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(2008-06-18 15:22)


分类: 英文

Europe's century

Despite the Irish no vote, the EU's destiny is to lead the world on security, trade and climate change

This past week saw not only the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty, forcing a crisis summit this week to chart an alternative path to EU continuity, but also the annual EU-American summit in Slovenia, aiming to forge a common transatlantic agenda on Middle East peace, climate change and trade. The Irish vote is likely to fuel rumours of the EU's demise, yet it is the latter summit that will prove more revealing about its future. While mending transatlantic divides is commendable, the summit presents an opportunity to rectify misperceptions about the US leading and Europe following on global issues. No matter who occupies the White House, the actual trend is the reverse.

On May 23 in Brasilia, a treaty was signed to establish Unasur, the South American union of nations. It was the most recent example of the real geopolitical revolution that has been under way since the end of the second world war: the regionalisation of international relations on the precedent set by the six nations who established the Treaty of Rome, which became the European Economic Community in 1957. It was this breakthrough in thinking that offers the greatest potential to prevent the return of what conservative thinkers take for granted: superpower conflict between the US and China, or an east-west conflict between democracies and autocracies.

From the Association of South East Asian Nations to Unasur and the African Union, it is globalisation within regions that has become the driving narrative of political and economic life. The issue is not whether rival trade blocks will emerge, but rather that each regional grouping promises to eliminate conflict among its members, as Europeans have done. The US is no longer providing the security blanket or umbrella; rather, each region is building its own.

For elite observers in western capitals, it has always been easier to conceive of globalisation as global first and local second. Globalisation is thought to be synonymous with westernisation. But in many places today, globalisation starts with bringing down barriers between neighbours, building common diplomatic institutions and eventually even common armies, peacekeeping forces, and criminal courts - all of which the AU has now established.

A world of regions still needs leadership, but not necessarily a single leader. While many have fretted that Europe follows the US without providing an alternative course, in fact the EU has been providing this model for decades, and it is bearing fruit around the developing world, despite the US's post-9/11 actions, which have served only to discredit the west.

Today the EU provides more than itself as an institutional model. Its emissions trading system is the world's leading carbon market and a model progressive US voices yearn to replicate. It is the largest aid donor and market for goods from developing countries. And next year it will launch an external action service through which eventually the embassies of the EU will be larger abroad than those of individual members. The EU is not finished: even if its expansion stops at 30 or 35 members, its global presence will be increasingly felt on matters of global concern.

Even as multilateral institutions such as the UN, the IMF and the World Bank strive for reform to remain relevant, the EU has paved the way for a world of unions to focus on resolving their own problems and managing globalisation as collectives. One sees this in East Asia's selective integration of WTO standards, and even in the push for an EU-style North American union to boost competitiveness. Europe has become the gold standard for creating such institutions, and is far better poised than the US to be the arbiter of disputes among them.

A future concert of powers among the US, China and EU - capable of setting basic global standards and leveraging the adherence of other major powers such as Russia and India - is a vision with which Americans should be familiar, for it resembles Roosevelt's "Four Policemen". A half century later, it is clear who the three most influential global actors are and who must assume responsibility for preserving peace. But among these three, the EU has the most credibility today, and must ensure that the other two do not return the 21st century to the 19th.

· Parag Khanna directs the global governance initiative at the New America Foundation and is author of The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order; Alpo Rusi is ambassador in the office of the president of the UN's general assembly and author of Dangerous Peace: New Rivalry in World Politics










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分类: 英文
  • News
  • World news
  • China
  • Young author gives a voice to China's rebel generation

    A bestseller turns the spotlight on moody middle-class teenagers, reports Jason Burke in Beijing

    Chinese author Tang Chao

    Chinese author Tang Chao

    He is sullen, brooding, 15 years old and now among China's bestselling authors. Tang Chao's paperback, Give Me Back The Dream, a dark tale of unrequited teenage love, conflict with parents and adolescent suicide, reached the top of the bestseller lists last week, a success confirming the coming of age of what has been dubbed the country's 'Generation Z'.

    'I just tell the story of people I know,' Tang said in a telephone interview from his home in the central Chinese city of Chengdu. 'We are the post-Nineties generation and society doesn't understand us.'

    Such sentiments might be the staple of sulky adolescents in the West, but they are new in China. If the country's Generation X grew up in the aftermath of the devastating Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, and Generation Y enjoyed the extraordinary economic growth of the Eighties and Nineties, 'Generation Z' has a different teen spirit.

    Books such as Give Me Back The Dream and the 'adolescent anguish' series of Rao Xuenan sell millions of copies. So do the novels of Guo Jingming, 24 - whose melancholy young heroes seek an answer to their anguish by sitting alone on top of high buildings for hours pondering their plight or by plunging into a vortex of violence, alcohol and karaoke. Alternative music with a darker, more nihilistic style than the saccharine pop that has dominated the Chinese market for a decade is also beginning to make inroads. More than anything, the real novelty is simply the idea that teenagers can be grumpy, hostile and apathetic.

