Monday, June 24, 2013

'Tyrannies Across The World Crushing Dissent' - Is Democracy Dying?

Tyrannies Across The World Are Crushing Dissent. Is It Possible That Democracy Is Dying?

The truth is that democracy is ailing - not least here in Britain. Many people despise and distrust politicians. 
They doubt that the energy expended on trekking to a polling station once every five years will benefit them or their societies. 
A few years ago, Portuguese Nobel prizewinner Jose Saramago wrote a brilliant allegorical novel about democratic corruption, entitled Seeing. It was set in a nameless modern city during an election campaign, where three-quarters of the voters are so disgusted by their politicians that they returned blank ballots. 
The government, bewildered and furious  about the mass protest, orders a rerun: this produces 83 per cent of blank papers. 
The writer's point, of course, is that modern politics has become meaningless to most people. It has simply descended into a struggle for power among small and unrepresentative elites, devoid of convictions or integrity, who ignore or defy the views of the people who elect them. 

Without a free Press, a tax system that forces citizens to think about what is being done with their money, an independent judiciary and an effective and uncorrupt civil service, democracy does not work.
Hitler showed back in 1933 that if a would-be tyrant can win just one election, he can bribe or fiddle the results of every poll thereafter. 
Once a ruthless man or woman holds the levers of power, he can make sport with polls. The story becomes much more alarming when we see politics in deep trouble on our own doorsteps. 
In the U.S., sensible people talk and write openly about a democratic crisis.

Accountability seems chronically lacking. 
The EU and its distant, all-powerful bureaucracies feeds more public disillusionment. Almost every day, decisions about our lives are being made without the consent of Parliament, and often against its wishes. 

The demonstrations in Brazil began after a small rise in bus fares triggered mass protests. Within days this had become a nationwide movement whose concerns had spread far beyond fares: more than a million people were on the streets shouting about everything from corruption to the cost of living to the amount of money being spent on the World Cup.
In Turkey, it was a similar story. A protest over the future of a city park in Istanbul – violently disrupted by police – snowballed too into something bigger, a wider-ranging political confrontation with prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has scarcely been brought to a close by last weekend's clearing of Gezi Park.

Unlike the protest movement of 1968 or even the end of Soviet influence in eastern Europe in 1989, these are movements with few discernible leaders and often conflicting ideologies. Their points of reference are not even necessarily ideological but take inspiration from other protests, including those of the Arab spring and the Occupy movement. The result has seen a wave of social movements – sometimes short-lived – fromWall Street to Tel Aviv and from Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro, often engaging younger, better educated and wealthier members of society.

As the Economist pointed out last week, while mass movements in Britain, France, Sweden and Turkey have been inspired by a variety of causes, including falling living standards, authoritarian government and worries about immigration...

What does ring true, however, is his assertion that a driving force from Tahrir Square to Occupy is a redefinition of notions of both what "freedom" means and its relationship to governments that seem ever more distant. It is significant, too, that many recent protests have taken place in the large cities that have been most transformed by neoliberal policies.

The air force struck what it said were two arms depots in the center of the Gaza Strip, a rocket launching site and a terror activity site in the southern part of the Strip overnight Sunday.
All targets were accurately hit, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.

"Code Red" sirens were heard in the regional councils of Rahat, Netivot, Bnei Shimon and Lahavim.
The rockets are thought to have been fired by Islamic Jihad but no organization has taken credit for the attack yet.
The rockets have shattered a lengthy period of calm enjoyed by civilians in southern Israel.
Early on Wednesday morning, "Code Red" warning sirens sounded in Ashkelon and surrounding areas.

"Yesterday, rockets were fired against our communities and we immediately responded," the premier said. "My policy is to harm anyone who is trying to hurt us."
Netanyahu said Israel would not permit a trickle of rocket fire to go unanswered. "Nothing will be allowed to drip or accumulate," he said.

