In These Times has an interesting editorial and this is the opening:
1. the appointment of political positions by lottery, rather than election
Aren’t elections kind of what “make” democracy, though?
Not according to the ancient Athenians. In fact, these early democrats worried elections would inevitably favor the wealthy and powerful sound familiar? The city-state functioned instead by having citizens randomly selected annually to serve in public office, with duties ranging from monitoring public finances to deciding foreign policy and participating as one (of 6000) jurors on the People’s Court. Women and enslaved people, among others, were excluded, so Athens might not be the best example of a full-fledged democracy; still, they had a point about elections. In the United States, wealthy donors have more impact on policy than public opinion, and Congress is far whiter, richer, older and more male than the overall population.
So, uh, you really want to trust a bunch of random people?
That’s what democracy is — and it’s good. On issues from healthcare to climate, ordinary people tend to be more progressive than career politicians. Elected congresspeople also rely on staffers, advisors and outside experts, so some support would be expected.
Has anyone actually done this since Athens?
Ever been on a jury? Ordinary citizens are semi-randomly called up for important deliberative tasks all the time, and sortition’s popularity is growing. Between 2012 and 2014, Ireland held a constitutional convention consisting of 33 elected politicians alongside a random group of 66 (selected through a demographically adjusted process). Their recommendations still required parliamentary approval and a referendum, but it led to the successful referendum on the legalization of gay marriage. Beginning in 2016, a similar advisory council — entirely by sortition — paved the way for Ireland’s vote to legalize abortion.
What do you think? I'm all for it. I think any grouping would be better informed and better able to govern than our current Congress.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:
Thursday, January 6, 2022. A lot of people are in hot water, Nate Silver, Pfizer, Tony Blair . . .
Nate Silver shot off his stupid mouth and a horde came out to pretend that the Iraq War mattered. Pretend? All have platforms. All use the smugness to attack Nate, none use their platforms to highlight what goes on in Iraq and none have done so in years. Here for NEWSWEEK's coverage.
In the real world, Iraq remains without a government. The Parliament dissolved immediately ahead of the October 10th elections. January 9th, the new Parliament is supposed to meet long enough to name a (ceremonial) President and a prime minister-designate (who will then have 30 days to form a government) and a prime minister. That will be three months after elections.
For now the political stalemate continues and Iraq remains without a Parliament. AL-MONITOR highlights the following:
- The Sadrist bloc led by populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won the most seats (73). Sadr has declared his intention to try to form a "majority" government if he can cobble together support totaling 165 seats (minimum for a majority).
- The other major block vying to be tasked with forming a government is the Coordination Framework composed of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law (33 seats); the Fatah Alliance (17 seats), which is the political wing of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), headed by Hadi al-Amiri and perceived as aligned with Iran; Aqd al-Watani Coalition, headed by Falah al-Fayyad (4 seats), also linked to the PMU and Iran; former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr Coalition (2 seats); cleric Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma bloc (2 seats); and Kataib Hezbollah’s Huqooq movement, also a member of the PMU (1 seat) — a total of 59 seats (at time of publication). Ali Mamouri has the scoop here.
- Other key parties and players include the Kurdistan Democratic Party, headed by Massoud Barzani (37 seats); Halbusi’s Taqadum/Progress Party (37 seats); and 43 seats for independents not affiliated with any party. You can see the full election results here.
A delegation from the Sadrist bloc met with the Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani in Erbil on Tuesday, discussing the
October 10 elections and the formation of a new government for Iraq,
according to Barzani’s office.
“They talked about the political process in Iraq, election results and the efforts to hold the first meeting of the Iraqi parliament and the formation of a new Iraqi government,” read a statement from Barzani’s office. Both sides emphasized on overcoming challenges in the country as well as the resolution of Erbil-Baghdad issues, it added.
Hassan al-Athari, head of the bloc, led the delegation.
“They [Sadrist bloc] believe that the next government should be different from the previous ones which were formed based on consensus. They think that some of the winners who have gained most of the seats should form the [new] cabinet while some others remain as opposition,” Mahmoud Mohammed, KDP spokesperson, later told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi.
Outside Iraq, War Criminal Tony Blair remains in the news -- and in the hot seat. From their house of shame -- racism accusations, hanging out with pedophiles, Prince Andrew being accused of rape -- England's royal family decided the way to celebrate the end of 2021 was to knight Tony. It has not gone well. ALJAZEERA notes "an opinion poll published by UK polling company YouGov revealed 63 percent of Britons are opposed to Blair being knighted." THE WALL STREET JOURNAL points out some of the backlash. Some, not all. The so-called royal honor comes as more of Tony's lies and deceptions float from the gutter he lives in. YENI SAFIK reports:
Former British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, who was in office during the Iraq War, claimed he was told to burn a memo from the attorney general that said the invasion of Iraq could be illegal, local media reported Wednesday.
Hoon served as defense secretary between 1999 and 2003 under former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Iraq was invaded in 2003 by a coalition led mainly by the US and the UK.
Hoon made the claim in his recently published memoir See How They Run.
Jessica Elgot (GUARDIAN) draws the connection:
In revelations that critics say cast further doubt on the decision to award the former prime minister a knighthood, Hoon recalled in extracts from his recently published memoir that Blair’s chief of staff had instructed him to burn the document.
Hoon wrote in his memoir, See How They Run, that he had had been under pressure from Mike Boyce, the chief of defence staff, to provide him with clear legal direction that his forces could take action in Iraq, in lieu of a UN resolution authorising force, the Daily Mail reported.
In disclosures that have boosted ongoing attempts to strip the former prime minister of his recently conferred knighthood, Hoon reportedly revealed that Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell had instructed him “in no uncertain terms” to destroy the legal document.
When reports of the allegation first surfaced in 2015, they were dismissed by Blair as “nonsense.” But Hoon has resurrected the claim in a tell-all book, titled ‘See How They Run’, according to the Daily Mail. The paper said Hoon has provided details of a “cover-up” at Downing Street.
The former Labour minister said he was sent a copy of the “very long and very detailed legal opinion,” written by then-Attorney General Peter Goldsmith, “under conditions of considerable secrecy” and told he should “not discuss its contents with anyone else.”
British MP Jeremy Corbyn Tweets:
While Peter Wilson reminds:
The tide is turning against Tony. ITV reports:
A mother from Abergavenny whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 said she's "devastated" at plans to award former prime minister Sir Tony Blair a knighthood.
Hazel Hunt has written an open letter to the Queen alongside five other women who lost children during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
In the letter they ask the Queen to reconsider the honour which "tramples on our son's sacrifices."
Carol Valentine, Caroline Whitaker, Caroline Jane Munday-Baker and Helen Perry also put their names to the plea.
In the letter they write: "The news of Tony Blair's knighthood has set us back years.
"It makes a mockery of our children's lives, and we are struggling to cope with it."
It continues: "Our young sons were in the prime of their lives when they died fighting a war we should never have been at.
"We can never get over that loss, but our misery is compounded knowing that the man responsible is being honoured."
Meanwhile greed may land a few corporations in some trouble. Michael Scarcella (REUTERS) explains:
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday revived a lawsuit against AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L), Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and other companies over allegations their contracts with Iraq's health ministry helped fund terrorism that killed Americans during the war in Iraq.
The plaintiffs contend that the militia group Jaysh al-Mahdi, sponsored by Hezbollah, controlled Iraq's health ministry and that the 21 defendant U.S. and European medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies made corrupt payments to obtain medical-supply contracts.
The following sites updated: