You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

MSNBC reports: “ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A giant snowman named Snowzilla has mysteriously appeared again this year – despite the city’s cease-and-desist order.”

You can help save him!

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Karol Boudreaux is a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, lead researcher for Enterprise Africa!, and a member of the Working Group on Property Rights of the U.N.’s Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

Listen to her speak about the importance of creating property rights in Africa and her experiences in Rwanda and South Africa with EconTalk host Russ Roberts:

Karol Boudreaux on Property Rights and Incentives in Africa

“In Rwanda, she studied how a change in incentives and property rights for coffee farmers has allowed the coffee bean growers to improve quality and prosper. In South Africa’s Langa Township, she looked at how renters were allowed to become homeowners and how the ability to own changed their lives.”

Watch this heartbreaking documentary by Leah Chishugi:

Rape in a lawless land

“Leah Chishugi, a nurse and survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, travels into the heart of eastern Congo to record the testimony of more than 400 women and girls abused by marauding militias.”

Watch Amartya Sen, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and author of Development as Freedom, in which he shows how liberal democracy helps avoid famines and disasters, talk about his life and ideas to Harry Kreisler:

Conversations with History: Amartya Sen

Watch Muhammad Yunus, Nobel peace laureate, author of Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, and  founder of Grameen Bank , explain his ideas at the Google NYC campus:

Authors@Google: Muhammad Yunus

“Economics professor Yunus claims he originally became involved in the poverty issue not as a policy-maker, scholar, or researcher, but because poverty was all around me. With these words he stopped teaching elegant theories and began lending small amounts of money, $40 or less, without collateral, to the poorest women in the world. Thirty-three years later, the Grameen Bank has helped seven million people live better lives building businesses to serve the poor. The bank is solidly profitable, with a 98.6% repayment rate. It inspired the micro-credit movement, which has helped 100 million of the poorest people in the world escape poverty and earned Yunus a Nobel Peace prize.”

Watch Philip Short talk about his book Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare, which is much more than just a great biography, at the University of California:

Philip Short – Pol Pot

“Towards the beginning of this massive biography, Short cautions readers against dismissing the terror of Pol Pot’s regime as the incomprehensible work of evil men. Instead, Short argues, the explanations for the Khmer Rouge regime, which resulted in the death of over one-fifth of Cambodia’s population, or 1.5 million people, are ‘rooted in history’.”

Give the Jew Girl Toys!

Gene Sharp is no blue eyed pacifist or dogmatic utopian. But he believes in the power of nonviolence, because he has seen it work so many times and in so many places. He is the author of a short handbook for the nonviolent revolutionary called ‘From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation’, which served as a basis for the so-called color revolutions: Serbia’s Otpor, Georgia’s Kmara, Ukraine’s Pora, Kyrgyzstan’s KelKel and Belarus’ Zubr, and whose writings on civilian-based defense were used by the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments during their separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Watch him speak on The Power and Potential of Nonviolent Struggle.

“Gene Sharp, President of the Albert Einstein Institution, discusses the efficacy of strategic nonviolent action in a lecture at the National Conference on Nonviolent Sanctions and Defense.”

Christmas Message from Kerry Kay, MDC-T Secretary for Welfare: “Zimbabweans will not be going home to kumusha/ekhaya this Christmas for a joyous celebration with their families – there is no money, no food, no fuel. There are no medicines and little clean water – cholera and HIV/AIDS stalks every citizen. Instead they will, no doubt, be praying to their Almightly God for deliverance from the pervading evil.
Zimbabweans go into this supposedly joyful festive season with heavy hearts. Over 300 people are still missing, having been abducted pre and post elections. Over 220 have been brutally murdered in the same period of time. 30 more have been abducted since 15th September and are still missing. The pain in their families hearts is unimaginable. We must keep them in our prayers.”

Watch Lt. General Dallaire, Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, talk about his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda at Barnes & Noble:

Shake Hands with the Devil: Rwanda

Watch Jim Powell, author of Greatest Emancipations, talk about the antislavery movement and one of the first great victories for human rights in history at a Cato Institute Book Forum:

Greatest Emancipations: How the West Abolished Slavery

“For thousands of years, slavery went unchallenged in principle. Then in a single century, slavery was abolished and more than seven million slaves were freed throughout the Western hemisphere. The scope and speed of this transformation make it one of the most amazing feats in modern history. Greatest Emancipations tells this fascinating story, focusing on abolitionists in areas where slavery was most entrenched: Haiti, the British Caribbean, the United States, Cuba, and Brazil.”

