Five Best Friday Columns
Rebecca Dana on Current TV, Paul Krugman on budget bickering, Jeremy Warner on robotic economic growth, Tim Padgett on Venezuela's ailing leader, and William Pesek on India's rape case.
Rebecca Dana in The New Republic on Current TV Al Jazeera has had a hard time breaking into the crowded world of American cable television. "The Doha-based network financed by the Emir of Qatar has not been able to win carriage from any major U.S. cable providers," writes Rebecca Dana. They had hoped to find stateside eyeballs by purchasing Al Gore's flagging Current TV, but following news of the deal Time Warner Cable promptly dropped Current from its offerings. Dana hopes they find providers willing to carry the new venture, though, because, "Al Jazeera America’s leadership seems to believe that with 'large-scale resources' and 'quality news programming,' it is now poised to conquer cable, a strategy that has not worked for CNN in decades."
Paul Krugman in The New York Times on budget bickering Disagreements across the aisle about budgeting run deeper than the temporarily averted fiscal crisis, writes Paul Krugman. He argues that budgeting priorities reflect a wider showdown between America's haves and have-nots. Democrats scored a "tactical victory" this time, Krugman thinks, since no benefit cuts came about. "But the G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit—which could cause a financial crisis," Krugman writes. "And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions."
Jeremy Warner in The Telegraph on robotic economic growth Some worrywart economists have started talking about "the end of growth," a permanent post-recession slump that the West won't ever be able to pull itself out of. Humans might not be capable of that, but robots could do the trick, argues Jeremy Warner. "The potential productivity gains from smart machines driven by artificial intelligence – or to use the more emotive term, robots – are at least as great as any of the other revolutions," Warner writes, invoking history's great leaps forward in agrarian, industrial, and IT technology.
Tim Padgett in Time on Venezuela's ailing leader What will happen to Venezuela if its harsh leader Hugo Chavez—who appears to be quite sick following a cancer operation—dies? Venezuelans looking to the country's muddled 1999 constitution for answers are thinking hard about one of its sentences, writes Tim Padgett: "When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election … shall be held within 30 consecutive days." Does this apply to Chavez's own situation? "Even if Chávez never returns," Padgett writes, "the bitter polarization that has marked his presidency looks likely to remain. That’s at least clearer than his constitution is."
William Pesek in Bloomberg View on India's rape case The world has been closely watching the large, frustrated protests spreading through India in the wake of a fatal gang rape in New Delhi. And some countries have been manipulating the news, says William Pesek. "Chinese media, not known for chronicling human-rights abuses at home, were all over the lethal attack," writes Pesek. "Everything from a surge in demand for gun permits among women to a dysfunctional penal system to how democracy is failing India’s 1.2 billion people got enthusiastic coverage in China ... That was until a vast crowd staged protests in the Indian capital. China’s censors also sprung into action to clamp down on Twitter-like microblogs buzzing about young, urban Indians finding their political voice and demanding change."