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How Facebook Knowingly Undermines The World's Largest Democracy
Ideas

How Facebook Knowingly Undermines The World's Largest Democracy

Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang says that the tech giant knowingly facilitates undermining democracy in India. Fair voting cannot be guaranteed if real people's voices are drowned out by armies of fake online commentators.

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — Earlier this month, The Wire published an exposé on Tek Fog, an app allegedly used by India's ruling, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make social engineering easier. The app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media and amplify right-wing propaganda in the country.

The investigation immediately grabbed the attention of the Indian public. For the first time, everyday Indians were given insight into the inner workings of a major political party's Information Technology Cell (IT cell). Indians were forced to confront the possibility that their everyday reality was shaped not by the Indian public but the whims of shadowy political operatives.

They also discovered that their own ruling party would seek to phish their phones with spyware for the purpose of sending party-line propaganda impersonating them to friends and family. Such serious allegations more closely resemble an authoritarian dictatorship like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and their hired online commentators, the 50 Cent Army (五毛党), than the world’s largest democracy.

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photo of Betancourt pointing at the camera
Geopolitics

Ingrid Betancourt, A Hostage Heroine Reinvented As Feminist For President

Although Betancourt is best known for surviving six years as a hostage of the Colombian terror group FARC, and is considered a centrist politician, her unlikely new campaign for president will be centered on gender issues.

-Analysis-

BOGOTA — Exactly 20 years after she was kidnapped by the FARC terror group in the middle of her campaign for Colombian president, Íngrid Betancourt is launching a new campaign to lead her nation. She will do so on behalf of her party, Verde Oxígeno, becoming the only female candidate from the Centro Esperanza Coalition (CCE), which for months received a barrage of criticism for grouping only male candidacies and traditional politicians.

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#FreeRamySaath posters displayed in the street as part of an Amnesty International campaign.
Geopolitics

When The Only Way Out Of Prison Is The Price Of Your Citizenship

Several notable political prisoners in Egypt have renounced their citizenship to gain freedom. The choice is a difficult one to make personally, and the practice is highly questionable politically.

CAIRO — On January 8, Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath arrived in Paris after Egyptian authorities released him from prison and deported him after over 900 days in remand detention. He walked out of Charles de Gaulle Airport with his wife Celine Lebrun-Shaath to a cheering crowd of supporters. Yet the conditions of his release were no cause for celebration — Shaath was forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship in exchange for his freedom.

Shaath's detention was part of a continuing crackdown on political dissent under Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has trageted liberal critics.

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 A handout photo made available by the Iranian Army Press Office shows Iranian clerics watching during the second day of a military exercise in Makran sea, south of Iran, 08 November 2021
Geopolitics

Don't Underestimate Russian Influence Over Iran's Military

Russia's role in in Iranian affairs goes to the highest levels of its military and security structures. But will anyone in Iran dare question Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in spite of the grave risks to the country's national security?

-Analysis-

LONDON — Several sources recently reported on the sale of 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets to Iran. These were initially to be sold to Egypt, but that deal was thwarted by the threat of U.S. sanctions on Egypt. Since 15 of the planes were reportedly ready for delivery, they may be sent to the Iranian regime in early 2022.

Reports of sales of Russian commercial or military planes to Iran are not new, though some now qualify them as a consolation for Tehran to make amends for Russia's suspected approval of the strikes that have targeted Iranian Revolutionary guards bases, allied militias and Iranian war material in Syria.

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Photo of a man holding prison bars in his cell
Society

Inside Egypt's Shocking Rise In Capital Punishment

While executions were once rare, Egypt has become a global leaders in judicial killings amidst growing secrecy around the legal system.

CAIRO — It was around noon on February 20, 2019 when Mounira* first heard the news. She was at home watching television when a news bulletin flashed on the screen announcing that nine prisoners had been executed that morning at dawn, among them her 27-year-old son Fouad*. A year earlier, the men had been convicted of the 2015 assassination of Public Prosecutor Hesham Barakat and sentenced to death. The sudden announcement struck her like a thunderbolt.

Fouad was arrested in 2015 and tried in a military tribunal (Case 514) about which there is no public information. He was eventually acquitted, yet while in detention, he had been added to the assassination case.

“When he received an acquittal in the first case, I held out some hope that he would come out of the public prosecutor [assassination] case as well. I told myself, ‘these aren’t sham trials, they actually look at the case files,’” Mounira said.

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Kazakhstan's Turn: Putin Having His Way With Former Soviet Republics
Geopolitics

Kazakhstan's Turn: Putin Having His Way With Former Soviet Republics

As with Ukraine and Belarus, Kazakhstan is falling under the grip of Moscow as a response to disorder and threats to align with the West.

