posts about or somewhat related to ‘Politics’

Now, there’s a reason why privacy is so craved universally and instinctively.

It isn’t just a reflexive movement like breathing air or drinking water. The reason is that when we’re in a state where we can be monitored, where we can be watched, our behavior changes dramatically. The range of behavioral options that we consider when we think we’re being watched severely reduce. This is just a fact of human nature that has been recognized in social science and in literature and in religion and in virtually every field of discipline. There are dozens of psychological studies that prove that when somebody knows that they might be watched, the behavior they engage in is vastly more conformist and compliant. Human shame is a very powerful motivator, as is the desire to avoid it, and that’s the reason why people, when they’re in a state of being watched, make decisions not that are the byproduct of their own agency but that are about the expectations that others have of them or the mandates of societal orthodoxy…

…[A] society in which people can be monitored at all times is a society that breeds conformity and obedience and submission, which is why every tyrant, the most overt to the most subtle, craves that system. Conversely, even more importantly, it is a realm of privacy, the ability to go somewhere where we can think and reason and interact and speak without the judgmental eyes of others being cast upon us, in which creativity and exploration and dissent exclusively reside, and that is the reason why, when we allow a society to exist in which we’re subject to constant monitoring, we allow the essence of human freedom to be severely crippled.

— Glenn Greenwald, Why Privacy Matters. TEDGlobal 2014.

Middle East Hate Matrix Middle East Love Matrix Syria Hate Matrix Syria Love Matrix Middle East

Love, Hate & Other Difficulties in the Middle East

David McCandless & UniversLab created an interactive visualization of the relationships between countries and entities in the Middle East, along with those that exert influence on them.

Images from the Top: Those that hate each other; that that love each other; those that hate Syria (left); those that love Syria (right); and, probably, the most apt visualization, those whose relationships are “complicated” (bottom). Via Information is BeautifulSelect to embiggen. 

The data and sourcing McCandles & Universlab use can be viewed via this spreadsheet, and they invite feedback and updated information as relationships evolve. 

To Be or Not To Be: Scotland Has a Decision to Make
Image: Map of countries that have declared independence from the United Kingdom, via Global Post. Select to embiggen.

To Be or Not To Be: Scotland Has a Decision to Make

Image: Map of countries that have declared independence from the United Kingdom, via Global Post. Select to embiggen.

Middle East Friendship Chart
Via Slate. Read through to select cells for relationship information. Select to embiggen. 

Middle East Friendship Chart

Via Slate. Read through to select cells for relationship information. Select to embiggen. 

Liberal Bloggers Dig Nuance, Conservative Ones Not So Much →

Via Pacific Standard:

Writing in the journal Political Psychology, a research team led byJennifer Brundidge of the University of Texas at Austin reports left- and right-wing bloggers communicate with their readers in very different ways.

In short, it finds liberals use more complex arguments, acknowledging different points of view before asserting the (alleged) superiority of their own. Conservatives, in contrast, use simpler arguments and are less likely to concede there are any other reasonable viewpoints…

…[Blogs] were analyzed in several ways, including for their use of emotional language and, most importantly, their “integrative complexity.” That term refers to the extent to which they consider events and issues from multiple perspectives.

Blogs analyzed included those such as Breitbart, Red State, and The Blaze (conservative); and Crooks and Liars, Talking Points Memo, and Daily Kos (liberal).

As Pacific Standard notes: “A large amount of psychological research has found conservatives are less tolerant of ambiguity than liberals, so it makes sense that their blogs are less willing to acknowledge gray areas.”

A House Divided
A lobbying firm took data from the National Journal’s annual congressional voter ratings to compare liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. From top to bottom, we have 1982 to 2013.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza attributes the polarization to redistricting, with the parties effectively creating safe voting districts. But, as he points out, the Senate is equally partisan:

More intriguing — and harder to explain — is how the middle has dropped out of the Senate, which is not subject to redistricting. Because senators represent entire states, self-sorting should be less powerful…
…[M]ore than half of the Senate fit between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat in 1982. For the last two years, there has not been a single Republican with a more liberal voting record than any Democrat and not a single Democrat with a more conservative voting record than any Republican. Not one.

Cillizza does the math: In 1982, 75 percent of congress fell into an ideological middle. Today, .7 percent does. Read through for the rest and to view the Senate chart.

A House Divided

A lobbying firm took data from the National Journal’s annual congressional voter ratings to compare liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. From top to bottom, we have 1982 to 2013.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza attributes the polarization to redistricting, with the parties effectively creating safe voting districts. But, as he points out, the Senate is equally partisan:

More intriguing — and harder to explain — is how the middle has dropped out of the Senate, which is not subject to redistricting. Because senators represent entire states, self-sorting should be less powerful…

…[M]ore than half of the Senate fit between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat in 1982. For the last two years, there has not been a single Republican with a more liberal voting record than any Democrat and not a single Democrat with a more conservative voting record than any Republican. Not one.

Cillizza does the math: In 1982, 75 percent of congress fell into an ideological middle. Today, .7 percent does. Read through for the rest and to view the Senate chart.

An Interactive History of Politics and the Olympics
via Council on Foreign Relations.

