Copy-Barack Obama's foreign policy: The quiet American | The Economist

Without surprise we got a provisional promise, but we should also fully understand that he was born to make promise which would never be executed.

via Barack Obama’s foreign policy: The quiet American | The Economist.

Barack Obama's foreign policy

The quiet American

Nov 26th 2009

From The Economist print edition

Is Barack Obama’s diplomacy subtle and strategic, or weak and naive? The world is about to find out


AT LAST Barack Obama seems to be starting to make up his mind. After months of agonising, he is apparently close to announcing that he will after all send a decent number of American reinforcements to Afghanistan (see article). Meanwhile, having barely mentioned climate change since his inauguration, he has now told the world that he is going to the international summit in Copenhagen—and with a provisional promise that the world’s greatest polluter will cut emissions.

Bold stuff. But both Afghanistan and Copenhagen can also be cited as evidence of a weakness that runs through his foreign policy. It looks to many as if he has dithered, not deliberated. On Afghanistan, far from being clever, his faint-hearted attempt to talk round Congress, manage his squabbling officials and twist the arm of Hamid Karzai, the vote-rigging Afghan president, has arguably accomplished little except hand the initiative to the enemy: his generals have an uphill struggle. On climate change, the rush to Copenhagen, with no bill in sight in Congress, has an air of desperation.

This goes to the heart of the debate about Mr Obama’s diplomacy. Which will he be, clever or weak? Does this president have a strategy, backed if necessary by force, to reorder the world? Or is he merely a presidential version of Alden Pyle, Graham Greene’s idealistic, clever Quiet American who wants to change the world, but underestimates how bad the world is—and ends up causing harm?

Short-sighters v long-gamers

The doubters argue that, however decent and articulate, Mr Obama is gaining a reputation as someone who can be pushed around. This month, after the president pandered to China by refusing to meet the Dalai Lama, China pushed for more by banning questions at his Beijing press conference with Hu Jintao, its president. When Mr Obama demanded that Israel stop all work on its settlements in the occupied territories, Binyamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, defied him and still, staggeringly, won praise from Hillary Clinton.

Each time, the doubters say, Mr Obama’s delicate overtures are met with ambiguity or contempt. Since he engaged Iran, it has continued to temporise and dissimulate over its nuclear programme. When Mr Obama abandoned a missile-defence system in Europe, he appeared to extract a pledge from Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, that his country would support sanctions if Iran is recalcitrant—only for Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, repeatedly to say he sees no need. Although America has pledged $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over five years, the army seems reluctant to take on the Taliban who drift from northern Pakistan into Afghanistan—indeed, the conditions riding on the grant were spun by the Pakistani security services into an American “insult” (see article). Yes, Mr Karzai eventually buckled in Kabul, but his readiness to thumb his nose at the world superpower was humiliating.

The “clever” camp retort that diplomacy is not about instant gratification. Mr Obama has pulled off the urgent tasks of starting to withdraw troops from Iraq and resetting America’s dysfunctional relations with Russia. He has boosted the G20 as a new global forum. This week Israel announced a partial settlement freeze. With health-care reform under his belt, he will soon be able to turn to world affairs with his status enhanced. Besides, you could hardly accuse Mr Obama of timidity. In three speeches in Prague, Cairo and Accra, he set out a new foreign policy that rejects the Manichean view of his predecessor. He means to negotiate deep cuts in nuclear weapons, make peace between Arabs and Jews, engage Iran, heal the climate and establish America as the strongest and most upright pole of a multipolar world. Yes, this work lies ahead, but how much can you ask in a year of war and recession?

It is a fair point, but as the months drag on, the “weak” case has been gaining the upper hand. Mr Obama has yet to show he has the staying power to take on a dangerous, stubborn and occasionally bad world. Even allowing for Israel’s shift this week, the president has hardly lived up to his promise to work for Middle East peace “with all the patience and dedication that the task requires”. With one big exception, he has not yet shown that he can back his oratory with a stick—and that was a tariff on Chinese tyres, a weak sop to America’s unions.

