China’s Sharp Aim At US Manufacturing

The Article: China Takes Aim at the Profitable Heart of U.S. Manufacturing by Jordan Weissman in The Atlantic.

The Text: For a long time, Americans have channeled their fear about China’s factories into an exasperated, four-word refrain: They’re stealing our jobs! By offering low-wage competition to U.S. workers, the Chinese picked off low-end manufacturing work for multinational corporations, whether it was stitching shoes for Nike or assembling iPads for Apple.

In the last few years, though, the anxiety has shifted a bit. Instead of worrying we’ll be undercut on the price of manual labor, the concern is we could actually be out-competed in higher-end markets. You hear it when Democrats like President Obama talk about China winning the race on green jobs. And it came to my mind this week, thanks to a piece in Bloomberg Businessweek on China’s growing prowess in heavy industry.

While China transformed itself into the world’s top exporter by building light goods and electronics, the biggest chunk of its exports are now large, high-margin goods such as ships, locomotives, and construction equipment, as illustrated in this graph from Businessweek.

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Why We Should Keep An Eye On Turkey

The Article: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turkey by Andrew Finkel in Foreign Policy Magazine.

The Text: No walls fell in Turkey at the end of the Cold War; there was no color-coded revolution. Yet, arguably, the country is in the throes of a transformation as profound as those of its neighbors. A country that once served as a lonely sentinel on NATO’s southern flank is now at the center of a new and evolving region. And a Turkish economy that for decades tried to shed the yoke of high interest rates and chronic inflation has, in the last two years, been the fastest-growing in Europe. In fact, Turkey’s GDP growth in 2011 (8.5 percent) wasn’t far behind China’s. Turkey is now in the process of rewriting its constitution and wrestling with demons that include a legacy of military intervention and a long denial of Kurdish diversity.

While it deals with its past, Turkey must also focus on the future of a youthful country where half the population is under the age of 29. It is an accession candidate to the European Union yet a player in the rough-and-tumble Middle East. Understanding Turkey, though never a luxury, is now more than ever part and parcel of understanding the modern world.

Here are 10 clues to coming to terms with this rapidly changing country:

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Was Bush Right?

The Article: Bush Was Right by Gary Gambill in Foreign Policy Magazine.

The Text: When mass demonstrations began spreading across the Arab world early last year, conservative commentators lost no time in singing the praises of George W. Bush, the first U.S. president to aggressively push for democratization in the region.

Today, with Islamists dominating politics wherever tyrants have stumbled or fallen, many of those who waxed eloquent about Bush’s Freedom Agenda have either fallen silent or taken to arguing that Islamist ascendancy will prove to be a temporary setback on the road to liberal democracy. Those who were critical of it all along are having a field day.

In fact, even if the Arab Spring constitutes “an unshackling of Islam, not an outbreak of fervor for freedom in the Western sense,” it is proof positive that the Bush administration correctly diagnosed the causes of Arab political dysfunction and made extraordinarily sound — if short-lived — policy changes to combat it.

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The Liberal Betrayal Of Bradley Manning

The Article: The Liberal Betrayal Of Bradley Manning by Glenn Greenwald in Salon.

The Text: More than three years into the presidency of Barack Obama, it’s almost a cliché now to ask: What if George W. Bush did it? From dramatically escalating the war in Afghanistan to institutionalizing the practice of indefinite imprisonment, Obama has dashed hopes he would offer a change from the Bush’s national security policies – but he hasn’t faced a whole lot of resistance from liberals who once decried those policies as an affront to American values.

Like those on the right who now crow about fascism but spent the Bush years gleefully declaring left-wing celebrities “enemies of the state,” many of those on the liberal-left treat issues of war and civil liberties as useful merely for partisan purposes. When a Democrat’s in power those issues become inconvenient. And usually ignored.

Former dean of the Yale Law School Harold Koh, for instance, used to rail against the imperial presidency, speaking of the horror of torture and “indefinite detention without trial.” Now a legal adviser for the Obama State Department, he recently declared that “justice” can be delivered with or with out a trial. Indeed, “Drones also deliver.” Don’t expect much more than a yawn from Democratic pundits, though, much less any calls for impeachment. It’s an election year, after all. And what, would you rather Mitt Romney be the guy drone-striking Pakistani tribesmen?

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Loan Forgiveness: Good For Everyone?

The Article: Loan Forgiveness Good for the Economy, and Maybe Fannie and Freddie Mac Too by Jesse Eisenger in TruthOut.

The Text: New analyses by mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have added an explosive new dimension to one of the most politically charged debates about the housing crisis: Whether to reduce the amount of money beleaguered homeowners owe on their mortgages.

Their conclusion: Such loan forgiveness wouldn’t just help keep hundreds of thousands of families in their homes, it would also save Freddie and Fannie money. That, in turn, would help taxpayers, who bailed out the companies at a cost of more than $150 billion and are still on the hook for future losses.

The analyses, which have not been made public, were recently presented to the agency that controls the companies, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter. Freddie Mac’s meeting with the FHFA took place last week.

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