Thursday, December 21, 2006

Different corners of the world

Couple things of note going on in the world today. First, (and I'm absolutely stunned and even impressed), President Bush (apparently) is going to let the automatic declassification of millions of documents happen on December 31. This act was first put into effect under Clinton, a move which both saved taxpayers billions of dollars being stupidly spent and opened up a potential platinum-mine for historians. However, the secretive Bush administration had delayed the declassification twice. However, it looks like it's finally going to go through. Credit where credit's due. Clinton came up with the program, but at least Bush has finally stopped stonewalling it.

Also, there's a fascinating insight (especially for anybody who studies student activism in random countries or at random times in the 19th and 20th centuries) into the revival of the student movement in Iran. It's interesting to note (as someone who studies this stuff) how the mobilization against dictators and what students perceive as a lack of democracy is a common thread throughout time, even given the divergence of country, time, and context. (In the Brazilian case in the 1960s, the complaint about infrastructure of universities is strikingly similar to what it seems like is the case in Iran now). It will be interesting to see what role the Iranian student movement has (or doesn't have) in the coming months, and how the Ahmadinejad government responds. Keep your eyes on this in the coming months - given the past, it could be huge.

And in Bolivia, Mennonites (Bolivian Mennonites? Who knew?) are a bit fearful of Evo Morales's land reform proposals. I kind of sympathize with them, not because I'm anti-land-reform, but because Mennonites aren't exactly your rich-monopoly-holding-landlords (a la fazendeiros in Brazil) or extractive and damging foreign companies (a la banana companies in Latin America).