What Kenyan voters got for the $500m spent on elections

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18/08/2017, by Nanjala Nyabola

Raila Odinga, leader of the National Super Alliance and Kenya’s opposition is petitioning the Supreme Court for a review of the results of the 2017 election, easing the political pressure that has kept the country in suspended animation for the last week.

On the morning of August 9th, about 12 hours after results started trickling on the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) results transmission website, leader of the largest opposition coalition Raila Odinga claimed that the website had been hacked to under-represent his share of the vote. On Friday, at 10:30 pm, the chairman of the IEBC, Wafula Chebukati, declared Uhuru Kenyatta the winner triggering a flurry of protests in Nairobi and Kisumu. According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights at least 24 people have died.

Kenya’s elections generally have three phases. First, there is a jittery pre-election phase peppered with accusations of malpractice; second, a peaceful and even joyous voting phase; and third, an anxious wait for final results and the inevitable fallout.

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Eventuais sanções à Venezuela podem piorar sofrimento da população, diz relator da ONU

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As sanções não são a resposta para a crescente crise na Venezuela, e a comunidade internacional não deve seguir por esse caminho, disse o relator especial das Nações Unidas Idriss Jazairy nesta sexta-feira (11).

“As sanções podem piorar a situação da população venezuelana, que já está sofrendo com a inflação paralisante e a falta de acesso adequado a alimentos e remédios”, disse Jazairy.

O especialista enfatizou que esforços no sentido de prejudicar a economia venezuelana só levarão a violações dos direitos das pessoas comuns. “Sanções causam perturbação a qualquer Estado, e podem particularmente ter efeitos devastadores para cidadãos de países em desenvolvimento quando prejudicam a economia”.

“O diálogo é a base de uma solução para as disputas”, disse Jazairy. “Os Estados devem se engajar em diálogo construtivo com o governo venezuelano para chegar a soluções para os desafios muito reais enfrentados”, disse.

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The Partition: The British game of ‘divide and rule’

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10/08/2017, by Sashi Tharoor

On August 15, 1947, India won independence: a moment of birth that was also an abortion, since freedom came with the horrors of the partition, when East and West Pakistan were hacked off the stooped shoulders of India by the departing British.

Seventy years later, it is hard to look back without horror at the savagery of the country’s vivisection, when rioting, rape and murder scarred the land, millions were uprooted from their homes, and billions of rupees worth of property were damaged and destroyed. Within months, India and Pakistan were embroiled in a war over Kashmir, the consequences of which still affect us today.

There was an intangible partition, too. Friendships were destroyed, families ruined, geography hacked, history misread, tradition denied, minds and hearts torn apart. The creation and perpetuation of Hindu-Muslim antagonism was the most significant accomplishment of British imperial policy: the colonial project of “divide et impera” (divide and rule) fomented religious antagonisms to facilitate continued imperial rule and reached its tragic culmination in 1947.

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Christopher Kissane: ‘Historical myopia is to blame for the attacks on Mary Beard’

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Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther sparked a movement of Reformation that would leave indelible marks on European history. While some have used this anniversary as an opportunity for reflection, and others a chance to heal old wounds, 2017 finds us in an age of intense historical myopia. Breathless news cycles and furious outrage are shrinking our horizons just as they need to widen. Public debate barely remembers the world of last year, “old news”, let alone that of a decade or few ago.

History’s expertise, and most dangerously its perspective, are being lost in our inability to look beyond the here and now. We stumble into crises of finance and inequality with ignorance of economic history, and forget even the recent background to our current politics. We fail to think in the long term and miss a growing environmental catastrophe. We refuse help to millions of refugees by turning away from our own history. As technology and globalisation bring the world closer together, we have narrowed rather than broadened our perspective. With challenges on many fronts, history needs to be at the heart of how we think about our ever-changing world.

