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Mar 17th
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Giving assets to Mugabe PDF Print E-mail

By Tim Webb

MINING giant Anglo American and Impala Platinum are in talks with Robert Mugabe’s regime about handing over large stakes in their Zimbabwean subsidiaries to ‘indigenous investors’.

The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, and London-based analysts said it was likely that these deals, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, would be used to raise money for the regime. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told this reporter: ‘The indigenisation bill is another dimension of the kleptocracy. It’s not intended to legitimately promote indigenous investment.’

Row over trade talks PDF Print E-mail

By John Lichfield

The explosive clash of personalities, and policies, between the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the European Union’s trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, is threatening to detonate another European crisis. France, which takes over the EU presidency for six months on Tuesday, announced on Friday that it has convened an unscheduled meeting of the 27 governments to — in effect — call into question Mr Mandelson’s negotiating position in the stalled world trade talks.

Although M. Sarkozy will not be present at the meeting in Paris, it will inevitably be overshadowed by his outburst at the Brussels summit last week when he accused Mr Mandelson of provoking the Irish “no” vote in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on EU reform because his proposals for freeing world trade were so unpopular.
The Obama Agenda PDF Print E-mail


It’s feeling a lot like 1992 right now. It’s also feeling a lot like 1980. But which parallel is closer? Is Barack Obama going to be a Ronald Reagan of the left, a president who fundamentally changes the country’s direction? Or will he be just another Bill Clinton?

Current polls — not horse-race polls, which are notoriously uninformative until later in the campaign, but polls gauging the public mood — are strikingly similar to those in both 1980 and 1992, years in which an overwhelming majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the country’s direction.
EU’s future in limbo PDF Print E-mail

By Shadaba Islam

SO much for European unity. Hopes that the European Union (EU) would be able to forge a joint front following the stunning defeat of the bloc’s much-touted reform treaty by Irish voters on June 12 were summarily dashed at the EU summit in Brussels last week as leaders quarrelled openly over the reasons for the latest crisis and its domestic and international implications.
Unity Is Crowded PDF Print E-mail


Unity, N.H. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton held their political bonding ceremony in the middle of a field since the tiny town where they did the deed had no buildings big enough to host such a momentous occasion. The symbolism was obviously supposed to stretch way, way beyond mere unity. Think the signing of the Magna Carta. Or that baseball movie with Kevin Costner. If you concede it, they will come.

Fuels on the Hill PDF Print E-mail


Congress has always had a soft spot for “experts” who tell members what they want to hear, whether it’s supply-side economists declaring that tax cuts increase revenue or climate-change skeptics insisting that global warming is a myth.

Right now, the welcome mat is out for analysts who claim that out-of-control speculators are responsible for $4-a-gallon gas.
Your Brain Lies to You PDF Print E-mail


FALSE beliefs are everywhere. Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found. Thus it seems slightly less egregious that, according to another poll, 10 percent of us think that Senator Barack Obama, a Christian, is instead a Muslim. The Obama campaign has created a Web site to dispel misinformation. But this effort may be more difficult than it seems, thanks to the quirky way in which our brains store memories — and mislead us along the way.
The brain does not simply gather and stockpile information as a computer’s hard drive does.

America’s Next Chapter PDF Print E-mail


Kittredge, Colo. THE novelties of race and gender have largely distracted the nation from the more profound aspect of the 2008 presidential election: This campaign presents the potential for a new cycle of American history.

The idea that American politics moves in cycles is usually associated with the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., but it has an even longer currency. Ralph Waldo Emerson noted the political oscillations between the party of memory and the party of hope, the party of conservatism and the party of innovation.

General David Petraeus: My philosophy on war PDF Print E-mail

By Damien McElroy

David Petraeus, the top US general in Iraq, has moved to cement his reputation as a thinking soldier by issuing a 23-point list of lessons learned from salvaging America's 'lost war.'

Gen Petraeus, who leaves his post soon to become overlord of Central Command, has complied a set of essential fighting points for Iraq.
Taking Ownership of Iraq? PDF Print E-mail


Having recently returned from Egypt, I have the Suez Canal on my mind. And looking at Iraq from Cairo, the thought occurred to me that maybe the Iraqis have just crossed the Suez Canal. If so, that’s good news.

What am I talking about? There is no way that Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat could have ever made peace with Israel had he not first launched his lightning strike across the Suez Canal on Yom Kippur, 1973. “The crossing,” as that surprise attack became known in Egyptian lore, was as psychologically important as it was militarily important.
A Prime Minister on the ropes PDF Print E-mail

Corruption, abuse of power by the police, nepotism in high places and the rise of religious and communal sectarian politics became the salient features of Badawi’s his first term in office

Farish A Noor

On Monday, 23rd June, Malaysia’s political future may be decided on a permanent basis. Three months after the elections of March 2008, and in the wake of the most disastrous showing for the ruling National Front coalition led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party that has been in power for more than half a century, the Badawi administration is facing yet another challenge that it cannot afford not to take seriously.

