September 26, 2010

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China plays by its own currency rules

Facing possibly "the biggest bubble in the history of finance", the Chinese government can forestall a domestic crisis only by raising interest rates, rather than aggravating risk through a hike in the value of its currency. Least of all will Beijing revalue the yuan under outside pressure, and the process must be non-transparent to deter influxes of speculative money. Washington just doesn't get it. - Peter Lee (Sep 24, '10)
Kyrgyzstan's Rosa at the heart of the matter
President Barack Obama's decision to hold a meeting with Kyrgyz President Rosa Otunbayeva, whose country has a mere 5 million people, reflects Kyrgyzstan's strategic location at the heart of Central Asia - and more. The meeting immediately follows a major rebuff for Russia in the region and signals how crucial Kyrgyzstan is now for US foreign policy. - M K Bhadrakumar (Sep 24, '10)

THE ROVING EYE
It's Obama vs infinite war
The key - one may say tragic - point of Bob Woodward’s latest court opus Obama's Wars is that the United States president not only cannot end the Afghan war, he cannot even downscale it without incurring blowback. Even if Barack Obama is seriously betting on his exit strategy, the Pentagon wants infinite war. The corporate media-orchestrated narrative will never tell us why. - Pepe Escobar (Sep 24, '10)

Cambodia's courts deal blow to opposition
A 10-year sentence for Cambodia's principal opposition leader Sam Rainsy over charges he fabricated maps showing Vietnamese encroachment onto Cambodian soil has raised questions over the ruling Cambodian People's Party's influence on the courts. All the same, the effective elimination of Rainsy from the political scene removes a last obstacle to the CPP running the country as it sees fit. - Irwin Loy (Sep 24, '10)

US and Iran fire salvos at the UN
It is perfectly possible for Tehran and Washington to engage simultaneously in dialogue and hostility, given that a huge divide on regional and global issues coexists with mutual concerns, such as drug-trafficking from Afghanistan. But Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's opening a can of worms at the United Nations may make it harder for the White House to attempt a fresh round of dialogue. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Sep 24, '10)

BOOK REVIEW
Humanist manifesto
Barack Obama and Twenty-First Century Politics
by Horace Campbell

Seeing a revolutionary potential in the societal forces that galvanized to make President Barack Obama's rise possible, this study examines the evolution of Obama's attempt to build a "non-racial democracy" before it eventually succumbed to the pressure of financial barons and "securocrats". Capturing the transformative nature of the movement as well as the man, this book's universal message makes it a rarity among presidential literature. - Sreeram Chaulia (Sep 24, '10)



DISPATCHES FROM AMERICA
Why the troops are coming home
United States leaders are trapped inside an old global paradigm. But as an imperial power in decline, the "global military presence" will crumble and US troops will start coming home to ordinary Americans who already think it's more important to mind their own business. In the not so very distant future, it won't be America's job to "police" the world. That'll be a relief - Tom Engelhardt (Sep 23, '10)

Microscopic hope for US-China space ties
A successful trip by two young American researchers to scour Shanghai for tardigrades, tiny animals also known as "water bears" that uniquely can survive the vacuum of space, has shown the potential of the United States and China in putting aside suspicions to collaborate in solving space's many mysteries. - Peter J Brown (Sep 23, '10)

A test for Obama's Middle East neutrality
The "neutral broker" image of United States President Barack Obama's stance toward the Israeli-Palestine conflict faces its litmus test amid frantic diplomacy to stop the expiry of Israel's moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank from derailing direct talks. For Obama, failure over the settlements issue would be a humiliating outcome. - Sreeram Chaulia (Sep 23, '10)

Iranian president guns for foreign minister
Diplomats at this week's United Nations meeting in New York shouldn't be too surprised to spot differences emerge between Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Manouchehr Mottaki, his foreign minister. A bitter personal dispute between the pair is heating up over Ahmadinejad's bypassing of Mottaki with the appointment of special envoys for key areas of foreign policy. - Mehdi Jedinia (Sep 23, '10)

Adventure of the talking newspaper
Two leading Indian newspapers made history this week with editions that featured a talking advertisement for a motorcar. Millions of readers were startled - and many frightened - by the unexpected gimmick, which took six months of working logistics to perfect. - Raja Murthy (Sep 23, '10)