“It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.”

― Edward W. Said

"A developing country that wants to develop its economy must first of all keep natural resources in its own hands."
- Deng Xiaoping

Sunday, June 30, 2013

McDonald’s closing all restaurants in Bolivia as nation rejects fast food

by Lance Devon 

Underground Health - June 19, 2013

(NaturalNews) McDonald’s happy image and its golden arches aren’t the gateway to bliss in Bolivia. This South American country isn’t falling for the barrage of advertising and fast food cooking methods that so easily engulf countries like the United States.

Bolivians simply don’t trust food prepared in such little time. The quick and easy, mass production method of fast food actually turns Bolivians off altogether. Sixty percent of Bolivians are an indigenous population who generally don’t find it worth their health or money to step foot in a McDonald’s. Despite its economically friendly fast food prices, McDonald’s couldn’t coax enough of the indigenous population of Bolivia to eat their BigMacs, McNuggets or McRibs.

One indigenous woman, Esther Choque, waiting for a bus to arrive outside a McDonald’s restaurant, said, “The closest I ever came was one day when a rain shower fell and I climbed the steps to keep dry by the door. Then they came out and shooed me away. They said I was dirtying the place. Why would I care if McDonald’s leaves [Bolivia]?”

Fast food chain remained for a decade, despite losses every year

The eight remaining McDonald’s fast food shops that stuck it out in the Bolivian city’s of La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, had reportedly operated on losses every year for a decade. The McDonald’s franchise had been persistent over that time, flexing its franchise’s deep pockets to continue business in Bolivia.

To read more.....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Trouble in Paradise Slavoj Žižek on the protests in Turkey and Greece

London Review of Books - June 28, 2013

In his early writings, Marx described the German situation as one in which the only answer to particular problems was the universal solution:  global revolution. This is a succinct expression of the difference between a reformist and a revolutionary period: in a reformist period, global revolution remains a dream which, if it does anything, merely lends weight to attempts to change things locally; in a revolutionary period, it becomes clear that nothing will improve without radical global change. In this purely formal sense, 1990 was a revolutionary year: it was plain that partial reforms of the Communist states would not do the job and that a total break was needed to resolve even such everyday problems as making sure there was enough for people to eat.

Where do we stand today with respect to this difference? Are the problems and protests of the last few years signs of an approaching global crisis, or are they just minor obstacles that can be dealt with by means of local interventions? The most remarkable thing about the eruptions is that they are taking place not only, or even primarily, at the weak points in the system, but in places which were until now perceived as success stories. We know why people are protesting in Greece or Spain; but why is there trouble in such prosperous or fast-developing countries as Turkey, Sweden or Brazil? With hindsight, we might see the Khomeini revolution of 1979 as the original ‘trouble in paradise’, given that it happened in a country that was on the fast-track of pro-Western modernisation, and the West’s staunchest ally in the region. Maybe there is something wrong with our notion of paradise.

Before the current wave of protests, Turkey was hot: the very model of a state able to combine a thriving liberal economy with moderate Islamism, fit for Europe, a welcome contrast to the more ‘European’ Greece, caught in an ideological quagmire and bent on economic self-destruction. True, there were ominous signs here and there (Turkey’s denial of the Armenian holocaust; the arrests of journalists; the unresolved status of the Kurds; calls for a greater Turkey which would resuscitate the tradition of the Ottoman Empire; the occasional imposition of religious laws), but these were dismissed as small stains that should not be allowed to taint the overall picture.

To read more.....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Egypt's Mohamed Morsi: I have made mistakes

President pledges radical reforms to state institutions, but also denounces 'enemies of Egypt' for sabotaging democratic system 

The Guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 26 June 2013

The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has admitted making mistakes in his first year in office.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Morsi pledged to introduce "radical and quick" reforms in state institutions, admitting some of his goals had not been achieved.
"Today, I present an audit of my first year, with full transparency, along with a road map. Some things were achieved and others not," he said. "I have made mistakes on a number of issues."
But the president also blamed unspecified "enemies of Egypt" for sabotaging the democratic system and warned that the polarised state of the country's politics was threatening to plunge it into chaos.
His speech came before a planned mass demonstration this weekend by his opponents who are demanding that the president resigns and calls an early election.

