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Law Passed to Quash Criticism of Indonesia Politicians

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:13

As many Indonesians turn their attention to the potential criminalization of sexual acts between homosexuals and extramarital sex in the nation’s revised criminal code, its house of representatives has quietly passed another controversial but less publicized piece of legislation: the revised Law on Representative Assemblies, known as the MD3 law, which critics say will hamper criticism…


Malian Activist Artist Channels Popular Anger Into Politics

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:08

This year, Malians will vote in nationwide elections amid discontent over continued insecurity and poverty. Popular anger has found a focal point in a diminutive figure who goes by the name of Ras Bath. Without running for office himself, Ras Bath is an influential figure to watch. Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, who everybody calls Ras Bath, addresses…


Hungarian political humour thriving under illiberal leadership

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:37

“Hungarians! The world is a very dangerous place, a no-go zone!” shouts a highly-strungmustachioed man through a megaphone strapped to his car on the streets of Budapest. The man, shouting slogans at passers-by that are sometimes used by the government, may sound ridiculous, but that’s because he’s meant to be. He’s a character from a YouTube…


Text-deleting app leads to Missouri transparency controversy

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:32

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Amid an investigation and lawsuit, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration last month altered its records retention policy, forbidding use of the text message-deleting app Confide when discussing public business. According to the policy, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch through an open records request, “no staff member may use any self-destructing messaging…


VIDEO: American City Mayors Have a Big Role in Many Reforms

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 00:02

Earlier today, David Axelrod hosted mayors of Boston, New Orleans, Denver and Gary for a discussion on the power of city mayors to enact meaningful and repeatable local reforms. The Director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, David Axelrod, was also the chief strategist behind both of Obama presidential election victories. The advertisement for the panel discussion, titled ‘Organizer of America’s Mayors: Getting Stuff Done in 2018’, had the following description:

As public opinion of Congress remains at historic lows, many Americans have accepted gridlock as the governing norm. Yet this narrative – focusing exclusively on the federal government and the hurdles to bipartisanship – tells an incomplete story. American cities have forged ahead without federal support, experimenting with new approaches to address issues from climate change to education and infrastructure.

Join the IOP as we welcome a panel of mayors from cities across the United States. Together, they’ll discuss the ways in which their city governments have adapted to federal gridlock by creating innovative solutions to public problems – while waiting for Washington to catch up.

The panel for the event includes:

  • Karen Freeman-Wilson – Mayor of Gary, Indiana
  • Michael B. Hancock – Mayor of Denver, Colorado
  • Mitch Landrieu – Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Martin J. Walsh – Mayor of Boston, Massachussetts

The video is about 70 minutes long. Take a look:

Behind massive Ethiopian protests is a cry for democracy

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 20:00

It has been a tumultuous week in Ethiopian politics after the country’s prime minister abruptly resigned and the ruling coalition declared a six-month state of emergency as it seeks to contain mass anti-government protests. These protests are at the heart of Hailemariam Desalegn’s decision to step down, according to several experts, who say the country is…


Republicans vow to sue over new Pennsylvania congressional map

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 16:20

PHILADELPHIA — National Republicans say state and federal GOP officials plan to challenge Pennsylvania’s new congressional map in federal court as early as Wednesday. “The suit will highlight the state Supreme Court’s rushed decision that created chaos, confusion, and unnecessary expense in the 2018 election cycle,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Matt Gorman said in a…


Prepping African Union Assistance for Landmark Zimbabwe Elections

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 16:03

The African Union will provide financial and technical assistance to Zimbabwe to help ensure credible elections later this year, the chairperson of the African Union Commission told reporters Tuesday in Harare. Briefing reporters at the end of a three-day visit to Zimbabwe, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said he met separately…


Social Media Remains Vulnerable to Disinformation Campaigns

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:38

Facebook, Google and Twitter are fundamentally flawed and increasingly vulnerable to disinformation campaigns in the build up to this year’s midterm elections, according to a former White House tech adviser. Fears of Russian interference in the upcoming elections come as a grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller indicted more than a dozen Russians involved…


Nigerian Courts Prepare for Biggest African Election of 2019

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:28

As the country prepares for the 2019 general election, the judiciary is also getting set for the disputes expected from the outcome of the elections. For this purpose, the judiciary and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have interfaced on several occasions in a bid to iron out areas of difficulties for the election. Chief Justice…


