February 26th, 2014
10:58 PM ET

What I'm reading: How Thailand's stand-off could end

By Fareed Zakaria

“Maduro’s call to meet opposition leaders this week is another opportunity to try to appease in private the anger Venezuelans express in public,” writes Raul Gallegos for Bloomberg. “Mindful of the people’s need to blow off steam the president even declared a public holiday on Thursday in a bid to send angry Venezuelans off for the Carnival vacations early. Still, in a last-minute decision, opposition leaders canceled yesterday’s scheduled talks with Maduro's government.”

“Opposition leaders may gain political capital from the current discontent. But only broad unrest among the poorest members of society could shake Maduro’s control. Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski made that clear when he declined to support the recent opposition led protests earlier this month: ‘Where are the poor in all of this? There’s none, and we won’t participate because we won’t fall for this, we won’t let ourselves be carried away’ by events.”

“How will Thailand’s stand-off end? Not like Ukraine, where protesters enjoyed the support of the West and the government foolishly employed extreme violence, undermining ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s own support base and his democratic credentials,” writes Joshua Kurlantzick for Businessweek. “Although Western countries do not openly support Yingluck, every Western embassy has called for respect for the democratic process. This essentially supports the government’s current position because protestors want to block elections and halt democracy. And though the government has put hard-liners in place, the history of the past 10 years shows that Shinawatra governments, though often venal, do not employ the harshest possible crackdown tactics in Bangkok. They are more attuned to their fragile prospects for survival than, say, Yanukovych or previous elite-led Thai governments such as the one that oversaw the killing of at least 90 people during pro-Thaksin protests in Bangkok in 2010.”

“Instead, Yingluck’s government probably will slowly strangle the protest movement.”

“About 25 percent of the U.S. scientific workforce consists of foreign-born scientists, in both industry and academia. But this statistic understates the crucial role these scientists play in sustaining U.S. preeminence in basic research,” argues Michael White in Pacific Standard. “A better number is 49 percent: foreign scientists fill nearly half of the mid-level positions that make up the backbone of the scientific labor force at U.S. research universities. These journeyman scientists, known as postdocs, are highly trained researchers who work in temporary positions for relatively low pay. Most higher-level jobs in scientific research require some postdoctoral experience after graduate school, so university faculty can easily staff their labs with well-trained, newly minted Ph.D.-holders who will work for a few years at a relatively low salary, in exchange for career mentorship. Together with the graduate students, postdocs handle the test tubes, write the computer code, and author many of the research papers. Without postdocs, much of the science produced in U.S. labs would not get done.”


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