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On People Who Don't Seem to Care About Democracy

Several years ago I met an elderly British man in Hong Kong who had recently travelled to North Korea as a tourist. When I heard that, I became curious. It doesn't happen very often to bump into someone who has visited the secluded Kim dictatorship. To my surprise, he started to rant about how “biased” Western media were. I don't recall his exact words, but the gist of it was that North Korea was very clean, there was no graffiti, no crime, the buildings were modern, in short, the country was not at all how Western media always portrayed it.   I took these pictures during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong   I was quite startled. But in retrospect, I shouldn't have been. Throughout the years, I came across a lot of people who voiced sympathy for authoritarian regimes. I grew up in Italy. Even though fascism was defeated militarily in 1943-1945, and it seemed (for a time) to be a taboo subject to better be avoided in public, there are still people wh

Supreme Court Poised to Shatter the Administrative State in Historic Rulings

Former Trump White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon once vowed to "deconstruct the administrative state", and he may get his way thanks to the Supreme Court's far right majority. The SCOTUS cases Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce could have a huge impact on the power of federal agencies to make and enforce regulations.  Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree .  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 The cases challenge a legal doctrine established in the 1984 Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council , which requires courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous laws, unless they are unreasonable. The so-called “ Chevron deference ” doctrine has enabled agencies to address complex administrative issues without having to wait for Congress to act. However, some conservative judges and critics of the Chevron deference claim that it gives too much power to unelected bureaucrats

China's Regime Deserves to Be Shunned for Bullying Taiwan

“The use of force is an option that mainland China has always maintained (使用武力是中国大陆始终保持的一个选项),” wrote in a recent op-ed Hu Xijin (胡锡进) about Beijing's plans to annex Taiwan. Hu Xijin is the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times , a nationalistic tabloid owned by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).   " Taipei Skyline 2022.06.29 " by 毛貓大少爺 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 . Hu wrote that the use of force is “the fundamental pillar for the advancement of the peaceful reunification route,” calling it “the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces” (使用武力是中国大陆始终保持的一个选项,它也是和平统一路线得以推进的根本支撑,是悬在“台独”势力头顶的达摩克利斯之剑). “Let us support the People's Liberation Army,” he continued, “and various preparations for the military struggle in the Taiwan Strait, while maintaining a stable and calm collective attitude and continuously enhancing cohesion around major national decisions. Taiwan cannot escape, and reunification will e

Taiwan Loses Another Diplomatic Ally After Nauru Switches Ties to China

The government of Taiwan (Republic of China, ROC) has severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of Nauru following the Pacific island’s announcement on Monday that it would switch diplomatic ties to the People's Republic of China (PRC).   Nauru President Russ Kun meeting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in November 2022. Official Photo by Makoto Lin / Office of the President Nauru's decision came just two days after Taiwan's democratic elections which saw the victory of Democratic Progressive Party candidate Lai Ch’ing-te (賴清德) as President. The PRC claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to “reunify” with it, even by force. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the following statement : “Our government has learned that the government of our Pacific friend, the Republic of Nauru, will sever diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on the grounds of United Nations Resolution 2758 and the ‘One-China Principle’. “In order to safeguard nation

Russian Anti-War Activist Dmitry Skurikhin Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for "Discrediting" the Military

Russian anti-war activist and entrepreneur Dmitry Skurikhin (Дмитрий Скурихин) has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for "discrediting" the Russian military after he displayed a poster with the words "Sorry, Ukraine" ("Прости, Украина"). A court in Lomonosov, an inner-city municipality within St. Petersburg, found him guilty of "repeatedly discrediting the army." The poster was ordered to be burned. The prosecution had demanded that Skurikhin be sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. Russian authorities opened two separate criminal cases against Skurikhin. Skurikhin and his wife in front of the Lomonosov District Court on July 28. Screenshot from Sotavision YouTube channel   The first case dates back to 2022, after the enterpreneur painted the façade of his store with anti-war slogans and the names of Ukrainian cities that were attacked by the Russian army.  Investigators searched his house for 11 hours: they broke the door, smashed a window, seiz

How the German Constitution Deals with Nazis

One of the paradoxes of democracy is that it creates freedoms which can be exploited by extremist groups to win enough votes to form a government and then destroy democracy itself from within. The most striking example of such a process is the rise to power of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or NSDAP) in 1932-33. ©Anja Pietsch via Wikimedia Commons     On November 9, 1918, the German Emperor William II abdicated after the country's defeat in World War I. The Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the founding of a German Republic from the balcony of the parliament (Reichstag) building.¹ The German Republic is commonly known as the Weimar Republic, because the assembly that wrote its constitution met in the city of Weimar. However, its official name was "German Empire" (Deutsches Reich). As a matter of fact, Germany retained the same official name from 1871 up until 1945 despite the three political u

Celebs and Politicians Join Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter Clone Threads - Why Didn't They Join the Fediverse Instead?

When the news that Elon Musk had acquired a controlling stake in Twitter broke in April 2022, I immediately left the platform. I had joined the birdsite ten years earlier and I really enjoyed it until 2016, when political events and the newly introduced engagement algorithm turned it into what — in my personal opinion some will disagree with — was a cesspool of anger, outrage, disinformation, shallow takes and tribalism. Threads. Google Play Store screenshot Nuanced and constructive debate became nearly impossible. Ideologically homogeneous microtribes hostile to any form of disagreement, engaging in online feuds and dunking contests, proliferated. By 2021 I had grown tired of it all, spending less and less time on the platform. However, Musk's purchase of Twitter was the last straw. I quit it altogether and moved to Wikitribune Social and to the fediverse. I became a big fan of the fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe"), which is an ensembl