China Dips Toes in Arctic Waters

By Christoph Seidler

You didn’t hear much Chinese spoken on the Mackenzie River until the summer of 1999. But then excitement swept through the sleepy Tuktoyaktuk settlement in Canada’s Northwest Territories, when a vast ship with a crew from the Asia-Pacific unexpectedly docked in the port. Local authorities were caught off-guard by the arrival of the research icebreaker Xue Long, which means “snow dragon.” The vessel — 170 meters (550 feet) long and weighing 21,000 metric tons — had in fact informed faraway Ottawa of its intention to sail into Canada’s arctic waters, but the message hadn’t been passed on.

Today, such an incident probably wouldn’t happen. States around the North Pole keep careful and regular watch on visitors from China. Its “growing interest in the region raises concern — even alarm —

Read more » Spiegel
Link – http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/growing-chinese-interest-in-the-arctic-worries-international-community-a-879654.html

Canadians quickly losing faith in their democracy, survey suggests

By: Kim Mackrael, The Globe and Mail

Ottawa — Canadians’ satisfaction with democracy has dipped to a new low, research suggests, with many people pegging the problem on weak performance by their federal MPs.

About 55 per cent of Canadians say they are satisfied with democracy in the country, according to a new research paper by Samara, a not-for-profit organization aimed at improving political participation. That’s down 20 points from 2004, when similar research suggested about 75 per cent of Canadians were satisfied with their democracy.

We’ve known for a long time that there is declining trust and satisfaction with democracy,” said Alison Loat, Samara’s executive director. “But to see such a large decline in a short period of time was a surprise to us.”

Samara published the findings in a paper called “Who’s the Boss?” which it released Monday morning. It’s part of a series of reports the organization is writing to analyze the results of a wide-ranging democratic engagement survey it conducted earlier this year.

Monday’s report suggests that only 36 per cent of Canadians are satisfied with the way elected officials do their jobs. Asked to assess Parliamentarians’ performance in several categories, respondents said MPs do a relatively good job of representing the views of their political parties, giving them a score of 61 per cent. But Canadians panned MPs’ performances when it came to holding the government to account and representing the views of their constituents, with scores of 45 per cent and 46 per cent respectively. They also gave MPs a score of 44 per cent in managing individual constituents’ concerns.

“I think there’s a bit of a sense, at least among the public, that perhaps MPs are representing their political party at the expense of their ability to represent constituents,” Ms. Loat said.

Continue reading Canadians quickly losing faith in their democracy, survey suggests

Brainwashing the Rasputinian and Machiavellian way — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

In Pakistan, the ‘establishment’ is the Thierry Tilly and the people the Védrines family

Of late, everyone is discussing the supposed changes happening in the fundamental policies governing Pakistan. The fundamental policy here essentially means its attitude towards its ‘strategic assets’, which it thinks are instrumental in tilting the balance in Afghanistan and Kashmir because direct state involvement would invite retribution. Any change would naturally translate into a change of attitude towards India and Afghanistan, and more importantly, to the scourge of terrorism the world over, which invariably finds its origin here.

Without internal changes, there can never be external changes and no internal change is in the offing; changes cannot happen without a changed mindset. To understand change or the lack thereof, it is essential that Pakistan’s origin is understood and its paths traced. Analysing it without this context precipitates fallacious conclusions.

Pakistan came into being to suit the exigencies of the British rulers and their manufactured elite, which thought it could serve Britain better if they had the status of a country attached to their picket or garrison outpost. When demands for India’s independence gained strength, the British realised that with independent-minded politicians holding sway, their interests in the Gulf, especially their oil interests, which were of primary importance to the industrialised world, would irreparably suffer. Consequently, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India (1943-47) in his letter of February 1946 to the Secretary of State for India proposed that while granting freedom to India, Britain needs to consider the creation of another country to the North West that would protect Britain’s interest in the Persian Gulf. This consideration suddenly changed the demand for federation to that of independence.

