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Xi Who Must Be Obeyed

The most powerful and popular leader China has had for decades must use these assets wisely. THE madness unleashed by the rule of a charismatic despot, Mao Zedong, left China so traumatised that the late chairman’s successors vowed never to let a single person hold such sway again. Deng Xiaoping, who rose to power in the late 1970s, extolled the notion of “collective leadership”. Responsibilities would be shared out among leaders by the Communist Party’s general secretary; big decisions would be made by consensus. This has sometimes been ignored: Deng himself acted the despot in times of crisis. But the collective approach helped restore stability to China after Mao’s turbulent dictatorship.

Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is now dismantling it. He has become the most powerful Chinese ruler certainly since Deng, and possibly since Mao. Whether this is good or bad for China depends on how Mr Xi uses his power. Mao pushed China to the brink of social and economic collapse, and Deng steered it on the right economic path but squandered a chance to reform it politically. If Mr Xi used his power to reform the way power works in China, he could do his country great good. So far, the signs are mixed.

Taking on the party

It may well be that the decision to promote Mr Xi as a single personality at the expense of the group was itself a collective one. Some in China have been hankering for a strongman; a politician who would stamp out corruption, reverse growing inequalities and make the country stand tall abroad (a task Mr Xi has been taking up with relish—see article). So have many foreign businessfolk, who want a leader who would smash the monopolies of a bloated state sector and end years of dithering over economic reforms.

However the decision came about, Mr Xi has grabbed it and run with it. He has taken charge of secretive committees responsible for reforming government, overhauling the armed forces, finance and cyber-security. His campaign against corruption is the most sweeping in decades. It has snared the former second-in-command of the People’s Liberation Army and targeted the retired chief of China’s massive security apparatus—the highest-ranking official to be investigated for corruption since Mao came to power. The generals, wisely, bow to him: earlier this year state newspapers published pages of expressions of loyalty to him by military commanders.

He is the first leader to employ a big team to build his public profile. But he also has a flair for it—thanks to his stature (in a height-obsessed country he would tower over all his predecessors except Mao), his toughness and his common touch. One moment he is dumpling-eating with the masses, the next riding in a minibus instead of the presidential limousine. He is now more popular than any leader since Mao (see article).

All of this helps Mr Xi in his twofold mission. His first aim is to keep the economy growing fast enough to stave off unrest, while weaning it off an over-dependence on investment in property and infrastructure that threatens to mire it in debt. Mr Xi made a promising start last November, when he declared that market forces would play a decisive role (not even Deng had the courage to say that). There have since been encouraging moves, such as giving private companies bigger stakes in sectors that were once the exclusive preserve of state-owned enterprises, and selling shares in firms owned by local governments to private investors. Mr Xi has also started to overhaul the household-registration system, a legacy of the Mao era that makes it difficult for migrants from the countryside to settle permanently in cities. He has relaxed the one-child-per-couple policy, a Deng-era legacy that has led to widespread abuses.

More muscle needed

It is still far from clear whether Mr Xi’s economic policies will succeed in preventing a sharp slowdown in growth. The latest data suggest the economy is cooling more rapidly than the government had hoped (see article). Much will depend on how far he gets with the second, harder, part of his mission: establishing the rule of law. This will be a central theme of the annual meeting next month of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. The question is whether Mr Xi is prepared for the law to apply to everyone, without fear or favour.

His drive against corruption suggests that the answer is a qualified no. The campaign is characterised by a Maoist neglect of institutions. It has succeeded in instilling fear among officials, but has done little to deal with the causes of graft: an investigative mechanism that is controlled entirely by the party itself, a secret system of appointments to official positions in which loyalty often trumps honesty and controls on free speech that allow the crooked to silence their critics.

