2016年07月28日

トルコが関係改善をしようとしている。 敵ではなく友人を作り出した。 イスラエル、ロシア、シリアに対してのエルドアン大統領の態度が突然、再設定された。(2)

Mr Yildirim’s government had every reason to bury the hatchet with Moscow. Sanctions imposed by the Kremlin last autumn have hurt. Turkish exports to Russia dropped by 60% in the first half of the year; the number of Russian travellers to Turkey was down more than 90% in May compared with last year’s figures, largely as a result of a ban on tourism. Russian operators have recently restarted flights to Turkey after an eight-month hiatus. Tourists who spilled out of a Rossiya Airlines flight last weekend in Antalya, a Turkish resort town, were feted with champagne and flowers. 

bury the hatchet:まさかり・仲直りする
hiatus:中断
feted:もてなしを受ける

Meanwhile, Russia’s intervention in Syria has blocked Turkish ambitions to play regional kingmaker. With its Syrian proxies bloodied by regime forces, Russian jets and the jihadist fighters of Islamic State (IS), Turkey risks being cut out of any prospective agreement over the country’s future. By cozying up to the Russians, Western diplomats say, it hopes to win back a seat at the table. 

kingmaker:実力者
cozying up to:の機嫌をとる
win back a seat:席を取り戻す

Yet reconciliation with the Kremlin can only go so far. Turkey and Russia remain at odds in the Caucasus and in the Black Sea, which the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently described as on the verge of becoming “a Russian lake”. Turkey also resents what it sees as Russia’s habit of allowing home-grown jihadists to travel to Syria. Such concerns have grown since an attack by IS militants killed 45 people at Istanbul’s main international airport on June 28th. Two of the suicide bombers involved, as well as several suspected accomplices, turned out to be Russian nationals. “They’re not stopping these people,” complains a Turkish official, referring to militants from the northern Caucasus who regularly surface Turkey’s border with Syria. “It’s placing an enormous burden on our shoulders.” 

reconciliation:和解
can only go so far:その程度でしかない
resents:に憤慨する
accomplice:共犯者

It is in Syria that the new charm offensive faces its biggest test. Turkish officials continue to hold the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, but realise that efforts to topple him are unlikely to succeed anytime soon. Turkey already seems less concerned with Mr Assad than with preventing Kurdish insurgents from gaining a permanent foothold in the country’s north. The rapprochement with Russia means it is even more likely to ditch its support for regime change. “After this Assad will no longer be a red line,” says Osman Bahadir Dincer of the International Strategic Research Organisation, a think-tank in Ankara. 

charm offensive:人気取り作戦
ditch:捨てる

The departure of Turkey’s former prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has served as an excuse to push ahead with changes that were long overdue. Mr Davutoglu was credited with shaping his country’s foreign policy over the past decade, and foreign observers viewed him as a moderate who restrained Mr Erdogan’s pugnacious instincts. Ironically, since he was booted from office in May after a series of spats with Mr Erdogan, Turkey’s adventurist streak has given way to pragmatism, at least in the Middle East. 

long overdue:長年の懸案だった
credit:評価される
pugnacious:好戦的な
booted:クビにする
spats:意見の不一致・口論
streak:傾向
given way to:に取って代わる

木曜日。ロシアとの関係改善によって、観光と貿易が戻ってきたが、アンカラの自爆テロにはロシア人もいた。トルコがロシアの裏庭になることを懸念していて、アサドとの敵対関係は放棄せざるを得ないようだ。Davutogluがエルドアンの好戦的な態度を収めてきたが、Yildirimが首相になって、皮肉なことだが、少なくとも中東においては実践的になってきた。

昨日に昼は森さんと会食した。昨晩アクセンチュアの戦略グループの仲間の同窓会があると聞いたので、私の著書を60部スタッフに持って行ってもらった。昨晩は海野塾があった。懇親会も11時まであった。楽しい1日だった。今日の昼は木戸脇さんとの会食があり、2時から引越しがある。荷物をトランクルームに預ける。整理すると大変な荷物だ。いくら捨ててもなんでこんなに荷物がるのか不思議だ。親父の家具屋を処分した時も一緒だった。膨大な先祖の宝物を全部捨てた。写真だけ残した。そういうものだ。ではまた明日。

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2016年07月27日

2016-35



 

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2016-34

Why “industrial strategy” is back
Jul 24th 2016, 23:05 BY R.C.

THERESA MAY, Britain’s new prime minister, has certainly been bold, maybe even foolhardy, in some of her cabinet appointments. But she has been equally bold in elevating “industrial strategy” to the top of her new government’s agenda—a move that could mark a clear break with her predecessor’s governments. The very term has been frowned upon in Conservative Party circles since Margaret Thatcher’s leadership. Yet Mrs May argued for “a proper industrial strategy to get the whole economy firing”, in her pitch for taking over from David Cameron. And once installed in Downing Street she quickly created a whole new department, of “Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”. Why has Mrs May decided to buck a generation’s worth of political orthodoxy?







The phrase in Britain will always be linked to the Labour governments of the 1970s, and to the ruinous industrial failures of that period. In an era in which Keynesian economics and planning dominated policymaking, it was a left-winger, Tony Benn, who proclaimed the need for such a strategy. This was mainly in response to the obvious failings of Britain’s unprofitable, strike-prone and outmoded industrial base. As minister for industry in the middle of the decade Mr Benn intervened ever more closely in loss-making companies such as Triumph motorcycles, just as his immediate successors intervened on a much larger scale to prop up huge corporations such as British Steel. Almost all these interventions failed disastrously, losing billions of pounds for taxpayers without saving the companies; the strategy was derided as “picking winners”. After Mrs Thatcher became prime minister in 1979 the nationalised industries were largely broken up and, in a new era of free-market economic liberalism, the notion became unfashionable. Even when the Labour Party was restored to power under Tony Blair after 1997, it remained firmly off the agenda.

But the tide began to change at the end of those New Labour governments, when Gordon Brown was prime minister. Once again, it was a sense of crisis that spurred a renewed interest in industrial strategy, this time the financial crash of 2008 and the subsequent recession. Politicians were convinced that the economy had to be “rebalanced” away from an over-reliance on financial services and more towards industry and manufacturing. George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer in David Cameron’s first coalition government, called this policy the “march of the makers”. Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democratic business secretary in the coalition, began to speak enthusiastically again of industrial strategies. He singled out 11 industries with which the government would build long-term “partnerships”, including carmaking and aerospace. Mrs May is likely to continue these sorts of government investments. She has also indicated that her strategy will include raising Britain’s chronically low productivity, pressing ahead with big infrastructure projects and more house-building. She also wants to spur growth outside London, and not merely in the “northern powerhouse”, around Manchester, much favoured by Mr Osborne.

There must be doubts as to how far Mrs May can take an industrial strategy in a majority Conservative government. For now the policy remains somewhat inchoate, but already free-market types are worried. Mark Littlewood, head of the Institute of Economic Affairs, one of Mrs Thatcher’s favourite think-tanks, argues that adopting even a limited industrial strategy could tempt the government into going further by propping up loss-making industries such as steel—especially once Britain leaves the EU and is no longer bound by European rules against state aid. So far it seems mild enough. But, aware of a popular mood souring against globalisation and a government keen to occupy the political centre-ground abandoned by Labour, many Tories will be on the lookout for signs of mission creep. Well-intentioned interventions could quickly become counter-productive. Yet as the economy deteriorates, the calls for an industrial strategy will grow louder.

Verizon calls time on Yahoo by buying it
Marissa Mayer’s attempt to revive a once-great pioneer of the internet has failed
Jul 25th 2016 | Business and finance

IT WAS not so long ago—four years back—that a former Google executive, Marissa Mayer (pictured), arrived to run Yahoo, and its employees hung posters emblazoned with her face and the word “Hope” around the internet firm’s office, in a nod to those designed for Barack Obama’s 2008 run for president. Expectations were sky-high for the young and energetic Ms Mayer. But now time is up for the ailing firm. After its spiral of decline quickened under Ms Mayer, the board said in February that it would sell off its core internet business. On July 25th Verizon, a telecoms giant that is also America’s biggest mobile operator, agreed to pay $4.8 billion for Yahoo. The deal excludes several key assets, including its stakes in Yahoo Japan and in Alibaba, China’s dominant e-commerce firm. What went so horribly wrong for the former internet giant, and is Verizon wise to buy it?







