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Updated: 15 min 53 sec ago

Rights groups warn over campaign against Togo protest leaders

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 22:20
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Rights groups on Thursday raised the alarm over Togo’s “campaign of intimidation” against activists responsible for encouraging people to join a months-long protest against the rule of embattled President Faure Gnassingbe. “The Togolese authorities must stop harassing pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in relation to the widespread protests that have been taking place across the…

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Rio carnival winner shocks with anti-corruption performance

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 20:00

Traditional samba school Beija Flor was crowned winner of the Rio carnival Wednesday after a performance that portrayed politicians as rats with money-stuffed briefcases in sharply political parades. The announcement triggered an explosion of joy from its blue and white-clad fans in the Sambodromo stadium as the school from the northern Rio suburb of Nilopolis won…

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Putin critic Navalny’s website blocked for exposing corruption

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 18:00

Russia’s media watchdog on Thursday blocked the website of opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he posted a video alleging a deputy prime minister enjoyed lavish hospitality from a billionaire tycoon. State body Roskomnadzor has threatened to block any site distributing the video, including YouTube and Instagram, but both remain accessible in Russia. “Roskomnadzor has blocked https://navalny.com/…

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South Africa’s Zuma Resigns Gracefully and a Nation Holds its Breath

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 16:37
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In a televised speech on 14 February 2018 Jacob Zuma resigned from his position as President of the Republic of South Africa. This comes after days of pressure from his party for him to resign from the African National Congress (ANC) as a result of growing concerns over his track record of corruption and the ‘State Capture’ controversy orchestrated with the super rich Guptas family.

In his speech, Zuma stated that “Even though I disagree with the decision of the Leadership of my organization, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.” Zuma seemed not to understand why his party asked him to resign and in such a speedy manner. He therefore raised his astonishment at the discrepancy between the short notice by the ANC for him to resign and the originally agreed terms of such an exit that included, to his understanding, that he would have more time to transfer power.

He expressed this when he said “It is indeed true that there was an agreement, that even if the need arises that I should vacate the office before the end of term, there is a need to have a period of transition, during which I would delegate some of the functions to the Deputy President of the Republic.”

Zuma went further to request clarification with regard to what had motivated the ANC’s decision for him to exit office. He expressed this when he said “I do not fear exiting political office. However, I have only asked my party to articulate my transgressions and the reason for its immediate instruction that I vacate office.”

Despite showing surprise at his recall and order to step down, Jacob Zuma seemed to understand that there were some forces within the white capitalist class that had engineered his exit from office. True to his nature he would not leave the scene without having the last word. Zuma said “I respect each member and leader of this glorious movement (the ANC). I respect its gallant fight against centuries of white minority brutality, whose relics remain today and continue to be entrenched in all manner of sophisticated ways, in order to ensure the continued survival of white privilege.”

Zuma’s did show some political maturity in his speech. He recognised the supremacy of the people of South Africa whose interest all holders of public office must defend. Zuma submitted himself to the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, and showed magnanimity and positive attitude when he stated that “I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment, for they are the lawful mechanisms for the people of this beautiful country to remove their President. I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my abilities.”

He equally showed modesty when he pointed out clearly that he had no interest in “perks and benefits” related to his position as President of the Republic. Nonetheless, his track record in office make all of these statements seem more like a mea culpa if not outright irony.

With Zuma out of office, the Constitutional provisions for his replacement were immediately ignited in order to avoid any vacancy at the helm of State. Parliament sat today 15 February 2018 to elect a new President. Only the ANC presented a candidate, Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of the now former President Jacob Zuma, and President of the ANC since 18 December 2017. His election in Parliament was unanimous and he was immediately sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. He is expected to make his first State of the Nation address on 16 Friday 2018. In the meantime, President Cyril Ramaphosa has sworn to serve the interests of the people of South Africa. However, this is what all freshly elected Presidents say. South Africa looks on, especially the uneasy black population.

My Best Democracy-Related Political Cartoons of US States

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 16:12

As Democracy Chronicles Founder and Editor-in-Chief I have made almost 1,000 political memes of one kind or another. Collections of different sorts can be found on Flickr including Adrian’s Favorite Memes, the Democracy Flag Series and Democracy Quote Memes. Today I am proud to announce a new collection I have put together to highlight some of my favorite artistic creations that highlight the struggle for democracy in different American states. The collection stands as a record to my last years of democracy promotion.

