China’s Space Launch: ‘Wow’ or ‘Meh’?
( TIME )

There are a lot of reasons to be both very impressed and very
unimpressed by China’s announcement that it successfully launched a
three-person crew into space today -- a crew that included Liu Yang,
33, the country’s first female astronaut. Before 2003, China had never
conducted any manned launch at all. That year they put one astronaut in
orbit; in 2005 they lofted a two-man crew; in 2008 it was three men --
plus a spacewalk. Last year they launched Tiangong-1, an unmanned space
station, that the new crew will attempt to dock with this week. So just
like that: the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs in four deft
vaults. The Great Leap Forward was never like this.

But what about those Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs?
China’s been in the manned space game for nine years now and has
managed four successful launches. The U.S. flew six Mercury missions
from 1961 to 1963; ten Geminis in the 20 months from March 1965 to
November 1966; and eleven Apollos from 1968 to 1972. In the nine months
from Oct. 1968 to July 1969 alone, we popped off the first five Apollos
-- including three visits to the moon and the first landing. The fact
that China lofted a female astronaut so early in its space program is a
very good thing -- but that achievement comes a whopping 49 years after
the U.S.S.R’s Valentina Tereshkova first made space travel a Title IX

Don’t lose sight either of the fact that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were
inventing the systems and the flight techniques pretty much on the fly.
It’s a familiar joke that before Yuri Gagarin became the first human
being in space in 1961, people didn’t know whether or not a human
being’s eyeballs would explode in zero-g. But the fact is, people
didn’t know whether or not a human being’s eyeballs would explode in
zero-g. The spacecraft, the spacesuits, the ability to rendezvous,
dock, walk in space, reenter safely -- every bit of it was new.

China is standing on the shoulders of those long-ago giants -- as is
the U.S. private sector as it tries to crack open the space travel
industry itself. You have every reason to be proud if you’re able to
summit Mt. Everest, but don’t kid yourself: you ain’t Sir Edmund

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Why Up to 90% of Asian Schoolchildren Are Nearsighted
( TIME )

Scientists say an epidemic of myopia, or nearsightedness, is sweeping
through Asian children, and is likely due to students’ spending too
much time indoors studying and not enough time outside in the sunlight.

It has long been thought that nearsightedness is mostly a hereditary
problem, but researchers led by Ian Morgan of Australian National
University say the data suggest that environment has a lot more to do
with it.

Reporting in the journal Lancet, the authors note that up to 90% of
young adults in major East Asian countries, including China, Taiwan,
Japan, Singapore and South Korea, are nearsighted. The overall rate of
myopia in the U.K., by contrast, is about 20% to 30%.

Particularly concerning is that about 10% to 20% of Asian
schoolchildren suffer from high myopia, which puts them at higher risk
of more serious vision problems, including blindness, in adulthood.
Morgan says the culprit is the massive pressure on Asian children to
succeed in school, which leads to too many hours hunched over books
indoors and not nearly enough exposure to natural sunlight. Indeed,
East Asian countries with high myopia rates are those that dominate
international rankings of educational performance, the study notes.

Myopia, which causes people to see clearly things that are near but not
those that are at a distance, is the result of elongation of the
eyeball, which leads to misalignment of light on the retina. Instead of
landing on the retina at the back of the eye, incoming light converges
at a point in front of the retina, leading to blurry images at a
distance. Animal studies show that during early development, if the eye
is not allowed to regulate its size to the proper length, then myopia
can occur.

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フランスの選挙 社会党のオランドがサルコジを倒して大統領に

France Election: Socialist Hollande Defeats Sarkozy for Presidency
( TIME )

France was poised for major change Sunday night when Socialist
candidate Francois Hollande looked set to beat conservative incumbent
Nicolas Sarkozy in runoff balloting for France’s presidency. Initial
results revealed at 8 p.m. local time forecast Hollande beating Sarkozy
by a seemingly insurmountable score of 51.9% to 48.1%. When that result
is confirmed by the final tally, Hollande will become France’s first
Socialist President in 17 years -- lifted to power by a majority of
voters who embraced his calls for a greater emphasis on economic growth
and targeted social spending to counteract the austerity measures
implemented to help shrink France’s excessive debt. Yet in addition to
reflecting public desire for policy change, Hollande’s election will
also be interpreted as a personal rebuke to the unpopular and embattled
Sarkozy, who becomes France’s first single-term President in 31 years.

The announcement of Hollande’s projected win was greeted with an
eruption of cheers by elated supporters gathered around the country --
including a festive throng assembled outside the Socialist Party’s
Left Bank headquarters in Paris. Chants of “Francois President!” and
“We’ve won!” rang out to celebrate the news awaiting Hollande’s
televised victory speech from the south-central town of Tulle, which he
has represented as a regional official and national legislator since
the late 1980s. Socialist officials said they expected Hollande’s
comments to take up his campaign theme of unity to deal with the
financial crisis that France and Europe face in contrast to what he had
said was Sarkozy’s penchant for division. Less than 20 minutes after
the partial results were announced, Sarkozy addressed his supporters in
a Paris auditorium, telling them that he “assumed full responsibility
for this defeat.” He also wished Hollande luck in the “trials”
facing France’s top leader at a time of continental crisis.

Hollande has said he won’t allow Merkel’s actions in favor of Sarkozy
to undermine Franco-German relations. Indeed, given the importance of
that partnership in European affairs -- and his own determination to
renegotiate the treaty critical to the euro’s future despite the
Chancellor’s hostility -- Hollande is expected to make contacting
Merkel one of his first moves as President-elect.

