerequisite for economic prosperity; given Jordan neighbouring conflicts hit countries, in addition to homemade extremists. But it is equally crucial to highlight Jordan remains in the warn category of Fragile States Index and appointing a prime minister of high credibility and integrity without dissolving the parliament and calling for new parliamentary elections most probably with new elections law, and without uprooting corruption in all its forms and restructuring key institutions is a recipe for Jordan to become a failed state.

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The Woman In Armenia: A Model To Follow

[5/19/2018 4:31:37 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Madeleine Mezagopian - Between subjugation and restricting the liberty of the woman on one hand and excessive emancipation of the woman with nostalgia for romance and for family life on the other, the woman as symbol of fertility, medium of creativity and productivity, icon of beauty and passion and not least the guardian of family is still relevant in Armenia. During the author’s second visit to Motherland Armenia, observing anew with open heart and mind albeit detached from emotions and partiality, a country in transition where the remnants of the open prison, which though provided minimum basic needs however uprooted ideological diversity with its lethal repercussions on human comportments, still can be detected. Yet hope and optimism was a companion throughout the visit motivated and inspired mainly by the emblem of progress and continuity embodied in the Armenian woman. The far, the near and the current history of Armenia best testify the strong and dynamic role of the Armenian women. From glorifying Saint Virgin Mary, going through all the female related symbols identified and carved in historical sites, cultural figures, e.g. 8th century musician Khostrovidukth of Goghtn, novelist Srpouhi Dussap (1840-1901), political activist and poet Silvia Kaputikyan (1919-2006), soprano Hasmik Papian (1961) to name but the very few, to former young Minister of Justice Arpine Hovhanesyan, one of the present Vice Presidents of the Armenian Parliament, and current Minister of Diaspora Dr. Hranush Hakobyan. With incessant perseverance, Dr. Hakobyan, whose professional generosity was overwhelming during two meetings with the author, is determined not to miss an opportunity to bring together the Armenian Diaspora and the Motherland Armenia to serve best Armenia’s national interests. Dr. Hakobyan is the longest serving member in the Armenian Parliament where 19 out of 105 parliamentary members are women moving from only 3% in 2001 and 10.7% in 2015 to 18.1% in the aftermath of April 2, 2017 parliamentary elections. Although today the Armenian Cabinet is represented only by one female Minister. Nonetheless with the Armenian woman strongly present in the judiciary and legislative authorities, enhancing social, health and educational services and active as private entrepreneurs despite all the accompanying challenges, the woman in Armenia is slowly however surely contributing in self- realization and giving birth to Great Armenia. Today and despite limited resources, elegance in all its forms never departs the Armenian woman; whether a public servant, a musician, a guide in a winery or museum, a cashier in a mall or supermarket or a lady making sure a restaurant is shining clean and attractive for visitors. Elegantly dressed and with such pride and dignity, the woman in Armenia gracefully goes to her destination every morning whether to study, to work or to attend to the needs of a family member. Meeting considerable number of Armenian women in Vernissage market and elsewhere in Yerevan exhibiting their delicate, sophisticated and obviously time consuming handcrafts is both impressive and a strong indicator of women’s engagement in self-employment being high in Armenia. Being an observer is not enough. Getting acquainted with very distinguished Armenian women who shared the author with their factual insight of the woman in Armenia is indeed a very rich complementing element bridging observation and actuality. As a member of an Armenian family in the Diaspora, who twelve years ago opted to leave the facile life in USA and move to Armenia out of conviction return of Armenians to Motherland will rebuild Armenia, Angela Hassassian, a young ambitious Armenian woman specialist in communications, stated the following Women in Armenia are due for some eye opening, as in reality they are strong members of the society, both as a backbone for the family and as major contributors in the work force. Often times, however, their roles are either belittled or completely unacknowledged as the patriarchy is so deep settled into the minds of both men and women alike, that even women themselves tend not to recognize their worth. While they wear many hats filling the roles of mothers, wives, caregivers, breadwinners, experts in their fields etc., they limit themselves when in the presence of men, and accept social restrictions placed on them as simply being natural and expected. And yet I can't