Tedenski izbor

FolioCarols

Če nič od tega ne bo razkritega, pričakujemo vsaj en pošten medijski umor Bojana Petana. Saj veste, Dnevnik je v tej panogi v samem svetovnem vrhu. Dajte jim Dalajlamo pa kak teden dni časa in iz njega bodo naredili mešanico Al Capona, Radovana Karadžića ter Bernarda Madoffa. Njihova prepričljivost, angažiranost in posvečenost medijskim umorom je tako iskrena in silna, da jim je za to res potrebno dati posebno priznanje. Nobena novica za Dnevnik ni tako pozitivna, da iz nje ne bi mogli narediti negativnega spina in nobena informacija ni tako kredibilna, da je ne bi mogli popolnoma relativizirati. Zato vas, sužnje Petana, najlepše prosim, da raztrgate svoje okove in temu trpečemu narodu omogočite vsaj en pošten (čeprav ojdipovski) resničnostni šov letos, in sicer “Dnevnik uniči svojega gospodarja”.

Končno! Vukovićeva in Ranka bosta v Dnevniku raztrgali lastnika Petana! – Kizo, Portal Plus

***

By running on a single issue, anticorruption candidates often avoid taking positions on the long list of problems their countries face: stagnant economies, a need for foreign investment, a lackluster civil service. And getting things done often requires knowing how to deal with the people and practices of a corrupt system.

In Slovenia, for instance, Cerar has already faced two serious obstacles in his fight to eliminate corruption. First, many of his nominees to high positions in his new government come from the political establishment he campaigned against. This raises serious doubts about the credibility of Cerar’s electoral promises. Second, a majority of legal institutions continue to do a poor job of upholding the rule of law. The Slovenian judiciary, for example, remains among the least trusted institutions in Slovenia. In a recent high-profile case, the Ljubljana county court sentenced Janez Jansa, the leader of the main opposition party, to two years in prison for accepting bribes in a public procurement case. According to a former justice of the country’s constitutional court, the case was based on insufficient, largely circumstantial evidence. But with the backing of Cerar’s own party, Jansa was also stripped of his seat in parliament, underscoring the political nature of the prosecution and suggesting that Cerar might not be as independent as voters believed him to be.

Put simply, eliminating corruption is difficult, if not nearly impossible—especially from the outside. Yet eastern Europeans hope for deliverance. In Romania, Slovenia, and Ukraine, a silent majority has rejected right-wing nationalists in favor of unassuming, pro-European reformers. Liberal-minded parties throughout eastern Europe should take note and seek renewal themselves, drawing to their ranks antiestablishment outsiders with moral backbone.

 The Eastern European Spring. Voters Tilt Toward Pro-EU, Anti-Corruption Candidates – Mitchell A. Orenstein, Bojan Bugarič, Foreign Affairs

***

The fact is, the license fee is the BBC. The critics of the one are almost invariably enemies of the other. The more the license fee is cut back, the more damage is done to program-making and to the basic structure of the BBC. It’s an unsatisfactory system in all sorts of ways but, like ­democracy, it’s the best we have. The making of good programs is an expensive business: if you do it on the cheap you just get poor-­quality, homemade programs and a lot of bought-in stuff, much of which is rubbish.

 British Conservatives Have Been at War with the BBC for Decades – and This Time They Might Win – John Simpson, The New Republic

 ***

Ben Franklin warned that if you trade liberty for security you would end up with neither. Jennifer Rubin believes that trade gives you conservatism.

It gives you authoritarianism.

What’s Conservatism Without Liberty – Jack Hunter, The American Conservative

***

But modern production requires many inputs that markets do not provide. And, as in the case of airlines, these inputs – rules, standards, certifications, infrastructure, schools and training centers, scientific labs, security services, among others – are deeply complementary to the ones that can be procured in markets. They interact in the most intricate ways with the activities that markets organize.

So here’s the question: Who controls the provision of the publicly provided inputs?

(…)

This is an information-rich problem, and, like the social-coordination challenge that the market addresses, it does not allow for centralized control. What is needed is something like the invisible hand of the market: a mechanism for self-organization. Elections clearly are not enough, because they typically occur at two- or four-year intervals and collect very little information per voter.

Instead, successful political systems have had to create an alternative invisible hand – a system that decentralizes the power to identify problems, propose solutions, and monitor performance, such that decisions are made with much more information.