-Analysis-

Add Kazakhstan to the list of former Soviet republics whose independence is now being threatened by Russia. Russian leader Vladimir Putin is using a similar playbook in Kazakhstan to one that he has used over almost a decade to threaten the sovereignty of Ukraine.

What began as protests over rising fuel prices on Jan. 2, 2021, quickly escalated into violent clashes on the streets of Kazakhstan. On Jan. 5, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a firm ally of Putin’s, requested support from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which Putin’s Russian Federation is the leading member. Russia has responded decisively by sending paratroopers, special operations troops and equipment as part of a nearly 3,000-strong force to Kazakhstan.

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How Tehran Hunts Down Iranian Refugees In Turkey
Geopolitics

How Tehran Hunts Down Iranian Refugees In Turkey

Iran's clerical regime is able to sabotage asylum applications, prompt deportations and, failing that, beat and murder Iranian political refugees in Turkey.

LONDON — After Iran's 1979 revolution, Iranians with different views to those of the new, clerical regime felt obliged to leave the country. Over the years, a range of events and factors included prison executions in the 1980s and the suppression of student protests in Tehran in 1999. The crushing of mass protests in 2009, then in late 2017, in mid-2018 and in late 2019 to 2020 prompted more Iranians to flee.

One place that has become a temporary refuge for them is Turkey. Currently, it hosts around 40,000 Iranian refugees, many of whom have spent years of their lives here, hoping in fact to move on and settle in another country as a safe haven.

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Why Modern Life Feels So Busy Even If We Work Less
Society

Why Modern Life Feels So Busy Even If We Work Less

It's about multiplying choices, not vanishing time...

MONTREAL — Many of us feel like time management is getting tougher. But why? Is it because we now work more than ever, or maybe because life in general has sped up so much?

It’s unlikely. Overall, people work less today than they did 100 years ago. And there is no clear evidence that the pace of life has accelerated.

So if it’s not more hours or faster pace, what’s changed? The answer is that the institutions that used to regulate our time have all but vanished.

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Photo of a person walking by a placard displaying a smartphone that shows a 2021 calendar
Ideas

Worldcrunch Staff's 21 Favorite Stories From 2021

We asked the team at Worldcrunch to share the articles that stood at this past year, from articles we've translated from the best international sources to pieces we've written ourselves.

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Copy RM- Draft Test
THE WIRE

Copy RM- Draft Test

From helping the homeless to investing in schools, the Anjali Thagana Medai dedicates its profits to ways to help the living of the whole community

MADURAI — Forty-seven-year-old Madhan Karuppaiah’s day typically starts at nine in the morning when he leaves his apartment at Andalpuram in Madurai to visit two temples and a railway junction. Strangely, the purpose is neither pray nor travel. Outside the temples and the junction, Madhan and a volunteer working with him distribute food pockets to 100-odd women and men.

“Today, the menu is sambhar rice, pickle and an appalam, we try to maintain some kind of variety,” says Madhan. He has been doing this since the lockdown was imposed during the first wave of COVID-19. “Few days into the lockdown, it struck some of us that there were people who had absolutely no one to turn to. So, we decided to give food to those living on the streets.”

His next stop is oddly an electric crematorium.

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​Christmas lights in the northern district of Nazareth, Israel
food / travel

Bethlehem To Nazareth To Jerusalem: A Christmas Tour Of COVID And Politics

On the same day that Bethlehem’s Mayor Anton Salman inaugurated the Christmas holiday season earlier this month with an impressive fireworks display and tree lighting in the town square, residents of the West Bank city’s three refugee camps — Aida, Dehaishe and Jibrin, also known as Azza Camp — continued their daily protesting against the Palestinian Authority.

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"Fed By The Dead" - India Crematorium Pours Profits Back Into Cycle Of Life
Society

"Fed By The Dead" - India Crematorium Pours Profits Back Into Cycle Of Life

From helping the homeless to investing in schools, the Anjali Thagana Medai dedicates its profits to ways to help the living of the whole community

MADURAI — Forty-seven-year-old Madhan Karuppaiah’s day typically starts at nine in the morning when he leaves his apartment at Andalpuram in Madurai to visit two temples and a railway junction. Strangely, the purpose is neither pray nor travel. Outside the temples and the junction, Madhan and a volunteer working with him distribute food pockets to 100-odd women and men.

“Today, the menu is sambhar rice, pickle and an appalam, we try to maintain some kind of variety,” says Madhan. He has been doing this since the lockdown was imposed during the first wave of COVID-19. “Few days into the lockdown, it struck some of us that there were people who had absolutely no one to turn to. So, we decided to give food to those living on the streets.”

His next stop is oddly an electric crematorium.

Watch Video Show less