“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, July 26, 2015

The summer reading lists at America's most prestigious private schools

Abby Jackson and Peter Jacobs      

Business Insider - Jul. 25, 2015

For many people, the summer months symbolize pleasure reading at its best.  It's a time to indulge in the texts that are most appealing, without scrutiny: an easy beach read, a guilty pleasure, or that book you've always meant to start.  But students at America's most prestigious private schools must still endure the rigors of homework during their summer vacations with a little reading — some required, some merely recommended. The topics of the titles cover issues such as war, sexuality, and racial history.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Satan’s Paradise

Elliot Ross


Barack Obama’s plane will land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport this evening. He will be welcomed on the runway by Jomo Kenyatta’s son, Uhuru, Kenya’s fourth president. Both men were born in 1961, three years after the Embakasi Airport was opened (it was renamed in 1978). The website of the Kenya Airports Authority has a page about the airport’s history. It says that it was ‘constructed in the mid-1950s’ before going into considerably more detail about its World Bank-financed refit in the 1970s. It doesn’t mention that the airport was built with the forced labour of thousands of men during the Mau Mau uprising that began in the early 1950s.
In Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya (2005), Caroline Elkins points out that Britain’s decision to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy based on mass detention dovetailed with the governor Evelyn Baring’s desire to ‘modernise’ the country through large-scale infrastructure projects as a way of deepening and prolonging British rule:
Colonial officials at [Embakasi] were under enormous pressure to complete the airport, a massive project that had a limitless need for labour, before the end of the Emergency. Camp commandants… seemed to consider it their duty to work the convicts to death. Production pressures combined with the pervasive exterminationist attitude toward Mau Mau to create a uniquely perverse environment.
Elkins says that many detainees referred to Embakasi as ‘Satan’s Paradise’. In his memoir, Mau Mau Detainee (1963), Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, the socialist politician assassinated in 1975, wrote:


Rethinking American National Strategy for the 21st Century

"The United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, should continue to take the lead in sustaining and extending a rule based international order."

James Dobbins


Foreign policy and national security seem likely to play a significant role in the 2016 presidential election campaign. Candidates from both parties will probably try to distinguish their approaches from that of the current administration. Recent events, most notably Russian aggression in Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the continued proliferation of other violent extremist groups throughout the Middle East, South Asia and much of Africa have created concern that current American responses are still inadequate. Cyber security, climate change, and the increasing power of China are also growing national preoccupations. While some criticize the Obama administration for weak and indecisive leadership, significant voices on both sides of the political spectrum argue for even greater restraint, lower resource commitments and reduced engagement in addressing at least some of these issues.
Defining national strategy was easier when the country faced a single overarching threat. During the Cold War it was possible to relate almost any endeavor to a genuinely existential competition with the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and disappearance of the Soviet Union, the expansion of Western values and institutions into this space became the initial focus of American policy. In the aftermath of 9/11, the global war on terror became the organizing principle for American engagement with partners and against adversaries in every corner of the world. These oversimplifications led the United States down some costly and unnecessary paths but such easy to grasp rationales nevertheless succeeded in mobilizing domestic and international support for strong action and costly commitments.


Turkey's 200-Year War against 'ISIS'

Can Turkey be at the forefront of the latest battle against the Islamic State?

Selim Koru

National Interest - July 24, 2015

In 1818, Amir Abdullah bin Saud was taken to Istanbul for execution. This was no ordinary prisoner. He was leader of a rebellion that had occupied the two holy cities of Islam for a decade and had dared to declare the Ottoman sultan, Caliph of the Faithful, an unbeliever. Among the various public humiliations before ibn Saud’s execution—since his strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam forbade music—the Ottomans made him listen to the lute. But the cruelest punishments were reserved for the rebels’ religious leaders, some of whom were stuck into the muzzles of cannons and mortars and blown to pieces.
The rebellion clearly struck a nerve with the Ottomans. The rebels belonged to the Salafi tradition of Sunni Islam, meaning that they believed in a literal reading of the earliest Islamic texts. The mainstream Anatolian Sunnis of Turkey on the other hand, belong to the Hanafi-Maturidi tradition, which goes into textual interpretation to attain the true meaning of the Prophet’s teachings. It sprang out of an age of enlightenment, when Islamic civilization reached its zenith in mathematics, medicine, astronomy and the arts. The Ottomans saw themselves as the heirs of Islam’s natural evolution towards a higher civilization. They did not care to be called infidels.


