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.
March 30, 2013 |
In the heady days of 1989, nondemocratic regimes fell like dominoes to the peaceful march of activists across Eastern Europe. Even China briefly appeared vulnerable to popular demands for a voice in how the country is ruled -- until the crackdown at Tiananmen Square. The spread of democratic rule was at its apex a decade ago, when many of Africa's strongmen went the way of the discredited European Communists. Free elections brought to power a new generation promising to wrest the continent from poverty.
February 3, 2013 |
My niece, the mother of a 3-year-old, told me she felt blackmailed: In order for her child to attend a birthday party at a gymnastics facility for young children, she had to sign a form that included this: "The undersigned agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless [this facility], its officers, managers, members, employees, servants, agents and coaches/instructors and their successors and assigns from and against all legal liability, claims, suits, damages, losses, and expenses, including attorneys' fees, threatened or incurred, and arising from the child's participation, or from any cause whatsoever.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 31, 2013 |
The political prisoner looked ashen and bony - weary from the months of being held in his native Vietnam - as he was pulled into the tight embrace of his family. Nguyen Quoc Quan, a math professor turned democracy activist, had been detained almost as soon as he arrived in Ho Chi Minh City more than nine months ago, accused of attempting to overthrow the communist government. The government locked the 60-year-old from Garden Grove in a 9-foot-by-9-foot cell, his only company the minder assigned to watch his every move.
January 24, 2013 |
AMMAN, Jordan - The king of Tafayla had just been elected to the parliament. He strode through the neighborhood in the Jordanian capital Thursday, dressed in a black tracksuit and wearing a 5 o'clock shadow, his hair matted down. A henchman fired a handgun into the air in celebration as supporters shambled down an alley on their victory parade. There was, however, one group of men who heard the commotion from their dim clubhouse but opted to stay inside, stewing over black coffee and smoking Rothmans and Kents.
January 21, 2013 |
Monday, millions of Americans will honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering for community service. They will collect cans of food for the poor, ladle soup for the hungry and help the homeless. They will talk about their rewarding experiences, and the people they help will express their gratitude. Tomorrow, everybody will return to their normal routines. The MLK Day of Service represents an increasingly popular form of volunteerism - setting aside a day or so to help the needy.
January 13, 2013 |
Hey, reader. If you bristle ever so slightly at the presumed familiarity of that salutation, you're almost surely over 40, and you likely grew up well north of the Mason-Dixon line. If you say "hey" back, the demographic possibilities are a lot broader. Everyone from anywhere who was born after 1980 seems to have adopted this onetime Southern regionalism, as have over-40s who work in a business that uses "trending" as a verb and requires them to stay forever young. I get "hey" emails and in-the-hallway greetings from students who've never been as far south as Philadelphia, who hail from India and Austria, from the Northeast and the Midwest and Canada.
December 20, 2012 |
Last month, I sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson. That tragedy left six people dead, more than twice that number injured and a community shaken to its core. Loughner deserved his punishment. But during the sentencing, I also questioned the social utility of high-capacity magazines like the one that fed his Glock. And I lamented the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, which prohibited the manufacture and importation of certain particularly deadly guns, as well as magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.