“Powell’s analysis is thoroughly documented, relying on an impressive variety of popular and academic literature both contemporary and historical.” – Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate

It’s really hard to explain what the Copenhagen Consensus Center is trying to do. In their own words: “Through the commissioning and conveying of research, we work to improve the prioritizing between various efforts to mitigate the consequences of the world’s biggest challenges. In particular we focus on the international community’s effort to solve the world’s biggest challenges and on how to do this in the most cost-efficient manner.”

Sounds weird? In a way it is. But if you give it a chance, you will learn a lot about our world’s biggest problems and what to do about them.
But you better be open minded…

Watch the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 Opening Speech and the Final Results Presentation by its founder Björn Lomborg.

Also watch videos of all the presentations, in which experts present “the latest research on every challenge and also put forward solutions to the challenge, including benefit and cost estimates”. It’s really worth it!

Watch a short video by African Liberty in which they try to answer this crucial question:

The Global Food Crisis : Political Factors

WADI asks for your help:

Stop Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi-Kurdistan: Appeal for Donations

“We invite you to take part in social change in the making. Over the past four years, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi-Kurdistan has ceased to be a practice protected by the silence of strict social taboo. FGM is now the topic of open public debate, with growing active support to ban it by law and combat against it through social, medical and educational action. This remarkable change has been made possible by a group of local activists, working across Iraqi-Kurdistan in WADI’s various projects and initiatives for women’s rights and equality.”

“Che hated artists, so how is it possible that artists still today support the image of Che Guevara?”, Paquito D’Rivera, who had to flee Guevara’s Cuba, wants to know.

Watch Reason TV on Hollywood’s Sick Love Affair with Che Guevara

“‘Che was an inspiration for me,’ D’Rivera tells reason.tv. ‘I thought I have to get out of this island as soon as I can, because I am in the wrong place at the wrong time!’ D’Rivera did escape Cuba, and so far he’s won nine Grammy awards playing the kind of music Che tried to silence. But D’Rivera says Che’s crimes didn’t end with censorship. ‘He ordered the execution of many people with no trial.’ Che served as Castro’s chief executioner, presiding over the infamous La Cabana prison. D’Rivera says Che’s policy of killing innocents earned him the nickname—the Butcher of La Cabana.'”

Listen to Gregg Easterbrook talk about his book The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse at Econ Talk:

Easterbrook on the American Standard of Living

“How has life changed in America over the last century? Is the average person getting ahead or are the rich taking all the gains? Easterbrook argues that life is better for the average American in almost every dimension. The paradox is that despite those gains, we don’t seem much happier.”

Have you ever heard of British slave and torture camps in Kenya? If not, you are not the only one. The settlers’ propaganda machine did an impressing job of hiding them from the outside world…

Watch Caroline Elkins, a historian at Harvard University and author of          Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya, set the record straight:

Colonial War Crimes in Kenya: Prospects for Reconciliation

“After years of research in London and Kenya, including interviews with hundreds of Kenyans, settlers, and former British officials, Elkins has written the first book about the eight-year British war against the Mau Mau. She concludes that the war, one of the bloodiest and most protracted decolonization struggles of the past century, was anything but the ‘civilizing mission’ portrayed by British propagandists and settlers. Instead, Britain engaged in an amazingly brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that seemed to border on outright genocide. While only 32 white settlers were killed by Mau Mau insurgents, Elkins reports that tens of thousands of Kenyans were slaughtered, perhaps up to 300,000. The British also interned the entire 1.5 million population of Kikuyu, the colony’s largest ethnic group, in barbed-wire villages, forced-labour reserves where famine and disease ran rampant, and prison camps that Elkins describes as the Kenyan ‘Gulag.’ The Kikuyu were subjected to unimaginable torture, or ‘screening’, as British officials called it, which included being whipped, beaten, sodomized, castrated, burned, and forced to eat feces and drink urine. British officials later destroyed almost all official records of the campaign.”