Friday, July 24, 2015

SELFLESS - Trailer - Summer 2015

The Mystery of ISIS

By Anonymous

The New Yorker - August 13, 2015 Issue

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan Regan Arts, 270 pp., $14.00 (paper)
ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger Ecco, 385 pp., $27.99 

The author has wide experience in the Middle East and was formerly an official of a NATO country. We respect the writer’s reasons for anonymity. —The Editors

Ahmad Fadhil was eighteen when his father died in 1984. Photographs suggest that he was relatively short, chubby, and wore large glasses. He wasn’t a particularly poor student—he received a B grade in junior high—but he decided to leave school. There was work in the garment and leather factories in his home city of Zarqa, Jordan, but he chose instead to work in a video store, and earned enough money to pay for some tattoos. He also drank alcohol, took drugs, and got into trouble with the police. So his mother sent him to an Islamic self-help class. This sobered him up and put him on a different path. By the time Ahmad Fadhil died in 2006 he had laid the foundations of an independent Islamic state of eight million people that controlled a territory larger than Jordan itself.
The rise of Ahmad Fadhil—or as he was later known in the jihad, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—and ISIS, the movement of which he was the founder, remains almost inexplicable. The year 2003, in which he began his operations in Iraq, seemed to many part of a mundane and unheroic age of Internet start-ups and a slowly expanding system of global trade. Despite the US-led invasion of Iraq that year, the borders of Syria and Iraq were stable. Secular Arab nationalism appeared to have triumphed over the older forces of tribe and religion. Different religious communities—Yezidis, Shabaks, Christians, Kaka’is, Shias, and Sunnis—continued to live alongside one another, as they had for a millennium or more. Iraqis and Syrians had better incomes, education, health systems, and infrastructure, and an apparently more positive future, than most citizens of the developing world. Who then could have imagined that a movement founded by a man from a video store in provincial Jordan would tear off a third of the territory of Syria and Iraq, shatter all these historical institutions, and—defeating the combined militaries of a dozen of the wealthiest countries on earth—create a mini empire?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Monetary Policy and the Economy

CSPAN - July 15, 2015

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen presented her semiannual report on monetary policy to the House Financial Services Committee. She answered several questions on interest rates, in reply to which she reemphasized reemphasized that interest rates were likely to go up later in the year but would not give a timeline. Other topics included information leaks from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.


Monday, July 20, 2015

3rd ISA Forum of Sociology: THE FUTURES WE WANT: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World

Vienna, Austria, 10-14 July 2016


The Third ISA Forum will be convened in Vienna, Austria, 10-14 July 2016 on the theme “The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World.” This theme encourages a forward-orientation in empirical, theoretical, and normative research to tackle the problems and opportunities that often cut across borders.
Protests around the globe have challenged inequality, oppression, and ecological destruction, and have insisted on the possibility of another, better world. Intensifying uncertainties demand innovations in methods and theories. Tomorrow no longer appears as pre-determined by inevitable trends but as a rather contingent outcome of complex, typically multi-scalar dynamics that vary in their intensity of contentiousness. Social actors aspire, desire, envision, expect, fear, imagine, plan, project, reject, sustain, and wage war over futures. What can sociology contribute to these broader debates? How do assumptions and aspirations about the future influence daily routines and long-term collective lives? How are risks identified, avoided, mitigated, transferred, or shared? What closes and opens the horizons of social imaginaries? How are different forces positioned to shape futures? How can the making of futures be democratized? What can be learned by comparing struggles in different countries and settings? How do emancipatory movements and everyday practices at the grassroots overcome discipline, exploitation, and misrecognition? What visions for alternative futures are imaginable, desirable, and achievable? What are viable roadmaps for social transformation?
This general theme provides a platform for dialog among ISA’s many participating Research Committees (RCs), Working Groups (WGs), and Thematic Groups (TGs). It calls for research on the full range of sociological topics from the tiny worlds of micro situations to the broad macro dynamics affecting the entire planet. It encourages inquiries into the multiplicity of possibilities, projects, and visions. It welcomes diverse approaches, including comparative and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Markus S. Schulz
ISA Vice-President for Research
and Forum President