Yahoo’s story encapsulates the internet’s own rise. It was in 1994 that David Filo and Jerry Yang, two students at Stanford University, created a page to assemble their favourite links. It became Yahoo, a directory of categorised links, which evolved into a “portal” that millions would use to access the nascent worldwide web. But Yahoo’s executives have always struggled to decide what it really was. Yahoo has also been part entertainment company, selecting the articles and websites people most wanted to consume, and part technology firm, offering services like online search and e-mail.

Trying to decide on its strategic direction proved the hardest task of all. In the four years preceding Ms Mayer’s arrival, Yahoo churned through three chief executives. Ms Mayer was hired at a handsome price to provide clarity of vision and to restore Yahoo’s brand in the eyes of technology-hungry consumers. An engineer, she was Google’s 20th employee and a proven manager of the firm’s main products including search and Gmail.

That experience helped—her predecessors lacked it—as did Yahoo’s big stake in Alibaba, whose success pushed up the American firm’s share price. But her turnaround plans fell through, for three main reasons. First, she failed to avoid her industry’s tendency to overspend on big, splashy deals, and the firms she bought failed to deliver the expected growth: Yahoo spent $1.1 billion in 2013 to acquire Tumblr, a social network, for example, but has since written down most of its value. Second, Ms Mayer heightened Yahoo’s strategic split personality by pushing it in the direction of entertainment (by, for example, hiring Katie Couric, a veteran television host) but never fully committed to that future.

Third, she strangely showed little interest in online advertising, Yahoo’s core business, and was unable to make up for the fact that Yahoo does not know as much about its users as do Facebook and Google. From 2004 to 2006, Yahoo controlled a fifth of global online advertising, compared with 3% now. Yahoo’s decline is not exclusively Ms Mayer’s fault, but she underestimated how difficult it would be to fix.

Verizon reckons it can do far more with what’s left of the internet firm’s core business. It may be right. Last year it bought AOL, another once-great internet company, for $4.4 billion, and it will be able to cut costs by merging its operations with those of Yahoo. Verizon’s plan is to combine all that it already knows about its own broadband and wireless subscribers with what it can glean about them from the new online properties, and then charge advertisers to target them more precisely.

The deal also forms part of a broader trend towards consolidation in the internet business. A few large players now control the bulk of all digital-advertising spending. Soon, attention will turn to the likely fate of Twitter, another internet property that once had great promise but has fallen on hard times. Another famous boss, Jack Dorsey, one of Twitter’s original founders, is trying to revive it. He came back just last year, but the clock is ticking: hope can last only so long.

Erdogan’s counter-coup weakens the Syrian rebels
Arrests of senior officers and a look inward in Turkey mean setbacks for rebels in Syria
Jul 24th 2016 | GAZIANTEP | Middle East and Africa

SYRIAN rebels looking to the heavens for salvation have grown used to seeing Russian incendiary and Syrian barrel-bombs raining down instead. But at least they could count on succour and sustenance from across the Turkish border. After the aborted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that seems in doubt.








The commander of the second army, who is entrusted with securing Turkey’s southern borders, is in prison, says a veteran Turkish commentator. So too are most of the commanders of combat units on Syria’s border. (They are among more than 100 generals and admirals and 9,000 security personnel arrested since the coup attempt.) As Mr Erdogan focuses on the enemy within, he has tried to batten down what hatches he can, periodically closing the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, hitherto the prime supply route to Syria’s Sunni opposition-held territory. “We’re seeing a more inward-looking, introverted posture,” says the commentator. “The military’s ability to project Turkey’s power regionally has been undermined.”

The downturn in Turkey’s relations with America, which harbours Fethullah Gulen, whom Mr Erdogan accuses of masterminding the coup, also fractures the external alliance backing Syria’s rebels. Irked by America’s sanctuary for Mr Gulen, Mr Erdogan temporarily cut electricity to Incirlik, a large air base, interrupting the American-led bombardment of Islamic State. The private American companies based near Turkey’s borders with Syria that are contracted to extend non-lethal support to Syrian rebels wonder whether they too might be swept into the fray. Both Turkey and America, for separate reasons, now appear to be hedging their bets on the war’s outcome. Both are seeking a working relationship with Russia, the prime sponsor of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whom the rebels had vowed to overthrow. “We’ve staked everything on changing the regime,” says a glum spokesman of the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group holding Eastern Aleppo, the largest urban centre still in opposition hands. “Instead everything has changed but the regime.”

Even as international support for the rebels recedes, external support for the regime is strengthening. Russia continues to command the skies, despite pledges to withdraw. Iran and its satellites, which include the southern Lebanese militia, Hizbullah, prop up the regime’s exhausted troops on the ground. Two days after Turkey’s military establishment launched its coup, forces allied to the Syrian government established positions on Castello Road, the last supply road into Eastern Aleppo, imposing a full siege on the opposition enclave. Four more field hospitals and a blood bank were struck from the air on July 23rd. “Where are your red lines, Mr Erdogan?” asks an exiled Syrian politician in Gaziantep, Turkey’s gateway to Syria. “It seems Turkey no longer has a long-term strategy in Syria.”

By contrast, regime forces cheer Turkey’s mayhem. In Damascus soldiers at government checkpoints greeted news of the coup with bursts of celebratory gunfire. In the almost ten months since Russia launched its aerial bombardment in support of Mr Assad, Syrian rebels have lost between half and a third of their territory, says a Syrian opposition official in southern Turkey. South of Damascus Mr Assad’s forces have captured the farmland around Daraya, starving its population and bringing its fighters to the verge of defeat after nearly four years of siege. In Ghouta, another Damascus suburb where rebels are also losing territory, the regime is offering to bus rebels to safety if they surrender. It now appears to be applying the same tactics to eastern Aleppo after a counter-attack, in which some 200 rebels were killed, failed to reopen the road. UN agencies expect some food stocks to begin to run out after a month. The city’s plight, says a Red Cross official, is “devastating and overwhelming”.

Some still hope for a reversal of fortunes. Aleppo’s fighters say they have long anticipated a siege and built up supplies. Aided by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate, they suggest they could cut the road to regime-held Western Aleppo and impose a siege of their own. (Though the regime-held west hosts the bulk of the city’s remaining 1.4m people, students fleeing Syria’s former economic hub to Turkey say it suffers from collapsed services, and has no running water or electricity.) A few rebels argue that as part of his counter-coup Mr Erdogan might yet project his Sunni triumphalism abroad and come to their rescue. But among exiled leaders in Gaziantep and the Americans co-ordinating their logistical backup, the mood is one of despondency. “It’s game over [for Syria’s rebels] already,” says one.

Christine Lagarde must face trial on charges of negligence, a French court rules
A settlement with a well-connected businessman in 2008 comes back to haunt the IMF head
Jul 22nd 2016 | Europe

SHORTLY after taking up the post of French economy minister in 2007, Christine Lagarde agreed to let a dispute between the government and a prominent businessman, Bernard Tapie, be settled by arbitration rather than in the courts. She has regretted it ever since. In 2008 the arbitrators awarded Mr Tapie a huge payout of €403m ($442m); Ms Lagarde was accused of failing to safeguard taxpayers’ money. On July 22nd one of France’s highest courts ruled that Ms Lagarde, now the head of the International Monetary Fund, must stand trial for negligence. She denies the charges.







The scandal over the payout to Mr Tapie centred on charges of political cronyism. The businessman contended that Credit Lyonnais, a defunct state-owned bank, had given him bad advice when he sold his stake in Adidas, a sportswear company, in 1993. He thought the state owed him money. The government fought Mr Tapie in the courts until 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy became president and appointed Ms Lagarde, who agreed to go to arbitration. Mr Tapie had supported Mr Sarkozy’s election campaign. Critics alleged the decision to settle the case was payback.

The arbitrators’ decision was quickly annulled by a court, and the government never paid Mr Tapie the €403m. And Ms Lagarde has since been absolved of the critics’ most serious charges. In its ruling, France’s Court of Cassation underlined that she had no personal relationship with anyone involved in the case, and had not influenced the appointment of the arbitrators. But it said her decision to move to arbitration rather than letting the courts decide the case, against the advice of state agencies, demonstrated a “haste and lightness that constitute grave negligence on the part of a minister”.

