Daily Archives: August 6, 2017

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next? – Red Pepper

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 5:41 pm

We may be living through one of those moments in history that future historians will look back on as a watershed, a period of flux that marked a transition to quite different economic and social arrangements. Unfortunately, in human history a moment can be a very long time, so long that it could be decades before the final shape of the new arrangements are even evident; and in the interim, there could be many dead cat bounces of the current system.

What is clear is that the established order broadly defined as neoliberal globalised finance capitalism is no longer capable of delivering on its promises of either growth or stability, even as it generates more inequality and insecurity across the world. In Marxist terms (as befitting the 150th anniversary of Das Kapital), the property relations under which production is organised have become fetters on the development of productive forces themselves, and generate more and more alienation. This may explain why, perhaps even more significantly, the system is also losing legitimacy in most countries, under attack from both right and left.

Whether we look at straws in the wind or green shoots in the ground, there is no doubt that there are incipient signs of change. But at this point there are many directions in which such change could go, and not all of them are progressive or even desirable. That is why it is important to get social and political traction for alternative trajectories that focus on more equitable, just, democratic and ecologically viable outcomes for most of humanity.

The question what is your alternative? is a familiar one for most progressives, and too often we are overly defensive or self-critical about our supposed lack of alternatives. In truth, there are many economically-viable, socially-desirable alternative proposals in different contexts. The problem is not their lack of existence but their lack of political feasibility, and perhaps their lack of wider dissemination. But it is certainly true that the alternative does not consist of one over-arching theory (or even framework) that can subsume all others, since there are many good reasons for being sceptical of the days of the grand theory that supposedly could take care of everything.

While rejecting the totalising theory, it is possible to think of a broad framework around which there could be much agreement, even among people who do not necessarily identify themselves as of the left, but are nevertheless dissatisfied with current economic arrangements at both national and international levels.

Much current discussion on economic strategies for global capitalism is framed around the financial crisis of 2007/8 and its continuing repercussions. But it does not really need a crisis to show us that the past strategy for growth and development has been flawed in most countries. Even during the previous boom, the pattern of growth had too many limitations, paradoxes and inherent fragilities. Everyone now knows that the economic boom was unsustainable, based on speculative practices that were enabled and encouraged by financial deregulation. It also drew rapaciously and fecklessly on natural resources, and it was deeply unequal. Contrary to general perception, most people in the developing world, even within the most successful region of Asia, did not gain.

The financial bubble in the US attracted savings from across the world, including from the poorest developing countries, so that for at least five years the global South transferred financial resources to the North. Developing country governments opened their markets to trade and finance, gave up on monetary policy and pursued fiscally correct deflationary policies that reduced public spending. Development projects remained incomplete and citizens were deprived of the most essential socio-economic rights.

A net transfer of jobs from North to South did not take place. In fact, industrial employment in the South barely increased in the past decade, even in the factory of the world, China. Instead, technological change in manufacturing and new services meant that fewer workers could generate more output. Old jobs in the South were lost or became precarious and the majority of new jobs were fragile, insecure and low-paying, even in fast-growing China and India. The persistent agrarian crisis in the developing world hurt peasant livelihoods and generated global food problems. Rising inequality meant that the much-hyped growth in emerging markets did not benefit most people, as profits soared but wage shares of national income declined sharply.

Almost all developing countries adopted an export-led growth model, which in turn suppressed wage costs and domestic consumption in order to remain internationally competitive and achieve growing shares of world markets. This led to the peculiar situation of rising savings rates and falling investment rates (especially in several Asian countries) and to the holding of international reserves that were then placed in safe assets abroad. This is why the boom that ended in 2007/8 was associated with the South (especially in developing Asia) subsidising the North: through cheaper exports of goods and services, through net capital flows from developing countries to the US in particular, through flows of cheap labour in the form of short-term migration.

The collapse in Northern export markets that followed the recession brought that process to a halt, and recent moves towards more protectionist strategies in the US and elsewhere, as well as the persistent mercantilist approach of surplus-producing countries like Germany, have made it more difficult since then. In any case, such a strategy is unsustainable beyond a point, especially when a number of relatively large economies use it at the same time.

In this boom, domestic demand tended to be profit-led, based on high and growing profit shares in the economy and significant increases in the income and consumption of newly-globalised middle classes, which led to bullish investment in non-tradeable sectors such as financial assets and real estate as well as in luxury goods and services. The patterns of production and consumption that emerged meant that growth also involved rapacious and ultimately destructive exploitation of nature and the environment. The costs in terms of excessive congestion, environmental pollution and ecological degradation are already being felt, quite apart from the implications such expansion has on climate change.

There have been other negative impacts. Within developing Asia, for example, it led to an internal brain drain with adverse implications for the future. The skewed structure of incentives generated by the explosive growth of finance directed the best young minds towards careers that promised quick rewards and large material gains rather than painstaking but socially necessary research and basic science. The impact of relocation of certain industries and the associated requirement for skilled and semi-skilled labour led to increased opportunities for educated employment, but it also led bright young people to enter work that is typically mechanical and does not require much originality or creativity, with little opportunity to develop their intellectual capacities.

At the same time, crucial activities were inadequately rewarded. Farming in particular became increasingly fraught with risk and subject to growing volatility and declining financial viability, while non-farm work did not increase rapidly enough to absorb the labour force even in the fastest growing economies of the region.

