Editor's Note: The following piece comes from Global Post, which provides excellent coverage of world news – important, moving and odd.
By Tom Mucha, Global Post
Truth is elusive. But it's a good thing we have math.
Our friends at Business Insider know this, and put those two principles to work today in this excellent and highly informative little slideshow, made even more timely by the ongoing talks in Washington, D.C. aimed at staving off a U.S. debt default.
Here's the big idea: FULL POST
Editor's Note: Micah Zenko is a fellow for conflict prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he blogs and where this piece originally appeared. You can also follow him on Twitter.
By Micah Zenko
On July 11, when asked about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered: “From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy, he has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made,” adding that “we would like to see even more countries speaking out as forcefully as we have.”
Proponents of a low-cost regime change in Damascus seized upon Clinton’s use of the phrase “lost legitimacy” to press the case for the Obama administration to see through Assad’s removal. The Washington Post editorial board, in a piece titled “The U.S. has Gotten Tough with Syria; Now it Needs to Get Tougher,” noted that it was “good that the Obama administration has finally spoken that truth” but that “now it must act on its words.”
Soon after Secretary Clinton’s judgment about who should be the rightful political leader of Syria, the administration has wisely de-escalated its demonization of Assad. During her trip to Turkey over the weekend, Clinton expressed hope that the Syrian opposition “can provide a pathway, hopefully in peaceful cooperation with the government, to a better future.” FULL POST
Editor's Note: Peter Hanna is an associate at the law firm Jenner & Block. This post is part of the Global Innovation Showcase created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square. It is adapted from a piece that appeared on Ars Technica on April 5, 2011
By Peter Hanna – Special to CNN
Who really printed the impossible triangle?
The Penrose Triangle is an optical illusion–a drawing of a triangle that is impossible to actually make without resorting to hidden openings or gimmicky twists. (Easier drawn than described.) Few had succeeded in manufacturing a three-dimensional version of the illusion until Ulrich Schwanitz printed one, using a technology known as 3D printing, earlier this year. But Schwanitz wouldn’t share his secret with the world. Instead, he made his “impossible triangle” available for purchase through Shapeways, a company that fabricates custom 3D designs, for $70. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Elliott Abrams is former senior director for the Near East and deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs in the George W. Bush administration. He is now a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he writes the blog Pressure Points.
By Elliott Abrams, Foreign Affairs
On taking office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama put Israeli settlements at the center of U.S. policy in the Middle East. In Washington's view, a complete construction freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem became not only desirable but also a prerequisite to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Previous U.S. administrations of both parties had never taken such a stance, and in fact, there had been years of negotiations (not least at Camp David in 2000 and after the Annapolis meeting in 2007) while Israeli settlement activity continued. But the Obama administration stuck to its demand, and when Israel refused to freeze construction, 2009 and much of 2010 went by without negotiations. This only changed in November 2010, when the White House abandoned the entire approach and began to search for a new one.
This single-minded focus on a construction freeze was clearly a mistake in the sense that it failed: the Israeli government did not agree to a freeze in East Jerusalem. FULL POST
As the Arctic sea ice habitat retreats, polar bears have to swim longer distances to find stable ice or to reach land, and their cubs are suffering, according to a new study presented Tuesday at the International Bear Association Conference in Ottawa, Canada.
Polar bears, not naturally aquatic animals, hunt, eat and give birth on ice or on land, according to Reuters. Earlier studies have shown that the bears are swimming hundreds of miles to reach solid ice or land, but a new study demonstrates that the longer swims increase cub mortality, compared with cubs that didn't swim such long distances. According to Reuters:
“Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing some to swim longer distances to find food and habitat,” said Geoff York of World Wildlife Fund, a co-author of the study. FULL POST
European leaders are meeting to attempt to resolve the debt crisis in Greece and prevent it infecting other countries - an outcome that could potentially tear apart the 17-member eurozone and lead to another global economic slump.
So what can they hope to achieve, what's behind the crisis and how serious is it? Get up to speed with this Q&A of common questions: FULL POST
Editor's Note: Minxin Pei is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. The following post was originally published in The Diplomat, a stellar international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region.
By Minxin Pei, The Diplomat
In about a year’s time, a new group of leaders in Beijing will succeed President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
At the moment, analysts are focused primarily on the make-up of the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, the supreme policy making body of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Vice President Xi Jinping and Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang, both members of the standing committee now, are assured of succeeding Hu and Wen, respectively. As a result, the guessing game that has engrossed many China watchers is over who will replace the other seven retiring members.
Speculating about top personnel decisions is both risky and not all that interesting. Such decisions are reached through intricate factional bargaining and compromises, and the ultimate outcome is typically not determined until the very end.
Worse, handicapping the chances of frontrunners usually distracts us from trying to understand the broader policy implications of leadership transition. We become too preoccupied with the shifting fortunes of factions within the CCP leadership to explore whether leadership change actually affects policy.
So a more fruitful way of getting ourselves prepared for China’s upcoming leadership transition is to look back at history and examine whether the past top leadership changes resulted in significant foreign policy changes, and what explained such major shifts. FULL POST
Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
With two weeks until an August 2 deadline that could see the U.S. default on its debt obligations, and talks over a deficit-reduction plan all but dead, congressional leaders (WSJ) in the House of Representatives and the Senate are pushing forward with last-minute, alternative legislative measures.
The House will vote on a "Cap, Cut, and Balance" bill (CNN)Tuesday–legislation that would cut government spending by $2.4 billion over ten years, set strict caps on future spending, and lift the debt ceiling, though only on the condition that Congress pass a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. The legislation is expected to pass the House but not to make it through the Senate. The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama would veto any such measure. FULL POST
By Fareed Zakaria
In the standoff over the debt crisis, it’s easy to point the finger at the Tea Party. Even conservative commentators have argued that its uncompromising ideology is at the heart of the problem. But there have often been strong ideological movements in American politics, represented by politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Barry Goldwater and George McGovern.
Yet between elections, people still found ways to compromise and govern. What has steadily changed over the past three or four decades is not so much the ideological intensity (though it has grown) but the structure of politics, making it more beholden to narrow, specialized interests — including ideological ones — rather than broader national ones. FULL POST
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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