Malawi Parliament to Financially Penalize Absentee MPs

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:22

Parliament Secretariat will deduct allowances for members of Parliament (MPs) who absent themselves from sittings without valid reasons, the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has said. Msowoya communicated that chairpersons of parliamentary committees and the Business Committee–which comprises the leadership of political parties on both sides of the House–have made the resolution. Members of Parliament (MPs)…


VIDEO: How historically black colleges level the US playing field

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:07
Agricultural and Mechanical College, Greensboro, N.C. in 1899 – link

PBS recently did an interview with the creators of a new film by “Independent Lens” called “Tell Them We Are Rising” about America’s unique system of historically black colleges setup before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The story behind the creation of the historically black colleges, their constantly evolving nature, and their struggles today. You can watch the full film here but take a look at this a minute interview on PBS done before the program itself was released (full interview transcript is below):


Judy Woodruff:

Tonight at 9p.m. on most PBS stations, “Independent Lens” tells the story of this country’s historically black colleges.

Jeffrey Brown is here with a preview.

Jeffrey Brown:

“Tell Them We Are Rising” is the story of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, commonly known as HBCUs.

The film charts their rise and pivotal role in producing generations of professional and middle-class African-Americans and looks at threats to their continuing prominence, even in some cases their existence.

Stanley Nelson is the film’s director.

Welcome to you.

Stanley Nelson:

Thank you so much.

Jeffrey Brown:

Why take this on?

I gather it’s at least partly personal.

Stanley Nelson:

Well, it’s a very important story.

But, also, my parents went to HBCUs, both in the 1930s. My mother went to Talladega in Alabama. My father went to Howard in Washington, D.C.

And there’s no way they would have gone to college if it wasn’t for HBCUs. So, HBCUs changed the trajectory of their lives. It changed my life. It will change my kids’ life, on down through the generations. So it’s been very important to me.

Jeffrey Brown:

There’s a historian early in the film who says the question for African-Americans has always been, what is the purpose of education, who controls it, what is the relationship of education to the broader aspirations of our people?

You are presenting in the film these colleges as the answers to that.

Stanley Nelson:


And I think one of the things that the film does is kind of ask that question and then answer it. You see, as HBCUs have gone through their history, how that’s changed, how who controls our education has changed, how what it’s for has changed, and how so many times it’s been the students actually at HBCUs who have changed what education is for.

Jeffrey Brown:

Let’s take a look. We have a short clip that shows some of the impact it had.

Dorothy Smith:

If a teacher saw you kind of slipping or faltering, there was a, what’s going on, what’s the matter? Can I help? There was a watching over you to see that you did the best you could.

Marybeth Gasman:

Black colleges were educating future doctors and future lawyers and future teachers and nurses and judges. And they were responsible for lifting African-Americans out of poverty, and they started to create the black middle class as we know it.

James Anderson:

For a black child, every teacher that you knew had gone to a black college. Every lawyer that you knew had gone to a black college. Every medical doctor that treated you had gone to a black college.

Michael Lomax:

Black colleges were redefining what it meant to be black in America. You weren’t doing something with your hands. You were pursuing a career where education and intellect mattered.

Jeffrey Brown:

That part goes to a period where there were really almost no other choices, right?

Stanley Nelson:


Jeffrey Brown:

But one of the other aspects that you bring out is these colleges as incubators of social change, right, the places where leaders and movements began.

Stanley Nelson:

Yes, but I think that’s one of the important functions that HBCUs have served so many times.

So, we talk about the sit-in movement that started at North Carolina A&T. We talk about the fight to get to Brown vs. Board of Ed, to send segregation. That started in Howard — the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, Freedom Summer, all of these things. Martin Luther King came out of an HBCU.

So, yes, they have been this kind of safe intellectual space for African-Americans, because this is a place where young black people can sit around and talk about the future and where we’re going.

Jeffrey Brown:

What was life like on these campuses that differed from other universities? What made them?

Stanley Nelson:

Well, I think one of the things that made and still makes HBCUs different is that they are a nurturing environment.

You know, like, for my own father, who was the first — he and his brother were the first people in his family to graduate high school. And my father went to Howard University just because he lived in D.C., and it was there, and he went to Howard.

And he’s there, and someone comes up to him and says, what are you doing? You’re fooling around. You can do this. Stop goofing around.

My father then went on to graduate Howard, and then went to Howard Dental School, became a successful dentist. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m sitting here today.