Ms Lagarde says that while she saw nothing unusual in the move to arbitration at the time, she now realises she “should have been less trusting”. The IMF is standing by its director: in a statement, it said it retains faith in her ability to perform her duties. Compared with her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after being arrested on rape charges (which were later dropped) and was later acquitted of allegations of facilitating prostitution over his patronage of sex parties, Ms Lagarde’s scandal seems rather tame. But the French court may not agree. If convicted, she could face a €15,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

The South China Sea
My nationalism, and don’t you forget it
Xi Jinping tries to contain public fury over the South China Sea
Jul 23rd 2016 | BEIJING | From the print edition

Playing chicken with the party
CHINA is smarting. A tribunal in The Hague ruled on July 12th that its claims to most of the South China Sea had no basis in international law. In the days since, China’s government has shown no sign of wanting to dig itself out of a diplomatic hole—or any sign that it thinks it is in one.








Officials had two opportunities to be emollient and passed them both up. The first came when discussing bilateral talks with the Philippines, which had brought the case. Before the verdict the Philippines’ new president, Rodrigo Duterte, had said “let’s talk.” But according to his foreign minister, Perfecto Yasay, China demanded the talks take place without reference to the tribunal’s ruling. When Mr Yasay said no, the Chinese side muttered that “we might be headed for a confrontation.” China also continued to block Philippine fishermen from their traditional grounds.

The other chance to step back came during a visit to Beijing by the chief of America’s navy, Admiral John Richardson. His opposite number, Wu Shengli, did not miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity. “We will never stop our construction on the Nansha [Spratly] islands half way, no matter what country or person applies pressure,” he said, referring to China’s controversial building of harbours and runways on disputed outcrops in the South China Sea. At least they were talking.

Bellicosity from the brass is the order of the day. According to Reuters, another Chinese admiral, Sun Jianguo, told a forum in Beijing that “freedom of navigation” by American warships in the South China Sea, designed to ensure sea lanes stay open, could “play out in a disastrous way”. A vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, the Communist Party body that controls the armed forces, talked about beefing up combat preparedness during an inspection tour in the southern province of Guangdong. And so on.

More worrying than words were the actions. The maritime authority of Hainan, an island province off Guangdong, said it was closing an area in the South China Sea for three days while naval exercises took place. Xinhua, an official news agency, said China had recently dispatched a combat air patrol, consisting of H-6K bombers and fighters, over the South China Sea. China has been talking about setting up an Air Defence Identification Zone in the area, requiring incoming aircraft to identify themselves to its authorities. The air patrols could help China implement one. John Kerry, America’s secretary of state, has called the idea of such a zone “provocative and destabilising”.

Two things are clear. One is that stubborn nationalism is a strong feature of China’s foreign policy. The other is that Xi Jinping—China’s president, Communist Party leader and commander-in-chief—is determined to control it, just he is to dominate all aspects of China’s politics. State media have dismissed the tribunal as an American puppet, but Mr Xi does not want anti-US fervour to disrupt his diplomacy. China’s navy is still taking part in biennial naval drills called RIMPAC, hosted by America and joined by more than 20 other countries, that are under way off Hawaii. It appears to relish the prestige.

After the verdict, China’s social media started to call on people to boycott bananas from the Philippines and American brands such as iPhones and KFC, a fast-food chain. But the last thing Mr Xi wants are public demonstrations. (In the past century, patriotic protests have had a habit of turning against the government in China.) So this week, Xinhua and People’s Daily, a party newspaper, started criticising the “irrational patriotism” of social media. A picture (left) that circulated on social media of a protest outside a KFC outlet was deleted by censors. If there is one thing more important than Chinese nationalism, it seems, it is party control.

That was borne out on July 17th when the Chinese National Academy of Arts forced the closure of one of China’s most important and few remaining liberal magazines, Yanhuang Chunqiu. The decision to close it was remarkable because Mr Xi’s late father, Xi Zhongxun, was one of its most important fans. The closure was inconceivable without the younger Mr Xi’s say-so. The magazine won its spurs by challenging the party’s account of events ranging from the Communist takeover of China in 1949 to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. But nothing may now challenge the official version—as the government’s angry defence of its “historical” claims in the South China Sea shows.

Politics in Thailand
Twilight of the king
After the ailing monarch goes, what next?
Jul 23rd 2016 | From the print edition

TO THE casual observer the country is calm and orderly. And reverential: adorning a sweet-seller’s stall in a buzzing market in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, are a dozen laminated pictures of the 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej who, on the throne since 1946, is the world’s longest-reigning monarch, indeed the only king most Thais have ever known. During his reign Thailand has become one of the richest big countries in South-East Asia, a manufacturing hub and a magnet for tourists. Bhumibol’s picture is everywhere, including in millions of homes. As for the ailing king himself, who lies in a hospital just opposite the sweet-seller’s stall—he has not been seen for months. The palace rarely breaks its silence. But in June and again this month doctors said they had drained fluid from his brain.






Whether it comes in weeks or years, the king’s passing will be more than a milestone. His death may set loose centrifugal forces that a coup in 2014 sought to contain, but seems destined in the long run only to aggravate. Below the surface, Thailand is deeply fractured. And so the army-enforced calm accompanying the king’s twilight is fragile. Not least of the problems is that his successor, the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, is deeply unpopular. After Bhumibol’s death the country, a crucial ally of America’s in South-East Asia, risks descending further into civil strife and economic dislocation, as an elite around the palace resists popular calls for a greater say in politics and a more equitable sharing of wealth. At that point, all bets about Thailand’s stability and prosperity may be off.

When the junta ousted the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra two years ago, it was the second army-backed coup in a decade, and the most recent of several during the king’s reign. This time the army appears to be digging in. The junta, under the self-declared prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has forbidden politics and censored the press. Even criticism of an illiberal draft constitution that the generals hope to ram through in a popular referendum on August 7th is banned. Critics of the junta, including journalists, activists and a few politicians, have been hauled in for “attitude adjustment” sessions.

Notably, the junta has made draconian use of Thailand’s law on lese-majeste, which provides for long prison terms for anyone deemed to have spoken ill of the king, queen or heir-apparent. Facing growing anti-establishment sentiment in the provinces among people who feel that an urban alliance has conspired to disenfranchise them, the authorities have presided over a big rise in the law’s use over the past decade, with imprisonments rising sharply after the 2014 coup (see chart).

More than 50 people spent some time in jail in June for lese-majeste; they included Thais accused of defaming the royals in a student play, scribbling on toilet walls and speaking unguardedly in a taxi. Military courts have handed out staggering sentences: last year two Thais convicted of posting anti-monarchy messages on Facebook received jail terms of 28 and 30 years. Any Thai may report an instance of lese-majeste, and the authorities invariably act, scared that going soft on suspects might itself be a crime. Hardliners argue that even criticising the law or the long sentences is an offence. (Though the king himself did so in 2005, complaining that: “If you say that the king cannot be criticised, it suggests that the king is not human.”)







A big part of the generals’ project is to eradicate any lingering influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist politician (and elder brother of Ms Yingluck) now in self-imposed exile, but who has been the biggest factor in politics for most of the past decade and a half. Though the traditional elites abhor him, his parties have won every election they have been allowed to contest since 2001. His movement is loosely associated with the “red-shirt” activists who have sometimes congregated in support of the Shinawatras (and who are themselves opposed by “yellow-clad” royalist protesters, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes).

A police officer turned tycoon, Mr Thaksin took advantage of a liberal constitution adopted in 1997 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. He transformed a system of retail, local vote-buying into a machine that spread patronage more broadly. Helping him were billions of dollars earned from his telecoms and media businesses, built on government concessions. His parties draw support especially from Thailand’s neglected north and north-east.








There was much to object to about Mr Thaksin’s time as prime minister between 2001 and his ouster by the generals in 2006. Berlusconi-like, he blurred the line between politics, media and business. And the bloody vigilante justice he dealt to alleged drug-runners and to government opponents in the Muslim and often strife-torn south of the country was appalling. But the generals’ squabble with him is part of a broader tension, which has pitted a Bangkok-centred establishment against poorer Thais, many in the countryside.

