By Fareed Zakaria
“For those who have not suffered loved ones killed or in exile – or for those who have but who blame the Syrian rebels for their deaths, directly or indirectly – life with Mr al-Assad is still preferable to the unknown without him,” writes Faisal Al Yafai for The National.
“That should make the Syrian opposition and the international community think very seriously about their policies, about their outreach and about what message they are sending to the people inside the country. Even the flow of weapons to the rebels has a political dimension, because support will follow success and success requires arms. By arming the moderates, the international community will empower them.”
“Invented over 2500 years ago in China, Go is a pastime beloved by emperors and generals, intellectuals and child prodigies. Like chess, it’s a deterministic perfect information game — a game where no information is hidden from either player, and there are no built-in elements of chance, such as dice,” writes Alan Levinovitz for Wired. “And like chess, it’s a two-person war game. Play begins with an empty board, where players alternate the placement of black and white stones, attempting to surround territory while avoiding capture by the enemy. That may seem simpler than chess, but it’s not. When Deep Blue was busy beating Kasparov, the best Go programs couldn’t even challenge a decent amateur. And despite huge computing advances in the years since — Kasparov would probably lose to your home computer — the automation of expert-level Go remains one of AI’s greatest unsolved riddles.”
“The greater risk to China lies in the pervasive consequences of any property bust. Property investment has grown to account for about 13 percent of gross domestic product, roughly double the U.S. share at the height of the bubble in 2007,” argues George Magnus in the Financial Times. “Add related sectors, such as steel, cement and other construction materials, and the figure is closer to 16 percent. The broadly defined property sector accounts for about a third of fixed-asset investment, which Beijing is supposed to be subordinating to the target of economic rebalancing in favor of household consumption. It accounts for about a fifth of commercial bank loans but is used as collateral in at least two-fifths of total lending. The booming property market, moreover, has produced bounteous revenues from land sales, which fuel much local and provincial government infrastructure spending.”
“The reason things look different today is the realization of chronic oversupply.”
“A revolutionary situation always favors extremists, and watchfulness is certainly in order. It is quite striking, however, that Kiev returned to order immediately after the revolution and that the new government has taken an almost unbelievably calm stance in the face of Russian invasion,” writes Timothy Snyder in the New Republic. “There are very real political differences of opinion in Ukraine today, but violence occurs in areas that are under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The only scenario in which Ukrainian extremists actually come to the fore is one in which Russia actually tries to invade the rest of the country. If presidential elections proceed as planned in May, then the unpopularity and weakness of the Ukrainian far right will be revealed. This is one of the reasons that Moscow opposes those elections.”