I’ve been to Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, but not to the rest. Based on the pictures, I think my favorite is the Cafebreria El Pendulo in Mexico City. Anytime I can combine passions (coffee and reading) it can’t be a bad thing.
Sunday’s Political Pressures in West Africa
- Senegal did not fall apart after the elections yesterday, but the presidential race is still unresolved. Unofficially, incumbent President Wade will have to square off with former PM Macky Sall (BBC News).
- Also on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe was in Mali, admonishing them to negotiate with Tuareg rebels (Reuters).
- Finally, Niger’s government warned its people they could be targeted if they travel to Libya. Niger is refusing to extradite Gaddafi’s son Saadi. Some of the same instability with rebels that Mali is experiencing may also be a problem for Niger. (Reuters).
New feeds I’ve started monitoring recently (only the first one of these is really “new”)
Africa and Development
- Walter Russell Mead (h/t Robert Kelly at The Duck of Minerva)
- Senegal is at a “critical historical juncture” today, writes Alpha Diedhiou. President Wade’s “unfortunate” (that was the U.S. Ambassador’s word for it, according to NPR this morning) decision to stand for reelection has challenged the peace of this otherwise stable and solid democracy. The poll is on Sunday.
- “The BRICS want a BRIC Bank”. The proposal is said to originate with India. Also significant is that South Africa is part of this. It can been be seen in light of the BRICS’ desire to counter the weight of the West in the IMF and World Bank.
- On Somalia:
- Sahel Blog has a nice “Roundup of Reactions to the London Conference on Somalia.” Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula sums up the real worry” “We hope it’s not going to be the usual talking shop”.
- Duncan Green plugs Getting Somalia Wrong. I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but it does look useul.
- Liberia: “Kill the Gays” Bill Spreading. Obviously, this is not good.
I meant to write up a summary of the recent summit activity on the continent but never got around to it. Fortunately, Alex Thurston at the Sahel Blog, did it for me: “Summits around the Continent”.
More reasons not to like direct democracy
I have thought for some time that California’s proposition system is once of the worse things that happened to that state. When I lived there my general rule was to vote against all propositions because the system is plain bad. The propositions themselves are written poorly, unnecessarily tie the hands of the state legislature (making them increasingly dysfunctional), and are decided by an electorate that really has no clue what they are voting on. Representative democracy is a much better (albeit imperfect) way to make law as it enables individuals to specialize. Unfortunately, California is not the only place that has such a system…
- Sarkozy apparently thinks that offering voters popular referendums will make him popular: “California on the Seine” (FP)
- But as Business Insider noted this week, the outcomes of such referendums can be quite odd: “10 Weird Examples of the Swiss Referendum System in Action.” They have added work-free holidays, disallowed the construction of new minarets, but rejected a ban on fighter jet noise in tourist areas.
I’m still following the incredible arrival of Jeremy Lin into the NBA. But some crazy stuff has been going on around him. Here SNL tackles the hypocrisy of the stereotyping surrounding Jeremy Lin.:
SNL: Linsanity (requires Flash)
– Thanks, Kathy for the link!
OK, I know this plays into a certain type of stereotyping, but I couldn’t resist. My times doing research and teaching in Switzerland taught me this is one clean country. And now, they plan to clean space! I would trust them on this. They seem to have a comparative advantage in keeping places clean!
From the Economist: “The Disposable Academic”. Think twice before going for that PhD! Similar research has suggested there is an overproduction of political science PhDs.
Business Insider has links to the “most shocking” stories of 2011. Especially surprising is “the economics of killing someone” in China.
There is not a lot of information about this yet, but fingers are already being pointed towards Islamist groups. A concern is that this could be influenced by factors besides the sectarian violence that, in Nigeria, typically has more domestic roots.
It’s not every day that we get to witness the birth of a new nation. Congratulations!
As I posted recently (“The Right to Access Your Consulate”), Humberto Leal was scheduled for execution by the state of Texas yesterday. Despite appeals from a large number of external actors (the UN, Obama, and apparently 4 of our current Supreme Court justices), Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to continue with the execution. As I stated in that previous post, at issue is the right of a foreigner to get assistance from their own country’s consulate (and to be told of this right) when arrested. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that codified this right has been a relatively straightforward deal for most countries. We seem to be creating most of the problems (and of course, the fact that we allow for the death penalty in some states, while many other countries do not, brings more attention to our cases).
It is now up to Congress to pass legislation to make sure that we no longer run afoul of our international legal obligations. Fortunately, there is a bill in the pipeline. Let’s just hope that Congress acts soon.