Sunday 16 March 2014

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 16th of March


Two events this week demonstrate how terms like democracy, elections and freedom keep being pushed into becoming a farce. The first one is North Korea elections and the second one Crimea's referendum. To the black and white world that some people like to live in, these two elections held at gun point should serve as two examples to reflect upon, that definitely call for a revision of some distorted, simplistic, reductionist definitions of that wasted term. In North Korea there is a unique candidate and voting against him is considered treason to the Supreme People's Party (Yes. Supreme). In Crimea, pro-Russian forces firmly in control of Crimea politically and militarily; Ukraine opposition has been harassed, called Nazis and fascists and Ukrainian TV stations replaced by Russian ones previous to the elections. But hey! They are voting!

The news section finishes with articles about Venezuela that one month after the protest began is now facing a lot more censorship, repression, torture and death. Alongside the 'normal' problems that still don't go away like the shortages of EVERYTHING and extreme violence. As usual you have a selection of articles in English and Spanish and the very eloquent YouTube videos.

In our Science section a recent study claims fat could cloud your cognitive activities, and psychedelic research continues. In Design, Business and Innovation, now you can 3D-print a life-size version of yourself, it that's what you're into. In Culture & Entertainment, Monoskop share McLuhan correspondence with nice people, how much McLuhan is too much McLuhan anyway? Photoautomat presents the third and last post about Tim Hetherington and In Dog We Trust features the sniffing video everybody wants to see.

Happy Sunday and happy reading!


Photo via BBC.

Last week North Korea celebrated elections to approve members of the rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly. I appreciated the contextualization added by journalist Lucy Williamson: "The North Korean vote is a ritual, the result of which has already been largely determined. The Supreme People's Assembly meets rarely and has very little power but you would not know it from the official turnout. There is only one candidate for each district, and one name on each ballot paper. The democratic duty for the electorate is simply to write "Yes" beside it. Writing anything else might be seen as treachery, rather than democracy." Because North Korea IS A DEMOCRACY. They vote. Don't you see? Read BBC's article about the latest North Korean elections in BBC. E.T.P. 5'

This week's KAL's cartoon via The Economist.

Photo via @GraniTweet

Other wonderful example of democracy (because they are voting) is the referendum that will be held in Crimea today. There are Russian tanks surrounding the city. Ukraine and the West have dismissed the referendum as illegal and one that will be held at gunpoint, but Russia supports it.
"Ukrainian citizens registered in Crimea are "free to discuss the referendum questions" and to campaign in public, according to the rules. But campaigning has been almost entirely pro-Russian, often featuring swastikas to portray the authorities in Kiev as neo-Nazis. Shortly after the referendum was called, Ukrainian TV channels were removed from both terrestrial broadcasts and cable networks in Crimea. Some of them were replaced with Russian stations. There have also been reports of violence against pro-Ukrainian activists." So, as the BBC asks, is Crimea's referendum legal? E.T.P. 7'

AFP: Strongman Putin is playing a 'short game on Ukraine'.

The Atlantic: The view from Kiev: Coping with Ukraine's unfinished revolution. (Added March 19th)

Reuters: Crimeans vote over 90 percent to quit Ukraine for Russia. (Added March 18th).

Euromaidan PR: Over 123% of Sevastopol residents vote to join Russia!. (Added March 18th).

New Republic: Putin just recognize Crimea's independence. The next couple of days will determine what that means. (Added March 18th).

Photo via The Economist.

Finally, The Economist published an article titled: Another day, more bodies. That's Venezuela's new normality. "Thicknclouds of teargas hung in the air over the north gate of the Central University (UCV) in Caracas on March 12th. A police helicopter clattered overhead; on campus, plain-clothes gunmen on motorcycles, some bearing the initials of the national guard, harassed student demonstrators. . . A month after the government crack-down on protesters began, Venezuela’s crisis is deepening. This was the bloodiest single day since three people were killed in Caracas on March 12th. Eighteen injuries were reported at the UCV, after a previously peaceful student march to demand the resignation of the Venezuelan government ombudsman was halted on the orders of President Nicolás Maduro. . .  While he wields a baton in one hand, Mr Maduro releases doves from the other." Read full article in The Economist. E.T.P. 5'

Another article in The New York Times. In Venezuela conciliatory talk but combative tactics. "Acting on the orders of President Nicolás Maduro, riot police officers and soldiers this week blocked a march of thousands of student protesters, doused them with pepper spray, blasted them with water cannons and bombarded them with tear gas.
A few hours later, Mr. Maduro invited the student protest leaders to sit down to peace talks, promising to listen and chat “with respect and affection.”  E.T.P. 6'

In related news Roberto Ferdman describes in Quartz the tense and maybe soon to be over relation between the Venezuelan government and the commercial airlines working in the country asVenezuela is holding $3.7 billion in foreign airlines’ cash hostage "Anything goes when a country is running out of money. The Venezuelan government has received a warning from The International Air Transport Association (link in Spanish) (IATA) which represents over 80% of global air traffic, signaling that a handful of international airlines are considering ending their flights to and from the country. Why the sudden scuffle? Well, foreign airlines have just about had it with Venezuela’s dodgy financial ways." The airlines are not the only ones absolutely fed up with the government dodgy financial ways, as the protests demonstrate, but this is a specific case useful to understand the magnitude of the crisis. Read full article in Quartz. E.T.P 4'

More articles:

FiveThirtyEight: Why only half of Venezuelans are on the streets. (Added March 19th).

The Washington Post: Venezuela president pushes back using bellicose words and brute force. (Added March 19th).

AFP: Venezuelan forces take opposition protest plaza. (Added March 18th).

Quartz: Venezuela just invented the world's creepiest supermarket loyalty card. (Added March 18th).

Sun Sentinel: Photos: The hidden faces of Venezuelan protesters. (Added March 18th).

AFP: Venezuela cracks down as protests rage on.

VICE NEWS: Venezuela Rising. Dispatch 6.

You Tube: Students detained in Altamira Square (watch until the end).

Facebook: Photos: Student protests in photos by Elyxandro Cegarra Gómez.


El Nacional: Colectivos amenazan a los que toman la calle en Catia. Identifican a los manifestantes y los visitan para que se mantengan callados.

El País: Fotos: Violencia en Venezuela.

El País: El régimen venezolano estrecha el cerco sobre Internet.


AFP Blog: Répression à moto au Venezuela. (Added March 18th).


This is how Maduro refers to the opposition leader (spoiler: he calls him a fag), this is basically the tone of every public address, and the he calls for a "peace dialogue". Link in Spanish.

To see the past posts about Venezuela follow the hashtag #SOSVenezuela

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