To read more....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Really Wrong with the Middle East?

Explaining the persistence of violence, sectarianism, and incompetence.


Foreign Policy | JUNE 25, 2013

The Middle East really doesn't need any more bad news.

Still, it's official. The region now has its own disease: a dangerous virus called MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome -- perhaps related to the SARS virus, but apparently deadlier.
This sad news started me thinking (again) about the sad state of the region. There are some bright spots -- or at least some spots that are not as dark. Tunisia seems to be making a relatively stable transition without paralytic violence and incompetent governance. And there's a younger generation of Arabs and Muslims who seem bent on freeing themselves from the old ways, demanding not only personal freedom but dignity, too. I'm reminded of Howard Beale's famous rant in Network: They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore.

Nevertheless, much of the region looks bad: violence in Iraq; civil war in Syria and violent spillover into Lebanon; growing popular despair in Egypt; repression in Bahrain; lack of central authority in Libya; and an impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Even in Turkey, the wonder state, things have become unhinged.

To read more......

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Turkey, alcohol and Islam

By Sami Zubaida

Open Democracy - 24 June 2013

The current protests in Turkey are sparked by the increasingly authoritarian measures by the AKP government and its prime minister Tayip Erdogan. Part of it is the perceived creeping Islamisation of public life, notably the measures to prohibit the sale and serving of alcoholic drinks between 10 pm and 6am, effectively restricting night life and entertainment, which will hit hardest in Istanbul’s Beyoglu and similar districts of bars, restaurants and music venues. This is seen as an assault on the life style of many Istanbulus, especially the young. This reminds us of the iconic significance of alcohol in socio-cultural and ideological boundaries throughout Muslim history, and especially in Turkey since the nineteenth century reforms.
Now, after a decade of electoral success and economic growth, governing without a coalition, the army neutralised, in control of the media, the judiciary and the police, Erdogan feels free to move on this crucial symbolic issue of alcohol and its venues.

The mention of wine, khamr, in the Quran is various. It is clear that wine, made from fermented dates or grape, was commonly known and drunk in the Arabian milieu of early Islam. Earlier verses in the Quran praise the benefits of wine, and wine is promised to the pious in paradise. But the consensus of opinion considers later verses which were against wine to have overruled the earlier ones. The decisive verse:

To read more......

China Analysis: The reform of China’s defence economy

by François Godement

European Council on Foreign Relations - 17 Jun 13

China’s growing defence budget is a symbol for China’s military rise. However, little is known about the state of China’s defence sector. Beijing is not only developing its own military-industrial complex, the country is also struggling with the reform of its defence sector.

The latest issue of China Analysis - The reform of China's defence economy - shows that China’s defence sector is changing: New management reforms are being introduced, there are serious attempts to improve civil-military integration and there are debates about how the defence sector can become more innovative.

To

Challenging Casino Capitalism and Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Disposability

By Henry A Giroux

Truthout - Monday, 24 June 2013

There is by now an overwhelming catalogue of evidence revealing the depth and breadth of the corporate- and state-sponsored assaults being waged against democracy in the United States. Indeed, it appears that the nation has entered a new and more ruthless historical era, marked by a growing disinvestment in the social state, public institutions, and civic morality. The attack on the social state is of particular importance because it represents an attempt to shift social protections to the responsibility of individuals while at the same time privatizing investments in the public good and undermining the bonds of communal solidarity. The renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman makes this clear in his definition and defense of the social state:

To read more.....

Sheikh Tamim succeeds father Sheikh Hamad as Emir of Qatar

Doha News - June 25, 2013

Qatar is buzzing today over former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s move to hand power over to his fourth son, Sheikh Tamim. Sheikh Hamad made his abdication official in remarks broadcast this morning at 8am, and today has been declared a state holiday. 

Chinese, U.S. factories struggle, Europe still in slump

By Jonathan Cable and Steven C. Johnson

Reuters - Thu, Jun 20 2013

Factory output in China weakened to a nine-month low in June while U.S. manufacturing closed out its worst quarter in the last four, suggesting the road to recovery for the world economy remained an uneven one.

