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Suffragette stories come out of the shadows 100 years on

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 18:21

The Suffragettes risked imprisonment and were dubbed “wild” in their campaign for women’s rights to vote, but a century on their stories are being brought out of the shadows. A hundred years to the day since voting rights were first granted to women in Britain, images of the activists behind the momentous occasion will go on…


Kenya government critic in court amid crackdown

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 17:39

A Kenyan government critic appeared in court Tuesday to face charges related to the mock inauguration of the “people’s president” Raila Odinga. Miguna Miguna stood alongside the opposition leader during his symbolic swearing-in in Nairobi last week in front of tens of thousands of supporters, seen as a fresh challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election. The…


What’s behind repeated delays in trial for murdered Tunisia politician?

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 17:35

The family of slain Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid on Tuesday demanded the “whole truth” about his killing, five years after it sparked a political crisis as the country struggled towards democracy. Leftist Belaid, 48, was a fierce critic of Islamist party Ennahdha, which was in power when he was gunned down, and his supporters have…


100 Years Ago Today Britain’s Suffragettes Won Their Big Battle

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 17:27
7 October 1913 edition of The Suffragette

The Suffragettes were instrumental in securing the vote for British women 100 years ago, at a time when women had few rights and no role in national politics. – The name – Suffragettes was initially a derogatory name given in 1906 by the Daily Mail newspaper to the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), one of…


VIDEO: Historical precedents to fake Twitter accounts

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 16:13

The PBS NewsHour has been around for 40 years on American public television. In the video, John Yang, a general assignment correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, interviews Thomas Rid of Johns Hopkins University about the issue. Here is the segment’s summary from the PBS NewsHour website:

In the days leading up to the release of the disputed Nunes memo, the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo became hugely popular among conservatives and allies of President Trump. But a series of reports suggest that some of those Twitter accounts were fake and linked to Russian interests. William Brangham learns more from Thomas Rid of Johns Hopkins University.

You can read the full transcript here. The video is about 6 minutes. Take a look:

VIDEO: How Racial Animosity Led to Immobilized Local Governments

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:01

A forthcoming book based on an original study of nearly 1000 school districts examines the role of race and education in American democracy. Brown University has given the author Domingo Morel a platform to present his ideas in a panel discussion held yesterday. Among his other findings, Morel writes, “devolving authority to state governments was a response to the rise of Black political empowerment in American cities”. Sarah Reckhow, author of Follow the Money, had the following praise regarding the importance of the research:

“As cities from New Orleans to Flint grapple with the long term impacts of state takeovers on local policy and politics, scholars and policymakers have much to learn from Morel’s important contribution.”

Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs hosted Morel, assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University to review his research for the book titled, “Takeover: Race, Education, and American Democracy”. Marion Orr moderated the event with Vesla Weaver, Jeffrey Henig and Michael Jones-Correa serving as commentators on the panel. About them

  • Marion Orr – Frederick Lippitt Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies, Brown University
  • Vesla Weaver – Michael Bloomberg Associate Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
  • Jeffrey Henig – Professor of Political Science and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University; Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
  • Michael Jones-Correa – Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

According to a description of the book on Domingo Morel’s own website:

The book argues that the emphasis on devolving authority to state governments was a response to the rise of Black political empowerment in American cities. I show that as cities gained greater Black representation in city government, the likelihood of a state takeover of their school district increased. Furthermore, as Black empowerment increased, state takeovers had a negative effect on Black representation on school boards. At the same time, the book also demonstrates that under certain conditions, state takeovers can advance Black and Latino political empowerment, contrary to conventional wisdom. State takeovers can help politically marginalized groups by disrupting the existing dominant governing regimes and by providing opportunities for previously excluded groups.

This book offers new insight into the post-1960s government response to the growth of Black political empowerment while also bucking the conventional wisdom in Political Science that state intervention in local communities is unequivocally disempowering; thus offering a novel framework for understanding how state intervention affects racialized communities.

