from the world's big
James Traub's Recipe for Spreading Democracy
James Traub is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, where he has worked since 1998. From 1994 to 1997, he was a staff writer for The New Yorker. He has also written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and elsewhere. His articles have been widely reprinted and anthologized. He has written extensively about international affairs and especially the United Nations.
In recent years, he has reported from Iran, Iraq, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Vietnam, India, Kosovo and Haiti. He has also written often about national politics and urban affairs, including education, immigration, race, poverty and crime.
His books include, The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power; The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square; City On A Hill, a book on open admissions at City College; and The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (Just Not the Way George Bush Did). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Question: How does the US effectively spread democracy in the world?
Traub: I think modestly is the answer. I mean, I think one thing we’ve learned over the last eight years, the obvious one is you can’t bring democracy at the barrel of the gun, and I think people would have known that in the first place, even the Bush people don’t say that they… that’s what they sought to do that would sure looks like that’s what they sought to do. The point is what can you do? What can any outside actor including United States do to try to bring more democratic outcomes in countries? And I think there’s… I tend to talk about it as a kind of high thing and a low thing. The low thing which happens with nobody particularly noticing it is the slow effort at building up institutions, the state building part of this. And this is a key aspect but a very gradualistic one where you try to help countries with issues of rule of law and transparency and limiting corruption as well as helping to build infrastructure and so forth, that’s the low thing. The high thing and the dramatic thing, these are public diplomatic act. So how can the United States make a difference there? Well, there are sometimes that elections are enormously consequential and it really matters a lot for United States to come down on the right side. We saw recently in Pakistan, the United States was on the wrong side, and the democratic civilian secular parties succeeded anyway, so it shows the limits of our power for bad as well as for good, but there are moments when it is enormously important for United States to say there is a democratic side and there is a not democratic side or less democratic side and we stand with the Democrats.
Question: Which features of democracy are indispensable regardless of the country?
Traub: So, to take an example which I think is not dispensable, you hear people say, “Oh, in the Middle East, we have a tradition of Islamic Democracy, we call it the shura,” which is to say a counsel of elders who together reach a consensual conclusion. Well, that’s not a democracy. That does not represent the will of the people. And, especially, in a complex society as opposed to a tribal society, a “shura” will not be a useful reflection of people’s will and will not be sufficiently accountable to them and will not be counterbalanced by other powers as well. So, there’s an example where I would say the local customs don’t get you there or the loya jirga in Afghanistan. There are very important transitional devices, but there are not the thing itself. At the same time, there are lots of elements of things like how power is divided between the center and the locality where the United States has a particular way of doing it that’s very different from other Western democracies, much less in other African countries. There are systems of adjudicating more traditional systems of justice, for example, which can live along side more Western systems of justice. So, clearly, there is not a one-size-fits-all aspect to democracy, but it’s a big mistake to think that it’s so variable that there are not a series of quite fundamental practices, values, institutions, which are essential for any democracy.
The institution building that goes on behind the scenes is just as important as electing democratic leaders, James Traub says.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.