By Fareed Zakaria
Some room for surprises still remains, but as things stand it is hard to see how the system will not win in Iran’s presidential election, writes Michael Axworthy in The Guardian.
“There is an impression, reinforced by the attacks on his handling of negotiations with the west in the televised debate, that Jalili has not run a good campaign. Velayati has appeared statesmanlike and would have Khamenei's full confidence in future nuclear negotiations, but may struggle to get the popular vote. Rouhani may do better in the election, but can Khamenei trust a Rafsanjani protege? The ruling group may get away with it this time, but they cannot assume they will be able to sustain power in conditions of continued sanctions-induced economic meltdown.”
“In the past decade or so, some of the best legal minds in the country, working for the Bush and Obama administrations, have reshaped a shadow system of court hearings and court orders that was originally created to serve as a check on the executive branch, but which, in practice, serves to justify its ever-expanding reach,” writes John Cassidy in the New Yorker.
“Built upon repeated amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the system is so secretive it is virtually impossible for the American public, journalists included, to know how it operates. About all we can say is that it rubber-stamps a large number of requests from the intelligence agencies, including one, revealed to us by Snowden, that enables them to sweep up the telephone records of anybody who has service provided by a Verizon subsidiary.”
By Dan L. Burk, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Dan L. Burk is Chancellor’s Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine. The views expressed are his own.
On June 13, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad, a closely watched case considering the patentability of human genes.
Numerous media headlines immediately after the decision’s release proclaimed that the court had found human genes to be unpatentable. But such characterizations are misleading, ignoring the court’s actual holding that some human genes – specifically, those isolated from natural sources – are unpatentable, while other versions created in the laboratory are in fact eligible for patents.
The case involved patent claims to two different types of DNA sequences. The first, dubbed genomic DNA or “gDNA” constitutes the molecule as it is extracted from human cells. The second, known as complimentary DNA or “cDNA” is created in the laboratory through a process known as reverse transcription. The question in the case was whether either or both such DNA molecules qualify as patentable subject matter.
By Dawit Giorgis, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Dawit Giorgis is a visiting fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The views expressed are his own.
Nigerian authorities last month arrested four Lebanese nationals in northern Nigeria on suspicion of having ties with Hezbollah. After a raid on one of their residences yielded a stash of weapons, including anti-tank weapons, rocket propelled grenades, and anti-personnel mines, the Nigerian State Security Services (SSS) announced that the compound was hosting a terrorist cell tied to the Lebanese Shia movement. The four accused have denied the charges, and are suing the government for wrongful detention. But even if they are found guilty, other Hezbollah nodes may well remain in Nigeria. The truth is that despite the thousands of miles that separate Nigeria from Lebanon, the country is faced with a growing threat from a Hezbollah doppelganger.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) is a jihadist organization with strong support among the 5 million Shia Muslims, by some estimates, living in Nigeria. Founded in the early 1980s, it has flourished with cash, training and support from Iran. Indeed, the roots of the IMN can be traced to the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution, when Nigerian students belonging to the Muslim Student Society traveled to the Islamic Republic and were trained with the goal of establishing an Iranian-style revolution in Nigeria.
By Milan Vaishnav, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Milan Vaishnav is an associate with the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. You can follow him @MilanV. The views expressed are his own.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has announced that its controversial son, Narendra Modi, will lead the opposition party into India’s national election next year. Modi has led the BJP to three consecutive election victories in the western state of Gujarat, earning notoriety both for his efficient governance as well as his controversial role in the state’s 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots. The question now is whether he can revitalize the main opposition party’s fortunes.
Modi’s detractors believe that Modi either connived to incite the anti-Muslim pogrom that claimed hundreds of lives, or at the very least condoned the bloodshed (although to date he has not been directly implicated by a court). Either way, although the BJP’s move stops short of formally projecting Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate, it effectively cements his position as “first among equals” within the party.
So, what has prompted the BJP to pick such a controversial figure to lead them into battle against the ruling Congress-led coalition? For a start, Modi’s rise represents a generational shift within the party – at 62, he is considered a youngster in India’s geriatric politics. But the party is also making a strategic bet that Modi’s popularity among the rank-and-file, his economic record in Gujarat, and the country’s desire for change will outweigh his potential downsides.
By Fareed Zakaria
Immediate reform is needed in Pakistan's tax system, writes Tariq Ali in the London Review of Books. "As elsewhere in the world, the rich barely pay any taxes since most of their income is hidden from view. A recent report by the Westminster Parliament’s International Development Committee found that only 768,000 Pakistanis paid any income tax last year – that’s 0.57 per cent of the population. In countries of a comparable level of development the figure is usually around 15 per cent. Unsurprisingly, 69 percent of National Assembly members paid no tax in 2011."
"All this uncollected money could lay the foundations for the proper state education and health service that was the main demand of the PTI."
Focusing on what people pay when they’re young, healthy and rich misses the fundamental point of health insurance, argues Ezra Klein on Bloomberg. "No one has a permanently fixed identity in the health system. The young become old. The healthy grow sick. The rich become poor. By highlighting what the luckiest group of people pays at a single moment in time, critics overlook the reason people need insurance in the first place. It’s like dismissing the need for a fire department based on the fact that your house hasn’t caught fire yet."
“As an academic, I'm just an amateur capitalist. Still, over the past 15 years I've started small ventures in both the U.S. and the U.K.,” writes Niall Ferguson in the Wall Street Journal. “In the process I've learned something surprising: It's much easier to do in the U.K. There seemed to be much more regulation in the U.S., not least the headache of sorting out health insurance for my few employees.
And there were certainly more billable hours from lawyers.”
“This set me thinking. We are assured by vociferous economists that economic growth would be higher in the U.S. and unemployment lower if only the government would run even bigger deficits and/or the Fed would print even more money. But what if the difficulty lies elsewhere, in problems that no amount of fiscal or monetary stimulus can overcome?”
By Yasmin Alem, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Yasmin Alem is an analyst on Iranian elections and domestic politics and author of Duality by Design: the Iranian Electoral System. The views expressed are her own.
Much of the Western media might already have crowned Saeed Jalili the likely winner of Iran’s presidential election on June 14. But his presumed frontrunner status isn’t necessarily based on the political realities on the ground, a close reading of the Iranian press, or the country’s opinion polls. Indeed, Western commentators may well be putting the cart before the horse as they handicap this race.
The hype surrounding Jalili’s candidacy isn’t new. Numerous reports over the past year have suggested that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary forces – known collectively known as the Basij – plan to endorse Jalili’s nomination. As early as last May, a number of websites in the Persian blogosphere announced their support for the candidacy of the “living martyr.”
Then, last month, Iran’s most important “voter,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described his ideal candidate as someone who is “brave and fearless in the international arena and in the face of arrogant powers, and who has planning, wisdom and foresight in the domestic arena, and believes in the resistance economy.”
By Stephan Richter, Special to CNN
For years, there had been troubling signs, not least the jailing of journalists (worse than in Russia!) But, generally speaking, Turkey still seemed to be successfully managing its modernization, blending religion with economic and social progress. Yet the outside world shouldn’t have been fooled, and the major barrier to Turkey’s continued development should have been clear – an arrogant and overbearing leader.
Faced with an eternally disorganized opposition, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supreme confidence was perhaps understandable. But his strictly majoritarian approach to governing has come back to haunt him, and his tone deafness – demonstrated by his dismissive response to the protests across the country – risks undoing the progress the country has made. Meanwhile, what was once seen as a demographic advantage – namely Turkey’s young population – may prove a political and social disaster as the country’s economy stumbles and unrest grows.
