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India seeks some light in the dark

The power failure that this week brought half of India to a standstill is the result of energy shortfalls caused by an addiction to over-consumption, with gadgets such as air-conditioners now seen as essential by the newly prosperous. The answer isn't India sacrificing its chillers to swelter in ascetic discomfort, or modern nuclear plants. An alternative to reliance on hydro-power and imported electricity is needed, with the sun a glaringly obvious candidate. - Raja Murthy (Aug 1, '12)

Where is Prince Bandar?
Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar "Bush", the presumptive orchestrator of "Damascus Volcano", the failed attempt to obliterate Bashar al-Assad's inner sanctum, has dropped off the radar. Has Syrian intelligence bumped him off? Or did the Iranians get their man in a tit-for-tat bombing in Riyadh, where the prince was newly crowned head of Saudi intel? As the rumor mills hit overdrive in Syria, the House of Saud is cloaked in silence. - Pepe Escobar (Aug 1, '12)

Philippines arms itself with new pacts
The Philippines, faced with renewed assertiveness by China in the South China Sea and an ambiguous attitude by the United States to military defense ties, has forged new pacts with Australia and Japan to hedge its bets. With those in the bag, it will now auction three contested areas for oil and gas exploration.
- George Amurao (Aug 1, '12)

The myth of a free Hong Kong economy

Hong Kong has been hailed as the world's freest economy for more than two decades. Yet the main sectors of the economy are dominated by a few families, with limited land availability at the heart of their vast wealth. - Eddie Leung and Pepe Escobar (Aug 1, '12)
This is the first article in a three-part report

Race to the bottom in Malaysia
As the deadline for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to call a general election draws ever closer and the economy remains stubbornly sluggish, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition is turning to racial politics to secure the ethnic Malay vote. Persuading well-educated Chinese not to migrate would serve the country better.
- William Barnes (Aug 1, '12)

Misconceptions fuel Assam tribal violence

Communal clashes which erupted last week between Bodo tribals and Bengali-speaking Muslims in India's state of Assam have claimed more than 50 lives. The Bodo, the northeastern plains' oldest tribe, say "illegal migrants" from Bangladesh are stealing their land, yet the group they target is mostly Indian Muslims entitled to live in the area.
- Sudha Ramachandran (Aug 1, '12)

Syria and the end of populism
Before his country's uprising, President Bashar al-Assad predicted that Syria would be immune to the Arab Spring because his policies were popular among the Arab masses. Assad failed to understand that the opposition movement has been motivated by a desire to end perpetual rule and is not a reaction to populism - failed or otherwise.
- Ahmed E Souaiaia (Aug 1, '12)

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Software tycoon reboots Korean politics
A will-he-or-won't-he tale of whether the anti-virus software entrepreneur who shook up this year's Seoul mayoral election will run for president has gripped South Korean voters, with political enigma Ahn Cheol-soo emerging as a champion for young voters disillusioned with old-style politics. Potentially pitted against Park Geun-hye, daughter of a former military dictator and epitome of the old guard, Ahn is playing his cards carefully as December approaches. - Steven Borowiec (Jul 31, '12)

Iran diplomacy hits new sanctions roadblock
Fresh from Mitt Romney's trip to Israel, Republicans are rushing to push more sanctions against Iran through the United States Congress by the end of this week. That clamor for punitive measures, and ongoing efforts to tie Iran to international terrorism, leave peaceful resolution to the long-standing impasse over Iran's nuclear program an increasingly dim prospect.
- Jasmin Ramsey (Jul 31, '12)

Indo-Saudi alliance takes on terror
The deportation in June by Saudi Arabia of a key figure in the 2008 Mumbai attacks marked a major shift by Riyadh away from its long-standing alliance with Pakistan and toward India. But more than that, it was an indication that the kingdom has finally recognized its tacit support of Salafist terrorism is a double-edged sword. Still, Delhi can't take Saudi cooperation for granted. - Animesh Roul (Jul 31, '12)

