Monthly Archives: November 2012

The FT’s world news desk picks the best reads from around the web. Read more

Nikolay Kolev, better known as ‘Bosiya’ (Barefoot), was arrested in Sofia on Tuesday after he threw a single tomato at the wall of Bulgaria’s parliament, in protest against corruption. Now a ‘tomato rally’ is planned for Saturday afternoon outside parliament. Read more

Like the European Christmas, America’s Thanksgiving is edging towards being an entirely retail-driven festival. Black Friday, the day after the holiday, has been the busiest shopping day of the year for a while; we now also have Small Business Saturday and Cyber-Monday (for online buyers), and no doubt some marketing fiend somewhere is seeking to theme Sunday and Tuesday also.

Those capitalistic Puritans would have been proud, right? Max Weber says so. Liberated from the clutches of a static and stultifying Europe (and skipping all those EU summits), they worked hard, saw profits and wealth as evidence of God’s calling, and we ended up with the greatest economy on earth.

Well, not really. Not only were they pretty feeble producers themselves to begin with – Bill Bryson claims the Mayflower carried not a single cow or horse or plough (plow, whatever) or fishing line – but the Massachusetts colonists had some peculiar views about business. Read more

In wartime, everyone wants a hero. The one that has emerged from Israel in recent days is no individual soldier, but a technology: the so-called ‘Iron Dome’. Read more

The FT world news desk’s picks from around the web today. Read more

The American Farm Bureau gladdens the hearts of ideas-strapped journalists every November by calculating the cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner. This year’s reckoning shows the price up by a very reasonable 28 cents or 0.6% from last year: the turkey was more expensive but most of the other ingredients were cheaper.

Now, here’s the thing. Despite all the dire talk of food price shocks and drought in the Midwest and the newly meat-chomping Chinese and so on, the Thanksgiving dinner has not risen much in real terms since the global food price crisis in 2007-2008 and has been pretty stable for two decades. Read more

Whatever happens on the diplomatic front in the latest conflict over Gaza, defence analysts will be reflecting for some time on the big military revelation of recent days – the role played by Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor and what it tells us about the value of missile defence systems. Read more

While the official French response to Moody’s downgrade has been studiedly cool, behind this display of sang froid lurks real anxiety, says Gideon Rachman. Read more

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on June 4, 2012 (PEDRO NUNES/AFP/GettyImages)

After spending an hour today with Boyko Borisov, Bulgaria’s prime minister, I am more convinced than ever that a political career in the Balkans is not for the faint-hearted.

Borisov is a barrel-chested former police chief and bodyguard who holds a black belt in karate. The grip of his handshake is strong enough to convey the confidence of undisputed power and to make you realise that, if it were just a little tighter, you would experience measurable pain. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

The relationship between Britain and the EU looks like a marriage gone bad. Rows are becoming more and more frequent. The two parties are talking openly about separation. The chances that Britain will eventually leave the EU are rising inexorably. This weekend an opinion poll showed that 56 per cent of Britons now want out.

A daily list of worthwhile reads from the FT’s World news desk Read more

China’s new leadership
China has just completed its carefully-scripted, once-in-a-decade leadership transition. The Politburo was cut from nine to seven members and incoming general secretary and president Xi Jinping will also become head of the military. With these remaining uncertainties settled, Jamil Anderlini, Beijing bureau chief; James Blitz, diplomatic editor, and David Pilling, Asia editor, join John Aglionby to discuss how the new leadership will cope with an increasingly demanding population and whether the world will engage with Beijing any differently

Getty Images

I mean that literally. Check out the picture of the incoming members of the politburo standing committee. Those ties! Those suits! That hair parting.

If, as my colleagues point out today, the reduction in membership of China’s ruling committee from nine to seven is “an effort to make collective decision-making less contentious and more efficient”, this gives new meaning to the idea of sartorial unity. They may not be wearing an official uniform, but the look is… well, uniform.

The only slight blip in the batter comes courtesy of Wang Qishan, the new anti-corruption chief (that’s him in the blue tie, bottom second from left). Draw whatever conclusions you want about his small effort to stand alone.

 Read more

- China has just completed its leadership transition and while the Communist party congress was carefully scripted, plenty of questions remain unanswered. The FT’s Beijing bureau chief Jamil Anderlini discusses the extent to which the party is in decline, while the FT’s Asia editor David Pilling sets some benchmarks for incoming leader Xi Jinping.

- Gershon Baskin, a mediator in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit – who was held hostage by Hamas, writes that the Israeli offensive in Gaza was a mistakeRead more

By Chris Cook, education correspondent

Qatar has enormous oil and gas reserves, but the little state is trying to kick the petroleum habit and become a high-tech society. It wants a sustainable economy for when the oil runs out – and a more cultured society in the meantime.

The Qatar Foundation is the institution that is leading this drive: I am in the little Gulf state this week for WISE, their annual summit on education, where I was a speaker on the finance of education. The whole thing is rather spectacular.

When they say they are going to do something, they go big – sometimes to a rather baffling degree. One of my favourite examples of this is their super-duper equine health centre, which trains horse-handlers and apparently features a sauna for the horses. Read more

As the world watched with suspense to see who the next leaders of China would be, it was somehow fitting that the names of the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee – China’s top leadership team – were first announced not on TV, nor on a website, but on Twitter and its Chinese equivalent, Weibo.

China’s new leaders were expected to walk onstage at 11am on Thursday morning. But they were nearly an hour late, leaving online users of Twitter and Weibo, China’s largest microblogging platform, aflutter with speculation. Read more

Gen David Petraeus and his wife Holly walk into a Senate hearing, watched by amongst others PAula Broadwell (seated). (AFP)

It’s not everyday that serious newspapers get to combine sex, spies and the military into one story. But the escalating scandal surrounding the former head of the CIA David Petraeus over his extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell and the involvement of a growing number of other people, has provided just such an opportunity.

The saga has generated the full range of commentary. The serious questions are being asked: Why is the FBI so deeply involved in what essentially appears to be an email harassment case? Why did it take so long for lawmakers to be told? What does this say about military personalities? What are the implications for US national security? Read more

- It’s hard not to be drawn into the salacious elements of the David Petraeus resignation scandal. The Daily Telegraph’s Jon Swaine has examined the Jill Kelley and her twin sister’s financial woes. Of the more serious issues, the FT looks at the scrutiny around the FBI’s investigation and the Atlantic addresses the growing militarisation of the CIA.

- On a related theme, the BBC examines the cult of the American generalRead more

Wednesday marks the official end of the Chinese Communist party’s 18th Congress, a conclave that gathered more than 2,000 party members from across the country to select new leaders who will steer the world’s second-largest economy for the next 10 years.

 

The new members of the party’s most powerful inner circle—the Politburo Standing Committee—will be announced on Thursday and give a press conference. But what exactly has been going on inside the Great Hall of the People over the past week? Read more