body~politic

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why a Hashtag Isn’t Enough for a Revolution in Zimbabwe | Foreign Policy

Why a Hashtag Isn’t Enough for a Revolution in Zimbabwe | Foreign Policymbabwe is in turmoil. For the past two weeks, workers have been striking and angry citizens have been taking to the streets to express their discontent with unpaid public-sector wages, proliferating corruption, declining living standards, and police injustice. President Robert Mugabe’s government is broke, the result of decades of financial mismanagement, and so far it has conspicuously failed in its desperate efforts to find new sources of international financial aid. Failing new support from outside, the country’s economic collapse is almost sure to accelerate.

Many disgruntled citizens — particularly urban young people — have turned to social media, venting their frustration at the 36-year reign of President Mugabe and his patent inability to resuscitate the failing economy. Indeed, the recent protests and work stoppages have been encouraged by social media activists, most prominently Pastor Evan Mawarire, founder of the #ThisFlag movement.
The influential role social media has played underlines the vast spread of internet use in Zimbabwe, primarily on mobile smartphones.
The influential role social media has played underlines the vast spread of internet use in Zimbabwe, primarily on mobile smartphones. It’s a phenomenon reminiscent of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, when social media was critical to inspiring and coordinating movements against dictatorship, corruption, poverty, and inequality. Some have even referred to the toppling of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as the “Facebook Revolution.”

Some Zimbabwean activists, buoyed by their recent successes in mobilizing protests, are already proclaiming the dawn of a social media-assisted revolution. This, in turn, is prompting many pro-democracy commentators and journalists to declare that Mugabe’s rule is in its final days.
These predictions of Mugabe’s imminent downfall are wrong.
These predictions of Mugabe’s imminent downfall are wrong. The reason is quite simple: the angry urban social media activists and pro-democracy pundits have failed to absorb two key lessons of the Arab Spring. The first is that the role of the military in times of civil unrest is pivotal. The second is that social media activism can never substitute for organized political activity on the ground.

Let’s first address the issue of the military. In all of the 2011 revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa, the position adopted by the armed forces was a crucial factor in determining how the popular protests would play out. In Tunisia, for example, the largely apolitical military refused to act in defense of the reigning dictatorship, thus allowing the revolution to succeed; in Egypt, the army first allowed the removal of President Mubarak, then subsequently intervened to topple the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government.
Yet activists in Zimbabwe have so far had little to say about the position of their military on the current unrest — a huge and potentially fateful omission. The Zimbabwean armed forces are highly politicized, and have a long history of close and friendly relations with the president. Most top military officers fought at Mugabe’s side during the 1970s liberation war. Since 2000, many senior officers have expressed strong support for the ruling ZANU-PF party whenever it faced a strong electoral challenge from the opposition. Cyber-activists and angry young protesters underestimate the generals’ loyalty to the ruling party at their own peril.
It is true that the Zimbabwean military is deeply divided. Personal enmities, ethnic rivalries, and disputes over the spoils of corruption have fragmented the armed forces. The top officers disagree especially strongly over who should eventually succeed the 92-year-old Mugabe.
Yet the military’s internal divisions certainly do not mean that it will automatically side with the protesters calling for Mugabe’s downfall. In fact, Mugabe maintains his hold on power largely because of the army’s internal divisions, particularly among the senior officers, which prevent them from pulling together to form a united front against him. Mugabe has also made good use of his position as commander-in-chief to maintain loyalty among the officer corps, using his powers of patronage to ensure the continued payment of salaries despite the government’s empty coffers. He has also used the intelligence services to sow divisions and maintain surveillance among the generals. Unless Mugabe’s opponents can develop a strategy to bring a decisive majority of senior military officers over to their side, even the most effective social media campaign will be for naught.
Then there is the other requirement of opposition success: a broad and inclusive political strategy. Hashtag activism and Facebook posts will never be a substitute for a well-crafted agenda; nor do they offer a successful alternative to on-the-ground political engagement. In 2011, many Arab cyber-activists fulminated online against dictatorship and social ills (and in some cases helped to mobilize actual physical protests), but few managed to devise a workable and unifying political agenda for the morning after the collapse of the status quo. Here the example of Egypt comes to mind once again. The military did not need long after Mubarak’s downfall to reassert its control over the political process; online activists had little to offer in the way of effective alternatives.
For these reasons it is not enough for Zimbabwe’s urban youth to simply oppose the status quo through social media. Let’s say that a successful youth uprising were to remove Mugabe from power tomorrow: Who would take over in his wake? What sort of political and economic agenda would this new leader have? And where are the voices of Zimbabwe’s rural youth, who despite their numerical majority, have played a marginal role in online activism, since social media use is less widespread in the countryside? Most of Zimbabwe’s social media activists have yet to give lucid answers to these important questions, while the few who do are plagued by a lack of consensus about who would lead a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe and what that leadership’s agenda should be.
If social media activists want to make a successful contribution to political change in Zimbabwe, they need to work in sync with traditional civil society groups and, crucially, effective opposition political parties. But these two ingredients — an effective civil society and well-led opposition parties — are currently lacking. The main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is being treated for colon cancer, sparking a succession struggle in his own party. A fully engaged Tsvangirai might have offered crucial leadership to urban youth in the recent protests. Meanwhile, the other potentially rousing opposition party leader, the former vice president Joice Mujuru, is still in the early stages of building support for her new party organization. Traditional civil society is crippled by lack of funding and is intellectually ill-equipped to deal with the unfolding political dynamic.
Young Zimbabweans should remember that protesting is not the only way to effect political change.
Young Zimbabweans should remember that protesting is not the only way to effect political change. It is striking that many of the young people taking to the streets and venting their anger online are not calling upon each other to register to vote in the next national election, scheduled for 2018. None of the leading hashtag activists and bloggers are calling for youth, whose numbers make them Zimbabwe’s decisive demographic group, to massively register to vote. Young people, urban and rural, do not seem to be discussing among themselves whom they should support in the 2018 election, or what sort of political and economic agenda they want to see for their country.