(…)

Without such a mechanism, the political system cannot provide the kind of environment that modern economies need. That is why all rich countries are democracies, and it is why some countries, like my own (Venezuela), are becoming poorer.

Why Are Rich Countries Democratic – Ricardo Hausmann, Project Syndicate

***

It is likely no coincidence that the talks between the US and Cuba started shortly after Chávez died in 2013. There is little doubt that, in the absence of Venezuelan subsidies, Cuba will once again plunge into depression – as it did after Russian assistance dried up in early 1990s.
(…)

In the absence of a rich and generous patron, the revival of the Cuban economy will depend on the full normalization of relations with the US – and this is certain to prove impossible without major changes with respect to democracy and human rights.

Why Cuba Turned – Jorge Castañeda, Project Syndicate 

***

North Koreans live in fear of the security apparatus that pervades everyday life. The U.N. report described widespread arbitrary arrests and imprisonments, often without the victims’ families being informed of their whereabouts. Once North Koreans are arrested, torture is often used to extract confessions: “While beating the suspect into a confession was the most common method, methods of more sophisticated cruelty were also employed,” the report said. Meanwhile, political prison camps regularly subject between 80,000 and 120,000 estimated prisoners to torture, starvation, rape, forced abortions, and forced labor. Camp authorities were under order from Kim Jong-il to “kill all prisoners in case of an armed conflict or revolution so as to destroy the primary evidence of the camps’ existence.” These orders echo those of the Nazis, who forced the majority of concentration camp prisoners on “death marches” in the last days of World War II in order to eliminate evidence of their atrocities.

Stop Making Fun of North Korea – Claire Groden, Elaine Tang, The New Republic

***

If you don’t think waterboarding is “cruel and unusual,” try waterboarding your dog publicly and avoiding an arrest from your local police department for animal cruelty charges. Dick Cheney publicly says that waterboarding is not cruel and unusual punishment (possibly because he wants to avoid criminal prosecution for doing this to humans), and maybe he actually believes it and engages in that form of “enhanced interrogation” upon his dog privately. But if he were to waterboard his dog publicly, however, there isn’t a state in the union that wouldn’t convict him of animal cruelty charges. Maybe former CIA Director Michael Hayden “walls” his dog privately, but if he were to slam his dog repeatedly into a wall on the town green in his hometown, he’d be arrested on animal cruelty charges in a heartbeat.

(…)

The instant someone says that the government can torture — despite the explicit prohibitions against it in the U.S. Constitution — they give the government the power to punish any of its enemies, including political enemies, with torture. This kind of abusive power always comes home; it never stays limited to foreigners or legitimate bad guys. Just ask Donald Vance or Nathan Ertel, the innocent American citizens and U.S. Navy veterans who were tortured for months at Camp Cropper in Iraq. Such power can and will eventually be used to intimidate the free press and free speech protected by the First Amendment as well as other enumerated rights. And it’s no surprise that this premium on getting information by any means necessary means that the same people who back torture — Cheney, Hayden, et. al. — are also the chief cheerleaders for eliminating the Fourth Amendment prohibition on warrantless searches.

The Tortured Logic of the Torture Lobby – Thomas R. Eddlem, The New American

***

Modernity both purifies and hybridizes. That’s not what makes modernity unique, though. “Culture” never has existed, and could not exist, as whatever is left over when “nature” has been siphoned off. Instead of a nature/culture divide, what we have is a collection of “nature-cultures,” whether we call them “modern,” “pre-modern,” or “postmodern.” Even the most esoteric forms of high culture are nature-culture hybrids—we control sound to make music, manipulate colors and materials to paint, seamlessly combine the physical and the intellectual when writing a poem. Even the most transcendent high culture is always “polluted” by politics, science, ethics, and religion.

What makes modernity unique is its reluctance to admit that it’s doing both. Modern states, and many churches, think that religion and politics are separate, but they can continue in this illusion only because they ignore the religious spirit that animates nationalism, liberalism, and totalitarianism. We moderns think science objective only when we ignore the ambitions of scientists and the politics of the lab, which can be as brutal as the thrust and parry going on in the back halls of Congress.