A day earlier, the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy was expanding strongly enough for the central bank to begin slowing the pace of its stimulative bond purchases later this year.

Other major economies are lagging America's, however, which could limit the strength of global growth. China, the world's second largest economy, grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012 and incoming data this year has been weaker than expected.

That's evident in the country's large manufacturing sector, which, according to the flash HSBC Purchasing Managers Index, contracted again in June as demand fell.

"A slowdown in the Chinese economy doesn't help the outlook for the U.S. particularly, but American growth isn't entirely dependent on what happens in China," said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec.

To read more......

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Decline and fall: how American society unravelled

Thirty years ago, the old deal that held US society together started to unwind, with social cohesion sacrificed to greed. Was it an inevitable process – or was it engineered by self-interested elites?       

By George Packer    

The Guardian, Wednesday 19 June 2013

In or around 1978, America's character changed. For almost half a century, the United States had been a relatively egalitarian, secure, middle-class democracy, with structures in place that supported the aspirations of ordinary people. You might call it the period of the Roosevelt Republic. Wars, strikes, racial tensions and youth rebellion all roiled national life, but a basic deal among Americans still held, in belief if not always in fact: work hard, follow the rules, educate your children, and you will be rewarded, not just with a decent life and the prospect of a better one for your kids, but with recognition from society, a place at the table.

This unwritten contract came with a series of riders and clauses that left large numbers of Americans – black people and other minorities, women, gay people – out, or only halfway in. But the country had the tools to correct its own flaws, and it used them: healthy democratic institutions such as Congress, courts, churches, schools, news organisations, business-labour partnerships. The civil rights movement of the 1960s was a nonviolent mass uprising led by black southerners, but it drew essential support from all of these institutions, which recognised the moral and legal justice of its claims, or, at the very least, the need for social peace. The Roosevelt Republic had plenty of injustice, but it also had the power of self-correction.

To read more......

What Stories Do Turkey’s Protests Tell?

I was in London working on a novel a few weeks ago when I heard from a friend in Istanbul that he was on his way to Gezi Park. “To guard the sycamores,” he said, laughter in his voice. “We will camp by the trees and make sure the bulldozers don’t hurt them.”

Wishing him luck, suspecting nothing, I returned to my story of a young Indian elephant driver, an outsider, finding his way through 16th-century Istanbul. All day long, I remained in the past, unaware of what was happening in my home city as police raided Gezi Park, dousing peaceful protesters with water cannons and tear gas. Tents were set on fire. Unarmed young people were subjected to violence.

Reforming China’s State-Owned Enterprises

By Eve Cary

The Diplomat - June 19, 2013

Although it faces strong resistance, reforms will be vital if the Chinese economy is to continue to evolve.

China’s huge apparatus of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is a popular punching bag: economists decry its inefficiencies; foreign politicians complain about unfair competition; and many Chinese citizens criticize public displays of waste, like elaborate banquets. The Chinese government would counter that they provide a foundation for the economy as a whole.

As China’s economy evolves (and it does, albeit slowly at times), the clamor for SOE reform grows louder from all sides. What is the potential for reform? How damaging are SOEs to the Chinese economy? On the flip side, how have SOEs strengthened the system?

But first, a little background. According to Xinhua, at the end of 2011, there were 144,700 state-owned enterprises with total assets of 85.4 trillion yuan, revenues of 39.25 trillion yuan, and profits of 2.6 trillion yuan (43 percent of China’s total industrial and business profit).

To read more.....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Brazil's protests raise fears for World Cup as a million take to the streets

Football becomes focus of furious outcry against corruption, police brutality, dire public services, high prices and street crime     

By Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro    

The Guardian, Friday 21 June 2013

Football supporters fleeing rubber bullets, roads into stadiums blocked by angry crowds, mobs throwing stones at Fifa offices, Confederations Cup placards being ripped down and burned in the midst of mass protests.
These are unlikely scenes in a football-mad country and the last thing organisers of the World Cup wanted to see in Brazil before next year's tournament, but for the past week they have become an almost daily occurrence as the country's favourite sport has become the focus of the biggest demonstrations in decades.
In a speech broadcast nationally on Friday night the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, said she accepted the need for change but warned that violence would not be tolerated and appealed to protesters not to endanger the World Cup.
More than a million people took to the streets on Thursday night in at least 80 cities in a rising wave of protest that has coincided with the Confederations Cup. This Fifa event was supposed to be a dry run for players and organisers before next year's finals, but it is police and protesters who are getting the most practice.
The host cities have been the focus of furious demonstrations, prompting local authorities to request security reinforcements from the national government.

