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Archive for February, 2012

Nigeria: A nation divided

Friday, February 24th, 2012







FDR, Paralysis & Walking

Sunday, February 19th, 2012
FDR walking

U.S. Military Bases around Iran

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

The Amistad Case in Fact and Film

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Historian Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, examines the issues surrounding the historical film Amistad. In this short essay he explores the problems faced by the producers of Amistad and the shortcomings of both the film and its accompanying study guide in their attempt to portray history. More importantly, Foner raises questions not only about the accuracy of details and lack of historic context, but also about the messages behind Hollywood’s portrayal of history as entertainment.

Seth Waxman dropped the butt-bomb

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

The issue before the court is not whether the FCC can regulate obscenity. It can. The issue is whether the FCC can regulate “indecency,” as defined in a seminal 1978 case about a daytime radio broadcast of George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue as “language that describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities and organs” between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children might be watching.

Will Durant: The Life of Greece

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

William James Durant (November 5, 1885 – November 7, 1981) was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975.

Here is volume two, The Life of Greece. It is arguably the best general survey of the era.

Rethinking Russia : A Balanced Assessment of Russian Civil Society

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Assessments of Russia’s civil society development have been almost universally negative, yet the assessments are usually based on very limited and unsystematic evidence. Missing from the discussion are new developments such as institutions and competitive funding for NGOs and other civic groups that suggest there is a foundation in Russia to support citizen participation in governance.

In this article we present current assumptions about Russian civil society, that public space between the home and government where citizens act collectively. We then report some unexplored developments in Russian civil society, including pockets of public activism, NGO activity, and newly institutionalized frameworks for citizen participation in governance. We submit that these developments merit attention in assessments of contemporary Russian politics.

What Is the Beijing Consensus?

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

DAVOS, Switzerland — A lot of people at the World Economic Forum are talking about the Beijing consensus. But there is no consensus about what the China’s economic growth model actually is.

Concern about that model somehow challenging Western democratic capitalism runs deep here at a time when China has become the No.2 economy, surpassing Japan and gaining on the United States. It faces none of the problems many rich countries are grappling with after the financial crisis: debt mountains, high unemployment and political gridlock.

But what actually characterizes the Chinese model? A Chinese economist here at Davos, who preferred to remain anonymous, tried to shed some light on the question, citing four key characteristics he said defined Beijing’s communist-capitalist-Confucian system.

Policy toolkit: The Chinese authorities have a much larger toolkit to interfere in the economy, he said. They can regulate and tax and hand out contracts like in the West. But they also can — and don’t hesitate to — meddle in financial markets if they feel a share price, for example, is not at the right level.

Corporate allegiance:
Many companies are not only state-owned, but are accountable to the government as well. The government picks the management and managers report to the government. They are motivated less by pay than their Western counterparts, mainly because they are paid less: Even the boss of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by some measures, reportedly earns less than $200,000 a year.

Resources: Beijing controls unusually large resources. They not only have nearly $3 trillion in currency reserves and get a steady stream of profit from state-owned business but they also control all the land. “Fiscal problems do not exist in China,” the economist said. “If they authorities need money they can just sell some land.”

Long-term planning: The authorities in Beijing set long-term strategic priorities and then systematically pursue them in five-year-plans.

For democracies committed to the rule of law and the free — although perhaps more regulated — market, there is not a whole lot that can be adopted from this list. But several Western economists here are urging that at least more long-term strategic thinking be tried, even if Western electoral politics makes that difficult.

Nigeria’s Jonathan declares state of emergency

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Coming nearly a week after radical sect Boko Haram set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church that killed at least 37 people and wounded 57, Jonathan told state television the measures would aim to restore security in troubled parts of Nigeria’s north.

2012 As 1937 Redux?

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

1937. In that year – the fifth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, the US economy had finally matched its size in 1929, the year the stock market bubble popped and the world cascaded into the Great Depression. (The US economy today still has a way to go before it claws back the losses since 2007, but that’s another story).

.…almost certainly, a plunge back into recession early next year?