Mr Xi needs to set up an independent body to fight corruption, instead of leaving the job to party investigators and the feuding factions they serve. He should also require officials to declare all sources of income, property and other assets. Instead, he has been rounding up activists calling for such changes almost as vigorously as he has been confronting corruption. In the absence of legal reform, he risks becoming a leader of the old stripe, who pursues vendettas in the name of fighting wrongdoers. That will have two consequences: there will be a new wave of corruption, and resentments among the party elite will, at some point, erupt.

Mr Xi is making some of the right noises. He says he wants courts to help him “lock power in a cage”. Reforms are being tinkered with to make local courts less beholden to local governments. But he needs to go further by abolishing the party’s shadowy “political-legal committees”, which decide sensitive cases. The party should stop meddling in the appointment of judges (and, indeed, of legislators).

The effect of such reforms would be huge. They would signal a willingness by the party to begin loosening its monopoly of power and accepting checks and balances. Deng once said that economic reform would fail without political reform. Mr Xi last month urged foot-dragging officials to “dare to break through and try” reform. China’s leader should heed his own words and those of Deng. He should use his enormous power for the greatest good, and change the system.


Queen - We Are The Champions

Marisa Sung

Chinese Proverb Of The Day

Of all the thirty-six alternatives, running away is best.

Bon Jovi - Runaway

Marisa Sung

Chinese Proverb Of The Day

If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.

Waking Up In Vegas

Marisa Sung

Chanel Vs. Schiaparelli

Fiercely independent thinkers—and bitter rivals—Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli changed the course of style forever. This fall, their biographers Rhonda K. Garelick and Meryle Secrest shed new light on two extraordinary lives.

A Fiery Rivalry
"Of course they were rivals, privately damning each other with faint praise. It is also claimed that Chanel once succeeded in setting Schiaparelli on fire. At one of the last great costume balls before the outbreak of World War II, Bettina Ballard wrote, Chanel, costumed as herself, dared Schiaparelli, who had disguised herself as a surrealist tree, to dance with her. 'With purposeful innocence' Chanel steered her dance partner straight into a chandelier ablaze with candles, and Schiaparelli caught fire. 'The fire was put out—and so was Schiaparelli—by delighted guests squirting her with soda water."

Coco Chanel
Early Life "In a rare moment of candor, Chanel told Louise de Vilmorin: 'A loveless childhood developed in me a violent need to be loved. This need...explains, I think, my whole life...I consider my success as proof of love, and I like to think that, when people love what I create, they are loving me as well, loving me through my creations."

Poverty "The only way to outwit her fate, she grasped, would be to acquire her own wealth: 'I was a child in revolt. Proud people desire only one thing: freedom. But to be free, one must have money."

Suitors "No man would rob her of her life. Work would save her. She told Vilmorin, 'When I realized that my business had a life, my life, and a face, my face, a voice, my own, and when I realized that my work loved me, obeyed me, and responded to me, I gave myself over to it completely and I have had since then no greater love."

First Designs "In following her own contrarian instincts and tricking herself out like one of Balsan's stable grooms, Coco set off her first fashion craze. Her little riding costume, man's overcoat, and cunning straw hats seemed to render obsolete all the heavy finery of Royallieu's feminine set. Chanel could see this herself: "The era of extravagant dressing of which I had dreamed, of dresses worn by heroines, was no more."

Fame "Chanel founded her totalizing vision upon an origin myth, the story that unified her much-publicized life of luxury, her design universe, and the childhood she'd manufactured for herself. Gradually, as her personal life diminished, that glamour-girl myth seemed to overtake Chanel completely."

Excerpted from Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History, by Rhonda K. Garelick, to be published by Random House on September 30

Elsa Schiaparelli

Early Life "Perhaps she was not so much rejected as considered a nuisance by parents too busy, too self-absorbed, or too emotionally distance to give her the affection she needed. One day she decided to reinvent herself. She was not their child at all. She told Rosa, their cook, that she had a special secret. She was really adopted. She made Rosa cry with the sadness of it all/ Elsa cried, too."

