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November 13th, 2014
05:44 AM ET

Hope and change in Myanmar?

When the U.S. President first visited Myanmar two years ago, the country seemed on the cusp of a major political transformation.

But the mood is different as Barack Obama returns for his second visit.

"The hope and optimism we had in 2012 is gone," Irrawaddy magazine editor Aung Zaw tells me.

Zaw says there is a general impression in Myanmar that the reform process has stopped, and Obama needs to convey the message to the government that reform must go on.

Beyond the disappointing state of political reform, Myanmar’s leaders have been criticized for their oppressive treatment of the Muslim minority group, the Rohingya.

The Rohingya have been denied citizenship by their own government.  Scores have been living in a displaced persons camp for more than two years.

"The plight of the Rohingya will be a big challenge for Obama," says Zaw. "That's the reason Obama made a phone call to (President) Thein Sein before flying in."

Click on to hear more from our conversation including Zaw's very direct criticism of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her inaction in regards to the Rohingya.

November 13th, 2014
03:48 AM ET

How deep is your data trail?

So I just cleared my Google search history.

I took a peek at my search log ahead of an interview with data privacy expert and Harvard Fellow Adam Tanner, and was simply stunned by the depth of my data trail.

Some companies say they collect user information to provide them with better services.

Tanner says, "They know where you live, work, go to university and they also know sensitive things like what religion you belong to - all with the goal of selling things to you."

As the saying goes, there's no such thing as a free lunch. And in this networked age, we're paying with our personal data.

But Tanner says, "There should be choice and transparency. You should know what you're getting into, and what you're getting in exchange."

November 8th, 2014
12:14 PM ET

Hope After Haiyan: building back better and safer

When I think back to Super Typhoon Haiyan, I often think of this image. It was captured from space by American astronaut Karen Nyberg.

Haiyan was one of the world’s most powerful storms in history, and you can see its sheer strength in that snapshot from orbit.

The super typhoon generated a storm surge as high as five meters. It roared ashore and wiped entire communities away. In the end, more than 6,000 people were killed and almost 4 million people displaced.

But Haiyan's legacy is more than a death toll. It’s more than shocking pictures of the storm’s strength or the devastation it caused.

It’s about the fate of millions of already impoverished people who lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones.

FULL POST

October 24th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

Watch Mark Zuckerberg speak Chinese

In case you missed it, here's Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking Mandarin Chinese at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

Zuckerberg surprised the audience by speaking and answering questions in Mandarin for almost 30-minutes.

His heavy accent caused a few moments of misunderstanding - like when he tried to say the word "billion" but it came out as "eleven."

But no matter. It was an inspiring effort!

October 23rd, 2014
06:51 AM ET

Anson Chan's message to Beijing

For four weeks now, pro-democracy demonstrators have blocked major roads and highways in Hong Kong.

It's a sight that's become the new normal in a city known as a hyper-efficient financial hub.

Parts of the central business district have transformed into a tent city - a hotbed of political activism while both sides refuse to back down.

The protesters want true universal suffrage. They don't want Beijing to vet who can stand in Hong Kong's next leadership election.

But Chinese authorities say there is no way Beijing will take back its decision on 2017 elections.

That’s not acceptable for former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Anson Chan.

"We need a new chief executive who at long last will stand up for Hong Kong’s best interests,” she says.

Anson Chan was the second in command in Hong Kong's colonial government and after the handover. In recent years, she's taken a high-profile role in the campaign for universal suffrage.

I spoke to Chan about the way forward for Hong Kong and passing the torch of democracy to a new generation.

She also has this message for China:

"I would like to say to Beijing - trust the people of Hong Kong, trust our young protest leaders. They are our future, and use Hong Kong as a testing ground for introducing full democracy."

Click on for the full interview.

October 13th, 2014
12:58 PM ET

Sachs: Ebola is a controllable epidemic

An American nurse has become the first person to contract Ebola in the U.S., raising fear and alarm about the outbreak in the West.

In the Ebola hotzone of West Africa, desperation grows as thousands of people are struck by the deadly virus - including healthcare workers on the front line.

The outbreak may be spreading, but professor and senior United Nations advisor Jeffrey Sachs tells me Ebola can be controlled in 6 months.

