Showing posts from January 26, 2017

Does torture work – and is it worth the cost?

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[It is difficult to gather useful information through torture, and attempting to do so can have far-reaching consequences. *RON*]
Jason Burke, The Guardian, 26 January 2017
Does torture work? Donald Trump believes so. If constant use over thousands of years of human history indicates efficacy then he might seem to be right.

The use of coercion, including the inflicting of pain and extreme discomfort, to extract information has been attractive to those charged with protecting the public – as well as to criminals, psychopaths, warlords, dictators and sadists, for as long as any have existed.

The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used torture. The adjective “medieval” prompts a mental image – in part due to the film Pulp Fiction – of barbarous implements used to force people to divulge something they would rather keep silent about.

Meet Two Aspiring Canadian Trumps

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[They've made it to Slate! "Think brash nationalism could never succeed in our progressive neighbor to the north? Two party-leader candidates are betting otherwise." *RON*]
By Chris Berube, Slate, 26 January 2017

Since the election of Justin Trudeau, many Americans have started depicting Canada as a cuddly, progressive utopia. The prime minister welcomes refugees at the airport! There are women in the Cabinet! Just reading American news, it seems like Canada is a left-wing sanctuary whose reasonable temperament makes it immune to the march of global conservative populism.

Shoring up the civic function of journalism in Canada

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[Good article! A major study by the Public Policy Forum recommends creative policy measures to help ensure citizens have access to quality journalism. *RON*]
Edward Greenspon, Policy Options, 26 January 2017
In the winter of 1989, about 10 months before the Berlin Wall fell, Poland’s weak Communist government entered into power-sharing talks with Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement. As one of two members of the Globe and Mail’s European bureau, I travelled to Poland to report on this geopolitical supernova.

As my translator and I hopped between several parishes one Sunday, intent on hearing what Poland’s long-repressed clergy had to say, we came upon a young man peddling old Commodore 64 computers. He spoke some English. He told me the units had been smuggled in from Germany. I asked, would he get into trouble with the authorities?

A New Report Finds America Is No Longer a "Full Democracy"

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[And Donald Trump isn't to blame. See also: Canada's right doubtless dismayed as The Economist boots the U.S.A. off its list of 'full democracies'. *RON*]

Inae Oh, Mother Jones, 26 January 2017

For the first time, the United States has been downgraded from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" by the Economic Intelligence Unit, a group that annually measures the strength of democracies across the world. According to the EIU, the country's decline as a liberal democracy can be attributed to the "further erosion of trust in government and elected officials"—the same factors that led to the election of President Donald Trump.

Judge refuses to allow court review of conflict commissioner's rulings on Christy Clark

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[They wrote the crooked law and are following it to the letter! "...members of the public who complain to the commissioner about the premier's conflicts of interest 'are not entitled to a remedy, and are not even entitled to any assurance that the Commissioner himself has not been compromised by his own conflict of interest'... 'It is dangerously undemocratic for B.C. to have an ethics law that politicians can ignore, and an ethics commissioner who is an unaccountable czar.'" *RON*]

Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight, 25 January 2017

B.C.'s conflict of interest commissioner, Paul Fraser, has succeeded in thwarting a judicial review of his decision to clear Premier Christy Clark.

Democracy Watch and conflict commissioner in court over complaint about Christy Clark
B.C.'s conflict of interest commissioner clears Premier Christy Clark

Today's Trumpery