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Week in Review

Remember when Occupy Wall Street was sweeping the nation? How the mighty have fallen. We marveled at OWS’s spectacular fizzle this spring as it threatened reassert itself with the advent of more propitious weather for street demonstrations. But though Occupy is a bust, we speculated that we may yet see a real left-populist movement emerge in America if Romney and the Republicans win big this fall.

As a series of omens appeared on the occasion of Francois Hollande assuming France’s presidency, we tracked the slow-motion collapse of the European banking sector, and gamed out what the less-talked-about geopolitical ramifications of the exit of Greece (and Cyprus) from the EU would be for countries like Israel and Russia.

Move over, BRICs, there’s a new acronym in town. The GUTS (Germany, the United States, Turkey and South Korea) may be the true rising powers of the 21st century. Even Ezra Klein agrees that the picture for the United States is much rosier than most predict. Meanwhile, Brazil reported some fairly lackluster growth figures, causing market analysts to downgrade its prospects going forward. India looks more and more like the “Greece of Asia“. Fissures in the Chinese system grow more prominent by the day, making some sort of crisis there likely. And Russia continues to be Russia, pointlessly issuing a veiled nuclear threat against the United States, thus undermining its own stock market.

Of the foundering BRICs, though, China remains the most formidable power. Though American efforts in the broader region continue to pay off—best exemplified this week by the dramatic realignment of Burma against North Korea—America’s ability to directly influence events inside China itself remain vanishingly small. And the pivot itself is not some mere matter of shifting focus and calling it a day. On the contrary, there are many complications and pitfalls which can beset the strategy if it’s not competently executed. Via Meadia looks forward to the ongoing national dialogue about this subject going forward.

Though things look good in the macro sense, there are plenty of challenges ahead for the United States as it refashions itself for the 21st century. California’s steady march towards failed statehood is proceeding apace as Governor Jerry Brown announced that the budget shortfall would be $16 billion instead of $9 billion, despite some difficult dear-to-blue cuts he had tried to make. The blue civil war intensified in Illinois, as the state’s unions pushed back hard against Governor Pat Quinn’s efforts to rein in pension costs (which are increasingly a problem in Scotland too). The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in Kansas came under scrutiny for some potentially criminal shenanigans in managing their pension fund. And several states have taken a much-needed $25 billion settlement earmarked for foreclosure prevention and have chosen to use the funds to plug other budget holes in higher education, prisons, and energy instead.

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  • Luke Lea

    [OT but an acquaintance who lives in Mexico writes:

    “Any listmembers who like tales of Latin depravity will be gratified to learn that the narco wars have definitively reached the region of Lake Chapala. Eighteen headless bodies in Ixtlahaucan, ten minutes from Chapala, a house
    across the street from a friend’s place in Ajijic raked with AK fire, the paper in Nuevo Leon announcing that it will no lnger cover crime after a couple of its reporters were killed and, far worse, hereabouts the kidnapping and killing–no ranson demands–of teenagers, apparently in response to the arrest of a woman big in the narco traffic. Eight years ago,there was no trace of this. The government was never strong, but strong enough to keep the country moving toward development at a good rate. Now it is clearly unable to control cartels that have the money to buy both politicians and military-grade weaponry, not just from the US government but from the international arms market.

    Much of what is happening is being suppressed here, and never makes it to the US media. It all began when Calderón, apparently under American pressure, attacked
    the drug outfits. Since the current presidential candidates consist of two mental defectives, or so they seem, and an intelligent leftist with little chance of being elected, change is unlikely. What this weill mean for the US, we shall see.”

    To me this sounds like the China of 85 years ago I’ve been reading about: opium, warlordism, beheadings, Pock Mark Wong and Big Ears Du in Shanghai controlling the banks and bankrolling the politicians. I hope WRM will cover this closer to home story.]

  • Luke Lea

    Villagers Fight Back Against Local Officials, Killing Two
    [Open in new window]

    On a brighter note, I did see reference to there being more than one candidate in an election for “village chief” down in the article. First sign of democracy I’ve read about recently. How widespread are these village elections? How powerful are the village chiefs?

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