    'Our parents think we are like them, but we are not,' said Ye Jiadi, 18, smoking a cigarette outside the D-22 club in the university area of Beijing early yesterday. 'We just want to hang out. We don't want to live like our fathers lived. We have our own way.'

    In a country where hundreds of millions still live below the poverty line, the 'Z' phenomenon remains restricted to the comfortable and educated middle class of urban centres, but nevertheless many still see it as significant.

    'The writers say what their readers - high-school students for the most part - want to say themselves,' said Zheng Tan, professor of literature at Fudan University, Shanghai. 'These are people who have grown up in a China that is becoming steadily wealthier, and as material conditions have improved they have become more concerned with private emotion.'

    The work of the new writers is also less politically controversial. 'Their focus is very personal and they deal less with social, political or economic themes. So the government leaves them alone - and that suits everybody, publishers, authors and consumers alike,' Zheng said.

    For Deng Jun, a child psychologist in Beijing, books such as Give Me Back the Dream portray the reality for millions of young people. 'Official government statistics speak of between 500 and 700 teenagers reported with depression in China, but these figures are very conservative,' she said. 'The hotline I run received more than 2,500 calls in the last year from young people showing depressive tendencies.'

    A further problem is China's 30-year-old policy limiting parents to one child. 'This has created a generation of over-indulged children who have little ability to confront disappointment or hardship,' Deng said. 'There is also an enormous pressure on only children to succeed. They feel depressed, anguished and can easily become suicidal. They often have problems making friends.'

    In Tang's book, one character kills himself by jumping from the top of his apartment block after a row with his ambitious parents, who have banned him from pursuing a love affair with a schoolmate for fear it could damage his exam results. Young fans of the author said he was describing something many of them felt.

    'Our generation lack confidence, and as we are often only children we are terrified of being alone or losing friends,' said Wei Peng Fei, 17, a schoolgirl queuing to buy Tang's book at a central Beijing bookshop.

    A series of studies in recent years have revealed that Chinese teenagers are smoking and drinking more and having sex at a younger age. Another concern is internet addiction. The government has set up a series of centres which use a mixture of military-style bootcamp discipline and sympathy to treat teenagers who had become dependent on the internet, particularly on video games.

    Yet Rao Xuenan, 35, whose Young Anguish series has sold millions, says that the 'post-1990s generation' also have 'a positive side' that is often forgotten. The recent earthquake in which 70,000 died has brought out the best in many teenagers in the wave of solidarity and charity activism that swept China, he said. 'I thought they were just anguished and depressed but they are much stronger and less selfish than we imagined.'

这个闷闷不乐的15岁少年如今是中国畅销书作家之一。唐朝(Tang Chao)的《把梦还我》讲的是关于少年爱情未得回报、与家长冲突、青少年自杀的阴郁故事,上周登上畅销书榜首,这个成功确认该国Z一代的来临。


  在西方闷闷不乐的青少年当中,这种情绪可能很普通,但在中国却是新鲜事。如果说该国的X一代成长于文革之后,Y一代则享受了八九十年代非凡的经济增长,那么Z一代则是有着不同的阴郁精神(teen spirit)。



  复旦大学文学教授郑潭(音译,Zheng Tan)表示,作者们说出读者(主要是高中生)想说的事情,那些成长于日渐富裕的中国的人们变得更加关注个人的情感。


  北京的儿童心理学家邓君(音译,Deng Jun)认为,《把梦还我》等书描述了数百万青少年的现实。“我经营的热线去年接到超过2500个来自有抑郁倾向的年轻人的电话。”



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分类: 英文

How Iran Has Bush Over a Barrel

An aircraft of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards flying over an oil tanker during in the Persian Gulf.
An aircraft of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards flying over an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.
AFP / Getty
If wasn't clear before it should be now: the Bush Administration can't afford to attack Iran. With gas already at $4 a gallon and rising almost every day, Iran figuratively and literally has the United States over a barrel. As much as the Administration is tempted, it is not about to test Iran's promise to "explode" the Middle East if it is attacked

The Iranians haven't been shy about making clear what's at stake. If the U.S. or Israel so much as drops a bomb on one of its reactors or its military training camps, Iran will shut down Gulf oil exports by launching a barrage of Chinese Silkworm missiles on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and Arab oil facilities. In the worst case scenario, seventeen million barrels of oil would come off world markets.

One oil speculator told me that oil would hit $200 a barrel within minutes. But Iran's official news agency, Fars, puts it at $300 a barrel. I asked him if Iran is right, what does that mean?

"Four-dollar-a-gallon of gasoline only reflects $100 oil because the refiners' margins are squeezed," he said. "At $300, you have $12 a gallon of gasoline and riots in Newark, Los Angeles, Harlem, Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit, Dallas."

In either case, whether at $200 or $300, Bush does not want to be the President who leaves the White House on a mule-drawn cart. But Iran's blackmail is not just about oil. The Iranians truly believe they have us hostage in Iraq — our supply lines, the acquiescence of the Shi'a in the occupation. It would all change in an instant, though, especially if we were to borrow Iraq to attack Iran. The way Fars put it: "In Iraq, fighters would rise up in solidarity with each other and begin ... making the Tet Offensive in 1968 Vietnam."

