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eyes on the U.S.

Obama's Paradox: A Good Man, A Bad World, A Bitter End

Obama outside the White House.
Obama outside the White House.
Massimo Gramellini

TURIN — The destiny of soon-to-be former President Barack Obama reminds me of history's great love stories. Desire then regret, always longing for something that is never quite fulfilled.

When the 44th President of the United States appeared on the scene he was charismatic, athletic and affable, making history as the first African-American nominee from a major party. It was love at first sight, and the world was so enamored that it wound up giving him the Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up.

Barack Obama was supposed to change the world; instead the world kept changing on its own accord, as if he didn't even exist. Our fascination with Obama and his widely popular First Lady, Michelle, captured our imaginations but failed to defuse racial tensions in the United States. As the American middle class continues its decline, Russia is asserting its military authority and China its economic might.

It would be unfair to say that Obama has been a bad President, though he hasn't proven to be a political mastermind either. Still, he has shown tenacity and extraordinary vision in diplomacy. Despite rising from obscurity to the presidency in four years, Obama struggled to challenge the dominant power of multinational corporations and the financial industry. His failure to keep his campaign promises isn't solely his fault; the blame also lies within America's political system and its failure to govern effectively and redistribute income fairly.

And now, after all the messages of hope and change eight years ago, Barack Obama will leave a peculiar legacy. He leaves behind a Western world that is weaker and poorer than the one he inherited — and will be succeeded by a man the world is certain will make things worse. Barack Obama, the world will miss you.

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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