Wednesday, November 09, 2022

9: China

Republicans Have Made It Very Clear What They Want to Do if They Win Congress
What Has Happened to My Country?
Is Divided Government Good? Don’t Take Elon’s Word for It.
Facing a Tide of Criticism, Elon Musk Is Tweeting Through It researchers at the Fletcher School at Tufts University said the early signs of Mr. Musk’s Twitter “show the platform is heading in the wrong direction under his leadership — at a particularly inconvenient time for American democracy.” ...... “Post-Musk takeover, the quality of the conversation has decayed” as more extremists and misinformation peddlers have tested the platform’s boundaries, the researchers wrote.

Israel’s New Kingmaker Is a Dangerous Extremist, and He’s Here to Stay
Dancing Near the Edge of a Lost Democracy
Republicans Are Doubling Down on Trumpism. It’s Going to Work.

China’s Business Elite See the Country That Let Them Thrive Slipping Away The business class, which shunned politics, is now questioning if there is still a place for it in a system dominated by one ruler, Xi Jinping. ........ China’s leader, Xi Jinping, used an important Communist Party congress last month to establish near-absolute power and make it clear that security will trump the economy as the nation’s priority. ....... Mr. Xi’s sweeping victory, by pushing out perceived moderates in favor of loyalists, made it clear that it would be a one-man-rule system that could last for decades. ........ China’s last leader as powerful as Mr. Xi, 69, was Mao Zedong, who led the country into the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution, which resulted in tens of millions of deaths, social chaos and economic destruction. ....... These tech entrepreneurs mostly grew up “in the age of ‘economism,’ when money making, economic principles and economic rationality trumped everything else,” said Minxin Pei, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. “Now they see the regime puts politics in command,” he said. “For them, this is incomprehensible.” .......... China’s harsh “zero-Covid” policy has left the economy in the worst shape in decades. ....... In his opening address at the party congress, Mr. Xi mentioned “security” 52 times, “Marxism” 15 times and “markets” three times. ....... Mr. Xi’s leadership lineup showed that he did not value expertise in managing a market-oriented economy. “He values people who can implement his policy regardless of the economic consequences.” ....... “Under the leadership of this dictator, our great country is falling into an abyss,” said a hardware tech executive in Shenzhen. “But you can’t do anything about it. It pains and depresses me.” ....... He said he used to be very nationalistic, believing that the Chinese were among the smartest and hardest-working people in the world. Now, he and many of his friends spend most of their time hiking, golfing and drinking. “We’re too depressed to work,” he said. ........ Just like many ordinary Chinese people, the executives I spoke to said they were horrified by the video of Hu Jintao, Mr. Xi’s predecessor as China’s top leader, being abruptly led out of the closing ceremony of the party congress. .

For Weissmann, the revelations made for an aha! moment. The partition plan, he realized, was the “quo” Putin wanted for the “quid” of helping Trump’s campaign. “On August 2, if not earlier,” he wrote in his 2020 memoir, “Russia had clearly revealed to Manafort — and, by extension, to the Trump campaign — what it wanted out of the United States: ‘a wink,’ a nod of approval from a President Donald Trump, as it took over Ukraine’s richest region.” .......... as he road-tested a new doctrine of hybrid warfare, a mix of weapons and words. ...... Then, after three phone calls with Manafort, Roger Stone posted a link to the piece on Twitter. “The only interference in the US election is from Hillary’s friends in Ukraine,” he added as punctuation. ....... Putin joined the chorus in February, asserting that the Ukrainian government had “adopted a unilateral position in favor of one candidate” — Clinton. “More than that,” he added, without evidence, “certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership, funded this candidate, or female candidate, to be more precise.” .......... Manafort might have been in prison, but, in search of a pardon, he still had something of value for the transactional president — his unparalleled knowledge of Ukrainian politics and government. He would effectively pass the baton to Trump’s personal lawyer, the former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who in the fall of 2018 was preparing an offensive to definitively cast the special-counsel investigation as a political hit job after its final report failed to prove “collusion.” .......... What was lost on the American audience, though, was the way Trump’s pressure campaign and Giuliani’s freelance diplomacy were buffeting a country that, whether it knew it or not, was careening toward war. Their machinations were playing directly into a soft-power contest over whether Ukraine would lay the true foundations of an independent Western-style democracy or remain in thrall to Moscow and its proxies. ......... One was the energy broker Firtash, the embodiment of the oligarchic system that had proved so beneficial to Putin. He had built extraordinary wealth through a partnership with Gazprom, Russia’s leading energy concern: Gazprom sold deeply discounted gas to a middleman company that it owned with Firtash, which then resold it, at a considerable profit, to Ukraine and throughout Europe. Firtash, in turn, used some of those profits to support Russia-aligned politicians. He had been a major sponsor of the Party of Regions and, prosecutors believed, an important paymaster for Manafort. The men were also would-be business partners; a decade earlier, they discussed a deal to buy a hotel in Manhattan. ....... Trump pardoned Manafort before leaving the White House. Had he remained in office, the former president said in a statement earlier this year, “the Ukraine desecration would not be happening.” But with Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, Putin was now facing a new American president who promised a tough line against his imperial designs on Ukraine — and with no obvious back channels through which to manipulate him or his policy. Thirteen months later, Russian tanks crossed the Ukrainian frontier. .