If this all sounds very alarming, Iran meant it to, and it seems to be working. On Tuesday Bush was talking about the prospect of new sanctions rather than attacking.

Which leaves Israel. Are the Israelis, who have a lot more on their minds than the price of gas in the United States, going to launch a pre-emptive attack? One hard and fast rule in the Middle East is never rule out Israel's readiness to turn the table over. But an Israeli hawk on Iran, with close ties to Israel's Ministry of Defense, told me to forget about it. "There's not a chance Israel will do anything. Maybe there's a window after the American elections and the new President but even that's doubtful. Washington does not have the stomach for another war."

Israel cannot attack or contain Iran on its own; it needs the full military might of the United States behind it. So in the meantime Israel can only huff and puff, hoping new sanctions on Iran will do the trick.



  伊朗人并不羞于表明筹码。如果美国或以色列向伊朗反应堆或军事训练营投炸弹,伊朗就会向霍尔木兹海峡的油轮及阿拉伯石油设施连续发射中国桑蚕(Chinese Silkworm)导弹,封锁海湾石油出口。按照最坏的设想,会有1700万桶石油离开世界市场。



  无论是200美元每桶还是300美元每桶,布什都不希望自己坐着骡拉车离开白宫。但伊朗的勒索不仅仅与石油有关。伊朗人真的相信他们抓住我们在伊拉克的人质——我们的供应线,我们默许什叶派占据。但是,一切将立即改变,特别是如果我们打算借伊拉克袭击伊朗。Fars是这样说的:“在伊拉克,战斗员将团结起来叛变,并开始……制造越南1968年 的‘新年攻势(Tet Offensive)’。”




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分类: 英文

Subsidies: a big culprit in high gas prices

Gasoline would be cheaper if countries ended their oil subsidies and let markets rule.

In China, the government caps gas prices. Drivers there pay about half of what Americans pay. In many countries, oil prices are held artificially low, either by fiat or subsidy. The result? Consumption keeps rising, boosting global prices. The rest of the world – the part now racing to conserve – ends up paying more than it should.


Yes, say global actors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is calling on governments to let consumers face market prices in order to kick-start conservation and reduce official spending.

About half of humanity, from India to Chile, now benefits from cut-rate petroleum prices. In 2008, these countries will account for all the growth in world oil demand, or an additional one million barrels a day, according to Deutsche Bank. Their consumption will be the highest in eight years.

And these subsidies will cost as much as $100 billion in 2008, or twice as much as last year, estimates the International Energy Agency. That would be money better spent on reducing oil use – what's called "demand erosion" – than encouraging it. And sadly, it is the rich who benefit the most. The IMF says the top one-fifth of households in income receive 42 percent of fuel subsidies because they are the heaviest users.

Shielding consumers from the real costs of an oil-based economy only makes it more difficult for them to face the coming end of the oil era.

For wealthier nations that generally shun subsidies, the price of oil – still over $130 a barrel – is quickly altering lifestyles.

As onerous as it is for Americans to bear $4-a-gallon gasoline, the results are encouraging. Mass transit use is way up and oil demand is falling. For the first time since 1979, the number of miles driven has dropped. And General Motors is weighing an end to production of the Hummer as buyers flee such gas-guzzling vehicles.

A few nations that do subsidize fuel are feeling the financial pinch on budgets and moving to reduce subsidies or end price caps, despite street protests against such moves. Most of them are in Asia, the region that will account for 70 percent of the increase in oil demand this year.

In China, oil demand is estimated to rise 5 to 10 percent this year, but the government has resisted calls to end price controls. A few other countries – Chile and South Korea – are now moving toward subsidies to appease political pressures.

The biggest culprits are oil exporting nations, especially in the Gulf. They continue to throw petrodollars at both fuel subsidies and big projects that consume oil.

In Europe, political pressures are building to reduce fuel taxes, similar to a call by John McCain to suspend the federal gas tax for the summer. Such moves would be a mistake. Fuel taxes help send the right price signals for conserving oil as well as reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

In Congress, bills to combat global warming would raise costs for oil users, even possibly adding a dollar to gasoline prices. But proposals by lawmakers to relieve those costs with subsidies to consumers would only defeat the purpose of reducing oil demand.

Governments that try to create a false economy for oil are not revealing the truth to their people.
















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分类: 英文
June 11, 2008

EU referendum: The Luck of the Irish

The Irish should vote to free us all from the Lisbon Treaty and the loss of sovereignty it represents

Oh, for the luck of the Irish. They are the only people in Europe to have a vote on the future of the European Union. That is thanks to their Constitution, not their leaders. Until recently the Irish Establishment had assumed that its citizens would rubber-stamp the Lisbon treaty, the repackaged EU constitution. Now, in the face of a formidable “no” campaign, it is trying to scare them into doing so. That tomorrow's poll is too close to call, in a country that has benefited so much from EU largesse, is a measure of how wrong-headed the whole process has been.