What Zimbabwe needs now, most of all, is a well-thought-out and pragmatic approach to the 2018 election — one that will unite civil society, the opposition parties, online activists, and urban and rural youth. That is the key to finding a new path ahead.
Photo credit: MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images

Erdogan Has Nobody to Blame for the Coup but Himself | Foreign Policy

Erdogan Has Nobody to Blame for the Coup but Himself | Foreign Policy

10 GREAT THINGS ABOUT MIKE PENCE » REGATED

10 GREAT THINGS ABOUT MIKE PENCE » REGATED#7 – It completely ends the #NeverTrump campaign.

It removes the attempts at replacing Donald Trump, unifying the party — so that they can better focus on putting Hillary where she belongs: in Syria.

The Sub-Zero Club: Getting Used to the Upside-Down World Economy - Bloomberg

The Sub-Zero Club: Getting Used to the Upside-Down World Economy - Bloomberg

In the new reality of negative rates, borrowers get paid and savers get penalized

Venezuela es el país con el peor nivel de alimentación del continente - Venezuela al Día

Venezuela es el país con el peor nivel de alimentación del continente - Venezuela al Día

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Infobae América on Twitter: "VIDEO | El momento en que el camión embiste a la multitud en el atentado en Niza https://t.co/geWFvPfnCo https://t.co/9FOUK5IjnK"

Infobae América on Twitter: "VIDEO | El momento en que el camión embiste a la multitud en el atentado en Niza https://t.co/geWFvPfnCo https://t.co/9FOUK5IjnK"

Infobae América on Twitter: "Atentado en Niza https://t.co/EnfHenFEIV: - Al menos 73 muertos - Más de 100 heridos - Hollande viaja a París https://t.co/NcOhUksknj"

Infobae América on Twitter: "Atentado en Niza https://t.co/EnfHenFEIV: - Al menos 73 muertos - Más de 100 heridos - Hollande viaja a París https://t.co/NcOhUksknj"

AFPTN on Twitter: "#Obamacare has 3 different insurer bailout programs! And even those weren't enough to make it affordable. https://t.co/NBJ99kcYUD #TNleg"

AFPTN on Twitter: "#Obamacare has 3 different insurer bailout programs! And even those weren't enough to make it affordable. https://t.co/NBJ99kcYUD #TNleg"

CaraotaDigital on Twitter: "¡No pide dinero, pide comida! Así cobra este taxista caraqueño las "carreritas" https://t.co/J3WGLzirgj https://t.co/XiAWcn6PlM"

CaraotaDigital on Twitter: "¡No pide dinero, pide comida! Así cobra este taxista caraqueño las "carreritas" https://t.co/J3WGLzirgj https://t.co/XiAWcn6PlM"

Brexit Shows Why Central Planning Won't Work | Mises Wire

Brexit Shows Why Central Planning Won't Work | Mises Wire

Milo Yiannopoulos ひ✘ on Twitter: "Will there be a permanent police presence in every Nottingham mosque? https://t.co/ooIWi0Kn5C"

Milo Yiannopoulos ひ✘ on Twitter: "Will there be a permanent police presence in every Nottingham mosque? https://t.co/ooIWi0Kn5C"

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Obamacare company shutdown leaves customers in a lurch, facing higher costs - Chicago Tribune

Obamacare company shutdown leaves customers in a lurch, facing higher costs - Chicago Tribune

Illinois Obamacare Co-op Becomes 16th to Collapse | Americans for Tax Reform

Illinois Obamacare Co-op Becomes 16th to Collapse | Americans for Tax ReformSixteen Obamacare co-ops have now failed. Illinois announced that Land of Lincoln Health, a taxpayer funded Obamacare co-op, would close its doors, leaving 49,000 without insurance. The co-op now joins a list of 15 other Obamacare co-ops that have collapsed since Obamacare has been implemented.  Failed co-ops have now cost taxpayers more than $1.7 billion in funds that may never be recovered.



