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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Media Whore D'Oeuvres



"The G2 was a stillborn idea, because Beijing doesn't want the responsibilities, even though the United States pushed hard for this framework at the Obama-Hu Jintao summit in November. That won't last in 2010. In the future, we'll look back at that summit as the peak of the relationship, and we'll see significant deterioration in U.S.-Chinese relations in the coming year. The problem isn't Obama or Hu; both want to avoid ruffling feathers. But there are too many structural pressures for it to last. The United States is looking for more (and more responsible) international leadership from the Chinese -- stakeholdership continues to be the mantra in policy circles. But as clearly evidenced on climate change during the Copenhagen summit, the Chinese have little national interest in taking a lead role. In 2010, we'll see this trend also play out on nuclear proliferation, reform of rules of the road for international trade and commerce, cyber-security, and security in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond." (Foreignpolicy)



"For years, the month of January has sent a cold winter chill down the spine of Condé Nast employees. It's the time of the Si Surprise! He returns to work from his December vacation spot in Vienna, takes a look at the numbers, waves his magic wand and sends some part of his company into hysteria. (Remember last January? He folded Domino.) But this year? It's a warm and cuddly Condé! CEO Chuck Townsend is taking time over the next few weeks to sit down with staffers at every magazine, hold their hands and tell them that everything is going to be just fine. 'It's a rah-rah speech,' said one attendee of his talk." (Observer)



"Without hesitation, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations announced Beijing was not ready to impose additional sanctions against Iran, suspected by Western nations of trying to build an atomic bomb under the guise of nuclear energy. 'This is not the right time or right moment for sanctions because diplomatic efforts are still going on," Ambassador Zhang Yesui told reporters Tuesday. 'The efforts aimed at diplomatic negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue still need some time and patience... A peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means will be the best option, and is also in the common interest of the international community because sanctions itself is not an end.' The United States, Britain and France, permanent Security Council members, can impose unilateral sanctions but they need Russia and China to get them through the 15-member Council. And any Western sanctions can be subverted by trade moving through China and most likely Russia, as well as a host of other nations. Usually Beijing follows Moscow's lead on Iran, while China leads the way on North Korea. But diplomats said Beijing was taking a tougher line, independent from Russia, fearing sanctions would encroach on trade and on oil exports." (HuffPo)



"Turkmenistan and Iran opened a new natural-gas pipeline to much fanfare on January 6, but considering its relatively modest capacity, the ribbon-cutting ceremony might have more political significance than anything. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrived in the Turkmen capital on January 5 on the second leg of a Central Asian tour that began in Tajikistan and focused on regional and economic cooperation. Ahmadinejad picked up where he left off in Ashgabat, where he was expected to travel last week until an ongoing political crisis at home forced a delay. After a warm welcome from Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the two leaders retreated for private talks that were expected to result in agreements furthering bilateral cooperation. The icing on the cake, however, is the opening of the Dovletabat-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline, which comes at an opportune moment for both countries, and which Ahmadinejad hailed today as an opportunity to strengthen ties. The pipeline, when fully operational, will more than double Turkmen gas exports to Iran -- from 8 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually to 20 bcm -- while furthering Ashgabat's efforts to lessen its dependence on Russian-operated export routes. For Iran, the new gas supplies will alleviate gas shortages in its northern regions, while showcasing its value as a trade partner in the Caspian region at a time when its reputation is under question. Iran boasts the second-largest gas reserves in the world, but its dependence on gas for half of its energy needs opens the way for trade with Turkmenistan, which has the world's fourth-largest reserves." (RadioFreeEurope)



"Among the emails I got yesterday morning after the news broke was one from a writer friend who’s a veteran of the New York club scene of which Casey was a longtime hardcore habituee. He wrote: Shame about Casey Johnson. She always seemed like a poor soul to me – oddly dispirited for someone so young. My friend tapped it. I was reminded that that I too always saw her like that. You can even see it in the pictures." (NYSocialDiary)

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