Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rich, Poor, Protests, and Housing (Link Round-Up 5/23/12)

Why a Chinese company is buying your movie theater
In 2011, the country's box office grew 35 percent to $2 billion, making it the second largest international market behind Japan, according to the MPAA. The country's central planners have even grander ambitions for down the line. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the government wants to more than triple the number of domestic movie screens, from 6,300 to 20,000. It's also backing native production companies with the hopes that, one day, their films will be able to compete globally with Hollywood's wares. Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, Dalian Wanda's chief executive says his company intends to control 20 percent of the global theater market by 2020.
Chinese company buys land near small Michigan town to build a "Chinese" city
A group of mainland Chinese known as Sino-Michigan Properties LLC paid $1.9 million for 200 acres of farmland on Milan city limits in purchases this year and in 2011, according to local officials and property records.

Milan (pronounced MY-lan) is located on U.S. 23 a half-hour from the Ohio border and a short drive from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — a destination favored by Chinese students.
George Lucas's fight for low income housing in his neighborhood
Tom Taylor, a member of the homeowners’ association board, said that responding to Mr. Lucas’s housing proposal was a delicate matter.

“I would say probably everybody has reservations about it, but nobody’s going to come out and say they don’t want it,” Mr. Taylor said.
TED talks about anything (but income inequality)
Anderson is using “partisanship” the same way idiotic centrist pundits like Thomas Friedman do: as a meaningless catch-all term for any political action or belief that they disagree with. “Nonpartisanship” is, as always, defined as “whatever I think is reasonable and correct.” Hanauer’s argument is certainly left-leaning, but it’s not “partisan” — the Democratic Party helped usher in our new Gilded Age, and its leaders do not have an anti-income-inequality platform, even if Democrats are more likely to speak out on the subject than Republicans.
There's effective protest, and then there's the anti-NATO demonstrations...
The protests that unfolded over the weekend, particularly over the last twenty-four hours, reflect the lack of a means-ends connection. Their listing from an identifiable objective, perceived lack of focus, and disparate employment of means are a function of not having an objective--even a grand one, like Gandhi's all-encompassing goal of an independent nation void of all forms of social violence--and thus being unable to calibrate their activities to that vision.
Liberals blew it in the Arab Spring 
The failure to organize a coherent political party has been the failing of liberal groups in many of the would-be democratic transitions of the last two decades. Boris Yeltsin helped bring down the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and was supported by many Russian liberals, but he never saw the need to create a political party and hoped to survive on his own charisma. Existing liberal groups squabbled among themselves and failed to form a single, durable party. Similarly, the young idealists in Ukraine who supported Viktor Yushchenko during Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution did not go on to create a cohesive political party, and the Orange coalition itself fell apart amidst infighting between Yushchenko and prime minister Iulia Timoshenko.

By contrast, Islamist parties throughout the Middle East have survived over the years despite severe repression because they understand how to organize. This was not just a matter of selecting cadres and promoting an ideology; they also lived among the poor and would often provide social services directly to constituents. Political parties prosper because they stand for something: not just opposition to dictatorship, but a positive program for economic growth, social assistance, or help for farmers. If you were to ask a typical liberal Egyptian activist what their plan for economic development was, I’m not sure you’d get a coherent answer.

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