Instead, history’s prominence in Britain is too often reduced to a seemingly endless parade of Tudors, Victorians and the second world war. When history does appear in public debate, it is generally in the form of facile analogies, from all manner of centenary comparisons to the first world war to the Reformation, as “the first Brexit” or “this generation’s Dunkirk”. Such lazy attempts to equate the present and the past are actively misleading, a pointless parlour game that crowds out the vital role of history in understanding current affairs. Instead of examining the historical trends in American economy and culture that have produced Trump, we ask if he is “the new Hitler”.

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El futuro de la lucha contra la pobreza en América Latina

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24/05/2017, by Fernando Rey

América Latina es una de las regiones más pobres y desiguales del mundo. Tras una década de progreso al amparo del crecimiento económico, la tendencia actual está en disposición de revertir los logros alcanzados. Frente al desafío que entraña emprender la erradicación de la pobreza, el trabajo conjunto de los principales actores de la región en el marco de una estrategia integral, la Agenda 2030 y sus objetivos de desarrollo sostenible (ODS), se convierte en un requisito indispensable para continuar la lucha.

La erradicación de la pobreza en todas sus formas es una de las grandes metas que persigue la cooperación para el desarrollo. Han sido múltiples las formas en las que esta lucha se ha materializado en todo el mundo, desde aquellas más asistencialistas y paternalistas hasta otras que decidieron apostar por un desarrollo local que permitiera un progreso real y autónomo.

En el marco de esta lucha, América Latina es una región paradigmática, puesto que pobreza y desigualdad son dos variables que han golpeado históricamente a los países que la forman. Los orígenes de esta realidad descansan en las relaciones sociales que se han producido en la región durante los últimos tiempos, que se materializaron en una estructura de poder oligárquica fraguada en el marco del colonialismo y cuya herencia ha perdurado. La lucha contra la pobreza alcanzó sus mayores éxitos a principios del siglo XXI, cuando tras décadas de inestabilidad e incertidumbre, tanto política como económica, la situación de la población vulnerable mejoró sustancialmente.

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Poland’s senate approves contentious court bill

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Poland’s upper house of parliament has approved a Supreme Court overhaul, defying the European Union and critics at home who say the legislation would undermine democratic checks and balances.

A total of 55 senators voted for, with 23 voting against the bill that gives politicians substantial influence over the Supreme Court. Two members abstained.

To become law, the bill needs to be signed by President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. The eurosceptic PiS argues new rules are needed to make the judiciary accountable and efficient.

The governing party says it’s needed to improve the court’s efficiency and break with communist-era judges and practices.

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When Trump makes us nostalgic for the Bush years

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28/06/2017, by Larry Beinhart

What is truly astonishing is how each Republican president makes us nostalgic for the one before.

Remember George W Bush. A mere nine years ago he was the worst president we’ve ever had. He started two wars he couldn’t win, destabilising the Middle East and leaving it in a state of what appears to be permanent multi-sided civil wars. While he was doing that, he pursued economic policies that led to a worldwide financial implosion followed by the Great Recession.

And what a liar. Remember “weapons of mass destruction” and the connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?

But at least W’s lies were professionally produced. They were crafted and honed before he told them. Sure, they were backed by fake facts, but they were carefully selected so as not to have been refuted earlier in the same sentence. Or by a tweet the next day. They were lies a guy could repeat, smoothly, for years, and even, when the winds of reality exposed actual facts, a guy could regretfully claim that he was fooled along with all the rest of us.

George W Bush made his dad, George H W Bush, look really good – almost great – by comparison. He was a real old-fashioned kind of president, fact-based by nature, who only went the fiction route when politics forced him to. For example, he knew Reaganomics – the policies later embraced by his son – was Voodoo Economics and that the Laffer curve, so aptly named, was laughable. He only embraced these policies when his party made him swear by them. When they did what they were bound to do – produce massive deficits and a recession – he raised taxes, improving the economy and ruining his political career.

He knew how to win a war, get out when it was over, and leave the place sufficiently intact that he didn’t have to stay to keep order. He even knew how to pay for it.

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