"This is a controllable epidemic but the epidemic has so far outrun the control efforts," he says.

"This is logistics, it's equipment, it's basic health protocols, it's diagnostics. All the pieces of a basic control system that need to be rapidly scaled up."

Watch the video to hear his recommended next steps, and what is at stake for Africa and the world if Ebola is not contained.

September 2nd, 2014
10:57 AM ET

China's propaganda war in Hong Kong

These are highly charged political times here in Hong Kong.

Beijing announced on Sunday there would be no open elections in Hong Kong, paving the way for China to remain the political power over the territory.

During this time of intense political discord, a gripping image from 1967 is a reminder of the fraught relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing.

It's a Chinese propaganda poster issued during the Leftist riots to stir people in Hong Kong rise up against British rule.

leftistriots

Recently on display at Hong Kong's Picture This Gallery, the poster depicts an angry, muscular crowd wielding placards and other objects as weapons.

In the bottom left-hand corner, weak cartoonish figures depicting the colonial government are being beaten and kicked out by the crowds.

"This was produced in China, probably smuggled into Hong Kong and used to try to rally support among patriotic Chinese living in Hong Kong," Bailey tells me.

The poster was part of an exhibition of Chinese propaganda that include a Norman Rockwell-esque public service announcement and a red balloon-strewn commemorative poster of Deng Xiaoping and the Hong Kong handover.

Bailey says the 1967 Hong Kong posters generated the most interest in his gallery and will find a new home in a museum.

Take a tour of these Chinese propaganda posters with the video above.

August 5th, 2014
01:58 PM ET

Shadows over U.S.-Africa summit

It is indeed an historic occasion.

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

But the leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia are not there. They have opted to stay at home to battle the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

"The timing is very unfortunate, and no one would have wished for this," author and academic Howard French tells me.

"Having high-level discussions between the U.S. and Africa on business and investment are infrequent. So to the extent that this distracts from that I think will be regretted all around."

The summit is a much-needed opportunity for the U.S. to reset relations and economically engage with Africa.

"Africa is in a very particular moment, economically speaking," says French. "The continent has been growing very fast. Demographically, there's a bulge in terms of its youth population. And Africa needs partnerships."

Africa's biggest trading partner is China. It has invested deeply into Africa as a source of customers, natural resources, and jobs.

Howard French refers to Africa as "China's Second Continent" as more than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved there.

But will China's engagement with Africa lead to prosperity or exploitation?

Click on to hear more from our wide-ranging conversation on what's at stake for U.S.-Africa relations in light of the Ebola outbreak and China's head start in the region.

July 3rd, 2014
07:21 AM ET

China's last women with "lotus feet"

Since 2005, Hong Kong-based photographer Jo Farrell has been on a mission to document China's last women with bound feet.

It was a symbol of beauty and social status that began in the Song dynasty but officially banned over a hundred years ago. But the practice continued in rural areas for a few years after the ban.

Farrell has spent a decade traveling to China’s Shandong and Yunnan provinces to forge a close relationship with 50 of China’s last women with bound feet.

Those women are now in their 80s and 90s. In this video, we discuss the brutal practice of foot binding and Farrell's sense of urgency to share her portraits of their "lotus feet."

June 12th, 2014
02:38 PM ET

Beijing to Hong Kong: We call the shots

Since the handover in 1997, Hong Kong has been ruled under the governing principle of "one country, two systems."

But a white paper issued this week by China's State Council Information office is trying to set the record straight, emphasizing Beijing's "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the territory.

The white paper puts forward the view that some Hong Kong residents are "confused or lopsided in their understanding" of the principle.

It says, "The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorized by the central leadership."

Political columnist and commentator Frank Ching calls the paper a clear warning to Hong Kong, pointing out a line about Beijing's right to declare a state of emergency in Hong Kong.

"If they declare a state of emergency, that means the People's Liberation Army can come in and take over the job of Hong Kong police."

He adds, "That would be the end of Hong Kong as we know it today."

Ching also makes an interesting observation about why the paper was released in seven languages.

"It's warning foreign countries not to use Hong Kong as a base for subversion."

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