urbanisation

By Luisa Frey
♦ Spaniards may have less faith in European institutions than before, but no eurosceptic parties have risen in the country, writes the FT’s Tobias Buck.
The higher the fire burns in Middle East, the more the US seems intent on turning away, says FT columnist Philip Stephens.
♦ As part of a soviet-inspired urban plan, superblocks are being built in China. The gated compounds in suburbia have residential towers and houses inside them, but force the new urban middle-class to drive back to the city for services.
Rising anti-semitism is bringing fear to Europe. A third of European Jews are considering emigration because they do not feel safe in their home country, according to The New York Times.
♦ Local newspapers called Wednesday’s breakthrough in peace talks aimed at ending Colombias’s half-century-old guerrilla war “historic”. But many Colombians are sceptical, reports the Global Post
Tens of thousands of middle-class Syrians are trying to get to Europe’s wealthy northern states: “Whether they wind up in Nordic comfort or desperate straits on the fringes of Southern Europe is often a matter of luck”. Read more

Gideon Rachman

A "Chinese Dream" promotion billboard (Getty)

I spent last weekend in Beijing, as part of a group of foreigners, at a small conference dedicated to “Understanding China”. We met a large cross-section of the country’s senior leadership from President Xi Jinping on down. We heard many reiterations of the idea that China is about to pursue “comprehensive reform”. So I would love to be able to say that I have a crystal clear idea of what is likely to emerge from the much-hyped Communist Party plenum that begins in Beijing this weekend. But that would be an overstatement. Most of the Chinese leaders were understandably cagey about exactly what reforms would be necessary to achieve the “Chinese dream” of national greatness and prosperity. A certain pre-plenum caginess had set in. And indeed many of the important arguments have not been settled. That, after all, is the business of the party plenum.

However, most of the key subjects that need to be tackled are already clear and the outlines of decisions are emerging: Read more

G8 summit There have already been rifts over the issue of armaments in Syria.
♦ While leaders have been at loggerheads, Assad’s regime has been able to take advantage of the lack of US leadership, writes Roula Khalaf.
♦ The decision to send unspecified military support to the rebels will be dangerous, but it is more risky to stay out, says David Gardner: “Leaving Syria to its present devices will create an Afghanistan in the eastern Mediterranean”.
♦ Maureen Dowd thinks that Obama is being “schooled” by the Clintons: “After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom.”
Tax avoidance will be another G8 hot topic: Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, thinks corporate tax systems need to be simplified. If you want to read more about the debate so far, take a look through our reporting on the Great Tax Race.

♦ Mayor Bloomberg takes on a new cause: making it mandatory for New Yorkers to separate their food scraps for composting.
♦ Food for thought: is marriage in decline because there is less demand for husbands?
♦ China plans to move 250m rural residents – that’s about five times the population of South Korea – into newly constructed towns and cities over the next 12 years. Elsewhere in the world, cities are turning into vast gated communities for the one per cent.
♦ The BBC speaks to Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost everything in the 2004 tsunami.  Read more