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18 Dec

China marks 40th anniversary of open door policy

CHINA (WNF) - Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping opened a door to the world at the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in 1978, and 40 years on, President Xi Jinping plans to open it wider.
In an address to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing on Dec 29, 2017, the Chinese president announced plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the reforms and pledged to widen them. He pledged national rejuvenation and reforms. “In 2018,” Xi said, “efforts should be made to comprehensively implement the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress, adhere to seeking progress while maintaining stability as the underlying principle, and boost the healthy and continual development of the country’s economy and society.”

The outcomes of some of the plenums have fundamentally changed the course of history in China, with the 1978 meeting regarded as the most significant. At that meeting, Deng announced an “open door” economic policy and reform. Before then, China’s main trading partners had been the Soviet Union and its satellites.

Deng realised that China needed Western technology and investment, according to a BBC account of the transformation, and opened the door to foreign businesses that wanted to set up in China. Coupled with domestic agricultural reforms, China’s economy took off.

The BBC notes that since the early 1980s, China has recorded one of the fastest periods of economic growth in world history, although the figures are often disputed. With its market-oriented economic system flourishing, the country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Its market continues to flourish. #22461 Published: 01/05/2018

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19 Dec

Practically perfect Mary Poppins returns in new feelgood movie

UNITED STATES (GN) - More than 50 years after the original Mary Poppins descended onto screens via umbrella, the magical nanny is back to visit the grown-up Banks children in a Disney musical reboot which promises to put a skip in your step.
Disney released the first sneak peek at the movie during the 2018 Oscars. Decades after her original visit, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt, stepping into the formidable shoes of Julie Andrews) returns to help a delighted Jane and Michael Banks (Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw) and Michael’s three children through a difficult time in their lives.

Filming began in February, with movie royalty Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters and Colin Firth giving the cast a pretty stellar line-up. Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a lamplighter called Jack, likely modelled on Dick Van Dyke’s lovable chimney sweep, Bert. And Van Dyke himself returns, as a descendant of the crusty old bank manager that he also played in the original movie.

In the director’s chair is Rob Marshall, whose previous movie musicals include Chicago, which earned him a best director Oscar nod, Nine, and Into the Woods.

Blunt believes that Mary’s return couldn’t be better timed. “The world is fragile right now, and people need a film like this,” she explained.

The movie goes on general release around the world from Dec 19. #22420 Published: 11/17/2018

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19 Dec

Congress impeached Bill Clinton 20 years ago

UNITED STATES (WNF) - The House of Representatives impeached then-president Bill Clinton 20 years ago, and the anniversary will be viewed through the lens of the #MeToo movement. Monica Lewinsky will be a much-sought interviewee.
Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair in February that she is rethinking her 18-month extramarital affair with Clinton when she was a 21-year-old unpaid intern in light of the #MeToo movement, which began sweeping the world in 2017. She said she now realizes that her relationship with Clinton “constituted a gross abuse of power.” This is a shift from the position she took in a Jun 2014 piece for the same magazine, when she described the affair as consensual.

The 42nd president’s admitted and alleged transgressions will be listed and weighed for gravity against the alleged transgressions of the 45th and current president, Donald Trump. His election campaign and the #MeToo movement brought several accusing women into the headlines.

Clinton is credited with improving the economy and cutting the U.S. budget deficit during his Jan 1993-2001 presidency, leading his supporters and even some critics to downplay sex-related scandals that lurked even during his terms as governor of Arkansas.

His sexual encounters with Lewinsky at the White House were grasped upon by his critics, and they resulted in his impeachment. He was charged with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. He served out his term, but, arguably, he is remembered now more for the scandals than for his political achievements.

The #MeToo movement, which has led to tens of thousands of women reporting sexual abuse, often by individuals in power over their lives, has reframed the transgressions of all past presidents, including John Kennedy, creating a dilemma in the #MeToo era for their admirers. #22533 Published: 03/02/2018

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22 Dec

Kirkuk said to have agreed on date and terms for local governing council vote

IRAQ (WNF) - The northern oil-producing province of Kirkuk plans elections for its local governing council on Dec 22, according to one source.
Al-Monitor reports that the province’s Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen in parliament have approved a mechanism for holding the Kirkuk vote. The most important articles of the agreement relate to sharing power, an Arab parliament member from Kirkuk, Khalid al-Mafraji, told the publication. The negotiations took over a year, he added.

A Kurdistan independence referendum in September 2017 ended in crisis, and the central government subsequently took over the governorate and cut the authority of the then-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The provincial council vote, the first since 2005 for Kirkuk, holds the possibility of giving Baghdad and the KRG a means of solving their dispute over Kirkuk’s administration.

The obstacles to the December vote include the fraught matter of voter records and accurate numbers for each of the region’s ethnic groups. Iraq hasn't conducted a census in decades, according to Al-Monitor. The publication sees the vote as a good way to determine the real size of each of the three ethnic groups and the path to more legitimate administration. #22579 Published: 04/05/2018

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