April 23, 2015

The Stock Market Explained Simply: Finance and Investing Basics - Animated Film (1957)

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Warren Buffett Biography

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Vladimir Putin's Long Shadow - the fifth estate

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He casts a long shadow over globe. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has outlasted three American presidents and is on track to stay in power until 2024. His incursions in Georgia, the Crimea and Ukraine have rattled the West, while his crackdowns inside Russia have riled his democratic opponents.

But a joint investigation by the fifth estate and PBS’ Frontline reveals an even darker side to one of the most powerful leaders in the world: Allegations of criminal activity dating as far back as his early days as a top official in St. Petersburg; ties to organized crime and money-laundering activities; and a secret personal fortune said to be in the billions.

“Putin’s Long Shadow” also raises disturbing questions about the role the Russian security services played in four apartment building bombings in Moscow and other cities in 1999 that killed nearly 300 people – a tragedy Putin blamed on terrorists and used to cement his power.

Host Gillian Findlay talks to a senior police officer who tried to arrest Putin on corruption charges; an investigator who was jailed for asking too many questions about the apartment bombings; and Russian businessmen who detail the levels of corruption and collusion.

Frontline The Fight For Yemen Documentary 2015

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Yemen is being torn apart by a toxic political crisis between a weak national government and a rebel movement known as the Houthis, who have taken over the capital of Sanaa and ousted the president. The resulting power vacuum has allowed extremists groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS to expand their influence in the country.

Amid the escalating turmoil, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia has launched a military campaign against the Houthi rebels, raising the odds that the fight for Yemen could soon spillover into a much larger regional and sectarian war.

April 11, 2015

Why Petrostates Make Bad Allies (Emma Ashford)

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In what the Obama administration describes as a “years-long” coalition effort to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, the United States has reentered conflict in the Middle East. The White House heralds its close cooperation with Arab allies, including a number of petrostates such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, describing their cooperation as vital to the success of the campaign.

But petrostates are unlikely to be good allies for the U.S. campaign in Iraq and Syria. The reliance of those countries on oil and gas revenues distorts both foreign policy decisions and their implementation. First, petrostates have weak foreign policy institutions, producing policy that is of poor quality and strongly driven by personalities. Second, the vast flow of oil income enables the states to back nonstate actors in conflicts, but their weak civil service cannot control the flow of arms or funds. Third, oil income also enriches private citizens, some of whom directly fund terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Thus, largely through ineptitude, those states have helped to foster Syria’s civil war, indirectly facilitating the rise of ISIS.

The idiosyncrasies of oil-rich states make them poor partners for the United States in this instance and in future conflicts. As allies, petrostates are especially likely to draw America into unnecessary and intractable conflicts.

In particular, Washington should largely disentangle itself from the Saudi alliance and from reliance on Saudi intelligence and diplomatic services. Keeping Saudi Arabia at arm’s length will help to minimize involvement in Middle East conflicts that are not vital to U.S. interests.

Video produced by Caleb O. Brown and Austin Bragg.