Open Democracy

Science Has Moved Past Worship of the 'Selfish' Gene: Why Can't We?

What do all these ideas have in common—a tax on carbon, big investments in renewable energy, a livable minimum wage, and freely accessible healthcare? The answer is that we need all of them, but even taken together they’re utterly insufficient to redirect humanity away from impending catastrophe and toward a truly flourishing future.

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The Conservative Party in the UK Is in Such Terrible Political Spot, They Have Had to Ally with This Far-Right Fringe Group to Save Their Majory

The Democratic Unionist Party now look like the Tories preferred coalition partners. The DUP, which is the biggest Unionist (ie pro-UK) party in Northern Ireland, are often treated as though they are just the same as the other Unionist party they have essentially replaced – the Ulster Unionists. But while the UUP have a long running relationship with the Tories, and are a centre right party, the DUP are another thing entirely. The idea that they are near power in Westminster should worry us all. Here are some things you need to know.

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A Decade of Militarized Drug Policies in Mexico: More Violence, More Human Rights Violations

Mexico decided over ten years ago to militarize their drug policies and rely on the armed forces to conduct counter-narcotic operations and other public safety tasks. The so-called “war on drugs” has taken since then a very real dimension in the country.

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Trump Is Taking Corporate Power to Historic Extremes

After 100 days in office, the Trump Administration continues to wear its abject disdain for human rights on its sleeve. It has threatened to leave the United Nations Human Rights Council and has signalled Trump’s enthusiasm for the most extreme forms of torture. A number of his executive orders have directly contravened the principles of human rights, including his racist attack on particular categories of immigrants and his restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.

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How Do We Reclaim Control Of Our Lives When the Economy Looms So Grim?

As my friend David Fleming once wrote, conventional economics ‘puts the grim into reality.’

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What 'Citizen Bannon' Misremembered and Misread on His Path to Becoming a Top Trump Adviser

The Wall Street Journal’s decade-long decline as a trustworthy source of news about politics can't have surprised anyone who knows that it’s been owned since 2007 by Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump’s closest and most powerful friend in news media. (I predicted the Journal’s decline in 2006 in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” rebutting a fawning profile of Murdoch as he was winning ownership of the paper.)

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America's President Will Try to Rule Like a Roman Emperor

As Donald Trump rampaged through the Republican primaries last March, I argued here and on the New York National Public Radio station's Brian Lehrer Show that neoliberal Democrats as well as free-marketeering Republicans were leaving it to Trump to do what his Inaugural Address has given him no choice but to do: become the dictator of the nationalist, plutocratic regime that he is installing under the banner of what he called "a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before."

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Violence Gave Us Donald Trump - It Won't Save Us from Him

What’s next? That's the big question facing the United States after the presidential election. And many people have been sharing their thoughts on that over social and traditional media, over dinner conversations, at the office and on the bus with complete strangers. And, as expected, people are all over the map with ideas and strategies.

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Illicit Drug Sales on the Dark Web Don't Really Make the Industry Safer

The creativity and resilience of drug markets makes drug policy developments immensely challenging. One of the most interesting innovations in recent years are crypto markets, a kind of eBay for drugs, that provides participants with anonymity, uses crypto currencies for payment, and aggregates and displays customer feedback ratings and comments.” The question many are asking now is whether crypto markets permit drug transactions without violence, or at least with less violence. Drug trafficking, after all, is responsible for a wide variety of human rights violations, from farmers being driven from their land, or air sprayed with toxic agrochemicals that contaminate riverbeds and licit crops, to minors being exploited for labor to citizens being executed. Can a shift towards deep web trading mitigate any of these problems?

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Fascism Rising

Is this how it begins? With rage, with the demands of the entitled millions who feel their birthright has been stolen, with those who claim “we built this country, we fought its wars, when is it our turn?” Donald Trump is by any stretch of the imagination an awful candidate to be president of the most powerful state on earth, a sexistracist, impulsive narcissist who lies with abandon and hates with fervour. His handlers don’t even trust him with his own Twitter accountanymore. And now he is the standard bearer for an increasingly familiar social coalition, angry white working class men (and women) with weak formal education and weaker job prospects, along with disaffected white middle class conservatives, many of them religious, who are furious that they lost the culture wars. We’ve seen this coalition before: it’s a breeding ground for fascism. Liberals need to wise up and fast. The International Criminal Court (ICC), global human rights, international norms? These are sideshows. The battle is much more present and visceral than that now. It is the battle of democracy and in that struggle, human rights are too compromised by their association with the very liberal elite—exactly the elite that the Putin/Trump/Brexit coalition hates—to be a principal mobilizing banner. 