The boom was not stable or inclusive, either across or within countries. The subsequent slump (or secular stagnation) has been only too inclusive, forcing those who did not gain earlier to pay for the sins of irresponsible and unregulated finance. As economies slow down, more jobs are lost or become more fragile, insecure and vulnerable; and people, especially those in the developing world who did not gain from the boom, face loss of livelihood and deteriorating conditions of living. This is why it is so important that we restructure economic relations in a more democratic and sustainable way.

There are several necessary elements of this. Globally, most now recognise the need to reform the international financial system, which has failed to meet two obvious requirements: preventing instability and crises, and transferring resources from richer to poorer economies. Not only have we experienced much greater volatility and propensity to financial meltdown across emerging markets and now even industrial countries, but even the periods of economic expansion were based on the global poor subsidising the rich.

Within national economies, this system has encouraged pro-cyclicality: it has encouraged bubbles and speculative fervour rather than real productive investment for future growth. It has rendered national financial systems opaque and impossible to regulate. It has allowed for the proliferation of parallel transactions through tax havens and loose domestic controls. It has reduced the crucial developmental role of directed credit.

Given these problems, there is no alternative but systematic state regulation and control of finance. Since private players will inevitably attempt to circumvent regulation, the core of the financial system banking must be protected, and that is only possible through social ownership. Therefore, some degree of socialisation of banking (and not just the risks inherent in finance) is inevitable. In developing countries this is also important because it enables public control over the direction of credit, without which no country has industrialised.

The obsessively export-oriented model that has dominated the growth strategy for the past few decades must be reconsidered. This is not a just a desirable shift it has become a necessity given the obvious fact that the US and the EU are no longer engines of world growth through increasing import demand in the near future. This means that both developed and developing countries must seek to redirect their exports to other countries and most of all to redirect their economies towards more domestic demand. This requires a shift towards wage-led and domestic demand-led growth, particularly in the countries with economies large enough to sustain this shift. This can happen not only through direct redistributive strategies but also through public expenditure to provide more basic goods and services.

This means that fiscal policy and public expenditure must be brought back centre stage. Calls to end austerity are becoming more widespread in the developed world and will soon find their counterpart in developing countries. Clearly, fiscal stimulus is now essential, to cope with the adverse real-economy effects of the current crisis/stagnation and to prevent economic activity and employment from falling, and then to put good, quality employment on a stable footing. Fiscal expenditure is also required to undertake and promote investment to manage the effects of climate change and promote greener technologies. Public spending is crucial to advance the development project in the South and fulfil the promise of achieving minimally acceptable standards of living for everyone in the developing world.

Social policy the public responsibility for meeting social and economic rights of citizens contributes positively to both growth and development. This means especially the provision of universal good quality care services, funded by the state, with care workers properly recognised, remunerated and provided with decent working conditions. This also helps to reduce gender and other social inequalities generated by the imposition of unpaid care work, and has strong multiplier effects that allow for more employment increases over time and generate a bubbling up of economic activity.

There must be conscious attempts to reduce economic inequalities, both between and within countries. We have clearly crossed the limits of what is acceptable inequality in most societies, and policies will have to reverse this trend. Globally and nationally, we must reduce inequalities in income and wealth, and most significantly in the consumption of natural resources.

This is even more complicated than might be imagined because unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are deeply entrenched in richer countries and are aspired to in developing countries. But many millions of citizens of the developing world still have poor or inadequate access to the most basic conditions of decent life, such as electricity, transport and communication links, sanitation, health, nutrition and education. Ensuring universal provision across the global South will inevitably require greater per capita use of natural resources and more carbon-emitting production.

Both sustainability and equity therefore require a reduction of the excessive resource use of the rich, especially in developed countries but also among the elites in the developing world. This means that redistributive fiscal and other economic policies must be especially oriented towards reducing inequalities of resource consumption, globally and nationally. Within countries, for example, essential social and developmental expenditure can be financed by taxes that penalise resource-wasteful expenditure.

This requires new patterns of demand and production. It is why the present focus on developing new means of measuring genuine progress, well-being and quality of life are so important. Quantitative GDP growth targets, which still dominate the thinking of policy-makers, are not simply distracting from these more important goals but can be counterproductive.

For example, a chaotic, polluting and unpleasant system of privatised urban transport involving many vehicles and over-congested roads generates more GDP than a safe, efficient and affordable system of public transport that reduces congestion and provides a pleasant living and working environment. It is not enough to talk about cleaner, greener technologies to produce goods that are based on the old and now discredited pattern of consumption. Instead, we must think creatively about consumption itself, and work out which goods and services are more necessary and desirable for our societies.

This cannot be left to market forces, since the international demonstration effect and the power of advertising will continue to create undesirable wants and unsustainable consumption and production. But public intervention in the market cannot be knee-jerk responses to constantly changing short-term conditions. Instead, planning not in the sense of the detailed planning that destroyed the reputation of command regimes, but strategic thinking about the social requirements and goals for the future is absolutely essential. Fiscal and monetary policies, as well as other forms of intervention, will have to be used to redirect consumption and production towards these social goals, to bring about such shifts in socially-created aspirations and material wants, and to reorganise economic life to be less rapacious and more sustainable.

Since state involvement in economic activity is now an imperative, we should be thinking of ways to make involvement more democratic and accountable within our countries and internationally. Large amounts of public money will be used for financial bailouts and to provide fiscal stimuli. How this is done will have huge implications for distribution, access to resources and living conditions of the ordinary people whose taxes will be paying for this. So it is essential that we design the global economic architecture to function more democratically. And it is even more important that states across the world, when formulating and implementing economic policies, are more open and responsive to the needs of the majority of their citizens.