External factors and conditions do play a part in change but change results from decisive and crucial internal compulsions and inner essence. The internal dynamics here have remained in a rut since 1947, and the essence remains unchanged though cosmetic changes have occurred. The people here have been defrauded, shortchanged and manipulated, and ironically, yet many refuse to see this brazen manipulative fraud and continue to be willing victims. Voltaire rightly said, “You cannot free the fools of the chains they revere.”

Continue reading Brainwashing the Rasputinian and Machiavellian way — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

A perfect day for democracy – By Arundhati Roy

WASN’T it? Yesterday I mean. Spring announced itself in Delhi. The sun was out, and the law took its course. Just before breakfast, Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, was secretly hanged, and his body was interred in Tihar jail.

Was he buried next to Maqbool Butt? (The other Kashmiri who was hanged in Tihar in 1984. Kashmiris will mark that anniversary on Monday.)

Afzal’s wife and son were not informed. “The authorities intimated the family through speed post and registered post,” the Home Secretary told the press. “The Director General of J&K police has been told to check whether they got it or not.”

No big deal, they’re only the family of a Kashmiri terrorist.

In a moment of rare unity the nation, or at least its major political parties, the Congress, the BJP and the CPM, came together as one (barring a few squabbles about ‘delay’ and ‘timing’) to celebrate the triumph of the rule of law.

The conscience of the nation, which broadcasts live from TV studios these days, unleashed its collective intellect on us — the usual cocktail of papal passion and a delicate grip on facts. Even though the man was dead and gone, like cowards that hunt in packs, they seemed to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because deep inside themselves they know that they all colluded to do something terribly wrong.

Continue reading A perfect day for democracy – By Arundhati Roy

Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)

Thought debtor prison ended in the 18th century? Think again.

Editor’s note: America has a long history of treating the poor like criminals, from legislation banning the transportation of poor people across state lines to anti-vagrancy laws that could land you in jail if you didn’t have a job or a home. We’ve come to rely on the criminal justice system to deal with the poor, even as more and more Americans fall into poverty. The following is part of a series that looks at the diverse ways poverty is criminalized in America, such as laws targeting the homeless, the surveillance of welfare recipients, the re-emergence of debtor’s prisons, and extreme policing tactics like stop-and-frisk.

Kawana Young, a single mother of two kids, was arrested in Michigan after failing to pay money she owed as a result of minor traffic offenses. She was recently laid off from her job, and could not pay the fees she owed because she couldn’t find another source of employment. So a judge sentenced her to three days in jail. In addition, Young was charged additional fees for being booked and for room and board for a place she did not want to be. In total, she has been jailed five times for being unable to pay her debts.

“It doesn’t make sense to jail people when they can’t pay because they definitely can’t pay while they’re in jail,” said Young.

Continue reading Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)

PPP Government’s 5-Year bad performance and National Interests of Sindh

Pakistan Peoples’ Party’s “Reconciliatory” Provincial Government’s Five-Year bad performance and National Interests of Sindh

SWTF will launch mass movement if SPLGA-2012 is not annulled before next elections!

Respected Journalists!

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) is generally considered as the party mainly belonging to Sindh and Sindhis, which is enjoying the power of being the largest parliamentary party on the basis of Sinshi vote. However, unfortunately instead of safeguarding Sindh’s rights, it has caused fatal damage to the integrity, economy, human development and developmental infrastructure of Sindh through bad governance, corruption, nepotism and misuse of people’s mandate. PPP Government’s notorious decision of Sindh Peoples’ Local Government Act (SPLGA) 2012 has caused an unprecedented damage to ethnic harmony and social cohesiveness of society of Sindh.

We, the intellectuals, writers, poets, journalists, civil society activists and concerned citizens strongly believe that PPP’s sitting government has betrayed the democratic mandate of majority of people of Sindh.

Continue reading PPP Government’s 5-Year bad performance and National Interests of Sindh