Olympics

By Toby Luckhurst

  • Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina describes coming to terms with his homosexuality after the death of his mother.
  • Attitudes towards single motherhood in China are finally shifting.
  • Former Prime Minister Tony Blair faced a citizens arrest from barman Twiggy Garcia for “a crime against peace” while dining in a Shoreditch restaurant.
  • Evidence of “systematic killing” perpetrated by the Syrian government leads to calls for war crimes charges against the regime.
  • Fethullah Gulen tells the Wall Street Journal that “democratic progress is now being reversed” in Turkey at the hands of prime minister Erdogan.
  • Charles Lane in the Washington Post calls for an end to the “corrupt quadrennial exercise” that is the Olympics.
  • There is little optimism about the Syrian peace talks after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s volte-face on Iranian participation in negotiations.

 

By Luisa Frey
The collapse of Eike Batista’s business empire has dominated the headlines about Brazil in recent weeks. With good reason. The brash entrepreneur’s rise and fall has become a metaphor for the end of the country’s economic boom.

After growing 7.5 per cent in 2010, Brazil’s economy expanded by a paltry 2.7 per cent in 2011 and sputtered to only 0.9 per cent last year. This year it is forecast to grow by 2.5 per cent. Meanwhile, inflation is stubbornly high at 5.84 per cent in October (on a yearly basis) – well above the official target of 4.5 per cent. To keep expanding, the country will need to boost its productivity by eliminating growth bottlenecks, improving infrastructure and encouraging investment.

Here are some of the best articles from the FT and elsewhere about the end of the “Samba economy”.

 

Zojoji-temple in Tokyo (Getty)

The most significant International Olympic Committee meeting in a generation takes place this weekend – the committee will choose a host city for 2020 at the weekend amid reservations about all three candidates. Shortly after, it will have to decide on a successor for Jacques Rogge, president of the movement.

Thomas Bach, a German lawyer, is the favourite in the presidential race. But the decision over the 2020 host will be more difficult. Here’s what’s happened in the campaign so far and why the decision will be an uncomfortable one: 

♦ Barack Obama said “you would have to slice the salami very thin” to find policy differences between Lawrence Summers and Janet Yellen, who are now in the running to chair the Federal Reserve. The FT’s Robin Harding takes a look at the salami.
♦ Russia is spending $51bn on sports facilities in Sochi for the 2013 Winter Olympics, but developers fear the only winners will be friends of the Kremlin.
♦ A Nazi gaffe by Taro Aso, Shinzo Abe’s deputy premier and finance minister, is a reminder that the cultural conservatives, who dominate the ruling Liberal Democratic party, have not abandoned their revisionist dream.
♦ Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s finance minister, tries to find out where the busloads of voters at Mount Pleasant have come from, but the bus driver is unable to tell him. 

♦ The G8 leaders commit to shake up international corporate tax rules, and crackdown on tax evasion and the shadowy owners of shell companies. (If you want to know why it’s such a global issue, take a look through our Great Tax Race series.) They also agree to push for a Syrian peace conference – although Putin still won’t budge on Assad.
♦ President Obama’s move to increase the public flow of arms to selected Syrian rebels is probably his worst foreign policy decision since taking office, argues Marc Lynch.
♦ To ordinary Russians, a defeat of the Syrian rebels is seen as a victory over the west, says Andrei Nekrasov, a Russian film and television director.
♦ Circassians are protesting against the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, 150 years after being expelled from there.
♦ The tiny emirate of Fujairah is emerging as an increasingly important global strategic oil and logistics hub.
♦ The Global Post experiments with the language used by US journalists to write about foreign countries, by using it to write about the US.

 

Evidently, Ai Weiwei is not one to let 81 days in jail keep him quiet. China’s most famous dissident has just released a heavy metal song with a video that re-imagines his time in detention. The FT’s Kathrin Hille describes it as “a chilling, five-minute rant filled with coarse language that is provocative even by Mr Ai’s standards”.

The artist is nothing if not versatile, working with a range of materials – here is the best of the rest.

 

Gideon Rachman

Here in Britain there have been a few grumbles about the partisan coverage the BBC is giving to the Olympics, with an obsessive focus on Britain’s position in the medals table and on local athletes. But I’m told that it is little different in other countries. Every nation focuses on its own athletes. As a result, every country is watching a different Olympics.

To check on the truth of this proposition, I have been perusing international sites. And it is certainly true that they reveal very distinct national concerns and anxieties. Over at Der Spiegel, they have a long article headlined “Can You Represent Germany If Your Lover is a Nazi?” The story is about Nadja Drygalla, a rower, who has left the Olympic village after it emerged that she is in a relationship “with a central figure in the far-right scene in Rostock”. 

Here are the pieces that got us chatting this morning: 

Here’s what we’ve been chatting about today: 

Here’s what piqued our interest today: