Tunisia’s Elections: Old Wounds, New Fears

Tunis/Brussels  |   19 Dec 2014

Tunisia’s presidential election highlights the multiple divides that trouble the country and region. Unless the winner governs as a truly national leader, representing all Tunisians and not just his base, current tensions could escalate into violence.

The International Crisis Group’s latest briefing, Tunisia’s Elections: Old Wounds, New Fears, analyses the deep anxieties of the country’s political forces and charts a path toward a national compromise. As the region is increasingly polarised, the stakes of the Tunisian presidential election, scheduled for 21 December, are high. Incumbent President Moncef Marzouki, of the Congress for the Republic party, and his opponent Beji Caid Essebsi, a former prime minister and founder of the Nida Tounes party, regard their confrontation as an extension of the regional clash between revolutionary forces (often including Islamists) and counter-revolutionary forces (including elements of the regimes that were shaken or overthrown in 2011). But the chasm between the two camps runs deeper, dividing social classes, pitting established elites from Tunis and the east coast against emerging elites from the south and hinterland, and reviving political conflicts dating to the early independence era.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Tunisia’s tenuous stability rests largely on the hesitation born of reciprocal fears. One camp dreads the possibility of a return to dictatorship and the harsh repression of Islamist and other oppositional forces; the other warns of growing chaos, accusing the transitional authorities of weak governance. These concerns are amplified by the region’s volatility, from the authoritarian drift and crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and chaos in Libya, to bloody conflict and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Given Tunisia’s peaceful evolution thus far, no one wishes to countenance a descent into similar violence and uncertainty.
  • Whoever wins the presidential election will have to work alongside the new government and parliament to calm both camps’ anxieties, address their legitimate grievances and heal the country’s divisions. As a prelude to a political accord, the defeated candidate should write an open letter expressing his fears (and those of the electorate) to the winner, who should respond publicly.
  • The new president should use his constitutional prerogatives to protect freedoms and advance the transitional-justice process. He should also promote cooperation between the main parties, Nida Tounes and the Islamist An-Nahda, even if a coalition of the two is not possible.
  • Together with the new government and parliament, the president should prioritise addressing domestic inequalities and implement a plan for political decentralisation and non-discrimination, as well as explore ways to stimulate economic growth in neglected regions.
  • A commitment to address these issues by governing institutions and the political class could take the form of a charter of political accountability that would lay out principles and priorities for inclusive politics.

“The presidential election has revealed fault lines in Tunisian society that political elites believed they had erased with their spirit of compromise”, says Michaël Béchir Ayari, Senior Tunisia Analyst. “But the reciprocal fears that maintained the fragile stability for much of 2014 mask the absence of a real consensus and reconciliation, not only between the main political camps, but also between the country’s diverse regions and social classes”.

“Experience of the Arab spring in other countries has shown how revolutions can fail, drift into violence, or become victims of their own success”, says Issandr El Amrani, North Africa Project Director. “For its important experiment to succeed, Tunisia would have to find a middle road between revolution and counter-revolution”.


F.B.I. agents in every region of the country have mishandled, mislabeled and lost evidence, according to a highly critical internal investigation that discovered errors with nearly half the pieces of evidence it reviewed.

The evidence collection and retention system is the backbone of the F.B.I.’s investigative process, and the report said it is beset by problems. It also found that the F.B.I. was storing more weapons, less money and valuables, and two tons more drugs than its records had indicated.

The report’s findings, based on a review of more than 41,000 pieces of evidence in F.B.I. offices around the country, could have consequences for criminal investigations and prosecutions. Lawyers can use even minor record-keeping discrepancies to get evidence thrown out of court, and the F.B.I. was alerting prosecutors around the country on Friday that they may need to disclose the errors to defendants.

Many of the problems cited in the report appear to be hiccups in the F.B.I.’s transition to a computer system known as Sentinel, which went online in 2012 and was intended to move the bureau away from a case-management system based on paper files. But other problems, including materials that disappeared or were taken from F.B.I. evidence rooms and not returned, are more serious.

“A majority of the errors identified were due in large part to human error, attributable to a lack of training and program management oversight,” auditors wrote in the report, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Cuba and the U.S.: Turning the Page | Javier Ciurlizza & Mark Schneider

The dramatic improvement this week in U.S.-Cuban relations, and the possibility of an end to the decades-long U.S. embargo of the island, is set to transform political relations in the entire hemisphere. In the three posts below, the director of Crisis Group’s Latin America and Caribbean program, Javier Ciurlizza, and our vice president and special adviser on Latin America, Mark Schneider, look ahead to how the U.S. and Cuban moves could transform the wider region.

Ending the “Hemispheric Anomaly”

The announcements made by presidents Obama and Castro were enthusiastically welcomed across Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, and in at least some quarters of Venezuela. Although there is a great deal to be done before any true normalisation of relations between the two countries, the announcements do at least represent the end of 60 years of Cuba as a “hemispheric anomaly”.

The U.S. embargo of Cuba, in place since 1961, was only the most explicit of several sanctions and decisions that effectively isolated Cuba from the rest of the continent. Expelled from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and excluded from summits, the Caribbean nation was caught up more than most in the maneuverings of the Cold War’s protagonists. Latin American countries aligned themselves with the United States during the 1960s and ’70s. In the 1980s they started to move toward a growing solidarity with their secluded neighbour.

In the past 20 years, a period marked by both a return to democracy and, in many Latin American countries, a marked shift to the left, the Cuba question was no longer taboo. It was continually pushed onto the regional political agenda even by nations ideologically distant from Havana. In fact, rejection of the embargo was one of the few things on which politicians, from the Rio Grande to Patagonia, could agree.

FULL COMMENTARY (In Pursuit of Peace - Crisis Group Blog)

Photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach


Why Electronic Voting is a BAD Idea

Voting is centuries old, why can’t we move with the times and use our phones, tablets and computers? Tom Scott lays out why e-voting is such a bad idea.

By: Computerphile.

The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the US Senate averted a government shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. This year’s omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it.

The debate over the omnibus may have made for entertaining political theater, but the outcome was never in doubt. Most House and Senate members are so terrified of another government shutdown that they would rather vote for a 1,774-page bill they have not read than risk even a one or two-day government shutdown.

Those who voted for the omnibus to avoid a shutdown fail to grasp that the consequences of blindly expanding government are far worse than the consequences of a temporary government shutdown. A short or even long-term government shutdown is a small price to pay to avoid an economic calamity caused by Congress’ failure to reduce spending and debt.

The political class’ shutdown phobia is particularly puzzling because a shutdown only closes 20 percent of the federal government. As the American people learned during the government shutdown of 2013, the country can survive with 20 percent less government.

Instead of panicking over a limited shutdown, a true pro-liberty Congress would be eagerly drawing up plans to permanently close most of the federal government, staring with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies not only degrade the average American’s standard of living, they also allow Congress to run up huge deficits. Congress should take the first step toward restoring a sound monetary policy by passing the Audit the Fed bill, so the American people can finally learn the truth about the Fed’s operations.

Second on the chopping block should be the Internal Revenue Service. The federal government is perfectly capable of performing its constitutional functions without imposing a tyrannical income tax system on the American people.

America’s militaristic foreign policy should certainly be high on the shutdown list. The troops should be brought home, all foreign aid should be ended, and America should pursue a policy of peace and free trade with all nations. Ending the foreign policy of hyper-interventionism that causes so many to resent and even hate America will increase our national security.

All programs that spy on or otherwise interfere with the private lives of American citizens should be shutdown. This means no more TSA, NSA, or CIA, as well as an end to all federal programs that promote police militarization. The unconstitutional war on drugs should also end, along with the war on raw milk.

All forms of welfare should be shut down, starting with those welfare programs that benefit the wealthy and the politically well connected. Corporate welfare, including welfare for the military-industrial complex that masquerades as “defense spending,” should be first on the chopping block. Welfare for those with lower incomes could be more slowly phased out to protect those who have become dependent on those programs.

The Department of Education should be permanently padlocked. This would free American schoolchildren from the dumbed-down education imposed by Common Core and No Child Left Behind. Of course, Obamacare, and similar programs, must be shut down so we can finally have free-market health care.

Congress could not have picked a worse Christmas gift for the American people than the 1,774-page omnibus spending bill. Unfortunately, we cannot return this gift. But hopefully someday Congress will give us the gift of peace, prosperity, and liberty by shutting down the welfare-warfare state.

Weiss today is a Defense Department subcontractor working with the Navy’s Mission Assurance Division. His specific focus is fixing Aurora vulnerabilities. He calls DHS’s error “breathtaking.”

The vast majority of the 800 or so pages are of no consequence, says Weiss, but a small number contain information that could be extremely useful to someone looking to perpetrate an attack. “Three of their slides constitute a hit list of critical infrastructure. They tell you by name which [Pacific Gas and Electric] substations you could use to destroy parts of grid. They give the name of all the large pumping stations in California.”

The publicly available documents that DHS released do indeed contain the names and physical locations of specific Pacific Gas and Electric Substations that may be vulnerable to attack.

Aggression is simply another name for government. Aggression, invasion, government are interchangeable terms. The essence of government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it be made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.
—  Benjamin Tucker quoted by Robert Anton Wilson

anonymous asked:

Do you know any careers that involve government/law and international relations?

Careers in Business Finance:

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Careers in Government/Law:

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Careers in Protective Services:

  • Federal Agent
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Careers in Social Sciences:

  • Anthropologist
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Other Careers:

  • Eligibility Interviewer
  • Labor Relations Manager
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Kill the monster

American protests against police brutality all the more clearly highlight the problems with human rights and the rule of law in the US. But the government continues to do nothing.
Despite the fact that the protests against racial discrimination and police brutality continue to occur, the authorities didn’t take any significant decision. We only hear nice words about the recognition of the problem. Even the mass popular protests are not an indicator for our government. We must talk about it! About the monster, known as the US police.


one time my us history teacher told me that you can be arrested for plotting against the government and i was like shit and then he said that you can also be arrested for encouraging plots to overthrow the government so apparently most of my friends, mutuals, and i are all fugitives.