A democratic test for Venezuela

Posted by , 20th December 2010

Hugo ChavezJackson Diehl
12/20/2010

Leopoldo Lopez, an optimistic political challenger of Hugo Chavez, is well aware of the regime’s unhesitating manipulation of elections: Lopez was once banned from the gubernatorial ballot by government fiat. Nonetheless, he remains hopeful that Venezuelans are mobilizing to unseat Chavez in 2012. A major key to the opposition’s electoral success is support from the United States. But Lopez does not see “a clear policy” from the Obama administration that indicates a focus on a democratic transition in Venezuela. Diehl says this will have to change if the opposition is to continue having hope of voting out Chavez and ushering in democracy.

Diehl is deputy editorial page editor of The Post. He is an editorial writer specializing in foreign affairs.

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Memo to board: we need to talk about BP

Posted by , 20th December 2010

BP oil spillMichael Skapinker
11/1/2010

Skapinker says that following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster, all companies should set aside time to discuss the implications of a catastrophe hitting their organization. A disaster can hit any firm so they should all take time to think what their potentially grave threats are and how they would deal with them. The Deepwater Horizon disaster highlighted the importance of having a well-rehearsed response ready for when things go wrong. Skapinker adds that there is little point in firms moaning about adverse media coverage should catastrophe hit. Round-the-clock news, blogs, and Twitter accounts are the way of the world now. The smart move is to prevent a disaster happening in the first place.

Michael Skapinker is an assistant editor of the Financial Times, a columnist and the editor of the FT’s special reports

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When Zombies Win

Posted by , 20th December 2010

MoneyPaul Krugman
12/20/2010

Even though free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about nearly everything, Krugman says they dominate political thought now more than ever. He points out that everything the right said about Obama’s economic policies was wrong, including warnings that interest rates would rise along with a hyper-inflation. They were also wrong about politics abroad, including idealizing Ireland as a shining example of sound economic policies. Krugman says it is one thing to stay true to your ideals and goals, but it is entirely another to open the door to what he calls zombie ideas because they could kill the economy.

Krugman is a New York Times columnist.

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Cool the Planet With Natural Gas

Posted by , 17th December 2010

J. Wayne Leonard
12/17/2010

If we are to overcome the challenge of climate change, we will have to expand the use of renewable energy. But that doesn’t mean rejecting the most effective alternatives available today. Natural gas stands out among these alternatives. Existing gas-powered generators can reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector by 10%. A clean energy standard that includes natural gas focuses on what’s realistically available in the here-and-now. It can reduce carbon emissions right away while buying us time to develop and hone other electricity-generating sources that don’t rely on fossil fuels. Most importantly, it would not require us to shut down the plants that rely on our most abundant fossil fuel: coal.

Leonard is chairman and CEO of Entergy Corp., which produces and distributes electric power.

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Heroic, Female and Muslim

Posted by , 16th December 2010

Celebration_of_the_humanitarian_work_of_Hawa_Abdi_image002Nicholas D. Kristof
12/16/2010

Kristof looks at the heroic life of Dr. Hawa Abdi of Somalia, who has confronted armed militias there and forced them to back down. Today she runs a camp and hospital that serves 90,000 displaced people. She provides them with food and water and trains the people whose roots are in herding to farm and fish. She also runs a school, literacy and health classes for women, and a small jail for men who beat their wives. Kristof says she is an example of the tolerant and peace-loving side of Islam and what people can do when they tap into courage, compassion, and tolerance.

Kristof is a New York Times columnist.

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Obama and the Pakistan Dilemma

Posted by , 16th December 2010

Pakistani FlagMatthew Kaminski
12/16/2010

Pakistan is becoming more like Afghanistan, only with a more advanced economy and nuclear weapons, writes Kaminski. The idea that Islamabad’s leaders can control the Taliban is probably a necessary fiction, but the reality is that many extremists have slipped their leash. Pakistan’s military has yet to show that it wants to–or that it can–control the Islamist wave. Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Afghanistan, certainly has contingency plans for Pakistan that go beyond extra doses of drones or diplomacy. Putting American boots in Waziristan is an obvious idea. But, Kaminski concludes, this is unappealing, as the fallout in Pakistan would be hard to predict. So for the moment America gets to pretend that Pakistan can do this on its own.

Kaminski is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

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Terror: The U.K.’s New Christmas Export

Posted by , 16th December 2010

GBDouglas Murray
12/15/2010

It’s a story that is becoming as familiar as the traditional nativity: ordinary young man goes to Britain, most likely to study, and comes out an Islamic extremist. While Sweden may change after its first suicide bombing, it is more urgent that things change in Britain. One-third of British Muslim students polled believe that killing in the name of their religion could be justified. Yet the government’s minister for higher education dismissed the findings. Murray concludes that if you had told Britons 20 years ago that this occurrence would become routine they would have laughed at you. But Britain is no longer the country it was.

Murray is the director of London’s Center for Social Cohesion.

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A progressive’s answer to Obama

Posted by , 16th December 2010

Obama-Clinton.jpgKatrina vanden Heuvel
12/15/2010

The recent tax cut deal is yet another example of how President Obama’s centrist focus has resulted in failure to define his principles and values (and, by extension, America’s). While the author concedes that compromising on policy is part of the political game, she disagrees with compromising one’s principles. Strong leadership, says vanden Heuvel, should not be defined by compromise but by a clear, defensible vision and the mobilization of popular support. If Obama’s pattern of compromise continues, he may leave behind few achievements and a disillusioned Democrat party.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of The Nation magazine.

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We’ve Only Got America A

Posted by , 16th December 2010

usaThomas L. Friedman
12/15/2010

We have only one America so we have to make this work. If it fails, our children will grow up in a different world and we will not like who picks up the pieces. Friedman looks at the role of China in the future–a country that tried to intimidate its trading partners from sending representatives to attend the Nobel award ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall after it rejected the Nobel Peace Prize given to one of its citizens, a democracy advocate who has been imprisoned. On the other end of the spectrum, Friedman wonders what the world would be like if individuals feel empowered to change the world by dumping state secrets at any time. He says a stable world requires that we get the best from both extremes while limiting the worst; it will require smart legal and technological responses. That job requires a strong America.

Friedman is a New York Times columnist.

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