To read more.....

A New Documentary: Dirty Wars Official Trailer

A New Docuemntary: Dirty Wars Official Trailer

How Giving Spying Power to Giant Corporations Is Dangerous to Your Future

After two decades of downsizing government, we shouldn't be surprised that corporate spooks are surveilling us.

By Joshua Holland

Alternet - June 19, 2013  
Whether one views Edward Snowden as a hero or a villain, perhaps we could all agree that if the government is to keep secrets, a 29-year-old private contractor with a soft spot for Ron Paul shouldn't have access to a treasure trove of its most sensitive information. 
Of course, that assumes that there still exists a bright line between government and the private sector. But that's become an antiquated notion after two decades of ideologically driven outsourcing of what were once considered core government functions. As a result of that effort, there are now a million potential Edward Snowdons – or, more precisely, 483,263 contractors with top-secret clearances, according to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence – any of whom could slip out with sensitive data on a thumb drive if they have a personal or ideological axe to grind.  

To read more....

Xi Jinping’s Decade And The Future Of Sino-American Relations – Analysis


Eurasia Review - June 22, 2013 
A recent Heritage report says that America’s total debt has reached $17 trillion that means $53,769 on the head of every citizen. It is eating up $11,000 from the income of every American family – eliminating opportunities for career advancement, paralyzing job creation, lowering wages and salaries and according to President Obama’s former Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, it is the biggest threat to security.

In 2012, United States imported $425.6 billion, in goods from China that is about one third of China’s total exports. However, total exports to China from United States in 2012 were just $110.6 billion. According to Ian Bremmer, a terrific American political analyst, “United States now borrows about $ 4 billion per day, nearly half of that from China”. China, on the other hand has begun to express its anxiety about the safety of its assets and U.S.’s ability to pay back its debt. China holds some $1.2 trillion worth of U.S. Treasury debt, about 8 percent of the total outstanding.

A country that was one of the poorest in world has become a lender to world’s wealthiest and most powerful country in just a period of 30 years.

To read more....

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Shocking Amount of Wealth and Power Held by 0.001% of the World Population

The level of inequality around the world is truly staggering.

By Andrew Gavin Marshall

Alternet - June 12, 2013

Many now know the rhetoric of the 1% very well: the imagery of a small elite owning most of the wealth while the 99% take the table scraps. 

In 2006,  a UN report revealed that the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth, with those in the financial and internet sectors comprising the “super rich.” More than a third of the world’s super-rich live in the U.S., with roughly 27% in Japan, 6% in the U.K., and 5% in France. The world’s richest 10% accounted for roughly 85% of the planet's total assets, while the bottom half of the population – more than 3 billion people – owned less than 1% of the world’s wealth.

Looking specifically at the United States, the top 1% own more than 36% of the national wealth and more than the combined wealth of the bottom 95%. Almost all of the wealth gains over the previous decade went to the top 1%. In the mid-1970s, the top 1% earned 8% of all national income; this number rose to 21% by 2010. At the highest sliver at the top, the 400 wealthiest individuals in America have more wealth than the bottom 150 million.

To read more.....

Global Power Project Part 1: Exposing the Transnational Capitalist Class

Andrew Gavin Marshall 

Nation of Change - June 14, 2014

The Global Power Project, an investigative series produced by Occupy.com, aims to identify and connect the worldwide institutions and individuals who comprise today's global power oligarchy. By studying the relationships and varying levels of leadership that govern our planet's most influential institutions — from banks, corporations and financial institutions to think tanks, foundations and universities — this project seeks to expose the complex, highly integrated network of influence wielded by relatively few individuals on a national and transnational basis. This is not a study of wealth, but a study of power.

