Paul Krugman in The New York Times on elections in austere Italy The exit polls from Italy's elections are predicting a victory for Pier Luigi Bersani and his center-left Common Good party, and that result largely reflects how Italians feel about austerity, argues Paul Krugman. "When Europe began its infatuation with austerity, top officials dismissed concerns that slashing spending and raising taxes in depressed economies might deepen their depressions," he writes. "On the contrary, they insisted, such policies would actually boost economies by inspiring confidence. But the confidence fairy was a no-show." At least they didn't welcome back Berlusconi, who "would destabilize not just Italy but Europe as a whole."
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Mathew Ingram in paidContent on Google re-upping a nasty NASCAR video A group of NASCAR spectators were injured over the weekend by flying debris from a nasty crash. Of course it was all caught on camera, and you better believe someone uploaded the gruesome footage to Youtube. NASCAR tried to have the footage taken down, but Google defended attendees' right to post personal videos of the incident on Youtube. And they did the right thing, argues Mathew Ingram. Because even if the footage is upsetting, NASCAR shouldn't be able to censor first-hand accounts of the accident by invoking copyright. "The fact that Google acted quickly to put the content back up is admirable, but it shouldn’t have to do this, and there are no doubt many other important cases in which it hasn’t that don’t involve something as attention-getting as a race-car crash.
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Tom Gross in National Post on the UN and modern-day slavery The United Nations Human Rights Council began its annual session in Geneva today, but Tom Gross wonders why the UNHRC is appointing Mauritania, "an Islamic republic where imams often use their interpretations of Sharia law to justify forcing the darker-skinned black African Haratine minority to serve as slaves to the Arabic Moor population," as its vice-president this year. Gross writes, "When Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and other dignitaries assemble in Geneva to open the annual session of the UNHRC today, they might want to ask why ... Mauritania, instead of being held to account, has been appointed the organization's vice-chair."
Gordon Chang in Forbes on Foxconn's exit from China Foxconn Technology Group, the manufacturing company used by Apple to make iProducts in China, has become a symbol for the West's relationship to Asian labor. But Foxconn founder Terry Guo could be moving his business out of China soon, argues Gordon Chang, who sees evidence of more factories coming to Brazil and — in a complete reversal of today's East-West labor chain — the United States. "Why should Gou leave the country that made him rich and famous?" Chang asks. "There are, for starters, spiraling wages, worker discontent, forced unionization, tough environmental enforcement. But the big factor today — and the one no one thought about three years ago — is political risk," such as Beijing's increased hostility with Taiwan and Japan. "As Beijing seeks to use its economic leverage to obtain geopolitical objectives, companies will have no choice but to reduce their China exposure. This comes at a time when economic factors are already pushing foreign businesses away."
Timothy Lee in Ars Technica on Comcast as a threat President Obama's former advisor Susan Crawford says that Comcast threatens Internet freedom, and will only pose more of a threat after acquiring NBC Universal outright. Timothy Lee sees her point, but argues that she may be misdiagnosing the media landscape and its effects on the open Internet. "The sorry state of the residential broadband market is a genuine problem that calls for creative policy solutions, but the wireless, media, and online sectors of the economy are more competitive—and more consumer-friendly—than she admits," he writes. "Crawford's over-diagnosis of what's wrong with the modern communications sector leads her to go overboard with her policy proposals. Rather than advocating a focus on constraining the power of broadband duopolists, she calls for a broad increase in government involvement in the communications industry. That approach didn't work very well the last time we tried it in the mid-20th Century. And it would likely work even worse today."