I live out in Real Virginia, which is to say the part of Virginia that is technically a D.C. exurb, but is populated almost entirely by normal people. My neighbors are teachers and plumbers and soldiers and engineers. Plenty of the folks out here work for the federal government, but none of them work in politics.Read more
On Monday, President Obama arrived on a presidential visit to Ethiopia. The trip to the east African state raised eyebrows, even among President Obama’s allies on the American left.Read more
In at least one respect, visiting China is a little bit like traveling back in time to America in, say, 1957. (Or so I gather.) That is, people routinely smoke cigarettes in shopping malls, elevators, lines, apartment building hallways, schools, and yes, even hospitals. (Oh, and of course bars and restaurants.) Thus, the news that Beijing has just imposed a strict smoking ban in indoor public spaces in the city is a little bit surprising.Read more
In a comment unprompted by any question from the media, White House press secretary lashed into some of the rhetoric Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu used in his reelection campaign. The White House even suggested it had hurt Israel's democracy and America's relationship with its greatest ally in the Middle East.Read more
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a possible Republican presidential candidate, is using a crowdsourcing platform to try to reach dissidents and human rights activists in autocratic regimes. In particular, Rubio is trying to help those oppressed by the governments of Iran and Cuba.
"I'm a member of the U.S. Congress looking for Iran and Cuba human rights cases to highlight," the headline for Rubio's post on the platform Movements.org reads.Read more
With the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing safely over and regional leaders departed, China’s new strongman Xi Jinping decided to lower the boom on Hong Kong. Police there began clearing the barricades last week from the city’s main thoroughfare with the students in apparent retreat. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, widely perceived as Beijing’s puppet, was quoted by Reuters as promising “resolute action” and warning students not to return to occupation sites.Read more
In the "Great Hall of the People" in Beijing, China, President Obama appeared with China's current president Xi Jinping at a joint press conference Wednesday. During his remarks as he noted the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, President Obama recalled a saying of one of Jinping's most well-known predecessors, Deng Xiaoping: "Seek truth from facts."This year marks the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two nations. I’m told that Deng Xiaoping said that we must “seek truth from facts. Read more
On Sunday, the leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy protests abruptly scrapped a poll of protester sentiment they had announced just days earlier. The idea of the poll had been to get protesters’ reactions to two bones thrown to them by the Hong Kong government in televised talks held on October 21.Read more
Representatives of the student led democracy protests in Hong Kong are due to enter into a dialogue with the Hong Kong government on Tuesday. The prospects for success are not good. The two sides are far apart, with the government saying it will not even discuss the protesters’ chief demand – the democratic election of the chief executRead more
In a 2007 article in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, “Let a Hundred Flowers Be Crushed,” the Chinese lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, told of being followed by security agents every year around the anniversary of the June 4, 1989 massacre of democracy protesters. Pu responded by ushering the agents to a conference room at his law firm and screening The Lives of Others, the 2006 Oscar winning film about an East German Stasi agent who protects the playwright he is spyinRead more
In spite of a string of worrisome human rights and freedom of expression violations, the Obama administration is holding out hope that Egypt's government lead by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is still headed for democracy.Read more
In his speech today at the United Nations, President Obama continued his administration’s odd and somewhat schizophrenic policy with respect to freedom, human rights, and democracy.Read more
The White House just emailed to reporters this "Readout of the President’s Meeting with the National Security Council Regarding the Situation in Egypt":Read more
Earlier this week, the brother in-law of Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison.Read more
Matthew Kaminski on Donald Kagan, in the Wall Street Journal:
Donald Kagan is engaging in one last argument. For his "farewell lecture" here at Yale on Thursday afternoon, the 80-year-old scholar of ancient Greece—whose four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War inspired comparisons to Edward Gibbon's Roman history—uncorked a biting critique of American higher education.Read more
This week marks the second anniversary of the fall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Two years after the refrain “the people want to topple the regime” filled Tahrir Square, it is now Egypt itself that is toppling. Street violence has pitted various groups against each other—anarchists against Islamists, policemen against protesters, men against women—and has left scores dead throughout the country.Read more
China and the United States both launch leadership transitions this week. Earnest persons, in fear or hope, turn a raindrop of coincidence into a storm of meaning. In fact, November 6 here and November 8 in Beijing, when the Chinese Communist party (CCP) opens its 18th congress, have nothing in common except dual fascination to a jumpy world.Read more
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