Many now know the rhetoric of the 1% very well: the imagery of a small elite owning most of the wealth while the 99% take the table scraps. This rhetoric and imagery was made popular by the growth of the Occupy movement, so it seems appropriate that a project of Occupy.com should expand on this understanding and bring the activities of the global elite further to light.

In 2006, a UN report revealed that the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth, with those in the financial and internet sectors comprising the “super rich.” More than a third of the world’s super-rich live in the U.S., with roughly 27% in Japan, 6% in the U.K., and 5% in France. The world’s richest 10% accounted for roughly 85% of the planet's total assets, while the bottom half of the population – more than 3 billion people – owned less than 1% of the world’s wealth.

To read more....

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yes, Iran Has Reform Candidates and Engaged Citizens

Signs of promise in the Islamic Republic, ahead of Friday's elections. 

By Shervin Malekzadeh

The Atlantic - Jun 12 2013

Iranians return to the polls this Friday to elect a new president, and this year's voter turnout drive by state media has been noticeably more urgent than in years past. Days begin and end with reminders on TV and radio that voting is a national duty, that with each election the people of Iran strike a blow against the doshman, the enemy, by again showing the Americans that Iranians remain committed to their revolution and to the Islamic Republic. In a campaign season marked by the expressed disinclination of many Iranians to care about -- much less vote for -- the next president, the regime has become understandably anxious that citizens, especially the youth, will not participate.

But a rally held Saturday by reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani at Shahid Shiroodi, a sprawling sports complex, suggests that a shift in the electorate's mood is underway, or at least a moderate-sized swell, and the youth are becoming more energized.

Flanked by banners of wrestling heroes and triumphs past and present, they quickly filled the arena to capacity with some 5,000 people standing cheek to jowl in the sweltering gymnasium, with many more waiting outside. Many of the attendees arrived festooned in purple, the official color of the Rouhani campaign: Purple signs and polo shirts, purple ribbons wrapped around wrists and fingers; in the women's section one lady stood wrapped in a purple hijab.

To read more....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

US Foreign Policy and Human Rights

Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Book)

Promoting Human Rights: Is U.S. Consistency Desirable or Possible?

Human Rights in U.S. Foreign Policy: Retrospect and Prospect

Human Rights, the National Interest, and U. S. Foreign Policy

What Price Principle? - U.S. Policy on Human Rights

Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy (Book)

US Foreign Policy

Donnelly, Jack. 2012. International Human Rights. Westview Press.

Bricmont, Jean.  2006. Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. Montly Review Press.

Judith Blau and Mark Frezzo, 2011. Sociology and Human Rights: A Bill of Rights for the Twenty-First Century

RESOURCE BOOK: Hayden, Patrick. 1999. Philosophy of Human Rights: Readings in Context. Paragon House.

U.S. Relations with China (1949 - Present) - Council on Foreign Relations

U.S. Relations with China (1949 - Present) Timeline

Qatar preparing for leadership transition

Qatar is preparing to launch a leadership transition this summer that will see the emir relinquish power to his son, and his cousin, the owner of Harrods, step down as prime minister.

By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent 

The Telegraph - 09 Jun 2013

Senior figures in Qatar have briefed foreign counterparts that the time has come for Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, the 33-year-old crown prince to take over the leadership of the gas-rich Gulf state, the Daily Telegraph has learned.
The succession plan, which is due to be launched by the end of the month, will see Hamad bin Jassim, the prime minister and one of the biggest investors in Britain, give up his post.
Within weeks of that decision the royal court will announce that the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, who has struggled with health problems, will cede powers to the Sandhurst-educated crown prince.
A prominent British visitor to the gas-rich Gulf state was told of the plans earlier this year and sources said other key states, including the US and Iran, have also been briefed about the succession.

To read more.....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sectarianism and the Politics of the New Middle East

F. Gregory Gause

Brookings | June 8, 2013

With fighting raging in Syria, spill-over effects becoming more apparent in Lebanon, violence increasing in Iraq, tensions simmering in Bahrain and clerical politicians like Hassan Nasrallah and Yusif al-Qaradawi launching calls for war, it is no surprise that sectarianism is the lens through which most outsiders are viewing events in the Middle East. Even the New York Times thinks so, so it must be true.

