What the world is reading

After US prosecutors shut down Liberty Reserve,the Costa Rica-based alternative-payment network and digital currency,James Surowiecki

Written by Sidheshwar Shukla | Published: June 4, 2013 12:15:33 am

The New Yorker

Why criminals trusted Liberty Reserve

After US prosecutors shut down Liberty Reserve,the Costa Rica-based alternative-payment network and digital currency,James Surowiecki claims the payment gateway was,“by all accounts the Internet’s largest for illicit and criminal transactions”. Since 2006,when it started operations,Liberty Reserve has handled more than 55 million transactions,“providing a key piece of the infrastructure for criminal activity on the Web by getting hundreds of thousands of criminals to trust it.” Walking the readers through the working of the Liberty Reserve,he says all you needed was a fake name and e-mail id. “It used a digital currency,” explains Surowiecki,adding that “what Liberty Reserve offered criminals was something that had,relatively speaking,the anonymity of cash (since all that identified you was an e-mail address) in the virtual world.” It worked,at least for a while—criminals were willing to trade real drugs in exchange for virtual currency,which was pegged equivalent to US dollar and could be redeemed through money exchangers. Liberty Reserve’s success shows that markets can flourish even when there is no government to supervise them,and no legal way to enforce the rules. “When self-interest is well-harnessed,apparently,you get honor even among thieves,” writes Surowiecki.

The Wall Street Journal

How to stop Assad

JACK Keane and Danielle Pletka say hitting Syria’s airfields and war planes can be a game-changer for the US and its allies. They reason that it is his use of fighter planes that is keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. His air force is capable of aerial bombardment,close air support to ground troops,aerial resupply and delivery of chemical weapons. “If the US wants to break the military stalemate,force Assad into political concessions or aid in his ouster,eliminating his air power should be the first order of business,” they write. Keane and Pletka chart out the strategy too: outfit moderate rebel units vetted by the CIA with man-portable antiaircraft missiles and strike key airfields and aircraft with cruise missiles and B-2 stealth bombers. “The Syrian people are not asking (the US) to fight for them. They’re asking us to help them fight for themselves. The question for Obama is not our capacity to join that fight. It is the will,” they write.

The Observer

The legend of Maracanã

WITH controversy dogging the historic Maracanã stadium in Brazil after a judge reversed her earlier decision that the stadium was unsafe to host Sunday’s England-Brazil friendly Scott Murray reminiscences on the rich history of the iconic stadium that will host the football World Cup final next year. The stadium has been synonymous with delays,Scott says,recollecting that when then Fluminense striker Didi scored the first goal at the ground in 1950,he was cheered on by builders “who were still beavering away pitchside as the game went on.” The most enduring memory of the stadium for Brazilians,however,is the inaugural World Cup final in 1950 that saw Uruguay beat the hosts. “A nation was plunged into manic depression and the legend of the Maracanazo—”the Maracanã Blow”—was born,” Scott writes. As legend has it,the game encouraged a nine-year-old Pele to promise his heartbroken father that he would win the World Cup for him one day. The game “also gave the Maracanã instant legend status and a tarnished,romantic,adult glamour which belied its 30-day age”.

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