Calm and conciliatory pragmatism is welcome after George Bush’s impetuous moral certitude, but it also carries risks. Critics on the American right are wrong to carp at Mr Obama’s bowing to kings and emperors. Simple courtesy will help restore America’s image, not diminish it. The trouble is that the president often seems kinder to America’s rivals than to its friends. His guest this week, Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, may well have moaned about Mr Obama’s kid-glove handling of China. Allies in eastern Europe, their soldiers dying in Afghanistan, resent being called mere “partners”, Mr Obama’s term for pretty much anyone (see article). The hapless Gordon Brown has got precious little thanks.

And how exactly will Mr Obama’s quiet multilateral vision, in which each nation does its bit for the good of all, work in practice? He is right that American power is circumscribed. But the European Union is not fit to help him police the world (see article). China, India and Russia are not willing.

“God save us always from the innocent and the good”

That leaves Mr Obama with a burden to shoulder on his own. In the coming weeks he could prove the doubters wrong. He could lead the way towards a brave deal on the climate. He could press Iran to negotiate over its nuclear programme before his own end-of-year deadline—or secure Russian backing for sanctions. He could agree to cut nuclear arms with Russia. He could bully the Palestinians and Mr Netanyahu to agree to talk. And he could get Mr Karzai and Pakistan to show that they mean to make Afghanistan governable. Even part of that list would set up Mr Obama as a foreign-policy president. But if there is no progress, then Mr Obama will be cast as starry-eyed and weak. He himself recognised the danger of that in one of those golden speeches: “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

Copy-Space exploration: Any drop to drink? | The Economist

Jesus, what the hell is going on the moon?

Space exploration: Any drop to drink? | The Economist.

Space exploration

Any drop to drink?

Nov 13th 2009

There is water—or, at least ice—on the moon


THE moon is covered with seas, oceans and bays, the result of astronomers from past centuries whose imaginations out-ran the capabilities of their instruments, and who assumed that the Earth’s nearest neighbour was not that dissimilar to its mother planet. Modern astronomers know different. The moon is airless, waterless, weatherless and lifeless. Or so it would appear. But some have clung to the hope that the waterless bit applies only to liquid water, and that there might be places on the moon which harbour ice.

The places in question would be deep in craters at the moon’s poles—places, in other words, where the sun don’t shine. The ice, the hope went, would have arrived on board comets that crash at random on to the moon’s surface. Calculations suggest that enough of these would have fallen into the perpetual darkness of some of the polar craters, over the billions of years those craters have existed, to build up a reasonable supply of frozen water. And that, inevitably, has got the space cadets who wish to build permanently crewed bases on the moon in a tizzy. Any base would need a water supply. If that water did not have to be shipped from Earth, then the cost of establishing one might be brought down from the totally ridiculous to the merely absurd.

The experiment was carried out on October 9th, when NASA famously “bombed” the moon. The target was a crater called Cabeus, which is 100km from the moon’s south pole. The bombs were, first, the upper-stage booster of a probe called LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and SensingSatellite) and then, five minutes later, the LCROSS probe itself. During that five minutes, the instruments on LCROSS gathered data on the plume of debris thrown up by the booster’s impact and transmitted them hastily back to Earth. The impact of LCROSS was monitored by a second probe, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.Friday 13th of November, then, has brought good luck to the proponents of lunar bases. The preliminary results of an experiment conducted by NASA, America’s space agency, suggest there is indeed ice on the moon.

In the weeks since the double impact, NASA’s scientists have been analysing these results, and on Friday the scientists announced that the results suggest the presence of water in Cabeus. The telltales are specific “lines” in the spectrum of infra-red light from the plume. These correspond to the frequencies of light given off when water molecules are energetically excited. The investigators, led by Anthony Colaprete of NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California, were unable to explain the spectral lines in question by any other combination of plausible chemicals, so are pretty sure that water is what they have found. That finding is reinforced by a second set of lines, in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, which indicate the presence in the plume of hydroxyl radicals. Hydroxyl is HO, as opposed to water’s H2O, and it is usually the result of water molecules decomposing.

