Democracy Chronicles

Syndicate content
Worldwide Democracy News
Updated: 8 min 6 sec ago

Discrepancies Widen in Case Against Jailed Burmese Journalists

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 11:52

As the trial of two Myanmar journalists who work for Reuters entered its third hearing on Feb. 1, holes in the government’s case presented easy pickings for a dedicated duo of defense lawyers, who cross-examined a second police witness over five hours. Yet the fate of local reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo remains in…


29 Iranian women arrested as headscarf protests intensify

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 11:47

Tehran police have arrested 29 women for appearing in public without a headscarf as protests against the dress code in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979 intensify, Iranian media reported Friday. Those arrested were accused of public order offences and referred to the state prosecutor’s office, the Fars, ILNA and Tasnim news agencies reported without…


The Forgotten Female Revolutionaries Behind Black History Month

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 11:45
African American women at Atlanta University in 1899 – link

A version of this article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the historical contributions of black people in the United States. Too often, however, this history focuses on black men, sidelining black women and diminishing their accomplishments. This is true in mainstream narratives…


After Putin-in-bullets, Exiled Ukrainian artists coin Trump

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 11:37

They shot to fame in 2015 with a portrait of Vladimir Putin made of bullet shells from the killing fields of eastern Ukraine. Now, the two Ukrainian artists are back with a portrait of Donald Trump made from coins and poker chips. Threats forced Daria Marchenko, 35, and Daniel Green, 34, to leave their homeland in…


Voting booth selfies are a crime in NJ, should that change?

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 22:06

Maybe this is the year New Jerseyans will no longer be technically breaking the law if they share their “ballot selfies” online. State lawmakers are once again considering a bill that would formally make it legal for Garden State voters to snap a photograph of their ballot in the voting booth and post the picture on…


VIDEO: How 2 tech titans see technology transforming politics

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 20:00

Yesterday, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute hosted a great discussion with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel on “Technology and Politics”. The LinkedIn and Paypal founders, respectively, spoke about the trends in technology transforming politics in a conversation moderated by British historian Niall Ferguson.

Hoffman and Thiel spoke about recent elections, inequality, dictatorships, AI, cryptocurrencies, monopolies and the need for deeper thinking on antitrust laws for the technology industry giants like Apple, Amazon and Google. An extensive write up of the event was posted at Stanford News including this highlight:

Peter Thiel said the forces of “centralization” and “decentralization” are clearly evident in technology and even politics. “Crypto is libertarian and AI is communist,” he said, describing cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and artificial intelligence, which drives large data collection across societies.

On inequality, Ferguson said a “winner-takes-all” mentality in Silicon Valley may be good for a lucky few elites, but not for most people less fortunate. An “unintended consequence” of the last couple decades’ prolific innovations is greater inequality than is acceptable.

Here are the speaker bios from the event announcement page:

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002, defining a new era of fast and secure online commerce. In 2004 he made the first outside investment in Facebook, where he serves as a director. The same year he launched Palantir Technologies, a software company that harnesses computers to empower human analysts in fields like national security and global finance. He has provided early funding for LinkedIn, Yelp, and dozens of successful technology startups, many run by former colleagues who have been dubbed the “PayPal Mafia.” He is a partner at Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has funded companies like SpaceX and Airbnb. He started the Thiel Fellowship, which ignited a national debate by encouraging young people to put learning before schooling, and he leads the Thiel Foundation, which works to advance technological progress and long-term thinking about the future. Peter is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

Reid Hoffman is the Co-Founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock Partners. An accomplished entrepreneur, executive, and investor, Reid Hoffman has played an integral role in building many of today’s leading consumer technology businesses. In 2003 Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking service. LinkedIn is thriving with more than 500 million members around the world. In 2009 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners. He focuses on building products that can reach hundreds of millions of participants and businesses that have network effects. He currently serves on the boards of Airbnb, Edmodo, Convoy, Blockstream and a few early stage companies still in stealth. In addition, he serves on a number of not-for-profit boards, including Kiva, Mozilla Corporation, Endeavor, and CZI Biohub. Prior to joining Greylock, he angel invested in many influential internet companies, including Facebook, Flickr,, and Zynga. Hoffman is the host of Masters of Scale, an original podcast series and the first American media program to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for featured guests. He is also the co-author of two New York Times best-selling books: The Start-Up of You and The Alliance. His next book is focused on “blitzscaling”, based on his Stanford course of the same name. Hoffman earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree with distinction in symbolic systems from Stanford University.

The video is about 90 minutes long. Take a look:

7 Years After Uprising, Egyptian Democracy is Only a Dream

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 19:58

Seven years ago, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protest against the government led by President Hosni Mubarak. When Mubarak was forced out of office, and democratic elections put the country’s first civilian leader in decades in office, there was hope for lasting political change. This week, however, Egypt’s current president sternly warned the…


How voters with disabilities are blocked from the ballot box

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 18:27

WASHINGTON — For decades, Kathy Hoell has struggled to vote. Poll workers have told the 62-year-old Nebraskan, who uses a powered wheelchair and has a brain injury that causes her to speak in a strained and raspy voice, that she isn’t smart enough to cast a ballot. They have led her to stairs she couldn’t climb…


DR Congo dictator announces plans to give up power

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 18:02
Joseph Kabila – link

A spokesman for the Democratic Republic of Congo says President Joseph Kabila intends to respect the constitution and relinquish power after elections scheduled for December. Speaking to VOA’s French to Africa language service, Lambert Mende said despite delays the government is finishing voter registration in remote areas of the country and is on track to hold…


The Political Strongmen of Southern Africa Are Falling

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 18:01

Written before the latest news from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It was an eventful 2017 for the Southern African region. The end of an era, it seemed, as political dinosaurs shuffled off the stage. In September, Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down after 38 years in power. He was replaced by defence minister João Lourenço. In November, Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe was eased out…


On the road with the first Nigerian mobile library

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 16:41

Funmi Ilori once had a dream about creating the biggest library in Africa. Now she drives vans packed with books to poor areas of Lagos to help children discover a love of reading. “Readers are what?” she asks about 15 youngsters, sitting on little plastic stools in a classroom in a small converted lorry. “Leaders!” they…


VIDEO: Will Liberal Democracy Survive the 21st Century?

