Beijing’s Man in Jakarta

Hard as it may be for Westerners to think that today’s People’s Republic of China, with all of its glaring repressions and slavishness over Covid, could be still a draw for emerging nations…it is. As this latest op-ed in the New York Times from an Australian think tank argues, China is actually gaining ground inContinue reading “Beijing’s Man in Jakarta”

Show-Offs and Their Big Houses

What primarily intrigues me about people who willingly show themselves and their oversized properties off in places like the Wall Street Journal’s Mansion section is…why? I know we are in the age of oversharing, but these are obviously wealthy people, usually with children–just the sorts you’d expect to want privacy. Of course, if they seekContinue reading “Show-Offs and Their Big Houses”

Beijing and the Big Bomb

Polling suggests widespread gloom among younger Americans over climate change, while other surveys pick up foreboding in the older population at the renewed prospect of nuclear war. Vladimir Putin’s saber-rattling at the West as he rips up Ukraine has jogged memories from a Cold War era extending through the 1980s when the “Day After” wasContinue reading “Beijing and the Big Bomb”

Reminder of ‘Our’ Rogue on the Nile

Any roundup of the world’s noxious right-wing authoritarians usually includes stops in Brazil, Hungary, India and take your pick in Africa…Uganda, maybe? Arguably Vladimir Putin fits within the proto-fascist collection, notwithstanding his rhetoric about “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. But no gallery would be complete without General al-Sisi of Egypt, as this tale from the latest edition ofContinue reading “Reminder of ‘Our’ Rogue on the Nile”

College $$$ Backlash? Blackstone Isn’t Sold

Various harbingers appear of an end to the college-cost syndrome, whereby prospective students and their parents reassess the worth of plowing tens of thousands of dollars annually into a degree credential. And surely, on the margins, this revolt against the endless increases in tuition and other bills is evident. But then we see reminders, asContinue reading “College $$$ Backlash? Blackstone Isn’t Sold”

Americans Return to the Stores

Beware of “trend” stories, but this one from the Wall Street Journal suggests a believable pendulum swing back to brick-and-mortar shopping. Believable, because some buying is best done with tactile or other sensory judgments; because it is sometimes serendipitous, and because it can be part of a natural social experience when the stores are wellContinue reading “Americans Return to the Stores”

Xi Jinping Is in the Neighborhood

Much has been made of the Chinese Communist Party’s inroads into Africa, but less noticed is its increasing penetration of the Western Hemisphere, especially South America. This has proceeded apace for years, including during the Trump administration when regional policy hawks were supposedly on guard. This new report from the Council on Foreign Relations shedsContinue reading “Xi Jinping Is in the Neighborhood”

Now on Screens Nationwide: ‘Navalny’ v. Putinism

Theater showings around the U.S. today and tomorrow of this CNN Films production, “Navalny,” will include discussion with that network’s Clarissa Ward. I hope the international correspondent will press the matter of Russia’s internal dissent network, which once fueled Alexei Navalny’s rise as an opposition figure to Vladimir Putin. The quieting of that movement inContinue reading “Now on Screens Nationwide: ‘Navalny’ v. Putinism”

Meanwhile, on the Home Front

While cable-news attention is focused entirely elsewhere, the spillover effects of failed and/or corrupt states in the Americas continue to be felt on the U.S. border, where illegal flows keep swelling. This Associated Press report on the continuing calamity in Haiti is one more omen. The so-called Northern Triangle of Central America–Guatemala, Honduras and ElContinue reading “Meanwhile, on the Home Front”

Legacy of a Suffolk County ‘Moses’

The death of Lee Koppelman, as noted in this Newsday obituary, closes a long chapter of land-use policy on the eastern end of Long Island. Koppelman was Suffolk County’s planning chief from 1960-1988, as its post-war population boom led to pushback from preservationists, many of them well-off New Yorkers coveting weekend and summer retreats. KoppelmanContinue reading “Legacy of a Suffolk County ‘Moses’”