In truth, the result is not that surprising. There is always excitement when water is discovered anywhere but Earth. Since it is composed of the commonest element in the universe and the third commonest, however, it is actually quite abundant. The LCROSS finding is, nevertheless, a successful confirmation of an intriguing hypothesis. In due course, maybe, the spiritual airs of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott will fulfill the space-cadets’ dream by visiting the moon’s south pole and confirming that there is ice there in person.

Copy-Old Post For the Single Day-11.11(轉-发旧帖庆祝中光棍节)




we were all ambitious at the very beginning


some times we were too stupid to being cool


some times we were too souring to being a cutty pie


but still believed that there is a biggest promise in the world


and some times we  just had a wild daydreaming


but the reality is always grim


and we always acted redundantly at that very moment


can’t remember how many times we were just five minutes late


can’t remember how many horrible wild animals we’ve met


every time, the lonely bear is our only cure


but all of these can’t stop me fighting


can’t stop me dreaming to my dream island


for that dear eyes


I will pigheadedly devote to the pursuit of happiness

Copy-the Meaning of Photography, the Most Intimate Moment in 2009(轉-『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻 -)

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻 – .

这个星球上最为温情的摄影奖『M.I.L.K』评选结果刚刚公布,来自立陶宛的女摄影师Victoria Vaisvilaite Skirutiene以一张名为“告别的鬼脸”的作品从超过17000名竞争者中脱颖而出,获得50000美元奖金。

链接:More 『摄影奖项』

M.I.L.K是“Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship”的简写,所有提交作品的照片都以记录“友情、亲情、家庭欢乐”为终极目标,最终评选结果,自然要比我们所介绍过的任何一个摄影奖项,更打动人,并给予人相信生命中美好事物存在的力量 ─── 在我们看来,这便是摄影的意义。

“选出50000美元的优胜者实在是个不小的责任,我反复将这些作品看了一遍又一遍,艰难地选出10名候选者,挑出最打动我的3幅,最后将最出色、最具生命力的一张作品呈现在所有人面前。”我们都很熟悉的Elliott Erwitt大叔担当这一奖项的最终评委。

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

今年,一共有来自164个国家的17000名摄影师提交了40000份作品,其中包括至少4名普利策摄影奖获得者。包括一等奖在内,Elliott Erwitt一共挑选了300张入围作品,其中150张将收录于名为《Friendship, Family, Love & Laughter》的画册中。


Leica中文摄影杂志』推荐使用Email的方式订阅,亦可通过Google ReaderQQ阅读等RSS工具阅读;^_^,在Apple Mac OS X下可获得最佳阅读体验。

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

『摄影的意义』M.I.L.K 2009的温情时刻

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Copy-Health-care reform in America: Claiming a victory | The Economist

Health-care reform in America

Claiming a victory

Nov 9th 2009

A bill to reform health care squeaks through the House. The action moves to the Senate


THE House of Representatives narrowly passed a health-care bill on Saturday November 7th, a big step for those who want to reform America’s $2.5 trillion health-care system. Barack Obama spent part of his Saturday making a rare visit to Capitol Hill to press some hesitating Democrats into giving their support, although in the end the tally of 220-215 in favour of the legislation, with 39 Democrats voting against, was a tight margin. The bill picked up the support of just one Republican, Joseph Cao, a first-term congressman from New Orleans who faces a tough battle for re-election next year. After securing the lone Republican’s support, Steny Hoyer, the Democrat’s majority leader, jokingly declared that there had been “a bipartisan vote”.