help but feel that women in Armenia are some of the strongest and most admirable that I have ever come to know, and it's simply a question of having them finally valuing themselves as individuals and as part of the whole society. The disproportional gender component of the society in Armenia, which is mainly due to male emigrants seeking work abroad, resulted in a much debated phenomenon especially in recent years and preoccupied young and older women in Armenia while acknowledging past and present strong status of the woman in Armenia despite some accompanying negative social norms. With the typical classiness of the woman in Armenia combined with profound knowledge of Armenian history and literature, our tour guide Hayarpi Ohanyan supported what some claim of ancient Armenian culture being women-friendly by drawing attention to the fact that Nowadays the hearth of Armenia, Yerevan, is guarded by a woman, the statue of Mother Armenia*. That may be the reason behind the growing power of women in Armenia today. Even though selective abortion is a serious issue in Armenia, the role of women cannot be eliminated in many fields. When I speak about this topic I always remember one woman who was digging all the wells of her village because young men in that community were abroad. The situation of women is very different in this society. In rural places women are somehow deprived of their femininity because they have to do physical job traditionally prescribed to men. In cities, especially in Yerevan they are acting successfully in political, social, business and other fields. I hope that in near future we will have no abortion defined by sex or domestic violence. As Armenians like to refer to their historical past, I would like to remind them how they were once treating the women. Next to the male deities, they worshipped goddesses, Anahit, Astghik and Naneh, whose names are still very popular female names. A few number of churches were dedicated to women in early Christian times, moreover, the most "patriarchal" church of Armenia, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the first officially constructed church of Armenia, was named after Saint Mary and has a bass relief of the first female disciple on one of its walls. Few people know Diana Abgar (Angarian, 1859-1937) who was the first Armenian ambassador ever, appointed to Japan in 1918 during the First Armenian Republic and one of the first female diplomats in the world. With a background in the Middle East and USA, Diana Abassian, a mother of two young Armenians, who combines teaching English as a foreign language, much needed profession in a country heading towards integration in Europe and reaching the world, and attending to familial needs, underlined the following If I had to compare women in Armenia to women in the West, I would say they are more hard working, whether outdoors or at home. They are more dedicated to the family and they tend to baby their children regardless of their age. Armenian women are treated inferior to men. For example, the daughter is expected to help in the household chores, cooking, serving everyone around them while their brother and father would sit around and expect to be served. Paradoxically, sex selective abortions are a big problem in the country which considers having a son preferable to having a daughter. Though we are seeing some improvement in the newer generation, it is still a slow process In addition, you would see more Armenian young women than men in the country, for Armenian men leave the country in search for work while Armenian women are forced to raise the family single-handedly. While Nelly Manukyan, a highly gifted professional flute and piano player who comes from a family of musicians, including a composer and organ player brother Hovhannes Manukyan, shared her profound and optimistic thoughts of the woman in Armenia and stated I am proud to be Armenian. In traditional families, the Armenian woman has always been the strong foundation and the pillar of the family both for her husband and children. I am glad in our time the Armenian woman is able to combine family responsibilities with her work and excel as a businesswoman i.e. realizes herself. I wish each woman in Armenia was self-sufficient: taking care of her beauty and health, two essentials and not luxury, as it is the case in the developed countries, where during my visits I noticed women seem to be less emotionally and physically drained than Armenian women. May the intrinsic attributes of pride, loyalty and loving nature of the Armenian women survive all challenges. Anahid Nazaryan, a young, nation- loving, ambitious Armenian woman, cofounder of and project manager at Sahman non-governmental organization engaged in community development in border villages of Armenia together with other two young Armenian women, reflected her somehow pessimistic insight without abandoning hope in Armenian women by underlining that Armenian women are always praised for their high morals, love and care for family and children. But few ask what generates these attributes. In most Armenian families