"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."
-J.K. Rowling, a British novelist best known for writing the Harry Potter series. The books have gained worldwide attention, selling more than 400 million copies. Rowling has led a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Discarding Democracy: A Return to the Iron Fist- Freedom in the World 2015
For the ninth consecutive year, Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual report on the condition of global political rights and civil liberties, showed an overall decline. Indeed, acceptance of democracy as the world’s dominant form of government—and of an international system built on democratic ideals—is under greater threat than at any point in the last 25 years. Even after such a long period of mounting pressure on democracy, developments in 2014 were exceptionally grim. The report’s findings show that nearly twice as many countries suffered declines as registered gains, 61 to 33, with the number of gains hitting its lowest point since the nine-year erosion began.
Digital Inclusion: The Vital Role of Local Content
Innovations, MIT Press
The journal features cases authored by exceptional innovators; commentary and research from leading academics; and essays from globally recognized executives and political leaders. The current issue contains lead essays entitled “Building a Foundation for Digital Inclusion”, “Inequitable Distributions in Internet Geographies”, and “To the Next Billion”. It also includes case narratives entitled “A Mobile Guide Toward Better Health” and “A Social Network for Farmer Training” and more.
Political liberals – and there is a growing band of them around the world – very often get on your nerves. And it makes them so very easy to mock.
For instance, liberals find it very difficult to handle the problem or the reality of evil. When they see evil in action they have to find some sociological explanation for it. For instance, if you are watching a movie or a television story put together by liberals, you will notice that every evil character has either been abused as a child or has endured poverty. And you wonder, what about all those who went through those unfortunate experiences and still turned out to be upstanding members of society?
Liberals also have difficulties coming to terms with the reality of violence and propensities to violence. Confronted with violence they are often perplexed. They wonder aloud: Why can’t we all simply get along? Someone punches a liberal in the nose and he asks: ‘You seem upset about something; do you want to talk about it?’
I exaggerate for effect but you can see why you have the popular caricature of the arugula eating, latte drinking, hybrid-car-driving liberal…a somewhat effete and ludicrous character.
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — I arrived in the Sahel on a four-country trip thinking of the trouble in the region: drought, hunger, and conflict. I left impressed by the political leadership and the resolve of the people. To learn more, please watch this video blog.
Long-established bureaucracies can, sometimes, appear to be a little cynical. Toward their mission, toward their work routines, toward their staff, toward their chances of success. This cynicism can damage morale and become a self-fulfilling hypothesis. So it doesn’t hurt when bureaucratic organizations get an infusion of optimism from time to time that lets them rethink goals, capacities, and strategies.
The other day, someone told me Youthink! needs to be more optimistic. Well hey, it’s hard to be cheerful and witty about topics like poverty and disease…
To be fair, though, there’s often good news from the world of development. So, maybe she did have a point. I decided to try to highlight more of the positive from now on.