Sunday, January 15, 2012

Romney, France, and Strait of Hormuz Oil (Link Round-Up 1/15/12)

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France and Turkey revive imperial rivalry over Mediterranean dominance
In the last decade, Turkey has witnessed record-breaking economic growth. It is no longer a poor country desperately seeking accession to the European Union. It has a $1.1 trillion economy, a powerful army and aspirations to shape the region in its image. As political turmoil paralyzes North Africa, Syria and Iraq, and economic meltdown devastates much of Mediterranean Europe, Turkey and France have largely been spared. And their growing rivalry is one reason France has objected to Turkey’s bid for European Union membership. 
Taken together with France’s efforts to create a European-Mediterranean Union, which Nicolas Sarkozy conceived in 2008 as a way to place France at the helm of the Mediterranean world, one thing has become obvious to the Turks: Paris won’t allow Turkey into the European Union or let it become a powerful player in a French-led Mediterranean region.
Medieval Jewish manuscripts found in Afghanistan
The documents describe a Jewish community that lived, permanently or temporarily, in a trading station between the Muslim conquest and the Mongol invasion. “We had some idea there were Jewish communities in Afghanistan, but this is the first time we have original documents written by them,” say Shaked, an expert in Judeo-Persian. 
It was a turbulent period, he says, when a sect known as the Karaite — which rejected the Talmudic or rabbinic tradition and accepted only the Torah as holy scripture — was active.
How important is the Strait of Hormuz, really?
Despite Iran's tough talk, it seems unlikely that the country would cut off what amounts to its own lifeline. Iran also relies on an open and fully operational Hormuz. As reported in the New York Times, Iran exports almost "2 million barrels of oil a day" through the Strait to countries like China. And the Iranian government, according to researchers at the U.S. Institute of Peace, receives 65% of its revenues through its oil industry; would Iran's shaky economy be able to take such a hit? Probably not.
The capitalist revolutions in Mitt Romney's lifetime
The debate will be driven by emotions, not facts. The former are easy to inflame; the latter tricky to pin down. Did Mr Romney create 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital, as he claims, or destroy more? Without knowing what would have happened in the absence of Bain’s intervention, one can only guess. Mr Romney says he made firms more productive, thus enriching America. His rivals—even Newt Gingrich, an unlikely sans-culottes—gripe that he enriched himself.

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