and since early childhood, girls are brought up and educated as future wives and mothers. Hence it is normal for most girls to dedicate their lives for the family. Often women just reproduce and reflect their family unwittingly without valuing themselves as human beings. Armenian women have very low self-esteem due to lack of realizing importance of life and because of family boundaries. Despite these negative social norms, women in Armenia have more opportunities for the growth of their personal and professional lives and unlike the men they have less responsibilities during their early lives. In this difficult financial and political period in Armenia, men are still in charge of the financial problems of the family and shoulder its responsibilities. Therefore many men tend to start working at early age often missing education and self realization. Hence, it is easier for women to get good education and better positions in the professional arena which remain missed opportunities by many women in Armenia. Nevertheless, more and more women are seizing these opportunities and trying to make changes in Armenia with the painful reality of those women thinking and living outside the box not receiving the support if not the rejection of the society overlooking productive women can equally if not more effectively generate love and care for their families and children. With advantaged if not luxurious centres in Europe in mind, far from Yerevan in an area with very limited facilities, the author met Hasmik Hovhannissyan, cofounder and president of Centaur Animal-Assisted Therapy Centre that helps stray and neglected animals recover from their health issues and then they help people get over their mental and physical problems. A centre that deserves all possible support by the local and international relevant bodies. Hasmik’s care for the most vulnerable segment of the Armenian society together with another very young dedicated Armenian woman is combined with her concern for Armenian woman’s needs while acknowledging the unique implicit diplomacy of the Armenian woman as follows In a nutshell, the primary concern of the Armenian woman is her family – the husband and the children. This has its pros and cons. For instance, the Armenian woman's children and husband are always well-fed and well-taken care after and her house is always clean and shining but her own needs and wishes are almost never a priority for her. An Armenian woman is soft, but strong, in seemingly patriarchal society there is in reality matriarchate but an Armenian woman is wise enough not to show it openly but direct her husband and the family course softly. Whereas Lilit Kirdikanyan, like any typical Armenian woman embracing professionalism without compromising her feminism, a Chemist by education and Front Desk Manager at Republica Hotel, underlined the evolving character of the Armenian woman and told the author Nowadays, women in Armenia are very different from those of the older generation. This is due mainly to women in Armenia receiving education not only at home but also abroad. Hence they become more independent and know and appreciate their true value. They no longer tolerate insult from men and have all the courage to express their opinion, however without losing their femininity and preserve the ideal example of the mother tendance. While the evolving role of the woman in Armenia is best represented in the education, task and in the perception of Mary Manukyan, specialized in Political Management/Analysis and Assistant to the Minister of Diaspora, who presented the following concise holistic description of the woman in Armenia. Traditionally, women always had a significant role in the Armenian society in general and in the Armenian families in particular. At the present, the woman is still considered the pillar of the family while preserving a significant presence in the political arena and public life of Armenia, which is best testified with one of the first female ambassadors in the world being but the Armenian Ambassador Diana Abgar. In the light of the aforementioned, the Armenian society combines both patriarchal and matriarchal features which hopefully will evolve towards a balanced and humane society promoting the rights of all and learning lessons from both conservative and liberal societies who are far from enjoying true harmony and serenity. In addition to the urgency of bridging the gender wage gap and providing equal opportunities in education and employment, the realities pertinent to the woman in Armenia echoed in the above statements hopefully will be eye opening and inspiration for all, including scholars and practitioners in Armenia to, in partnership, develop relevant recommendations and policies respectively, further enhancing the status of the woman in Armenia which in its turn will enhance the status of Armenia; country and people. Despite the challenges and social ailments facing the Armenian society as it is the case with all nations in transition. The woman in Armenia will remain source of hope, integrity and continuity and foremost a model to follow.

