China’s new leadership faces many challenges
China’s new leadership team is due be unveiled at the Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which begins next week in Beijing.The transition takes place against a troubled background. The economy is slowing and tensions are rising in a territorial dispute with Japan. Bo Xilai, who once expected to promoted in the reshuffle, is instead about to go on trial, and the outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao, has just been accused in the New York Times of using his position to accumulate huge wealth for his family. James Kynge, editor of FT China Confidential, and David Pilling, Asia editor, join Gideon Rachman to discuss the state of China at this crucial juncture.
Gideon Rachman blogs on how damaging the trial of Costas Vaxevanis will be for Greece. Read more
Welcome to a summary of US election coverage on a day when the advantages of incumbency will surely continue to work on behalf of President Barack Obama.
His role in supervising the clear-up of damage caused by the biggest storm to hit the eastern US in 75 years puts the president in centre shot of news footage that for at least the next 24 hours will be broadcast into every home of the US, airtime that could not be bought.
Latest polls show the presidential race is still being fought on the thinnest margins in states that have either been dealt glancing blows by Sandy – Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, – or know only too well what it is like to be mangled by the forces of nature – hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Iowa. Read more
Welcome to a storm-curtailed review of US election coverage after a day on which both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney stopped campaigning because of Tropical Storm Sandy.
As the Financial Times reports, the campaigns caught their breath as a combination of practical difficulties in travelling and organisation, and a desire not to be seen to be practising politics as usual at such a moment took hold. Mr Obama was assuming his commander-in-chief role at the White House.
Politico.com asked a question few were expecting to have to pose: could Sandy delay the election next Tuesday? Forecasting that seemed as difficult as predicting the weather.
“Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “There’s very little precedent for such an act.”
Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state “has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”
The flooding that hit the north-eastern coast of the country, killing at least 16 people, was a disaster big enough to stop the juggernaut of campaigning, so the only non-storm news was the latest set of polling data. Read more
Just a week till presidential election day, but still time for more dialogue of the deaf about offshoring. The latest iteration was kicked off by a Romney comment (and slightly less misleading ad) wrongly suggesting that Jeep, owned by Chrysler, was moving production to China. (In fact Chrysler is restoring capacity there to service the Chinese market.) The Obama campaign has just released its response, and so another bout of breast-beating economic nationalism gets under way.
More sympathy might be due to the Obama campaign if it didn’t itself routinely equate foreign investment with sending jobs overseas, particularly its ill-advised attacks on the idea that a territorial corporation tax system would reward US companies for offshoring employment. As informed opinion on the subject routinely points out, the overall evidence is that foreign investment is a complement rather than a substitute to domestic expansion. If you want the specifics, read this. Read more
(MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
Over the weekend, my son and I walked up to the Peak in Hong Kong. We set off from the wrong point, which meant that that the walk took longer than it should have – and we kept getting cut off, by private roads.
On the other hand, our circuitous route gave us the chance to stare into the front rooms, back gardens and swimming pools of some of the priciest properties in the world. For example, this modest town-house on Severn Road would set you back about $30m (that’s US). If you really want, you could spend twice that on a mere apartment in the most luxurious blocks in Hong Kong.
The downside of the incredible prices being fetched for Hong Kong property is that finding somewhere to live is increasingly tough for people on normal incomes. Now the Hong Kong government, normally noted for its laissez-faire attitude, has acted. Over the weekend it imposed a 15% stamp duty on property purchases by non-residents. Estate agents are predicting a sharp drop-off in interest from buyers from mainland China, who have been driving up prices. Read more
If Barack Obama is re-elected on November 6, a large part of that will be down to the Latino vote. The big question for Mr Obama, then, is will enough Latinos be motivated to turn out on election day to boost his chances nationwide? Read more
It may be a contest to become the most powerful human on the planet, but even the US presidential race has to bow to the might of nature sometimes. As Hurricane Sandy summoned up her powers to hammer the east coast of the US, organisers of the two campaigns hurriedly changed their plans and moved inland.
The weather is likely to have two effects, according to the US press, with practical concerns about travel and safety affecting both. But the campaign of President Barack Obama will be worse hit by a second factor, as the Wall Street Journal explains:
Today is the last day for in-person and mail-in voter registration in deadlocked New Hampshire, where the weather threatens to scuttle campaign stops planned by both camps next week. First lady Michelle Obama has canceled a Tuesday trip to the University of New Hampshire campus, which will be closed Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Sandy.
Mr. Obama’s campaign team is relying on banking votes during the early voting period in many states. Campaign aides are privately nervous about a potential disruption in early voting in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.
Silvio Berlusconi attends the presentation of the book "The big cheat" by Renato Brunetta (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages)
Following a Berlusconi trial is like going to the theatre — it is your civic right to enjoy a spectacle even though you know perfectly well the act bears no relation to reality.
Very little about Silvio Berlusconi, or about the Italian legal system, is quite what it seems. The four-year prison term to which the former prime minister was sentenced on Friday for tax fraud is a good example. There is next to no chance that he will go to jail. The likelihood that he will ever be definitively convicted of this particular offence is not much higher.
Contrary to what he and his devotees might think, the reason is not that he is a paragon of virtue. Nor is it that the Italian courts always uncover the truth in the end. It is rather that the three-tier judicial system operates so slowly that, even if a defendant is eventually found guilty in the highest appeals court, the case has been going on for so long that a statute of limitations kicks in. Read more
Welcome to a round-up of presidential election news and the quadrennial process of the “last dash for votes” stories has begun early this time around. Concepts like “momentum”, “campaign groundwork” and “heavyweight endorsements” are here to stay for the next 10 turbulent days.
Having voted in his home state of Illinois, President Barack Obama’s idea of momentum appears to consist of sitting in the Oval Office recording media interviews, while his challenger Mitt Romney has a slightly less hectic schedule than in the immediate post-debate days, with only two states, Iowa and Ohio, on his agenda on Friday. Read more
Much of the action in China is now centred in cities you’ve probably never heard of. Read more
The youtube video of Gangnam Style has received over 530 million views. As a point of reference, Nasa estimates that about 530 million people watched Neil Armstrong take one small step for man in 1969. What on earth is going on? Read more