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2015


Barbara Salazar Torreon 
Analyst in Defense Budget and Military Manpower

This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its Armed Forces  abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime  purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a  rough survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the  given instance noted. The listing often contains references, especially from 1980 forward, to  continuing military deployments, especially U.S. military participation in multinational  operations associated with NATO or the United Nations. Most of these post-1980 instances are  summaries based on presidential reports to Congress related to the War Powers Resolution. A  comprehensive commentary regarding any of the instances listed is not undertaken here.  The instances differ greatly in number of forces, purpose, extent of hostilities, and legal  authorization. Eleven times in its history the United States has formally declared war against  foreign nations. These 11 U.S. war declarations encompassed 5 separate wars: the war with Great  Britain declared in 1812; the war with Mexico declared in 1846; the war with Spain declared in  1898; the First World War, during which the United States declared war with Germany and with  Austria-Hungary during 1917; and World War II, dur ing which the United States declared war  against Japan, Germany, and Italy in 1941, and agai nst Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania in 1942.   Some of the instances were extended military engagements that might be considered undeclared  wars. These include the Undeclared Naval War with France from 1798 to 1800; the First Barbary  War from 1801 to 1805; the Second Barbary War of 1815; the Korean War of 1950-1953; the  Vietnam War from 1964 to 1973; the Persian Gulf War of 1991; global actions against foreign  terrorists after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States; and the war with Iraq in  2003. With the exception of the Korean War, all of these conflicts received congressional  authorization in some form short of a formal declaration of war. Other, more recent instances  often involve deployment of U.S. military forces as part of a multinational operation associated  with NATO or the United Nations.  The majority of the instances listed prior to World War II were brief Marine or Navy actions to  protect U.S. citizens or promote U.S. interests.  A number were actions against pirates or bandits.  Covert actions, disaster relief, and routine alliance stationing and training exercises are not  included here, nor are the Civil and Revolutionary Wars and the continual use of U.S. military  units in the exploration, settlement, and pacification of the western part of the United States.   For additional information, see CRS Report RL31133,  Declarations of War and Authorizations  for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications , by Jennifer K.  Elsea and Matthew C. Weed and CRS Report R41989,  Congressional Authority to Limit Military  Operations , by Jennifer K. Elsea, Michael John Garcia, and Thomas J. Nicola.


Diary By Tariq Ali

London Review of Books
Vol. 37 No. 15 · 30 July 2015

In the early hours of 16 July, the Greek parliament voted overwhelmingly to give up its sovereignty and become a semi-colonial appendage of the EU. A majority of the Syriza Central Committee had already come out against the capitulation. There had been a partial general strike. Tsipras had threatened to resign if fifty of his MPs voted against him. In the event six abstained and 32 voted against him, including Yanis Varoufakis, who had resigned as finance minister after the referendum, because, he said, ‘some Eurogroup participants’ had expressed a desire for his ‘“absence” from its meetings’. Now parliament had effectively declared the result of the referendum null and void. Outside in Syntagma Square thousands of young Syriza activists demonstrated against their government. Then the anarchists arrived with Molotov cocktails and the riot police responded with tear-gas grenades. Everyone else left the square and by midnight it was silent again. It’s difficult not to feel depressed by all this. Greece has been betrayed by a government that when elected only six months ago offered hope. As I walked away from the empty square the EU’s coup brought back memories of another.
I first went to Greece at Easter 1967. The occasion was a peace conference in Athens honouring the left-wing Greek deputy, Grigoris Lambrakis, murdered by fascists in Salonika in 1963 as the police looked on, and later immortalised in Costa-Gavras’s movie Z. Half a million people attended his funeral in Athens. During the conference wild rumours began to spread around the hall. On the podium, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam couldn’t understand why people had stopped listening to him. Someone with family connections in the military had reported that the Greek military, backed by Washington, was about to launch a coup to pre-empt elections in which they feared the left might do a bit too well. The foreign delegates were advised to leave the country straightaway. I caught an early-morning flight back to London. That afternoon tanks occupied the streets. Greece remained under the Colonels for the next seven years.


