31 October 2016   Leave a comment

Americans are currently wrestling with the question of whether their elections are free and fair.  Freedom House has long ranked electoral systems on a scale of zero to 12, with 12 being as free and fair as possible.  The US currently earns an 11 on that scale.  The Pew Research Center has examined the most recent results of the ranking and it found that:

“Of the 195 sovereign countries Freedom House ranked this year (using 2015 data), 61 scored 12 out of 12 on the group’s electoral process scale – among them Australia, Canada, Japan and the UK. Besides the U.S., 16 other countries received 11 points out of 12.”

The Center also gives information on other rankings, and the US ranks high, but not among the highest in the world.

There has been movement between the Philippines and China on control of the South China Sea.  More specifically, the changes surround control of the Scarborough Shoal which is separate from the other disputed areas such as the Spratly or the Paracel Islands because only the Philippines has a competing claim to the Shoal.  Since 2012 Chinese naval vessels have been chasing Filipino fishermen away from the shoal, but it now appears as if Filipino fisherman are being allowed back in.  It is too soon to determine what the move means.  The Chinese have not relinquished their territorial claim to the Shoal but neither has the Philippines.

Image result for territorial claims south China Sea

In 2014 the Ukrainian people overthrew a government they believed was hopelessly corrupt.  In the intervening two years, the campaign against governmental corruption has led to a rather remarkable innovation:  a requirement that all Ukrainian officials must publicly declare their wealth and property.  It is fair to say that the results of the declarations were stunning:  Ukrainian public officials are incredibly wealthy.  The requirement is something that all democracies should embrace.  The US has reporting rules, but they are not nearly as stringent.  The average net worth of a person in Congress is $1.03 million, twelve times the net worth of the average American household.

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Posted October 31, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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