These are general points and obviously leave much to the specific contexts of individual countries and societies. But finally, we need an international economic framework that supports all this, which means more than just that capital flows must be controlled and regulated so that they do not destabilise these strategies.

The global institutions that form the organising framework for international trade, investment and production decisions need to change and become not only more democratic in structure but more genuinely democratic and people-oriented in spirit, intent and functioning. This is particularly the case with respect to the dissemination of knowledge, now privatised and concentrated thanks to the privileging of intellectual property rights. Financing for development and conservation of global resources must become the top priorities of the global economic institutions.

These proposals may seem like a tall order, but human history is replete with stories of major reversals of past trajectories and transformations that come when they are not expected and from directions that are unpredictable. What has been created and implemented by human agency can also be undone to bring in better alternatives. It may well be that the time is ripe in terms of greater social acceptance of such ideas and thoughts about how to refine and adapt them to particular contexts.

Jayati Ghosh is professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and the executive secretary of International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS). She is closely involved with a range of progressive organisations and social movements. She blogs at triplecrisis.com and networkideas.org/jayati-blog

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Essay: After neoliberalism, what next? – Red Pepper

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Young Iranians Are Using These Apps to Bypass Government Oppression – Motherboard

Posted: at 5:40 pm

Last May, Iranians re-elected president Hassan Rouhani, a reformist leader, in hopes he will slowly edge Iran toward a more open and progressive sociopolitical culture.

In a country where 60 percent of the 80 million population is under 30 years old, the mobile-savvy, VPN-using youth in Iran have been resisting government control. Telegram, the encrypted messaging service, has become a popular form of communication for political expression, for example. But young people are also up against internet censorship, moral policing and fundamental religious clerics. Even with a relatively more liberal leader like Rouhani, Facebook and Twitter are still banned.

“Iranians are techy, they are ready.”

In their quest for expanded civil rights, some Iranians are taking ideas from Silicon Valley to the streets of Tehran and channeling them into apps that fill the gaps in health, education and dialogue. Built by Iranians both at home and abroad, there is hope that these mobile solutions could work where protests and advocacy has not.

“They want Iran to open up, it’s very clear,” said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, co-founder of United 4 Iran (U4I), a US-based non-profit that is working to advance civil liberties in Iran through technology. “Iranians are techy, they are ready.”

At the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF), an annual human rights conference, Mahmoudi told me how technology in her country is being wielded as a tool for political dissent. Mahmoudi herself is an Iranian, though raised mostly in the US. She said the Iranian government now deems her an “anti-revolutionary fugitive” because of her work and political views.

But with around 20 million smartphone users, and a million new smartphones being added to the market every month in Iran, it’s clear she is not the only one looking to technology for change. The spate of new apps targeted toward Iranians and their rights reveal their priorities.

One app that sparked success upon its release was Gershad, which helps users protect themselves from the Gasht-e Ershad (guidance patrol), the so-called “morality police” of Iran. This de facto police force identifies and arrests anyone deemed to be inappropriately dressed, or in violation of Islamic cultural values, as reported by Iran Wire. Inevitably, women are more persecuted than men, as one of the main responsibilities of the morality police is to make sure women wear the hijab according to Islamic law.

The app is crowdsourced and takes information from its users, similar to the traffic app Waze. Gershad allows its users who see a checkpoint to indicate its location on the app’s map, allowing other users to find another route to avoid confrontation with the moral police.

The Gershad developers, who remain anonymous to protect the users and developers, explained on their website that the idea stemmed from the fact that many Iranians experience humiliation and disrespect from the Gasht-e Ershad. Angered by this “unreasonable injustice” they developed the app as a solution. “Why should we be humiliated for the most obvious right to choose the clothes that we wear?” their website asks.

The app was downloaded over 16,000 times within hours of its release, according to its creators. And though it was blocked very quickly by the government, tech-savvy users can still use it through VPN. Last year, the app won the Bobs 2016 Tech for Good award.

Sandoogh96, which translates to Vote17 (2017 is 1396 in the Iranian calendar), is an app that was launched just before the elections last May. The app is inspired by the infamous dating app Tinder, which allows users to swipe right on another user if they’re interested, or swipe left if they’re not. But instead of swiping right or left for a date, Sandoogh96 users swipe to find out which politician is more in line with their ideas.

A screenshot from Sandoogh96. Image: Sandoogh96

The app has different choices such as: “I want internet blocks to be removed” or “LGBT people should have the same rights as everyone.” The users political preferences then produce a list of candidates that align with his or her beliefs. One of the app’s best features is its “find a match” tool, which lets voters identify the candidates most aligned with their positions in six major categories including economics, culture, women’s rights, and foreign policy.

Sandoogh96 was developed through the Irancubator, a project created by U4I to develop civic technologies with community members. The app was created by IranWire, a media organization sharing news on Iran in English, and Small Media, a London-based research lab that specializes in projects supporting human rights in Iran.

Another app made through Irancubator is HamDam, which translates to “companionship.” This is the first period-tracking app that allows individuals to use the Persian calendar.

HamDam includes the usual ovulation and period tracking features, but contains additional information about reproductive and legal rights for Iranian women. This is especially important because sexual education in Iran is very limited to young, straight couples getting married, according to the HamDam project lead Soudeh Rad.

