First Past the Post: December 28


East and South Asia

Former constitutional judge Kim Yong-jun will head the transition committee of incoming South Korean president Park Guen-hye.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari marks his emergence into Pakistani politics on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of his mother, Benazir, and is using the nation’s judiciary as a foil.

The Narendra Modi for prime minister bandwagon moves on quietly.

Cacique democracy in the Philippines (h/t Tyler Cowen).

Bloomberg examines the ‘princelings’ of the Chinese Communist Party (with a seriously awesome graphic).

Shinzō Abe’s new Japanese government will review the plan to phase out Japan’s nuclear power by the 2030s.

North America

U.S. general Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the United States-led mission to free Kuwait from Iraq in 1991, has died.

The United States prepares to jump off the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ with only meager hope resting on the U.S. Senate to broker a deal.

Latin America / Caribbean

The government of Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gets a setback from the country’s constitutional court in its media-empire fight.


Rebels are threatening the capital of the Central African Republic, and the U.S. embassy in Bangui has been evacuated.

A summit between Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and former president Olusegun Obasanjo in advance of 2015 elections?

South African president Jacob Zuma is in the doghouse for some impolitic remarks about whites and pets.

In Ghana, the New Patriotic Party prepares for its day at court.


Spain’s Bankia is once again in trouble.

The Vatican indicates it will back a new Italian government headed by technocratic incumbent Mario Monti.  Here’s the link to the piece in the Vatican’s daily newspaperL’Osservatore Romano. [Italian]

Belgium’s king, Albert II (pictured above with EU president Herman Van Rompuy), warns against populist scapegoating.

Russian president Vladimir Putin indicates he will sign a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. parents.

Middle East

The liberal secular opposition’s leaders — Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Mousa and Mohammed ElBaradei — will now be apparently investigated for treason by Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohammed Morsi.

Iran’s only female government minister has been dismissed.