Monthly Archives: March 2012

Great expectations for Aung San Suu Kyi and the Obama administration’s healthcare bill

Gideon Rachman is joined by FT correspondents to discuss the great expectations for Aung San Suu Kyi in the upcoming by-election in Myanmar. They also examine the US Supreme Court case that will determine the fate of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform. Read more

Edward Luce

Inside Obama’s re-election headquarters

As the Republican primary season drags on, the Obama re-election campaign has fired up its engines. This week on Luce Talk, Edward Luce,  the FT’s chief US commentator, takes us inside the Chicago headquarters and speaks with Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

By Gideon Rachman

Five years ago the Americans were refusing to speak to the Taliban. Now the Taliban are refusing to speak to the Americans. That is a measure of how the balance of power has shifted in Afghanistan. The western intervention there has failed. As Nato prepares to withdraw from the country in 2014, it is only the scale of the defeat that remains to be determined.

Gideon Rachman

Anybody following a US presidential election is likely to be hit with a blizzard of figures: polling numbers, economic growth statistics, projected budget deficits and the like. But, to my mind, some of the most interesting figures are demographic and generational.

This blog post, by the excellent Thomas Edsall, makes some very interesting points about the make-up of the Republican electorate. In the GOP’s South Carolina primary, 98% of those who voted were white: this in a state where nearly 28% of the population is black. Republican voters are also relatively old: 72% in South Carolina were over the age of 45. Read more

Alan Beattie

Surprise choice for US nominee – and thus, let’s face it, immediate frontrunner - to be president of the World Bank. Jim Kim is a technocrat rather than a politico, so the White House has refreshingly eschewed partisan patronage if not nationality, and has deep (if somewhat narrow, being restricted to public health) development experience. Together with the traditional US lock on the position, those are very likely enough to carry him over the finishing line to the presidency. Read more

John Paul Rathbone

One of the more charming anecdotes that I’ve heard in connection with the Pope’s visit to Cuba next week is that of the crocodile who preceded the pontiff on the journey from Rome to Havana.

 The hapless caiman was apparently exported illegally to Italy, and was  returned as part of the Pope’s official reason for the visit, which has been dubbed as one of “reconciliation among Cubans”. Read more

Terrorism’s impact on the French election

With the first round of France’s presidential election a month away, how has the shock of the terrorist attacks changed the political climate? Paris bureau chief Hugh Carnegy and former Paris bureau chief Peggy Hollinger join Gideon Rachman.

Esther Bintliff

Members of the Jewish community of Paris light candles on Place de la Bastille as they attend a silent march to pay tribute to the victims of the Toulouse school shooting. Franck Prevel/Getty Images

Members of the Jewish community of Paris light candles on Place de la Bastille as they attend a silent march to pay tribute to the victims of the Toulouse school shooting. Photo: Franck Prevel/Getty Images

On Wednesday, as French police surrounded a building in Toulouse where the suspect in the shooting of seven people was holed up, details of his background began to emerge.  A 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent, the man was known by investigators to have visited Afghanistan and Pakistan. He claimed to belong to al-Qaeda, and told police he had wanted revenge for Palestinian children, for French military involvement in Afghanistan and the decision of France to ban the wearing of burkas by women.

Many questions remain unanswered. But it is clear that, like the 7/7 attack in London, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and last year’s attacks in Norway by the far-right killer Anders Behring Breivik,  France’s motorcycle shootings will prompt great soul-searching across the country’s politics and society. Read more

Gideon Rachman

Yesterday the FT opinion desk was offered a piece from a prominent French commentator, attacking President Sarkozy for having helped to create a climate of intolerance in France. A decision was made not to run it, on the grounds that we didn’t yet know who was responsible for the killings in Toulouse and Montauban. It was not yet clear that this was the work of right-wing extremists.

The rush to judgement was not confined to the French left. Also yesterday I heard a strange piece on the BBC’s “Today” programme (compulsory listening for the British middle-classes), where once again the premise of the discussion was that the killer of the French soldiers and the Jewish school-children was likely to be a right-wing extremist. This also struck me as very premature.

And so it seems. As I write the French police are surrounding the house of the chief suspect, who appears to have been an al-Qaeda member or sympathiserRead more

By Gideon Rachman

My book-shelves in London groan with titles such as Eclipse: Living In the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance and When China Rules the World. But travel to China itself, and you will find plenty of people who are sceptical about the notion that the country is a rising superpower.