Links for Friday

Mohamed Morsi’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Hesham Qandil, nominates the new Egyptian republic’s first cabinet.  The surprising thing is just how little changed: the “new” appointee as defense minister is Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the de facto head of state during the period of military rule and Mubarak’s defense minister since 1991.  Qandil also kept Momtaz al-Saeed as finance minister and Mohamed Kamel Amr as foreign minister, though neither has a history of high-level service for Mubarak.  Western governments likely breathed a sigh of relief–al-Saeed has won praise for his willingness to call on the IMF for financial support and advice and Amr gets along well with Secretary Clinton, in addition to espousing relatively moderate views on Israel.  To the revolutionaries, though, Tantawi is more or less unacceptable.  Watch this space.

Brookings releases an analysis reaching the rather obvious conclusion that “a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed…would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”  There just isn’t enough money available in ending deductions on rich taxpayers to make up for the rate cuts on the same.  I can’t emphasize it enough: if a politician says they want a tax reform that will “broaden the base,” they mean that they want to flatten the distribution of taxation, increasing effective rates on the poor and lowering them on the rich.  Incidentally, the response from the Romney campaign is to state not that the study is wrong but that its authors are Obama supporters.

From the ground in Tehran comes an interesting view (note: the Basij are the government’s plainclothes militia) on the prospect of war and the future of the government.  The piece doesn’t represent the whole of the Iranian people, or the whole of the opposition, but it’s important to keep in mind that Iran is much more than a belligerent president and an autocratic supreme leader–that the Iranian people are suffering under our sanctions and debating the same war we are.

The blogger Alexey Navalny (English here, albeit delayed by a few days), one of the most prominent figures in the “unofficial” Russian opposition (i.e., the part excluded from government, as opposed to the token opposition parties Putin allows to nominate presidential or parliamentary candidates) is arrested for, in theory, embezzling half a million dollars worth of timber.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Three recent articles on qat, the drug which takes 30 percent of Yemen’s water supply and 17 percent of its families’ income…

This is how the U.S. military plans for things like the long-term development of the situation in Syria…

Dick Lugar, long-time Indiana senator defeated in a May primary by tea partier Richard Mourdock, on partisanship and his opponent

A somewhat parochial view on the Bo Xilai purge (maybe China seems like a total “black box” to you because you only talk to dissidents?)…

A forceful piece on Romney’s Israel remarks–also see Diamond, Zakaria, and Acemoglu but keep in mind that it doesn’t matter any more whether politicians understand social science…