The Irish “no” coalition is a ragbag that includes Sinn Fein, pro-life campaigners and business executives. Like the French and Dutch rejections of the EU constitution in 2003, an Irish “no” vote would have its own parochial dimension. But that would not undermine its legitimacy. Most of those planning to vote “no” tomorrow have one thing in common: they do not trust a treaty that they do not understand. They show a good deal more common sense than the politicians.

The lack of clarity should make it impossible for any country to sign this document. It is a piece of deliberate obfuscation by technocrats who wish to proceed with a considerable erosion of national sovereignty under a smokescreen of “tidying up”. As a result of its vague wording, the treaty is dangerously ambiguous. Countries which imagine that they have negotiated opt-outs from unpopular bits risk finding out in years to come that the European Court of Justice takes a different view.

The “yes” camp argues that the Lisbon treaty is essential to the smooth functioning of the EU after enlargement, and that a rejection will throw the institutions into “chaos”. But the European Union is not paralysed. In the past year alone, 177 EU directives have passed into British law.

It is equally disingenuous to portray the treaty as a purely administrative exercise to cope with enlargement. A change in voting weights is an inevitable consequences of the arrival of new members, although small states such as Ireland stand to lose out disproportionately from that, and from the reduction in commissioners. But enlargement is no justification for the proposed removal of more than 40 vetoes in areas ranging from “economic co-ordination” to energy policy. The Lisbon treaty would give the European Court of Justice jurisdiction over crime and justice matters for the first time. It would make the EU a legal personality, able to sign treaties in its own right. Through a self-amending clause it would allow ministers to abolish national vetoes without any further treaty, and so without ratification by national parliaments or referendums. It is anti-democratic at its very core.

These changes, and others, would dramatically alter the powers of member states. Politicians hold these powers in trust for the people. They are not theirs to give away by executive order. Gordon Brown was wrong to insist that Labour's manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the EU constitution did not apply to the Lisbon treaty. He has wilfully ignored the evidence of two select committees that the two documents were substantially similar.

The Lisbon treaty does nothing about EU corruption and waste, which have returned to centre stage this week. It does nothing about the EU's notorious farm subsidies. It enshrines, rather than bridges, the gulf between the public and the elite. Brian Cowen, the Irish Prime Minister, has implied that an Irish “no” vote would be a vote to “disengage” from Europe. That is disingenuous. An Irish “no” would signal that the elites must go back to the drawing board. Deprived of our own vote, we must pin our hopes on Ireland to speak for all of us.


  爱尔兰的“说不”联盟是一个杂烩,包括新芬党(Sinn Fein),反堕胎运动家和商界人士。和法国及荷兰2003年拒绝欧盟宪法一样,爱尔兰“说不”有其狭隘性。但这无损于它的合法性。大多数打算“说不”的人有一个共同点:他们不会信任一个他们并不了解的条约。他们展示的常识出比政治家多得多。

  缺乏明确性这一点让任何国家都不可能签署这份文件。它是技术官僚蓄意制造的混乱,那些技术官僚希望在“整理(tidying up)”的烟幕下大大削弱国家主权。由于用词含糊,该条约危险地模棱两可。


  把该条约描述成应对欧盟扩张的、纯粹的行政做法也同样危险。新成员加入,投票权重必然改变。但扩张并不能成为取消从经济合作到能源政策等超过40个领域的否决权的理由。里斯本条约将让欧洲法院(European Court of Justice)首次获得犯罪与司法问题的权限。赋予欧盟法人资格,可以凭借自身的权利签署条约。它将通过自我修正的条款,允许部长们取消国家否决,而无须更多条约,无须国家议会或公投的批准。其核心是反民主。


  里斯本条约没有提到欧盟的腐败与浪费。它没有提到欧盟声名狼藉的农业津贴。它凸显公众与精英之间的沟壑,而不是充当桥梁。爱尔兰总理科恩(Brian Cowen)已经暗示爱尔兰的否决票相当于支持“脱离”欧洲。那是狡猾的说法。爱尔兰“说不”将表明精英必须重新筹划。我们自己的表决权被剥夺了,我们只能寄望于爱尔兰为我们所有人发言。

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(2008-06-11 20:26)


分类: 英文

Threatening Iran

Published: June 10, 2008

Israeli leaders spent last week talking tough about Iran and threatening possible military action. The United States and the other major powers need to address Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but with more assertive diplomacy — including greater financial pressures — not more threats or war planning.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who is bedeviled by a corruption scandal that could drive him from office, led the charge. “The Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means,” he said in Washington, a day before meeting President Bush at the White House.

Then Israel’s transportation minister, Shaul Mofaz, who is jockeying to replace Mr. Olmert as head of the ruling Kadima Party if the prime minister is forced to resign, declared that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks “unavoidable.”

We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors in Washington — or what Mr. Olmert heard from Mr. Bush. But saber-rattling is not a strategy. And an attack on Iran by either country would be disastrous.