There is no denying that sectarianism is a real factor in the politics of all these places, and more places, in the region. But it is important to recognize the political context in which sectarianism becomes prominent in a country’s politics and to realize that neither sectarian conflict nor sectarian political alliances are immutable. While religious identities are extremely important and powerful elements of how people define themselves politically, they are neither always dominant nor do they always mean the same thing. The contemporary political context is more important for understanding how sectarianism plays into modern conflicts than is the history of the first Islamic century.

To read more....

Friday, June 7, 2013

World’s Muslim population more widespread than you might think

By Drew DeSilver

Pew Research Center - June 7, 2013

An estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are Muslims, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity, according to the December 2012 Global Religious Landscape report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Although many people, especially in the United States, may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East or North Africa, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pew Research analysis. In fact, more Muslims live in India and Pakistan (344 million combined) than in the entire Middle East-North Africa region (317 million).

However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest concentration Muslims of any region of the world: 93% of its approximately 341 million inhabitants are Muslim, compared with 30% in sub-Saharan Africa and 24% in the Asia-Pacific region.

Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world. The country with the largest number (about 209 million) is Indonesia, where 87.2% of the population identifies as Muslim. India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population in raw numbers (roughly 176 million) though Muslims make up just 14.4% of India’s total population.

To read more.....

Creating a New Class of Keynesian Villain

By Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co. | Op-Ed

Counterpunch -  Thursday, 06 June 2013

Ken Rogoff, the Harvard economist whose work with Carmen Reinhart has played a central role in the debate about austerity policies, recently wrote a syndicated column that is structured as an argument against Those Who: those who believe that Europe's problems result solely from excessive austerity, and would all be solved with a bit of Keynesianism. It might help if he would name names, otherwise people might imagine that he's talking about, say, the economist Martin Wolf or me. But he can't be, can he? Because neither of us — nor, for that matter, anyone else I can think of — is making that argument.

Everyone with a bit of sense has argued all along that Europe has a big problem resulting from its single currency: Countries on the periphery of the euro zone experienced a sharp rise in relative costs and prices during the boom years, and the process of correcting that overvaluation through "internal devaluation" has been extremely difficult and painful.

To read more.....

China Can’t Be Contained; It Has to Be Accommodated

by John Cassidy

The New Yorker - June 6, 2013

At the start of the twentieth century, Britain, the superpower of the time, was faced with a strategic dilemma: what to do about a newly unified and nationalist Germany, which was rising fast economically and building up its military. One school of thought held that Germany could be accommodated within the existing international system; the other argument was that it needed to be confronted and contained. The hawks won out. During the Boer War, London threatened to blockade the German coast if Berlin intervened in favor of the Dutch settlers in South Africa. There followed a big arms race, as Germany, which had already been strengthening its marine capabilities, rushed to catch up with the Royal Navy, and Britain responded by constructing the dreadnoughts, a deadly family of steam-powered battleships. In 1907, Britain joined France and Russia in an alliance—the Triple Entente—against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

We all know how the story ended: a devastating, continent-wide conflict that lasted more than four years, killed over nine million combatants, and facilitated the rise of Communism and Fascism. And one of the worst things about the First World War was that it could quite possibly have been avoided. Although the rise of Wilhelmine Germany represented a dangerous challenge to the balance of power in Europe, neither side wanted a full-scale confrontation. In 1914, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, the European powers blundered into war because of decisions they had made, and commitments they had taken on, during the years of heightening rivalry.

To read more......

China's economy might be No 1 in 2030


By Andrew Moody and Lv Chang

BEIJING, June 7 (Xinhuanet) -- China's economy will become twice as big as that of the United States and larger than both the US and the EU combined within just 17 years, according to one of China's leading economists.
Hu Angang, dean of the Institute for Contemporary China Studies, one of China's leading think tanks, makes the prediction in his new book, China 2030.
The book, already out in Chinese and to be published in English next month, is likely to attract major interest around the world.
His forecast - which also sees China becoming the biggest economy by 2020 - is the boldest and most optimistic prediction yet about China's economic future.
It also comes at a time when there are concerns about China's short-term prospects with GDP growth slower than expected in the first quarter at 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in the final quarter of last year.

To read more.....