The Woman T.S. Eliot Loved at Arm’s Length and Enshrined in Verse While Eliot was attending graduate school at Harvard, he expressed his love to Hale but did not ask her to marry him. He moved to England to study at Oxford, and he surprised Hale and everyone else he knew by announcing his wedding to the spirited but fragile Vivienne Haigh-Wood. The two embarked on an unusually tortured marriage, becoming estranged and living separately until, in 1938, he helped have her committed to a mental hospital. As the marriage deteriorated, Hale became his muse and confidante. He wrote: “My love for you has steadily grown into something finer and finer. And I shall always write primarily for you.” ....... He was somehow more at ease in words, in abstractions and in memories, than in life. One senses that what he liked was the longing, the generating of the romantic image, the lofty, idealizing word game, rather than the inconvenient presence of the woman herself. ........ In a marriage, he writes at one point, “every moment is a new problem.” Though they spent nights sleeping next to each other, they apparently never consummated the relationship. Gordon calls their long, tormented, highly theoretical affair a “dance of possession and withdrawal.” ....... she did note the “abnormal” conditions of the attachment. Whenever she wavered, Gordon writes, Eliot sent “letters like lassos to hold her fast.” He destroyed most of her side of the correspondence, of which only 26 letters survive, but these give a strong sense of her boldness, intelligence and depth of feeling. ....... When, in 1947, Vivienne’s death finally freed him to marry Hale, he decided not to; he had already moved into rooms with a male friend, an arrangement, he told her, that would be for the rest of his life. ........ In narrating his romantic attachments, she captures his manipulations, his selfishness, what she calls his “cruelty,” without abandoning her mission to understand him and his writing .

Ukraine’s New Air Defense System Comes With a Deep Supply of Ammunition The two NASAMS launchers delivered to Kyiv fire common air-to-air missiles used by its allies......... NASAMS can defend against “basically any type of advanced aerial threat that Russia may try to employ against Ukrainian targets or civilians.” ........ This weapon generally falls into what militaries call a medium-range air defense system, able to hit targets at greater distances than weapons like the shoulder-fired Stinger missile the Pentagon has provided Ukraine, but with less range than larger and more expensive ones like the Patriot missile system. ....... it will allow them to beef up defenses at certain critical sites that need protection,” including around electrical infrastructure. ........ The launcher is capable of firing four different American-made missiles, Mr. Williams said, including the heat-seeking AIM-9X Sidewinder and the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, which has a radar that can home in on airborne threats about 30 miles away. Additionally, it can identify targets approaching from any direction ......... The NASAMS system is among those being considered for the European Sky Shield, a group of 15 nations led by Germany that will be purchasing a variety of missiles to protect against any military incursion by Moscow. ....... “NASAMS won’t provide a dome of protection over all of Ukraine, but it will significantly augment their ability to protect key areas,” he said. “And Ukraine needs more than the two units they have right now.” .