The Democracy Chronicles main locally-hosted collection of my political memes can be found at “Political Memes Featuring Original Pro-Democracy Art“. But for a full (and unedited) collection you need to visit Democracy Chronicles Flickr. These totally original and unique political cartoons were made with Photoshop and all images were created to accompany an article on our website.

These are free for you to use and spread around and can be considered to be under the most permissive Creative Commons license – copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. Also you can remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

I identified some of the states in the captions when it wasn’t obvious from the image itself with our international audience in mind. I hope you enjoy and I would love to read some reactions so add your comments below! Take a look…

South Dakota

Texas

North Carolina

Montana

Maryland Illinois The island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands Kentucky

Visit the recent DC post “Adrian’s Best Democracy-Related Political Cartoons” or see “Political Memes Featuring Original Pro-Democracy Art” for much more!

17 Chad protesters sentenced as fear overtakes nation

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 15:08
Adrian Tawfik based on photo made available by the US Department of State

“Fear rules over the city,” said Mahamat, a resident of the Chadian capital N’Djamena for more than 40 years who did not dare to reveal his real name. “Although people are frustrated, they don’t want to be arrested, kidnapped or tortured.” In Chad, a large partly-desert nation straddling north and central Africa, taking discontent to the…

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A grim update on the gun lobby’s strength in Congress

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 14:50
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“Today is that terrible day you pray never comes,” Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, tweeted Wednesday minutes after a former student opened fire at a high school in his home state, killing 17. We’ll assume Rubio’s grief is genuine. But we wonder if, when he’s at home at night, he’s comforted by the thought that…

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Without democracy Sudan will descent into chaos

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 14:34

Sudan’s political crisis has reached its worst since the coup led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in June 1989. The collapsing economy, ongoing armed conflicts between the regime and armed movements in the Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, endemic corruption, and the power struggle within the regime have pushed the country towards a tipping…

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VIDEO: What the Boris Nemtsov story says about Russian politics

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 14:25
Flowers on sidewalk at the site of Boris Nemtsov’s assassination, one day after he was killed – link

In a book discussion moderated by UkraineAlert Editor Melinda Haring, the Atlantic Council recently held a major event to discuss the release of a critically important new book on the life and murder that is the Boris Nemtsov story.  Nemtsov was an outspoken anti-Putin member of the Russian parliament gunned down mysteriously in Moscow in 2015. The Atlantic Council marketed the event with following blurb:

On the night of February 27, 2015, an unknown assailant shot and killed Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov directly outside the Kremlin walls in Moscow. Despite an official investigation into the murder, three years later his death remains shrouded in suspicion. Some suspect Russian authorities at least tacitly approved the assassination of Nemtsov who increasingly called attention to Russia’s involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine.

A leading figure in Russian politics, from his governorship of Nizhny Novgorod to his political campaigns running against Vladimir Putin, Boris Nemtsov played a large role in Russia’s transformation in the post-Soviet era. This event will commemorate the third anniversary of Nemtsov’s passing and convene authors of the book to discuss his legacy and impact on Russian politics.

The video shows the event introduction speech given by Ambassador John Herbst, the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and framing remarks were given by Dr. Alexandra Yatsyk, Visiting Fellow at Uppsala University’s Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, who co-edited the new book that the event highlighted, “Boris Nemtsov and Russian Politics: Power and Resistance”. Other speakers in the video include:

  • Dr. Henry Hale – Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Co-Director of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs
  • Mr. Vladimir Kara-Murza – Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and Vice Chairman of Open Russia
  • Mr. David Kramer – Senior Fellow at the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
  • Dr. Kateryna Smagliy – Director of the Kennan Institute’s Kyiv Office

The video is about 90 minutes. Hope you enjoy:

VIDEO: India’s Democratic Journey 70 Years Since Independence

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 12:56
The defeat of Tipu Sultan in 1799 secured most of South India for the British – link

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent nonpartisan organization, held a special event at Chicago’s Prudential Plaza to discuss the recent history of India, particularly focusing on the departure of the British and the challenges of democracy in the world’s biggest free nation. The lessons for India and its partner in largesse, China, are manifold.