Success in the House, however, is just one part of a long process. Senators must next debate their own health-care proposals, which could be brought to the Senate floor before the end of this month. If they manage to pass a bill then differences between the House and Senate versions would need to be hammered out before a final act is sent to the president to sign. Nevertheless, the House bill marks a step towards America getting the most significant piece of health-care legislation through Congress since Medicare in 1965, creating near-universal coverage for health insurance. Veterans of past health-care battles are delighted.

John Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, suggested that the House bill would produce $1,260 in annual savings for a family of four through lower premiums, according to research by an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The cost to the public purse is another matter. The Congressional Budget Office published a report on November 6th suggesting that the bill, if enacted, would carry a net cost of $1.05 trillion between 2010 and 2019, but that this would be offset by higher taxes on the rich and other measures, resulting in a net reduction of $109 billion to the budget deficit over that period.The House bill as it stands would overhaul America’s health-insurance system. Any firm with a payroll higher than $500,000 would be obliged to offer insurance to its workers or face a stiff penalty. States would be compelled to extend Medicaid, the government health plan used by the very poor, to an additional 15m people. A new mandate would require every individual to have health insurance, but those on low and middle incomes would be eligible for subsidies to obtain cover through an insurance market. And although the idea had been written off as little as a month ago, the “public option” of a government-run insurance scheme would compete with private insurers in the new exchange. The bill would also stop insurers from denying coverage to people with debilitating pre-existing conditions.

Pro-abortion choice groups were furious, however, with amendments in the legislation that ban anyone who receives a federal subsidy from using it towards private insurance that covers abortion procedures and disallows the public plan from offering the same. The amendments came after frantic negotiations between Nancy Pelosi, the speaker (pictured above), and conservative Democratic representatives, whose support for the bill was essential. Dozens of Democrats ended up backing the abortion restrictions. Diana DeGette, a leader of the Pro-Choice Caucus in the House, told Roll Call that the amendments represented the biggest restrictions on a woman’s right to an abortion that she has yet seen. Assuming that the restrictions survive the conference stage of the negotiations, court action surely looms.

The passage of the bill represented welcome news for Mr Obama. He was unable to escape some of the blame for the Democratic losses of governors’ offices in New Jersey and Virginia earlier in the week and there were more gloomy figures on jobs. In the past the president’s hands-off approach to health-care reform has raised pertinent questions about his leadership style, but, despite the narrow margin of victory, passing the bill marks solid progress and at last gives the Democrats something to cheer.

A big question remains in the Senate, however, where the action will now lie. Republicans insist that the current legislation restricts individual choice, but it is conservative Democrats in the chamber who could do most damage to the hopes of the reformers. A narrow victory in the House is not necessarily a harbinger of success in the Senate.

Copy-the Time Weekly Photos(轉-『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 – 06,2009 -)

链接: 《Times》新闻摄影图片精选 新闻摄影

Tuesday, November 03, 2009
正在战地医院外等待身体检查的难民,巴基斯坦。摄影师:Akhtar Soomro
Bostan Khanr, who fled a military offensive in South Waziristan, waited for a checkup at an army field hospital in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, Tuesday.

『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 - 06,2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009
NFL委员Roger Goodell与众议员Steve Scalise在周二的国会听证会前进行对话。Goodell要求国会修改联邦法律,保护球队联盟在类固醇政策上不受州立法律的挑战。摄影师:Brendan Hoffman
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) talked with Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.) before testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday.

『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 - 06,2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009
一群俄罗斯士兵身着二战军服,准备为俄军前往二战前线68周年的检阅进行排练,莫斯科红场。摄影师:Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russian soldiers dressed in World War II uniforms waited in Red Square in Moscow Thursday to rehearse for a parade to mark the 68th anniversary of a parade by soldiers going directly to the front in World War II.

