Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, May 22, 2015

in·ter·mit·tent

in·ter·mit·tent Pronunciation: \-ˈmi-tənt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin intermittent-, intermittens, present participle of intermittere
Date: 1601 : coming and going at intervals : not continuous ; also : occasional — in·ter·mit·tent·ly adverb 

Source: Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Intermittent Retrieved 15 May 2015

The last time I suggested that blog entries might be less than regular, big ideas kept falling in my lap and my postings were pretty regular. This time, spring has finally arrived I'm pretty sure I'll be distracted and otherwise engaged in things non-academic.

If you find a bit of information that might be useful for teaching comparative politics, post it at the AP Comparative Government and Politics Facebook page or send me a note with the information.  

Also remember, nearly all the over 3,500 entries here are indexed.
Use the search box in the right hand sidebar to find a country or a concept that you're interested in.

And, if your web browser allows it, there's a search box at the top left corner of the blog that will sort through key words. The search box shows up on my Safari and Netscape browsers on my desktop computer but not on my laptop.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating. And for now, Amazon is the only place to get a copy.

Revised edition coming in August or September.






What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.



Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Alert! (Alerta!)

You did know there were elections in Mexico next month, didn't you?

They won't be mentioned in your textbook (even if you get brand new ones).

The results might not change anything significantly. Assassinations might provoke some policy changes. It's all stuff you should be aware of before teaching the course again.

Two candidates slain amid violence ahead of Mexico's June 7 elections
Two candidates in Mexico’s upcoming midterm elections were shot to death in different parts of the country amid a wave of violence and intimidation of candidates ahead of balloting next month…

Territorial disputes involving warring drug gangs, conflicts between armed “self-defense” groups and an increase in the number of police and soldiers on the ground have contributed to growing tensions…

The approach of federal and state elections on June 7 has only turned up the heat…

Security analyst Alejandro Hope said the violence, although nothing new, is a sign of the control that organized criminal groups hope to achieve through the elections. They back the candidates loyal to their interests and get rid of their rivals.

“In states like Guerrero and Michoacan, the violence could reduce how many people vote, and even how people vote and the local results of the poll,” said Hope…

Since 2008, 24 political candidates have been assassinated… and nine kidnapped during the run-up to elections in Mexico, according to the Integralia consulting firm.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating, and that is now the only place you can get a copy.

New edition coming this fall. Watch for it HERE!






What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.



Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.

Shipping is free when you order HERE.





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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Challenging in many ways

Nearly all of the 56 SNP MPs are new to Westminster. Therefore, it should be no surprise that they don't act like experienced members of the "Mother of all Parliaments" (to quote one Twitter poster). Some of the posted pictures are great and some of the comments are classic.

SNP MPs flout Commons etiquette with first day tweets
New SNP MPs breached Commons etiquette this week by tweeting photographs of themselves inside the Commons chamber.

Since their arrival at Westminster four days ago, the vastly expanded cohort of SNP MPs has offered an unexpectedly open window into life in the Commons.

Neil Gray (l), MP and fellow MPs
All 56 MPs (or #team56 as they are hashtagging their activities) are regular tweeters, and their followers have learned more about the internal working of parliament in the past four days than one would in a lifetime’s study of Hansard…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating. The last existing copies are available from Amazon.








What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.



Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.

Shipping is free when you order HERE.





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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Non-representative democracy

When the winners are in charge of choosing a voting system, why would they change what worked for them?

Election result is ‘nail in the coffin’ of first-past-the-post voting system
Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system has been declared broken and unfit for an era of multiparty politics as analysis of general election figures showed that it had delivered the least proportional result in the country’s history…

Data compiled by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) for the Observer… said that 24.2% of seats in parliament were now held by MPs who would not be there if a proportional voting system were in place. The previous record highest figure was 23% in 1983, when the former SDP suffered from first-past-the-post. In 2010 the figure was 21.8%…

Its analysis showed that, of almost 31 million people who voted, 19 million (63% of the total) did so for losing candidates. Out of 650 winning candidates, 322 (49%) won less than 50% of the vote.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the ERS… “The Conservatives have won a majority in parliament on not much more than a third of the vote. So while the prospect of a hung parliament has receded, the problems with our voting system have remained in the foreground.