For all Mr Thaksin’s flaws, he recognised the plight of the less well-off and shaped a politics that appealed to them. His first government introduced free health care and increased subsidies to rice farmers. That, in 2005, helped him become the first elected Thai prime minister to complete a term in office. Yet the business and political establishment around the royal court pushed back. Bangkok bigwigs, hardly clean themselves, complained about corruption and cronyism. They accused Mr Thaksin of pouring cash into crowd-pleasing schemes to tighten his grip on power. They warned that rural giveaways would bust the budget. But, above all, they worried that he appeared to be setting up a network of patronage and economic power to rival their own. Their royal-sanctioned network was—and remains—huge, and ill-understood. Yet it is the chief obstacle to the modernisation that Thailand needs for long-term stability.

The importance of royal patronage to Bangkok’s elites helps explain why reverence for the king is so obsessively enforced. Yet neither that reverence, nor its enforcement, were self-evident necessities to the reformers who, in 1932, replaced a long line of absolutist kings with a constitutional monarchy. Nor were they deemed so in 1946, when the current king ascended the throne as a young, American-born son of a commoner. Soon, however, struggles between civilian and military factions had halted progress towards democracy. Palace advisers and military-led governments sought to shape the Bhumibol reign, and the behaviour of the man himself.

The royal role
Seeking legitimacy—and, as wars raged in Indo-China, a bulwark against communists—generals who had come out on top by the late 1950s sought to turn the monarchy into a nationalist symbol. With army help (and American financial backing), the palace clawed back esteem and wealth.

Elevating the king’s prestige has made it easier for Thailand’s armed forces to paint the politicians they have routinely ousted as petty and ignoble. And it has allowed the palace to become a political actor in its own right. Its power has fluctuated. It remains opaque and the subject of debate. One analysis describes Thailand’s monarchy not as a person, nor even really an institution, but as a network centred on royal advisers in the privy council (appointed by the king) and encompassing royalists whom they can promote through the army, bureaucracy and judiciary. Though interests differ and sometimes conflict, many benefit from the whiff of authority which proximity to the palace endows.

In times of crisis, the palace has occasionally acted as a final arbiter—as in May 1992, when the king was seen to call an end to bloody battles between pro-democracy demonstrators and an army-led government, whose prime minister then stepped down. More often the palace is seen to endorse military takeovers. No coup is considered successful until its leaders are granted some sort of royal audience.

Less obvious but equally important, a near-divine figurehead is convenient for blessing the sometimes dodgy business activities of palace elites and the army. It is desirable, too, for the elites to have a monarch who is a source of patronage and power in his own right. The monarchy bestows honours, for instance, in return for donations to royal charities and good causes. Such things are valuable: indeed, the courts imprison people deemed to have feigned royal links for personal gain.

And though the economy has liberalised considerably since the Asian financial crisis, government concessions, public works and special policy deals still produce vast fortunes for palace-linked businesses. Serhat Unaldi, the German author of a recent book about the monarchy, notes that some royally connected businesses outperform peers simply because consumers consider them more prestigious.

Follow the money
When the king was healthier, cameras would film him trekking around poor parts of the country, inspecting royally sponsored development projects and meeting subjects. For decades he presided over every public university’s graduation ceremony. But over this foundation grew a thick layer of myth. Courtiers reinstated archaic traditions, such as a requirement that commoners prostrate themselves before royals. Royal pageants with spiritual overtones became more frequent. A royal philosophy was devised, of the “sufficiency economy”. Its vision of development based on harmonious rural life and a deferential hierarchy is fantasy. No matter: the generals who ousted Mr Thaksin in 2006 accused him of flouting the notion of the sufficiency economy—ie, the king’s will.

In the zero-sum calculations of the court, Mr Thaksin’s own network threatened to supplant that of the monarchy. And the stakes were huge. The palace controls billions through its stewardship of the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), a firm that manages the royal family’s properties and investments. Its holdings include chunks of Siam Commercial Bank, one of Thailand’s largest banks; Siam Cement, its biggest industrial conglomerate; and the Kempinski hotel group. It owns swathes of land, including several square miles of Bangkok. Its finances are outside the government budget, and opaque. A study in 2015 guessed that it was worth about $44 billion. That may be an underestimate.

The CPB’s board is appointed by the palace (though by tradition the finance minister holds a seat). It is not required to pay tax, and in principle its income is the king’s to spend. The CPB’s cash pays a big chunk of the monarchy’s household expenses; it is also used for provincial developments that have done much to burnish the palace’s prestige. Some of its business in Bangkok looks charitable, too. All but a sliver of its property there is leased cheaply—and sometimes to palace cronies.

The risk that the succession will disrupt or divert patronage is one reason for jitters in Bangkok. The CPB’s holdings amount to an “insane” amount of money, says a local businessman. “People kill for much less.”








Vajiralongkorn: uncrowned and unloved


The 63-year-old crown prince, Vajiralongkorn (pictured), is spoilt and demanding, and—to put it mildly—widely loathed. Three times divorced, he spends a lot of time abroad, often in Germany. In 2007 leaked video footage showed him and his then-consort, who was wearing nothing but a G-string and heels, holding a lavish royal party. The only guest appeared to be Foo Foo, his poodle, which before dying in 2015 enjoyed the rank of air chief marshal. One of the prince’s more generous critics calls him “a loose cannon”.

What once especially troubled the elites was a rumoured friendship between the crown prince and Mr Thaksin, who upon his election in 2001 is said to have given Vajiralongkorn a luxury car. The establishment worried that, when crowned, the prince, unpopular at court and among the middle classes, might align himself with Mr Thaksin’s populist movement. That could grant Thaksinites access to the crown’s wealth, and end up locking the old elites out of power. This may have been a key factor behind the army coups against Mr Thaksin and his sister.

For years it was rumoured that palace insiders might interfere with the succession in order to elevate Vajiralongkorn’s more admired sister, Princess Sirindhorn, to the throne (Thailand has never had a reigning queen). But this gossip has recently died down. The junta has shown clear support for Vajiralongkorn, whose reputation it is buffing with a lavish publicity campaign. It has also involved the prince in jolly public events such as two huge charity bike rides. It may have come to some kind of accommodation with him, or simply decided that interfering with the succession will only cause more trouble.

Born unequal still
Some observers now suggest that the succession will prove less disruptive than many had feared. There is even talk that King Bhumibol might abdicate before he dies, in order to help smooth the transition. Certainly, vague worries in Bangkok that “red-shirts” could use the occasion for anti-establishment protests are likely to prove overblown. Might Bangkok’s elites, less worried that a royal transition would threaten their privileges, countenance the shifts needed to heal the country’s rifts, starting with a huge economic divide?

They certainly ought to. More and more Thais are aware of their country’s stark inequalities. Yes, rapid growth has lifted tens of millions from poverty and the curse of subsistence farming. Many from outlying regions have found work in the booming capital or have moved abroad. Yet inequality remains high compared with similarly developed countries. One analysis finds that a tenth of Thailand’s landowners own nearly two-thirds of its titled land. A fifth of rural Thais remain unbanked.

National governments have long overlooked such disparities, committing the bulk of resources to the capital region, even though incomes there are five to seven times higher than in Thailand’s poorer parts. A three-year study reported by the World Bank in 2012 found that three-quarters of all public expenditure was lavished on Bangkok and adjacent provinces, even though the capital region had only 17% of the population of 67m (see map). Spending per head on education was four to five times higher in Bangkok than elsewhere, and on health, 12 times higher. But instead of devising policies to deal with such inequalities, the junta has been cracking down particularly hard on opposition in the rural north and north-east, the largest and poorest regions. One opponent recalls being taken away blindfolded and detained for seven days.

An obstacle to sounder policy is Thailand’s extreme centralisation. Neighbouring Indonesia, after the fall of Suharto, its last dictator, undertook radical decentralisation, which has helped entrench democracy. Yet even during periods of democratic rule, Thailand’s provincial governors have been appointed by the central government rather than elected locally. That means regions lack champions—and the stakes in national politics are raised. Under the army, which sees itself as the guardian of a unitary state, regional autonomy seems unimaginable. Historically, civilian and military governments alike have played down, not celebrated, Thailand’s provincial dialects and patchwork of ethnicities.









