William Langewiesche’s The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor insightfully examines the perils created by the illicit and unstoppable spread of nuclear weapons to some of the world’s most volatile nations. From CRB, an article on China as a rising nuclear power.

A look at why China relaxed blogger crackdown. How far can China remain inside the world and outside it, embrace the west's market economy, while rejecting its political ideas? What's your China fantasy: A debate between James Mann and David M. Lampton on the uncertain political future of the world’s most populous country. Did it really help to be a Japanese colony? An article on East Asian economic performance in historical perspective. A push to legally enshrine Buddhism as Thailand's official creed could inflame sectarian discord. A review of The Khyber Pass: A history of Empire and invasion by Paddy Docherty.

The United States has spent $2bn creating an Afghan army that it hopes will prove an effective anti-Taliban force. Some of its members seem keen to fight, but it is not easy to get any of them out of bed in the morning. Her son's death on 9/11 spurred Sally Goodrich to do the one thing she knows best: educate. The beneficiaries of her grief became young girls in war-ravaged Afghanistan. The uses and limits of soft power: A review of Charm Offensive by Joshua Kurlantzick.

Sunnis break with Al Qaeda: A split among the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is creating new allies for the Shiite-led government.  When you look at the history of human warfare, civil wars always stand out: Wariness, not hatred, keeps civil wars raging.  Sometimes in war, you can put a price on life: When soldiers at war run amok, prosecution is only the first step toward justice. Legitimate compensation and a real show of contrition must also be offered. It's our cage, too: Assertions that "torture works" may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. If the United States spreads its Middle Eastern disaster into Iran, it won't be the fault of George W. Bush alone – a Democratic Congress will share some of the blame. Fortunately, the legislative branch has effective options for stopping war before it starts.

From Slate, Bushies Behaving Badly: An illustrated guide to GOP scandals. The Enterprising American: A look at Bush policy guru Karl Zinsmeister's dicy past. From ePluribus Media, an article on the GOP, GeorgeWBush.com and the line that jumped the Congressional firewall; and resurrecting Jim Crow: The erratic resume of the voting section chief, and more on dismantling voting rights enforcement. With Election Day registration, all qualified voters can participate in the vital American tradition of voting without finding themselves hampered by arbitrary registration deadlines. A red state in 2004, Florida's in play once again.

From LA Weekly, a special issue on LA People 2007. And Los Angeles’ many cultures are testing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa—and his style of politics