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Donald Trump: Man at War

[3/26/2018 3:35:13 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Charles M. Blow -As Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Friday: “@realDonaldTrump is now set for war on 3 fronts: political vs Bob Mueller, economic vs China/others on trade, and actual vs. Iran and/or North Korea. This is the most perilous moment in modern American history — and it has been largely brought about by ourselves, not by events.” I agree fully with this assessment. Some have viewed President Trump’s recent moves as a sign of rising self-assuredness in the man. I see quite the opposite. I see a man growing increasingly irascible as his sense of desperation surges. The world is closing in on Trump and he is in an existential fight for his own survival. This is precisely what makes him so dangerous: As the personal threat to him grows, his threat to the country grows. The power of the American presidency is an awesome power, and Trump will harness and deploy it all as guard and guarantee against his own demise. Add to his sense of panic his compounding emotional and psychological liabilities: He has an inflated view of his own skills, talents and expertise. He knows only a fraction of what he has convinced himself that he knows. Karen Hill 3 minutes ago Watch that bias about reading being better than listening. Not always true. My daughter has learning disabilities that make it very hard for... Barbara 5 minutes ago What does a president do when he is slipping in the ratings? He starts a war, any kind of war. Remember after 9/11, the slogan was that... Harry Pearle 5 minutes ago "Man at War" Donald Trump was sent to the NY Military Academy, at the age of 13. Thus, he must have developed his war-like character!Also,... SEE ALL COMMENTS WRITE A COMMENT He prefers casual conversation to literary examination, opting to listen rather than to read, which is both a sign of a severely compromised and restrained intellect and an astounding arrogance about one’s information absorption. While pundits mull whether the cloud of chaos Trump keeps swirling around him is simple incompetence or strategic plotting, The New York Times reported Friday: “Aides said there was no grand strategy to the president’s actions, and that he got up each morning this week not knowing what he would do. Much as he did as a New York businessman at Trump Tower, Mr. Trump watched television, reacted to what he saw on television and then reacted to the reaction.” This is all gut and instinct. This is all reactionary emoting by a man of poor character, one addicted to affirmation. He desperately needs to be the king-of-every-hill he sees in the mirror: He was the ladies’ man, businessman, smartest man, toughest man. There was nothing beyond him, and he didn’t have to follow the rules, he only had to follow his instincts. But Washington politics is a long way from New York City real estate. Wrangling Senate votes is a long way from prowling for playmates. This is the big leagues and this little man is feeling the stress and strain of it. Even if he can’t be good, he at least wants to look good, to fake it to try to make it. This may be one of the reasons he is inviting so many television personalities into his cabinet. This is all just window dressing. Trump is truly in the cross hairs, and he knows it. Just as he is going to war on three fronts, he is being attacked on three fronts. The Robert Mueller investigation is bearing down on him as an inevitable in-person interview with Trump — and all of its potential pitfalls — draws nearer. I have resisted predictions about what could come of the investigation because it would be little more than conjecture. Only Mueller knows what Mueller knows. But, it appears to me that the president is surely acting like a guilty man, or at least someone trying to shield another who is guilty. Then there is the porn star, the playmate and the reality star: Three women currently in litigation over sexual contact with Trump — two admittedly consensual and one allegedly not. The most tantalizing and threatening of the three is the case with porn star Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. Daniels and her attorney, as well as language in the nondisclosure agreement that she signed, suggests that she has some compromising written and photographic evidence about her encounters with Trump. Furthermore, in Daniels, Trump seems to have met his match as an internet troll. When someone on Twitter asked Clifford, “What snack foods do you recommend for watching you on “60 Minutes” tomorrow night? Nachos and wings feel so January, you know?” Clifford responded: “Tacos and mini corndogs just seems so right … and yet, so wrong. I believe the more traditional choice is popcorn, however.” Yes, the subtext of that tweet is exactly what you think it is. Note to self: Never pick a fight with a porn star. And now with the massive March For Our Lives, we see that going into the midterms not only are black voters and suburban white women energized against this president and his congressional protectors, so are young people who feel betrayed, particularly on the issue of gun control, by politicians beholden to the N.R.A. Trump talked big about standing up to the N.R.A., and then summarily caved to the N.R.A. If this surge of enthusiasm leads to Democrats flipping the House — and the long shot, the Senate — and something comes of the Mueller investigation or the women’s lawsuits, you can rest assured that impeachment proceedings will be in the offing. This is why Trump is going to war.

