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April 13, 2019

A Week of Elections and Assange

By Arshad M Khan

A brief look at Israeli and forthcoming Indian elections. Modi is in for a fight albeit against ineffective opposition. Assange kicked out by the Ecuadorians faces jail time in three countries. Tough to be a whistleblower.

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The depressing Israeli election is over -- a choice between the right and the hard right. No room for Israeli Arabs or Palestinians who were encouraged to stay away in this "only democracy" in the Middle East. Of course, Egypt tried to be a real one, but the result was not to its paymaster's liking. What can the Palestinians do? Well, they are not going to get any help from the present Republican occupant of the White House and good chum of Netanyahu. The latter trying to erase Arab identity through Israel's new and notorious nation-state law can only work with a manageable Arab population. Doubtless the Palestinians are aware the best course for them is demographics, as in South Africa.

Another election is underway, this time in India with its colossal 900 million electorate. Narendra Modi, close buddy of Netanyahu, and fellow nation-state afficionado probably wants a similar declaration where instead of a land for Jews, he wants a land for Hindus -- correction, upper-caste Hindus -- or a true Hindustan.

Unfortunately for him, the economy is in a mess and his economic growth plan has worked about as well as how the rest of his ideas did in recent history. Think of 1930s Germany. Lucky for him he faces an ineffective opposition leader. India is a parliamentary democracy, so voters will choose representatives to the legislature where the majority will pick the prime minister.

When farmers are angry with low crop prices, the young are facing high unemployment and the economy has lost its high pace of expansion, what is one to do? There's always the bogeyman, Pakistan, although its leader a former sportsman keeps talking peace. No matter, Narendra Modi wants it to be a threat and recalls the 'success' of his military adventure that violated past norms -- India lost two fighter planes, a pilot who was captured and returned, and a bomb that fell in a forest area (to which reporters were taken recently), but Modi's successes are defined by him.

As long ago as the 18th century, Samuel Johnson described the situation with his usual brevity when he said, 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' In our modern world, the latter is a politician.

To the land of India's former masters, and Johnson's too, we have Theresa May the Prime Minister back from a trip to the EU meeting principal leaders. Germany was kind, France a little less. In any case, she received a deadline extension to October 31, more than she asked for as she wishes to avoid the EU elections on May 23. Not much has changed other than her attempts to seek help from the Labor opposition. If the voting groups in Parliament have not changed, what can we expect? Hence, the distinct possibility of another referendum.

Also in England and in a blow to whistleblowers, Julian Assange was ejected from the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested by London police. He was later found guilty of failure to surrender to the court in 2012. One might recall, Sweden wanted him for a sexual assault charge and the U.S. still wants to try him for 'conspiring to access classified information' which can put him in jail for five years.

This is the charge being used by the U.S. to ease extradition. Other charges like spying and being a foreign agent can put him behind bars for many years more but have been purposely avoided because of British skepticism of American justice.

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Submitters Bio:
Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Chartered Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He has been a CPA and CMA in the U.S. as well as a Registered Professional Engineer. For many years he has contributed occasionally to the print and electronic media.

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