It is all storing up trouble for later. Some Thais seem persuaded that eradicating the last lingering influence of Mr Thaksin and his family will help heal social and economic divisions. The establishment intimates that the so-called “good people”—soldiers and selfless bureaucrats—are the only ones who can be trusted to lead the country. Yet such thinking is holding back the development of democratic institutions that might have kept Mr Thaksin in check. The generals have not banished the dissatisfaction caused by the instability and low growth that followed Mr Thaksin’s defenestration. “The junta’s attention is nowhere near where a normal government’s ought to be,” says an analyst familiar with the north-east.

Continuity bordering on stasis looks likely to be the watchword. Portraits of King Bhumibol will not disappear any time soon. Indeed, one Thai observer thinks his veneration will extend long beyond his death and mourning period. Yet the eventual dissipation of Bhumibol’s charisma, and his moral and sacred authority, mean that the palace’s authority seems bound to dwindle. A new generation of royal advisers could come to realise that the monarchy’s survival would be best secured through a more defined kind of constitutionalism. The palace might attempt to speak out more plainly against the most egregious abuses of the lese-majeste law (rumours have swirled that a large number of pardons may be granted soon).

Unsteady as you go
A palace less tolerant of authoritarianism would be an improvement. But it is only the most optimistic scenario. A grimmer one sees the army using the royal transition as an excuse to impose even greater limits on political activity and free speech—becoming ever more at odds with civilians whose taste for bowing and scraping before the monarchy can only fade. Observers who once thought that the generals’ only priority was to act as an escort to the succession now detect nostalgia for the days when military government was the norm; it looks keen to pull Thailand’s strings for years to come. That would probably mean many more policies designed to smother, rather than solve, Thailand’s problems—such as the suspension of local elections, which are seen to foment discord. All this would doubtless drag out the country’s economic slump.









In graphics: Explaining Thailand’s volatile politics
Things would get only more volatile should the next king choose to pull enthusiastically on all the levers that have passed to the palace under Bhumibol—elevating henchmen and pursuing vendettas, for instance. It is not clear how far eminences who have thrived under Bhumibol’s reign would tolerate a sovereign they consider actively damaging to their interests: were he, for example, to appear overly chummy with factions linked to Mr Thaksin (or, worse, appear to favour his return).

Yet efforts to restrain him would risk angering “red-shirt” activists who in recent years have rallied to defend Mr Thaksin and his sister, and more broadly their own democratic rights. They might perceive another effort by the establishment to stifle change they feel is overdue. All is quiet now. But the elements of post-Bhumibol turmoil in Thailand are all there, should events conspire to arrange them so.

Turkey and the war in Syria
Erdogan’s counter-coup weakens the Syrian rebels
Arrests of senior officers and a look inward in Turkey mean setbacks for rebels in Syria
Jul 24th 2016 | GAZIANTEP | Middle East and Africa

SYRIAN rebels looking to the heavens for salvation have grown used to seeing Russian incendiary and Syrian barrel-bombs raining down instead. But at least they could count on succour and sustenance from across the Turkish border. After the aborted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that seems in doubt.






The commander of the second army, who is entrusted with securing Turkey’s southern borders, is in prison, says a veteran Turkish commentator. So too are most of the commanders of combat units on Syria’s border. (They are among more than 100 generals and admirals and 9,000 security personnel arrested since the coup attempt.) As Mr Erdogan focuses on the enemy within, he has tried to batten down what hatches he can, periodically closing the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, hitherto the prime supply route to Syria’s Sunni opposition-held territory. “We’re seeing a more inward-looking, introverted posture,” says the commentator. “The military’s ability to project Turkey’s power regionally has been undermined.”

The downturn in Turkey’s relations with America, which harbours Fethullah Gulen, whom Mr Erdogan accuses of masterminding the coup, also fractures the external alliance backing Syria’s rebels. Irked by America’s sanctuary for Mr Gulen, Mr Erdogan temporarily cut electricity to Incirlik, a large air base, interrupting the American-led bombardment of Islamic State. The private American companies based near Turkey’s borders with Syria that are contracted to extend non-lethal support to Syrian rebels wonder whether they too might be swept into the fray. Both Turkey and America, for separate reasons, now appear to be hedging their bets on the war’s outcome. Both are seeking a working relationship with Russia, the prime sponsor of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whom the rebels had vowed to overthrow. “We’ve staked everything on changing the regime,” says a glum spokesman of the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group holding Eastern Aleppo, the largest urban centre still in opposition hands. “Instead everything has changed but the regime.”

Even as international support for the rebels recedes, external support for the regime is strengthening. Russia continues to command the skies, despite pledges to withdraw. Iran and its satellites, which include the southern Lebanese militia, Hizbullah, prop up the regime’s exhausted troops on the ground. Two days after Turkey’s military establishment launched its coup, forces allied to the Syrian government established positions on Castello Road, the last supply road into Eastern Aleppo, imposing a full siege on the opposition enclave. Four more field hospitals and a blood bank were struck from the air on July 23rd. “Where are your red lines, Mr Erdogan?” asks an exiled Syrian politician in Gaziantep, Turkey’s gateway to Syria. “It seems Turkey no longer has a long-term strategy in Syria.”

By contrast, regime forces cheer Turkey’s mayhem. In Damascus soldiers at government checkpoints greeted news of the coup with bursts of celebratory gunfire. In the almost ten months since Russia launched its aerial bombardment in support of Mr Assad, Syrian rebels have lost between half and a third of their territory, says a Syrian opposition official in southern Turkey. South of Damascus Mr Assad’s forces have captured the farmland around Daraya, starving its population and bringing its fighters to the verge of defeat after nearly four years of siege. In Ghouta, another Damascus suburb where rebels are also losing territory, the regime is offering to bus rebels to safety if they surrender. It now appears to be applying the same tactics to eastern Aleppo after a counter-attack, in which some 200 rebels were killed, failed to reopen the road. UN agencies expect some food stocks to begin to run out after a month. The city’s plight, says a Red Cross official, is “devastating and overwhelming”.

Some still hope for a reversal of fortunes. Aleppo’s fighters say they have long anticipated a siege and built up supplies. Aided by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate, they suggest they could cut the road to regime-held Western Aleppo and impose a siege of their own. (Though the regime-held west hosts the bulk of the city’s remaining 1.4m people, students fleeing Syria’s former economic hub to Turkey say it suffers from collapsed services, and has no running water or electricity.) A few rebels argue that as part of his counter-coup Mr Erdogan might yet project his Sunni triumphalism abroad and come to their rescue. But among exiled leaders in Gaziantep and the Americans co-ordinating their logistical backup, the mood is one of despondency. “It’s game over [for Syria’s rebels] already,” says one.

The 1MDB affair
Thick and fast
America applies to seize assets linked to a Malaysian state investment firm
Jul 23rd 2016 | SINGAPORE | From the print edition

HAVING smouldered for more than a year, international investigations into 1MDB—a Malaysian state investment firm at the heart of a sprawling financial scandal—are now burning fiercely. On July 20th America’s Justice Department began proceedings to seize more than $1 billion of assets, which it alleged had been purchased with funds siphoned out of the firm. It is the largest single action the department has ever launched.








The goodies concerned include luxury properties, artworks by Van Gogh and Monet, and a jet, according to court filings. Authorities say 1MDB’s money was also spent on gambling and used to make the “Wolf of Wall Street”, a film about a high-living swindler starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was made by a production company co-founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak. (A spokesman for the firm, Red Granite Pictures, said neither it nor Mr Riza had done anything wrong.)

Mr Riza is among several people the Justice Department claims are “relevant” to its case. So is Low Taek Jho, a Malaysian tycoon who helped to set up 1MDB, and two former officials at an Abu Dhabi state firm with which 1MDB did business. Also listed in the complaint (but not named) are four employees of 1MDB and a high-ranking Malaysian government official who is described as a relative of Mr Riza and for the moment known only as “Malaysian Official 1”.

1MDB was launched in 2009, the year Mr Najib became prime minister. It was supposed to bring investment to Malaysia by forging partnerships with foreign firms. But by 2014 it was struggling to service debts of more than $11 billion. Questions about it multiplied last year when it was discovered that around $700m had entered Mr Najib’s bank accounts shortly before a close election in 2013. (Mr Najib says the money was not related to 1MDB, but was a perfectly legal, personal donation from a Saudi royal, much of which has been returned. Malaysia’s attorney-general agrees.)