Unlike in 1981, when Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, there is no single target. A sustained bombing campaign would end up killing many civilians and still might not cripple Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran also has many frightening ways to retaliate. And even Arab states who fear Iran shudder at the thought of America, or its ally Israel, bombing another Muslim country and the backlash that that could provoke.

Mr. Olmert may be trying to divert attention from his political troubles. Still, there is no denying a growing and understandable sense of urgency in Israel, which Iran’s president has threatened with elimination. A recent report by United Nations inspectors on Iran’s nuclear progress, and worrisome links to military programs, has only fanned those fears.

Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, is scheduled to visit Tehran later this month to discuss, in more detail, an incentives package first offered in 2006 by the United States and other major powers. It is likely to fall far short — both in incentives and punishments — of what is needed to get Tehran’s attention.

There is no indication it will contain tougher sanctions — including a broader ban on doing business with Iranian banks and bans on arms sales and new investments. It also needs a stronger commitment from Washington to lift sanctions and to fully engage Iran if it abandons its nuclear efforts. The United States is the only major power not sending a diplomat with Mr. Solana.

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain disagree on holding direct talks with Iran (Mr. Obama would; Mr. McCain would not). But last week, both endorsed enhanced sanctions, including limiting gasoline exports to Iran. That is an idea well worth exploring. Iran relies on a half-dozen companies for 40 percent of its gasoline imports. The United Nations Security Council is unlikely to authorize a squeeze, but quiet American and European appeals might persuade some companies to slow deliveries, and it would grab Tehran’s attention.

On his trip to Europe this week, President Bush is expected to press the Europeans to further reduce Iran-related export credits and cut ties with Iran’s financial institutions. He also must make clear that America will do its part on incentives. We wish he had the will and the skill to propose a grand bargain — and to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to deliver it. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of that. At a minimum, he should send a senior official with Mr. Solana to Tehran.

If sanctions and incentives cannot be made to work, the voices arguing for military action will only get louder. No matter what aides may be telling Mr. Bush and Mr. Olmert — or what they may be telling each other — an attack on Iran would be a disaster.




  然后以色列的运输部长莫法兹(Shaul Mofaz)宣布,以色列袭击伊朗核地点看来是“不可避免的”。若奥尔默特被迫辞职,莫法兹渴望取代奥尔默特成为执政的“前进党(Kadima Party)”的党魁。




  欧盟外交政策高级代表索拉纳(Javier Solana)计划在本月晚些时候访问德黑兰,更详细地讨论美国和其他大国在2006年首次提出的奖励方案。无论是奖励还是惩罚,它可能远远未能引起德黑兰的注意。





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(2008-06-11 20:25)


分类: 英文

Israel's Syria Card

Talks with Damascus about a peace deal are worth trying, but a breakthrough is probably a long way off.


AS THE CHALLENGE from Iran has grown, the United States and its allies have repeatedly been tantalized by the possibility of driving a wedge between Tehran and its chief Arab ally, Syria. The two countries work together to sponsor the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip; removing Syria from the equation could cripple Iran's bid to become the dominant power in the Middle East. The problem is how to move the murderous and corrupt regime of Bashar al-Assad, which hosts Hamas's leadership and is under investigation by the United Nations for assassinating Lebanese politicians. Sanctions against Syria have been too weak to be effective, and most of the political bribes that might interest Mr. Assad would be self-defeating -- such as allowing him to restore Syria's political hegemony over Lebanon.

Oddly, the key to unlocking this puzzle may be held by Israel, Syria's mortal enemy. A central Syrian goal remains recovering the Golan Heights, territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war. In the past, Israel has been willing to discuss the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace settlement with Damascus; in 2000, a deal broke down over the question of a few hundred yards of disputed territory along the Sea of Galilee. Now Israel has a larger incentive than ever to negotiate: its preoccupation with Iran and its Lebanese and Palestinian proxies. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to begin exploratory talks with Syria a year ago, using Turkey as an intermediary, was a logical one.


What remains unclear is whether either side seeks more than short-term tactical gain from the talks, which were publicly revealed by the two governments late last month. For Syria, the public announcement of the talks -- which it pressed for -- eases the isolation that the Bush administration has tried to impose on Mr. Assad and distracts attention from his continuing campaign of murder in Lebanon. Soon after the announcement, several European governments resumed their contacts with Damascus. For its part, Israel calculates that even the suggestion of a peace deal must place strain on relations between Damascus and Tehran. And Mr. Olmert, in danger of criminal indictment, also benefits from a change of subject.

For now, it's difficult to believe that either side is willing or able to strike a larger bargain. In the absence of a convincing demonstration of change in Syria's strategic orientation, most Israelis and their representatives in parliament will strongly oppose giving up the Golan. Mr. Assad has become so deeply enmeshed in his alliance with Iran and in criminality in Lebanon that he is almost certainly incapable of such a switch. He recently told a visiting British delegation that asking for a rupture in his ties with Iran was comparable to demanding a break between the United States and Israel. If that's true, the talks Turkey is sponsoring will prove to be another dead end.







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分类: 英文

Tom Plate / Syndicated columnist

The Hollywood Squares do China

Syndicated Columnist


Sharon Stone should stick to acting.