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The Intersection of the War on Drugs and the Jihad Attacks on France

For two years now, the world has been watching as France is subjected to the most vicious jihadi attacks of any European country. From the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, to the massacre of partying twenty-somethings at the Bataclan, to the driving of a truck into the crowds celebrating Bastille Day, the most obvious question is – why France? Why are such a disproportionate number of their own citizens behaving this way?

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Hell, Our National Crisis Isn’t Really About Trump - It’s About What’s Happening to the American People

As Darryl Glenn, a Republican candidate for the US Senate from Colorado, fired up the Republican National Convention against Hillary Clinton this week by saying, “We know she enjoys her pantsuits, but we should send her an email telling her what she deserves is a bright orange jumpsuit,” I pictured the beheadings of western foreign-aid workers in orange jumpsuits, as Glenn surely meant us to do, and I wondered why this black herald of a new Republican Party didn’t say that Barack Obama deserves to be lynched.

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Violence Without Justice: Mexico's Drug War and Its Consequences

Mexico’s so-called war on drugs has not ended. While no longer part of the government’s official discourse, the logic of war continues to pervade the state’s militarized strategies against criminal organizations. Most importantly, this war continues to be felt amongst individuals, families, and local communities that endure its consequences in the form of extortions, kidnappings, disappearances, torture, and forced displacements. More than “collateral effects,” these various forms of violence and its victims are at the center of Mexico’s ongoing war.

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How the European Union Turned Into a Neoliberal Nightmare

This article originally appeared on Open Democracy

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Cornel West: Why the US Empire Is More Ripe for Right-Wing Revolution Than from the Left

Last year, when Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency, few believed that it would have any success. Many assumed that the public endorsement of ideas like ‘democratic socialism’ or ‘political revolution’ would alienate the American political electorate. But what followed was a series of surprising victories in several states.

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What's the Point of Living Longer in a Country Where the Elderly Are Given Crumbs to Live on?

When he declared that death was the ultimate enemy in life, evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould implied that the battle wasn't over: enemies can be fought, and partial victories are possible. Imagination is our compensation for a life span that is limited, but it’s also a means to counter that oversight of evolution. 

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Mexico's Dark Decade of Drug War Human Rights Abuses

The criminalization of the sale and consumption of certain substances, under the model known internationally as ‘the war on drugs’, has been increasingly criticized in a variety of global forums due to its evident failure as a strategy to end the use and abuse of prohibited substances, as well as its impact in filling prisons with people accused of non-violent crimes.

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Pope Francis Leads Church From 'Just War' to 'Just Peace'

Last month, Bernie Sanders gave a brief but rousing talk at the Vatican on financial inequality and the erosion of democracy. There was some coverage of his remarks in the mainstream media because—well, mainly because he’s Bernie.

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Enemies of Corbyn's Progressive Labour Party Push Israel's Anti-Semitism Smears

In 2005, a draft, working definition of antisemitism was circulated by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). To the dismay of its critics, the document confused genuine antisemitism with criticism of Israel, and was repeatedly, and erroneously, promoted by Israel advocacy groups as the EU definition of antisemitism.

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Trumpism Can't Last Forever, Right?

But he can’t win, right? As Donald Trump rolls towards a Republican convention where he will be the overwhelming favourite to take the party’s nod as their general election candidate, the same question repeats in tasteful living rooms, oak-panelled boardrooms, and faculty common rooms. Donald Trump might have been defeating the political gravity of common sense, but it can’t last forever, right? The quiescence underpinned by the conviction that Trump would implode in a hailstorm of bluster and bad hair has turned to an urgency that something this mad can’t actually come to pass. But as the Economist Intelligence Unit now lists the threat of a Trump presidency as a quantifiable possibility to be hedged against, we should dust off a tome from 2002 for reassurance. The Emerging Democratic Majority argues that a combination of professionals, women, and minority voters give the Democrats a powerful in-built advantage towards winning presidential elections. With the Donald’s approval ratings rivalling Charles Manson’s amongst women and Hispanics, and urban professionals showing no signs of deserting their Democratic home, it’s a coalition that “white men can’t trump”.

