Democracy

Kidnapped democracy: how can citizens escape?

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José Saramago’s parable Seeing (2004) explores how irrationality and stupidity become manifest when political decision-making is taken “hostage” by financial powers. Ramón A. Feenstra The Conversation The Nobel Prize-winning author warns that contemporary politics is no longer able to resist the pressure of economic power. This is because we live in amputated and kidnapped democracies that no longer protect citizens’ interests. Unsurprisingly, this concern has become much more generalised among citizens in recent years. Journalists, activists, politicians and… The term ... Read More »

“Velvet Revolution” Takes Armenia into the Unknown

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Massive street protests have brought down Armenia’s long-serving leader Serzh Sargsyan. Meanwhile, tensions persist in the unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Both Armenia’s new leadership and Azerbaijan must pay attention to avoid triggering a new conflagration along that territory’s volatile front lines. Olesya Vartanyan ICG When opposition Member of Parliament Nikol Pashinyan led a knot of marchers through northern Armenia in April to protest the return to power of long-serving leader Serzh Sargsyan, no one guessed his campaign would ... Read More »

The End of the Democratic Century

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Autocracy’s Global Ascendance By Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa Foreign Affairs At the height of World War II, Henry Luce, the founder of Time magazine, argued that the United States had amassed such wealth and power that the twentieth century would come to be known simply as “the American Century.” His prediction proved prescient: despite being challenged for supremacy by Nazi Germany and, later, the Soviet Union, the United States prevailed against its adversaries. By the turn of the ... Read More »

An Open Letter to H.E. Mr. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations

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Published in Agora Dialogue on 24 April 2018 OPEN LETTER Date: 24 April 2018 Dear Secretary-General Re: The ill-fated ‘Annan Plan’ submitted to ‘separate, simultaneous referenda’ held on 24 April 2004 Today marks the passage of 14 years since the United Nations oversaw what it described at the time as two ‘separate simultaneous referenda’.  These ‘referenda’ were held on 24 April 2004 in what the United Nations also described at the time as ‘the two sides’, i.e. the area of the ... Read More »

More Than 100 Retired Military Leaders Raise Concerns About CIA Nominee Gina Haspel

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Over 100 retired military leaders have joined the list of outside groups voicing concern about President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. Maya Rhodan Time In a letter to members of the U.S. Senate, 109 retired generals and admirals said they were “deeply troubled” by the prospect of Gina Haspel being named CIA director given her links to the former U.S. torture program. “We devoted our lives to the defense of our country. We know that fidelity ... Read More »

Opinion: Corruption charges have Council of Europe teetering on the brink of irrelevance

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When individual members would rather illegally accept money and gifts instead of fighting corruption, there’s no need for the Council of Europe anymore, says DW’s Max Hofmann. Max Hofmann DW Officially, the Council of Europe is meant to safeguard democracy and the rule of law. Given that mission, many people are already asking why countries such as Russia and Turkey even have a seat at the table. Most observers in Strasbourg say it would be pointless to throw them out, ... Read More »

What Greek tragedy illuminates about James Comey

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Once upon a time, there was a prominent, powerful man in government who cared deeply about integrity and following the rules. Victoria Pagán The Conversation He said, “You cannot know a man completely, his character, his principles, sense of judgment, not till he’s shown his colors … Experience, there’s the test.” Leaders have a sacred obligation to those they rule, he said. “As I see it, whoever … refuses to adopt the soundest policies but fearing someone, keeps his lips ... Read More »

UK push into the Pacific to counter China

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Exclusive The United Kingdom is vowing to expand its role in the Pacific in a push for “free speech and democracy” alongside other Commonwealth nations at a time of growing concern over China’s influence in the region. David Crowe The Sydney Morning Herald The ambitions not only include new diplomatic posts and aid funding but the idea of encouraging commercial projects and possibly infrastructure funding. Britain’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, said the UK’s departure from ... Read More »

Trump-Russia investigation

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The key questions answered Everything you need to know about the inquiry into Russian hacking, alleged collusion and Donald Trump, plus the latest news By Tom McCarthy and Sam Morris The Guardian Bigger than Watergate? Or a transparent sham? Whatever else it may be, the story of Donald Trump and Russia comes down to this: a sitting president or his campaign is suspected of having coordinated with a foreign country behind the scenes of the… Trump strongly denies all wrongdoing ... Read More »

Divisions in EU becoming like a ’civil war,’ France’s Macron warns

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French President Emmanuel Macron warned on April 17 that divisions between democracy and authoritarianism in Europe were becoming like a “civil war”. STRASBOURG – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg that set out his vision of a reformed EU, Macron called on the bloc to resist the siren song of populism. The young French leader’s call to arms comes after eurosceptic populists won elections in Hungary and Italy, and as Brussels confronts Poland’s right-wing ... Read More »

Would America vote for Oprah for president?

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America has had a black president. Is the country ready for a black president who is also a woman? Chryl N. Laird The Conversation Speculation about the candidacy of Oprah Winfrey makes clear that some voters think so. Granted, Winfrey says she won’t run, but friends, commentators and many in the Twitterverse are pushing for her to reconsider. As a scholar of race and politics, I’m curious about whether Oprah will change her mind about running – and even more ... Read More »

Julian Burnside: “I worry where our democracy is going”

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Human Rights Arts and Film Festival kicks off at five cinemas across Melbourne on May 3. On May 12, the festival is screening the world premiere of Judy Rymer’s Border Politics, wherein human rights lawyer Julian Burnside AO QC travels the globe to compare how different nations are responding to the refugee crisis. Nick D TimeOut Burnside, 68, is a Melbourne-based commercial litigation barrister who became involved in human rights causes after 2001 when he was asked to act pro bono in ... Read More »

Trial by judge alone may not be the answer to giving high-profile defendants a fair hearing

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In April 2013, Adrian Bayley pleaded guilty to Jill Meagher’s murder. As the case was the subject of heavy media coverage, there would have been few Australians who were not well aware of it. John Eldridge The Conversation It’s worth pondering, then, what might have happened had – as was possible – Bayley pleaded not guilty. Would it have been possible to empanel a jury that could bring a fair mind to the assessment of Bayley’s guilt? If not, what ... Read More »

‘This is my country’: how a Melbourne suburb defied the far-right to welcome refugees

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The settlement of refugees in Eltham sparked far-right protests. But locals presented a different vision of Australia Denham Sadler The Guardian Οn a dreary Sunday afternoon in late March, the sort that provides a harsh lesson on what Melbourne weather is capable of, a Syrian refugee talks through an interpreter about her escape from the conflict that has torn her… Amena*, who along with about 100 other refugees from Syria and Iraq settled in the suburb of Eltham on the outskirts of north-east ... Read More »

Pressure for Syria vote grows as Nicola Sturgeon questions peace effort

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Pressure is building on the government to allow a parliamentary vote on Saturday’s military strikes on Syria, with Labour and the SNP demanding a full debate when the House of Commons returns on Monday. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for debate on a ‘War Measures Act’ that would limit the government’s power to take military action without the approval of MPs. And the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said western allies had failed to exhaust all ... Read More »

Somaliland poet jailed for Somalia reunification poetry

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A court in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has sentenced a young poet to three years in jail. BBC Nacima Qorane was found guilty of bringing the state into contempt by advocating for Somaliland to reunite with Somalia. Pressure groups in Somaliland said Ms Qorane’s basic human rights have been violated. Somaliland self-declared independence in 1991, but is not recognised internationally. Ms Qorane was arrested in January after returning from the Somali capital Mogadishu, where prosecutors said she had recited ... Read More »