“It cannot be right that it takes 26,000 votes to elect an MP from one party and almost four million to elect an MP from another. Millions will have woken up on Friday morning to find their voices effectively haven’t been heard. At a time when more and more people are turning away from politics, our broken voting system is making it worse…

“One of the features of our broken voting system is that it accentuates divides. For instance, those who vote Conservative in Scotland have gone almost unrepresented, as have Labour voters in rural southern constituencies or Conservative voters in northern urban seats. The UK is at a constitutional crossroads, so the last thing we need is a voting system that pits nations and regions against each other…"

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.

You can get it HERE! (and shipping is free)







Teachers:

 
What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning for next year.











What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.



Shipping is also free when you order HERE.





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Monday, May 18, 2015

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain

Alec Luhn, a writer for The Guardian has a different take on Putin and changes in Russia than Maxim Trudolyubov did in Friday's excerpt. How many differences and similarities can you find?

15 years of Vladimir Putin: 15 ways he has changed Russia and the world
[A]s Putin marks the 15th anniversary of acceding to power on 7 May 2000, Russia has changed beyond all recognition from the chaotic, open free-for-all it was under Yeltsin. Internationally it faces isolation, sanctions, a new cold war even. At home, despite economic decline Putin enjoys perhaps the highest popularity rating of any Kremlin leader – an approval rating that topped 86% in February.

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that Putin has made a huge impact on his country and the world.

Ukraine, Georgia and the ‘near abroad’: The Ukrainian conflict has ruptured relations between Russia and the west over the past year, but in fact it is merely the latest example of Putin asserting Russia’s “rights” in its former backyard…

Opposition to Nato: Putin has insisted that Nato’s eastward expansion represents a threat to his country…

Autocracy: Putin… has consistently moved toward greater consolidation of his own power…

Cult of personality: Putin has given [Russians] something much more in keeping with the macho spirit of the Russian muzhik: a horse-riding, bare-chested, tiger-wrestling, clean living, straight-talking action man…

It’s the economy, durak! When Putin arrived in office, Russia was just emerging from the disastrous market reforms of the 1990s and the 1998 financial crisis… As former finance minister Alexei Kudrin reminded Putin during the president’s annual call-in show in April, the 7% annual GDP growth at the end of his first presidential term fell to just 0.6% in 2014, and the country’s economy is expected to enter recession this year…

Population growth? Putin took over a country whose population was … losing people at a rate of almost a million a year… But the decline gradually bottomed out,… the country now has more than 146 million people, up from 142 million in 2008…

Pivot to Asia: Putin has shifted in recent years toward greater economic and military cooperation with Asian countries, whose growing economies are hungry for Russia’s energy and whose governments are less judgmental of its human rights record…

Crackdown: With the imprisonment of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the assassinations of several prominent opposition voices, Putin’s Russia was already a place where dissent was not particularly welcome… Since Putin’s return to the Kremlin in 2012, new laws have raised the fines for those taking part in protests not sanctioned by the authorities…

In Putin’s third term, authorities have also tightened the screws on non-governmental organisations that receive funding from abroad…

Once an oasis of free speech, the Russian internet is now subject to vague laws that allow the government’s communications watchdog to block sites deemed to publish “extremist” material or content harmful to children…

‘Moralistic’ vision: Putin’s third term has seen a wave of legislation inspired by his vision of Russia as a bastion of traditional morals…

A multipolar world? The charitable view of Putin’s foreign policy is that he stands up to western hegemony and, with China, acts as a balance to the overweening military and political power of the US...

Londongrad: Under Putin... record numbers of Russians and their cash were flooding west – and London was their favourite second home...

