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Showing posts from October, 2012

Is Separatism A Threat To Europe?

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At the risk of being thrown from the ramparts of Edinburgh castle, fed to the lions of Antwerp zoo or drowned in Barcelona harbour, let me venture this thought: separatism is an exaggerated threat to the European state system.
The UK, Belgium, Spain and other countries that contain restive national minorities and regions are not about to disappear in a puff of smoke.
The conventional wisdom is that Europe’s debt crisis is fuelling independence movements in places such as Scotland, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Flanders and Italy’s German-speaking Alto Adige (South Tyrol). It is striking that all these places are in the north of their respective countries and, Scotland excepted, are more prosperous than regions to the south. The Catalans, Flemish and South Tyroleans are said to resent paying high taxes to support their less well-off and allegedly corrupt and idle compatriots in Andalusia, Wallonia and Calabria.
There is clearly something to this argument, but it glosses …

Obama's China Policy Is a Massive Failure

ByAaron Friedberg President Barack Obama came into office believing he could achieve a marked improvement in U.S. relations with China. Administration officials expressed their desire to broaden and deepen dialogue with Beijing while downplaying areas of disagreement.
In her first visit to China as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton suggested that the United States would not henceforth allow disputes over human rights issues to "interfere" with joint efforts to deal with "the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis." Administration spokesmen avoided the use of the term "hedging," introduced during the Bush years to describe ongoing American efforts to maintain a military balance in East Asia, and proposed instead that Beijing and Washington should henceforth pursue a policy of "strategic reassurance" toward one another.
These overtures were not reciprocated. Instead, over the course of 2009…

US Immigration - A Romney Stance Causes Turmoil for Young Immigrants

An immigration stance that Mitt Romney took with little fanfare this month has created turmoil for many young immigrants living in the country illegally, lawyers and immigrant advocates say. Mr. Romney said that if elected president, he would end the program that offers hundreds of thousands of those immigrants two-year reprieves from deportation, which the Obama administration began in August. Mr. Romney’s statements have prompted many young people to hold back from applying, worried that if he won the presidency, those who applied and were not approved by the time he took office could be pursued by immigration authorities. His position “has created a lot of confusion and a lot of anxiety,” said Cheryl Little, the executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice, a legal aid group based in Miami that has assisted hundreds of young immigrants applying for reprieves. Mr. Romney has said that he would honor any reprieves already approved…

For Obama, a Complex Calculus of Race and Politics

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When President Obama greets African-Americans who broke barriers, he almost invariably uses the same line. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you,” he said to Ruby Bridges Hall, who was the first black child to integrate an elementary school in the South. The president repeated the message to a group of Tuskegee airmen, the first black aviators in the United States military; the Memphis sanitation workers the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed in his final speech; and others who came to pay tribute to Mr. Obama and found him saluting them instead. The line is gracious, but brief and guarded. Mr. Obama rarely dwells on race with his visitors or nearly anyone else. In interviews with dozens of black advisers, friends, donors and allies, few said they had ever heard Mr. Obama muse on the experience of being the first black president of the United States, a role in which every day he renders what was once extraordinary almost ordinary. But his…

George McGovern - Dashed Presidential Hopes, but a Life Devoted to Liberalism

George McGovern, the United States senator who won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972 as an opponent of the war in Vietnam and a champion of liberal causes, and who was then trounced by President Richard M. Nixon in the general election, died early Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was 90. His death was announced in a statement by his family. He had been moved to hospice care in recent days after being treated for several health problems in the last year. He had a home in Mitchell, S.D., where he had spent his formative years. In a statement, President Obama called Mr. McGovern “a champion for peace” who was a “statesman of great conscience and conviction.” To the liberal Democratic faithful, Mr. McGovern remained a standard-bearer well into his old age, writing and lecturing even as his name was routinely invoked by conservatives as synonymous with what they considered the failures of liberal politics. He never retreated fr…

Obama’s Electoral-College Firewall Is Holding

Some Democrats I know are getting very jittery, and it’s not hard to see why. At the end of a week that contained a strong debate performance from President Obama, some widely-watched voter surveys still show Mitt Romney in front, and one of them—the Gallup daily tracking poll of likely voters—has him expanding his lead to as much as seven points. On Monday, according to Gallup, the Republican candidate was leading Obama by two points, 49-47. By Thursday, he was ahead by seven, 52-45. On Friday, there was little change: Romney fifty-one per cent, Obama forty-five per cent.
Obviously, these are disturbing figures for Obama supporters. But before you climb back onto that ledge you were perched on before Tuesday’s debate, consider the broader picture, which is considerably more favorable to the President. Taking account of all the polls, rather than just one, the national race appears to be a virtual tie. At the state level, despite Romney making strong gains in some places…

United States Election - Eight states hold key to White House

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Sorry, Florida. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney may be ardently courting America's biggest battleground state, but their real passion is for Ohio. Because as un-American as it sounds, all votes are not created equal in a presidential election. Don't be offended. With barely two weeks before Nov. 6, it's all about the electoral math. And as uncertain and unpredictable as the campaign looks heading into the final stretch, Ohio remains President Obama's best opportunity to block a Romney win — and Romney's biggest hurdle.
That's why in the past week, four of the top 10 TV markets for campaign ads were in Ohio, and only one was in Florida (Orlando), according to NBC. That's why, since September, Romney and Paul Ryan have done 34 Ohio campaign events and 20 Florida events, while Obama and Joe Biden have done 11 campaign events in Florida and 18 in Ohio.
"If you take Ohio off the board for the Romney campaign they basically have to win seven of…

China Scared Of Tough Langauage Used In US Elections

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BEIJING — Richer and more assertive since the last American presidential campaign, China is looking at the harsh anti-Chinese sentiment being expressed by both candidates with a mixture of aloofness and unease. The Chinese say they are accustomed to China-bashing during the American election season, but there is growing concern among government officials, business executives and academics here that this time the attitude toward China among the American public and politicians is so hot it may not cool after Election Day. From accusations of unfair trade practices to a discussion of whether it is proper for the candidates to have investments in Chinese companies, the word “China” came up 22 times, and always negatively, in the debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney last week. In the final presidential debate Monday night, when foreign policy will be the main subject, China is likely to be a center of attention again. The relationship between China…

Why Serbia still cannot condemn racism

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Tuesday's football match in Krusevac should have been a regular game. Serbians were more preoccupied with another match, in the Macedonian capital Skopje, where Serbia needed to win to stay on track for World Cup qualification. The Under-21 match against England was the sideshow.
The town of Krusevac was chosen to host the match by the Serbian football association, the FSS. It knew the game would sell out, not because there was much enthusiasm in the rest of Serbia for the match, but because there is so little else to do in Krusevac.
Except for the local football team – owned by the son of the controversial tycoon Miroslav Miskovic – there is nothing much in the town: a few bars, two companies and lot of unemployed people.
If the events of the last week are surprising, that is why. Krusevac is not known to host football hooligans or any group of extremists. If it is known at all, for most Serbs, it is as a town you pass on the road to the ski resort at Kopaonik.
The…