The story anchoring this week’s coverage on Via Meadia has been Secretary Clinton’s trip to China. We previewed the trip early in the week, situating it in the context of America’s recent strategic moves in the region. And as the Chen Guangcheng story began to unfold, we did our best to decode what had just happened—an analysis which seems to have been borne out by events. A dicey affair thus ends about as well as it could—a testament to the skill and professionalism of both Chinese and U.S. diplomats, with hopeful signs for ongoing U.S./Chinese cooperation going forward.We also focused on the just-completed elections in France and Greece. We sketched out what the results could mean, especially as it pertains to the critical Franco-German relationship, and now wait with baited breath to see how the world reacts to President Hollande and the cacophonous Greek anti-austerity coalition. Austerity isn’t a silver bullet, and may very well not be practical in large parts of Europe, but it can work if done smartly: Iceland, for one, seems to be doing much better after having chosen a difficult and painful path after the crisis. (Meanwhile, the Russians are up to their old games in Europe, seeing if they can pry Germany apart from an already shaky coalition on matters important to the Kremlin.)American cities have been festering pits of graft and bad governance since at least the early 19th century, but there is a difference between the “honest graft” of Tammany Hall and the nihilistic destruction practiced by some of today’s urban machines. We took a long hard look at the latest scandal emanating from Detroit—ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s outright plunder of the city’s pension fund—and wondered why this kind of scandalous, brazen thievery isn’t getting wider play in the national media.Other stories we hit this week:
- The situation in Pakistan is still unpredictable and dangerous, but the real time bomb in the region may be the increased radicalization of Kashmir’s Muslims.
- Norway’s Johan Galtung, the eminent sociologist and father of “peace studies”, comes out of the closet as a full blown anti-Semite.
- Silicon Valley companies don’t create business plans because concrete figures can depress lofty valuations when venture capitalists try to flip the company. Sounds like a bubble to us, and a broader sign of global economic malaise.
- A prestigious New York law firm went bust—just as a judge approved computerized document review, a ruling with far-reaching consequences for the legal profession. Those hoping to enter the legal profession, tread carefully!
- In education, we highlighted some smart ideas coming from a successful charter school network, as some of the most elite universities made a serious investment in (free-for-now) online education.