The Justice Department says the assets it is seeking to recover are associated with “an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated” from 1MDB. Its filing alleges that between 2009 and 2015 more than $3.5 billion belonging to the firm may have been pinched by “high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates”. The complaint provides extensive detail on the deals in question, which it divides into three “phases”, beginning in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

The proceedings now starting in America relate only to the seizure of assets, and do not amount to criminal charges against the individuals alleged to be involved. In the meantime several cases are advancing elsewhere. In May the Swiss financial regulator fined BSI, a private bank which handled some of 1MDB’s money, and launched proceedings against two of its former employees.

On July 21st authorities in Singapore said that they had seized or frozen assets worth S$240m ($175m), half of it belonging to Mr Low or his family, as part of an ongoing probe into transactions linked to 1MDB. The local financial regulator also announced that it would be taking action against three big banks—DBS, UBS and Standard Chartered—for “lapses and weaknesses” in their efforts to prevent money-laundering. With investigations underway in half a dozen countries, expect to hear much more.

More lethal than Russia in Syria
The role of the West in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen
A lucrative, devastating war
Jul 26th 2016 | From the print edition

NINETY years ago, Britain’s planes bombed unruly tribes in the Arabian peninsula to firm up the rule of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the founder of the Saudi state. Times have changed but little. Together with America and France, Britain is now supplying, arming and servicing hundreds of Saudi planes engaged in the aerial bombardment of Yemen.








Though it has attracted little public attention or parliamentary oversight, the scale of the campaign surpasses Russia’s in Syria, analysts monitoring both conflicts note. With their governments’ approval, Western arms companies provide the intelligence, logistical support and air-to-air refuelling to fly far more daily sorties than Russia can muster.

There are differences. Russian pilots fly combat missions in Syria, whereas Western pilots do not fly combat missions on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Nor are their governments formal members of the battling coalition. Their presence, including in Riyadh’s operations room, and their precision-guided weaponry, should ensure that the rules of war that protect civilians are upheld, insist Western officials. But a series of recently-published field studies question this. Air strikes were responsible for more than half the thousands of civilian deaths in the 16-month campaign, Amnesty International reported in May. It found evidence that British cluster bombs had been used. Together with other watchdogs, including the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, it has documented the use of Western weaponry to hit scores of Yemeni markets, medical centres, warehouses, factories and mosques. One analyst alleges Western complicity in war crimes.

The war in Yemen has certainly been lucrative. Since the bombardment began in March 2015, Saudi Arabia has spent £2.8 billion on British arms, making it Britain’s largest arms market, according to government figures analysed by Campaign Against Arms Trade. America supplies even more.

Western support might have helped reduce Saudi Arabia’s ire at the nuclear deal America and other world powers signed easing sanctions on Iran. But it has also fuelled another conflict in the Middle East. Together with the ground war and the Saudi-led blockade, it has devastated infrastructure in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country, displaced over 2m people and brought a quarter of Yemen’s population of 26m to the brink of famine. Aid agencies warn that another refugee exodus across the Red Sea and on to the Mediterranean could be in the offing.

Negotiations aimed at ending the war resumed on July 16th in Kuwait. But both sides have scoffed at Kuwait’s threats to expel their delegations if they fail to conclude a deal within two weeks. Yemen’s president-in-exile, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who hopes to install his own government, has dismissed the UN envoy’s proposals for a power-sharing administration. He has shored up his own team with hardliners. A civil war in the 1960s, note observers gloomily, lasted eight years.

The bombardment has dented the fighting strength of Saudi Arabia’s foes—the remnants of the Yemeni Republican Guard under the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the Houthis, a northern Shia militia. But it has failed to break the deadlock or expel them from Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Despite the bombastic pledge of Mr Hadi to “be in the capital soon”, fighting continues around Ma’arib, 120km (75 miles) from it.

A fragmenting country further complicates the peacemakers’ task. Southerners in the port city of Aden are increasingly seeking to resurrect a separate state. Further east, Gulf states led by the United Arab Emirates have struck at al-Qaeda’s build-up in Hadramawt, fearful of a spillover into their own states which have large Yemeni populations. Recent bombings in the Saudi cities of Medina, Jeddah and Qatif underscore the reach the jihadists already have.

As the war drags on, nervousness grows. President Barack Obama banned the dispatch of cluster bombs in April, though Congress later reinstated it. The Gulf states too seem increasingly unnerved by the costs. Had but a fraction of Saudi’s $87 billion defence budget gone on development in Yemen, says a long-time Gulf observer, the deployment could have been of consultants with pens in their pockets.

Somebody call a doctor
Reducing immigration could strain Britain’s public services further
The NHS may escape the worst, but less sensitive public services might struggle
Jul 26th 2016 | Britain

MANY of the 52% of Britons who voted to leave the European Union did so because they wanted to reduce immigration. Since the June referendum, however, the implications of such a policy have started to dawn. As well as keeping British businesses ticking over, European migrants fill jobs in the country’s public services: one in ten doctors and one in 25 nurses is EU-born, for instance. Thousands more work in low-skilled public-sector jobs, as bus drivers, street sweepers and school caterers. “We are reliant on foreign labour to deliver public services more cheaply,” says Jonathan Clifton of IPPR, a think-tank. What will happen if that stream of labour dries up?








There are 3m EU-born migrants in Britain. Theresa May, the new prime minister, has indicated that they will be allowed to stay, as long as Britons abroad get the same treatment. The bigger question is how the country will treat new arrivals. Last year net immigration from around the world topped 330,000, of whom more than half came from outside the EU. Non-Europeans’ entry is determined by a points system based on criteria such as education and salary, whereas Europeans are free to enter Britain at will. If Britain opts out of the EU’s free-movement rules, EU citizens might be subjected to the points system, or something like it.

At present the minimum requirement for non-EU work visas is an annual salary of £20,800 ($26,900)—due to rise to £30,000 next year—and a graduate-level job. Last year, only 19% of EU migrants employed in Britain were in graduate-level jobs earning more than £20,000. Indeed, only one-quarter of all jobs in Britain meet the conditions for the most common non-EU work visa. In some migrant-heavy industries, almost no workers would qualify: in “agriculture, forestry and fishing” only 4% would meet the conditions; in “distribution, hotels and restaurants” 6% would. Few of those toiling in unskilled public-sector jobs—waste disposal or cleaning services, say—would meet the criteria. “That would have a significant impact on public services across the board,” says Bob Price, leader of Oxford City Council.

How, then, would public services respond? Many are worried that the National Health Service (NHS), whose junior doctors are in revolt over a new contract that they consider miserly, might find it even harder to attract staff. Britain is already 24th out of 27 in the EU for the number of doctors per person. Many of its home-grown medics are leaving in search of better deals in Australia and Canada. Carlos Vargas-Silva of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University thinks that, if necessary, the government may impose less restrictive criteria for visas in the NHS. Most doctors would anyway satisfy the current non-EU visa conditions, and nurses are on a “shortage occupation list” which means they do not have to meet the usual requirements. “It is hard to see any scenarios where there would be limitations on medical professionals,” says Mr Vargas-Silva.

But other, less politically sensitive services might struggle. One in 20 people employed in adult social care—which includes old folks’ homes and social work, for instance—is EU-born, a total of about 75,000 people. The sector is already acutely understaffed: last year there were 70,000 unfilled vacancies. Even before the Brexit vote, a report by Independent Age and the International Longevity Centre, two NGOs, estimated that, by 2020, this figure could rise to 200,000, or 14% of the workforce required.

Polls suggest that support for Brexit was strongest among pensioners, around 60% of whom voted to leave the EU. Those who did so in order to limit migration may find, too late, that they were the ones who needed it most.

The economics of Donald Trump’s wall
Jul 26th 2016, 16:30 BY THE DATA TEAM

DONALD TRUMP is a man of ideas. Although critics have lambasted him for flip-flopping on some policies (he now proposes to ban immigrants from "terrorist nations" rather than all Muslims), Mr Trump has stood firm on at least one proposal: his wall. A new report from Bernstein Research looks at the economics of the wall's construction.









The border between the United States and Mexico stretches 1,989 miles (3,200km), but the wall itself needn’t be as long thanks to the preponderance of natural borders such as the Rio Grande. Assuming a length of 1,000 miles and a height of 40 feet (12 metres), Bernstein reckon that the wall would require $711m worth of concrete and $240m worth of cement. Including labour, the total cost of between $15 billion and $25 billion is a bit more than Mr Trump's suggested $10 billion. (Bernstein’s estimates presumably do not factor in Mr Trump’s construction expertise.)

