Does Democracy Work Anymore?
Democratic institutions seem too slow to respond to long-term crises and too quick to react to market pressures, substituting the stock ticker for the ballot box. Is there any alternative?
What's the Latest Development?
The separation of powers ingrained in the American constitution, along with a host of other rules, seem ill-suited to solving the social and economic crises of our day. Obstructionist partisanship has paralyzed government at such crucial moments that political writer Francis Fukuyama says 'vetocracy' could triumph over democracy no matter who wins the presidency in 2012. That is not to say that our politicians are idiots. Indeed, many seem to know what solutions are necessary but cannot see how to get reelected by implementing them.
What's the Big Idea?
China's authoritarian government allows it to better tackle long-term problems, already projecting its policies into the twenty-second century. Nor do Chinese citizens clamor for democracy the way we think they ought to, even as a society emerges that is more independent from the state than ever before. On the other hand, the recent economic crises have acted as 'incubator and accelerator' for democracy across the Middle East. And while democratic revolution has challenged authoritarian rule, we have yet to see the reverse.
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In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
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