"We have acted and will continue to act against threats that are near and far," Netanyahu said. "I believe that Jews must be able to defend themselves, by themselves, and to act with determination against any enemy that tries to harm us."
Earlier on Monday, former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel Radio that the government should seriously consider the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket fire on the western Negev.
Liberman, who currently heads the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that if Israel were to allow the status quo to persist, Hamas would amass a fleet of aircraft and missiles that would threaten populous coastal towns like Tel Aviv and Netanya.
"Hamas has no intention of reconciling with a Jewish presence in Israel," the chairman of the Yisrael Beytenu party said. "So we need to return to the Gaza Strip and conduct a thorough cleaning."
When asked if his position was supported by the prime minister and defense minister, Liberman said he did not know.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh responded to Liberman's comments, saying that the Gaza leadership "is not afraid of Israeli threats."
"These threats will not weaken the resolve of the Palestinian people," Channel 2 quoted Haniyeh as saying at a press conference. "We are fulfilling our responsibility to maintain security," he added.

A major uptick in sectarian violence which has killed about 2,000 people since April 1 has sparked fears that Iraq is heading for a full-scale civil war that could draw in powerful regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.
There are already signs that the current conflict is starting to merge with the bitter fighting in Syria, creating a war zone from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.
The United Nations envoy in Iraq, Martin Kobler, has issued repeated warnings in the last few weeks, pleading with Iraq’s leaders to take urgent action.
“Small children are burned alive in cars. Worshippers are cut down outside their own mosques. This is beyond unacceptable,” he said on May 17; “Systemic violence is ready to explode at any moment,”was his message on May 30and on June 16, he complained of “another round of deadly and remorseless acts of terrorism.”

Speaking by phone from Baghdad on Thursday, Kobler said: "Sectarianism is on the rise in the region and this is something that has to be reversed."
“If this trend is not stopped, I’m very concerned. Civil war is always on the horizon. On the other side, I’m confident because everybody remembers the horrible times of 2006/07, when everybody fought with … everybody. Nobody wants those times back,” he added.

“The problems in Iraq cannot be separated from the problems in the region. The battlefields are merging,” Kobler said.
“It’s very important the international community concentrates on Syria, but without neglecting the region. It’s here in Iraq where the fault line of the Sunni and Shia world is.”

Pollack said that if the low-level war in Iraq returned to an all-out struggle for survival, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran would find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into the conflict, along with other neighbors such as Turkey and Jordan.
“There will be a very powerful set of dynamics at work, sucking them into exactly this kind of conflict,” he said. “It will be hard for them to stay out.”

An expert on Islamic terrorism believes the wildfire that ravaged the outskirts of Colorado Springs, killing two people and destroying more than 500 homes, should be examined by terror investigators.
That’s because of the history of threats from al-Qaida and others to burn America’s forests.

Authorities in El Paso County said they are focusing on a very tiny spot in their hunt for the reason the flames erupted in the mature stand of Ponderosa pines. The fire moved quickly out of control and incinerated homes and people alike with temperatures up to 2,500 degrees.
“One thing that my investigators have given me the authority to state is that they have all but ruled out natural causes as the cause of this fire,” said Sheriff Terry Maketa. “I can’t really go any further on that, but I can say we are pretty confident it was not, for instance, a lightning strike.”
The causes for most forest fires are limited to electrical problems, campfires or grills that get out of control, accidents such as a car fire and sparks from chain saws or other back-country tools.
Those causes, to an expert investigator, are readily identifiable.
But authorities said they were focusing on a 28-foot square patch where they believe the fire started, examining some portions with a magnifying glass.
“Bill Scott, who’s a senior fellow at ACD, warned about such a scenario last July, speaking at the ACD-EWI Economic Threats briefing on Capital Hill,” Ehrenfeld wrote. “An expert on aerial firefighting, he presented a sobering analysis of the devastating (2012) Waldo Canyon Fire [in Colorado], pointing out that the striking rise [in] Western U.S. wildfires may be caused by elements other than nature.


Stephen said...


the article is FUNNY yet in a
tragic way.....please read it soon.

cos it will SOON happen....!!!!

(dow down but only 140....BUT this
is only the start of the crash)

Stephen >>>>>>>>>>>

David H said...

Good link Stephen, very true indeed...