Catalan independence movement declares a general strike in Barcelona

The cause of Catalan independence surged in October 2017, when voters defied Madrid and voted in a banned independence referendum despite indiscriminate violence and rubber-bullet fire from police, who had earlier seized the ballot boxes (the independence movement had wisely procured a backup set of boxes just in case. The referendum led to a declaration of independence, and the central government responded by imposing direct rule and arresting the movement's leaders (the ruling coalition was trounced at the polls a few months later). Read the rest

Tee: You can't fix democracy by turning it off and on again

Cartoonist Phil Foglio (previously) writes, "I designed a cool t-shirt!" They're $22 from Offworld Designs. Read the rest

Today, Michigan regulators vote on conservative education "reform" plan to purge the word "democracy" from curriculum

Former Michigan Republican State Senator Patrick Colbeck has put together an ambitious, far-ranging educational "reform" package that is being voted on today by the Michigan State Board of Education. Read the rest

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: abolish Columbus Day, replace it with Voting Day

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (previously), the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has proposed abolishing Columbus Day (which honors a raping, murdering, enslaving, genocidal pedophile) and replacing it with a day off for voting (which most other developed democracies give their citizens). Read the rest

Most Americans are not confident election systems are secure from hacking: Pew Research

Americans are confident local poll workers will run elections smoothly and that votes will be counted accurately, but they are less sure about nationwide elections and worry about foreign hacking.

Scarf depicts women Democratic congressional candidates running in the midterms

A record number of women are running on the Democratic ticket for Congressional office, over 200 in fact. This scarf depicts each and every one of these sheroes in hand-drawn illustrations by artist Alexandra Posen. The Herwave silk wrap is available for $125 at Resistance By Design. 100% of its profits will go to organizations supporting Democratic women in government.

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#HERWAVE2018 @notoriousrbyd

A post shared by Alexandra Posen (@alexoposen) on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:13pm PDT

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thrilling to see first print strike-offs of the HERWAVE2018 project I’ve been working on. Needed strength and hope after such dark days. #herwave2018 #electwomen #thefutureisfemale #voteblue

A post shared by Alexandra Posen (@alexoposen) on Sep 29, 2018 at 11:25am PDT

(swissmiss) Read the rest

Cute PSA on 'How to Vote'

Writer and comedian Demi Adejuyigbe (The Good Place, The Late Late Show) explains how and why folks should vote in this cute PSA video.

Vote. It's not a test. It's ok to look at your phone, or bring a cheat sheet, or just leave stuff blank... After all, it's a free country... for now.

[Pssst... Register to vote.]

(Daring Fireball) Read the rest

Voter registration surges in the wake of Taylor Swift Instagram post

There's been a lot of talk about Taylor Swift's marching orders to her 112 million Instagram followers this past Sunday. Some folks are welcoming her to the resistance. Others wish she'd shut her political cake hole and stick to singing (but Kanye West's blathering on is totally cool).

No matter which side of the fence you find yourself on in the debate over whether celebrities should be able to use their status to motivate the political leanings of their fanbase, there is no denying that an endorsement or suggestion from the right star gets shit done. According to Buzzfeed, Vote.org has seen an insane spike in traffic since Swift waded into politics.

From Buzzfeed:

"We are up to 65,000 registrations in a single 24-hour period since T. Swift's post," said Kamari Guthrie, director of communications for Vote.org.

For context, 190,178 new voters were registered nationwide in the entire month of September, while 56,669 were registered in August.

In Swift’s home state of Tennessee, where she voiced support for two Democratic candidates running in this year's midterms, voter registrations have also jumped.

"Vote.org saw [Tennessee] registrations spike specifically since Taylor's post," Guthrie said. The organization has received 5,183 in the state so far this month — at least 2,144 of which were in the last 36 hours, she said, up from 2,811 new Tennessee voter registrations for the entire month of September and just 951 in August.

Holy shit.

Whether this massive registration will translate into a whack of voters turning up to cast their vote remains to be seen. Read the rest

Why Democratic Socialists aren't afraid to call themselves "Socialist" anymore

For generations, American mainstream politicians have smeared socialist movements by equating them with Stalinism and other forms of authoritarianism, but today, "socialism" is a label more and more people are embracing. Read the rest

Report: Freedom of the Press in decline around the world

While it should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the news or gets depressed by Twitter on a regular basis, freedom of the press – an important check against corruption and the misuse of power in a democracy – is on the decline.

We've been seeing it daily of late: political leaders spewing targeted hate at particular journalists or the outlets they work for. Pundits calling the facts uncovered during deep-dive investigative reporting lies, or alternate versions of the truth, instead of trying to defend their viewpoints or confessing to their bullshit once they've been caught. Hell, Trump went so far as to call journalists "enemies of the people." That's a term that Stalin was fond of.