You can also pick up the book at Oxford University or Barnes and Noble. The video is about 90 minutes. Take a look:

VIDEO: The role of nonprofits as laboratories for political change

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:00

They go by many names, nonprofits, non-governmental organizations, charities, but what has been their role in promoting democracy? The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics recently held the event, “Laboratories of Change: Non-Profits and the Government”, described online as a “conversation on the role of nonprofits in social innovation, the opportunities and challenges of government collaboration, and the landscape of non-profit work — both Chicago and across the country… This panel brings together leaders working to create change in fields ranging from education to prisoner re-entry and generational mobility.”


  • Victor Dickson is President and CEO of the non-profit Safer Foundation, a “national leader in the fields of community corrections, prisoner reentry and workforce development”.
  • Phyllis Lockett is the CEO of LEAP Innovations, that works to “identify, pilot, research and expand the use of innovative teaching and learning technology tools from pre-K to early college”.
  • Kirsten Lodal is the CEO and Co-Founder of the anti-poverty organization LIFT and IOP Pritzker Fellow for the Winter 2018 quarter. LIFT is an interesting case of a non-conventional non-profit structure. Check out their latest annual report released just days ago
  • Kurt Summers has been the City of Chicago’s Treasurer since December 1, 2014

The video is a bit over an hour. Here it is:

Also see this latest related article from DC:

Real World Social Media Benefit for Nonprofits

VIDEO: Ramzan Kadyrov’s Unusual Dictatorship in Chechnya

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 22:56

Vladimir Putin has given the mini-dictator Ramzan Kadyrov complete control over life and limb in Chechnya. Take a look at this video of a lecture on the subject by Tanya Lokshina at the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies an affiliate of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia at the University of Michigan. About the speaker:

Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director and a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and is based in Moscow. Having joined Human Rights Watch in January 2008, Lokshina authored several reports on egregious abuses in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus region and co-authored a report on violations of international humanitarian law during the 2008 armed conflict in Georgia.

See more about Lokshina at her Human Rights Watch bio. Here is the video:

Local NGOs Offer Platform to Support Nigerian Voters

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 22:30

One of the fruits of the 2015 general elections, which Nigerians will soon begin to reap as part of dividends of democracy is the fact that absolute power now rests with the people and not just the few politicians that form government. This was demonstrated in the last presidential election when for the first time in…


Dodge MLK Ad Sparks Controversy and New Political Art

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 21:28

A Dodge Super Bowl ad has attracted criticism for its use of a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. to sell trucks. The ad featured a section of King’s The Drum Major Instinct sermon delivered February 4, 1968, overtop images of American patriotism, including America’s military and other service jobs like teachers and firefighters. “If you…


The 20th-Century Jewish Exodus Map You Have Never Seen Before

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 15:32
Print shows Jews during exodus from Egypt – link

There are maps that show the impact of World War II on Jewish populations across Europe. There are also some, not as many, maps that show the scale of the impact of the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands. But as far as I can tell, there is no map that shows the geographic extent of the exodus of Jewish people in the 20th Century. I decided it couldn’t be too hard to make my own.

To start with, I knew that Wikipedia users had created the following map of the death toll as a percentage of the total pre-war Jewish population by country. The map is based on information provided by the impressive Philip Gavin, founder of the History Place, as well as research by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota. I followed the basic template of this Wikipedia map for my new map. This is the original Wikipedia Map of the Holocaust death toll as a percentage of the total pre-war Jewish population by country:

I also found the following map showing the exodus of Jewish populations across the Middle East. Notice every one of the countries highlighted red had a drop in Jewish population of over 99% except Iran with only a 90% drop.

So here is my map. It is color coded to show the percentage of the Jewish population that were either killed or expelled during the genocides and expulsions of the 20th century. I used a blank world map from Wikipedia with national borders as they were in 1935 as a base for my Photoshop work. Take a look:

Black: 80-100%. Red: 60-80%. Blue: 40-60%. Yellow: 20-30%, Grey: negligible

A blow up of this map is below. Notice that all of the areas color coded grey on the map are areas that, other than Turkey and perhaps England, had almost no large populations of Jews throughout recorded history or at the start of the 20th century. The majority of these countries color coded grey also resisted allowing Jewish refugees from the Holocaust or from the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.

