Editor's Note: Naomi Wolf is a political activist and social critic whose most recent book is Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. For more from Wolf, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.
NEW YORK – It is obvious that the left and the media establishment in the United States cannot fully understand the popular appeal of the two Republican tigresses in the news – first Sarah Palin, and now, as she consolidates her status as a Republican presidential front-runner, Michele Bachmann. What do they have that other candidates don’t – and that so many Americans seem to want?
Both Bachmann and Palin are regularly derided in the mainstream press. In Palin’s case, the dominant perception is that she is an intellectual lightweight: a clip of her unable to mention a single newspaper or news magazine that she reads regularly got millions of hits on YouTube during the last presidential election.
Bachmann, on the other hand, is portrayed as being slightly unhinged. Indeed, I can attest from personal experience that to debate her is to encounter someone who is absolutely certain of facts that must exist somewhere in a parallel universe. FULL POST
On Friday night, Fareed Zakaria talked to Anderson Cooper about the Tea Party. Fareed argued that the Tea Party held America hostage and undermined the democratic process throughout the debt crisis. Here's the transcript of that conversation, lightly edited:
Anderson Cooper: Fareed, you say the Tea Party is anti-democratic at this point. And you talked about the polarization that is occurring. How do you mean that they're anti-democratic?
Fareed Zakaria: Well, Anderson, if you think about what's going on, the Tea Party is trying to pass a particular agenda, which is basically this all-cuts budget. It cannot get it through the Congress of the United States. It cannot get it through the political democratic process that we have, which is that Congress passes something and the president must sign it. That's the normal workings of democracy. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Steven A. Cook is the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, to be published this fall.
By Steven A. Cook, Foreign Affairs
In the weeks and months since Egypt’s military officers forced then President Hosni Mubarak from power and assumed executive authority, the country’s military rulers have shown an interest in applying what many have taken to calling the “Turkish model.” Spokesmen for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), along with some civilian politicians, have floated the idea of replicating in Egypt today aspects of a bygone era in Turkish politics.
Despite some similarities between the Egyptian and Turkish armed forces, Egypt’s officers would be ill advised to try to emulate their counterparts in Turkey. Not only would they be bound to fail but, in the process, would make the struggle to build the new Egypt far more complex and uncertain. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Andrew S. Natsios is a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Mr. Natsios served as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2001 to January 2006, and served on GMF’s Transatlantic Taskforce on Development in 2008-09.
By Andrew Natsios, GMF
On July 9, 2011 the world’s newest state was born—the Republic of South Sudan—when it formally seceded from the Sudan at a ceremony attended by 30 heads of state. What happens to the fledgling Republic matters to the region and to the United States and Europe – not as a humanitarian victim but as a potential strategic ally.
I served as the U.S. Envoy to Sudan under President Bush and attended the independence celebration in Juba as a guest of the Southern government. I was joined by many other westerners who had worked with the South over more than two decades to publicize the atrocities taking place, to mobilize humanitarian and development resources, and to work on the political and diplomatic issues. When I took my first trip to Sudan in 1989 during a terrible famine in the South which claimed 250,000 lives I never thought this day would come. But it has. FULL POST
By Scott Moskowitz, CNN
Beachgoers in Qingdao, one of Northeastern China’s premier summer vacation destinations, were undeterred by massive algal blooms spreading across the city’s coastline. Though not in and of itself poisonous, the algae is a by product of high-levels of nitrates from agricultural and industrial runoff and can choke off marine life.
While such algal blooms can be devastating to maritime and aquaculture industries, Qingdao’s tourism industry appears to be unaffected. Next month’s annual beer festival appears to be on schedule, and, though cleanup efforts are underway, swimmers seem resigned to frolicking in the slime. FULL POST
Editor's Note: The following article comes from Worldcrunch, an innovative, new global news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. This article was originally published in the Economic Observer.
