India

Around 8 a.m. on February 22, Syrian security forces attempting to prop up the Bashar al Assad regime shelled a makeshift media center in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, killing the American war reporter Marie Colvin and the French photographer Remi Ochlik. Four other journalists who survived the blast, including Colvin’s Irish photographer, Paul Conroy, and French Le Figaro journalist Edith Bouvier, were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for serious shrapnel wounds.

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According to documents taken from his compound and obtained by the Washington Post, Osama bin Laden “commanded his network to organize special cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus.” The documents indicate that bin Laden had a specific person in mind for the job: Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri. According to administration officials, the plan never got very far. But who was Ilyas Kashmiri? A March 2011 report on Sunni militancy in India gives some perspective.

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Form and Fortune

Steve Jobs By Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 627 pp., $35) I. In 2010, Der Spiegel published a glowing profile of Steve Jobs, then at the helm of Apple. Jobs’s products are venerated in Germany, especially by young bohemian types. Recently, the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg presented an exhibition of Apple’s products, with the grandiloquent subtitle “On Electro-Design that Makes History”—a good indication of the country’s infatuation with the company.

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Poverty as Destiny

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityBy Katherine Boo (Random House, 256 pp., $27) Early in Katherine Boo’s unforgettable book, a boy from Annawadi, a Mumbai slum, rushes into his makeshift school, bleeding. The classroom is nothing more than a single room in a neighbor’s hut, but it is the only place he can go for medical attention after being hit by a car. No sooner has the teacher begun treating his wound than his mother surges into the hut, wielding a large piece of scrap metal and screaming: “No car will kill you! No god will save you!

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Not Fade Away

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy.Note: At the State of the Union on January 26, President Barack Obama argued, "Anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about."  According to a Foreign Policy report, the president had read and been influenced by the TNR article below, discussing it at length in an off-the-record meeting on the afternoon of the speech.  I.Is the United States in decline, as so many seem to believe these days? Or are Americans in danger of committing pre-emptive superpower suicide out of a misplaced fear of their own declining power? A great deal depends on the answer to these questions. The present world order—characterized by an unprecedented number of democratic nations; a greater global prosperity, even with the current crisis, than the world has ever known; and a long peace among great powers—reflects American principles and preferences, and was built and preserved by American power in all its political, economic, and military dimensions. If American power declines, this world order will decline with it. It will be replaced by some other kind of order, reflecting the desires and the qualities of other world powers. Or perhaps it will simply collapse, as the European world order collapsed in the first half of the twentieth century. The belief, held by many, that even with diminished American power “the underlying foundations of the liberal international order will survive and thrive,” as the political scientist G. John Ikenberry has argued, is a pleasant illusion. American decline, if it is real, will mean a different world for everyone.But how real is it? Much of the commentary on American decline these days rests on rather loose analysis, on impressions that the United States has lost its way, that it has abandoned the virtues that made it successful in the past, that it lacks the will to address the problems it faces. Americans look at other nations whose economies are now in better shape than their own, and seem to have the dynamism that America once had, and they lament, as in the title of Thomas Friedman’s latest book, that “that used to be us.”

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The idea that immigrants, especially those  highly educated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, can help our economy recover from the recession by creating jobs and contributing to our tax base has gained a lot of momentum. Places like Detroit, Dayton, and Cleveland are actively wooing immigrants to help stem population loss, revitalize neighborhoods, and spur entrepreneurship. It’s happening at the federal level, too. A couple weeks ago, my colleagues blogged about a bill passed by the House that would change the way employment visas are allocated that should reduce t

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This week, Congress took a small step in reforming America’s out-dated immigration system. In H.R.

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Kathmandu—After four prime ministers in four years, Nepal might finally be entering a period of stability. On November 1, Nepalese politicians reached a deal on demobilizing nearly 20,000 Maoist fighters who have been in limbo since a 2006 peace agreement ended the ten year insurgency.

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Two new reports show the impact of the record number of foreign students studying in the United States.  According to the Institute of International Education, more than 723,000 international students attended higher education in the United States during the 2010-2011 academic year, about 3.5 percent of the total higher education enrollment.  While the number of foreign students might tell us something about the attractiveness of U.S. universities, their spending is classified as a U.S.

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At the G20 Summit last week in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy held only four private meetings. One was with Barack Obama and a second was with Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India.

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