This is (not) What Democracy Looks Like
In Defense of Village Idiots: Although it pains us to even type these words, new research from  Princeton University suggests that the least informed citizens provide a  crucial damper on our democratic process.  Ecology professor Iain Couzin used a model animal that, on the whole,  is more intelligent that about 30 percent of Americans: fish.
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In Defense of Village Idiots: Although it pains us to even type these words, new research from Princeton University suggests that the least informed citizens provide a crucial damper on our democratic process. Ecology professor Iain Couzin used a model animal that, on the whole, is more intelligent that about 30 percent of Americans: fish.

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Parker J. Palmer, Wise Guy: Type Möbius strip into your favorite search engine and you’ll  find images of a long, rectangular piece of paper that’s been given a  half-twist and taped together to form a loop. The resulting surface has  only one side and no end.
“I often talk about life on the Möbius  strip,” says the 72-year-old public intellectual Parker J. Palmer. “That  wonderful form that you can trace with your finger and find that what  looks like the inside surface keeps merging seamlessly into the outside  surface, and vice versa. So that the inner and outer are not two  different things, but they’re constantly co-creating each other. That’s  become a metaphor for me about the way life works.”
An accessible  author with an empathetic heart and a philosopher’s head, Palmer is a  modern-day wise man whose nine books, including the just-published Healing the Heart of Democracy, appreciate with each ruminative reading.
Parker J. Palmer was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries—people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.
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Parker J. Palmer, Wise Guy: Type Möbius strip into your favorite search engine and you’ll find images of a long, rectangular piece of paper that’s been given a half-twist and taped together to form a loop. The resulting surface has only one side and no end.

“I often talk about life on the Möbius strip,” says the 72-year-old public intellectual Parker J. Palmer. “That wonderful form that you can trace with your finger and find that what looks like the inside surface keeps merging seamlessly into the outside surface, and vice versa. So that the inner and outer are not two different things, but they’re constantly co-creating each other. That’s become a metaphor for me about the way life works.”

An accessible author with an empathetic heart and a philosopher’s head, Palmer is a modern-day wise man whose nine books, including the just-published Healing the Heart of Democracy, appreciate with each ruminative reading.

Parker J. Palmer was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries—people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.

Keep reading …

Income inequality is on the forefront of the collective America brain. With economists ringing alarm bells, protestors occupying available slivers of public land, and families feeling the squeeze on a daily basis, the American status quo hasn’t been so vocally scrutinized in decades. With so much coverage, it’s easy to get lost in the details—statistics and scandals, history and histrionics. Leave it to Annie Leonard, the activist and cartoonist behind the popular series “The Story of Stuff,” to clear up a how the richest nation on earth can’t afford to pay its bills.

In “The Story of Broke,” Leonard’s most recent film, she explains in broad strokes how American tax dollars get turned into corporate pocket lining—and stolen from the people and infrastructure that need government support most. America is hardly the hard scrabble, heartless country that politicians make it, Leonard contends, “So next time you have an idea for a better future and someone tells you, ‘that’s nice, but there’s no money for that,’ you tell them we’re not broke. There is money, it’s ours, and it’s time to invest it right.”

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From new photo ID requirements to permanently disenfranchising citizens  with past felony convictions to ending same-day registration, many  states have introduced bills and passed legislation this year that will  put in place obstacles that make it significantly harder for millions of  people to vote in 2012. Keep reading …

From new photo ID requirements to permanently disenfranchising citizens with past felony convictions to ending same-day registration, many states have introduced bills and passed legislation this year that will put in place obstacles that make it significantly harder for millions of people to vote in 2012. Keep reading …

"There are two things to know about this campaign. First, the [voter fraud] problem it points to does not exist. Second, the real purpose of its proposed solution is to keep certain kinds of American citizens from exercising their legitimate right to vote."

— Election season is revving up, which means we are going to be harangued by nervous politicians about the specter of “voter fraud.” If you’re new to this great American tradition, America’s David Carroll Cochran has a primer for you. Read more …

Modern literature is uninspired, complains poet Bei Dao, whose acclaimed  poems helped fuel China’s pro-democracy movement in the ’70s and ’80s  and led to his exile for decades. He blames the literary decline on  mindless consumerism and base entertainment. Keep reading …

Modern literature is uninspired, complains poet Bei Dao, whose acclaimed poems helped fuel China’s pro-democracy movement in the ’70s and ’80s and led to his exile for decades. He blames the literary decline on mindless consumerism and base entertainment. Keep reading …

Low voter turnout is problematic for many reasons. For one, it  delegitimizes parties in power, as the opposition (read: the loser) can  claim that the winning party doesn’t actually represent the people.  Exhibit A: Bush v. Gore. Exhibit B: The Tea Party. But it’s not strictly an American problem. Historic low turnout in Canada has Bruce Hicks, in This Magazine, calling for compulsory voting. “There is no  reasonable argument that a few minutes out of a citizen’s day every four  years or so … is an unfair burden for living in a democracy,” he  writes. Read more …

Low voter turnout is problematic for many reasons. For one, it delegitimizes parties in power, as the opposition (read: the loser) can claim that the winning party doesn’t actually represent the people. Exhibit A: Bush v. Gore. Exhibit B: The Tea Party. But it’s not strictly an American problem. Historic low turnout in Canada has Bruce Hicks, in This Magazine, calling for compulsory voting. “There is no reasonable argument that a few minutes out of a citizen’s day every four years or so … is an unfair burden for living in a democracy,” he writes. Read more …

publicradiointernational:

“We talk about democracy movement in Libya, that’s very wrong,” retired Air Force colonel Sam Gardiner told The Takeaway. “Most of this is about a civil war—it’s about tribes against tribes.”

“We’re involved in supporting one side in a civil war against another side,” he continued. “It’s not democracy.”

(Image of the USS Barry launching a missile against Libya.)

"As Americans, we have inherited a stacked deck. We’re in a headlock with our corporate masters and in exchange we’re kept numb by entertainment and assurances that we’re the strongest country on the face of the earth. We serve our corporations and what they want. What these corporations want from Egypt is a territory kept cooperative enough for America to pick clean of its resources."

— Meakin Armstrong, from “Revolution and the American Fever Dream