Guns are going
off everywhere

As Americans nationwide were transfixed with round-the-clock coverage of the Batman shootings in Denver, yet another "documented gang member" was being shot dead by police in California. This is daily life in less-white, less-suburban America, yet neither the sensationalist media nor normally statistics-obsessed authorities bother to track fatalities in police shootings. - Stephan Salisbury (Jul 31, '12)

The Bush Institute bells the cat
The intractable nature of the US' economic problems are illustrated in the George W Bush Institute's new collection of essays on restoring growth. Like mice agreeing that the cat should wear a bell, the need to restore a high growth rate is common ground. How to get there is represented by diametrically opposed monetary policies. (Jul 31, '12)

China: Still lost in translation
In the Age of Knowledge, where the average American or European will draw a blank if asked to name a single Chinese concept, late-20th and early-21st century Western "China Studies" are the greatest intellectual property theft of all time, and another impostor besides the evils of 17th-19th century missions to Christianize China.
- Thorsten Pattberg (Jul 31, '12)
This concludes a two-part report.
Part 1:
China: Lost in translation

Syrian wheel of fortune spins China's way
The longer Bashar al-Assad clings to power in an ever more fractious Syria, the more the United States will have to shrink a super-sized dream for regime change and the less the Gulf states can count on Syria as a proxy in the battle with Shi'ite Iraq and Iran. From looking like it misplayed its hand, China is seeing events spin fortune its way. - Peter Lee (Jul 27, '12)

Welcome to the
Kurdish Spring

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come out all guns blazing after Assad quietly concluded a deal that handed the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party control of key areas in the northeast. This raises prospects for Ankara's worst nightmare - a semiautonomous region coalescing with Kurds in Iraq - and turns the Turkish maxim of "zero problems with our neighbors" on its head.
- Pepe Escobar (Jul 27, '12)

Wounded Syrian regime fights back
As heavy urban fighting in Damascus and Aleppo erodes the cohesion of President Bashar al-Assad's military and security apparatus and prospects for him retreating to a "rump state" harboring his Alawite faith fade, the regime appears fatally damaged. However, neither rebel unity nor a foreign intervention in Syria seems imminent, and the regime's tactic of offering greater Kurdish autonomy is unsettling its opponents. - Victor Kotsev (Jul 27, '12)

Bill Gross
is half right
on equities

There was some truth in PIMCO managing director Bill Gross's pronouncement that "stocks are dead". What has changed is not just returns, as Gross observed, but also the risk adjustment on the returns. The move to risk aversion in equity valuations has sobering implications.

Oil rulers blind to the future
The rulers of the Middle East oil states have quite clearly failed their citizens by supporting an incredible inequality of benefits from the depletion of the capital locked up in oil, while also failing to diversify their economies to provide for the future.
This is the 11th article in a special series on oil and the Persian Gulf.

Confidence drains away
Investor confidence in several European countries is draining away to an extent that insolvency events may occur to produce a global depression of 1930s magnitude. It is also clear the authorities have little idea of what to do when it happens. - Martin Hutchinson

Monetary madness
European Central Bank president Mario Draghi and European policymakers last week hit the panic button, burning once more those with bearish hedges and bets. Global monetary injections are ensuring only that more "money" flows to the global leveraged speculating community.
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

TONY ALLISON (1953-2012)
Asia Times Online's Editor-in-Chief Anthony Allison died on June 20 after a short illness. We extend our sympathy to Tony's family for their tragic and premature loss.



China fishes in Russian waters
Friendship between China and Russia is determined by the overall strategic situation instead of some individual incidents...
- M K Bhadrakumar

[Re Small peninsula shapes global history, Jul 26, '12] The Korean War began as a civil conflict but soon became dominated by a US-led UN coalition and China sent in volunteers to prevent any hostile US-dominated presence on its borders. Today, China's backing of North Korea is still based on that strategic goal.
Nakamura Junzo
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Welcome to the Kurdish Spring

2. Syrian wheel of fortune spins China's way

3. Iran diplomacy hits new sanctions roadblock

4. China: Still lost in translation

5. The new Indo-Saudi alliance against terrorism

6. The Bush Institute bells the cat

7. Ukraine turns to Chinese cash

8. Guns are going off everywhere

9. Wounded Syrian regime fights back

10. Recession ahoy

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Jul 31, 2012)


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