200 Years of US Military Interventions – Interactive Map

By Jennifer Baker

REVOLUTION NEWS on 07/03/2015 

A recent report by the United States Congressional Research Service details hundreds of overseas military deployments spanning more than two centuries. The scope of and justification for the deployments vary wildly, from conflicts with pirates and bandits to formal declarations of war against an array of sovereign nations.
Explore where, when and why US armed forces have been deployed using our interactive map.
Pirates, raiders and ruffians
Adventurers, brigands, freebooters, privateers, pirates, raiders, ruffians, smugglers and thieves. These terms are all used to describe the wide variety of groups the US military fought in early conflicts.
Pirates were a common enemy on the high seas, as were cross-border raiders preying on outlying US townships and settlements. During the eight years between 1815 and 1823, there were more than 3,000 pirate attacks on “merchantmen” (non-naval vessels) reported, a rate of more than one per day.
There is a gap of more than a century between the final two reported actions against pirates. Conflicts with pirates seem to wind down throughout the 19th century, finishing with US forces destroying the pirate ship Forward in 1870. But modern times have seen a renewal of US naval forces being deployed against pirates, with the report noting a 2012 operation by “Special Operations Forces” to rescue Ms Jessica Buchanan “who had been kidnapped by a group linked to Somali pirates and financiers”.


Stop laughing at Donald Trump

By William H. Frey


William H. Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a population studies professor at the University of Michigan, is the author of “Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America.”
He may not have a shot at becoming president, but Donald Trump has already succeeded in uniting America — one nation, awash in snark. Pundits from the left and the right have declared open season on the Donald. As longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala told The Washington Post, “I am a person of faith — and the Donald’s entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor.” Or, as conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News: “This is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years. You could pick a dozen of them at random and have the strongest Cabinet America’s had in our lifetime, and instead all of our time is spent discussing this rodeo clown.”
But writing Trump off is dangerous. The billionaire may play the buffoon, but he is an important one — one whom Americans appear to adore. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll released Tuesday shows him leading all Republican presidential hopefuls. And while establishment candidates in both parties might want to ignore him, or express a milder version of his anti-immigration opinions, an enormous number of voters clearly like his views. Pretending they don’t allows Trump and other immigration firebrands, such as Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz, to resuscitate a century-old nativism that could stick around beyond this election. Given that the United States is undergoing a demographic diversity explosion, our workforce — our very future — is tied to people Trump is rallying support against.


How to decolonize your yoga practice

Susanna Barkataki

OPEN DEMOCRACY - 13 July 2015

As an Indian woman living in the US I’ve often felt uncomfortable in many yoga spaces. At times, such as when I take a $25.00 yoga class by a well-known teacher who wants to “expose us to the culture by chanting Om to start class“ and her studio hangs the Om symbol in the wrong direction, my culture is being stripped of its meaning and sold back to me in forms that feel humiliating at best and dehumanizing at worst.
It took me going to India to really connect with the roots I was seeking on the mat in yoga studios. As I walked the streets of Shimla’s legendary markets I learned that Indians had been forbidden to tread the main thoroughfares.
It was here that I started to apprehend the true meaning of colonization. Did you know that Yoga and Ayurveda were banned in India under British rule and colonization?
The practices millions of Westerners now turn to for alternative health and wellness therapies were intentionally eradicated from parts of India to the point that lineages were broken and thousand-year old traditions lost.


