Trillion-dollar boo-boo

Info-graphic from Economist

From: The Economist Dated: July 26 2014

The calculation stems from the fact that investors regard Russian assets with suspicion. As a result, Russian stocks trade on a huge discount to much of the rest of the world, with an average price-earnings ratio (p/e) of just 5.2. At present, the Russian market has a total value of $735 billion. If it traded on the same p/e as the average emerging market (12.5), it would be worth around $1.77 trillion. Read more

Russia, MH17 and the West A web of lies

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Picture and text from: The Economist Dated: June 26 2014

IN 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the Russian people might at last have the chance to become citizens of a normal Western democracy. Vladimir Putin’s disastrous contribution to Russia’s history has been to set his country on a different path. And yet many around the world, through self-interest or self-deception, have been unwilling to see Mr Putin as he really is.

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the killing of 298 innocent people and the desecration of their bodies in the sunflower fields of eastern Ukraine, is above all a tragedy of lives cut short and of those left behind to mourn. But it is also a measure of the harm Mr Putin has done. Under him Russia has again become a place in which truth and falsehood are no longer distinct and facts are put into the service of the government. Mr Putin sets himself up as a patriot, but he is a threat—to international norms, to his -Read more

An unedifying spectacle

From: The Hindu Dated: July 26 2014 EDITORIAL

The Shiv Sena, which specialises in using strong-arm tactics to silence those who disagree with it, has long been a prime culprit in taking resort to extreme and unacceptable behaviour. Whether it is in attacking newspaper editors or television channels critical of it, or others who come in its way, the Sena has violated the law of the land with impunity time and again. In this case, Mr. Arshad’s complaint to his supervisors said he was in uniform, displaying his name badge. Even then, the aggressive MP, as clearly seen in television footage, tried to force a chapati into his mouth in the face of his protestations that he was fasting. Interestingly, though the incident happened last week, television channels ran the video footage of the coarse behaviour of the Member of Parliament only after the matter was reported in print on Wednesday.

India has changed for the better in so many ways, with greater public scrutiny of and accountability in public life, but we know that the powerful still enjoy impunity. Even if it would be too much to expect -Read more

A country where liberal journalists risk death

Man holding lip

From: BBC news Dated: July 24 2014 By Mohammed Hanif, Pakistan

The life of a liberal journalist in Pakistan is not an easy one. Write about someone fighting a blasphemy case, or someone whose faith is considered heresy, and you may very soon find yourself in deep trouble.

Shoaib Adil, a 49-year-old magazine editor and publisher in Lahore, has many well-wishers and they all want him to disappear from public life or, even better, leave the country.

Since blasphemy charges were filed against him last month, the police have told him that he can’t return home, he can’t even be seen in the city where he grew up and worked all his life. It wouldn’t be safe.

As a journalist, Adil has been a vocal critic of religious militarism. But threat to his life doesn’t come from Taliban.

He is the victim of an everyday witch hunt by Pakistan’s powerful religious groups – the kind of witch hunt that’s so common and yet so scary that it never makes headlines.

For the past 14 years, Adil has been editing and publishing a monthly -Read more

Egypt and Gaza: No longer a true mediator

Jhon Kerry and Sisi, /Picture from The Economist

Jhon Kerry and Sisi, /Picture from The Economist

From: The Economist Dated: July 23 2014

Two years later, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is struggling in his attempts bring an end to a ghastly repeat conflict that has already outdone 2012 in both length and death toll. A proposal, along the same lines as 2012, put forward by the Egyptians (seemingly with the advice of Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to Palestine who enjoys close relations with Mr Sisi) on July 14th quickly fell apart, as Hamas claimed not to have been involved in negotiations. One Hamas official claimed the group had not even been notified.

On July 22nd John Kerry, America’s secretary of state, and the UN’s Ban Ki-moon held meetings in Cairo to add oomph to the efforts and announced that progress had been made. But their diplomatic zeal may be in vain: Egypt nowadays is simply not well placed to broker peace.

Since Egypt’s army, then headed by Mr Sisi, ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in a coup in July 2013, official policy towards Hamas has hardened. Egyptian officials accused Hamas, without presenting evidence, of opening prisons during the revolution of 2011 that toppled Hosni Mubarak. In August Egypt shut its Rafah border crossing with Gaza indefinitely after clashes. An Egyptian court also banned Hamas from carrying out activities in the country. Egypt has lost influence thanks to its terrible relations with Doha, the Qatari capital, where Hamas’s external leadership is based, over the Gulf state’s close ties to the Brotherhood.

Egypt has long enjoyed links with both Israel—with which it has a peace treaty—and Hamas, but that has become more lopsided under Mr Sisi. He appears to reckon that -Read more

Inside a Beijing Interrogation Room

Assa Ariyoshi

Assa Ariyoshi

Picture and story from: New York Times Dated: July 17 2014 By

Chinese writers like me often face difficult choices. What should we do when friends are arrested for no good reason? Keep our mouths closed? Should we speak out in protest and risk being dragged away to prison? Is it fair to our families and friends to risk rotting away in jail because we refuse to shut up?

After several months away from China for an academic residency and vacation, I returned to my home in Beijing on July 2 prepared to be arrested. While abroad I had announced in a blog post and in this newspaper that I would turn myself in to the authorities for contributing an essay to a private commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Several of the participants in the Beijing gathering had been arrested.

On July 6, I posted a message online saying that I was home and ready to be picked up. My girlfriend never said it, but I knew she was uncomfortable with my stance. Two days later, I received a phone call from a police officer -Read more

UN security council votes to deliver aid to rebel-held areas of Syria

The United Nations Security Council

The UN security council meets to discuss aid in Syria before unanimously voting to authorise relief deliveries. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images



From: Guardian, UK Dated: July 14 2014 By Julian Borger

The UN security council has voted unanimously to authorise deliveries of humanitarian aid to rebel-held areas of Syria, without the approval of the Damascus regime, in a rare show of international unity that diplomats say will help get food to 1.3 million people trapped behind the lines.

The resolution endorses the use of four new crossing points on the Syrian border for humanitarian deliveries and the deployment of a monitoring team to ensure aid flows smoothly.

UN agencies had been reluctant to deliver food and other essential supplies to rebel-held areas without the Syrian government’s permission for fear the regime would stop their work in government zones, endangering the lives of the people there.

“This resolution is aimed at breaking the regime’s stranglehold on aid – Read more