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« February 2005 | Main | April 2005 »

Democracy Arsenal

This came through the grapevine (email) from Danny Postel:

New Progressive Foreign Policy Blog

The Security and Peace Institute (SPI), a joint initiative of the Center for  American Progress and The Century Foundation, has launched Democracy Arsenal, a new group blog on US foreign policy and global affairs. The  contributors, all prominent policy experts, include: Suzanne Nossel, Michael  Signer, Lorelei Kelly, Heather Hurlburt, and Derek Chollet.

Visit Democracy Arsenal for daily perspectives on current issues, insights into the world of global policymaking, and thoughts on what a progressive foreign policy should look like.

The Century Foundation are partners with openDemocracy in the Ethical Edge debate series at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Next debate should be in a month or two, and you will be invited.

March 31, 2005 in Media & the Net | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Galloping horses at World Bank

The United States has 17% of the share capital and 100% of the power when it comes to appointing the new head of the World Bank. Not everyone is wild about this situation, as Alex Wilks recently reported for openDemocracy.

Take the FT. In an online poll of 30 March, 80% of Financial Times readers opposed the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush administration's candidate (sample size 5711 at 9pm GMT).

Oh those wild and crazy senior accountants and chief financial officers!

Still, Wolfowitz is considered a shoo-in when the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors meets today in Washington. And to mark the event, "race fans" are holding a photo finish one horse race at 10am local time outside the Bank's HQ.

This will be re-creation of the process that led to Wolfowitz’s enthronement, says Soren Ambrose of New Voices on Globalization.

"Neigh-Sayers" deplore the small field, Ambrose adds. There will be NO BETTING. But just because there’s only one horse in the race doesn’t mean no one else wins. Consolation prizes go to several countries for being good sports and accepting Wolfowitz despite their distaste for the man.

March 31, 2005 in News related | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UK: Election tool for skeptical voters

Channel 4 are setting up a site that allows you to check the facts behind the statements made by politicians, chaotic_mind notes in our forums. C4 claims that the site will offer "unbiased scrutiny of speeches, interviews and manifesto pledges - informing public debate by creating a popular resource for an information-hungry electorate."

"Whether or not it can quite live up to this claim is a good question. But, it should provide a source of interest", writes chaotic_mind. Discuss it here.

Channel 4 FactCheck

March 30, 2005 in Media & the Net | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Video from NY event on Social Securty

Krugman_1There's a webcast up of the debate on privatisation of social security that openDemocracy co-sponsored at the New York Society for Ethical Culture with Paul Krugman, Mike Tanner, and Joshua Micah Marshall. It's a broadcast from the Democracy Now! radio/TV programme with Amy Goodman. Only the speakers introductory statments are included, later there was heated dicussion.

Watch 128k stream (slower internet)
Watch 256k stream (speedy internet)

You need RealPlayer (free) to watch the video.

March 29, 2005 in openDemocracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An unexpectedly short and easy revolution

A vivid and exciting eye-witness account of the revolution in Kyrgyzstan on March 24th by Elnura Osmonalieva from Thinking-East. Protestors stormed the White House in Bishkek and ousted the president. This is how it started:

"At 10:00 a.m. on 24th March 2005, opposition forces gathered about 10,000 people to protest the falsified parliamentary election results and demand the resignation of President Askar Akaev in front of Nazaraliev's Medical Clinic in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan..."

You need to see the historic photos Elnura Osmonalieva took throughout the day too:


We'll soon find out who gets to sit in the president's chair from now on... This last photo is the view from his office.


March 29, 2005 in News related | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sudan gov behind aid worker killings?

From American Prospect Online:

"Sudan's central government may be orchestrating bloody attacks on humanitarian workers in Darfur...

"According to Eric Reeves... the central government in Khartoum has devised a policy of targeting foreign humanitarian workers in Darfur... Reeves cites well-placed intelligence sources and relays outrageous accusations by government officials that aid organizations are running guns for the rebels.

"Currently, an estimated 10,000 people die each month in Darfur... that rate could increase as much as tenfold should aid organizations be forced to evacuate."

Tomorrow, March 30, the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would authorize an international court to investigate and prosecute the mass murder in Darfur. Human Rights First is campaigning on the issue.

March 29, 2005 in News related | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A declaration co-authored by one million people?

Here's an interesting innovation in online activism:

A whole bunch of American organisations (most of them faith-based) are getting their members together 30 March to write a "Declaration for Peace and Justice and against the Iraq war". They're using a new piece of online writing software called Synanim. Users log on and have a certain amount of time to write their contributions in small groups. Then everyone chooses the iterations they like the most, bit by bit. The software tallies the "votes" and combines it all into a document that can be reworked again by all.

I think you have to "be there" to really understand how it works. They promise it's as easy as buying a book on Amazon, so if you agree with the goals and concerns of the organisations you should check it out (and let me know what it's like). They're expecting (hoping?) one million individuals (!) will take part in the "Write In" which is scheduled throughout a couple of different sessions during the day.

If it works, it's a pretty amazing way to reach a "naturally emergent consensus," as it says on Synanim's website, on such a large scale. Software that lets you edit Word documents together with someone else over the internet tends to be a little less ambitious. I'm personally rather glad that openDemocracy authors don't insist on watching their articles be edited in real-time...

I heard about it all via a TrueMajority email. That's Ben Cohen's (from Ben & Jerry's) online activism project. He's also got his checkbook in Religious Leaders For Sensible Priorities and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities. They don't seem to have much presence on the Net, but people talk about them...

March 29, 2005 in Media & the Net | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Turn grandma into a diamond

You'd think it was a hoax, but for a modest price a company named LifeGem will make you a real diamond out of the cremated remains of your loved ones, human or animal. They extract the carbon from the ashes to make the diamond, and give you back the rest to bury or place on the mantel.

"How many LifeGems can be made from one individual?" is just one of the FAQs on LifeGem's website. The answer is over 100, which is very convenient if the whole family wants one. Natural diamonds take millions of years to create, but LifeGem's "diamond presses" can speed the process up to a few months. It's not just for bereaved Americans. LifeGems are made in Australia, Canada, England, Hungary and The Netherlands too.

Imagine what the price of a celebrity diamond would be... Any bids on a Princess Diana diamond? Would anyone like to pre-order Solana Larsen earrings? Of course, if I decided to turn myself into diamonds, I couldn't use this other service from the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. These guys will freeze your body until the technology exists to bring you back to life. It's a lot more expensive, but a shot at eternal life might be worth it... Must think more about that before my 99th birthday.

Human remains are eternally political. Check out the openDemocracy article, "The Afterlife of Bodies" by Ken Worpole from about a year ago.

March 28, 2005 in News related | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Creative Commons Search Engine

Lawrence Lessig reports that Yahoo launched a Creative Commons search engine last night that allows you to search all the content on the Web that only has "some rights reserved", meaning you can republish it or use it - sometimes even for commercial purposes - free of charge. Neat. Go play with it.

March 24, 2005 in Media & the Net | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

UK immigration: melting pots and tossed salads

The issue is no longer whether multiculturalism is a good thing, it seems, but what sort of multiculturalism is best. On the Today programme this morning, Keith Vaz, former Europe minister, and professor John Kay, economist, turned to cooking metaphors. So, fondue or salad? Or both?

Perhaps our debate The Strange Career of Multiculturalism can help with the words and theories, the tastes and smells.

And if you're after models for migration, check out People Flow.

March 24, 2005 in News related | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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