The assault on the media doesn't stop there, either. With increasing frequency, journalists around the world are facing charges and incarceration for nothing more than doing their jobs. As insane as it is, those are the lucky ones. In some locales, being a journalist can get you killed. It's been common, in recent years, for reporters in Mexico to vanish or to wind up dead – their work to bring the truth to light displeasing to drug cartels and corrupt local officials. And then there's this, from Reporters Without Borders:

The line separating verbal violence from physical violence is dissolving. In the Philippines (down six at 133rd), President Rodrigo Duterte not only constantly insults reporters but has also warned them that they “are not exempted from assassination.” In India (down two at 138th), hate speech targeting journalists is shared and amplified on social networks, often by troll armies in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pay.

Read the rest

America divided into states with the population of California

Speculative redivisions of the USA into equal-population states tend to discard the existing ones entirely in favor of the average. I thought it would be interesting to instead keep the most populous state, California, then combine other states to meet it in size. Since they're always complaining. Read the rest

How to Destroy Democracy: SF Bay Area event Jan 10 with Masha Gessen and Drew Sullivan

We hope you can join us for this urgent conversation hosted by Institute for the Future, where Mark Frauenfelder and I are researchers:

Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California invites you to join us January 10, 2017 for an eye-opening discussion about global politics, corruption, and our best hope for preserving civic society featuring:

• Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot

• Drew Sullivan, co-founder of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

• plus additional investigative journalists from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Right-wing populist parties and autocratic leaders are gaining power in many countries, from France and Russia to Hungary and Poland. This trend long predates the recent U.S. elections that have added fuel to the fire. How did we get here? What are the real stories behind the headlines? This is a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from journalists who risk their lives analyzing the multi-trillion dollar criminal economy and uncovering corruption around the globe.

This group of journalists, along with other experts from the realms of media, academia, policy, and technology, are in the Bay Area to participate in a private convening hosted by the Institute for the Future in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and OCCRP. The convening, called The Future of Democracy: Preserving A Vibrant Civic Media, will result in a public roadmap of initiatives to preserve an open civic dialogue and strengthen democracy for everyone.

Read the rest

This is what it's like when tyranny takes hold

"What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust."

The New Yorker's Evan Osnos, with one of the best essay openings of the year, examines the posthumous memoir of Xu Hongci, a Chinese revolutionary and true believer of Mao Zedong, later imprisoned. Read the rest

Bureaucrats disqualify Hong Kong legislative candidates for insufficient loyalty

2014's Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong was an uprising over the Chinese government's announcement that it would exercise a veto over who could stand for election to the Hong Kong legislature (as Boss Tweed said, "I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating."). Read the rest

Tony Benn, secret mounter of illegal Parliamentary plaques

When Tony Benn was a Member of Parliament, he would go around with homemade plaques celebrating heroes of democracy, such as suffragette* Emily Wilding Davison, and illegally screw them to the walls. He copped to this during a sitting of Parliament in 2001, saying, "I have put up several plaques—quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself. One was in the broom cupboard to commemorate Emily Wilding Davison, and another celebrated the people who fought for democracy and those who run the House. If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum." Read the rest

Poll: Brits don't vote because they're furious with politicians

A new poll conducted by the Guardian and ICM concluded that the dramatic drop-off in British voting is the result of anger, not apathy. Brits still talk about politics, think about politics, and view the decisions that politicians make as important to their daily lives. They're just incredibly angry with politicians, whom they view as lying and undifferentiated in their views and actions. Basically, Russell Brand was right.

And the poll reflects my own view pretty well, too. My MP, Meg Hillier, has a safe Labour seat. She personally spearheaded the push for an all-recording, all-surveilling National Identity Card; voted for the Digital Economy Act; and was part of the New Labour government that went to war in Iraq; added fuel to the property speculation bubble; gutted unions' right to strike; and let the finance industry confiscate the world's wealth in a crooked, unregulated casino game.

Last election, I voted for the LibDems, who've since broken practically all of their campaign promises, and voted in favour of a system of secret courts where you and your lawyer aren't allowed to review the evidence against you. So much for "the party of liberty."

So who do you vote for? Pirates? Greens? As the 2015 election draws nearer, I'm certainly going to be looking more closely at both of those parties. I can't imagine voting for Labour or the LibDems at this point. Read the rest

What Nelson Mandela's life tells us about the legitimacy of "democratic nations"

This morning, as I listened to the BBC World Service on Mandela, I found myself pondering what it meant that he was South Africa's "first democratically elected leader."

This is undoubtedly true. The apartheid regime held elections regularly, but only white people were given the vote. The systematic, arbitrary denial of the franchise to a large fraction of the population makes those elections "undemocratic" and their leaders illegitimate. I think that this is indisputable. Read the rest

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