"Everybody's private motto: It's better to be popular than right."
-Mark Twain, undated memorandum
"He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it--namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain."
-Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Global freedom suffered its fifth consecutive year of decline in 2010, according to Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties around the world. This represents the longest continuous period of decline in the nearly 40-year history of the survey. The year featured drops in the number of Free countries and the number of electoral democracies, as well as an overall deterioration for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa region. A total of 25 countries showed significant declines in 2010, more than double the 11 countries exhibiting noteworthy gains. The number of countries designated as Free fell from 89 to 87, and the number of electoral democracies dropped to 115, far below the 2005 figure of 123. In addition, authoritarian regimes like those in China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela continued to step up repressive measures with little significant resistance from the democratic world. Published annually since 1972, Freedom in the World examines the ability of individuals to exercise their political and civil rights in 194 countries and 14 territories around the world. The latest edition analyzes developments that occurred in 2010 and assigns each country a freedom status—Free, Partly Free, or Not Free—based on a scoring of performance on key democracy indicators Freedom in the World 2011 Survey Release
Media Dragons & The Wealth Revolution Why the Rich Are Getting Richer American Politics and the Second Gilded Age
"The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams. Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression.
Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost -- the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security, and opportunity -- will never return. They are probably right. And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery. The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer. And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer. In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else's income went down. This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom. The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today...Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class. Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced industrial democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan. It breeds political polarization, mistrust, and resentment between the haves and the have-nots and tends to distort the workings of a democratic political system in which money increasingly confers political voice and power."
• Insiders of Political Voice and Power [It is not a picture of a healthy society. Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class. ; 22% of online Americans used social networking or Twitter for politics in 2010 campaign Twitter and social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace; But there is a caveat to this forecast: Over time, blogs will continue to become indistinguishable from other media channels The 10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010 ]
• • Follow up to previous postings on WikiLeaks; Sites like Politico, Talking Points Memo and RealClearPolitics are planning to smother the 2012 campaign trail in a way they could never have imagined four years ago. US Political Blogs Ready to Flood Campaign Trail ; Ben has now finished 62 electoral districts, including all 50 Labor seats, 6 independent seats, and 6 Coalition seats. NSW (Australia)- NSW election guide: two-thirds finished - On Tuesday 1 February, NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell is set to become the fourth longest serving leader in the history of the NSW Liberal Party O'Farrell set to become Fourth Longest Serving NSW Liberal Leader ; The 7.30 Report this week ran its views on the Power struggle ; New South Wales Election Website Now Live! ABC NSW Election 2011
"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."
-Mark Twain, notebook entry, January/February 1894
"It was no wonder that people were so horrible when they started life as children."
-Kingsley Amis, One Fat Englishman