Ai Weiwei does a ‘Gangnam Style’ parody

Forget UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.  We’ve got the best parody yet of ‘Gangnam Style.’

As we look to China’s transition to the ‘Fifth Generation’ of leadership next month, which is expected to install Xi Jinping at the head of China’s government, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has filmed his own plucky parody of South Korean pop start Psy’s hit song ‘Gangnam Style.’

Not typically subtle, Ai appears with a pair of handcuffs, symbolizing his arrest in 2011, his house arrest in Beijing, which was lifted only in June of this year (he’s still forbidden to travel outside of China).

Ai’s become internationally famous — and he’s probably the most infamous opponent of the current Chinese Communist Party not currently in jail in the Middle Kingdom.

For background on ‘K-Pop,’ here’s The New Yorker opus on South Korea’s most successful export of the past decade.

First Past the Post: October 24

For now at least, Silvio Berlusconi is confirming that he will not stand as the leader of the center-right in the upcoming 2013 elections. [Italian] Here’s the BBC story.

Québec’s new government is planning reforms to make French more ‘robust’ in Montréal.

Prime minister-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi may join India’s government after this weekend’s planned cabinet shakeup.

One way to end a strike in South Africa is simply to fire the miners.

A primer on each of the three South Korean presidential candidates’ positions on North Korea.

Spain’s federal PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party) leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, defies resignation pressure following poor regional results last Sunday.

Walid Jumblatt, Lebanon’s premier Druze leader, who once backed the anti-Assad ‘March 14’ coalition before he backed the current governing pro-Assad ‘March 8’ coalition, says he favors a new government.

The latest on the eurozone (and Catalan elections) from economist Edward Hugh.

Novaya Gazeta examines the surveillance of assassinated Moscow journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Greek government, troika reach agreement on Greek bailout

It seems all but done — Greece’s government and the ‘troika’ of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission have reached an agreement on the latest disbursement of funds that Greece needs to finance government operations, in exchange for a series of budget cuts and labor market reforms

In an additional twist, there are quasi-official reports from both Germany and Greece that the bailout program will be extended from the end of 2014 to the end of 2016, which will give Greece until at least 2016 to whittle down its budget deficit to the 3% required under EU rules, though it seems unlikely that Greece’s budget will be anywhere near to closing in on that target by even 2016.

The details are essentially as described over the past four months — €13.5 billion in budget cuts over the next two years, €9 billion of which will take effect in 2013.  The bottom line for Greek finances is that a Greek exit from the eurozone, which seemed virtually inevitable through much of 2012, has now been delayed, and delayed for a significant amount of time (Citi, for example, lowered its odds of a ‘Grexit’ to 60%, and predict it could still happen, but only in the first half of 2014).

That’s a significant victory for Greece’s prime minister, in office for barely four months, Antonis Samaris (pictured above, right, with Euro Group president and Luxembourg prime minister JeanClaude Juncker), and it will now give him some breathing space to turn to Greece’s economic depression.

For me, there are three notable political aspects to the deal worth noting:  Continue reading Greek government, troika reach agreement on Greek bailout