We Have Never Been Modern – Peter Leithart, First Things

***

Glede na neizprosna demografska dejstva, ki Slovenijo definirajo kot vse bolj starajočo se družbo, je vprašanje emigracijske politike brez dvoma pomembno. Še zlasti zato, ker se v zadnjih letih izseljujejo tisoči mladih. Vendar se s temi grozečimi statistikami v Sloveniji očitno nihče zares ne ukvarja. Tudi z emigracijo se ne. Nisem še slišal za študijo, ki bi govorila o tem, koliko tujcev lahko naša država letno sprejme brez takšnih posledic, ki bi med ogroženimi domačini sprožile kristalno noč. V obdobju recesije, ko je družbeno nezadovoljstvo na vrhuncu, je včasih hitro najti krivce za brezposelnost ali krivice, ki se žal dogajajo. Priseljenci, ki govorijo z naglasom ali celo v tujem jeziku, so pogosto strelovod teh negativnih čustev.

Božič v Adis Abebi – Dejan Steinbuch, Finance

***

Putin, in shielding his personal insecurity as a weak leader, has also tapped into the larger sense of Russian insecurity. That is part of why his demonstrations of masculinity — though they appear ridiculous to outsiders like Merkel — so resonate among Russians. Like Putin, many Russians see demonstrations of defiance and strength as reassurances against the crushing sense of weakness.

More importantly, Merkel is correct to observe that Putin and Russia are so ready to embrace this superficial machismo because they just don’t have much else to hold on to. It is universally true, in all countries, that economic decline leads to feelings of national insecurity — just look at how often Americans talk about “American decline” since the financial crisis — as well as to more extreme politics, as in much of Europe. But Americans and Western Europeans at least have recourse at the ballot box; they can angrily vote in or out whoever they like.

This quote about Putin’s machismo from Angela Merkel is just devastating – Max Fisher, Vox

***

Despite the belated and sub rosa quality of the move, Cato’s decision to distance itself from Klaus represents a growing rift within the libertarian movement on foreign policy. On one side are isolationist stalwarts like former presidential candidate Ron Paul, a regular presence on Kremlin-funded propaganda network RT, whose think tank espouses Russian talking points on a variety of issues ranging from Crimea to Syria. Sidelining Klaus, a source at Cato tells me, draws a “sharp distinction between Cato and the Putinista wing of the libertarian movement.”

On the other side are libertarians who, to varying degrees, oppose Russian behavior, even if they propose little by means of resisting it. These libertarians may believe that the United States should take a hands-off approach to Russia, soften its criticism of Moscow’s human rights record, and oppose NATO expansion—yet they fundamentally differ from the former group in that they reject the notion that there is any justice or legal rationale to Moscow’s actions. Cato’s rejection of Vaclav Klaus draws a firm line in the sand and will serve as an important marker for the development of a post-Cold War libertarian foreign policy.

Vaclav Klaus, Libertarian Hero, Has His Wings Clipped by Cato Institute – James Kirchick, The Daily Beast

***

Not so long ago the term homophobia didn’t exist, but now it’s everywhere. Why do people like it so much?

First of all, it sounds good. It has rhythm, DA-da-DA-da-DA. The vowels echo (“o-o-o”), then diverge (“ee-uh”), all of them slightly elongated, no dull schwa or curt i as in hit and a as in hat.

The Greek etymology gives it a scientific aura, too, as if the condition were determined by expert minds. We have acrophobia, hydrophobia, and other established fears, so why not assume a homophobia with a medical origin as well?

(…)

If someone yells, “Faggot!” we know what he thinks, but the thought is there whether he says something or not. Homophobia can be concealed, and that, paradoxically, makes the label even more powerful. If homophobia may be latent and unconscious, then more people may possess it, its expression more widespread and subtle. Hence—and here’s its tactical value—it may be alleged on slight and ambiguous evidence. You can be charged with homophobia whether you have those feelings or not. It automatically puts people on the defensive.

Homophobia, the Word – Mark Bauerlei, First Things

***

Writing in the first century, Seneca was startled by how little people seemed to value their lives as they were living them—how busy, terribly busy, everyone seemed to be, mortal in their fears, immortal in their desires and wasteful of their time. He noticed how even wealthy people hustled their lives along, ruing their fortune, anticipating a time in the future when they would rest. “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy,” he observed in “On the Shortness of Life”, perhaps the very first time-management self-help book. Time on Earth may be uncertain and fleeting, but nearly everyone has enough of it to take some deep breaths, think deep thoughts and smell some roses, deeply. “Life is long if you know how to use it,” he counselled.

Why is everyone so busy? – The Economist

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