Reuters blog archive
from Photographers' Blog:
By Feisal Omar
After 22 years, Somalia clearly shows signs of recuperating from the deep wounds of civil-war and insurgency.
The emergence of a recognized Somali government has positively changed life; particularly in the city which was mostly an Islamist stronghold two years ago. Somalis in the diaspora have returned for the first time and run various kinds of businesses: contemporary hotels, restaurants and shops. The arrival of Turkish companies that busily repair the ruined roads and mass construction of apartments teaches one of the rebirth of Somalia.
The court hearings and traffic police who whistle and wave police sticks to stop cars prove that there is relative law and order in the city. Although explosions can go off any moment at any place, you can still feel peace as you drive on the well-lit streets of Mogadishu as late as midnight.
Go to the beaches of Mogadishu and glance at the coast guards sailing speed boats in the ocean. They patrol and urge the swimming Somalis and foreigners of all genders not to go out too far to avoid drowning and possible shark attacks. Seeing a man sunbathe on the sand, swim, sip coffee, or eat an ice-cream beside his girlfriend or wife, underlines the adoption of democracy, if that is what it is meant to be.
from The Great Debate:
Only rarely have American leaders been able to reconcile the nation’s democratic values, material interest and national security.
Despite these tensions, promoting democracy has always been a lodestone for American foreign policy. Sometimes its attraction has been weak, very weak, overshadowed by more immediate national security concerns. During the Cold, War, for example, the United States backed many autocratic leaders in exchange for their support against the Soviet Union -- or at least for pretending to be democrats. Sometimes, very rarely, as in the case of Germany and Japan after World War Two or Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all good things -- freedom, security, economic prosperity -- have gone together. But these moments are exceptional.
from John Lloyd:
The British parliament’s refusal to countenance military intervention in Syria, and President Barack Obama’s decision to delay a strike until Congress approves it, point to a larger, even more dangerous contradiction of the mass destruction age.
That is, parliamentary democracy and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sit ill together. Each confounds the other’s natural working.
from The Great Debate:
The recent re-election of Zimbabwe’s 89-year old president Robert Mugabe, in office for 33 years, resembled a period not long ago when sham elections were the norm in sub-Saharan Africa. Peaceful transitions of power were almost unheard of.
Though the African Union disappointingly endorsed the elections as “honest and credible,” Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has now faced a spate of resignations and international condemnation over allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation and state media control.
from John Lloyd:
I’ve spent the past few days walking beside and watching the largely youthful demonstrators in Egypt, and I’ve been struck with admiration that’s quickly drowned in despair. I admire them for the way they’ve rejected the creeping authoritarianism of an incompetent Muslim Brotherhood government whose only accomplishment is inserting its members or sympathizers into every part of Egyptian life that it could.
But my despair is greater than my admiration. There is no good outcome to the Egyptian “second revolution,” as the opposition wishes it to be called. The army has taken control, and may -- as it says it wishes -- hold the ring only until a temporary constitution is agreed upon and another election called. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose government is led by President Mohamed Mursi, may, with reluctance, acquiesce in this -- though many of its member are furious over the coup, as they rightly call it. The opposition forces may abstain from ramming what they will see as a “victory” too hard down the Brothers’ throats. These “mays” are, as this is written, be unlikely when set against various degrees of escalating conflict. But they are possible.
from John Lloyd:
The End of History and the Last Man is 21 years old this year. The book of that name, by Francis Fukuyama, has, in the view of many, matured badly. Published in 1992, it was much lauded for its view that, with the collapse of communism in the Soviet bloc, liberal democracy and free markets were the only long-term politics and economics for the globe.
After 9/11, the disparagements came quickly. The terrorist attacks were held to show that history may have paused, but it had reignited with a vengeance. Clearly, there were other powerful forces in the world than the “inevitable” liberal democracy; sharply different ideologies were alive, well and seeking power by any means.
from Lawrence Summers:
With the release of the president’s budget, Washington has once again descended into partisan squabbling. There is in America today pervasive concern about the basic functioning of our democracy. Congress is viewed less favorably than ever before in the history of public opinion polling. Revulsion at political figures unable to reach agreement on measures that substantially reduce prospective budget deficits is widespread. Pundits and politicians alike condemn gridlock as angry movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party emerge on both sides of the political spectrum, and partisanship seems to become ever more pervasive.
All this comes at a time of great challenge. Profound changes, as emerging economies led by China converge toward the West, will redefine the global order. Beyond the current economic downturn, which is surely the most serious since the Great Depression, lies the even more serious challenge of the rise of technologies that may well raise average productivity but displace large numbers of workers. Public debt is running up in a way that is without precedent except in times of all-out war. And a combination of the share of the population that is aged and the rising relative price of public services such as healthcare and education pressure future budgets.
Facebook wasted no time acting with impunity by (once again) diluting member privacy protections this week. But it needn't have hurried. Any semblance of democracy was washed away at noon Pacific Time Tuesday, when a vote to have votes on policy changes went down in flames. It solidified the world's largest social network's rule by fiat. This may be good for business now, but in the long-run it could backfire.
On Tuesday not enough Facebook members weighed in on whether they should keep their right to vote down policy changes. The vote didn't count unless 30 percent of the service's 1 billion members bothered to vote.
from David Rohde:
The return of protests, tanks and death to the streets of Cairo this week is harrowing. So is the power of the rampant conspiracy theories that cause Muslim Brotherhood members and their secular opponents to sincerely believe they are defending Egypt’s revolution. Both sides are behaving abominably.
Criticisms of President Mohamed Mursi’s foolish and unnecessary power grab and rushed constitutional process are legitimate. So are complaints that the country’s secular opposition is poorly organized, lacks majority support and refuses to compromise.
from Chrystia Freeland:
Among the losers in the United States this week are the super-rich, who spent unprecedented millions to evict President Barack Obama from the White House. The investing class turned sharply and vociferously against the president many of them had supported in 2008. On Tuesday night, the plutocrats lost their shirts.
"Boy, they threw away a lot of money," Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor, told me. "It was very interesting to hear on Tuesday night about all the corporate jets packed in Logan Airport" for Mitt Romney's party in Boston.