Suitors "Her parents have already chosen her husband. He is ugly, a Russian with 'tiny, slanting eyes and a rounded beard,' who is, however, very wealthy. He visits every day, spends the entire evening staring at her... A friend has offered her a position helping to care for orphans in a British country house. She jumps at the chance: 'This is going to be for ever!' I cried, 'There will be no coming back!"

First Designs "She found a way to keep the blue crepe in place by draping it around her body and passing it between her legs 'to give a zouave effect,' she explained. These complicated maneuvers were held in place by pins. The orange silk was used as a sash, and what was left over became a turban. Off she went to the ball."

Poverty "In 1922, Schiaparelli had no money, no career, no future, and a very sick daughter. Any other young woman in her situation, alone in a foreign country, would surely have gone home to mother... It was a measure of her determination that she refused. She could not, after all, expect much from a return except, perhaps, an unsatisfactory marriage." Fame "Fame gave her no comfort. 'I do not believe for a moment that women who make tremendous successes of their lives are happy.'"


Coco Chanel

Marisa Sung

Chinese Proverb Of The Day

Get the moon from the bottom of the sea.

(This is spoken in a situation when someone wants to do something impossible.)

Mission Impossible

Marisa Sung

"Sex And The City" Writers Respond To Chris Noth's "Carrie Was A Whore" Comments

You can't talk about our girl that way, Big!

Chris Noth caused Sex and the City fans around the world to have a coronary Wednesday when news broke that he told an Australian outlet that Carrie Bradshaw was "such a whore." While millions of Aidan supporters were busy nodding smugly while saying, "I told you so," BuzzFeed News actually spoke to SATC co-creator Michael Patrick King and writer Jenny Bicks to see what they thought of the whole mess. King thinks Noth was probably "kidding" when he made the controversial quote. "To take his comment any other way would be a 'Big' mistake," he added. LOL, see what he did there?

Bicks, however, was struck by how much Noth sounded like his fictional counterpart. "Oh my God, that's such a 'Big' thing to say!" she said. Bicks also reminded everyone that though Big never actually cheated on Carrie, he did cheat with her while married to Natasha, which was "kinda slutty." For her part, Sarah Jessica Parker has not yet commented on the incident, but her rep did tell BuzzFeed that Noth was "clearly joking."

Sex And The City

Marisa Sung

Stop Calling Sex Workers "Prostitutes"

Activists are urging the Associated Press to change the way they speak about sex workers by eliminating the word "prostitute" from their AP Style Guide, which is essentially a bible for writers and editors everywhere, and replacing it with "sex worker" [via DailyDot].

"Sex worker," they argue, gives women more agency and opportunities to receive health, social, and legal services without judgment or dismissal of their profession. "The folks involved in the sex trade are a diverse population, and people identify differently. 'Sex worker' is a much more inclusive term which represents many of the nuances of the sex trade, and is rooted in terminology of self-determination," says Kate D'Adamo, a community organizer for the Sex Worker
Outreach Project. "'Prostitute' is not only a term which is often derided, it is a legal term which will always be associated with committing a crime."

If the changes to the AP Stylebook are accepted, it could be a dramatic step forward for the rights of sex workers everywhere.

The Girlfriend Experience

Marisa Sung

The 8 Healthiest Candies To Eat This Halloween

You're trained to think that candy is Very Bad for you. But everyone knows it tastes too good to turn down — and that temptation basically quadruples around Halloween. Luckily, experts say certain candies are better for you than others. To satisfy your sweet tooth teeth in the healthiest way possible, use this guide to make smart choices whenever cravings hit:

When You Want Peanut Butter: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Wins
"They have almost one-third of the calories, 19 grams fewer carbs, and about one-third of the saturated fat of a Butterfinger," says registered dietitian and Mom Dishes It Out author Laura Cipullo. More good news for Reese's: Since they're made with actual peanut butter, they contain 5 grams of protein, which helps to balance out their sugar content and keeps you satisfied for longer, says registered dietitian Amy Shapiro.