The end of the British Empire on the Indian subcontinent was one of the planet’s most transformational events since World War II. Leading to the foundation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as a war that consumed them all, the collapse of British dreams of a permanent colonial empire will forever leave their mark on this planet. The event was described by the organizers as:

Seventy years after independence, India is the world’s largest democracy, one of its most diverse societies, and the economy with growth potential that could rival China’s. Yet it also remains one of the poorest and unequal, with hundreds of millions mired in deep poverty and limited by a rigid caste system that constrains social mobility.

The Narendra Modi-led government’s turn to Hindu nationalism has sharpened sectarian tensions and raised questions over the rule of law—and hasn’t helped relations with Pakistan either. With three decades left before its centennial, what must India do to become a decisive force on the world stage and convert its expected demographic dividend into broad prosperity? 

The discussion was moderated by the University of Pennsylvania’s Marshall Bouton who is a Senior Fellow at the university’s Center for Advanced Study of India. Other speakers include:

  • Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Raghuram Rajan, Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Somini Sengupta, UN Bureau Chief and Foreign Correspondent, New York Times
  • Tunku Varadarajan, Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

The event video for India’s Democratic Journey is about 60 minutes. Take a look:

An association of alt-right liars

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 12:06
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The resignations of Rob Porter & David Sorensen are just the latest incidents in what is turning out to be a busy 2018 in Washington D.C.. There never seems to be a dull moment in the Trump White House. One gets the impression that Kellyanne & Company were still basking in a GOP afterglow that followed passing ‘Tax Reform’, & restoring the Right to say “Merry Christmas”. Seemingly out of Left Field, came Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”. Citing sources within Trump’s Campaign Team, the book paints a less than flattering picture of Donald Trump, his family, & his Transitional Team.

Steve Bannon was already on shaky ground with the White House, but his involvement with Wolff’s level of access to staffers, combined with unrefuted comments about The First Family were the final straws that ended Trump’s ‘bro-mance’ with (Sloppy Steve) Bannon. While The Nation discussed McDonald’s cheeseburgers, Starburst fruit chews, & 6:30pm bedtimes, Trump had his first formal physical. His bill of “excellent health” became fodder for Late Night Talk Shows.

Media Elites were still questioning Wolff’s veracity of Style and Content, when it was reported that (not very Presidential) Trump referred to Haiti and African Nations as “Shit Hole Countries”, during a follow up meeting on [Bipartisan] Immigration Reform. Sen. Dick Durbin substantiated the rumor, and Sen. Lindsey Graham said he reprimanded Trump for his language. After initial silence from both The White House & GOP, reports came out that Trump:

  • Said “Shit House”, not ‘Shit Hole’
  • Was not referring to All 54 African Nations, but TPS Nations (like South Sudan)
  • Never mentioned Haiti or El Salvador
  • Doesn’t favor European Countries over others. He used Norway as an example of a “Merit Based Country”

By Sunday, both Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) and Sen. David Perdue (R- Ga) were on the News Shows denying Trump ever made an ’S’ comment. Pastor Mark Burns, Paris Dennard, and MLK Nephew Isaac Newton Farris Jr. have also joined the ranks of ’S’ deniers. The vague recollection of DHS Sec. Kirstjen Neilson, when questioned by Senate Democrats shows how far Republicans are willing to bend for their President.

Trump’s ‘Racist Tendencies’ are once again being questioned. He claims to be the least racist, but his track record over his first year in Office alone, raises eyebrows:

  1. He accepted praise from David Duke, but said he was unfamiliar with him.
  2. After professing ‘love’ for Dream Act Children (Dreamers), & implying that something would be done for them, He set a time table to end DACA; creating a wave of uncertainty, along with two [short-term] Government Shut Downs.
  3. He picks a fight with thin skinned Kim Jong Un, referring to him as “Little Rocket Man”; even as N. Korean Ballistic Missles show the ability to reach Mainland America.
  4. After a slow response to the alt- right’s ‘Tiki Torch March’ in Charlottesville, Trump sees “violence on all sides…”

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  5. Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands not as comprehensive as Relief efforts in Texas and Florida. Trump tosses paper towels at one stop in P.R.
  6. Steven Paddock performs a horrible mass shooting at a Las Vegas Country Music Event- killing 58 & injuring hundreds more, but Trump Administration is slow to respond & refuses to call it Domestic Terrorism. However, he is quick to label attacks in Lower Manhattan & Times Square as Terrorist acts committed by “Animals”
  7. Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Capital of Israel; threatening any Israeli- Palestinian Peace talks. Then he threatens The U.N. General Assembly to follow suit, or else face a budgetary cut.
  8. At a Huntsville, Alabama Rally, Trump calls NFL Players ‘Sons of Bitches’ for taking a knee to spotlight Police violence against Black Men & Boys. It was later discovered that Trump spoke on the Anniversary of an Event where a Black Man was beaten for not standing for Flag.

