Robert Spain

Paul Collier is an optimist. Following the contrails left in the wake of The Bottom Billion, Wars, Guns and Votes examines baser elements of society (poverty, violence and more) to bolster his conclusion that the spread of democracy is a sure way to lift billions out of the muck and mire of destitution and political turmoil. Robert Spain takes a look at the provocative hypothesis to find that, despite some misfires here and there, Collier appears to be onto something. 

Ed Hancox

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev covered a lot of ground in his annual state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, but the after-speech reports were dominated by talk of time zones, YouTube clips and the body language of Vladimir Putin.

Malalai Joya

In 2005, Malalai Joya became the youngest person ever elected to the Afghan parliament. Two years later, she was suspended for her denunciation of warlords and their cronies in government. Under constant threats of violence and death, Joya continues to expose anti-democratic forces in Afghanistan. Recently, she launched her new book, A Woman Among Warlords, in New York City. Here is the text of her urgent, emotional speech of that night. This essay is part of The Mantle's series Against Censorship.

Marianna Gurtovnik

"We resolved that these issues [of restoring the MDC Party's powers within Zimbabwe's unity government] must be dealt with now, in their totality before this Government becomes completely discredited in the eyes of the people and the continent" (Zimbabwe's prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai of

Shaun Randol

An email from the PEN American Center on the plight of recently arrested Liu Xiaobo says, "Recently we learned that Liu is going to be tried on charges that could result in a 15-year prison term.