『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 - 06,2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009
中国空军建立60周年庆祝空中表演的排练。摄影师:Joe Chan

『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 - 06,2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009
肯尼亚的游行者们手举写着美国总统奥巴马竞选口号“Yes We Can”的标牌。活动者们在内罗毕会议会场外呼吁支持抗击艾滋病、结核以及疟疾的科研、药品捐赠。摄影师:Mohamed Dahir

『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 - 06,2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009
白雪覆盖了北京的大街小巷,上周日北京迎来了今年第一场大雪。摄影师:Feng Li
Snow covered streets and these bicycles in Beijing Sunday in the capital’s first heavy snowfall this winter.

『Time』一周摄影图片精选:Nov 01 - 06,2009

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from The Wall Street Journal


美國勞工部(Labor Department)週五公佈﹐10月份失業率上升0.4個百分點﹐至10.2%。接受道瓊斯通訊社(Dow Jones Newswires)調查的經濟學家此前預計10月份失業率升至9.9%。










By Nick Godt from The Wall Street Journal (Translate from MarketWatch)

大學(New York University)經濟學家魯比尼(Nouriel Roubini)週三表示﹐包括股票、新興市場和大宗商品在內的各種市場﹐上漲幅度過高﹐速度過快﹐因為全球經濟將經歷的是一種疲弱復蘇﹐而不會是人們期待的V型反彈。



魯比尼在舉行於紐約證券交易所(NYSE)的“Inside Commodities”大會上發表報告時說:“我會認為﹐已出現的上漲﹐幅度過大、速度過快。如果復蘇為V型﹐那麼這種上漲是合理的。但我相信﹐復蘇將是U型﹐在這種情況下﹐這些資產價格可能是雙邊波動﹐不然就有可能出現調整。”














Copy-Google's China Music Service Gains Fans

Google’s China Music Service Gains Fans

By Loretta Chao from The Wall Street Journal

Google Inc.’s online music service in China is now providing about five million songs a day and is starting to attract major advertisers though its revenue remains small, a top executive at the U.S. search company’s Chinese partner said.

Google’s music search, launched in March and currently available only in China, has been closely watched by the music industry because it is the only major service in the world to let users download and stream licensed songs free.

The service is a joint venture between Google and, a site owned by Chinese company Orca Digital.

Offering the first details on how the venture is performing, Gary Chen, chief executive of Orca Digital, said in an interview that five advertisers have signed on for the service so far, including Nokia Corp., Apple Inc. and Volkswagen AG, with total commitments of 2.5 million yuan ($370,000).

Orca Digital and Google expect to sign several more ad deals that could bring in $1 million each, and hope to have a total of 30 advertisers within a half year, he said.

Other music services around the world currently require users to buy individual songs or albums, or pay subscription fees. Those approaches have had limited effectiveness in combating online music piracy that has devastated the music business in recent years.

But with CD sales sinking, music companies have become more willing to experiment with new business models.

The Google China service includes tracks from the world-wide catalogues of the world’s four biggest music labels, Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA’s Universal Music, EMI Group Ltd., and Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment.

The service offers roughly 700,000 tracks now, up from 350,000 in March, and Mr. Chen said this will increase to 1.1 million tracks by the end of the year.

Under the venture’s structure, Orca Digital shares roughly half of any ad revenues with the music labels. Google benefits from increased traffic on its Chinese site, and can sell search ads on the music search pages on its site.

Google and the labels hope the service will draw users away from the U.S. search giant’s Chinese competitors, especially Baidu Inc., which had a 61% share of search revenue in China as of the second quarter compared with Google’s 29%, according to research firm Analysys International.

Baidu and other Chinese search sites have generated significant traffic through search pages that help users find and download unlicensed music tracks.

Music industry executives say they also hope Google’s music service will let them track which artists and songs are popular in China, something that has been difficult in this market because of unreliable data.

Other models have gained traction among users elsewhere, like London-based ad-supported streaming music service Spotify Ltd. has in Europe.

Spotify has more than five million users who can listen to streaming music with commercials, or pay to listen to ad-free streams, and has said it plans to launch in the U.S. and China as well.