Enlarge this photo


Sharon Stone should stick to acting.

LOS ANGELES — So now it's Sharon Stone. Before her, it was Steven Spielberg. And before him and her and it sometimes seems now and forever there was Richard Gere.

These are America's High Pontificators the Hollywood Squares of the world situation. They like to offer their special wisdom on what China is doing wrong, especially in Tibet. They like it so very much when people all over the globe actually take them seriously and listen to them. And they especially like it when China takes them seriously by getting furious with them.

As for us ordinary Americans — well, whatever would we do without the Hollywood Squares?

Stone, looking rather fetching, we must admit, in her skintight leopard dress at the Cannes Film Festival, offered the Cannes crowd this in-depth analysis of the tension in Tibet: "I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And then the [Sichuan] earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"

Wow, what a great thought! Stone has this new theory that earthquakes are caused by bad government policies. Now please — and you know who you are — stop laughing. It is just theoretically conceivable that she is right. If she is, let us consider for a moment the enormously consequential implications.

For example, I live in Southern California, also known as Big Earthquake Country. We all sit around our pools, barbecues and Jacuzzis waiting for the Big One. We assume that some day it will come. While we're waiting, we smoke or drink different things to ease the pain of the future shocks.

But maybe just maybe if we had better government policies, we'd have fewer quakes here? Maybe if we pulled out of Iraq and finally improved our public schools and were nicer to immigrants.

If this is the case, then why are the Hollywood Squares wasting their advice on China and its earthquakes. What about California and our earthquakes?

If Sharon and for that matter Steven and Richard would just for once turn the focus and policy brilliance on what America is doing wrong karma-wise, then perhaps we can avoid having to endure Mother Nature at her meanest old witch worst.

I mean, why go through what the poor Chinese have had to endure these past few weeks?

In addition to warmly welcoming Stone's advice about counterproductive karmic government policies here, I'd like to widen that invitation to all the Hollywood Squares who have advice for foreign governments.

My advice is this: Maybe we Americans ought to work harder to get our own backyard in really good shape before we start nagging faraway neighborhoods about their shortcomings.

Look at Japan. It is most interesting that the Japanese, who actually live in China's neighborhood, managed to resist the temptation to hurl stones at China as Sharon did. Perhaps that's because many Japanese, unlike many Americans, have really good memories. They vividly recall their own Kobe quake of 1995. They recall that they reacted very poorly then — about as ineptly as the U.S. government reacted to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Instead, the Japanese sought to light some candles in China rather than curse the darkness that could be arguably attributable to misguided China's policies. Most laudably, Tokyo responded instantly to Beijing's surprising request for Japan's Air Self Defense Forces to fly relief teams and equipment into the province of Sichuan. This was the first time since 1945 that Japanese military aircraft landed on Chinese soil.

This is not to suggest that Hollywood's High Pontificators are cheap to dish out the charity. The whole world's heart has been touched by the tragedy. But as an editorial on the Taiwan Journal, the official weekly newspaper out of Taipei, put it: "Political disagreements and contentions between nations were relegated to the back burner as human survival prevailed over all other contending issues." Like China-rival Japan, even Taiwan — officially dubbed a runaway province by Beijing — lost no time in coming to China's aid.

The fact of the matter is that the Hollywood Squares are just too quick to dish out unwanted advice and judgments, and sometimes at the worst possible time. Sharon, of all people, should recall the New Testament warning (John 8:7): "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

UCLA professor Tom Plate lives in Beverly Hills, not far away enough from the huge San Andreas fault.



  这些是好莱坞广场(Hollywood Squares)的世界形势。他们喜欢提出关于中国犯错(特别是在西藏问题上)的特殊智慧。当全世界民众严肃地听他们讲话的时候,他们非常喜欢这样。而且当中国拿他们当回事,对他们发怒的时候,他们特别喜欢这样。




  若然如此,好莱坞广场干嘛要把他们意见浪费在中国和它的地震上?干嘛不说说加州和我们的地震? 如果莎朗斯通、斯皮尔伯格和李察基尔把焦点放在美国做错事会招致报应上,那么我们就可能不必承受自然之母最可怕的巫术。






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(2008-06-05 06:36)


分类: 新知
 Bloomberg Is Said to Explore a Third Mayoral Term or a Bid for Governor
Christian Hansen for The New York Times

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently commissioned a poll of how voters would feel about repealing the city’s term limits law.

Published: June 4, 2008

As the end of his term nears, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his senior advisers have been exploring strategies that would allow him to remain in political life, including undertaking a campaign to overturn the city’s term limits law or making a bid for governor, according to two people who have been briefed on the deliberations.

Mr. Bloomberg, as part of that effort, commissioned a poll recently to determine whether city voters would be open to lifting the term limits law, which forces him and other elected city officials from office after two four-year terms. The poll found that even as voters approved of his performance as mayor, they would strongly oppose any attempt to undo the limits. Voters were receptive to the idea of a Bloomberg candidacy for governor, however.

