Ukraine and Russia: Return of the Cold War?

This whole controversy with Russia and Ukraine makes our issues with Iran and North Korea look like kids play. Putin has taken over the Crimean Penninsula, and one wonders who can stop him. Russia is still armed to the teeth with nukes, and their leader is a former K.G.B. colonel, a guy who even went as far as to give out bugged goody-bags at a G-20 summit.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

2014 State of the Union

From what I’ve been hearing, most of the country had a lukewarm response to Obama’s State of the Union last night. The main speculation heading into the speech was that Obama would make inequality a big part of his theme. While he did speak about inequality, the part which caught the most attention was his vow to bypass a gridlocked Congress with his executive power. I haven’t yet turned on the radio, but I have a feeling the conservative pundits are going to go crazy over this.

Chinese thrive in falling Spain

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Chr just posted this (older) article: Spain’s Chinese Immigrants Thrive in Tough Economy. According to the article, Chinese immigrants are doing well in Spain, despite the failing Spanish economy. They’re doing this by using family/national relations, as well as by keeping prices and margins low. So far, according to the article, there hasn’t been a backlash.

One Chinese immigrant woman shares her view:

Her family’s story is telling of the ways many of Spain’s 170,000 Chinese immigrants have managed not only to weather a tough economy but even to thrive, aided by intense labor and a strong Confucian model of family loyalty, while joblessness and cuts to government services have left other Spaniards struggling.

Gary Locke leaving ambassadorship to China

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But the article doesn’t say much, other than he’s going back to Seattle and that the Chinese may not have appreciated his style:

Mr. Locke’s early informal style drew attention even before he landed in Beijing, when he bought his own Starbucks coffee at the Seattle airport with his young daughter, creating a flurry of interest among the Chinese public.

 

That informality, including wearing a backpack on his inaugural trip to Beijing, may not have helped his standing among the protocol-conscious Chinese leadership, Chinese and American officials said.

Informality? He’s from the Pacific Northwest!

Osaka mayor defends Japan’s wartime sex crimes

Photo of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

Photo of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

It’s really gotten out of hand. In the latest flap over Japanese war crimes during WWII, Osaka mayor and co-leader of the conservative Japan Restoration party (not just some dude off the street) Toru Hashimoto defended Japan’s sexual enslavement of 200,000 Asian women: Japanese mayor: Wartime sex slaves were necessary.

Toru Hashimoto, the young, brash mayor of Osaka who is co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, also said that U.S. troops currently based in southern Japan should patronize the local sex industry more to help reduce rapes and other assaults.

Bill Maher discusses Islam

The video above is quite interesting. “It’s more than just a fringe element.” Bill Maher argues that Islam has some major problems, and not just among the violent crazies.

What do you think? It’s an interesting debate. I do think there’s a double standard–people call the Tsarnaev brothers “Muslim terrorists,” but no one refers to the Westboro Baptist Church as “Christian assholes.” That said, in this time and age (as the two speakers mention), there does seem to be one religion that has been quicker than others to resort to violence and to shun modern free discourse.

Bomb North Korea?

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Photo from CNN.com

I’ve been following the whole drama in North Korea and the increasing threats and rhetoric coming from the new leader Kim Jong-Un. The North Korean government has been conducting nuclear tests, threatening nuclear attacks on the United States and South Korea, and…just being very bad global citizens. The U.S. has largely dismissed the threats as bluster, but with potential missile tests coming up, would it be better for the U.S. to take Kim seriously and attack?

In this NY Times opinion piece, the author suggests a pre-emptive bombing of the missiles before they launch. The author Jeremy Suri writes: