China

Will Facebook Make China More Connected?
April 11, 2011

This morning, news broke that social-networking giant Facebook has signed a deal with Chinese search engine Baidu to develop a Chinese social networking service. The deal is a winner for both sides: Facebook is currently blocked in China, while Baidu has been unable to translate its dominance of the search engine market into similar success in social networking.

Bob Dylan in China
April 11, 2011

In memory of Farah Ebrahimi.  Times are indeed a-changing: Bob Dylan, who became an American icon by “speaking truth to power,” just gave a concert in China, one of the most repressive countries in the world. While there, Dylan not only failed to express solidarity with the Chinese dissidents in jail; according to The Washington Post, he also agreed to perform only “approved content.”  The scenario becomes even more ironic when you consider that, while Bob Dylan sang “Love Sick” in mainland China, outgoing U.S.

We Aren't Going to Stop Buying Gas
March 30, 2011

Speaking at Georgetown University today, President Obama warned that thanks to rising demand from developing countries like India and China, the long-term trend of gas prices would be upward. “This is something that everybody is affected by,” he warned. But America has faced energy crises before, and by one important measure, it appears we are less willing or able to respond to higher gas prices. According to research by UC Davis's Jonathan Hughes, Christopher Knittel and Daniel Sperling, Americans are now less responsive to increases in gas prices.

TNR Film Classics: 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)
March 26, 2011

There are some rather dumb—but in a way brilliant—gimmicks that have a strong, and it would almost seem a perennial, public appeal. Books or plays or movies based on them don’t even have to be especially well done to be popular: readers and audiences respond to the gimmick. Sometimes this kind of trick idea is so primitive that it’s particularly attractive to educated people—perhaps because they’re puzzled by why they’re drawn to it and so take it to be a much more complex idea than it is. Frankenstein is one of these fantastic, lucrative “ideas”; The Pawnbroker is almost one.

Coal Train Coming
March 25, 2011

The battle over new coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest hasn’t really focused on the amount of coal already moving down the Columbia River basin by train from Wyoming and then up the coast to British Columbia (via Seattle) for export to China. This post from the excellent Sightline Daily puts it into perspective.

Dick Morris Is Lying, Part ∞

[This is a guest post by Ezra Deutsch-Feldman and Michael Fitzgerald] Last week, Dick Morris wrote a column for The Hill which was almost willfully illogical and wrong, even by the usual Dick Morris standards of lies and attacks. Luckily, he made a bold and falsifiable prediction—that Obama will not win a second term—so that if he turns out to be wrong, perhaps we can all look forward to seeing him sheepishly own up to his mistakes and pledge to be more careful.

The Case Against Our Attack on Libya
March 20, 2011

There are so many things wrong with the Libyan intervention that it is hard to know where to begin. So, a few big things, in no particular order: First, it is radically unclear what the purpose of the intervention is—there is no endgame, as a U.S. official told reporters. Is the goal to rescue a failed rebellion, turn things around, use Western armies to do what the rebels couldn’t do themselves: overthrow Qaddafi? Or is it just to keep the fighting going for as long as possible, in the hope that the rebellion will catch fire, and Libyans will get rid of the Qaddafi regime by themselves?

Signposts
March 18, 2011

Updates and curiosities from around the web. As first mentioned last week, plans for a major coal exporting terminal on the Columbia River are getting reconsidered. Environmentalists had opposed the Longview, Wash. development that would export millions of tons of Powder River Basin coal to China. If you want to get hyperlocal, why not partner with America’s most prolific snowstorm tweeting mayor, Newark’s Cory Booker?

After the Disaster
March 17, 2011

Beijing, China—Despite nuclear, geological and logistical disasters unfolding simultaneously, deciding to leave Tokyo on Monday was not a quick decision. My departure was no reflection of the endurance of the Japanese people to overcome this disaster. No doubt, within the nuclear power plants, there are sleepless men, everyday working men, continuing at tremendous personal peril to ensure the safety of millions. Heroic seems an understatement to describe their efforts, and they are not alone. I left because, unlike so many people there, I could—a lucky privilege I did not take for granted.

The Fourth Wave
March 14, 2011

Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that all the great events of the past 700 years—from the Crusades and English wars that decimated the nobles, to the discovery of firearms and the art of printing, to the rise of Protestantism and the discovery of America—had the ineluctable effect of advancing the principle of equality. Political scientist Samuel Huntington went further and identified several historical waves of democratization. The First Wave began with our own revolution in 1776, which was quickly followed by the French Revolution.

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