By Fareed Zakaria
While we were consumed by the crises of the moment – Turkey's riots, NSA snooping and Washington's "scandals" – something happened on June 7 and 8 that is potentially of more lasting importance. The presidents of the U.S. and China held their most significant and successful meeting in decades. It was a vital step forward in the crucial relationship – between the world's superpower and its fastest-rising power – that will shape the 21st century.
The summit at Sunnylands, in California, was the result of months of preparation, led on the American side by National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon. He explained to me that the two teams agreed to a format that was a real break with the past: "Usually at meetings like these, each leader brings a set of talking points. This creates a format that highlights problems. This was different: We didn't come in with a set of complaints. The leaders came with ideas about opportunities. It created a completely different discussion and dynamic."
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Hooman Majd, author of ‘The Ayatollah Begs to Differ,’ and Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about the presidential election in Iran taking place Friday.
Sadjadpour: I preface all my comments by saying that Iranian presidential elections tend to be unfree, unfair and unpredictable. But this time around, it’s more predictable than in the past and it’s increasingly looking like it’s going to be one man, one vote. And that man is Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader. And I think what he has done this time around is rig the candidates in advance, you know, eight candidates, all of whom he is OK with. I would compare it somewhat akin to having a presidential election in the United States in which only members of the Tea Party can participate.
So there is diversity amongst the candidates. There is competition in that all of them want to be president. But none of the fundamental issues in Iran have been raised, you know, why are we supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria? Why are we spending billions of dollars in Syria when we could be spending that money at home? Why are we pursuing this retrograde nuclear program, which has cost us over $100 billion in economic sanctions, in lost foreign investment when we could be pursuing a more conciliatory global approach. So those types of questions aren’t being raised in this election.
On June 16, CNN will be premiering "Girl Rising," which documents extraordinary girls and how education can change the world. But what are some of the biggest challenges facing women and girls across the globe today? Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, answers readers’ questions about the challenges women face in the Middle East, Asia – and here in the United States.
Can you explain a little about how your organization works?
First, I want to thank those who sent in such great questions. Our primary methodology is documenting human rights violations through the voices of victims – so our researchers talk to people directly affected by abuse, violence and discrimination to document first-hand what has happened to them and the impact it has on their lives. We also speak to witnesses of abuses and, where possible, the alleged perpetrators. Over 30 years, we have built up a strong reputation that allows us access to high-level policymakers – the people who can actually make change happen for the victims. So, we use our research, the voices and faces of the victims, to pressure governments to act to stop abuse.
The culture of blaming the victim in rape cases is still common in India, writes “Shifra Samuel” on Facebook. What can the country do to tackle the problem?
This is a global problem, and one of the biggest barriers that rape survivors, be they women and girls or men and boys, face if they report the assault. Human Rights Watch has documented in many countries the way the criminal justice system, including police officers, medico-legal examiners, prosecutors and judges do not believe victims, refuse to investigate their complaints, and deny them access to justice.
By William Young, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: William Young is a senior policy analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. He was formerly a senior officer with the CIA with extensive experience in the Middle East. The views expressed are his own.
Benghazi is back in the news. Late last week, clashes between protesters and militia claimed at least two dozen lives after demonstrators reportedly stormed a pro-government militia base. The latest violence is a reminder of just how unstable parts of the country remain – and how many questions remain unanswered as the United States seeks to ensure that there is no repeat of a tragedy that claimed the lives of four Americans last September.
The truth is that something has gone terribly wrong when two U.S. government officers end up making a last stand against overwhelming odds in a terrorist attack on an American diplomatic compound. Last year’s attack on the Benghazi consulate, reportedly also a CIA outpost, suggests the United States simply was not prepared to operate in such a high-threat environment and had not reassessed the changing nature of the danger.
Which country did Britain this week apologize to and offer $30 million in compensation for victims of colonial-era abuses in the 1950s? Which European river this week recorded its highest ever level?
Take our weekly quiz to find out.