Black: 80-100%. Red: 60-80%. Blue: 40-60%. Yellow: 20-30%, Grey: negligible

I also added some of my own basic research to back up some of the map’s country color rankings. The Jewish Virtual Library have chart of Holocaust victims by country based on information from the Anti-Defamation League and a similar chart can be found at the Anne Frank Foundation.

Unlike in the original Wikipedia chart at the top of the article however, I wanted to reflect total reduction in Jewish population, not just death rates. Inside Denmark for example, colored black on my map, the Jews mostly survived but fled into Sweden. This still represented a complete collapse in the number of Jews living in Denmark.

Some of the design of the map could stand to be explained a bit especially because I’ve never created anything like this map before.

In general, the drop in Europe’s Jewish population by and large took place in the few years of the Holocaust and this is what the color code is reflecting. But my map shows drops in population from the early 20th century to the end. For example, Russia is a complicated situation:

The parts of Russia overrun by the Nazis in their invasion of Russia were purged of Jews to the fullest extent. This obviously included any Russian territory up the gates of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad – the cities that marked the furthest advances of the Nazi invasion. The original Wikipedia map at the beginning of this article illustrates what happened very well, showing correctly that almost no Jews were killed during the Holocaust in areas of Russia the Nazis did not overrun.

My new map includes however the rest of the 20th century. Following the war, Stalin began a series of anti semitic campaigns including the Night of the Murdered Poets and the Doctors’ Plot allegation. Beginning in the 1970s, mass emigration of the Jewish population began a decline that lasted through the end of the 20th century. This entire decline is reflected in Russia being colored red on the map that correlates to roughly 60-80% of the Jewish population being killed or leaving Russia during the 20th century.

My thoughts on the map and its meaning

I didn’t intend to make this map to give evidence in support of the creation of modern Israel in 1950. And I also don’t present the map in the hope of excusing the actions of Israel or especially excusing the current desperate condition of the Palestinian people. But what happened to the Jewish people during the 20th century was on a global scale.  This wasn’t a small effort and it was pretty close to completed.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish people were spread across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. According to research by the Jewish Publication Society, the world’s Jewish population in 1939 was 16.6 million. Almost 60 percent, about 9.5 million, lived in Europe, and you can get an idea of their distribution within Europe in 1933 with this map here:

It is also worth noting that Jews still aren’t really welcome in most places they were expelled from. My own history, a mix of Polish Jews and Iraqi Jews, illustrates this point. There are basically no Jews left in Poland or Iraq. We are not really welcome in the current Polish political climate and would put our lives at serious risk to travel openly as Jews in Iraq.

In the end, I have personally found, when trying to wrap my head around the Israel-Palestine conflict, that conceptually understanding how broad the genocide and exodus of the Jewish people was, can help bring even the most ardent opponents of modern Israel a fresh understanding of the origins of the state. I hope this map will assist in giving a broader understanding of the region and its recent past.

United Nations and African Union detail plan for cooperation

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 14:05

Strong cooperation with the African Union (AU) is essential for the United Nations to be able to fulfill its mandate, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the two organizations signed a new agreement to bolster their collaboration on range of global issues. “For the United Nations, the most important partnership is…


VIDEO: Cambodia media blackout latest move to stifle opposition

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:34

With an election that’s just five months away, Cambodia is at a tipping point. The government of Hun Sen, the world’s longest-serving prime minister, is fearing the prospect of losing its parliamentary majority, after having been in power in various guises since 1979. A concerted campaign is under way to silence opposition figures, NGOs and media…


How Are Young American Journalists Getting Trained?