Rad explained that sex education is also usually biased and centered around male pleasure, and that this app was meant to fill that gap. “Women’s sexuality is the subject of so much oppression around the world, which is connected to the struggle for the right to control our own bodies,” she said.

Screenshot from HamDam. Image: HamDam

The app’s legal information is meant for women to protect themselves before marriage. Mahmoudi explained that in Iran, marriage license can act as a prenuptial agreement, and if the women don’t include language that gives both parties equal rights beforehand, the woman has very little rights in case of divorce. So, if the husband turns out to be abusive, a woman may be forced to choose between losing custody of her children or continuing to be a victim of abuse.

U4I told me the app has been downloaded more than 130,000 times, according to HamDam creators, and viewed over 1.5 million times.

The Iranian app Toranj was inspired by app Circle of 6, an American app designed to protect college students from sexual violence. In this version, a woman can warn her trusted circle if she is in a dangerous situation. The circle will know the exact location of the user and has options to intervene, either with a phone call or by calling the police.

In Iran, approximately 63 percent of all women are subject to verbal, sexual, or psychological abuse, and most women do not report this to the authorities for reasons varying from guilt, or fear of economic hardship. But technology is trying to come to the rescue: Toranj mimics Circle of 6 to suit Iran’s context, and has information similar to that present in HamDam.

A demonstration of the Toranj app. Image: Toranj

The app was developed in collaboration with Kurdish lawyer Shadi Shad, who has been working with victims of abuse. What made matters worse, she told me, was “the lack of social education and disregard for this type of behaviour that permeates within Iranian societya self-inflicted ignorance which helps perpetuate a pattern of misplaced justification for abusive partners.”

A user, who is a doctor, sent a heartfelt letter to Toranj’s team describing her experience as an abused wife for 20 years. While she preferred to remain anonymous, her testimony serves as a proof that technology can be used to tackle social and human rights issues.

*

Many of the apps targeting young Iranians can’t be created inside the country because of the censorship and access issues that many young Iranians face. These civil liberties apps are developed by Iranians residing outside the country who cannot come back for security purposes. Technology in this case, is acting as a bridge, allowing their activism permeate people’s lives inside the country.

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Young Iranians Are Using These Apps to Bypass Government Oppression – Motherboard

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Researchers: Saddam Hussein’s statistics of child deaths in Iraq ‘massive fraud’ – Kurdistan24

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Kurdistan24
Researchers: Saddam Hussein's statistics of child deaths in Iraq 'massive fraud'
Kurdistan24
Several reports in the 1990s suggested the statistics of child deaths were marred by poor or inadequate methodology. Some reports even proposed the figures appeared to include children who died as a result of the Iraqi government's oppression of

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Amid a backdrop of government oppression, this Zimbabwe startup is working on the future of news – The Zimbabwean

Posted: at 5:40 pm

The Source Team, from left: Kuda Chideme (senior reporter), Simbarashe Zishiri (journalist), Plaxedes Sibanda (journalist), Marceline Kangoni (secretary) Alfonce Mbizwo (editor-In- chief). (Courtesy Alfonce Mbizwo)

Editor-in-Chief Alfonce Mbizwo said it was just another effort by the regime to limit free press.

We think it was an experiment to see just how effective that could get, because we were heading toward elections, he said. Because we are internet-based, there is a real fear that we could be shut down.

The financial news startup regularly juggles breaking business news, dishing up headlines on WhatsApp and experimenting with chatbots to grow its audience. Located in shared offices with the the Reuters and BBC bureaus in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe which Freedom House has classified as a partly free state with no freedom of the press The Sources five-person staff regularly uses technology to navigate a difficult media environment.

Theres sort of a limit to what the media can do [in Zimbabwe] it is a bit complicated in that you have the situation where there is so much political polarization, Mbizwo said. People want to be sure that youre not just some other political mouthpiece.

From the startups beginning as a trust in 2011 and launch as a media outlet in 2013, digital innovation has been a core focus. A collaborative project supported by the European Journalism Centre, Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Dutch government, The Source is run by a team of Zimbabwean journalists who aim to publish unbiased, relevant business news.

Josh LaPorte, media development adviser at the European Journalism Centre, came up with the idea for the startup when he was working with Reuters in London one summer. There, he met several expatriate journalists who wanted to return to Zimbabwe and work on high-quality, independent journalism.

One toehold was through business news there was a lack of transparency in the economy, LaPorte said. This made sense on a business level and also an information level.

And with general elections slated for next summer in a country whose cash shortage and floundering economy have been described as a death spiral transparent business journalism is more important now than ever.

The economy is not part of the debate in this election, something which we try to rectify by making the economy part of the conversation, Mbizwo said.

The Source publishes stories about everything from reports on United Nations statistics to investigations about corruption in the local business community. While there are several big daily newspapers in Zimbabwe that regularly cover business and the economy, Mbizwo said the startup which lives entirely online and has nearly 20,000 subscribers for its free daily news digest and WhatsApp group is one of the only organizations whose journalism remains apolitical.

In terms of economic and financial business news, we are on our own, he said.

Most are so scared that self-censorship basically rules the day, LaPorte added.

Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said while self-censorship is a common issue among local news outlets, its not exclusive to Zimbabwe. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya and even South Africa, regularly deal with interference from the government and big businesses, often in the form of advertising.