By Qi Yue, Worldcrunch
BEIJING – Amidst much fanfare and many questions, the capital approved a new license plate "lottery" system last year to restrict the number of new car purchases. It was a policy aimed squarely at Beijing's wretched traffic situation. The city allowed only 240,000 new registrations in 2011, about a third of the number registered in 2010. It comes after Beijing saw the number of cars multiply from 1 million in 1997 to 4.76 million in 2010.
Last week, city officials announced a preliminary evaluation of the new policy, with Liu Xiaoming, director of Beijing Municipal Transport Committee, citing an overall 115-kilometer (33%) drop in bottlenecks, as well as an average time a driver sits in backups going down to an hour and five minutes, a 50% drop. Nonetheless, the evaluation did not specify how much of the traffic reduction is due to the restrictions on car purchases. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin is a World Bank Managing Director, responsible for the Bank’s knowledge development. This post is part of the Global Innovation Showcase created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square.
By Mahmoud Mohieldin – Special to CNN
Access to finance is critical for a country’s development - it is as much a part of a country’s basic infrastructure as access to roads, or electricity, or the Internet. Ample evidence indicates that economies with deeper financial sectors and well-functioning financial systems perform better.
Moreover, access to finance is an important contributor to inclusive development. Poor households in particular need access to a broad range of financial services — savings, insurance, money transfers, and credit — in order to smooth consumption, build assets, absorb shocks and manage risks associated with irregular and unpredictable income. Without access to good formal services, the poor must rely on the less reliable and often far more expensive informal sector. A growing body of evidence confirms that gaining access to finance has a positive impact on household welfare. 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
The political drama in Washington over raising the United States’ federal debt ceiling has grabbed the world’s attention. While the main protagonists in the play are the Republicans and Democrats, one spectator anxiously awaiting the outcome of the bitter partisan struggle is undoubtedly China, the largest single holder of U.S. Treasury debt (roughly $1.1 trillion).
In a nightmarish scenario of an American debt default, the prices of the Treasury bonds China has accumulated are bound to decline significantly. Even if the U.S. government decides to pay the interest on outstanding bonds before honouring its other obligations, the financial markets will likely demand higher interest rates (especially if the U.S. credit rating is downgraded), thus causing the prices of U.S. bonds to fall. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Sebastian Mallaby is the Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. The following is his First Take.
By Sebastian Mallaby, CFR.org
The U.S. debt deal announced tentatively in Washington on Sunday may have been the best that was politically possible; but it is still scarcely worthy of the name. Barring a last minute break-down in negotiations, it will save the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations to pensioners and others. But it does not address the long-term fiscal challenges facing the nation. It does not remove the policy uncertainty that is damaging the economy. And it does not undo the severe harm to America's reputation caused by the standoff. FULL POST
A wave of protests have toppled, reformed or at least shaken governments all across the Arab world. But the winds of change seem to come to an abrupt stop outside Iran. Why? Here are 7 reasons:
1. Iranians rose up in 2009
In the summer of 2009, millions of Iranians rose up to protest the contested election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. To this day, thousands of protesters and activists remain imprisoned. Indeed, Wael Ghonim, the internationally renowned Egyptian activist and Google executive said Egyptians learned from the Iranian people.
It appears that no one takes education quite as seriously as the Shanghainese.
Every three years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) administers its worldwide Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to measure how well a nation’s education system has been preparing its students for the global knowledge economy. Nations such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore have traditionally topped the rankings, but, apparently, even they are no match for Shanghai, which shoved the others into lower positions in its very first year of participation in the programme, in 2009.
When I was in Paris last week, I decided to drop in on Andreas Schleicher, the programme’s architect, to get his views on PISA and Shanghai’s education system. Dr. Schleicher, who was recently profiled in the Atlantic Monthly, had some very interesting things to say about both. FULL POST
“Barack Obama the Pessimist.” Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal.
“By that Reagan standard, Mr. Obama has been a singular failure. The crippling truth of the Obama presidency is the pessimism of the man, the low expectations he has for this republic. He had not come forth to awaken this country to its stirring first principles, but to manage its decline at home and abroad.”