Undercover of helping immigrant agricultural workers who have long needed a break in America, the American technology sector - lead by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg - has seen fit to heavily lobby Congress to increase H1-B and other worker visa permits, vastly increasing H1-B visas at a time when very good research shows that there is no shortage of tech workers in America. Zuckerberg has so far succeeded, in the Senate. What is motivating the claim for more H1-B visas and what's at stake? [more inside]
Democracy’s Saintly Challenger India is no stranger to protest movements, hunger strikes, and the mass mobilization of citizens for a popular cause. But the recent fast by the Gandhian leader Anna Hazare, culminating in an extraordinary Saturday session of Parliament to pass a resolution acceding to his main demands, marked a dramatic departure in the country’s politics. The Anna phenomenon reflects a “perfect storm” of converging factors: widespread disgust with corruption, particularly after two recent high-profile cases of wrongdoing (in allocating telecoms spectrum and awarding contracts for the Commonwealth Games); the organizational skill of a small group of activists committed to transforming India’s governance practices; the mass media’s perennial search for a compelling story; and the availability of a saintly figure to embody the cause. It also raises important questions about civil society’s role in a democracy.
"The paper puts forward a small but novel idea of how we can cut down the incidence of bribery. There are different kinds of bribes and what this paper is concerned with are bribes that people often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. I shall call these 'harassment bribes'. Suppose an income tax refund is held back from a taxpayer till he pays some cash to the officer. Suppose government allots subsidized land to a person but when the person goes to get her paperwork done and receive documents for this land, she is asked to pay a hefty bribe. These are all illustrations of harassment bribes. Harassment bribery is widespread in India and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a corrosive effect on civil society. The central message of this paper is that we should declare the act of giving a bribe in all such cases as legitimate activity [PDF]. In other words the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the state." [more inside]
"..when a victorious chief minister openly admits that he himself approached the leading newspaper of his state with money for “positive stories” after learning that the newspaper had signed a “package deal” with his rivals to print negative stories, you had better sit up and take urgent notice"
Tehelka is the Indian journalism Web site that published video of bribe-taking on the Net, launching a Watergate-like corruption scandal at the highest levels of government. Since breaking the story, however, "Tehelka’s staff has gone from 120 people to three; its office has been vacated; its staffers arrested and harassed; and its debts have spiraled." But the site perserveres. And Malaysiakini seems to be following in its footsteps. As Doc Searles says, it's "the duct tape of journalism."