... and some hopeful developments in China, from Nicholas Kristof:
"In the aftermath of the great Sichuan earthquake, we’ve seen a hopeful glimpse of China’s future: a more open and self-confident nation, and maybe — just maybe — the birth of grass-roots politics here.
In traveling around China in the days after the quake, I was struck by how the public and the news media initially seized the initiative from the government. Ordinary Chinese are traveling to the quake zone to help move rubble, and tycoons, peasants and even children are reaching into their pockets to donate to the victims.
“I gave 500 yuan,” or about $72, a man told me in the western city of Urumqi. “Eighty percent of the people in my work unit made donations. Everybody wants to help.”
Private Chinese donations have already raised more than $500 million. That kind of bottom-up public spirit is a mark of citizens, not subjects."