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Helping Jordan in deeds, not only in words

[2/25/2018 5:48:46 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Khalid Dalal - It is not enough to hear the nice words various senior foreign officials keep saying about Jordan and its wise dealing with regional challenges. And it is not enough for them to keep emphasising that the country has always been bolstering the stability and security of the region. Its leadership is the real moderate voice in the Middle East. The country has always been helping with international causes, starting with fully supporting the just cause of the Palestinians to hosting millions of refugees from different countries, etc. It is not enough, as there is an urgent need for real support from Jordan’s friends, now and not tomorrow, as the country is facing aggravating economic woes that increasingly put pressure on Jordanians. How to help is simple. Take the five-year $6.3 billion-assistance memorandum of understanding between Jordan and the United States on economic and military cooperation, signed in Amman recently, as a good example to follow. Jordan is a real friend to many countries and their leaders, as well as influential Eastern and Western decision-making circles, are keen to listen to His Majesty King Abdullah’s wise and brave advice on how to tackle regional and global problems. Many, especially the G-20 countries, should follow suit and sign agreements similar to the Jordanian-US deal. Incidentally, the G-20 accounts for 85 per cent of the global GDP. If the world loves Jordan and admires its stances, as it says, it has to prove it in deeds, not in words only. The writer is former media and communication director at His Majesty King Abdullah’s Office, former adviser at the Royal Hashemite Court, and currently senior media adviser and special representative for international strategic communication at Talal Abu Ghazaleh Group.

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Ph.D. Programs in Science and Technology at Jordan’s Universities:Between Reality and Ambition

[12/18/2017 5:37:39 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Dr. Ghazi G. Al-Khateeb - No one can miss the basic requirements and default criteria needed for a Ph.D. program including human resources, advanced research labs and equipment, financial resources for research assistantships and research support, well-prepared study plans, trained research lab technicians, and proper research environment. This step is undeniably important and essential; without having the needed facilities and resources, an academic institute will never have the courage to think of initiating such programs. However, opening Ph.D. programs is not as easy as some academics may deem. To be ready to elevate the master program to the upper level (Ph.D. program) and promote the master graduates one leap up, it is not a matter of taking the required courses and fulfilling the academic requirements including the Ph.D. thesis. The difference between a Ph.D. graduate and a master graduate is not only a set of courses taken in the Ph.D. program and a thesis done to complete the requirements. If that is the case; then, the Ph.D. program will not differ than taking another master degree with extra courses and another master thesis. Even in some cases, the master student may be asked or advised by his/her thesis advisor to take extra courses and research an advanced subject in his/her master thesis. The coursework and thesis research work are only a component of the whole process. To launch a Ph.D. program, first one need to watch for the next step after the master program that will elevate the entire group one level up! This step is not simple, because the goal in a Ph.D. program is not to complete an assigned set of coursesrequired from a Ph.D. student as in an undergraduate program; but rather to develop an original and innovative research in the area of interest. Graduate courses should be developed to assist students to take what they find beneficial and useful to their research and not to acquire specific facts and methods. Research terminology such as research tools, skills, creativity, innovation, integrity/honesty, high-level research work versus low-level research work are not only terms that should be known, but rather these terms should be understood and applied as well. The common practice of selecting top-ranked undergraduate students, encouraging them to pursue their master degree, and then screening the master students to go for the Ph.D. program is not always the way to go when it comes to producing successful Ph.D. holders. In reality, getting out of this box and thinking more thoroughly are needed. Being a top-ranked student is a key aspect but there are so many elements that need to be addressed when it comes to graduate studies. Sometimes, there are cases of excellent students in terms of grades and course achievement; and yet, they lack significant skills and talents such as communication skills, professional writing skills, presentation skills, personality, research-oriented attitude, way of thinking and analysis, and self-motivation. The backbone of any Ph.D. program is a solid research platform that should be established in the institute. This research platform has several components; one of them is the research background of the professors who are in charge of the program. The Ph.D. program needs professors with long experience and new faculty members, who have new research and technology; this will benefit the program both ways. It is also important to ensure that the long experience for professors in the Ph.D. program is not circular in nature but accumulative and updated. The originality and practicality of research considered in the program should be given a great attention. In addition, the contribution of research and what it adds to the current knowledge are important. Literature review done in the thesis work of graduate students is a key element related to this