New-found sporting prestige: The Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 were a triumph for Putin…

Corruption: Despite a state campaign against corruption, Putin’s Russia has failed to shake off accusations of being fundamentally dishonest…

Military: Putin inherited an army that was not fit for purpose… While the increased spending and reorganisation has created a force able to react relatively quickly… new equipment – in particular a new stealth fighter and a next-generation tank – are still on the way…

New propaganda: Even as independent media found themselves on the run, Putin appointed Dmitry Kiselyov, a television presenter known for his anti-American conspiracy theories, head of the state news agency Rossiya Segodnya. In this post, Kiselyov has overseen an expansion of Sputnik News and Russia Today, which peddle the Kremlin’s talking points in foreign languages…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to course concepts, terminology, and examples.


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For teachers planning next year's course:

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0
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What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.


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Friday, May 15, 2015

Teenagers!

Even in Iran?

Iran bans 'homosexual' and 'devil worshipping' hairstyles
“Homosexual” and “devil worshipping” hairstyles have been banned in Iran, alongside tattoos, sunbed treatments and plucked eyebrows for men, which are all deemed un-Islamic.

Tehran teenagers
The move – aimed at spiky cuts – follows a trend where, each summer, Iranian authorities get tough on men and women sporting clothing or hairdos seen as imitations of western lifestyles…

Religious police and plainclothes basij militia are often deployed on the streets or in public buildings such as big shopping malls where they crack down on men and women who fail to stick to their forced Islamic dress code… Iran’s police and similar forces operate under the direct control of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to course concepts, terminology, and examples.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.

SOLD OUT






Teachers! Planning for next year?

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.





Shipping is free when you order HERE.





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Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain

Maxim Trudolyubov, a Russian journalist (not a fan of President Putin) who writes for The New York Times thinks that there's some sleight of hand going on in Putin's leadership. Can you find evidence to support or contradict his thesis?

BTW: Do you know what peristroika was?

Putin’s Grudging Perestroika
There is a widespread view in the West that Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine and confrontational policies toward the United States and Europe are an attempt to revitalize aspects of its lost Soviet glory days. But if we look at some of the Kremlin’s domestic policy initiatives, we see a country struggling to become less “Soviet” in its actions and reform its decrepit institutions before it’s too late.

Many of the reforms now underway reflect Moscow’s long-overdue recognition that the Russian state simply cannot afford to maintain costly Soviet-designed structures, such as free higher education for all students or an oversized military based on mass mobilization. Though many of the current changes are forced by dire necessity rather than any grand progressive vision, they are reforms nonetheless…

But now that President Vladimir Putin’s patriotic propaganda has managed to distract popular attention from dismal political and economic conditions, the reforms, haphazard though they might be, are going forward. The irony is that the leaders who have been trumpeting Soviet grandeur on the world stage are presiding over its retreat at home…

Today, a few years into the reforms… the overall picture remains bleak. Moscow has been giving regional governments incentives to close inefficient, duplicative and deteriorating hospitals and health centers, trim the medical work force and improve efficiency in exchange for more funds for modern equipment, renovation and better pay for health workers…

Rural areas are bearing the brunt of the disruption. More than 17,000 towns and villages once served by small health clinics now have no medical services at all. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of health centers was cut from 8,249 to 2,085, and the number of rural hospitals plunged from 2,631 to 124…

Maria Gaidar, head of the citizens’ rights group Social Demand, told me. “They want to avoid public commotion. It’s all being done at the regional level so that in case things go wrong one can blame the governors, not the Kremlin.”…

Education reform has also been haphazard… reformers have introduced uniform exams (not unlike America’s SATs), aligned the higher education system with that of Europe, and started to build new research institutions… as Western sanctions and plunging oil revenues sap the national budget, the Kremlin has announced sweeping cuts in funding that will affect tens of thousands of state employees, from teachers to museum guards to theater ushers.

Efforts to revamp the military are arguably the most successful of the government’s reforms. The Kremlin seeks to replace the unwieldy Soviet structure with smaller, more efficient modern armed forces…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


SOLD OUT






What You Need to Know 6th edition is ready to help.



Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.

Shipping is also free when you order WYNTK HERE.





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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Good luck today. 

May the facts be with you.

Stafford HS "Smoke Signal"