The issue of whether government is putting pressure on journalists is something that youll see just in terms of government advertising spent, she said. What youre actually seeing is editorial interference by media bosses to try and ensure that certain stories arent used.

The Source is different from other Zimbabwean media organizations in that its completely supported by foreign funders. In a way, the startups goals are similar to those of publishers in the United States and Western Europe: Disseminate independent journalism, grow audience and innovate online. But unlike news outlets in healthy democracies and despite its independent source of funding The Sources ambition to hold the powerful accountable is still regularly interrupted by the powerful.

In spring 2015, local police and lawyers for Zimbabwes largest mobile phone operator raided The Sources offices. Reuters reported the authorities and lawyers retrieved emails and documents in a dispute over stories about the phone companys questionable financial relationship with a large bank in the country.

The raid was authorized by a Zimbabwean court, which ruled the phone company had the right to seize information that was based on internal company documents and had been used without permission, The Center for International Media Assistance reported.

It didnt make sense for the big bank to come around and say we had bad information. It came from their own office, Mbizwo said. It involved the fact that the bank had given large amounts of loans to certain politically connected people.

The Source has received threats before, but that was the only time the publisher has been raided. In places like Zimbabwe, judiciaries and private businesses collaborating to oppress the media isnt exactly uncommon.

Youre not always safe when you do business news in these tough environments, LaPorte said.

Thats part of the reason why Czech Republic-based Sourcefabric decided to get involved with The Source. Last year, the open-source software development company teamed up with the European Journalism Centre to provide the startup with digital tools to streamline its production and communication systems.

In the past, Sourcefabric has worked with investigative outfits in Serbia and organized projects in authoritarian countries in the Caucasus region. At the heart of the companys mission is to help small-scale news publishers achieve their innovation goals.

We are trying to make the best possible software for journalism,said Sava Tati, co-founder and managing director of Sourcefabric. By working with news organizations in different parts of the world, we realized there has to be a way to create once and publish everywhere.

Among the tools given to The Source is a multi-channel content management system called Superdesk, which allows publishers to post to their websites, social media channels and apps as well as communicate with other team members all from the same place. Sourcefabric made a WordPress plugin specifically for the startup to use with its existing CMS, which went live in June.

The idea is that you get them on a platform, you configure and simplify it enough so they can get their basic workflows, Tati said. Its something that can help them if they have a business vision or strategy to expand at least we can provide the technological part of the solution.

If The Source has anything, its a strategy to expand. Mbizwo and Douglas Arellanes, co-founder and director of innovation at Sourcefabric, said the news outlet is exploring ways to reach new audiences in a country where cell phone data networks cost a fortune. Among them include the creation of a Facebook Messenger chatbot that can communicate in local dialects and a pan-African financial news syndication network.

We think engagement to our readers is quite important, Mbizwo said. In a way, were trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Its not yet clear whether The Sources investment in innovative distribution strategies will pay off. But Arellanes is embracing the uncertainty.

We dont know if WhatsApp will be the thing that really takes off, he said. What we do know though is that these things need to be tried. They need to tried quickly and cheaply, and implement the strategy of failing fast.

Under oppressive governments, thats not always easy to do. Mbizwo said the Zimbabwean regime has experimented with interrupting internet services in the past as a way of silencing critics, such as with the shutdown of WhatsApp last summer. Arellanes said the tactic is common in other countries that lack freedom of the press, such as Turkey and Cameroon.

But whileThe Sources digital-only approach can be a liability, hesaid it could also serve as an effective way to combat governments that havent caught up to changing media consumption patterns.

Something that Ive seen in many different countries is that the more repressive the regime, the less innovation there is especially in the digital space,Arellanes said. Oftentimes, the regime hasnt caught up to a lot of the various digital innovations that have occurred in this way, independent media can be like a mouse running among dinosaurs.

With a full-time staff of five, a network of stringers and a government thats unfavorable to the media at best, The Source has its work cut out. But Tati said a news organizations ability to innovate does not depend on where theyre located in the world.

Innovation is not reserved for the so-called First World countries, he said. In these places, its really more a question of whether they can afford something or not. There are plenty of people with great ideas.

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‘Double standard’: Exiled Tibetan president calls for support – Warrnambool Standard

Posted: at 5:40 pm

6 Aug 2017, 7:28 p.m.

He demanded China allow Tibetans to vote for their Chinese leaders.

The president of the Tibetan government-in-exile called on the Australian government to lobby for full Tibetan autonomy in China.

Dr Lobsang Sangay is set to make a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday on the back of a Sydney Opera House talk on Saturday.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Sangay called for the Chinese government to embrace the ‘Middle Way’ approach, allowing Tibetan people to vote for their representatives in China.

“If the Chinese government ends the oppression and gives genuine autonomy as per Chinese laws, then we will not seek separation from China,” Mr Sangay said.

“We welcome the support and appeal to the Australian government.”

Mr Sangay said no Australian government officials had offered to meet him while he was in the country.

Officially, Tibet is a province of China headed by a Communist Party-appointed administrator.

“He is a Chinese person ruling over Tibetan people and I am a Tibetan who has the mandate of the Tibetan people,” Mr Sangay said.

Tibet’s famous Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, announced in 2011 he wished to hand his political functions to an elected official.

“So the Tibetan movement will be taken forward by the Tibetan people and not be dependent on a single person,” Mr Sangay said.

Exiled Tibetans have twice voted Mr Sangay as sikyong-or president-of the India-based Central Tibetan Administration.