When You Just Want a Classic Chocolate Bar: Dove Bar Wins
In terms of calories and saturated fats, these bars are nearly identical, so go ahead and nosh on your favorite. However, Shapiro notes that a Hershey's bar has slightly more sugar and two extra ingredients, so you may be slightly better off with a Dove bar. "The fewer ingredients, the better," she says.

When You're Feeling Nutty: PayDay Wins
If you're going to have a candy bar, choosing one with nuts is a smart move because they supply some satisfying, healthy fat," says Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. PayDay's 7 grams of protein make it a better option than a Snickers, which has only 4 grams of protein — not to mention that a PayDay contains significantly less saturated fats and sugars, and no partially-hydrogenated oil. "For an even healthier choice with the same indulgent taste, choose a fruit-and-nut bar like a Kind bar or Lara Bar Uber," adds Ansel.

When You Want Bittersweet: Black Licorice Wins
It's always a good idea to stay away from fake foods, which, with corn syrup, artificial colorings, and lots of preservatives, is basically what Twizzlers are. If you're OK with the slightly medicinal taste of traditional black licorice, have it instead, says nutrition therapist and registered dietitian Limor Baum.

When You're in the Mood for Fruity: Starbursts Wins
n spite of the difference in size, you're actually better off with Starbursts than Skittles. "Starbursts contain one-third less sugar than Skittles, and are fat- and saturated fat-free," says Shapiro. "They also contain fewer artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oils, and artificial coloring." Don't be fooled by the amount of vitamin C in Skittles — it's listed as half of your recommended daily intake. "You'll get a whopping three teaspoons of sugar in return," Ansel says.

When You Want a Bite (or Two…) of Chocolate: Hershey's Kisses Wins
This decision centers on the perennial issue of portion control. While Hershey's Kisses are individually wrapped — and therefore take a little longer to eat than a handful of M&Ms — it's hard not to make a serious dent in what's usually a large bag. Nonetheless, they lack the sugar- and artificial coloring-filled outer layer of candy of M&Ms, which works in their favor.

When You Want Something Sweet and Tart: Smarties Wins
Cipullo excitedly told us that Smarties are the perfect cure to mindless eating. "Only 25 calories for one roll!" she exclaims. "Nerds have triple the calories in just one tablespoon of candy and contain three sources of sugar in the ingredients list, which is a lot for such a tiny product.

When You Want a Sucker: Jolly Rancher Wins
Though hard candies are less likely to damage your waistline since they take longer to consume, they are not friends to your teeth. "To minimize dental damage, choose a Jolly Rancher," says Baum. "A Blow Pop has a sweet, chewy, bubble-gum center, which glues sugar to your teeth as you chew on it." Three Jolly Ranchers contain almost the same number of calories as a single Blow Pop, meaning you can spread out your sucking, and enjoy them at a few different points during the day, says Shapiro.

When You Want Something Minty: York Peppermint Patty Wins
Though Junior Mints provide four times more iron, a York Peppermint Patty wins in terms of calories, saturated fats, and sugar — and gets bonus points for coming in an individual portion size. "Compared to a standard candy bar, a 140-calorie Peppermint Patty is a major calorie bargain, especially since it has only 2.5 grams of fat," says Ansel.

I Want Candy

Marisa Sung

Chinese Proverb Of The Day

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.

Paul McCartney-Listen To What The Man Said

Marisa Sung

Palm Beach Jewelry Art & Antique Show

Palm Beach Jewelry Art & Antique Show-February 13-17 2015! A prestigious event featuring over 160 International Exhibitors. At the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

A highlight of this year's show will be the " Hope Designer Showcase," curated by AD100 interior designer Scott Snyder. The exhibit will feature five room vignettes created by Snyder and other top interior designers, including Bruce Bierman, Jim Aman +John Meeks, Jennifer Post and Campion Platt. The designers will utilize fine art, furniture and decorative accessories from exhibitors in the show to create beautiful spaces that exemplify how antiques integrate into today's lifestyles.

For inquiries and tickets:


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