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Watch Michael Weinstein and Joseph Siegle talk about their book The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace. I very much agree with what Leslie Gelb has written about this fascinating book: “It is very rare when you have established experts do a mountainous amount of hard research on a complex new subject. It is rarer still when the subject cuts across the boundaries of foreign policy, economics, and domestic politics. The result is far and away the best book to date making the argument that democracy furthers economic development better than authoritarian rule.”

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Is there any scientific evidence that the differences in violence across societies aren’t caused by religious differences? Yes, lots of it! First, there are hundreds of studies which show that poor countries are – on average – many times more violent and undemocratic than rich ones. And then there is one very comprehensive and rigorous study by Inglehart and Welzel which shows that there is only a very small – almost insignificant – cultural influence if you control for other factors – especially economic ones – and that economic change leads to cultural change (many times more than the other way round). I highly recommend their book on the topic from which I have learned more about the world we live in than from any other one.

Matt Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist”, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Watch him explain how ideas making love can save mankind at this Ted Talk!

Watch John Kasaona from Namibia explain How poachers became caretakers at TED.

Neda Agha-Soltan was 27 when she was shot dead in the streets of Tehran on June 20th, 2009. Watch a touching and powerful documentary about a courageous, lively and beautiful woman and her struggle against theocratic rule and gender apartheid in Iran.

For Neda

(also available in Farsi or Arabic)

Listen to Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji speak at the Cato Institute – from which he received the “Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty 2010” – about the liberation struggle against the theocracy and the great dangers of military intervention.

Watch one of the most informative and touching documentaries ever made on of the most impressive nonviolent freedom struggles in history – a whole nation rose up against a brutal occupation and started… singing!

The Singing Revolution

“Imagine the scene in ‘Casablanca’ in which the French patrons sing ‘La Marseillaise’ in defiance of the Germans, then multiply its power by a
factor of thousands, and you’ve only begun to imagine the force of
‘The Singing Revolution’.” – The New York Times

Watch a very informative, entertaining and fair debate on the issue,
featuring Dambisa Moyo, Hernando de Soto, Paul Collier and Stephen Lewis – four experts on aid and development, four independent and innovative minds, four people, who really care about the poor…

A Munk Debate: “Is foreign aid to the developing countries doing more harm than good?”

Watch Richard Tren and Donald Roberts from “Africa Fighting Malaria” talk about their book “The Excellent Powder: DDT’s Political and Scientific History” at Reason.TV:

DEMONIZING DDT

They made fun of Americans, Canadians, Latin Americans, Europeans, Asians and Africans, liberals, conservatives, socialists, environmentalists, feminists, animal rights activists, pacifists and war mongerers, self-centered hippies and snobby yuppies, Michael Jackson and Radiohead, Bush and Obama, George Clooney and Barbra Streisand, Family Guy, the Simpsons and – of course – themselves, fundamentalist Christians, Scientology, arrogant atheists and radical Muslims.
So that makes 29 reasons. What’s the last one?
No one and nothing will ever stop them!

South Park Death Threats

Watch Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps Captain in Iraq and Foreign Service Officer in Afghanistan, explain why he resigned in protest over the war in Afghanistan:

Leaving Afghanistan

Watch the premiere of “10 Rules for Dealing with Police” at the Cato Institute. Know your rights – and how to defend them effectively!

“If a free society depends upon an informed citizenry exercising oversight of its government, then more people need to know how to handle themselves in a police encounter…”

Dissidents and human rights activists from China, Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, North Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela gathered in Geneva, Switzerland on March 8-9, 2010 for the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy.
Here you can watch videos of all the debates and speeches.

Watch historian Stephen Davies explain why mankind has been experiencing the most radical revolution ever in the last two centuries – and why this revolution has only just begun!

Stephen Davies at the Mercatus Center – Locating Ourselves Historically

(Scroll down to find the video).

Most people believe that only lunatic lefties are in favour of free migration. Unfortunately, they are very close to the truth. I wish that more moderates, liberals, conservatives and libertarians would speak up against all barriers to immigration. A crazy idea? Watch or listen to this wonderful speech by British economist Nigel Harris, author of Thinking the Unthinkable – The Immigration Myth Exposed, at Gresham College: Refugees, economic migration and the future of the world economy

In this short video experts from Freedom House explain how the Iranian theocracy is trying to censor the Internet – and what dissidents can do
about it. If you know someone in Iran, this may be a help… Good luck!

When poor, desperate and uneducated peasants or slum dwellers fall for authoritarian populists like Hugo Chavez, it’s a tragedy, because they have to pay a terrible price for it. But when Western intellectuals romanticise violent revolution without even trying to check the facts, it’s a shame.