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:28

A few weeks ago, we asked ProPublica Illinois readers what they wanted to know about how we do our work and were inundated with thoughtful, challenging questions about journalism. In the first in an occasional series of short columns by our staff, ProPublica Emerging Reporter Natalie Escobar answers this inquiry about journalism training. I would like…


Burmese journalist Mratt Kyaw Thu receives AFP’s Kate Webb Prize

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:17

Reporter Mratt Kyaw Thu received the 2017 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize on Monday for his courageous coverage of ethnic and religious conflict in Myanmar’s borderlands. The award, named after one of AFP’s finest correspondents who died in 2007 at the age of 64, recognises top-notch journalism by locally-hired reporters in Asia operating in risky or…


Crisis as Independent Kenyan TV Remains Suspended

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 16:47

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights criticizes the continued suspension of three independent television stations in Kenya, despite a court ruling that the government ban be lifted. Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville says the U.N. office is concerned by the Kenyan government’s refusal to heed the Kenyan High Court’s instruction to allow…


A new Lebanese historical film has become a national obsession

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 16:33
The first hand drawn flag of Lebanon from 1943 – link

BEIRUT — In movie theaters in Lebanon, “The Insult” is preceded by a terse disclaimer: The views in the film do not represent those of the Lebanese government. Yet that official unease didn’t stop the Lebanese ministry of culture from choosing “The Insult” as the country’s entry for this year’s Academy Awards, and last month it…


Big Court Win Boosts Smaller Pennsylvania Political Parties

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 15:44

The Ballot Access News newsletter published by Richard Winger had the latest scoop on Pennsylvania political parties:

On February 1, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengel issued an order deleting the county distribution requirement for statewide petitions for independent candidates and the nominees of unqualified parties. Therefore, there is no need for any future petitions to include at least 250 signatures from each of ten counties. This result came about because the Third Circuit had suggested that such county distribution requirements are unconstitutional unless the state could show that the requirement had no impact on voting rights. That motivated the state to consent to dropping the requirement.

Minor party and independent candidates for Governor in Pennsylvania in 2018 therefore need 5,000 signatures, which can be gathered anywhere in the state.

Democracy Chronicles author Michael Ossipoff and editor-in-chief Adrian Tawfik categorized the Constitution Party as a centrist party on our list of third/small political parties at DC’s Third Party Central. The Constitution Party is one of the fastest growing third party in terms of voter registration. The party’s official name was changed to The Constitution Party in 1999; however, some state affiliate parties are known under different names.

Founded by Howard Phillips, a three-time United States presidential candidate, the party currently puts its main effort focusing on opposing open immigration policy. a three-time United States presidential candidate. The party wants to impose stricter penalties on illegal immigrants and enforce a moratorium on all legal immigration. Look here for the Constitution Party party platform.

The ongoing struggles of the Libertarian Party nominee for congress, Drew Miller, highlight the challenges ahead in Pennsylvania for independent and third party candidates. From an interesting Tribune-Review article on his campaign from last month:

Unless a minor-party candidate has a lot of money, they are not likely to make an impact in the race, said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg. “If somebody came in with a million dollars to lay on the table as a third-party candidate, they could make an impact. Absent that, I just don’t think there’s running room,” Gerow said…

Miller said his campaign has no money. He said he had to form a nonprofit to start collecting donations, and that process is under way. He said he plans to try to energize young voters looking for an alternative to the two-party system. “The odds are against me in terms of the money being spent, but in the same regards I think people need to realize that if there’s that much money spent, the candidates are going to be working for the parties themselves and not the constituents,” he said.

A related video from Fair Districts PA, a “nonpartisan, citizen-led, statewide coalition working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial, and fair”:

Reviewing the Digital Tools That Can Support European eDemocracy

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 14:11

Prospects For E-Democracy In Europe Digital tools could create stronger connections between European citizens and the EU decision-making process and, by doing so, might contribute to reducing the EU democratic deficit. This report investigates what lessons can be drawn from local, national and European experiences of the use of digital tools for the functioning of EU…


Thousands of Togolese protest against election reforms

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 14:00

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Togo’s capital Lome on Saturday, against President Faure Gnassingbe and his government. The protest came the day after mediators from Ghana and Guinea said that Togo will enter talks on controversial constitutional reform February 15, in a move aimed at ending a crippling political stalemate. A rolling series…