from The Great Debate:

Palmer Raids Redux: NSA v civil liberties

By Jeffrey Rosen
June 11, 2013

President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency's secret collection of telephone records from millions of Americans, June 7, 2013.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

from FaithWorld:

17 Chinese churches petition parliament for religious freedom

By Reuters Staff
May 12, 2011

(Chinese police usher people onto a bus at the site of a planned outdoor service by the Shouwang Church at the Zhongguancun commercial district in Beijing in this still image from April 10, 2011 video/Reuters TV)

from Africa News blog:

South Africa’s unions flex their muscles

May 18, 2009

After South Africa’s unions came close to blocking the listing of mobile phone group Vodacom, new President Jacob Zuma may want to keep a closer eye on his left wing allies.

from India Insight:

Bengal intellectuals queer pitch for communists

April 30, 2009

Amidst the stream of billboards, posters and party flags flooding Kolkata’s chaotic streets in the run-up to elections, a glazed hoarding featuring popular intellectuals of West Bengal is catching everyone’s eyes these days.

from India Insight:

Stars add glamour to Trinamool’s campaign in Bengal

April 18, 2009

The controversial seizure of land for industry by the ruling communists in West Bengal may be the biggest chink in their armour for the 2009 polls.

from India Insight:

First, Second or Third (Front) – What’s the difference!

April 17, 2009

Much has been written about the imminent arrival in New Delhi of the Third Front, the joker in the Indian political pack that has talked itself up as a serious alternative to the two national parties in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

from India Insight:

Will West Bengal’s Muslims vote for the left?

April 8, 2009

Are the ruling communists in the stronghold state of West Bengal losing the confidence of its traditional Muslim voters, ahead of their most crucial electoral test this month?

from Changing China:

Talking the same language

February 27, 2009

    By Ben Blanchard and Ralph Jennings
    What's in a word? A great deal if you are Chinese or Taiwanese. Despite unprecedented detente in recent months, China and Taiwan sometimes seem as far apart as ever when it comes to language.
    Take, for example, the vexed question of the wording of a future political solution between the two sides.
    China claims Taiwan as its own, and views it as a rebel province to be reeled in, by force if necessary. Beijing says Taiwan has been China's "since days of old", and it is only because defeated Nationalist forces fled there at the end of a civil war in 1949, and managed to hold off the Communists, that the island is still run separately. 
    China says it wants "reunification", to bring back together that which was once whole.
    But for many in Taiwan, that's the wrong word. They would rather term it "unification", saying that China, or at least the Communist Party, has never run Taiwan and has no legitimate claim over the island. Hence there is nothing to "reunite".
    Trouble is, in Chinese the word "tongyi" can be translated as either "reunification" or "unification". That makes writing about the issue in English tricky for reporters who seek to stay neutral.
    The politics of language go deeper, though. Taiwan, along with Hong Kong, Macau and many in the overseas Chinese world, use the traditional Chinese script, rather than the simplified version used in China and introduced by the Communists.
    Some in Taiwan call their traditional script "correct font," implying that China uses the wrong words.
    The official spoken language, Mandarin Chinese, is largely the same on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but Taiwanese often eject a mouthful at foreigners who speak in mainland-inflected Mandarin.
    Likewise, mainland Chinese may laugh at foreigners who speak Taiwan-accented Mandarin when in China.
    Taiwanese also love throwing in English and Japanese words when speaking Mandarin, which does not happen much on the mainland.
     Taiwan is proud, too, of its non-Mandarin linguistic heritage. Taiwanese, also known as Hokkien, as made a big comeback since being supressed by the Nationalists and is now widely used in politics, on the television and in pop songs.
    Written Taiwanese, using Chinese characters, is all but impossible for someone who only speaks Mandarin to understand, though they can guess at the gist of it.
    Taiwanese is also spoken in China, in the southern part of Fujian province, the origin centuries ago for many ethnic Chinese people in Taiwan, and is generally called Hokkien. In China though, use of  okkien in public life gets little official backing.
    So while China and Taiwan may talk about moving closer together, they might not always be talking the same language.

from Africa News blog:

How far will South Africa’s ANC shift?

January 11, 2009

Given that the leaders of the world's most firmly capitalist countries are splashing around unprecedented billions to nationalise banks, prop up industry and try to get economies moving, it might seem churlish for anyone to question South Africa's ruling ANC for planning to spend a bit more freely.

from Global News Journal:

Poland fetes Dalai Lama

December 11, 2008

  Forget the economic crisis, forget climate change -- images of an elderly, bespectacled Buddhist monk in a maroon robe have dominated Polish newspapers and television screens all week.