U.S., Allies Vow to Protect Ukraine’s Infrastructure From Russian Attacks Top diplomats from the Group of 7 nations discussed sending more air defense equipment to Ukraine and agreed to coordinate on rebuilding its infrastructure. ......... The Group of 7 nations announced Friday that they would work together to rebuild critical infrastructure in Ukraine that has been destroyed by Russia’s military and to defend such sites from further attacks........ The statement was the culmination of two days of meetings of foreign ministers in the old city hall of Münster, where negotiations that led to the Peace of Westphalia occurred, ending two 17th-century European wars in which millions died. ........ U.S. officials say the chances of Mr. Putin’s using a tactical nuclear weapon on the battlefield are low, but an American intelligence assessment that circulated in mid-October said Russian military leaders had talked about when and how to use tactical nuclear weapons ......... For now, Mr. Putin has adopted another tactic: using missile and drone attacks to damage Ukraine’s energy grid infrastructure. U.S. and European officials say

he is seeking to break Ukrainians’ morale by depriving them of electricity and heat during the winter

. ......... To carry out such attacks, Russia has been getting drones from Iran, and the diplomats discussed imposing further economic sanctions on Tehran ........ The first line in the China section said the group would aim for “constructive cooperation” with China where possible, in particular on climate change and global health. The group went on to criticize China’s human rights abuses and its aggressions against Taiwan.

Architects Plan a City for the Future in Ukraine, While Bombs Still Fall Irpin was one of the first Ukrainian cities to be destroyed and liberated. Now it’s becoming a laboratory for rebuilding. ....... Today Sapon is in charge of overseeing the reconstruction of not only the Irpin bridge but the entire city. The Russian invasion obliterated much of Irpin’s civilian infrastructure: Attacks blew out thousands of residential windows, collapsed roofs, eviscerated heating systems and destroyed the water filtration system. The Central House of Culture, the public market, the hospitals and the stadium were shelled. All of them would somehow need to be restored. “During this month, we started counting all the damage, scanning everything with drones,” Sapon told me. “We realized that 70 percent was destroyed, that the bridges were gone, all the kindergartens are damaged.” He is working with Irpin’s mayor, Oleksandr Markushin, and the executive director of the Irpin Reconstruction Fund (and a former mayor), Volodymyr Karpluk, to restore the city even as rolling blackouts and energy cuts remind residents that more pain is still to come. ........ The city estimates that it needs at least 50 million euros to prepare for winter, which has already arrived in Ukraine, and one billion euros to completely rebuild. .......... The reconstruction of Irpin may one day serve as a template — or a cautionary tale — for the eventual rebuilding of larger cities like Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol. ......... the reconstruction of the Balkans after the Bosnian war is an instructive precedent for Ukraine. Well-meaning organizations and foreign governments arrived with their own plans and strategies for rebuilding and their own expectations for how their work would be received, without adequate consideration of local contexts and histories. In Sarajevo, the newly established municipal government received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait to build mosques and Islamic centers, but it could not raise comparable funds to rebuild the city’s factories and other critical infrastructure. Everyone seemed to want Sarajevo to become a symbol of something — of reconciliation, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, nonalignment, privatization, new urbanism — and no sum of money would be enough to reconcile these competing visions in a society that was fragmented and grieving after a half decade of war. “Already, we are seeing how international institutions are coming to Ukraine and pursuing the same strategies that will lead to failure” ......... The outcome, Piplas details in his 2019 doctoral thesis, “Non-Aligned City,” was a chaotic race to reconstruct Sarajevo in the image of its varied benefactors. ......... Irpin is already awash in international aid and interest. ......... The team understands all too well that they cannot count on international good will alone to survive. To receive the funds they need, they need to market their own averted obliteration. .

With Western Weapons, Ukraine Is Turning the Tables in an Artillery War In the southern Kherson region, Ukraine now has the advantage in range and precision guidance of artillery, rockets and drones, erasing what had been a critical Russian asset. .

