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Archive for October, 2010

Dr. Lawrence Lessig

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Dr. Lawrence Lessig of Stanford University, who has been a pioneer in the Free Culture Movement and the founder of Creative Commons, is shifting his focus to fighting corruption in Washington DC. Though I am duly impressed by his efforts to combat corporate greed and influence over licensing arrangements, I am excited that he is devoted to getting to the core of the problem. Lessig has delivered his final lecture at Stanford and will be moving to Harvard to direct the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics.

He writes about his decision to shift focus here and he was recently interviewed by Terry Gross where he spoke about his decision to fight the next noble battle.

Though always the cynic, I am excited about the prospect of Lessig on a crusade, backed by the coffers of Harvard, to tackle corruption at the highest levels.

Check out his Ted Talk on laws that choke creativity. Brilliant.

Brawl in the Nigerian House of Representatives

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

A free-for-all fight broke out on the floor of the Nigerian House of Representatives on June 22, 2010. It arose as members who opposed to the embattled speaker of the house, Dimeji Bankole, tried to introduce a motion for his impeachment.

Brawl in the Nigerian House of Representatives

Nixon’s Failed Attempts At ‘Poisoning The Press’

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Richard Nixon is remembered as a ruthless politician driven at times by fear and hatred of his perceived enemies. But a new book suggests that Nixon’s paranoia was based at least in part on his own experience.

In Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture, Mark Feldstein describes the epic battle between Nixon and the muckraking syndicated columnist Jack Anderson. Feldstein follows the rise of Anderson’s investigative journalism career and explains how his decades-long face-off with Nixon would become emblematic of the relationship between the press and other politicians.

Good Fresh Air Interview with Feldstein.

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations.

Lincoln’s Evolving Thoughts On Slavery, And Freedom

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“Lincoln said during the Civil War that he had always seen slavery as unjust. He said he couldn’t remember when he didn’t think that way — and there’s no reason to doubt the accuracy or sincerity of that statement,” explains historian Eric Foner. “The problem arises with the next question: What do you do with slavery, given that it’s unjust? Lincoln took a very long time to try to figure out exactly what steps ought to be taken.”

Foner traces the evolution of Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery in The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. He explains how Lincoln’s changing thoughts about slavery — and the role of freed slaves — mirrored America’s own transformation.

Foner is always a splendid interview (38 minutes)

Justice Breyer: The Court, The Cases And Conflicts

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer outlines his ideas about the Constitution and about the way the United States legal system works.

Breyer, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1994, explains that he interprets the Constitution as a living document, in opposition to some of his colleagues — including Justice Antonin Scalia — who see it as a static and literal set of rules that do not change over time.

Breyer argues that the framers knew that the interpretation of the document would continue to change as America evolved — and that members of the Supreme Court should apply the Constitution’s values to modern circumstances.

Breyer Interview

Teddy Roosevelt And The ‘Burn’ That Saved Forests

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

In The Big Burn — subtitled Teddy Roosevelt and The Fire That Saved America — Egan argues that the fire actually saved the nation’s forests, even as its flames charred the trees. The disaster served to strengthen the fledgling U.S. Forest Service, and rally public opinion behind Theodore Roosevelt’s plan to protect national lands.

Egan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of five books. He won the National Book Award for his critically acclaimed Dust Bowl chronicle The Worst Hard Time.

Fresh Air Interview

China’s leaders meet to plan economic future

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

China’s ruling Communist Party is meeting in Beijing to draw up its next five-year plan for the economy.

The agenda is secret but analysts say that instead of seeking a high rate of economic growth, China’s leaders want to close the gap between rich and poor and between coastal and inland areas.

Analysts will also be watching for signs of who will be China’s next leader – due to take office in 2012.

Read on from BBC

China’s debate over universal values

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

It is not quite true that China is rejecting Western values such as democracy. Rather, it is fighting over them

The sacked mayor of Moscow: Medvedev 1, Luzhkov 0

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

DMITRY MEDVEDEV has been long on talk and short on action ever since he became Russia’s president in 2008. That is why some were surprised on September 28th when he dramatically fired Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow since 1992, citing a “loss of confidence”. The 74-year-old Mr Luzhkov was one of Russia’s most powerful politicians and a senior figure in the ruling United Russia party. He is a household name all over the country; his wife, Yelena Baturina, a construction magnate, is Russia’s richest woman.

Read more on this power struggle among the Russian elite