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US interest rates signal change; Obama's calm leadership; democracy in Asia; women in Hollywood; Egyptian youth movement

A roundup of global commentary for the Jan. 11, 2016 weekly magazine.

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    A reporter raises his hand to question US Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen during a news conference to announce raised interest rates in Washington Wednesday.
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Business Day Live / Johannesburg, South Africa
Rising US interest rates signal more change to come
“[T]he [US] Fed’s rate rise didn’t cause much renewed volatility anywhere. Indeed, markets saw something of a ‘relief rally’.... This is the way it should be. Central banks are supposed to communicate their intentions fairly clearly and should not be surprising the markets...,” states an editorial. “The upside of the start of the Fed’s hiking cycle is that it reflects the fact that the US economy’s recovery is sound, and that it no longer needs the stimulus it has had in the seven years of easy money. That is good for the global economy. The downside for the rest of us is that this is definitely not the first hike.... [T]he world is starting to change, and that change must affect capital flows and currencies over time, even if it doesn’t immediately.”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto
Obama’s measured and calm leadership
“With his prudence and thoughtfulness, the 44th [US] President is getting on a lot of people’s nerves...,” writes Lawrence Martin of Barack Obama. “Why doesn’t he set the world straight with a show of American potency? Why isn’t he ... ending the civil war in Syria?... The impact of all the Obama-bashing ... has served to overshadow his many policy successes.... In the past year alone, there has been the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Paris climate accord and the mammoth trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.... It has taken a long time to restore the U.S. economy, but his policies are now bearing fruit.... Barack Obama does not pander.... In the searingly polarized domestic climate and the frighteningly volatile international one, the importance of his measured judgment cannot be underestimated.”

The Japan Times / Tokyo
A difficult year for democracy in Asia
“From Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s end run around Japan’s Constitution to President Park Geun-hye mucking with South Korean history to President Joko Widodo’s reluctance to stare down Indonesia’s military to Hong Kong ignoring student protesters to Thailand’s junta tightening its grip to just about everything Malaysia’s Najib Razak did, [2015] was a dismal 12 months for representative government by the people, for the people...,” writes William Pesek, executive editor of Barron’s Asia. “There’s no doubt about how far Asia has come over the last 30 years. But ... there are plenty of reasons to doubt the region’s commitment to openness and accountability. While Asia is still very much a good-news story, its leaders must work much harder to ensure the region reaches its full potential. The accountability democracy ensures could be just the thing.”

The Daily Telegraph / Sydney, Australia
Hollywood should tell more stories of women’s history
“Back when I was a high school history teacher, I was frustrated at just how difficult it was to access quality ­resource material on the role women played in various historical periods” beyond traditional roles of mothering and nursing, writes Dannielle Miller in anticipation of the movie “Suffragette,” which depicts the fight for women’s right to vote in 1912 England. “In reality, female contributions were far more diverse, from women taking on traditional ‘men’s work’ outside the home, to serving as special agents in World War II.... Why have there not been more films telling their tales?... According to Screen Australia, women account for only 32 per cent of producers in Australia, 16 per cent of directors and 23 per cent of writers. ‘Suffragette’ is, therefore, a rare cinematic gem as it not only sheds light on a crucial period in the history of the fight for gender equality, but has two women at the helm with both a female director and screenwriter.”

Daily News Egypt / Cairo
Egyptian youths struggle to preserve hope
“Many young Egyptians dream of a better life. The trouble is that most want to achieve it by leaving Egypt...,” writes Wael Eskandar, an independent journalist and blogger. “Instead of freedom, youths are offered mass incarcerations, surveillance, and intimidation. Instead of truth, media outlets – dominated by a heavy security hand – offer nothing but lies and distortions.... Truth and hope were at the heart of the revolutionary dream.... So what hope is there for a country that wants to kill hope?”

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