Could India Help Broker Peace in Ukraine? India has good relations with both Russia and the West, and seeks a more muscular role in geopolitics. The biggest obstacle is that Ukrainians and Russians don’t want to talk. ....... In July, when a critical deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to free up millions of pounds of desperately needed Ukrainian grain, India played an important behind-the-scenes role in helping sell the plan to Russia, which had been blockading the grain ships. ....... Two months later, when Russian forces were shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, leaving the world anxious about a nuclear catastrophe, India stepped in again and asked Russia to back off........ Earlier this year, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, floated the idea of hosting peace talks along with India’s leader, Narendra Modi, according to two Indian officials. The Franco-Indian effort never materialized. But it showed that India is increasingly viewed as a potential peacemaker with access to both sides. ....... “Were Russia and Ukraine to express interest in having a neutral third party mediate,” said Jeff M. Smith, director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington research institute, “India would be a strong candidate with credibility on both sides.” ........... Even as India has grown — it’s now the second most populous country after China and the world’s fifth largest economy — it is still trying to squeeze itself through a geopolitical needle. It has cultivated closer relations with the United States but Moscow remains a trusted partner, a key energy supplier and the source of much of the Indian military’s weaponry. ....... Mr. Modi seems to enjoy a good rapport with Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin ....... He can speak to Russia directly, which may be why Mr. Macron approached Mr. Modi about joint peace talks. ......... As they faced pressure from the West, Indian officials all along privately maintained that calling out Russia would achieve little, while staying neutral — at least in public — could come in handy in efforts to end the war. So while India has refrained from directly criticizing Russia, it has expressed concern about the violence and suffering the invasion has caused. ......... Mr. Modi, India’s most powerful prime minister in decades, has been trying to refashion the country’s tradition of nonalignment into a more commanding strategy — an “all alignment” of sorts. Peacemaking could carve a more prominent place for India in the global order and possibly bring it closer to a long-sought prize of a fairer power distribution — a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. ........ Mr. Jaishankar, who holds a Ph.D. in nuclear diplomacy, has been the chief theorist, as well as the chief implementer, of India’s new foreign-policy approach. When not shuttling between world capitals, he gives frequent and candid lectures at universities and research institutions. In his 2020 book “The India Way,” he said India’s rise would be determined by how it navigates a “world of naked self-interest.” .

The Housing Market Is Worse Than You Think Buyers, sellers and renters are in for more twists and turns, as soaring mortgage rates and stubborn inflation signal belt tightening ahead. ....... “Mortgage rates are sky high, prices are sky high, and there’s no inventory,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This may be the worst time in my living history for the home buyer — it just doesn’t make sense.” ....... they all agreed that the market is cooling fast. Home prices are going to drop, just not to the extent some buyers have hoped for. Sellers are going to have to work for their closings again. And renters may finally get a reprieve from surging prices, even as prices stay well above prepandemic levels ........ the cuts are coming, analysts said, perhaps as deep as 20 to 30 percent in markets that saw the most appreciation ...... Existing home prices soared 45 percent from December 2019 to June 2022, the start of the pandemic to the summer peak in pricing, the biggest jump ever recorded in such a short window of time ......... if a recession hits, an increasingly likely scenario, prices could drop 20 percent. ........ buy the house you can afford now, and refinance when mortgage rates dip. ........ There may be some moderate relief for renters, but a return to prepandemic pricing isn’t likely ....... Demand for market-rate rentals in the third quarter was negative, meaning there were more people moving out of apartments than into them — the first time this has happened in the typically busy summer months in 30 years .

We Need to Be Clear About Who Pushed Us to the Breaking Point
Where Will This Political Violence Lead? Look to the 1850s. In the mid-19th century, a pro-slavery minority — encouraged by lawmakers — used violence to stifle a growing anti-slavery majority. It wasn’t long before the other side embraced force as a necessary response........ Early Friday morning, an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, on the head with a hammer......... Details are still scant, but early indications suggest that the suspect, David Depape, is an avid purveyor of anti-Semitic, QAnon and MAGA conspiracy theories. Before the attack, the assailant reportedly shouted, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” ........ This is the United States of America in 2022. A country where political violence — including the threat of political violence — has become a feature, not a bug......... That’s the stuff of the 1850s, when mainstream Democrats turned away from democracy and openly embraced violence, vigilantism and treason to protect a world they saw at risk of disappearing........ Democratic violence in the 1850s ultimately led a majority of Republicans, who represented the political majority, to draw a line in the sand and enforce it by violence when necessary. If history is a guidepost, we are on the precipice of dangerous future in which politics devolves into a contest of force rather than ideas. That’s a future everyone should want to avoid. .

