China Unveils Leadership Ambition

When in a recent column we speculated that the China is preparing to reveal its ambitions for global leadership we didn’t expect this to happen so soon. Yet, this week Chinese President Xi Jinping informed the 19th Congress of the ruling Communist Party that the People’s Republic was now ready to seek a more active presence in the international arena.

Three factors may have contributed to Xi’s decision to bring forward his world leadership bid.

The first concerns Xi’s desire to, ever so gingerly, build up his own status within the Chinese political system. He wants to be something more than his predecessors Hu Jintao, Hu Yaobang, Li Xiannian and Hua Guofeng were. Xi’s ambition is to surpass even Deng Xiaoping, the “strongman” who, many believe, made the new China possible. President Xi may not be able to aspire to the status that Mao Zedong, the father of the People’s Republic, attained; but he sure wants to get as near to it as possible.

Putting the Leader above the melee is of crucial importance in a system based on highly centralized command and control.

via China Unveils Leadership Ambition

Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: It is widely assumed that Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat made peace despite their deep personal incompatibilities. But in fact, there were significant parallels in the lives of both men, and these may have facilitated their coming to an agreement. The similarities between them – their early careers in “underground” movements, their stints in prison, their struggles against the British and hatred of the Soviet Union, their years on the margins of power, and their clearly defined definitions of homeland – may have eased their final compromise.

It is now thirty-eight years since the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, most famously evoked by the three-way handshake on the White House lawn that changed the Middle East. Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat put war behind Israel and Egypt, and in so doing, ended the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, and so too does the Israeli-Iranian struggle. But Israeli-Egyptian peace put an end to the destructive battlefield wars between Israel and Arab states of the kind that erupted in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. Since the famous handshake among Begin, Sadat, and Jimmy Carter, there has been no battlefield war between Israel and a conventional Arab army. And Egypt and Israel now have been at peace longer than they were at war.

via Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers

Palestinians: Meet Abbas’s New Partners

As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are moving forward towards implementing their “reconciliation” agreement, we are already getting an idea of what this new partnership is going to look like.

Abbas is trying to sell the agreement to the world as a deal that enables him and his Palestinian Authority (PA) to return to the Gaza Strip and assume full control there. He and his PA officials and spokesmen have also been working hard to convince the international community that only good will come out of the “reconciliation” agreement and that Hamas is even headed toward moderation and pragmatism.

However, Abbas and the PA seem to be engaged in yet another bid to deceive and lie to the international community.

Just last week, Israel foiled another plan by Hamas to dig a terror tunnel deep into Israeli territory.

via Palestinians: Meet Abbas’s New Partners

Beth Malone: How my dad’s dementia changed my idea of death (and life)

With warmth and grace, Beth Malone tells the deeply personal story of her dad’s struggle with frontotemporal lobe dementia, and how it changed how she thinks about death (and life). A moving talk about a daughter’s love — and of letting go and finding peace.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

via Beth Malone: How my dad’s dementia changed my idea of death (and life)

Hijab Barbie And Social Coercion

For years, feminists criticized the Barbie doll for presenting an unrealistic, unattainable body image for young girls.

Her height, weight, bust size and hips were so “anatomically impossible,” a 2013 New York Daily News article said, a real-life Barbie “would be reduced to walking on all fours and incapable of lifting anything.”

Psychological studies show the doll’s image can create real harm in young girls, leading in some cases to eating disorders.

The message many received was, if you want to be happy, or popular, or successful in life, this is what you should look like. Mattel implicitly acknowledged this reality a few years back, when it introduced new dolls with more varied, realistic figures.

via Hijab Barbie And Social Coercion

The Lost Genocide

From his tent in the illegal shantytown carved out of a Bangladeshi forest, 25-year-old Abdul watched as men, women, and children limped into the refugee camp, gaunt from not eating for days. They were his people, the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority that has been widely called the world’s most persecuted people. Abdul had arrived in the camps ten months earlier, when 66 thousand refugees fled the neighboring country of Myanmar in the last months of 2016. Nearly a year later, the Rohingya were once again on the run, with hundreds of thousands fleeing to Bangladesh through grooves worn in the swamps made by the more than 1 million refugees who had preceded them over seven decades.

The most recent violence began on August 25, 2017, when armed Rohingya groups attacked as many as 30 Burmese police and military posts near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. The army’s retaliation had been swift, with soldiers razing more than 200 villages, causing about 600 thousand Rohingya to flee. The refugees told stories of Burmese soldiers ambushing their villages, raping the women, and shooting the men or decapitating them with knives. They described landmines being laid along the well-known escape routes. Each morning, corpses of Rohingya who had drowned trying to cross the mile-wide Naf River, which divides Myanmar from Bangladesh, washed onto the shore where they had once sought safety.

via The Lost Genocide