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 16:24

Last night an event was held featuring a discussion with theorist Francis Fukuyama and the former President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves regarding the future outlook for liberal democracy. The event was held at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. The talk was sponsored by Stanford University Libraries and the Hoover Institution’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Here is the event description from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies:

Even before the 2016 election campaign, political polarization and filter bubbles in social media and revelations of foreign meddling, Francis Fukuyama raised his concerns about the decline and decay of democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere. Today we live in a new environment where Americans and others get up to two-thirds of their news — real and otherwise — on Facebook, where Twitter bots magnify propaganda, and where foreigners posing as Americans even organize demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on social media.

Yet even without these technological developments, from Eastern Europe to the U.S., we observe the re-emergence of demons we thought we left behind after World War II: the rise of blood and soil nationalism, the decline in rule of law and the institutions that uphold democratic governance: parliaments, courts, a free and unfettered press. We believed that through NATO, the WTO, and the EU democracy and peace would be firmly grounded.

What happens when these international organizations begin to unravel? Where are we headed? What have we learned so we can avoid the disasters of the 1930s? What are the fundamental institutional reforms we need to make? How do we accommodate the new superpower China, with its alternative model of governance, not only domestically, but increasingly in the international sphere?

Some more information on the speakers:

Toomas Hendrik Ilves is the former President of Estonia (2006–2016). He has previously also served as Estonian foreign minister, member of European Parliament, and the ambassador of Estonia in Washington. In 2017 Ilves joined Stanford University as a Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford’s hub for researchers tackling some of the world’s most pressing security and international cooperation problems. He is currently Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover Institution.

Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Mosbacher Director of FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). He is also a professor by courtesy in the Department of Political Science. Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning democratization and international political economy. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent book is Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy.

The video is just over 30 minutes. Take a look:

Kochs Sent GOP Lawmakers $300,000 in Donations Before Tax Vote

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 16:00

On the day that the House-Senate conference committee agreed on the final tax bill, which cut corporate tax rates from 35 percent down to 21 percent, 60 Republican members of Congress who would soon vote on that bill received donations from the corporate political action committee of the company run by the billionaire Koch brothers, who…


Meet the anti-Trump artist projecting messages onto his D.C. hotel

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 15:57

Robin Bell, multimedia artist and Donald Trump foe, regularly projects messages onto the facade of Trump International Hotel in Washington to “visually” denounce the American president’s policies. On Tuesday, just before Trump delivered his State of the Union address before Congress, Bell projected the phrases “Donald Trump harassed or assaulted twenty women” and “Congress: Investigate Trump”…


100 years of women’s suffrage: How British women changed history

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 09:31

British women won the right to vote 100 years ago after an intense struggle marked by a violent fringe campaign that shocked the country but helped to change the world. On February 6, 1918, the Representation of the People Bill became law and added to the voting roll around eight million women who were aged over…


Florida Could Give 1 in 4 of Nation’s Felons the Vote

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 09:30

Florida voters will decide next fall whether about 1.5 million felons will regain the right to vote in time for the 2020 presidential election. If state voters approve the ballot question, they will restore the right to vote to nearly one fourth of the nation’s former prisoners who committed felony offenses, according to Sentencing Project, a…


VIDEO: Chinese Media and Ideology Under Xi

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 20:00

A new panel discussion on Chinese media and ideology was recently published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Established 50 years ago in Washington, D.C., the Center for Strategic and International Studies is a “bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help decision makers chart a course toward a better world”. Take a look at the video description here:

This talk will include a presentation by Maria Repnikova, which will focus on trends in official ideology in China, as well as empirical developments in the content of ideology, the methods the Chinese state uses to convey ideology, and the evolving receptivity of Chinese citizens to these efforts. Kaiser Kuo will then offer commentary, and Christopher Johnson will moderate the discussion. The China Reality Check Series presents perspectives from academia, industry, and government in order to promote a sustained dialogue on critical and insufficiently understood issues related to China’s reemergence as a global power.

The video is about one hour and 45 minutes. Take a look:

3 Vietnamese activists jailed after criticising communist regime

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 19:19

Three Vietnamese activists were sentenced to between six and eight years in jail Wednesday for “anti-state propaganda” after posting online videos criticising the communist regime, which is accused of tightening its grip on dissidents. The one-party state has long locked up lawyers, activists and bloggers it deems critical, but rights groups say a conservative leadership in…


Imprisoned Turkish rights activist Taner Kilic to be freed

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 19:13

A Turkish court has ordered the release of Taner Kilic, chair of the Turkish chapter of Amnesty International. Kilic had been in prison since June 2017, when he was arrested for allegedly having links to a group accused of being behind the 2016 attempted coup. “It’s a great victory for the human rights movement in Turkey…


Kenya television shutdown to stop coverage of opposition event

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 19:07

Rights groups on Wednesday criticised the Kenya government’s move to block live coverage of a mock inauguration by the opposition as a “violation” of the public’s right to information. Three of the country’s main private television channels had their live feeds cut or blocked, while the state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) was allowed to continue. Kenya’s…