Mr Sangay said the Australian government feared to formally recognise his position out of fear of upsetting China, one of the nation’s leading trading partners.

“That’s why we say it’s a double standard, the exile status is not the reason but who you are dealing with is the reason,” he said.

Mr Sangay pointed to the international community’s embrace of the exiled Syrian government as contradictory despite his government’s embrace of non-violence.

“We use non-violence as a means and dialogue as a process,” he said.

Mr Sangay added that heavy industrialisation of the Tibetan plateau due to an influx of Chinese migrants and Chinese state-sponsored mining in the region was damaging the local environment.

The degradation is endangering the “water tower of Asia” for 1.4 billion people who rely on water flowing from the plateau.

“The first casualty will be China and the Chinese people,” Mr Sangay said.

Mr Sangay himself has never been to Tibet. His father fled Tibet at the same time as the Dalai Lama in 1959. Mr Sangay was born in a refugee camp in India in 1968.

Ultimately, Mr Sangay hoped to see the Dalai Lama return to his “rightful place” in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital and he thanked Australians for their support.

“Continue to be with us for this march of justice, which will be resolved sooner than later.”

The story ‘Double standard’: Exiled Tibetan president calls for support first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Rising Kashmir News – Rising Kashmir

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Arrests, torture meant to divert attention from killings in Kashmir

Two Hurriyat factions and JKLF leaders Saturday staged a joint sit-in protest here at Maisuma against the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for arresting their leaders.

A joint Hurriyat statement issued later said the leaders and activists who participated in the protest included Noor Muhammad Kalwal of JKLF, Meraj Ud din Rabbani of Hurriyat (G) Muhammad Yaqoob Masoodi of APHC (M), Hilal Ahmad war, Mukhtar Ahmad Sofi, Siraj ud din Mir, Mushtaq Ahmad Sofi, Zahoor Ahmad Butt, Sheikh Abdul Rashid, Ghulam Qadir Baigh, Syed Imtiyaz Hiader, Advocate Yasir Dalal, Farooq Ahmad Sodagar, Muhammad Shafi Khan, Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri, Muhammad Sideeq Shah, Professor Javed, Gazi Javed, Imran Ahmad Butt, Muhammad Haneef, Sajad Ahmad Butt, Muhammad Rafiq Owaisee, Mudasir Nadwi, ,Showkat Ahmad Dar Mushtaq Ahmad Dar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah. Statement said many other people from varied walks of life also marched towards Budshah Chowk and later sat on a peaceful sit-in there. Terming NIA and ED arrests, torturing and prolonging the incarceration of jailed leaders including Shabir Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Shahid ul Islam, Akbar Ayaz, Peer Saifullah, Raja Meraj ud din Kalwal, Naeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar, and Devendar Singh Bhel as a ploy to deviate attention of people from ongoing genocide of Kashmiris and demonize and defame Kashmiri resistance and leadership, the leaders said that on one hand killings of innocents is continuing unabated and on the other hand arbitrary arrests , false and concocted media trial of resistance leadership and other oppressive measures continue without any break. The oppressive ploy and deceitful tactics played through NIA are only meant to hide Indian oppression and divert attention of the international community and Indian people from ongoing innocent killings and genocide of Kashmiris, statement quoting the protesting said.

Statement quoting Hurriyat leaders said that NIA and ED is being used as a tool of oppression against resistance leadership and through intimidations, harassment, torture, fictitious cases and continued media trial, Indian rulers and the local government dream to defeat Kashmiri resistance and put leadership into submission. We want to convey to Indian rulers and the local government that these oppressive measures and deceitful tactics will yield them nothing but shame. Kashmiris have and are rendering valuable sacrifices for their self determination and tactics like these can never break the will and valor of our nation, statement quoting Hurriyat leaders said, adding: Rhrough NIA and ED arrests, rulers are also dreaming to defame and demonize Kashmiri resistance leadership and hence gag the genuine voices of Kashmiri nation.

Besides arresting resistance leadership, the rulers have also turned whole Kashmir into a big prison. Nocturnal raids, arresting innocent young and old and prolonging the incarceration of these thousands languishing in jails and police stations have become an order of the day which is highly undemocratic and unethical, Statement quoting the Hurriyat leaders in joint protest said, adding: History bears a witness to the fact that killings, incarcerating people and unleashing oppression have never succeeded in breaking the will of a people who have resolved to strive for their right to self determination and the oppressive tactics employed by the Indian rulers and the local government is also bound to fail.

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Why a nation is not like a house or a club and why the difference matters for debates over immigration – Washington Post

Posted: at 5:40 pm

The Freedom House, Cambridge, MD. Even this house is not genuinely analogous to a nation.

If you follow debates over immigration, it is hard to avoid arguments for restrictionism that analogize a nation to a house or a club. Such claims are ubiquitous in public debate, and are sometimes advanced by professional political philosophers as well. The intuition behind these analogies is simple: As a homeowner, I generally have the right to exclude whoever I want from my property. I dont even have to have a good justification for the exclusion. I can choose to bar you from my home for virtually any reason I want, or even just no reason at all. Similarly, a nation has the right to bar foreigners from its land for almost any reason it wants, or perhaps even for no reason at all. All it is doing is exercising its property rights, much like the homeowner who bars strangers from entering her house. In the words of a leading academic defender of this theory, My right to freedom of movement does not entitle me to enter your house without your permission so why think that this right gives me a valid claim to enter a foreign country without that countrys permission?

