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Some countries fail spectacularly,with a total collapse of all state institutions,as in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal and the hanging of President Mohammad Najibullah from a lamppost

Written by Arundhati Chakravarty | Published: July 3, 2012 3:23:48 am

Foreign Policy

10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart

Some countries fail spectacularly,with a total collapse of all state institutions,as in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal and the hanging of President Mohammad Najibullah from a lamppost. Most countries that fall apart,however,do so not with a bang but with a whimper. Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson present a guide to 10 ways states fail by design. For example,North Korea’s economic institutions make it almost impossible for people to own property. Not only has North Korea failed to grow economically—while South Korea has grown rapidly—but its people have failed to flourish. “Trapped in this debilitating cycle,North Koreans are not only much poorer than South Koreans but also as much as 3 inches shorter on average than the neighbours from whom they have been cut off for the last six decades,” say Acemoglu and Robinson. The authors also analyse the “extractive” economic institutions of countries such as South Africa,Egypt,Austria,Russia and Somalia.

Slate

The Crazy Politics of Videogames in Iran

‘Attack on Tel Aviv’,‘The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of His Verdict’—these are products of the rapidly growing Iranian video game industry,something that Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei himself has apparently pushed for,writes David Sydiongco. Iranian authorities have complained in recent years that ‘enemies’ have targeted their country in a ‘soft and cultural war’ using illegal satellite channels,western novels,Hollywood films and computer games. All of this prompted the country to create its own popular-entertainment industry. The result: gaming-related charges of espionage and a death sentence. “We developed around 140 games with Islamic and Iranian contents which can compete with foreign products,” said Mokhber Dezfouli,secretary of Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution,in an interview with Fars News Agency. Iran even has a National Foundation of Computer Games and its own version of E3,the US’s largest annual video game conference.

The Guardian

Higgs Boson rumours fly

Has the God particle been detected? As soon as scientists at Cern revealed that they would host a seminar on July 4 to announce the latest results from its two main Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments,Atlas and CMS,physicists and bloggers started guessing. The long-awaited discovery of the Higgs Boson is expected to trigger a raft of Nobel prizes and launch a new era of physics. Alok Jha explains the excitement around the experiments,the rumours and implications of the discovery of the Higgs boson.

Even if the scientists report the signal for a new type of particle,it will take time to convince the scientific community that it is indeed the Higgs boson,or whether it is something else,perhaps something even more exotic that opens the door to new theories of physics. But the best advice for Higgs watchers would be to keep some champagne on ice for Wednesday,Jha writes.

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