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Archive for June, 2009

The Capitalist Manifesto: Greed Is Good (To a point)

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Fareed Zakaria, once again, hits the nail on the head.

Here is his essay on the 2008-09 crash.

The first 2/3 of the essay is a clear and concise explanation of the economic and political decisions that got us to where we are. Then he adds a much-overlooked dimension to the discussion when he asserts:

“Throughout this essay, I have avoided treating this economic crisis as a grand morality play—a war between good and evil in which demon bankers destroyed all that is good and true about our societies. Complex historical events can rarely be reduced to something so simple. But we are suffering from a moral crisis, too, one that may lie at the heart of our problems.

Most of what happened over the past decade across the world was legal. Bankers did what they were allowed to do under the law. Politicians did what they thought the system asked of them. Bureaucrats were not exchanging cash for favors. But very few people acted responsibly, honorably or nobly (the very word sounds odd today). This might sound like a small point, but it is not. No system—capitalism, socialism, whatever—can work without a sense of ethics and values at its core. No matter what reforms we put in place, without common sense, judgment and an ethical standard, they will prove inadequate. We will never know where the next bubble will form, what the next innovations will look like and where excesses will build up. But we can ask that people steer themselves and their institutions with a greater reliance on a moral compass.”

2009 Iranian Presidential Elections

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

“I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin,” Mousavi  in Tehran.

From the BBC


Who Cares Who is the President of Iran? from Slate

BBC Video on Election Protests

On the Iranian Baby Book (and Youth Voters)

Newsweek predicts the fall of Islamic theocracy—though not necessarily the current regime—in Iran. The regime, based on the “divine” appointment of a supreme leader, now faces more dissent than ever: Top clerics are divided, and there are millions of Iranians who no longer believe in the government’s ideology. It will now be able to maintain power only by military intimidation. When it comes, the end of a 30-year experiment in political Islam will make waves across the Muslim world

A profile of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei describes how the idealistic Shia cleric who loved poetry about oppression has become “that cold, hard weight of authority” he once chafed under. His complicated relationships with other members of the government go back decades, and his “indulgent” support for President Ahmadinejad suggests power has given him “tunnel vision.”

The Weekly Standard argues that whatever happens in Iran, the Islamic Republic as we know it is over. The government’s decision to announce the election result so quickly—without even making reasonable efforts to have it appear genuine—”shows how insular and insecure Khamenei, a politicized cleric of some intellectual sensitivity, has become.” Questions about the future of a “supreme leader” in Iran were being discussed before this month’s election, and Khamenei’s handling of the situation has all but ensured he’ll be the end of the line.

The Chatham House and the Institute of Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University offer this analysis of the numbers.

Protests against Putin sweep Russia as factories go broke

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

From Vladivostok to St Petersburg, Russians are taking to the streets in anger over job losses, unpaid wages and controls on imported cars…

Russia‘s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, is facing the most sustained and serious grassroots protests against his leadership for almost a decade, with demonstrations that began in the far east now spreading rapidly across provincial Russia.

More from The Guardian