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Archive for March, 2009

Learning to Live With Radical Islam

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The militants are bad people and this is bad news. But the more difficult question is, what should we-the outside world-do about it? That we are utterly opposed to such people, and their ideas and practices, is obvious. But how exactly should we oppose them? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, we have done so in large measure by attacking them-directly with Western troops and Predator strikes, and indirectly in alliance with Pakistani and Afghan forces. Is the answer to pour in more of our troops, train more Afghan soldiers, ask that the Pakistani military deploy more battalions, and expand the Predator program to hit more of the bad guys? Perhaps-in some cases, emphatically yes-but I think it’s also worth stepping back and trying to understand the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism.

Read on from Fareed Zakaria and respond to these Qs

Mexican Media Baron On Drug-Violence Epidemic

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Alejandro Junco de la Vega runs daily newspapers in three of Mexico’s largest cities: Reforma in Mexico City, Mural in Guadalajara and El Norte in Monterrey.

Junco was born in Monterrey and earned his journalism degree from the University of Texas. He returned to Mexico to become the publisher of El Norte in 1973.

Even at the beginning of his newspaper empire-building, Junco fought for freedom of the press — he hired a UT journalism professor to teach journalistic ethics and techniques to the reporters of El Norte.

After El Norte became successful, Junco founded Reforma and Mural. Junco also owns the company Infosel, Mexico’s largest Internet provider and online finance and news service.

Junco joins Fresh Air to discuss the escalating violence in Mexico. The rising murder rate, especially at the U.S. border, is associated with drug-cartel activity.

I am truly impressed by Junco de la Vega. As the publisher of El Norte since 1973, he has his finger on the pulse of Mexico. If you listen closely, you will likewise be impressed.

To process your listening (and to prove that you have done so) you must submit 1 page of single-spaced notes on this interview.

Listen to Terri Gross’ interview with de la Vega (20 minutes)

Governor in Russia Is Ousted by Kremlin

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

MOSCOW — President Dmitri A. Medvedev replaced the governor of a northwest region on Saturday, apparently seeking to ensure that the ruling party remained in control there after it suffered a surprising defeat in local elections.

Mr. Medvedev’s move in the region, Murmansk, suggested that the Kremlin wanted to clamp down quickly on hints of disloyalty among its cadre of governors as it faces possible discontent at the regional level over the financial crisis.

The dismissed governor, Yuri A. Yevdokimov, is a member of the ruling party, United Russia, but he had been feuding with party leaders lately. And in the mayoral election this month in the city of Murmansk, Mr. Yevdokimov supported an independent candidate, who triumphed easily over United Russia’s nominee.

The loss in the city, which is the region’s capital and has about 320,000 people, was a rebuke to United Russia. It led to a round of recriminations that reached all the way from the Murmansk region, which borders Finland and Norway, to party headquarters in Moscow.

Governors in Russia used to be elected, but are now appointed by the president, under a system that was put in place by Russia’s paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, when he was president in 2004. The change was widely seen as an effort by Mr. Putin to centralize power in the Kremlin.

But many mayors continue to be elected, and these elections have become a test of the ruling party’s strength.

At least three well-known candidates, for example, are expected to vie next month to become mayor of the southern city of Sochi, which is to host the Winter Olympics in 2014.

The Kremlin announced Mr. Yevdokimov’s replacement on its Web site on Saturday and, as is typically the case, the statement said he had voluntarily resigned. It seemed clear, though, that if he had not done so, he would have been dismissed.

The statement also said Mr. Medvedev had nominated Dmitri Dmitrienko, a senior federal fisheries official, to serve as governor.

Photo Essay: Spring Break Gone Wrong?

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

This time of year, many American college students head to Mexico’s beaches for spring break, but a recent State Department travel alert about violence south of the border might be giving some party animals second thoughts.

Peruse this photo essay from Foreign Policy Magazine

Labor Union Bill Raises Broader Capitalism Issues

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act seemed destined to be a relatively narrow clash between unions and employers. But amid the economic downturn, it is turning into a debate over fundamental questions of American capitalism.

After years of girding for this fight, labor supporters and business groups are scrambling after the bill’s reintroduction last week to adapt their long-established arguments to suit the crisis. For those opposed to the bill, which would make it easier to form unions, the new message was that it would be a disaster for businesses reeling from the recession.

“In a time when we have an economy that’s already struggling, we can’t put more burdensome regulations on employers,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). “This is a job killer for our economy when we really don’t need it.”

Read on from the Washington Post from March 2009

Thinking Allowed

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I recommend the charming, witty and insightful BBC podcast, Thinking Allowed. In his own playful way, host Laurie Taylor, Professor of Sociology at The University of York, delves into provocative philosophical debates.

Zinn Speaks

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

In this 30 minute interview, Howard Zinn summarizes The Other Civil War and why it matters today. Definately worth a listen.

Understanding the Collapse of 2008-09

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Listen to one of the the following This American Life programs which do a brilliant job of making the recent economic crisis comprehensible. Prepare 2+ pages of notes for submission  (pause recording when necessary–this is complex stuff). Be prepared to present your findings in class.

The Giant Pool of Money

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

Bad Bank

The Watchmen

Questions to Consider:

  • Why did the financial markets recede in the past couple of years? Whose fault is this? To what extent is the U.S. government to blame for the crash? To what extent are credit-crazy Americans to blame? How important is it to assign blame?
  • Are we amidst an economic crisis, a financial crisis, both or neither?
  • Many people blame George W. Bush for the crash. Are there valid reasons to do so?
  • Some suggest that the greed inherent in Western cultures make such economic crashes inevitable. Is this a valid assertion?
  • Are economic crises in capitalism “natural”? Was this crash a “necessary market correction” as some suggest?
  • What types of changes do we need to make to minimize the deleterious impact of market crashes? Are fierce regulations enough or do we require for systemic solutions?