Tag: Democracy

Kurds in Northern Syria See National Conference as Priority for 2017

A national conference to establish a federal state in Syria has to be held soon, as the crisis in the country is entering a new phase, the Consecutive Board of the Movement for a Democratic Society said in a statement obtained by Sputnik on Saturday.

The statement went further that federalism was considered the best democratic model for the Syrians, as it represented variety within unity.

“Achieving national unity and holding a national conference are a priority at this phase because we are passing through a critical stage that needs dialogue,” the statement said.

S. Koreans Demand President’s Removal in New Year’s Eve Protest

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52792826

Even on New Year’s Eve, large crowds of South Koreans gathered to join another rally demanding the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye, who’s determined to restore her powers through a court trial.

Carrying signs and candles and blowing horns, people packed a boulevard in front of an old palace gate that has been the center of massive but peaceful protests in recent weeks. Marches were planned near Seoul’s presidential palace and the Constitutional Court, AP reported.

Park’s supporters rallied in nearby streets, surrounded by thick lines of police.

US version of Democracy looks more and more like Central Asia’s

On the eve of the most important, most expensive election in the world, Central Asia’s rulers-for life have plenty of ammunition with which to dispute the value of a competitive domestic political system.

For long-time leaders in the post-Soviet region who champion a colourless and sometimes brutal authoritarian ‘stability’ over genuine electoral contests and basic individual rights, the current US presidential campaign, more than any other before, has demonstrated the divisive influence that populism and even simple political competition can have on a society.

Moreover, regardless of whoever claims victory on November 8, the citizens of the five “Stans” will be able to see something of their own countries’ systems in the new US President. The effect of that recognition might be a further erosion of the faith some of them once had in democracy in the traditional sense, and a deeper cynicism regarding the importance of public participation in politics.

Eight Ways to Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting

Throughout this trying election season, we’ve been told how much is at stake with our vote. But the success of any democracy depends on continuing to pay attention long after we cast our ballots.

So let’s pledge to strengthen our democracy with a few resolutions to focus our intentions and keep us moving forward over the next four years.

Peace in Colombia?

In a shock result, Colombians rejected a peace accord to end five decades of conflict. Does that mean a return to violence? Or can progressive forces build upon the innovations of the peace process? Tatiana Garavito takes stock.

The chief negotiator had been clear. If voters did not ratify the peace accord between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government, then the country would be left staring into an ‘abyss’. There was no Plan B.

And on the night of 2 October it looked as if that abyss had opened up as the ‘no’ vote won by the narrowest of margins – 50.2 to 49.8 per cent.

Whose revolution?

The Egyptian mass protests can only be classified as a reform movement that had hoped to create a liberal order. A modest goal that has degenerated into a full-spectrum military autocracy.

The mass protests that erupted in Egypt in 2011, and their aftermath, were dubbed ‘a revolution’ by both opponents and proponents.

The label, on the one hand, has been used to discredit the protests; described as a destructive force that is the reason for the abysmal state of the Egyptian economy. On the other hand, the same label has also been used to romanticize the struggle against the Mubarak regime and its successors.

Promised Democracy: The Future of Iraq

To build democracy in Iraq, the United States must focus on the next generation.

The current US presidential campaign debate on Middle East policy has focused disproportionately on the US response to the Islamic State (ISIS or IS). This series will focus instead on five alternative Middle East policy challenges facing the next president. This first part discusses the importance of the future of US policy toward Iraq.

Democracy is not illusive in Iraq. To help the war-torn country get there, however, the United States must finally engage in long-term thinking. In a departure from the policies of past administrations, the next president should support the democratic potential of Iraqi youth by exploring policy options geared toward the health of the country’s next generation.

What Has Unlimited Democracy Done to Us?

Given the widespread idiocy and mean-spiritedness of the 2016 presidential race, one of my favorite H.L. Mencken quotes has been making the rounds on social media:

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Though I am happy to see people exposed to Mencken’s invective in any dosage no matter how small, I worry many are not quite getting the point. I fear they may only be wading into the shallow end of the pool. So, allow me to now baptize them in the depths of Mencken’s political cynicism. Forgive me if you are reading this and have already been christened in these waters. And if so, I say bravo! Encore! I suppose it won’t hurt to be christened again. I try to do so weekly. One can never be too certain about one’s intellectual soul.