Watch David Landes, author of ‘The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor’, offer his thoughts on this crucial question at the Boston Public Library:

Wealth and Poverty of Nations

There is only one hope left for Zimbabwe… It’s people! And they got nothing left to lose.

Watch this short documentary by the Solidarity Peace Trust:

Death of a Nation

Watch or listen to Tony Gambino, former U.S. Agency for International Development mission director in the DRC, and Colin Thomas-Jensen, policy adviser for the ENOUGH Project, discuss this question with Mauro de Lorenzo from the American Enterprise Institute:

Chronic Crisis in Eastern Congo

“The escalation of fighting in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has brought one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises back to the attention of international policymakers. In response, the United Nations (UN) Security Council has authorized three thousand additional troops to reinforce the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. But even if additional forces can be generated, military might alone is unlikely to end the crisis. What are the underlying causes of the chronic crisis in Eastern Congo, and what further steps might policymakers take to create a lasting solution?”

Everyone knows Ernesto Guevara… the myth. Almost no one knows Ernesto Guevara… the real man. The real “Ché” never was a freedom fighter. He was a totalitarian, a fanatic, a stalinist, a dogmatist, a mass murderer, a homophobe, a sadist, a militarist, a war monger…

Watch Humberto Fontova speak about his book “Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him” at the Freedom Center or on C-Span.

“Fontova gets right to the work of debunking familiar notions of Argentinan revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevera; by the end of the preface, he’s pinned 14,000 executions on Guevera and credited positive portrayals to the public relations work of Castro and the laziness of biographers. The critical attack continues throughout, combining the testimonies of former revolutionaries and Cuban refugees to assemble a damning portrait of a man lauded by everyone from Jean-Paul Sartre to Jon Lee Anderson.”

Watch the Cato Institute‘s celebration of the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in the U.S.:

Free to Booze

“On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, thus ending our nation’s failed experiment with Prohibition. Organized crime flourished during Prohibition, but what were the other effects of the national ban on alcohol? How and why was it repealed?”

Listen to Gloria Hammond, a pastor and medical doctor who chairs the Save Darfur Coalition, talk to NPR’s Faith Matters:

Doctor Brings ‘Ministry Of Healing’ To Darfur

“Rev. Gloria White Hammond, is determined to keep Darfur’s plight on the minds of Americans and U.S. policy makers. In this week’s Faith Matters, Hammond explains her passionate feelings about what is happening in Sudan.”

Many African countries have democratised their political systems without really liberalising them, Joshua Kurlantzick explains in a well-written and very informative article published by the Boston Globe :

Democratic doubtWhat happens when political freedom unleashes epic violence?

Under the brutal reign of terror and slave labor instituted by King Leopold II of Belgium, who ran the Congo Free State as his personal fief from 1885 to 1908, the population of the Congo was reduced by half – as many as 11 million natives were killed, making it by far the biggest crime of its time and one of the worst in all of history.

Watch Adam Hochschild talk about his book, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa:

Miami Book Fair InternationalAuthor Discussion with Adam Hochschild

From Publishers Weekly: “Hochschild’s superb, engrossing chronicle focuses on one of the great, horrifying and nearly forgotten crimes of the century: greedy Belgian King Leopold II’s rape of the Congo, the vast colony he seized as his private fiefdom in 1885. Until 1909, he used his mercenary army to force slaves into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and committ mass murder. The hero of Hochschild’s highly personal, even gossipy narrative is Liverpool shipping agent Edmund Morel, who, having stumbled on evidence of Leopold’s atrocities, became an investigative journalist and launched an international Congo reform movement with support from Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington and Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Listen to Thomas Szasz, known for his critique of psychiatry, speak about his book, Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market

Thomas Szasz on America’s Drug Forum

Watch or listen to James Gwartney and Robert Lawson, coauthors of the Economic Freedom of the World 2008 Annual Report, and Simeon Djankov, creator of “Doing Business”, discuss their findings at a Cato Book Forum:

How Nations Prosper: Economic Freedom and Doing Business around the World

All the evidence clearly shows:

– markets reduce poverty

– markets foster democracy and human rights and…

– the other way around, even though not as strong.