On an earlier trip to China, I wrote about tree power in Nanjing, where citizens and NGOs had launched a campaign against the removal of old trees shading the alleys in order to make way for construction work and a new subway line. The citizens’ protests succeeded – at least temporarily – in getting the government to turn off the chainsaws.
Now, having returned to China, I have witnessed a massive tree-planting programme led by the government itself.
Chongqing, the world's largest city, with over half of UK's population, has gone on a tree planting spree. Driving in from the airport, you now see green trees sprouting up in the most improbable places along the highway. It is gingko, camphorwood and osmanthus that have taken over from billboards and deserted stretches of scrub.
Chongqing's strongman, Bo Xilai – a contender for one of the top seats after the Party shakeup when Hu
23 members of the ECFR Council are among 41 prominent Europeans who have signed the following statement (in a personal capacity) calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state by European governments:
"In 2009 the Palestinian Authority embarked on a process to complete the building of the institutions of a prospective Palestinian State. The European Union has consistently encouraged and supported this endeavor, both in terms of financial and technical assistance and with respect to the political objective.
Today the question of the recognition of this state is before us. The Palestinian Authority has identified September 2011 as the conclusion of the state-building process, and the Palestinian leadership may solicit formal recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over the occupied territories from the United Nations and its Member States.
Should this request be made,
The debate over the possible recognition of Palestinian statehood has a well deserved reputation for getting fiery. Last week ECFR published a contribution to the debate by Daniel Levy and Nick Witney, in which the authors argued that Europe would gain most from a unified ‘yes’ vote, if – as they expect – the Palestinians go to the United Nations General Assembly to ask for their UN status to be upgraded. (Here is a pdf of the memo.)
This was followed by this article by the head of our Warsaw office, Konstanty Gebert, agreeing that Europe would benefit most from a united front, but putting forward the argument that the collective position should be behind an abstention, rather than ‘yes’.
Members of ECFR’s council are also split. This opinion piece by Javier Solana and Martti Ahtisaari, published in the International Herald Tribune, outlined the ten (or maybe eleven) reasons for
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When we were planning ECFR's Foreign Policy Scorecard, we invested money, time, expertise and effort. We were proud with what we came up with, and we're now starting to get down to business for the first annual update, due out early next year.
Something popped up today, however, that has made me rethink the whole project. It's something that has appeared on Foreign Policy's excellent blog, written by Joshua Keating. The idea is disarmingly simple: 'Decline Watch'.
Each post, we'll choose a datapoint or article that purports to show a sign of American decline and rate it from 1 to 5. Here's the scoring system:
1: We're totally screwed. Start learning Mandarin.
2. Being a superpower was nice while it lasted.
3. Stay calm and carry on.
4. Decline, schmecline. We're gonna be just fine.
5. USA! USA!
The first post analyses a recent decline in school exam
(click here for a bigger version of this chart).
For more than a year, Wolfgang Schäuble and many others in Germany have been singing the same song about fiscally irresponsible states being the cause of the current monetary turbulence. As summarised in the Financial Times on September 5th, “whatever role the markets have played in catalysing the sovereign debt crisis, it is an undisputable fact that excessive state spending has led to unsustainable levels of debt and deficits that now threat our economic welfare.”
Yet on fiscal irresponsibility, the chart above says it all. Between 2000 and 2010, Germany, France and Austria broke the Maastricht rules on 14 occasions, as compared to Spain, which broke them just four times (all after Lehman Brothers). Hard evidence which Schäuble and his like keep on ignoring.
As for his very hasty description of market responsibility
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