The Future of Work

According to academic entrepreneur and strategist Heather McGowan, a focus on certainty over creativity is coming at our peril.

By Natalie Nixon
Director of the Strategic Design MBA at Philadelphia University and Principal of Figure 8 Thinking, LLC

INC. - Jul 16, 2015

Last month innovation strategist Heather McGowan gave an interesting talk at the Amplify Festival on "the future of work." I've had the pleasure of working with Heather in the past when launching the Strategic Design MBA program at Philadelphia University. Here, I've captured some of Heather's top of mind on what needs to be in place for the ways we will need to work.
Heather, just to provide some context, what's the impetus of your thoughts on "the future of work"?
The world of work has changed dramatically, and higher education is not prepared and not preparing graduates to navigate. In the last decade I have focused increasingly on the future of work and on how higher education has to prepare workers. I have since advised college/university presidents and corporate leaders on how to prepare for and adjust to these new realities.
So what is the Amplify Festival and how did you come to be part of it?
The Amplify Festival, now in its 10th year, is a weeklong event created and sponsored by AMP Limited, the largest financial service provider in Australia and New Zealand, as a learning event for their employees, but it's also open to the public. Its founder and executive producer Annalie Killian created the Amplify Festival because she believes "in today's rapidly changing world, learning must be part of work."
This year the theme was Rethink Everything. Annalie and her team selected 32 speakers from around the world and chose topics like the future of work, the future of money, and reimagining the economy (videos of the talks can be seen here). I was impressed with how they weaved together topics to offer a synthesis of the shifting landscape of life and work. Annalie approached me to be a speaker after reading some of my blogs. I was selected to synthesize, conceptualize, and visualize the impact of accelerated change on the economy, jobs, skills, and education.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A New Book: Gulf Security and the U.S. Military Regime Survival and the Politics of Basing

Geoffrey F. Gresh

Stanford University Press - 2015

The U.S. military maintains a significant presence across the Arabian Peninsula but it must now confront a new and emerging dynamic as most Gulf Cooperation Council countries have begun to diversify their political, economic, and security partnerships with countries other than the United States—with many turning to ascending powers such as China, Russia, and India. For Gulf Arab monarchies, the choice of security partner is made more complicated by increased domestic and regional instability stemming in part from Iraq, Syria, and a menacing Iran: factors that threaten to alter totally the Gulf's current security dynamic.
Understanding the dynamics of base politicization in a Gulf host nation—or any other—is therefore vitally important for the U.S. today. Gulf National Security and the U.S. Military examines both Gulf Arab national security and U.S. military basing relations with Gulf Arab monarchy hosts from the Second World War to the present day. Three in-depth country cases—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman—help explain the important questions posed by the author regarding when and why a host nation either terminated a U.S. military basing presence or granted U.S. military basing access.
The analysis of the cases offers a fresh perspective on how the United States has adapted to sometimes rapidly shifting regional security dynamics and factors that influence a host nation's preference for eviction or renegotiation, based on its perception of internal versus external threats.

About the author
Geoffrey F. Gresh is an Associate Professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

China Fences In Its Nomads, and an Ancient Life Withers

点击查看本文中文版 Read in Chinese 



MADOI, China — If modern material comforts are the measure of success, then Gere, a 59-year-old former yak-and-sheep herder in China’s western Qinghai Province, should be a happy man.
In the two years since the Chinese government forced him to sell his livestock and move into a squat concrete house here on the windswept Tibetan plateau, Gere and his family have acquired a washing machine, a refrigerator and a color television that beams Mandarin-language historical dramas into their whitewashed living room.
But Gere, who like many Tibetans uses a single name, is filled with regret. Like hundreds of thousands of pastoralists across China who have been relocated into bleak townships over the past decade, he is jobless, deeply indebted and dependent on shrinking government subsidies to buy the milk, meat and wool he once obtained from his flocks.
“We don’t go hungry, but we have lost the life that our ancestors practiced for thousands of years,” he said.
In what amounts to one of the most ambitious attempts made at social engineering, the Chinese government is in the final stages of a 15-year-old campaign to settle the millions of pastoralists who once roamed China’s vast borderlands. By year’s end, Beijing claims it will have moved the remaining 1.2 million herders into towns that provide access to schools, electricity and modern health care.


The Struggle for the Leadership of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Georges Fahmi Article

CARNEGIE - July 14, 2015

A sharp conflict over the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has played out recently. The former members of the Guidance Bureau, the top executive body that formulates the policies of the organization, are jockeying with the new leadership that was elected in February 2014 and has been spearheading the activities of the Brotherhood on the ground since then. The conflict is not a new development—the Brotherhood had managed to contain the dispute for months to avoid harming the cohesion of the organization and the morale of its members on the ground. But the public expression of protracted disagreement is new. It burst into the open in May 2015 after sharp exchanges between the two factions in the media.

A sharp conflict over the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has played out recently. The former members of the Guidance Bureau, the top executive body that formulates the policies of the organization, are jockeying with the new leadership that was elected in February 2014 and has been spearheading the activities of the Brotherhood on the ground since then.
The conflict is not a new development—the Brotherhood had managed to contain the dispute for months to avoid harming the cohesion of the organization and the morale of its members on the ground. But the public expression of protracted disagreement is new. It burst into the open in May 2015 after sharp exchanges between the two factions in the media.

Read more at: http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/07/14/struggle-for-leadership-of-egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood/idbr
A sharp conflict over the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has played out recently. The former members of the Guidance Bureau, the top executive body that formulates the policies of the organization, are jockeying with the new leadership that was elected in February 2014 and has been spearheading the activities of the Brotherhood on the ground since then.
The conflict is not a new development—the Brotherhood had managed to contain the dispute for months to avoid harming the cohesion of the organization and the morale of its members on the ground. But the public expression of protracted disagreement is new. It burst into the open in May 2015 after sharp exchanges between the two factions in the media.

Read more at: http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/07/14/struggle-for-leadership-of-egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood/idbr

Panama Canal Expansion to Boost China-LatAm Infrastructure Cooperation: Chinese Official

Xinhua - July 15, 2015

PANAMA CITY, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The expansion project of the Panama Canal will create more opportunities for the cooperation on infrastructure between China and Latin America, a Chinese official said Monday.
The canal, which was built 101 years ago, is undergoing an expansion project of 5 billion U.S. dollars to allow larger modern vessels to go through.
Upon its completion in 2016, the canal will be able to accommodate so-called Post-Panamax ships that are larger than Panamax ships, which is important for trade between the Americas and Asia.
A Panamax ship, determined principally by the dimensions of the canal's lock chambers, is no more than 300 meters long, no more than 33 meters wide and has a draft no more than 12 meters deep.
Ports in the Caribbean countries and other Atlantic coastal nations will therefore need to update their facilities to receive bigger vessels, which will provide new opportunities of construction projects for Chinese companies, said Wang Jian, deputy representative of the Chinese Commercial Development Bureau in Panama.


First unmanned factory takes shape in Dongguan City

People's Daily Online - July 15, 2015

The first unmanned factory in Dongguan, a city of southeastern China's Guangdong province, lays out a vision of future manufacturing: all the processes are operated by computer-controlled robots, computer numerical control machining equipment, unmanned transport trucks and automated warehouse equipment. The technical staff just sits at the computer and monitors through a central control system.
At the workshop of Changying Precision Technology Company in Dongguan, known as the "world factory", which manufactures cell phone modules, 60 robot arms at 10 production lines are polishing the modules day and night. Each line has an automatic belt and three workers who are just responsible for checking lines and monitoring.
A few months ago, it required 650 workers to finish this process. A robot arm can replace six to eight workers, now there are 60 workers and the number will be reduced to 20 in the future, according to Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company.
This is the first step of the "robot replace human" program. In the next two years the number of robots will be increased to 1,000 and 80 percent process will be conducted by robots, said Chen Qixing, president of the company.