Introducing: How To Overthrow An Empire Video and Podcast Series

John Carico of Fifth Column And Eric Scott of Free Radical Media are proud to announce a new project focused on discussing tactics toward revolution. The format of the video show will be as follows: We will cover a tactic from it’s origins to contemporary times in a hard news style segment, then we will have a conversation, or multiple quotes from activists and forward thinkers on said tactic, then we will have a free from, sometimes roundtable, discussion about how that tactic can help us move toward liberation.

We will also have a podcast which will feature long form interviews.

Our first interview, with Frank Lopez of Submedia, is available here:

What We Need To Learn From Native Cultures About Climate Adaptation

When it comes to climate change, now is the time to react and develop defenses. Unfortunately, very few western resources are allocated to prepare for future environmental challenges. That’s not the case in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples, who’re already dealing with environmental changes. Recent months have seen adaptation techniques field tested in indigenous areas, for eventual use elsewhere. One of the many questions going forward, however, is whether progress itself is sustainable.

As important as the actual technologies is including as many voices as possible in climate conversations. Climate change affects humanity more than any war, or plague. In fact, grimmer predictions for the future suggest it may eventually cause those things. According to Glacier Hub, whereas indigenous peoples occupy 65% of earth’s land, they’re rarely included in climate debate.

What Is Left of the Left: Lessons from the Streets of the Philadelphia DNC

Sanders intended on starting a political revolution, and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams – they are continuing on without him. Behind this unrest, not just on the Left, but the Right as well, is a sense that the political machine is rigged in the favor of the capitalist class – the rich. This is something that seems to be almost an intuition, something that was felt by everyone I spoke with. The rise of the Internet and independent media, as well as the obvious crumbling of the system as a whole, has pulled back the curtain and the machinery has been revealed. In a time when the young are facing crippling debt with few job opportunities, when technology has allowed everyone to see the discrimination and brutality that people of color face in their communities in real time, when the prisons are owned and operated by private entities seeking to incarcerate for profit, when the entire world seems to be at war with itself, and when the planet is spiraling rapidly into an unfixable cycle of climate change, the only answer many seem to have is to embrace any potential, any real change. Not ideology; desperation – a sense, right or wrong, that this could be the last chance, and they seem motivated to seize it.

Very Turkish abduction from the seraglio and crocodile tears of the ‘West’

The whole experience was psychedelic, even for seasoned observers of Turkish politics, most of whom were first-hand witnesses or indeed victims of the periodic interventions of the “guardians of the republic” – in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997 and, for that matter, 2007.

Fighter jets and helicopters flying over Istanbul and Ankara, dropping bombs on police headquarters and the parliament, sporadically opening fire on civilians; tanks and platoons occupying central locations, among them the two bridges on the Bosphorus, the Ataturk airport, TV stations and General Staff headquarters; a president defying the mutiny on Facetime and calling the “nation” to take to the streets; a quick denouement which left 265 dead, 1440 wounded and an even stronger “strongman” behind.

Failure in Youngstown, Pt. 2: Unelected Executive Power

On 12 February, 13 employees of the Mill Creek MetroParks, one of the largest municipal park systems in the United States, were dismissed without notice. These employees were not permitted to gather their belongings or to speak with their co-workers, and were escorted off the premises by MetroPark police officers. Two of these employees, Ray Novotny and Keith Kaiser, were department heads and had worked as public servants at Mill Creek for over 30 and 27 years, respectively. This is an ongoing series to examine the causes of these firings, and what the culture of the Mill Creek MetroParks says about local government.

You can view the original Pontiac Tribune article on this issue here.

Much of the controversy surrounding the February firings, as well as numerous other issues relating to Mill Creek Metroparks management, has centered around Executive Director Aaron Young, who was hired in January 2015. The circumstances surrounding Young’s appointment were themselves controversial, and are partially the subject of Part One in this series. This installment will focus on the mercurial character of Aaron Young, his leadership, and interactions with members of the community in order to help show why broad executive powers should not be vested in unelected officials.