point. Technical advisors in graduate programs should pay attention to the literature review that graduate students do for their thesis work. In most cases, graduate students overlook the significance of literature review. The common trend among students when they conduct literature review is to underline paragraphs and stuff the research study with pages of literature related to the research topic without recognizing the main goal of literature review. Consequently, the purpose of conducting a literature review becomes ambiguous. In other words, it is hardly understood why this researcher is doing this literature review. It is very important to realize the research direction and how previous studies affect the direction and the progress of the research. Explicitly, if the research does not build on previous research findings and take them one step forward, then the research conducted is having one or more of the following descriptions: outdated (obsolete), difficult to publish, does not add to current research knowledge, not original, impractical, does not interest practitioners or readers in the field. Mentality of research among professors, students, and lab technicians and research culture in the community are still deficient. Without these two components, research will never be conducted the right way. For this reason, it will be difficult to implement Ph.D. programs that will produce successful graduates. Despite the fact that there are some rare cases of Ph.D. graduates from a few universities in Jordan who can be considered successful, Ph.D. graduates will not be competent enough with Ph.D. graduates from top-ranked universities in the United States and other countries. Top-ranked universities in the USA (for instance) normally don not hire its Ph.D. graduates before gaining another experience from another academic institute or research center. Therefore, universities in Jordan should be capable of providing such policy to enable Ph.D. graduates to gain another experience from outside the big system of research and education in Jordan before hiring them. Staying in the same systemwill never benefit the educational process and graduate studies. On top of this, the internal belief in research philosophy is lacking in some cases. In addition, the attitude that research is done mainly for promotion or/and to collect some financial incentives became the only motivate behind conducting and publishing research work. Although this is not wrong; nevertheless, it impacts the internal enthusiasm and eagerness of why researchers and graduate teams should conduct research. Non-sense signs that raise several questions against healthy environment for research and Ph.D. programs inside the campus of any university should be eliminated. For instance, the absence of research labs and utilizing teaching labs to conduct research is a major problem. This of course sets a huge limitation to conduct research in these labs by graduate students particularly when these labs are fully occupied for teaching purposes. Conducting research in the Ph.D. program requires students to stay in the lab for long hoursto perform experimental work. Several questions are raised herein; are graduate students allowed to stay in the labs after 4 or 5pm? And if they are allowed, are there proper and safe environment for them to feel like they are in a research-oriented university!? Is there a flexible system to adopt administrative procedures and to ease urgent procurement processes during the time of research in case research instrumentations and supplies are needed in the middle of the research!? Are those in charge of the Ph.D. program capable of maintaining the program once it is established? The fear to terminate the Ph.D. program once it is initiated is always there. Diversity is another significant issue that lies behind the success of institutes and establishments in general and the progress of research and development in any academic institute in particular. Several academic departments in many universitiesbecame exclusive to Ph.D. holders having the same culture and background. In some cases, this situation does not provide a healthy environment for graduate studies, research, and education in general. Diversity influences the interrelationship between academics, the research climate and environment, competition, and sustainability. The thirst and keenness behind graduate studies and conducting research is a long story. To provide some examples; the driving force of doing a research in the field of highways and pavements should be the disastrous problems that Jordan’s highways suffer from. A researcher in urban planning should look into the dreadful and random expansions and troubles in the urban facilities and areas located in large cities. A researcher in traffic engineering and geometric highway design should realize the catastrophes in the streets and highways that lack basic design elements (such as: no balancing in lanes, no proper marking, no proper traffic signal designs, tragic roundabouts that lack enough weaving sections and minimum standard design, no sufficient turning radii for turning or U-turns, dislocated or damaged traffic signs, and so on). A researcher in water and environment should recognize the urgent need for water resources and the vital necessity of clean environment in this country. Many more examples from other fields can be also listed. It is true that there is a gap between practical research (if any) and decision makers and some other politics that may contribute into the whole picture and applying the outcomes and findings of some research in the real-life practices. However, Ph.D. holders still need to search for the calibrated compass that will take them to the right direction in case they have the eagerness and truthful allegiance in order to implement good research and to start planting research culture and mentality in the academic community; its only mainspring is to develop and improve our community, amenities, and graduate studies.

