World (OpenDemocracy) – An open civic space is a key ingredient of a successful and rights respecting democracy. Sadly, there’s a gaping hole between principle and practice. It’s no secret that democracy is facing a global stress test. Divisive politicians are…
India (GV) – Beginning this summer, the Indian government will controversially start requiring more than 100 million school children to show their Aadhaar (national identity) card in order to claim their lunches. Aadhaar is one of the world’s largest biometric identification systems. As of last month,…
India (GV) – Threats of violence, gang rape, and physical attacks are making news in India, after a 20-year-old student activist from New Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram college launched the #StudentsAgainstABVP protest. Gurmehar Kaur started the campaign after a recent altercation between protesters and the right-wing student…
This year’s lowlights from world politics, the culture wars, and the military-industrial complex.
Each year Conn Hallinan gives awards to individuals, companies, and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2016.
The Golden Lemon Award had a number of strong contenders in 2016, including:
General Atomics for its MQ-9 Reaper armed drone, which has a faulty starter-generator that routinely shorts out the aircraft. So far, no one can figure out why. Some 20 were either destroyed or sustained major damage last year. The Reapers costs $64 million apiece.
Panavia Aircraft Company’s $25 billion Tornado fighter-bomber that can’t fly at night because the cockpit lights blind the pilot. A runner up here is the German arms company Heckler & Koch, whose G-36 assault rifle can’t shoot straight when the weather is hot.
The British company BAE’s $1.26 billion Type 45 destroyer that breaks down “whenever we try to do too much with them,” a Royal Navy officer told the Financial Times. Engaging in combat, he said, would be “catastrophic.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on November 20 that Turkey did not need to join the European Union «at all costs». Instead, it could become part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), or Shanghai Pact. The Turkish leader said he had already discussed the idea with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organization founded in 2001 in Shanghai. Its members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages.
India and Pakistan are to become full-fledged members by the next meeting at Astana in 2017. Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are SCO observers. In 2013, Turkey got the status of SCO’s «dialogue partner». The other country with the same status is Belarus. Dialogue partners are entitled to take part in ministerial-level and some other meetings of the SCO, but do not have voting rights.
A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an under-reported and dangerous provocation.
When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, ‘disappeared’, a political embarrassment.
I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency. The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.
German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch has announced they’ll no longer be supplying weapons to countries they deem “undemocratic and corrupt,” many of the countries that fit this criteria are US allies.
The primary countries who will lose access to the variety of pistols, rifles and submachine guns produced by the company will be a host of non-NATO nations. This includes the governments of places like Brazil, Mexico, India and Saudi Arabia.
Part of the reason Heckler & Koch won’t be selling to these countries is tight restrictions on bidding for these contracts imposed by the German government. The company has seen their profits decline around 90% in the last year due to difficulty obtaining the contracts with governments not on Germany’s list of “green” nations.
With massive infrastructure plans threatening all tiger landscapes and risking recent gains in tiger conservation, Asian governments must adopt a sustainable approach to infrastructure planning and construction or drive tigers toward extinction, according to a new analysis by WWF.
Released at the halfway point of an ambitious global effort to double the number of wild tigers between 2010 and 2022, The Road Ahead: Protecting Tigers from Asia’s Infrastructure Development Boom highlights the unprecedented threat posed by a vast network of planned infrastructure across the continent.