Comprehensive Chinese military buildup

by Richard Weitz

The recent Pentagon reports on Chinese military power do not confirm any radical changes or breakthroughs in Chinese military capabilities during the past few years but do suggest a comprehensive Chinese military buildup that should propel China to great power status in a few decades regardless of its leaders’ intentions
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to operate at ever-greater distances from Chinese territory, including for supporting global peace and security missions as well as for more unilateral coercive activities. China remains the leading contributor of the five permanent members of the Security Council to UN peacekeeping missions. In addition, the PLA Navy continues to assign ships to the Gulf of Aden fighting the sea pirates that operate from bases in Somalia. Meanwhile, Chinese warships can increasingly be found patrolling in the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas. The Chinese armed forces are also engaging in larger and more complex exercises.
U.S. officials are not concerned about of any single Chinese weapon system or exercise, but by the comprehensive and sustained nature of China’s military buildup, which is having “destabilizing” effect in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, the sheer magnitude of China’s missile buildup continued to impress, especially its concentration near Taiwan at a time when cross-strait tensions remain low. The military balance continues its inexorable shift against Taipei, with little prospect of any development that might reverse this trend given China’s advantages in size and proximity. Although the U.S. military prepares to defend Taiwan if ordered by the White House, the PLA’s ballistic missiles, cyber capabilities, and other instruments of deterrence and disruption are giving the PLA formidable anti-access, area-denial (A2AD) capabilities against the Pentagon.

Iran deal is a step toward reimagining the Middle East

By Stephen Kinzer

Boston Globe - July 14, 2015

Pieces on the global chessboard are not nailed permanently into place. With Iran, as recently with Cuba, President Obama has proven that world leaders can move the pieces when it is in their interest. This will be his greatest foreign policy legacy.

The newly announced accord between Iran and six outside powers deals only with the nation’s nuclear program. Its true meaning, though, is far greater. It is a step toward reimagining the Middle East and America’s role there.

Hostility between the United States and Iran is a 36-year-old institution in global politics. Poisoned relationships like these fall into patterns that are amazingly difficult to break. Anger takes on a momentum of its own. Each party looks for new reasons to detest the other. This is the spiral Obama now seeks to break.
The central achievement of this new accord, at least from the US perspective, it that it all but guarantees Iran will not develop nuclear weapons. This is a strategic breakthrough for which Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry deserve great credit. Unless the accord falls apart, they have removed a profoundly destabilizing factor from Middle East politics.


Poetry and Politics in Iran

By Neima Jahromi

The New Yorker - July 14, 2015

In 1965, after a trip through China and Japan, the Iranian modernist Sohrab Sepehri found his voice. It could be heard in a new poem he had written, called “The Sound of Water’s Footsteps.” Sepehri puzzles over his identity as a writer, as a Muslim, as a widely travelled painter, and as a man from Kashan, where, in the seventh century, according to legend, Arab invaders intent on spreading Islam subdued the poet’s home town by throwing scorpions over the walls. Sepehri muses on the space race and “the idea of smelling a flower on another planet,” and he writes in free verse, inspired by Nima Yushij, a kind of Ezra Pound figure in the history of modern Persian poetry, who was inspired by the poetic notions of French Symbolists. Reflecting on a country with centuries of bumpy foreign contact, he draws out figures of confusion and displacement:

I saw a book with words made of crystal.
I saw a sheet of paper made of spring.
I saw a museum far from grass,
A mosque far from water.

Sepehri’s poem spoke to the alienation that many Iranians felt in the nineteen-sixties, as technology, literature, film, and imperial encroachments brought ideas from distant cultures to bear on the country’s traditions. Alienation eventually gave way to resentment and distress. Many people—poets, mullahs, and political dissidents among them—lamented what they saw as Iran’s increasing economic and cultural dependence on foreign powers.