The club analogy is similar: The members of a private club can choose almost any membership criteria they want, and exclude anyone who does not meet them. For example, my friends and I could establish a club limited to baseball fans; fans of other sports are barred. If a member loses interest in baseball and becomes a basketball fan instead, he can be expelled. Just as club members have broad power to set membership criteria for their organization, so nations have the power to restrict membership in their club. And in both cases, the criteria can be almost anything that the club decides them to be.

I. The House Analogy and its Sweeping Implications.

Many people find the house and club analogies to be intuitively appealing. But they quickly fall apart under scrutiny.

The house analogy appeals to the notion of property rights. But, as Georgetown political philosopher Jason Brennan points out, it actually ends up undermining private property rights rather than upholding them:

When we close borders, we arent doing the same thing as putting fences around our houses. Suppose there is a neighborhood made up of 10 landowners. 8 out of 10 of them vote to keep out all foreigners. 1 out of 10, Larry, votes to let them in because he wants to rent his house to them. 1 of them votes to let them in because hes a decent human being, but he doesnt himself plan to rent his house. When the 8 put up a fence around the neighborhood, they dont merely keep immigrants off their own property. Rather, they keep the immigrants off Larrys property, against his will.

Far from protecting property rights, immigration restrictions abrogate the rights of property owners who want to rent their property to the excluded migrants, associate with them, or employ them on their land. This is an interesting result, given that many immigration restrictionists are also conservatives who strongly support private property rights in other contexts.

Perhaps, however, the government is a kind of super-owner that has the right to supersede the decisions of private owners whenever it passes a law that does so. On that view, the state has all the same rights over land within its jurisdiction as a private owner has over his house. And when the two types of property rights conflict, the state prevails.

Restated in this way, the house analogy could indeed potentially justify almost any immigration restrictions a government might choose to set up. But it can also justify all kinds of repressive government policies that target natives, as well. If a state has the same powers over land within the national territory as a homeowner has over her house, then the state has broad power to suppress speech and religion the rulers disapprove of. After all, a homeowner has every right to mandate that only Muslim prayer will be permitted in his house, or that the only political speech permitted within its walls is that which supports the Republican Party. The same logic would justify all kinds of other illiberal and oppressive policies, as well, so long as a homeowner could adopt the same rules within her house. Ironically, the house analogy argument for immigration restrictions most often advanced by those on the right has the same kinds of dangerous implications as the traditional left-wing argument that government can override and restructure property rights as it wishes, because it supposedly created them in the first place.

In a democratic society, the the extent of the resulting oppression might well be less than in a dictatorship. Still, the house analogy would justify suppression of religion, speech, association, and other behavior that the political majority disapproves of.

Perhaps a democratic society would limit some of the illiberal consequences by establishing constitutional rights against them. But if the house analogy is valid, such guarantees are not morally required. They can be granted or withheld at the discretion of the government. In the same way, I can choose to let people who disagree with my political views enter my house, or host religious services for faiths I disapprove of. I could even promulgate rules guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion on my land. But I have no moral duty to do so.

II. Problems with the Club Analogy.

The club analogy has many of the same flaws as the house analogy. It too would justify a variety of illiberal and oppressive policies. After all, private clubs can and do restrict membership on the basis of speech, religion, and other similar criteria. Like the house analogy, the club analogy ends up justifying policies that trample on private property rights.

In addition, there are crucial differences between a government and a private club. The latter includes only members who join voluntarily and agree to follow all of the clubs rules. If members wish to leave the club, they can do so while retaining all of their preexisting property and other rights. The justification for the clubs broad power to set membership criteria and expel violators is that it is a consensual organization. No one has to join it unless they have consented to it.

By contrast, governments are not consensual in anything like the same way. Most people do not choose to accept the domination of the government they live under; they are instead born into it. Even in a relatively free society that allows emigration, it is difficult for citizens to fully escape the rule of their government. Emigration is costly, and does not enable the migrant to take all of their property (especially land) with them.

Democratic governments are more consensual than authoritarian states, but not nearly as much so as the club analogy assumes. Unlike genuine private clubs, every real-world democratic state was initially established in large part by coercion. For example, the American Revolution that established the United States prevailed only because the revolutionaries successfully coerced the substantial minority of Loyalist supporters of the British Empire into accepting the new government or, in many cases, fleeing. Black slaves had even less opportunity to meaningfully consent than white loyalists. That does not necessarily mean that the Revolution was unjustified or that the United States should not exist; despite its nonconsensual aspects, the new regime was preferable to the old. It does suggest that the US government is not meaningfully analogous to a genuinely consensual private club.

Most people would take a dim view of a private club that proclaims everyone within a 100 mile radius has to be a member whether they want to be or not, and is therefore subject to all club rules. If such a mandatory club should exist at all, it at the very least should not be given the broad powers permitted a voluntary organization. As philosopher Michael Huemer explains, are much more like mandatory clubs than voluntary ones. When a genuinely consensual club asks you to join, it has to take no for an answer. The state usually treats no as if it were just another way of saying yes.

Political theorists and libertarian activists have sometimes imagined governments established through genuinely consensual processes more akin to those by which clubs are formed. Perhaps such a government really would be analogous to a private club, and be entitled to all the same rights. But, sadly, there are no such club-like governments in the real world, and we are unlikely to see one established anytime soon.

