US government shutdown

♦ Martin Wolf argues that the fiscal crisis that the US faces is not about debt as the fiscal position has improved dramatically and poses no medium-term risks.” The debate is about whether citizens will fund the government.
♦ The US government shutdown produced “much sardonic merriment in Beirut“, says David Gardner. “What are these Americans fussing about?… Lebanon has, after all, been without a government since March – and few of its citizens would be able to spot the difference anyway.”
♦ Bernard Kouchner, founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, says, “Lampedusa is a metaphor for the EU: there were once high hopes but there are no longer any expectations… It is not even able to rescue those who still believe in the European dream.”
♦ Der Spiegel speaks to refugees struggling to get by in Hamburg, where there have been protests of the treatment of asylum seekers.
♦ There is a new exodus from Egypt of citizens who feel defeated by the tragic turn taken by their country and have grown tired of waiting for better days.
♦ Uruguay is set to become the first country in the world to legalise marijuana, bringing a $40m industry under state control.
 

♦ Edward Luce explains why it is stupid to insult the IQ of Tea Party members.
♦ The budget fight that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years set off a public escalation of the battle for control of the Republican Party – a confrontation between Tea Party conservatives and establishment Republicans.
♦ The National Geographic reports on how the presence of Boko Haram has affected public psyche in Nigeria: “Boko Haram has become a kind of national synonym for fear, a repository for Nigerians’ worst anxieties about their society and where it’s headed.”
♦ Susan Faludi, the author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, wonders which women the Lean In community is trying to reach.
Christina Lamb writes about her year with Malala Yousafzai.
♦ Dennis Rodman compares a visit to North Korea with a holiday in Ibiza. 

♦ US Budget Deal: here are the details on the deal that was made. Ed Luce considers how the Republican party’s brinkmanship has squandered so much in such a short time and achieved nothing . The New Yorker has ten neat takeaways from the GOP cave-in. It seemed that despite the Senate being dominated by men, women in both parties were the driving force behind negotiations and compromises.
♦ Hassan Rouhani seeks to counter the commercial reach of the Revolutionary Guards as his government attempts to revive the economy and break free from international sanctions.
♦ Yevgeny Roizman’s victory in the Yekaterinburg mayoral election was a blow to the Kremlin, but he is keeping a low profile, aware of the price paid by previous opponents.
♦ Foreign Policy looks at Syrian refugees’ harrowing experiences of trying to get to Sweden and ending up in an Egyptian jail.
Steven A. Cook at the CFR looks at why “Egypt has reached the stage where, despite a roadmap for reconstituting an electoral political order, the goal remains for one group or another to impose its political will on the others, just as it has been since February 2011.” 

♦ The US federal government is shut down and within days of default on Treasury debt but it is still just possible the whole farrago could turn into good news for the US economy, says Robin Harding.

Iran’s stock market soars but this is partly down to a lack of investment opportunities in other sectors of the stagnant economy.

♦ For those following the negotiations in the US, the New Yorker has compiled a Conservatives’ guide to rhetoric.

♦ A decisive victory by the National Front in Brignoles, France, on Sunday night has set alarm bells ringing in Paris that the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen will repeat the feat more widely in municipal elections.

♦ The New York Times takes a journey through the heartlands of Russia – the Russia being left behind.

♦ For the last edition of the International Herald Tribune, Thomas Fuller looks back at his years reporting in Asia – the lands of charm and cruelty.  

The Republican role in the budget battles gripping Washington DC
As the government shutdown drags on into its second week and the US teeters on the brink of defaulting on its debt, Ben Hall, world news editor, is joined by Richard McGregor, Washington bureau chief, and Edward Luce, chief US commentator, to discuss how badly the Republicans have been damaged by the budget battles and whether they should be worried about the political consequences of their uncompromising stance.

♦ Serbia plans to borrow billions from the United Arab Emirates – the country’s deputy prime minister warned that it could face bankruptcy without urgent steps to cut public sector wages.
♦ The Washington Post breaks down the effect of the US government shut down on individual departments.
♦ Ezra Klein at the Washington Post argues that “the American political system is being torn apart by deep structural changes that don’t look likely to reverse themselves anytime soon” and a “deal to reopen the government won’t fix what ails American politics.”
♦ Slate reports on how the Egyptian army is stepping up its efforts to shut down the illicit trade tunnels between Sinai and Gaza. Its campaign in north Sinai is affecting both civilians and militants.
♦ Bashar al-Assad’s regime is waging a PR campaign, spreading stories of rebels engaging in “sex jihad” and massacring Christians, according to Der Spiegel.
♦ British artist Banksy’s latest work, which focuses on Syria, has Syria-watchers bemused, the New York Times reports.
♦ The latest book from Paul Collier, co-director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, examines the impact of migration and the benefits of it to migrants, host communities and those left behind. 

♦ Spain may be emerging from the recession with a more competitive economy, but critics claim that confidence in the rebound is premature and potentially dangerous.
♦ A leaked video shows Egyptian Army officers debating how to influence the media before the military takeover.
♦ Patrick Cockburn writes about how media coverage of conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria doesn’t always reflect the whole reality of each war.
♦ Justice officials in Hong Kong admitted to knowing that one of Berlusconi’s allies tried to interfere with evidence in a money laundering case, where Berlusconi’s son is one of the defendents, according to the South China Morning Post.
♦ The stance of some Republican House members on the US government shutdown is generating anger among senior Republican officials, who think the small bloc of conservatives is undermining the party and helping President Obama. 

♦ The FT’s Martin Wolf asks whether the US is a functioning democracy.
♦ Charles Pierce at Esquire is already convinced that this was to be expected from “the worst Congress in the history of the Republic”.
♦ Russia is spending $755m on bolstering its military as part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to rebuild the country’s status as a credible diplomatic and military force.
♦ Silvio Berlusconi’s antics now do little to shock the bond markets – an indication that the eurozone crisis has moved decisively into a less aggressive phase, argues the FT’s Ralph Atkins.
♦ India’s Hindu temples are resisting requests from the central bank to declare their gold holdings amid mistrust of authorities trying to cut a hefty import bill.
♦ A new book on the birth of Bangladesh and the White House diplomacy of the time unearths conversations between Nixon and Kissinger that reveal their hateful attitudes towards Indians

♦ The anxiety over Japan’s sales tax may seem bizarre to outsiders, but it will be a stern test of Shinzo Abe’s popularity.
♦ James Politi looks at the impact of the sequester on Head Start, arguably the most high-profile casualty among the anti-poverty programmes.
♦ Nicolás Maduro is looking to blame anybody else for Venezuela’s economic problems – even Spider-Man.
♦ While support for Cristina Fernández ebbs in Argentina, Sergio Massa has risen to become one of the strongest potential candidates for presidential elections in 2015.
♦ Slate magazine imagines how the US government shutdown would be covered by the US media, if it took the same tone that it does in its foreign coverage.
♦ The Washington Post is crowdsourcing for ideas as to how congress can be punished for the government shutdown.
♦ Smuggled letters from westerners caught up in the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood reveal that terrible prison conditions remained unchanged and there is a new willingness to subject westerners to the same treatment as Egyptians, according to the New York Times.