Then we were fed the ‘Stormy’ details of Trump’s infidelity, while minions scramble to stall Mueller’s advance into his finances. Trump claims that Nunes’ Memo vindicates him, but in fact, it reveals another thread in the web. Former Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor Carter Page’s involvement may connect the dots between:

  • Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, & Kazakh Oligarchs
  • Dutch, Norwegian, & Icelandic Bankers
  • Kushner Companies, & construction of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank & Eastern Jerusalem.

Trump SoHo is being called a money laundering operation. Kazakh Oligarchs & Russian Mobsters are involved in the innuendo. According to political watchdog Public Citizen, Donald Trump has not divested from his “Global Business Empire”, as promised. In fact, he continues to profit from foreign & domestic use of his properties.

The dysfunction in The White House looks more & more like a smokescreen hiding major conflicts of interest. Add critically understaffed Departments & a number of hand picked staffers with Temporary Security Clearance status, & the Trump Agenda looks pretty clear.

Reviewing the greatest election tech challenges facing us today

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:49
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By The Conversation. Does every person’s vote count? AntonSokolov/Shutterstock.com Every vote counts. It’s the key principle underlying democracy. Through the history of democratic elections, people have created many safeguards to ensure votes are cast and counted fairly: paper ballots, curtains around voting booths, locked ballot boxes, supervised counting, provisions for recounting and more. With the advent…

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Cyril Ramaphosa Poised to Become South African President

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:44

African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa is set to be chosen Thursday by parliament as South Africa’s new president. The chief whip, or vote counter, of the ruling ANC party issued a statement that the country’s chief justice will be on hand “to officiate in the election of the new president of South Africa.” Ramaphosa is…

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Egypt arrests critic and ex-presidential candidate Abul Fotouh

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:41

Egyptian police arrested on Wednesday a leading government critic and party leader Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh along with five of his aides, security officials said. The reason for the arrest of Abul Fotouh, a candidate in the 2012 presidential election, was not immediately clear. It comes after the arrest of a party deputy leader and a…

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Failing to enforce rules governing unethical Congressional behavior

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:36

An ethics advocacy group says it has identified multiple instances where Congressional watchdogs meant to maintain high standards on Capitol Hill have not enforced the rules and have given elected officials a slap on the wrist when they could have been punished more severely. “When faced with the difficult task of passing judgment on a fellow…

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Key Facts About Suffragette Susan B. Anthony On Her Birthday

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:31
Susan B. Anthony – link

Susan B. Anthony was an activist at heart. Raised in a politically active family, one of the first issues she ever advocated for was the abolition of slavery, the second was temperance and the campaign against alcohol and the third issue she worked for was women’s rights, including the right to vote. Anthony was born in…

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Ethiopian Blogger Nega Freed in Mass Release of Prisoners

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:26

The Ethiopian government has released blogger Eskinder Nega and several prominent opposition figures from prison, as part of efforts to ease political tensions in the Horn of Africa nation. The government said it freed a total of 746 prisoners on Wednesday, in line with a promise made by the country’s attorney general last week. Those released…

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Report outlines vulnerability of voting machines to hackers

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:22
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WASHINGTON — The day after President Donald Trump’s top intelligence adviser warned that Russian hackers will be back with a vengeance in the upcoming midterm elections, House Democrats intensified their push to shore up the nation’s network of wheezing voting machines that are vulnerable to attack. The Democrats released a voluminous report detailing the many ways…

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Governor and courts battle over Florida felon voting reforms

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 10:54

Gov. Rick Scott claims that he, not a federal judge, should determine how Florida restores the civil rights of ex-felons. Seriously? That would be like having Bill Belichick design the Dolphins’ game plans against the Patriots. Scott made this absurd argument Monday in response to the Feb. 1 ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that…

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In a local election in Georgia yesterday, not one person voted

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 23:39

The Gist: You may have missed it, but there was a special election Tuesday night affecting three counties right on the border of Florida. The race was for state house district 175, and (spoiler alert) republican John LaHood won in a landslide. LaHood received 2,337 votes. His closest opponent received 778 votes, so this was the…

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