As it is not economically feasible to transport cement and concrete across great distances, the biggest business beneficiaries will likely be within 200 miles of the border. America has many more factories and quarries than Mexico, yet Mr Trump is adamant that the wall will be built with Mexican money. Cemex, a Mexican firm with around half the quarries close to the border, is likely to profit. At least some will benefit from the wall’s construction.

Drug-testing at music festivals
Revellers get the chance to see if their drugs are what they claim to be
Concrete posing as ecstasy, brown sugar as MDMA crystals: illegal drugs often are not what they seem
Jul 25th 2016 | Britain

BACKSTAGE at many of Britain’s summer music festivals, suspicious pills and powders seized from tents are analysed by lab technicians. Usually it is to advise on-site doctors and police on what symptoms to look out for in people who become unwell. But this year, for the first time, festival-goers have been given the chance to get their illegal drugs tested before they take them.









At the Secret Garden Party, a Cambridgeshire bash on July 21st-24th, a non-profit organisation called The Loop manned a tent where partygoers could drop off their drugs anonymously, before returning later for the results. As police turned a blind eye, technicians analysed nearly 250 drug samples, mostly of ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine.

Or at least, that was what they claimed to be: in reality the bags of “MDMA crystal” being sold for £50 ($66) per gram turned out to be brown sugar; some suspiciously hard, grey pills were made of concrete; and several samples of “cocaine” and “ketamine” were in fact ground-up anti-malaria tablets. Even the real drugs varied dangerously in potency: the strongest ecstasy pills were five times as potent as the weakest.

Festival drug-dealers are a particularly dodgy bunch, says Fiona Measham, a professor of criminology at Durham University and co-director of The Loop. Ripping people off in their home town carries the risk that “if they bump into them again they’d get battered. At a festival they can disappear into the crowd.”

But does the testing encourage more drug use? It is too early to say, but there is some evidence that it does the opposite. After getting their results back, only half of those at the Secret Garden Party said they would take the drugs; one-quarter said they would throw them away. Of the remainder, some said they would track down the dealer to remonstrate. “Customer satisfaction” may become a higher priority, says Ms Measham.

The Loop will next take its tent to Kendal Calling, a festival in the Lake District which begins on July 28th. Five other festivals have made inquiries about next year. Those held on private land, as the Secret Garden Party is, may be more likely to do it than festivals in public places. Last year a plan to bring drug testing to Parklife, a shindig in a municipal park in Manchester, was vetoed by the city council.

The programme also represents a litmus test of Theresa May’s new government. In 2013, as home secretary, Mrs May dismissed a proposal to pre-test drugs at a nightclub in Manchester, arguing that “if somebody has purchased something that the state has deemed illegal, it’s not then for the state to go and test it for you.” Yet so far the Home Office has made no criticism of The Loop’s new project. That is perhaps the most encouraging result of the weekend.



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南シナ海 崖っぷちからの復活か 中国政府 中国が手厳しい国際判決を認めるべき理由(2) トルコが関係改善をしようとしているがそれは何を意味するのか?

That would be hugely provocative. Although America is deeply reluctant to risk a conflict, President Barack Obama is thought in March to have warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that any move on Scarborough Shoal would be seen as threatening American interests (the Philippines is a treaty ally). For China to call its bluff in a sea that carries $5.3 trillion in annual trade would be reckless and irresponsible. 

provocative:挑発的な
thought:考え
bluff:call A's bluff A〈人〉にやれるものならやってみろと言う.
reckless:無謀な
irresponsible:無責任な

There is a better way. China could climb down and, in effect, quietly recognise the court’s ruling. That would mean ceasing its island-building, letting other countries fish where UNCLOS allows and putting a stop to poaching by its own fishermen. It would have good reason: its prestige and prosperity depend on a rules-based order. It would be in China’s interests to secure peace in its region by sitting down with the Philippines, Vietnam and other South-East Asian neighbours and trying to resolve differences. Right now those countries, and America, should avoid action that will needlessly enrage China, and instead give it a chance to walk back from the edge. 

poaching:侵入する
prestige:威信
enrage:ひどく怒らせる

中国がこの判決に従うべきだと言っている。アジアの関係諸国だけでなく、アメリカを敵に回すことになる。そうしたことが中国にとっていいわけがないと言っている。果たして、このエコノミストの意見通りになるのだろうか。日本人は物事を白黒はっきりつけたがるが、中国人は灰色のままで何とも思わない。そうした寛容さが日本人には必要だ。

What is the Turkish for rapprochement?
Turkey is suddenly making friends, not enemies
President Erdogan’s attitudes to Israel, Russia and Syria have undergone a sudden reset
Jul 15th 2016 | ISTANBUL | Europe

rapprochement:和解・関係改善
undergone:を受ける
reset:再設定

トルコが関係改善をしようとしているがそれは何を意味するのか?
トルコは突然、敵ではなく友人を作り出した。
イスラエル、ロシア、シリアに対してのエルドアン大統領の態度が突然、再設定された。

TURKEY’s newly installed prime minister, Binali Yildirim, has dusted off a time-honoured formula for dealing with his country’s troublesome neighbours: turn down the rhetoric and act nicely. “Our most important foreign-policy goal is to increase the number of friends,” he said in a speech on July 11th. “There is no reason for us to quarrel with Iraq, Syria, Egypt; with the countries of this region.” 

dusted:埃を払う
time-honoured:長年の
quarrel:諍い



Mr Yildirim has got off to a good start. In a single day last month, Turkey agreed to restore ties with Israel, with which it has been at odds since 2010, and apologised to Russia for bringing down a jet that veered into its airspace in November after a bombing run over Syria. Officials from the ruling party have since raised hopes of progress in peace talks in Cyprus, divided since 1974 between an internationally recognised Greek south and a Turkish-occupied north. They have also floated a cautious opening with Egypt and a rethink of Turkey’s botched Syria policy. After the Arab Spring of 2011, Turkey rushed headfirst into the flames that engulfed the Middle East, backing the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and Islamist insurgents in Syria. Having been burned, it now appears to be running to safety. 

at odds:不和で
veered :方向を変える
floated:流れる・提案する
botched:やりそこなう
headfirst:頭から先に・大急ぎで
engulfed:を完全に変える
 
水曜日。今日はこれまで。トルコが対外的な政策を急遽、和平の方向に転換しだした。イスラエル、ロシア、シリア、ギリシャとの軋轢の和解に乗り出した。ただし、この記事はトルコのクーデターは起こる直前のものだ。だからと言って内容が変わるものではないが。

昨日の昼は藤田さんの紹介で同友会で講演をさせていただいた。今日の昼は元上司の森さんとの会食がある。夜は海野塾がある。ではまた明日。

swingby_blog at 06:44コメント(0)トラックバック(0) 

2016年07月26日

南シナ海 崖っぷちからの復活か 中国政府 中国が手厳しい国際判決を認めるべき理由

The South China Sea
Come back from the brink, Beijing
Why China should accept a damning international ruling
Jul 16th 2016 | From the print edition

damning:手厳しい

南シナ海
崖っぷちからの復活か 中国政府
中国が手厳しい国際判決を認めるべき理由

THE aggression that China has shown in the past few years in its vast territorial grab in the South China Sea has terrified its neighbours and set it on a collision course with America, long the guarantor of peace in East Asia. This week an international tribunal thoroughly demolished China’s vaguely defined claims to most of the South China Sea. How Beijing reacts to this verdict is of the utmost geopolitical importance. If, in its fury, China flouts the ruling and continues its creeping annexation, it will be elevating brute force over international law as the arbiter of disputes among states. China’s bullying of its neighbours greatly raises the risks of a local clash escalating into war between the century’s rising superpower and America, the current one. The stakes could hardly be higher. 

aggression:侵略
grab:横領もの・掴み取る
terrified:怯えさせる
collision course with:と衝突必至である
guarantor:保証人
demolished:覆す
verdict:判定
of utmost importance:最重要である
fury:激怒
flout:無視する
ruling:判決
creeping:コソコソする
annexation:併合
brute:野蛮な
arbiter:仲裁者
play for high stakes: 大金を賭ける; 一か八かの手段に出る

The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, in response to a case brought by the Philippines, is firm, clear and everything China did not want it to be (see article). The judges said that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should determine how the waters of the South China Sea are divided among countries, not China’s ill-explained “nine-dash line” which implies the sea is Chinese. None of the Spratly Islands in the south of the sea, claimed (and occupied) by several countries including China, can be defined as islands that can sustain human life, they ruled. This means no country can assert an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending up to 200 nautical miles around them. 

