World News in Brief

Iranian Elections Change Little

Iran’s mid-March parliamentary elections featured the usual repressive tactics employed by insecure dicators everywhere, with reformist candidades disqualified in large numbers ahead of the polls. While Ahmadinejad yes-men appear to have maintained a majority, there may yet be a silver lining to this news. Many view the ruling regime’s dismal economic management as its weakest link. If it continues unchecked, the combination of chronic stagflation and severe underemployment may eventually render explosive.

**China Faces Renewed Criticism Over Human Rights Record **

On March 10, Buddhist monks began peaceful protests against Chinese religious restrictions in Tibet. The protests quickly escalated into most serious wave of demonstrations in the region since the late 1980s. Throughout the week, Chinese security forced clashed violently with Buddhist monks and other ethnic Tibetans. Press coverage of the violence is highlighting China’s dismal human rights record in the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics.

“Brothers” Again

House Democracts challenging the renewal of a trade deal with Colombia would do well to practice the political “realism” they are so fond of accusing President Bush of lacking. Days after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe publicly resolved a tiff with his Venezuelan counterpart over the former’s incursion into an Ecuadorian rebel camp, Mr. Bush warned Congress of the consequences of rejecting the trade deal with one of America’s strongest Latin American allies. Such a move would cast America as an untrustworthy friend and an impotent ally across South America, increasing the attraction of Hugo Chavez’s anti-American rhetoric.

**Panic in U.S. Credit Markets Worsens **

Free markets create unmatched economic growth precisely beecause they are open and free. The inescapable flip side of that coin, however, is that participants in free markets are also free to go to extremes of fear or exhileration. For the last few months, U.S. financial markets have been seeing the “fear” flavor of that emotion. The collapse on March 16 of Bear Stearns, a major investment bank, may turn out to mark the worst depth of the panic, although of course only the upcoming days and weeks will tell the whole story.

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