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To ensure competitiveness

[11/29/2017 4:58:09 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Marwan Al-Shammari - Despite the economic struggle of the country in recent years, Jordan still enjoys several advantages over other countries in the Middle East, foremost among which are security, political stability, moderate culture, human capital and geographical location. More needs to be done in regard to competitiveness, however, as this is an important indicator often used by financial, economic and business analysts to make recommendations regarding investment in that country, and to make comparisons and recommendations to multinational corporations that seek new markets and opportunities to invest. King Abdullah has reached out to business leaders and owners in the US and elsewhere, and works tirelessly to put Jordan in the spotlight as an attractive destination for investors. He instructed the government to work harder on the problems that used to constitute major hurdles for potential local and foreign investors. However, governments are still too slow to catch up with the King’s efforts and calls for reasons that are unclear. The comparative advantage theory suggests that a country must specialise only in the products, services, industries, fields and activities in which it is more efficient than other countries. That should apply to Jordan as well. We need to focus on what we do best and let go of inefficient, ineffective and useless activities; we need to stop wasting money on things that other countries do better. In the same vein, the private sector should be encouraged to play a role in fields the government has been unable to improve and compete internationally. In the medical field, for example, Jordan had an incomparable reputation in the region for decades. Recently, however, there has been very slow progress that negatively affected the country’s position on the map, so the question is why did the government not focus on remaining superior in this field, to maintain competitiveness, instead of wasting efforts and money on several useless industries that it could have left to the private sector or foreign investors. Or why not make fair allocation of its limited resources based on the importance and contribution of each sector in which it has a stake? Why not focus on industries, products and services in which the cost of input is lower than in other countries, and improve their efficiency by using the available know how in order to lead to improved productivity in domains where we have a comparative advantage, and decrease the deficit in the balance of trade with countries from which we import some products? Many foreign items that are sold in the Jordanian market have inputs that are available in Jordan. Why, then, not manufacture them locally? Why not encourage producing companies to come in and take advantage of the low cost of the inputs to start manufacturing those items in Jordan, with the added advantage of location, which helps them cut costs? Jordan also has a talented human capital, skilled labour and an active research community that, if well utilised, could help the country reach success. The use of technology is vital to the survival, competitiveness and profit making of companies and countries; it helps increase efficiency, quality and revenues. Yet, in Jordan, the government has been slow in incorporating technology in its major functional areas; the e-government project, still stumbling and suffering in many respects, is a case in point. There are no excuses for it. The country has the resources needed, the skilled workers and experts, knowledge and information, and people’s and private sector’s will to implement it. So why the slow pace, especially when knowing that it is important to attracting foreign investment? Also important are partnerships between the public and private sectors, and between local communities and these two sectors. Equally essential to attracting foreign investment are government regulations, which should be streamlined to make the country an important investment destination. Competition is fierce and without a true and positive collaboration among all concerned parties, it is impossible to succeed.

