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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 8, Issue 32: August 7, 2006

  1. The Future of Cuba
  2. 9/11 Commission Chairmen on Whitewashing Cause of Attacks
  3. Dancer May Sue Lawyer for Extortion
  4. Privatizing Marriage?

1) The Future of Cuba

With Fidel Castro's hospitalization and assignment of power to younger brother Raul, Cuba's transition has begun. The question is, transition toward what? Will post-Castro Cuba adopt the Chinese model (political dictatorship with elements of market reform), the Polish model (hand-over of power to the opposition), or the Soviet model (Cuban-style glasnost and perestroika)?

In his latest weekly syndicated column ("Cuba's Transition"), Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa argues that Cuba probably won't adopt any of the above transition models. Instead, we are likely to see a power struggle among various groups: between old guard communists and younger apparatchicks; between those supportive of alliances with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and those who resent foreign meddling; and between those who favor maintaining the status quo and those who want to start moving toward democracy and free markets.

In his latest WALL STREET JOURNAL op-ed ("Cuba Libre?"), Vargas Llosa elaborates on the nature of the power struggle likely to grip the island after Castro's demise. One important tidbit has been overlooked by most of the press, Vargas Llosa notes. On June 9, Cuba's National Assembly passed a law giving government bureaucrats the power to impugn the decisions of their leaders if they contravene communist law. Raul Castro reaffirmed this hardline stance in a speech he made a few weeks later. However, Raul, who is also ailing, doesn't command the loyalty that has kept Fidel in power for 47 years -- which increases the uncertainty and makes a power struggle more likely to come sooner rather than later.

"Cuba's Transition," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (8/2/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1780
La transicion cubana
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1780

"Cuba Libre?" by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/2/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1781

"¿Cuba Libre?"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1781

LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=55

THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=61

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/cogp/

El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute
http://independent.typepad.com

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2) 9/11 Commission Chairmen on Whitewashing Cause of Attacks

Former 9/11 Commission chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton have a book coming out, WITHOUT PRECEDENT: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.

"The book usefully details the [Bush] administration’s willful misrepresentation of its incompetent actions that day, but makes the shocking admission that some commission members deliberately wanted to distort an even more important issue," writes Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty. "Apparently, unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that U.S. support for Israel was one of the motivating factors behind al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack."

Worse, the administration's continued denial that the terrorist attacks were "blowback," i.e., a reaction to U.S. foreign policy, has enabled it to push for policies likely to motivate more terrorist attacks: "Unfortunately, innocent Iraqis and Lebanese are unlikely to be the only ones afflicted with the damage from U.S. interventionism. Innocent Israelis and Americans have been, and will likely continue to be, the victims of policies that have been sold by President Bush on the basis of making the citizens of both countries safer and more secure, while the 9/11 Commission obediently has covered the administration’s tracks."

See "9/11 Commission Chairmen Admit Whitewashing the Cause of the Attacks," by Ivan Eland (8/7/06)
http://independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1785

Also see, "9/11 Report Omits Key Player -- Foreign Policy," by Ivan Eland (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 7/27/04)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1332

THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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3) Dancer May Sue Lawyer for Extortion

In her latest weekly column, Research Fellow Wendy McElroy discusses a fascinating legal development likely to make some overly aggressive lawyers think twice. Writes McElroy:

"What would you do if a lawyer threatened, 'Give me a million dollars or my client and I will publicly brand you as a rapist and destroy your life?' On July 27, the California Supreme Court expanded the range of choices possible to one man who was presented with that threat. The dance phenomenon Michael Flatley of Riverdance fame can proceed not only with a lawsuit for defamation against his accuser but also with one for extortion against her lawyer."

Just because a threat that constitutes criminal extortion is sent from the plaintiff's lawyer to the defendant's lawyer, the illegality of that threat is not cleansed, the court decided. Flatley's financial resources and fortitude all but guarantee that he will press his extortion lawsuit in the court.

See "Dancer’s Suit Puts Corrupt Lawyers on Their Toes," by Wendy McElroy (8/1/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1782

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=43

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4) Privatizing Marriage?

The institution of marriage could better meet a couple's needs if couples had more options than taking or leaving the terms of marriage offered in the one-size-fits-all version provided currently by government, according to Doshisha University Law Professor Colin Jones.

"Couples entering into marriage should be able to use a partnership agreement that is tailored to their own circumstances and aspirations, one that reflects the values and expectations that they themselves attach to marriage," Jones writes in "A Marriage Proposal: Privatize It" (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2006).

Ending the government's monopoly on marriage, Jones argues, would foster innovation in the design of marriage contracts, resulting in better legal and relationship counseling, better protection for children and spouses, and perhaps better marriages. Couples could select from a variety of marriage-document kits, and could form or join marital corporations -- organizations, including churches, whose members would share the same values about marriage -- which would likely arise to cater to the needs of different kinds of couples.

See "A Marriage Proposal: Privatize It," by Colin P. A. Jones (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2006)
http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=46&articleID=588

Also see, "Marriage Proposal: Why Not Privatize?" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 1/22/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1657

For more on marriage and the family, see
http://www.independent.org/issues/search.asp?subID=24

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