Either move by the mayor would dramatically shake up the political world in New York and beyond, given his national profile and previous pledge to try to shape the presidential campaign this fall, perhaps by establishing an independent political organization.

In addition, Mr. Bloomberg, 66, has a record of overcoming long political odds with his single-minded focus and willingness to spend tens of millions of dollars on campaigns, so his ruminations about his future or a race for governor would be viewed with seriousness — and some alarm — by other potential candidates.

The deliberations are occurring as the mayor expresses frustration that his agenda is unfinished and that some of his more ambitious proposals, like congestion pricing, have been blocked by lawmakers in Albany. And despite his previous public statements that he is looking forward to focusing on philanthropy full time after leaving office, people who have spoken to Mr. Bloomberg say he has clearly been bitten by the political bug and is not eager to give up the power that comes with elected office.

The mayor’s current term is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2009.

The people who have been briefed on the deliberations say that the poll results will not dictate the mayor’s ultimate course.

“The mayor was interested in seeing the lay of the land,” said one of the people, a former political adviser to the mayor who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as betraying the confidence of the mayor’s inner circle.

Stu Loeser, a Bloomberg spokesman, would not confirm or deny that a poll had been conducted.

But he said that the mayor, who has previously said he will respect the will of voters, was standing by that position. The voters approved term limits in 1993.

“The mayor’s views haven’t changed,” he said.

If the mayor and his advisers decide to try to overturn the term limits law, they will have until September to gather signatures to put the question before voters in this November’s election.

Some of Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers are strongly warning against such a campaign, saying that taking on such an unpopular issue — even if the fight is ultimately successful — would cause lasting damage to Mr. Bloomberg’s reputation and what they see as his brand: the reform-minded political outsider.

Mr. Bloomberg’s deliberations echo those of his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who sought to extend his term as mayor after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Although Mr. Giuliani was at the height of his popularity at the time, and almost universally applauded for his leadership in the crisis, his efforts to stay on for a few months drew swift condemnation and a less than enthusiastic response from the public.

The former political adviser to Mayor Bloomberg sought to play down the significance of the polling, saying the questions regarding the term limits law and a race for governor were included in a larger survey the mayor conducted to measure his overall job approval and other city issues.

“He had his advisers throw in the question about term limits and a run for governor,” the former adviser said. “It was part of a regular process the mayor goes through to update himself on public opinion.”

And while the poll showed voters were open to the idea of a Bloomberg run for governor, it is not clear how eager the mayor is to pursue that path. In the past he has strongly denied any interest in doing so. Thus far, he has had a friendly relationship with David A. Paterson, the Harlem Democrat who took over in March to replace Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned after he was implicated as a client of a prostitution ring.

“I think the mayor likes David Paterson and I don’t think he is going to launch a campaign any time soon,” said the former political adviser.

The mayor is said to find other jobs potentially attractive, including Treasury secretary and president of the World Bank.

“One wouldn’t poll for those jobs,” a person close to the mayor said.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Bloomberg L.P., a media and financial services giant, is not the only one within his tight-knit circle itching for something to do next. Kevin Sheekey, a top political assistant who spent months trying to build support for an independent presidential campaign by Mr. Bloomberg, is said to be equally distressed at the prospect of his boss’s leaving public life. As much as anyone in the Bloomberg operation, Mr. Sheekey is considering the mayor’s future options.

The syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak, in a column last weekend, suggested that Mr. Sheekey was under consideration by Senator John McCain’s campaign to run the Republican national convention this summer in Minneapolis-St. Paul. But Republican operatives played down that possibility on Tuesday, saying Mr. Sheekey’s chances for the job could be hurt because Mr. Bloomberg is an independent and no longer a Republican.

The deliberations come after an extraordinary, but in some ways deflating, year for Mr. Bloomberg.

A year ago this month, he grabbed the attention of the national political establishment by announcing he was leaving the Republican Party and criticizing “rigid adherence to any particular political ideology.” He flirted with a presidential run for the next nine months, traveling the country and appearing on the covers of Time and Newsweek while pushing a message of nonpartisan problem-solving.

But the excitement among Democratic voters about Senator Barack Obama and the emergence of Mr. McCain as the Republican nominee — both of whom promote nonpartisan approaches — undercut the Bloomberg rationale for running. In February, despite months of elaborate behind-the-scenes effort to build the infrastructure of a campaign in all 50 states, the mayor said he would not run.

Fernanda Santos contributed reporting.
























1、 支持美国给予以色列军事援助,并称自己是哈马斯集团的最大敌人;



















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分类: 英文
 News Analysis

Next on Agenda Is Clinton’s Role

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, on Tuesday in St. Paul, watching Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech on television.

Senator Barack Obama heads into the general election with obvious advantages: He is a Democratic candidate running in a sour atmosphere for Republicans, in a contest where voters are hungry for change and coming out of a campaign in which he filled arena after arena with supporters.

Yet while he would like to shift his attention fully to the onslaught already coming from Senator John McCain and the Republicans, Mr. Obama still has problems in his own party that may overshadow everything else until he addresses them: How to repair relations with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her supporters and whether to offer her a spot on the ticket.