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Protecting Our Planet through Climate Action on Multiple Fronts

[11/14/2017 3:50:30 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Minister Lee Ying-yuan - Climate change is a scientific fact, and its effects are already being distinctly felt around the world, threatening human health,the places we inhabit, and the sustainability of our socioeconomic systems. This includes Taiwan, whichthis year alone has experienced several extreme weather events. In early June, SanzhiDistrict inNew Taipei City, northern Taiwan, received 615 mm of heavy rain in justnine hours, while the mountainous regions around Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan received a record1,446 mm in total.In late July, two typhoons (Nesat and Haitang) struck the island in close succession, a rarely seen event resulting in a record 690mm of rainfall in the southern coastal region of Pingtung'sJiadongtownshipover a three-day period. This long-duration high-intensity rainbroke records and causedserious property damage. Then, in August, northern Taiwan suffereda heatwave with sustained temperatures of above 37°C, surpassing all heatwaves recorded over the last 100 years. International scientific reports have also confirmed that average global temperatures in 2016 were the hottest on record. These examples offer irrefutable evidence thatclimate change is real and already happening, with dire consequences. However, we must not feel all is lost. Rather, we must recognize that the planet’swellbeing is inextricably linked to humanity’s survival,and seize the opportunity totransform the way we live through direct actions. Taiwan, an island nation, is heavily exposed to theworst effectsof climate change. In response to global calls for climate action, we haveintroduced the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, and formulatedthe National Climate Change Action Guidelines on how tocontrol and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the subsequent Greenhouse Gas Reduction Action Plan targets six major areas—energy, manufacturing, transportation, residential and commercial property, agriculture, and the environment—with over 200 policy initiatives, manyof them cross-ministerial. The Guidelines also call for regular five-year reviews to ensureeffective management. In order to build capacity for clean energy generation in Taiwan and improve air quality, the government has set an ambitious target of an overall energy mix of20 percentrenewables and50 percent natural gas,with coal dropping to 30 percent, by 2025. Similarly, ithas amended the Electricity Act to spur the development of green energy, adopted the Energy Development Guidelinesand,through public participation, developed the Energy Transformation White Paper to help accelerate the transition.It also providesincentives,such asthose involving financing, investment capital, funding channels, and personnel training, to enlist the help of business and industry in developing green energy technologies. In short, Taiwan is doing all it can to combat climate changein line with the Paris Agreement, and is striving to cutcarbon emissionsto 50 percent of 2005 levels by 2050. In theendless pursuit of economic development, societies the world over have madeexcessiveuse of fossil fuels and squandered Earth's natural resources.We are paying a heavy price today with not only climate change, but also serious environmental destruction and pollution. Taiwan’sefforts over the years to promote recycling and waste reduction has caught the world’s attention. In May 2016, the Wall Street Journalpublished an article entitled “Taiwan: The World's Geniuses of Garbage Disposal.” It pointsout thatTaiwan, once dubbed Garbage Island, has since become a recycling poster child, ranking among the top three countries in the world for its initiatives topromote a circular economy. These include creatingan industrial value chain, setting upspecial circular economy zones,and exploringbusiness opportunities tomake the necessary industrial transformation. It is hoped that,by 2022, Taiwan will have become a circular economy hub in Asia, with a healthy regenerative economy that can continue to grow while reducingwaste, and help light the way towards a sustainable world. Leaders aroundthe world, including the Pope, are increasingly calling for more to be done to combat the threats brought by climate change. The leader of Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen, has pledged that this countrywill be an unrelentingly positive force in pursuing the solutions so desperately needed to preserve our planet for future generations. Through bilateral agreements and multilateral cooperation, Taiwan hasfor a long time now quietly gone about fulfilling its role as a responsible member of the international community. We want nothing more than to work with other countries,and do all that can be done to tackle climate change. We will happilyshare our experience and knowledge in environmental protection, particularlywith thosecountries that really need help. Taiwan wants to be a contributor to the green energy policies, green industries, and green employment we must create to protectour planet.

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