June 14, 2013 |
The Anaheim City Council showed its contempt for the principle of representative government again this week, defeating another proposal to let residents vote for council members on a district-by-district basis. The decision means that the voting power of the city's growing Latino population will remain diluted for now. But it's easy to envision a day when demographic change overtakes the city's political elite, and the shoe will be on the other foot. The council has previously stiff-armed efforts to change the city charter and end at-large voting, a practice that enables more politically active residents of the wealthier parts of the city - along with entrenched special interests - to dictate the council's membership.
June 12, 2013 |
ISTANBUL, Turkey - With swagger and grand designs, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rose to power more than a decade ago, heralding a new Islamist-based democracy he envisioned as a model for a Muslim world caught in the grip of autocrats, kings and despots. But more than two weeks of protest against Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule have brought a reckoning to a leader who, despite his political astuteness, has miscalculated the fervor from a large part of an electorate opposed to the creeping religious conservatism of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP. Erdogan is still very much in control, and few would venture that the crisis will bring him down, but the protests have hurt him politically and exposed misgivings within his party.
June 4, 2013 |
CAIRO - The convictions Tuesday of 19 Americans who worked for pro-democracy groups highlight Egypt's long-standing resistance to broadening freedoms in a country that has veered from secular autocratic rule to an increasingly restrictive Islamist-led government. The criminal court case against the Americans on charges of operating illegally funded organizations strained relations between Washington and Cairo and hardened Egypt's suspicions toward international civil society programs.
May 10, 2013 |
Kidnappings, suicide bombings and hundreds of violent deaths have bloodied Pakistan's campaign trail. Still, the parliamentary vote Saturday is being heralded as a milestone in the country's democratic advancement. Once the votes are tallied and a new government formed, it will be the first time in Pakistan's 66-year history that one elected leadership succeeds another, and that the departing government was able to serve out its full term. Politics remains a dangerous endeavor in Pakistan.
May 6, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - When Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development from his impoverished country last week, he complained that Washington "still has a mentality of domination and submission" in the region. It was a familiar charge for the State Department's principal foreign aid agency. In the last two years, it has been booted out of Russia, snubbed in Egypt and declared unwelcome by a bloc of left-leaning Latin American countries. USAID "threatens our sovereignty and stability," the eight-nation Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas fumed in June in a resolution that accused the United States of political interference, conspiracy and "looting our natural resources.
May 5, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Speaking to the graduating class of Ohio State University in Columbus on Sunday, President Obama called on the students to embrace the school's motto, “education for citizenship,” and to press the government to act. He encouraged students to work to narrow the income gap between the middle class and the wealthy, to improve education for children and protect them from gun violence, and to better the environment, among other things....
April 20, 2013 |
The great Yogi Berra is said to have observed, "Predictions are difficult, particularly about the future" (or something very close to that). When UCLA history professor James Gelvin quoted Berra to that effect on Saturday, it served as a capstone to a wide-ranging discussion of the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Wait, scratch that. The term preferred by the panel of Mideast experts speaking at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was Arab Uprisings, not Arab Spring.
April 19, 2013 |
"It's a difficult business," writes David Graeber, "creating a new, alternative civilization. " Just open a window or turn on the TV - the same old civilization is rotting all around us. Budget cuts, police shootings, endless and ever-broadening wars, the climate in full-scale, almost-end-times spasm, a Congress of hand puppets yelping on about the manufactured crisis of the moment, a president whose answer to every crisis is More of the Same....
April 10, 2013 |
Pakistan is beset by a torrent of maladies. Its government is bankrupt. Its economy is mired in stagflation as the population booms. Terrorists strike all corners of the country. Civil conflict in its largest city, Karachi, has evolved from feuds between ethnic political parties into a Taliban war against them all, exacerbated by ever-powerful criminal mafias. The cancer of extremism is spreading deeper and the death toll mounts. But there is opportunity for change. Pakistan's political leaders have taken major steps toward institutionalizing civilian, democratic rule.
April 3, 2013 |
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - As Pakistan's leading political parties ramp up their campaigns ahead of parliamentary elections in mid-May, they face a burgeoning youth electorate that has become deeply disillusioned with the country's direction and doubtful that democracy is the best course to take, according to new report released Wednesday. A survey by the British Council found that nearly one-third of Pakistan's registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 29, and that more than half of those voters - roughly 13 million - would be going to the polls for the first time.