An Interactive History of Politics and the Olympics

via Council on Foreign Relations.

Let’s Drink
Via ClotureClub.
Looking to watch online? Mashable’s got you covered.

Let’s Drink

Via ClotureClub.

Looking to watch online? Mashable’s got you covered.

When I graduated from university, I worked in ministry of women affairs for six months and I was working on criminal cases. One day when I was crossing the Puli Sokhta bridge, I saw addicted people under the bridge. They were laying there, and their situation was unbearable. When I saw this, I thought: the women who are suffering from a problem, at least they know that they are human beings. They are not forgetting their own personalities. But these people, they get this sickness, they forget who they are. So, that made me think to change my field.

Shabnam S., a 25-year-old woman from Afghanistan, in The Therapist.

The piece is part of a series by Jeffrey Stern, a grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, called Afghanistan: On Its Own, in which Stern chronicles how vulnerable groups (women, minorities, youth, businesses dependent on foreign presence) are preparing for the withdrawal of foreign troops this year.

Shabnam, for example, writes about how jobs including her own are funded by foreign money:

Nowadays, people are graduating with good grades from universities. They go and search for jobs, but they cannot get them. For my own job, funding is provided by foreign countries. Once 2014 comes, foreign forces will leave and it is concern for all. We are all concerned, scared. But with all these challenges and with all this thinking that comes to our minds, we still try to believe that even after the foreign forces leave Afghanistan, we can stand on our own feet. And that we should still help these people on our own, somehow. But we understand that we are losing our budgets.

And the other concern we have is that, right now, there are organizations working against drug sellers, working against people who are importing, using, producing drugs, but when the foreign forces leave, there will be insecurity. And that insecurity will increase the rate of drug sellers and drug users and drug importers. That’s a big concern, because it is a big problem for us, we will have even more people addicted to the drugs. Now, there are organizations who are taking care of child labor, street children and other children, but in the future there won’t be such a thing. That will make more children drug users.

See the other pieces in the series, published in Foreign Policy, here.

Drones

By Matt Bors, via @KenRoth. Select to embiggen.

Census Bureau Releases Mapping Tool
The US Census Bureau today released an updated set of statistics based on its nation-wide, 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Along with it, the Bureau’s created an interactive map to allow users to visually explore communities across the country.
Via the US Census Bureau:

The new application allows users to map out different social, economic and housing characteristics of their state, county or census tract, and to see how these areas have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. The mapping tool is powered by American Community Survey statistics from the Census Bureau’s API, an application programming interface that allows developers to take data sets and reuse them to create online and mobile apps.

Site visitors can explore eight core statistics (eg, median household income, total population and education levels) via the map.
Those with coding chops can hit up the Census Bureau’s API to develop creations of their own. The API gives access to 40 social, economic and housing topics.
Image: Screenshot, Census Explorer.

Census Bureau Releases Mapping Tool

The US Census Bureau today released an updated set of statistics based on its nation-wide, 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Along with it, the Bureau’s created an interactive map to allow users to visually explore communities across the country.

Via the US Census Bureau:

The new application allows users to map out different social, economic and housing characteristics of their state, county or census tract, and to see how these areas have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. The mapping tool is powered by American Community Survey statistics from the Census Bureau’s API, an application programming interface that allows developers to take data sets and reuse them to create online and mobile apps.

Site visitors can explore eight core statistics (eg, median household income, total population and education levels) via the map.

Those with coding chops can hit up the Census Bureau’s API to develop creations of their own. The API gives access to 40 social, economic and housing topics.

Image: Screenshot, Census Explorer.

We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House. We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions and, therefore, we also request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue further.

Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.

Opening paragraphs of a joint letter to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney from 30+ news organizations. (PDF)

Background: During a press briefing last week, the Washington press corp continued its criticism of the Obama administration and its perceived lack of access to the president.

Meantime, Santiago Lyon, vice president and director of photography at The Associated Press, took to the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times to call out the White House’s “draconian restrictions on photojournalists’ access to the president.”

This issue has been around for while. Last Febrruary, Politico ran a piece about a growing rift between the Obama administration and the Washington press corp.

As I wrote at the time, though, the access issue surrounds most every administration:

Go back to Timothy Crouse’s 1972 book, “Boys on the Bus,” about that year’s presidential campaign and reporters are complaining about “media events” and message control.

Or fast forward to the Reagan years and press complaints about Reagan’s mastery of political television and the importance of image over substance and you have, largely, the same phenomenon. It’s just different technology these days.

Yes, access is important. So too is recognizing and reporting on the political theater that surrounds a photo op. — Michael

A Presidential Welcome

A Presidential Welcome

Privacy as a Human Right?

Point, via The Guardian: The United Nations moved a step closer to calling for an end to excessive surveillance on Tuesday in a resolution that reaffirms the “human right to privacy” and calls for the UN’s human rights commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the impact of mass digital snooping.

Counterpoint, via Foreign Policy: The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.

Meantime, via Techrunch: Sir Tim Berners-Lee Blasts “Insidious, Chilling Effects” Of Online Surveillance, Says We Should Be Protecting Whistleblowers Like Snowden.