Watch or listen to María Corina Machado, President of Súmate, a leading pro-democracy NGO, discuss the Failure of Social Policy in Venezuela at the Cato Institute.

Also watch this impressing PBS-Frontline documentary about the Hugo Chavez Show

Milton and Rose Friedman founded the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice to fight a public school system, which is run by government bureaucrats, school boards and teachers, and in which students and their parents have almost no way of holding them accountable.

Watch Milton Friedman explain why he believes that all students, but especially those from poor neighborhoods, would benefit from a school voucher system, which would break the government monopoly on education by empowering the parents:

Private Enterprise in Education

Watch this impressive and uplifting documentary by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto and the Institute for Liberty and Democracy:

The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon

“A documentary of significance with findings from indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada and the Peruvian jungle.”

There are so many myths and legends surrounding the collapse of communist totalitarianism, the nonviolent revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the development since then. What has really changed? And why? Are the people of the region really richer and freer today? And if so, how much?

The Cato Institute held a very informative half-day conference on these subjects featuring many reformers and experts. You can watch three videos of the panel discussions on their website, and if you are interested in the region, you should miss none of them! The keynote adress was given by Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic.

Freedom and Prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe
20 Years after the Collapse of Communism

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A major advance in humanity’s struggle for freedom, the collapse of communism has generally led to an increase in human well-being, with several ex-communist countries becoming free and prosperous. Yet the spread of liberty has been uneven. Many ex-communist countries lag behind and some have even reverted to political repression and economic dirigism.”

Listen to two great and independent minds, Christopher Hitchens and Russ Roberts, talk about why Orwells Anti-Totalitarianism still matters.

Watch Larry Diamond, co-director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, explain why he believes it can at the New York Democracy Forum:

Larry Diamond – “Can the Whole World Become Democratic?”

Watch this short documentary by Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow of the Wall Street Journal about Howard Buffett’s Crusade Against African Famine

“Warren Buffett’s son, Howard Buffett, takes on a surprising, little-known role on the front lines. Mr. Buffett travels from Ghana to Togo to Benin, trying to spread approaches to farming that he’s found successful on his Illinois farm.”

I am glad the Washington Post is so clear on this:

This Is For Real

“What’s happening on the streets of Tehran is a lesson in what makes history: It isn’t guns or secret police, in the end, but the willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives to protest injustice. That is what overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979, and it is now shaking the mullahs. This is politics in the raw — unarmed people defying soldiers with guns — and it is the stuff of which revolutions are made. Whether it will succeed in Iran is impossible to predict, but already this movement has put an overconfident regime on the ropes.”

An Iranian student tries to put into words how this latest freedom movement started:

New York Times: A Different Iranian Revolution

“The truth is, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The open-air parties that, for one week, turned Tehran at night into a large-scale civic disco, were an accident. People gathered by the tens of thousands in public squares, circling around one another on foot, on motorcycle, in their cars. They showed up around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and stayed together well into the next day, at least 3 or 4 in the morning, laughing, cheering, breaking off to debate, then returning to the fray. A girl hung off the edge of a car window “Dukes of Hazzard” style. Four boys parked their cars in a circle, the headlights illuminating an impromptu dance floor for them to show off their moves.
Everyone watched everyone else and we wondered how all of this could be happening. Who were all of these people? Where did they come from? These were the same people we pass by unknowingly every day. We saw one another, it feels, for the first time. Now in the second week, we continue to look at one another as we walk together, in marches and in silent gatherings, toward our common goal of having our vote respected. No one knew that it would come to this.”

…and there is only one way: you let them do it themselves! Watch Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto explain at the Heritage Foundation how we can integrate the poor into the world economy:

Is Economic Freedom For Everyone?

“Based on his groundbreaking research, renowned economist Hernando de Soto concludes that disorder and political instability, growing terrorist and criminal networks, and grinding poverty in many non-Western countries are due in large part to the fact that many of the world’s most fragile and dangerous states lack critical legal tools required to process information, identify opportunities, reduce risks, and bring people and assets together.”

Watch economist Alex Tabarrok explain at the TED Talks why he believes that “the best is yet to come” for our planet, if we only get a few things right:

How Ideas Trump Crisis

“The “dismal science” truly shines in this optimistic talk, as economist Alex Tabarrok argues free trade and globalization are shaping our once-divided world into a community of idea-sharing more healthy, happy and prosperous than anyone’s predictions.”

One of the most frightening and sadening realities in today’s Germany is how many people justify or downplay the crimes of the SED, the communist party which ruled Eastern Germany for decades.

Watch this touching documentary and confront those who deny or distort history:

Stasiland