The Lifeblood of Iranian Democracy in September, the movement soon mobilized under the chant of zan, zendegi, azadi—“women, life, liberty”—and has used social media posts alongside street demonstrations to critique the government’s violent apparatuses of control over women’s bodies and life choices. ....... it is an organic movement that continues to define its democratic ambitions through each act of resistance, each instance of imagining governance otherwise. ......... One of the remarkable facets of this resistance is the creativity through which protesters, led by women, make their voices heard and their demands known. Their actions—through song and dance, artistic interventions and performances—illustrate the multiplicity of forms through which democratic agency can be enacted and mobilized. ......... Iran undertook one of the most significant experiments with democracy at the turn of the last century with the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–1911. The constitutionalists who challenged and imposed limits on the ruling Qajar dynasty established a parliament that purported to represent the whole people, but like so many governments making such claims, it turned out to be highly exclusionary. Through a gendered concept of citizenship, women were deprived of voice and decision-making in government, all the while a new bill of rights professed to guarantee citizens legal equality and protection of life and property. .......... Faced with unjust political and legal mandates alongside oppressive social norms, Iranian women found creative ways to resist regulatory discourses through writing, speaking, and performing their agency in their own voices. ......... As early as the nineteenth century, Iranian women took up the pen in a bid to critique and reshape the culture. One of the most remarkable such figures was Bibi Khanum Astarabadi (1858/9–1921). Known simply as Bibi Khanum, she is remembered for writing one of the most scathing critiques of men’s comportment toward women in Qajar Iran before the constitutional period. ........... With incisive humour and wit, she dismantled each of the ten recommendations in The Education—including women’s obedience, forbearance, and “proper” bodily comportment—and further took men to task for their vices and hypocrisies. As she notes, she was encouraged by other women who felt The Education deserved a strong response. Vices of Men indicates the enduring presence of a powerful counter-discourse against dominant narratives in Iran’s public sphere. ..........

My country, I will build you again, if need be, with bricks made from my life. I will build columns to support your roof, if need be, with my own bones. I will inhale again the perfume of flower favored by your youth. I will wash again the blood off your body with torrents of my tears.

............. Our preachers who make grand displays on their pulpits/ act in a different way as soon as they’re in private. ........... You could say they have no belief in Judgment Day/ the way they practice deceit and hypocrisy in God’s name. .......... Building up through the 1990s to the early 2000s, expressions of popular opposition to the government found a peak in the 2009 Green Movement, which saw a massive outpouring of public defiance in the streets. .......... What exactly can those living under an authoritarian regime in Iran show “Western” observers about ways to rethink the practice of democracy? .......... Democratic theorists in Europe and North America tend to focus heavily on a certain Western understanding of democracy: one that has its historical roots in Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman, and modern European canons of political thought and its contemporary tribulations in liberal societies characterized by diversity and polarization. .......

we would do well to try to expand our field of vision and consider other experiences for richer insights about ways to practice freedom and democracy.

........ the dissident Sufi tradition ........... art has been thriving underground in Iran, both spatially and symbolically. Censored artists have resorted to using spaces ranging from abandoned buildings in Tehran to rural areas and desert landscapes for spontaneous creations of visual art and dramatic performance. Others have worked within the limits imposed on them by the regime, at times playfully reappropriating its imagery and symbols to signal disobedience. ........ the will of the Iranian populace to reclaim their homeland from a regime that refuses to represent their needs and interests.

With Falsehoods and Ridicule About Pelosi Attack, Republicans Mimic Trump The former president has shown Republicans that there is no penalty — and possibly a reward — from voters for spreading false claims and insulting political opponents. .

Why I Keep Coming Back to Reconstruction “What were to be the limits of democratic control in the United States?” Du Bois asks. “Was the rule of the mass of Americans to be unlimited, and the right to rule extended to all men regardless of race and color?” And if not, he continues, “How would property and privilege be protected?” ........ Abolition-democracy, Du Bois writes, was the “liberal movement among both laborers and small capitalists” who saw “the danger of slavery to both capital and labor.” ....... Opposing abolition-democracy, in Du Bois’s telling, were the reactionaries of the former Confederate South who sought to “re-establish slavery by force.” The South, he writes, “opposed Negro education, opposed land and capital for Negroes, and violently and bitterly opposed any political power. It fought every conception inch by inch: no real emancipation, limited civil rights, no Negro schools, no votes for Negroes.” ......... What killed Reconstruction — beyond the ideological limitations of its champions and the vehemence of its opponents — was a “counterrevolution of property,” North and South. ........ Democratic life cannot flourish as long as it is bound by and shaped around hierarchies of status. The fight for political equality cannot be separated from the fight for equality more broadly. .

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