The court had no power to decide who owns which bits of land in the South China Sea. But the judges said that by building on rocks visible only at low tide, and thus not entitled under UNCLOS to any sovereign waters, China had encroached illegally into the Philippines’ EEZ. The court also said China had violated UNCLOS by blocking Philippine fishing boats and oil-exploration vessels and that Chinese ships had acted dangerously and unlawfully in doing so. Moreover, China’s island-building had caused “severe harm” to the habitats of endangered species, and Chinese officials had turned a blind eye to Chinese poaching of them. 

encroached:侵害する
habitats:生息地
endangered:絶滅危機に瀕した
poaching:侵入する

For China, this is a humiliation. Its leaders have called the proceedings illegal. Its huge recent live-fire exercises in the South China Sea imply that it may be planning a tough response. This could involve imposing an “Air Defence Identification Zone” of the kind it has already declared over the East China Sea. Or China might start building on the Scarborough Shoal, which it wrested from the Philippines in 2012 after a stand-off between the two countries’ patrol boats. 

humiliation:屈辱・恥をかくこと
proceedings:訴訟
live-fire exercises:実弾射撃訓練
stand-off :行き詰まり
wrested from:から奪い取る

火曜日。今日はこれまで。中国はハーグの常設仲裁裁判所の判定を無視した。この裁判所は中国が主張している九段線を否定した。中国は国際海洋法条約に違反しているという判決だ。フィリピンのEEZを侵略していて、占領した島嶼への開発によって絶滅危機にある生物に対しても悪影響をもたらしている。スカボロショールにたいしてもそのうちに建造物を作り出すかもしれない。という批判をこの記事はしている。

昨日の朝は朝会があった。昼はインタートレードの内藤さんとの会食。今日は2時半に目が覚めてしまったが、昼には同友会での講演がある。楽しみにしている。ではまた明日。

swingby_blog at 03:04コメント(0)トラックバック(0) 

2016年07月25日

トルコのメディアと役人ですらアメリカがこの陰謀に加担していることを非難している。(2) イギリス議会は核兵器を廃止するかどうかを審議しようとその準備に入った。

From the American perspective, Turkey has never been fully committed to the war against Islamist groups in Syria. For years, the Americans have pressed Turkey to do more to stop jihadist fighters slipping in and out of Syria to join up with (or carry out missions for) IS and other Islamist groups. It is in Turkey’s own interest to do so. IS has carried out several big terror attacks inside Turkey, including the suicide-bombing in June of Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. Few doubt it will strike again. 

Ash Carter, America’s defence secretary, makes no secret of his distaste for Turkey’s president. Calls to replace Incirlik with a base elsewhere in the region are growing louder in America’s Congress. Meanwhile, Mr Gulen may threaten Turkish stability, but nothing like as seriously as the jihadists both inside and outside the country. Turkey needs friendship with America more than ever. Instead, in a paroxysm of post-coup paranoia, Mr Erdogan is putting the entire alliance at risk. 

makes no secret of :を隠さない
distaste:嫌気
paroxysm:抑えきれない感情
paranoia:被害妄想

トルコはISISを本気で攻撃していないとアメリカを疑っている。今はそういう状況ではない。さらにトルコのアメリカとの関係は悪くなってはいけないとエコノミスト言っている。今回のクーデターもエルドアン自身が反体制派を抑えるために仕掛けたものかもしれない。どうも今のトルコの反体制派への粛清が行き過ぎているようだ。これで死刑が復活したら、大量の死刑囚が発生し、世界から批判が集中することだろう。

The nuclear option
Parliament prepares to deliberate on whether to ban the bomb
Jul 16th 2016 | From the print edition

deliberate:審議する

核兵器を保有する選択
議会は核兵器を廃止するかどうかを審議しようとその準備に入った。

No substitute
NINE countries are believed to have nuclear weapons. On July 18th Britain will decide whether it wants to remain in that club, when its MPs debate whether to renew the country’s Trident nuclear deterrent. Theresa May, the new prime minister, has said it would be “sheer madness” to give it up, and the vote is expected to pass easily. Perhaps 150 of Labour’s 230 MPs will vote in favour of the plan, rebelling against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. 

No substitute:代替はない
Trident: トライデント◆米国の潜水艦発射ICBM。Polaris、Poseidonの後継ミサイル。
nuclear deterrent:核抑止力
sheer madness:全くの気違い沙汰
rebelling:反抗する

The House of Commons approved in principle the retention of a nuclear deterrent in 2007. A review in 2013 reaffirmed that “like-for-like” replacement of the four submarines that carry the missiles represented the best and most cost-effective way to do it. Parliament will now decide whether to approve the spending of £31 billion ($41 billion) over 20 years to replace the four Vanguard-class subs, which will wear out within a decade. 

The House of Commons:下院
like-for-like replacement:同等の交換
wear out:傷む

Trident’s detractors argue that a lot has changed since the programme was approved in 2007. For one thing money is tighter. Around one-quarter of defence spending on new equipment procurement will be on submarine and deterrent systems by 2021-22. There has also been a surge in support for independence in Scotland, where the submarines are based. It is unlikely that the government would choose to site the capability north of the border if the renewal process began again now, says William Walker of St Andrew’s University. The Scottish government opposes the plan; almost all of the 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster are expected to vote against it (though polls suggest that public opinion in Scotland is more mixed). If Scotland were to become independent—now more likely because of Brexit—Britain could well have to relocate its subs, at further expense. 

detractors:批判的な人たち
surge:急に高まること

Critics also say Trident relies too much on a single naval platform (America has air, land and sea options), and that improved ballistic-missile defences and the future use of underwater drones and cyber warfare could threaten the subs’ security. Yet land-based ballistic missiles are vulnerable to attack, and arming aircraft with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles permanently aloft carries a significant danger of nuclear accident and is much more expensive. The cut-price option of building three submarines rather than four would be a false economy, undermining the principle of “continuous at-sea deterrence”. 

aloft:空中に
false:誤った
undermining:蝕む

The vote comes at a time when few in Britain are minded to dial down the country’s defence capabilities. Mrs May has cited Russia’s renewed belligerence as one justification for updating Trident. And Brexit has left the country, and its allies, shaken. Britain’s partners would be sensitive to signs of more isolationism, says Malcolm Chalmers of RUSI, a think-tank. Britain has the largest defence budget in Europe; maintaining nuclear capabilities shows that it is still committed to NATO. “Our allies would not understand if we chose this moment to give up our nuclear weapons,” Mr Chalmers says. 

dial down:トーンダウンする
belligerence:攻撃的な行動
justification:正当な理由

The vote is also linked to Britain’s image of itself. Last year a strategic review boosted defence spending, as part of an effort to restore Britain’s standing as a military power after years of cuts. Trident is part of that. Though it is expensive and imperfect, most MPs, and their constituents, believe it still helps to make Britain safe, and is a force for stability—something of which it has had precious little in recent weeks. 

imperfect:不十分な
precious little [few]: とても少ない (!本来は多いはずであることを暗示) .

月曜日。今日はこれまで。イギリス政府が潜水艦発射ICBMの更新をどうするかの議論だ。止めようとする考えがあるが、メイ首相は馬鹿げたことだと言っている。ただ投票すれば廃止になってhしまうかもしれない。ロシアの動きも見ながら、NATOとの連携を考えると止めるべきでなないという意見だ。

昨日は1日水曜日の海野塾の資料を作成していた。今朝は朝会がある。昼食はインタートレードの内藤さんだ。午後からは明日の講演の勉強がある。2時間は本も書きたい。ではまた明日。

swingby_blog at 06:23コメント(0)トラックバック(0) 
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海野 恵一
1948年1月14日生

学歴:東京大学経済学部卒業

スウィングバイ株式会社
代表取締役社長

アクセンチュア株式会社代表取締役(2001-2002)
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