Rejecting the house and club analogies does not by itself justify open borders immigration or anything close to it. There are many other arguments both for and against immigration restrictions that do not depend on these tropes. However, the quality of debate over these issues would improve if we recognize that it is a mistake to assume that nations are meaningfully similar to houses or clubs. They are not, and it is dangerous to ignore the difference.

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Letters: War on drugs; Lowering the bar – CapitalGazette.com

Posted: at 5:39 pm

War on drugs

I have been around for 89 years and after all this time have some questions about our country’s dealings with foreign nations and organizations.

After Pearl Harbor we were involved in Europe and Asia. We won the war, which ended in the mid-1940s. However, since the end of World War II, we have never left Europe or Asia. Why?

In 1950 we entered the Korean conflict, which was fought against communism, i.e. North Korea. This conflict ended with no win. Yet since the peace, we have kept troops in South Korea for over 60 years.

Why? South Korea an economically viable nation and should be able to defend itself. Now, because of our presence, we may get involved in another conflict with North Korea. What is the strategic value of our presence in Korea and its costs?

We have had troops in Germany since 1945. We were there after World War II because of communism. But that is over and Germany and other European nations are stable and financially sound enough to defend themselves. So why are we there and what is the cost to our country of our presence?

We got involved in Vietnam, again because of communism. However, what is the importance to our country of Vietnam? We lost over 58,000 troops and lost the conflict. And the economic cost was terrific.

We defeated Japan. It became an economically strong country. Yet, we still have had troops in Okinawa since 1945. Why? The cost is huge.

We are losing the war on drugs. So why not take all these resources and money and do what is needed in South America and Asia to destroy the drug empire forever? We should win this war!

BERNARD R. JACOBS

Annapolis

Lowering the bar

I would like to remind the reader who shared her opinion in the letter headlined “Intelligent discourse” (The Capital, July 15) that the example should start at the top with the president of the United States.

President Donald Trump is constantly tweeting disparaging remarks such as “the opinion of this so-called judge” and “any negative polls are fake news.” Additionally, he tweeted a video showing himself running toward a wrestling ring to tackle another person with the CNN logo superimposed over his face.

This lowers the bar and encourages people to state their opinions in a less dignified and respectful way.

Enough is enough!

LYNN MARANO

Davidsonville

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Best new songs to stream: The Roots, The War on Drugs, and more – Digital Trends

Posted: at 5:39 pm

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Best new songs to stream: The Roots, The War on Drugs, and more – Digital Trends

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Free program available to help those with gambling addiction – American Press

Posted: at 5:38 pm

For over 15 years, a program at McNeese State University has provided free treatment for problem gamblers.

We are trying to combat the stigma attached to problem gambling and make the public aware of McNeeses program, Mari Harris, a counselor, is quoted as saying in a story on the programs website.

The program offers screening and assessment services, individual and group-based treatment services, along with family-based services depending on client need, reads another page on the programs site.

According to some studies, 5 percent of the population suffers from problem gambling, reads a page.

That means roughly 3,700 people in Lake Charles are putting their livelihood at risk every day in truck stops, bars, casinos or in online gaming, Harris is quoted as saying on the site.

The website says that over 80 percent of those who complete its program no longer engage in gambling.

Harris said in the story on the site that gambling addiction doesnt discriminate and that this is a problem that transcends race, gender, age or level of income.

Harris said this week by phone that some of the saddest stories Ive heard are ones in which people have lost their marriages, jobs and retirement savings.

Seeking help is a very hard thing to do and its especially difficult for gamblers because there can be a problem there for a long time but there might not always be overt signs that you would see like you do with alcohol or drugs.

People gamble because its rewarding and they get a quick emotional release. Nobody gets into gambling thinking that it will become a problem, but sometimes it turns into a problem for them.

Although there may not always be obvious signs of a gambling problem, Harris said, there may be a couple of red flags that can alert a person that he or she has a problem or that a loved one might have a problem with gambling.

Lying to people about your gambling is one thing thats a huge red flag, said Harris. And another one is if the person is spending more and more money on gambling.

Harris said the program sees about 50 people but has the ability to serve more.

I think there are so many more we could be helping, but either people dont know about us, arent ready to reach out for help yet, dont realize there is no cost to our program, or any number of other reasons, she said.

Something else that people may not realize is that we can also help the families of a gambler.

Sometimes, a woman may be encouraging her husband to get help for his gambling, or a husband may be encouraging his wife to get help. But we can help the entire family as well.

The effect that problem gambling has on a family is the biggest toll. Theres a financial devastation in the family as well as an emotional devastation there. Its a brokenness.

It greatly affects the gambler as well. Gambling, depression and anxiety sometimes all go together.

Harris said that when people think about gambling they mistakenly think of it as related mostly to casinos.

We see a lot of younger people more focused on online gambling while others prefer video poker or slot machines. We know there are a lot more problem gamblers in our area that we could be helping, so we hope they will get in touch with us.

Anytime there is a mental health treatment, though, there can be a stigma attached to it and that may be one reason that we dont hear from people that we could be helping.

Reaching out for help with gambling addiction is not admitting a weakness, Jimmy Trahan, another counselor in the program, is quoted as saying on the website.

It actually shows a real inner strength when you can admit you have a problem controlling your gambling behavior, he is quoted as saying, in a story posted in March for Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

For more information about problem gambling and the McNeese program, call 475-5964 or visit http://www.mcneese.edu/gambling.

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Free program available to help those with gambling addiction – American Press

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