Wooing the conservative Merkel away from the total-austerity remedies
she favors and toward a campaign to invest in economic growth won’t be
easy for a President Hollande who has no experience in national
government or international relations. But if he managed to overcome
what at one time looked like impossible odds to defeat Sarkozy, who
knows what else might be possible?

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The Fall of Bo Xilai and the Future of Chinese Growth
( TIME )

The fall of Bo Xilai, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party
in the sprawling mid-Western city of Chongqing, is the stuff of
movies. A member of the party elite and supposed corruption fighter
who was seen to have brought order to a Blade Runner-esque sprawl with
a population the size of Belgium, Bo was not only poised to enter the
top rungs of the Politburo this year, he was the first Chinese
celebrity politician since Deng and Mao. In a country where the Party
likes to speak with one voice, and tall poppies are often cut down, he
stood out. He dressed well; he cultivated the media; he had his own
one page Comment and Analysis piece in the Financial Times.

But in March, he was abruptly dismissed as the Party head of Chongqing,
after his police chief, Wang Lijun, sought asylum in the U.S. consulate
in Chengdu, a city several hours northwest of Chongqing. Wang had
provided evidence of crimes allegedly involving Bo, according to
reports in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, including
murders carried out on his order. Wang also claimed that a dead British
businessman, Neil Heywood, who was said to be close to Bo’s wife Gu
Kailai, had been in a business dispute with her, and had been poisoned.
Rather than being a tough-but-honest politician fighting corruption in
China’s Wild West, a very different picture of Bo began to emerge --
one of a man who his critics say was an entitled “princeling” (his
father was Bo Yibo, a revolutionary general who had fought alongside
Chairman Mao), and who was corrupt himself; someone willing to torture,
frame, and even murder anyone who got in his way.

The story is titillating just as a thriller (indeed, a satirical email
circulating over the last few days in China laid out a movie treatment
of the story to be filmed by Miramax). But it’s even more compelling
when you begin to parse what it means politically and economically for
the Middle Kingdom, and for the world. Bo Xilai represented a very
particular kind of Chinese power, and a specific notion of how China
should grow. The “Chongqing model” was built on hyper-development,
particularly around real estate, and economic power was largely held by
the “state-owned enterprises” or SOEs. The city was growing at over
16% a year, but it was old-style growth, rife with vested interests of
the sort laid out in Ken Miller’s China Bubble cover story for TIME
last year, and with little regard for the environment, or, it seems,
rule of law.

It was exactly the kind of growth that Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has
said time and time again is “unsustainable.” Both he and president Hu
Jintao have led the reformist camp that wants to move China from a
capital intensive, growth at all costs model, to one that’s based on
slower and more inclusive growth and a more developed local market. The
problem is, as Miller laid out in his cover, that China’s development
machine has too many vested interests -- people like Bo and his
associates make a lot of money developing real estate (in China, it’s
often taken by force from peasants who get little for it). One high
level American businessman I spoke with in China last night remembers
Bo’s son, Bo Guagua, having “an endless supply of cash and lots of
fancy cars.” He also recalls Chinese acquaintances trying to do real
estate deals in Chongqing being threatened with their lives when terms
couldn’t be agreed upon.

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North Korea’s Rocket Fails, But More Fireworks Could Follow
( TIME )

North Korea’s satellite launch, planned as a celebration of the
centenary of the birth of its founding President, Kim Il Sung, failed
sometime shortly after 7:40 a.m. Friday when the first stage of the
Unha-3 rocket dropped to the Yellow Sea about 165 km west of Seoul.
After weeks of antagonism between North Korea and the U.S., South Korea
and Japan, who said the launch was the equivalent of a ballistic
missile test, the failure offered a moment of respite. “At no time
were the missile or the resultant debris a threat,” noted a statement
from the North American Aerospace Defense Command. In a rare admission,
North Korea’s state-run news service acknowledged the satellite
“failed to enter its preset orbit.” It said technicians were
investigating the cause.

But the ballistic bust does not mean that North Korean threat has
lessened significantly. The isolated authoritarian state still
possesses significant conventional artillery with which it could attack
Seoul, just 55 km south of the demilitarized zone that separates North
and South Korea. “I don’t think we should be taking great sigh of
relief that the test failed,” says Rory Medcalf, director of the
Sydney-based Lowy Institute’s international-security program. “I
don’t think the fundamental issue is about North Korea’s ability to
reach the U.S. From a regional perspective the fact is that North Korea
can wreak havoc on South Korea and do a lot harm to Japan. There the
insecurity is very much alive.”

The collapse of the leap-day deal and North Korea’s launch are a
political liability for President Obama, who entered office as an
advocate of talks with Pyongyang. Mitt Romney, the likely Republican
challenger in this fall’s presidential race, called the leap-day deal
“as naive as it was short-lived,” adding, “This incompetence from
the Obama Administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and
undermined the security of the United States and our allies.”

China helped steward the leap-day deal, and following North Korea’s
decision to pursue a satellite launch, it has urged calm on all sides
but avoids condemning the move. On Wednesday Chinese President Hu
Jintao congratulated Kim after he was named head of North Korea’s
ruling Workers’ Party, a sign that Beijing’s traditional alliance
with Pyongyang is a primary concern. China didn’t abandon North Korea
after its 2009 satellite launch, and it’s unlikely to do so now.

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