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Isocracy Newsletter #10: February 23, 2010


How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows? How shall Desert and Accomplishment meet Despising, Detraction, and Lies? What shall Virtue do to meet Brute Force? There are so many answers and so contradictory; and such differences for those on the one hand who meet questions similar to this once a year or once a decade, and those who face them hourly and daily.

W. E. B. Du Bois (The Ordeal of Mansart, 1957)

Election Round-Up

Costa Rica held parliamentary and presidential elections on February 7. The ruling centre-left National Liberation Party received 46.76% in the Presidential vote against the centrist and participatory Citizens' Action Party (25.17%) and the libertarian Movimiento Libertario (20.83%). Laura Chinchilla's election will make her the first female President of Costa Rica, a country renowned for having no military and - unusual for a Latin American country - not having any military coups as a result.

On the same day the second round for the Ukraine Presidential elections was held, with Viktor Yanukovych (48.95%) defeating Yulia Tymoshenko (45.47%). Yanukovych represented the "Party of Regions", a politically centrist, regionalist and pro-Russian organisation against the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, which is liberal-conservative and pro-Europe. The country is highly polarised with Yanukovych winning all regions in the south and east and Tymoshenko winning almost all regions in the west, centre and north.


1. Coup in Niger

The elected President turned dictator, President Mamadou Tandja, has been overthrown in a coup. President Tandja Mamadou has been a force in Niger's politics for the past twenty years and was elected President in 1999 and 2004. Initially promoting proposals to revise the constitutional term limits on the Presidency, President Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly when the Constitutional Court of Niger argued that such an attempt was illegal. Normally dissolving the Assembly would mean that elections would be called, but instead the President announced he would be ruling by decree. On February 18, Soldiers attacked the presidential palace in Niamey where a cabinet meeting was being held.

Coup leaders have expressed their desire to turn Niger into a country of "democracy and good governance" and protect its people from "poverty, deception and corruption" and compared their coup with a previous one in 1999 when the military coup quickly handed power over to elected representatives.


2. Cluster Bomb Ban Becomes Law - Without the U.S., China, Russia etc.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty that prohibits the use of cluster bombs, a type of explosive weapon which scatters submunitions ("bomblets") over an area. The treaty will become international law on August 1, following the ratification of the convention by thirty states. A further seventy-four states have signed, but have not ratified the treaty. Under the convention, the use, production and trade in cluster munitions will be banned and deadlines for stockpile destruction will be set.

Missing from the treaty signatories however is a number of countries that produce or stockpile significant amounts of cluster munitions, including China, Russia, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan and Brazil. The most recent large-scale employment of cluster bombs was in the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008 and prior to that the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006.

3. Assassination of Hamas Commander Sparks International Crisis

On January 19, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, co-founder of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the paramilitary wing of the Hamas, was assassinated on 19 January, 2010 in a hotel room in Dubai. The assassination has sparked an international crisis from the probability that it was carried out by the Mossad agents of the Israeli government using European passports. Israel has refused to confirm or deny its participation in the assassination. Interpol has placed on its wanted list 11 people suspected of carrying out the murder. Dubai is calling on Interpol to issue a red arrest notice on the head of Mossad.

Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings was quoted by The Los Angeles Times as stating, "If a foreign intelligence agency was responsible for the killing of Mabhouh, the matter should clearly be classified as an extrajudicial execution. There is no legal justification for the cold-blooded murder of a man who, if alleged to have committed crimes, could have been arrested and charged. Political murders of this type undermine the fabric of international law as well as stoke the fires of conflict.,0,62512...

4. US Property Market Crumbles - Again

Some 3,000 U.S. banks are facing "dangerous exposure" as a large number of commercial property loans are recording losses of up to $300 billion USD. In a desperate move, banks are engage in "extend and pretend" non-foreclosure policy. Foreclosures have exceeded 300,000 for the past twelve months straight. It is not just commercial loans that have been causing problems however; the number households facing foreclosure in January increased 15 percent from the same month last year.


1. Ugandan Death Penalty Legislation

The Ugandan parliament is attempting to pass a law that punishes gay people with prison or death. Whilst international criticism drove the President to call for a review. But following a vicious lobbying effort by extremists, the bill looks set to be passed. Opposition to the bill is, however, rising, including from the Anglican church. The bill proposes life imprisonment for anyone convicted of having same-sex relations and imposes the death penalty for "serial offenders".

African letter to Ugandan President to throw out Anti-Homosexual Bill:

Ugandan church leader brands anti-gay bill 'genocide':

Human Rights Impact Assessment of Uganda's Anti-homosexuality Bill By Sylvia Tamale, The Dean of Law at Uganda's Makerere University:


For our USians, a lobby groups has started within the Democratic Party entitled "Brownbaggers", who wish to shift spending from the military to healthcare, to promote a bailout of "main street, not Wall St", and to overturn the recent decision of the Supreme Court which gives corporations, foreign or local, the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect candidates from any level. The Brownbaggers argue that freedom of speech belongs to individual people, not organisations.

The organisation is supported by Progressive Democrats of America and

See: for the opportunity costs of military expenditure

Essay: All Politicians Are Unrepresentative Swill

1. The Australian Senate Example and the Upcoming Debate

The St. James Centre for Ethics will be holding a debate next month on whether the Australian Senate is "unrepresentative swill". The colourful phrase was coined by former Prime Minister Paul Keating, an individual rather well known for his such aphorisms and it is usually meant to be taken to refer to the rather strange and archiac determination of Senate membership. A rather impressive line-up has been prepared for the event, including Senator Bob Brown, Simon Sheik, Annabel Crabb, Dr Peter Van Onselen.

As a federation where each colony of white invaders demanded equality, all states are entitled to the same number of Senators, regardless of size. New South Wales, with a population of 7 million, has the same number of representatives as Tasmania, population 500,000. The Senate acts as a conservative force as well; with half the Senate being elected at each term laws are not just subject to vagaries of the popular opinion of a time, but rather subject to the vagaries of previous opinion as well. As such the Senate is often described as "the State's house" and "the house of review".

With multimember constituencies, the Senate is elected by Hare-Clark proportional representation, compared with the single-transferable vote system for the House of Representatives. In the former, the percentage of vote equates with the number of seats won, with excess distributed according to preference. In the latter, a single representative constituency, the candidate who is first to receive 50%+1 of the vote is elected.

It is sadly predictable, with a requisite degree of elaboration and examples, that the preceding points will make up the bulk of the debate. It is doubtful whether any of the speakers, have sufficient understanding of the causes the malaise of contemporary democracy, the lack of enthusiasm for public participation, the constant crisis of legitimacy that has existed in advanced capitalism since the early 1970s. It can come down to one simple statement: All politicians are unrepresentative swill.

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