Mrs. Clinton used her final hours of the long primary season to make clear that she would be open to being Mr. Obama’s running mate. If there was ever any hope in Democratic circles that she would let Mr. Obama off the hook with an evasion or a flat declaration of no interest, Mrs. Clinton dashed it on Tuesday.

Like her husband, Mrs. Clinton has a way of becoming the center of attention even when the spotlight is supposed to be trained elsewhere, a reality that Mr. Obama will no doubt continue to confront no matter how he proceeds. It was hardly a surprise that Mr. Obama lavished praise on Mrs. Clinton and her accomplishments in his remarks Tuesday night.

Until he deals with the Clinton question, it could be hard for Mr. Obama to move on to what he would like to achieve next: presenting himself to the entire electorate and not just Democrats, laying out his political ideology before Mr. McCain does it on his terms and trying to rectify some of the weaknesses highlighted by the combative primary process.

Beyond that, there are other questions. Can he survive an onslaught from a Republican machine that has proved adept over the past 20 years at discrediting Democratic candidates, particularly those with limited experience in running national campaigns? Is he, given his voting record, vulnerable to the kind of attacks Mr. McCain began Tuesday night as he sought to portray Mr. Obama as out of touch with much of the country on issues like taxes, government and threats to American security?

Much of the cautious optimism in the Obama campaign is based on the expectation that this is a turn-the-page election, that deep anger with President Bush, along with discontent over the war in Iraq and the economy will be channeled into a Democratic victory in November. But it is not yet clear that those substantive issues will fully trump cultural issues and values — like race, patriotism and class — or the question of whether voters will judge Mr. Obama, just a few years out of the Illinois legislature, to have the experience necessary to sit in the Oval Office.

There would be obvious advantages to an Obama-Clinton ticket. For one, it would go far toward healing wounded feelings among Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, especially women. Some of those supporters have suggested that they would either stay home or vote for Mr. McCain, who made an explicit appeal for their support Tuesday night as he tried to increase pressure on Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton would provide Mr. Obama with some of the foreign policy credentials he needs, bring her own bank of contributors and probably help put more states in play.

“I think the world of both of them,” said Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware. “I want to see them run as a team.”

Yet there is clear, if not publicly expressed, apprehension in Mr. Obama’s circle about the wisdom of asking her to join the ticket. After gaining so much attention by campaigning on a promise of bringing fresh faces to Washington, Mr. Obama would be asking voters to put another Clinton in the White House, though in the No. 2 spot.

Mrs. Clinton does not come alone; beyond her own history — and the legions of voters who do not like her — she would bring along former President Bill Clinton, whose baggage might well be judged by Mr. Obama to outweigh his political skills, especially after a primary season that left Mr. Clinton’s reputation dented.

And running for president is very much about presenting command and authority. A crucial rule in the vice-presidential selection process is to avoid the perception of being pressured into a decision by a potential running mate.

“It’s backward looking to pick a Clinton at this point — and he’s all about forward looking, to being about change,” said Matt Bennett, a co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic organization. “He’s all about a fundamentally new kind of politics. Picking a Clinton is by definition backward looking, and I just don’t think he wants that.”

What is more, some Democrats argued that rather than producing a ticket that would be bigger than the sum of its parts, it might have the opposite effect by pushing away both the groups of voters who are reluctant to vote for an African-American and those who are reluctant to vote for a woman.

Throughout the campaign, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama had a relationship that veered between strained and strange. Mr. Obama once referred to her during a debate as “likable enough,” while Mrs. Clinton at one point said she and Mr. McCain could offer voters “a lifetime of experience” while Mr. Obama “will put forth a speech he made in 2002,” a reference to the address in Chicago before he was elected to the Senate in which he came out against the Iraq war.

Inevitably, as the campaign continued, relations between the two sides got worse — exacerbated by Mrs. Clinton’s unwavering insistence that she would be the stronger candidate against Mr. McCain; some of Mr. Clinton’s remarks, like his characterization of Mr. Obama’s strong and consistent opposition to the war as a “fairy tale”; and impatience among Mr. Obama’s supporters with Mrs. Clinton’s decision to stay in the race to the end.

Mrs. Clinton’s actions on Tuesday could not have raised her stock with Mr. Obama. Whether she intended to or not, her remarks pulled the spotlight away from him, reminding him that in many ways, she is a character that is hard to push off the stage










  特拉华州民主党、参议员卡帕(Thomas R. Carper)表示,他希望看到他们组成团队竞选。




  温和民主党组织“第三条路”的联合创始人班尼特(Matt Bennett)表示,在这个点上选择希拉里是朝后看,而奥巴马完全是要向前看,要改变的。“他根本上是新品种的政治。选择希拉里显然是向后看,我认为他不想这样。”

  此外,一些民主党人认为,这个组合并非一加一大于二,而可能产生反效果,推开那些不愿意给非裔美国人投票和不愿意给妇女投票的选民。(作者 ADAM NAGOURNEY)


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