But it’s that nurturing, that — as we saw in the clip, it’s that nurturing that’s so important that HBCUs have provided and still provide today.

Jeffrey Brown:

That students might not have gotten elsewhere.

Stanley Nelson:


I think that that is a very different kind of attitude than a lot of times you get at majority white institutions, which is, like, well, you got here, and so you belong here. And so, here’s the work. Do it.

Jeffrey Brown:

Right. Now do it.

Stanley Nelson:

Now do it.

HBCUs, it’s a little bit different. It’s, like, we are here to help you and to help you do this work, because we know you can do it because we might have been in the same position that you are.

Jeffrey Brown:

You do get at the situation today with many black colleges struggling.

And there’s still a debate, I guess, over to what extent they are needed, what role they play today. What did you conclude after doing this?

Stanley Nelson:

Well, I think that one of the ways to look at it is that, until racism, until racialism, until we — ends in this country, until we have kind of a level playing field for kids in grade school and junior high and high school, that we need HBCUs, right.

That’s one way to look at it. Another way, one of the things that people who work with HBCUs will tell you is, like, we still have Catholic universities, right?

Jeffrey Brown:


Stanley Nelson:

And nobody’s questioning that. We still have Yeshiva. Nobody is questioning that. And so…

Jeffrey Brown:

We still have women’s colleges.

Stanley Nelson:

We still have women’s colleges.

So, I think that that’s really not a — really a real question at this point. I think we need HBCUs, maybe not as much as we did in 1865, but we still need them very much today.

Jeffrey Brown:

All right, the film is “Tell Them We Are Rising.”

Stanley Nelson, thank you very much.

Stanley Nelson:

I thank you.

Judy Woodruff:

“Tell Them We Are Rising” airs tonight on most PBS stations.

3 Mexican independent candidates shaking up presidential race

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 13:45

A former first lady, a horse-riding governor known as “The Bronco” and a senator who calls himself “The Jaguar” jumped into Mexico’s presidential race Monday after gathering the required signatures to run as independents. The July 1 election will be the first time Mexico has allowed independent presidential candidates in its modern history. And while pundits…


When New Voting Machines Cost is a Barrier to Vote Security

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 13:23

When poll workers arrived at 6 a.m. to open the voting location in Allentown, New Jersey, for last November’s gubernatorial election, they found that none of the borough’s four voting machines were working. Their replacements, which were delivered about four hours later, also failed. Voters had to cast their ballots on paper, which then were counted…


Comedian John Oliver takes on Israeli corruption controversy

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 12:57

Comedian mocks PM’s ‘absolutely ridiculous’ efforts to ‘spin use of public funds,’ slams Anne Frank joke in video tour of official residence Comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” on Sunday took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, to task over allegations that they are corrupt. While the prime minister has denied…


Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife – link

Pa. State Supreme Court releases new 2018 redistricting map

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 12:50

PHILADELPHIA — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday released a new congressional district map, upending familiar boundaries, renumbering districts across the state and giving a potential boost to Democrats in the 2018 House elections. Its plan splits only 13 counties. Of those, four counties are split into three districts and nine are split into two districts.…


Actor Jennifer Lawrence taking year off to help ‘fix our democracy’

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 10:29

Jennifer Lawrence said she’s taking a year off from acting in order to pursue a career in activism and help “fix our democracy.” The Oscar-winning actress made the announcement Thursday while promoting her new film “Red Sparrow” with ET’s Carly Steel. “I’m going to take the next year off,” Ms. Lawrence, 27, said. “I’m going to…


There is a dark side to the North Korean Olympics spectacle

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 14:28

By Robert Huish, Associate Professor in International Development Studies, Dalhousie University. Members of a North Korean delegation cheer while holding the unified Korea flag at the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics on Feb. 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson The message of the 2018 Pyeongchang “ Peace…


Zimbabwean women artists getting some deserved recognition

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 14:21

The servitude of African women in colonial times barred them from practising art in public spaces. The intellectual, social and cultural space of African women in formerly colonised nations had been restricted and socially reduced in importance to the backroom of contemporary art and thinking. Against all odds women have stood the test of times through…


A perspective on Black History Month from Africa

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:31
Sketch of Woodson made by Charles Alston, 1943 – link

Black History Month or ‘Black Achievement Month’ is an annual event that started in America in 1929 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. It is celebrated annually in the United States and their embassies across the globe including Canada in the month of February; United Kingdom and the Netherlands in October, and other parts of the world…