Co-ops were hyped as not-for-profit alternatives to traditional insurance companies created under Obamacare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) financed co-ops with startup and solvency loans, totaling more than $2.4 billion in taxpayer dollars. They have failed to become sustainable with many collapsing amid the failure of Obamacare exchanges.
Since September, 13 Obamacare co-ops have collapsed, with only seven of the original 23 co-ops remaining.  Illinois’ Land of Lincoln co-op faced losses of $90 million last year and is suing the federal government for the deficit caused by Obamacare.  Co-ops across the country have struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges, losing millions despite receiving enormous government subsidies.
The mass failure of co-ops should not be surprising. Larger insurance companies have also struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges with many announcing they will stop providing coverage.
The web of government subsidies have also failed to provide insurances the funds they were promised. One of these programs – risk corridors -- recouped just 12.6 percent of the funds that insurers requested. The program, which was created to encourage insurers to take on higher risk individuals by transferring funds from insurers who made money to those that posted losses, was required to be budget neutral under law leaving Obamacare insurers with a significant shortfall.
Obamacare co-ops have also been plagued by inept management and unrealistic business models.
As a report by the Daily Caller’s Richard Pollock found, 17 of the 21 co-ops paid out gratuitous salaries to executives reaching as high as $587,000, which is more than four times as much as the $135,000 median health insurance executive salary. Worse still, many of these executives had little to no experience in the insurance industry and some of these excessive salaries were disguised in financial documents as “management fees.”  Last year, 21 of 23 co-ops posted losses.
Given the trend of failing Obamacare co-ops, the collapse of the Illinois co-op will not be the last.

Scientists Invent Oxygen Particle That If Injected, Allows You To Live Without Breathing | TechWench

Scientists Invent Oxygen Particle That If Injected, Allows You To Live Without Breathing | TechWench

New Medical Discovery

A team of scientists at the Boston Children’s Hospital have invented what is being considered one the greatest medical breakthroughs in recent years. They have designed a microparticle that can be injected into a person’s bloodstream that can quickly oxygenate their blood. This will even work if the ability to breathe has been restricted, or even cut off entirely.

Delinquency Rates Rising: Is A New Crisis Approaching? | Mises Wire

Delinquency Rates Rising: Is A New Crisis Approaching? | Mises Wire

Hillary Clinton. A Picture of White Privilege by AlfonZo Rachel - Alfonzo Rachel

Hillary Clinton. A Picture of White Privilege by AlfonZo Rachel - Alfonzo Rachel

How Hungarian Milk Explains Brexit

How Hungarian Milk Explains BrexitBut the Hungarians were finding out that they were trading unelected masters in faraway Moscow for unelected regulators in faraway Brussels.

And the British people, fed up with decades of such regulators, have now said, “Enough!”

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Pass a Basic Test of Financial Literacy | TIME

Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Pass a Basic Test of Financial Literacy | TIMEQuick: If you take out a $1000 loan that has a 20% rate, how much will you owe a year in interest?

Answer: $200. But if you got that wrong, you’re not alone. Nearly two thirds of Americans can’t calculate interest payments correctly, according to a new study. About a third said they didn’t even know how.

The first transparent 3D-printed skull has been successfully implanted | ExtremeTech

The first transparent 3D-printed skull has been successfully implanted | ExtremeTech

Most Obamacare Co-Ops Have Now Failed - Washington Free Beacon

Most Obamacare Co-Ops Have Now Failed - Washington Free BeaconBY:   

Only a third of Obamacare co-ops are still in operation after two more co-ops announced they were closing their doors in the past week.

Jedediah Bila on Twitter: "Every sincere liberal I know is disgusted by @SenSanders endorsing @HillaryClinton, who represents everything he supposedly fights against."

Jedediah Bila on Twitter: "Every sincere liberal I know is disgusted by @SenSanders endorsing @HillaryClinton, who represents everything he supposedly fights against."

Statement by Maya MacGuineas: CBO Paints a Dismal Picture of Unsustainable Long-Term Debt Growth - Fix The Debt

Statement by Maya MacGuineas: CBO Paints a Dismal Picture of Unsustainable Long-Term Debt Growth - Fix The Debt



July 12, 2016
Today’s report from the Congressional Budget Office confirms what we’ve known for some time – that last year’s fiscally irresponsible legislation has worsened an already dismal long-term fiscal outlook.
Last year, CBO warned debt would rise from a post-war record of 75 percent of GDP today to 107 percent of GDP by 2040; this year they project it will rise to 122 percent of GDP by 2040, and keep growing after that to 141 percent three decades from now.
This trajectory cannot continue. It is a virtual roadmap to financial peril. CBO warns that high and rising levels of debt will slow income growth, increase interest costs, crowd out important budget priorities, limit the ability of lawmakers to respond to a crisis, and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis. 
The largest driver of the growth in long-term debt is the one area neither presidential candidate has a plan to address: entitlement spending. Policymakers should act quickly to reform these programs in order to slow the growth of health care and make Social Security solvent.
The presidential candidates should step up and address our dangerous long-term debt trajectory with constructive solutions and real leadership, not continuing to duck these challenges as they have so far. 
The longer we wait to act, the more painful the adjustments will be. So let’s start the discussion today.
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