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Want to Defeat Trump? It Will Take Both Compassion and Confrontation

George Lakey’s recent article rejecting the usefulness of protests at Donald Trump rallies begins with a reference to the sci-fi novel Ender’s Game. In the book, children are recruited to learn skills for outwitting an opponent, and are invited to play complex video games in which they command galactic armies against an alien force threatening their planet. Of the trainees, one boy, Ender, proves himself especially adept at defeating the aliens using his particular gift of empathy to intuit how the alien opponents perceive outside attacks, by understanding their worldview. Lakey uses this literary reference to help argue his point that Trump protests are self-defeating, because they lack empathy.

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"Nobody Wants to Live in a Drug-Free World"

Carl Hart, a Columbia University professor, unpicks the myth of a drug-free world. In this video, he discusses the sensationalism around drug use, who benefits from these exaggerations and misrepresentations, and how drug policy is used to persecute men of color in the United States. How has Black Lives Matter changed the conversation around the war on drugs? And where should drug reformers turn to? Watch the video and for some provocative answers.

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Myths, Moralism, and Hypocrisy: Behind the International Drug Control System

In April 2016, the international community will convene for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS). This event, held two years early due to the urgency of the drug situation and intensity of drug-related violence, presents an opportunity to question the fundamentals of international drug policy. Despite overwhelming evidence that a century-long quest to control human behavior and drug markets through international treaties and national legislation has failed, there is little expectation of change. The vested interests in retaining the status quo are significant, with sclerosis legitimized through the recurrent exhortation to improve international co-operation.

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Drones, Drugs and Death

In April 2015, USA TODAY broke a story with the headline: “US secretly tracked billions of calls for decades”. At first glance, it appeared to be yet another Edward Snowden revelation implicating the National Security Agency (NSA), mass surveillance and the ‘war on terror’. But it actually concerned a mass surveillance operation that had taken place a decade earlier, not by the NSA, but by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It was not aimed at identifying terrorists, but rather the detection of drug traffickers.

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9 Things We've Learned From a 50-Year War on Drugs

Why has the ‘war on drugs’ in the Americas actually increased the militarization and bloodshed associated with drug trafficking? By creating an enormous illegal market controlled by complex and increasingly powerful criminal groups, violent conflicts have intensified across the region. At the same time, repressive policies have violated the human rights of tens of thousands of people. Here are nine lessons we’ve learned from 50 years of drug wars, drawn from a joint report by 17 organizations from 11 countries in the Americas.

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People Tied Up ‘Like Animals’ on UK Deportation Flights

A woman being deported from the UK to Pakistan was compliant and cooperative throughout the process. Still, the commercial contractor Tascor, working for the UK Home Office, strapped the woman into a waist restraint belt until after the plane had taken off.

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South Korea's Trump Card for Denying Freedom of Expression

The right to freedom of expression in South Korea is under renewed attack. On 19 December, the Constitutional Court dissolved the opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP), finding it had violated the country’s “basic democratic order”. The court also ordered that all UPP lawmakers in the National Assembly should lose their seats.

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Moving Amnesty Closer to the Ground is Necessary, not Simple

Over 50 years ago, Amnesty’s founder Peter Benenson, warned, “The important thing is to mobilise public opinion quickly, and widely…. The force of opinion, to be effective, should be broadly based, international, non-sectarian and all-party. Campaigns in favour of freedom brought by one country, or party, against another, often achieve nothing but an intensification of persecution.”

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Check out These Major Tech Firms Providing Surveillance Technology to Central Asia

It's not surprising that some of the states in Central Asia spy on people. Authoritarianism across the world relies on the intrusion into, and lack thereof, of a private sphere. From the KGB to their modern incarnations, the autocracies in the region continue to rely on state surveillance and other entrenched means of political control to stay in power.

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