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December 15, 2013
Hidden away in offices of various government departments, intelligence agencies, police forces and armed forces are dozens and dozens of people who are very much upset by what our societies are turning into: at the very least, turnkey tyrannies. One of them is you.
Former whistleblowers Peter Kofod, Thomas Drake, Daniel Ellsberg, Katharine Gun, Jesselyn Radack, Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley write in an open letter to intelligence employees after Snowden’s revelations. 
13:30 // 7 months ago
December 8, 2013
14:38 // 7 months ago
December 2, 2013
The message from the police is: ‘the age of protest is over.’
Human Rights Watch’s Egypt Director Heba Morayef states on the controversial protest law and ongoing demonstration crackdowns in Egypt under the interim government. 
12:35 // 7 months ago
October 14, 2013
The attacks against the Guardian by both the government and representatives of the British press are unacceptable. What the Guardian is doing is both brave and important for our democracies. We fully support the paper.
Dagens Nyheter (Sweden) editor-in-chief Peter Wolodarski says on The Guardian’s work in recent events, along with other journalists and editors of international papers. 
11:30 // 9 months ago
July 11, 2013
This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

20:22 // 1 year ago
June 25, 2013

Here’s what SCOTUS ruled on the Voting Rights Act, in lay terms

  • question The Voting Rights Act mandated that certain jurisdictions in the country with a history of voter disenfranchisement (all in the south) receive pre-clearance from the federal government before enacting any new voting laws. The case on which SCOTUS ruled today questioned whether or not this is constitutional. 
  • ruling The court did not strike down the concept of pre-clearance; rather, struck down the specific formula currently used to determine which states require pre-clearance. So, until Congress can agree on and pass a new formula for this determination, no states will require pre-clearance anymore.

It falls upon congress to decide on a new formula—essentially, to figure out which states should still require federal approval to change their voting laws. Given how congress is these days, we’re exceedingly doubtful that any agreement will be reached anytime soon. source

16:01 // 1 year ago
April 17, 2013
17:11 // 1 year ago
March 6, 2013
If past is any indicator, a Democratic “threat” to reform the filibuster is much like a Charlie Brown threat to go home if Lucy doesn’t play nice with the football this time. This isn’t the first time the Democratic leadership in the Senate has made noises about reforming the filibuster; it’s not even the first time they’ve admitted that they screwed up filibuster reform last time but are serious about it this time. Democrats always balk at the last minute, so don’t expect this to go anywhere. source

If past is any indicator, a Democratic “threat” to reform the filibuster is much like a Charlie Brown threat to go home if Lucy doesn’t play nice with the football this time. This isn’t the first time the Democratic leadership in the Senate has made noises about reforming the filibuster; it’s not even the first time they’ve admitted that they screwed up filibuster reform last time but are serious about it this time. Democrats always balk at the last minute, so don’t expect this to go anywhere. source

19:28 // 1 year ago
February 27, 2013
[A] majority of the Court seems committed to invalidating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and requiring Congress to revisit the formula for requiring preclearance of voting changes…It is unlikely that the Court will write an opinion forbidding a preclearance regime. But it may be difficult politically for Congress to enact a new measure.
SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein earlier this morning. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states with a history of voter disenfranchisement to obtain approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws. One possible outcome: The court strikes down the criteria used in Section 5, but doesn’t strike down the requirement for preclearance itself. If that happens, a new criteria for preclearance would have to be constructed and enacted. And who would be responsible for that? John Boehner and Harry Reid, of course. Sigh. More on today’s arguments here. source
13:41 // 1 year ago
February 20, 2013
This actually does raise the legitimate question as to how direct of a democracy the founding fathers really intended to create. Joe Miller, a Tea Party candidate for the Senate in Alaska a few years back, was a proponent of this plan as well. He didn’t win; it seems that asking people to elect you to the Senate so you can take away their right to elect other people to the Senate in the future isn’t a winning campaign strategy (although Miller seems to be mulling a comeback, so what do we know). Anyway, this Georgia proposal will almost certainly go absolutely nowhere. source

This actually does raise the legitimate question as to how direct of a democracy the founding fathers really intended to create. Joe Miller, a Tea Party candidate for the Senate in Alaska a few years back, was a proponent of this plan as well. He didn’t win; it seems that asking people to elect you to the Senate so you can take away their right to elect other people to the Senate in the future isn’t a winning campaign strategy (although Miller seems to be mulling a comeback, so what do we know). Anyway, this Georgia proposal will almost certainly go absolutely nowhere. source

17:24 // 1 year ago