Thursday, March 09, 2006

Clearing out the Favourites File

A few stories that got buried in my links over the past week:

I especially liked this one...

Does democracy end tyranny?

...by Natan Sharansky, the Soviet Jew who spent nine years in prison as a dissident and then went on to become active in the Israeli government.
It addresses something I'd wondered about: why does it so often happen that emerging democracies hold elections that produce counter-democratic results?
(Or at the least, results that the West doesn't agree with.)

Sharansky says,

although elections are part of the democratic process, they are never a substitute for it.

He believes that democratic reforms come first, and elections later (he thinks at least three years later) in order for the "atmosphere to change" within the electorate.

Makes sense. After all, the governing process is so vastly different in western democratic countries, the people whose right and responsibility it is to vote need to become informed and need time to sort out the fear-mongering from the opportunities.
Lots of time.
Show them the reforms first and then let them decide if democracy is right for them.

A couple of articles from last Sunday's Washington Post, about the ongoing hijinks of the Bush administration:

Mandatory, If You Choose

...another word definition poser, with regard to whether there NEEDED to be a 45 day review for the Dubai Ports World deal, and whether the words mandatory and discretionary can be viewed as synonyms with the right amount of spin.
(In a word, No.)

and this one, which made a big splash in the media for a day or so but then disappeared:

White House Trains Efforts on Media Leaks
Sources, Reporters Could Be Prosecuted


This is scary. Limiting leaks by cracking down on those who hold sensitive information is one thing - but once that information does get out, it is the job of journalists to disseminate it, not something to be viewed as illegal, subject to prosecution.
The media is constantly criticized, in some cases rightly, but just think where we'd be without it!

Finally, we have the furry lobster story:

This THING (so far not exposed as a hoax) reportedly found at a depth of over a mile in the Pacific Ocean south of Easter Island.
Click link for photo, it's worth it.

It's a crustacean, about the size of a "salad plate" but no word yet on whether it's edible, for humans anyway.
It's also blind, which is probably just as well.