It also lists the upcoming Politburo Standing Committee as Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Gaoli, and Wang Qishan. This would fit with the predictions by the New York Times, the Economist, and the South China Morning Post.
The killing of Chhut Vuthy has shaken Cambodia. A well-known environmentalist and founder of the Natural Resource Protection Group, he had travelled to Koh Kong province in the west of the country to try to film illegal loggers. He was in a heavily forested area near the construction of a 338-megawatt hydropower dam being built by China Huadian, one of China’s five biggest power generators. The project is one of four dams which have drawn widespread criticism because of adjacent logging, and the impact the dams could have on wildlife and the livelihoods of local villagers….
Mr Chhut Vuthy’s death is the highest-profile killing in Cambodia since a trade union leader, Chea Vichea, was shot dead in 2004. Three women were also shot in February as they campaigned for better working conditions at a factory supplying Puma, a German sportswear company.
When a central bank expands its balance sheet, is it bullish or bearish? It depends. In today’s world where liquidity traps prevail, the reason why the balance sheet expands is as important as how much.
Glad to hear that some things are improving in Italy, at least:
If Mr Monti’s economic competence was to be expected, his diplomatic agility has been a pleasant surprise. Italy, a founder member of the European Union, has returned to the centre of policy-making after the marginalisation and mockery of the Berlusconi years. Having signed the fiscal compact on budgetary discipline, Mr Monti wants the EU to adopt an “economic compact” to promote growth, especially by releasing the potential of the single market. As one diplomat puts it, Mr Monti seeks “more Europe in Italy, and more Italy in Europe.”
It’s my impression that the increase in polarisation in American politics is driven partly by involuntary factors that are not under politicians’ control. Something about the way political discussion and competition work has shifted over the past 20 years in a fashion that dramatically reduces the benefits to be gained from either the appearance of moderation or from actual legislative accomplishments, and increases the rewards from shifting the Overton window and projecting steadfast resistance and purity.
From the article: “Every year the country comes to a halt on the day of the exams, for it is the most important day in most South Koreans’ lives. The single set of multiple-choice tests that students take that day determines their future. Those who score well can enter one of Korea’s best universities, which has traditionally guaranteed them a job-for-life as a high-flying bureaucrat or desk warrior at a chaebol (conglomerate). Those who score poorly are doomed to attend a lesser university, or no university at all. They will then have to join a less prestigious firm and, since switching employers is frowned upon, may be stuck there for the rest of their lives. Ticking a few wrong boxes, then, may mean that they are permanently locked out of the upper tier of Korean society.”
Also, the U.S. has really shot itself in the foot by giving talented people from abroad such a tough time staying in the U.S. after they graduate from college: “Some 13% of Korean tertiary students study abroad, according to the OECD, a higher proportion than in any other rich country. In recent years, many have come home, not least because the American government, in a fit of self-destructive foolishness, made it much harder after September 11th 2001 for foreign students to work in America after they graduate. A survey by Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University found that most foreign students at American universities feared they would not be able to obtain a work visa. And since the application process is long and humiliating, many do not even bother to try. America’s loss is Korea’s (and India’s, and China’s) gain.”
From the article: “In one of Yangon’s narrow, rundown streets a pharmacist glares suspiciously as I squeeze past his cupboard-sized shop to climb a dim and dusty staircase. It took dozens of phone calls and the help of friends to reach these steps. At the top of them I hope to find Maung Thura, better known as Zarganar, Myanmar’s most famous comedian.
“‘Sorry, I lost my voice,’ he croaks in greeting. Freedom after three years of isolation has taken its toll on his vocal cords. Family, friends and eager local journalists, all are queuing up to hear his story. He sits cross-legged on the floor of his unfurnished sitting room, ignoring the constant ringing of his phone. Despite the buzz around him, Zarganar looks relaxed, or tired, in his checked longyi and an old white T-shirt, which hangs loosely after his long years in jail. He answers my questions patiently. But only when he cracks a joke does the air of weariness lift from his face.”
From the article: “Pully Chau spent eight years working for the Chinese office of a big international advertising agency and never got a pay rise; there was always some excuse. “It was stupid of me not to ask,” she says. “If I had been a Caucasian man, I would have done better.” She stuck around because she liked the idea of working for an outfit that was well known in China and hoped to learn something. Eventually she got fed up and took a job with another Western agency, draftfcb, where she is now chairman and CEO for Greater China, based in Shanghai. Just turned 50, glamorous, confident and boundlessly energetic, she could pick and choose from any number of jobs. There are lots of opportunities for women in China, she says—but in business life is still easier for men.”
“When Hilda Solis was at high school, a male career adviser told her mother that the girl was not college material; she should consider becoming a secretary. Hilda was furious. One of seven children born to working-class immigrant parents, she had high ambitions. She did go to college, became a lawmaker in California and is now secretary of labour, the first Latina to hold a cabinet post in America’s federal government.”
I thought this part was interesting: “Asia’s dictatorships have long taken this [Western response to dictatorship] with a pinch of salt. In the most despotic of them all, North Korea, Kim Jong Il will have watched satellite footage, denied his people, of Qaddafi’s end, and thought: ‘There but for the grace of a minimal nuclear deterrent go I.’ Whatever slim hope survived that Mr Kim might voluntarily dispose of his nuclear capability evaporated when the West swung its military might behind the anti-Qaddafi rebellion. Nor is Mr Kim likely to be tempted by ideas of political liberalisation. Why tinker with a formula—of utter repression—that has endured for more than six decades?
“The generals in Myanmar, however, seem to have drawn the opposite lesson from the ‘Arab spring’. With a constitution in place that assures them of ultimate power—and that cannot be changed without their say-so—they are hastening to present at least the appearance of fundamental political change. They have relaxed some press restrictions, flouted the will of their ally China by suspending a big dam project, and charmed the leader of the opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, into contemplating the entry of her party into mainstream politics.”
From the article: “Nodding his head towards a picture of Mao Zedong hanging from a large ornamental rock, an elderly man declares loudly: ‘This is our Wall Street’. A group of greybeards, some sporting Mao badges, murmur in assent. Public displays of dissent generally fare poorly in China. But on Zhouwangcheng Square, in the central city of Luoyang, the ‘big rock’, as locals affectionately call it, has been tolerated as a meeting point for former workers in Luoyang’s state-owned enterprises. Perhaps because they are advocating a return to Communism’s roots rather than its overthrow, Mao-lovers, sometimes numbering several hundred, are able to gather and bemoan China’s slide into the abyss of capitalism.”