Vice Is Nice PDF Print E-mail


Let’s discuss the vice presidency. Come on.

Who are Barack Obama and John McCain going to choose for their running mates? I’m praying that McCain selects Mitt Romney so I can repeatedly revisit the time Mitt drove to Canada with the family dog on the station-wagon roof.

Or perhaps they could both pick Michael Bloomberg.
Much ado about nothing? PDF Print E-mail

By Aqil Shah

ON June 17, the PPP-led coalition government broke new ground by bringing the defence budget for debate in the parliament. Unlike previous years when military expenditure (MILEX) was listed as a one-liner in the central budget, the Rs295.30bn estimated budget for 2008-09 (as well as the Rs276.18bn revised budget for 2007) provides service wise break-up under different heads, such as personnel, operations, physical assets and civil works.

The PPP senator and leader of the house, Raza Rabbani, proudly asserted on the floor of the Senate that “it is the first step towards the supremacy of parliament”. Is it?
The Two Obamas PDF Print E-mail


God, Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some naïve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson.

But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now.
Budget — on a wing and a prayer PDF Print E-mail

By Shahid Kardar

THE PPP government had, admittedly, inherited a difficult situation. Unfortunately, however, it took a casual view of the challenges that lie ahead. The finance minister’s budget speech did not articulate a vision or medium-term strategy to address these, partly because the government has been thrown into the deep end, given the political uncertainty and the timing of election.
Bad Day in the Rose Garden PDF Print E-mail


It’s very easy, in our chaotic world, to lose track. Did you know, for instance, that “ER” is still on television? That “The Phantom of the Opera” is still on Broadway? That Hugh Hefner is still dating?

It was in this spirit that I looked up at CNN on Wednesday and noted that George W. Bush is still the president.

Yes! There he was in the Rose Garden, unveiling his plan for reducing the price of oil. A little grayer, but strangely unchanged. When he was complaining about the way the Democrats wrote last year’s omnibus spending bill, I swear I heard him call it the “ominous spending bill.”
Fate of the lawyers’ movement PDF Print E-mail

By S.M. Naseem

THE six-day-long long march ended before dawn in Islamabad on June 14 with conflicting — almost Rashomon-like — perceptions about its failure or success.

For those who participated in it, either as individuals or as members of a group, it was a statement of their resentment of what happened on and since March 9, and of their hopes of what would follow if the central demand of the lawyers-led march, the restoration of the higher judiciary, is met — sooner rather than later.
Hey, pundits: Trade hypotheticals for history PDF Print E-mail

Posing questions to the candidates without concrete context takes us in circles

By Jeffrey Shaffer

Portland, Ore. - I'm not joining the debate about whether the next president should hold unconditional talks with leaders of Iran, North Korea, or Cuba. Too many commentators are already chasing that one around the barn. Listening to the various hypothetical scenarios makes me think the law of diminishing returns can be applied to punditry as well as economics.

Here's a more productive idea: Trade hypotheticals for history. Let's question the presidential candidates about a major event from American foreign-policy history.
Civil liberties: the turn of the tide PDF Print E-mail

By Gwynne Dyer

TWO hundred and seventy people convicted of no crime languish in Guantanamo, and the British parliament has just voted to extend detention without trial to forty-two days. In both the United States and Britain, governments that attack civil liberties in the name of security still rule. But in the past week the tide has turned in both countries.

In the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled for the third time in four years that the people detained in Guantanamo can challenge their imprisonment in US civilian courts. When the Court made the same ruling in 2004 and 2006, an obedient Congress passed legislation overruling it, but that will not happen this time.
American President Pleads Guilty to Hopeless Idealism PDF Print E-mail


President Bush was in one of his oddly chipper moods when he arrived for dinner with Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street on Sunday night.

Maybe he was excited by the prospect of sharing some Gloucestershire beef, Yorkshire pudding and fruit trifle with a world leader more unpopular than he is.
'Conservative budget' plays it safe PDF Print E-mail


MA Taslim

Had democratic processes in the country not been interrupted, the finance adviser to the caretaker government would not have been required to present even a single budget, but on June 9 he had the privilege of presenting the second national budget in a row.

The 2008-09 budget bears the imprint of a conservative mindset, all too rattled by the devastation wrought on the economy by the back-to-back natural calamities and the initial policy bungle.
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