The forgotten role of lotteries in democracy

What does it mean to live in a democracy? For those of us raised in the West, the response involves the concept of voting; the claim being that we live in a democracy only if we, the people, come together at regular intervals to determine those who will govern us. Yet if we examine the actual meaning of the word, this association is actually rather surprising, with demos translating roughly to ‘the common people’ and kratia to ‘power’ or ‘rule’. A more reasonable definition of democracy would thus entail any system that ensures that we, the people, govern ourselves.

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Vor Corona sind nicht alle gleich

Seit einiger Zeit werden auf der Intensivstation, auf der ich arbeite, vor allem Menschen mit Covid-19 Infektionen behandelt. Seitdem ist die Zahl der arabisch, kurdisch oder türkisch sprechenden Patientinnen merklich angestiegen. Menschen ohne oder mit nur wenig Deutschkenntnissen zu behandeln, ist hier in Berlin nichts Ungewöhnliches. Da der Stadtteil, in dem ich arbeite, Heimat vieler Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund ist, bin ich regelmäßig auf die Übersetzungshilfe von Kollegen angewiesen, um den Grund der Vorstellung zu verstehen, über anstehende Eingriffe aufzuklären oder Therapieentscheidungen zu erläutern. Dennoch ist das fast vollständige Fehlen von weißen Deutschen unter den Patientinnen auffällig und nicht nur ich frage mich, was dahintersteckt. Die Intonation der Kommentare im Kollegium variiert („Ist auch mal wieder ein Deutscher aufgenommen worden?“, „Es sind wieder nur unaussprechliche Namen dazugekommen“) und lässt unterschiedliche, mehr oder weniger negativ konnotierte Vorurteile bezüglich der scheinbaren Ursachen vermuten.

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Modern segregation

I was out with a good friend last year, in search of a late breakfast, when I was once again confronted with the extent of modern segregation. It was a crisp and bright Sunday in late November. We were strolling down Eisenbahnstrasse in the German city of Leipzig which had, until recently, been considered the most dangerous street in the country[1]. But a whirlwind of gentrification had moved through the area, removing all signs of former threats. We’d been out all night and barely slept and I was craving a coffee as we walked past a colourful mixture of cafés, run-down casinos, vintage shops and shisha bars, discussing the night’s events and taking in the Sunday sights. At first glance, the neighbourhood appeared to be a bustling, multicultural hub, with people of a variety of backgrounds going about their day. Yet on closer inspection, the scenes in Leipzig – recently praised by the New York Times as Europe’s new ‘‘cool-kid-town’’[2] – were among the most segregated I’ve ever seen.

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‘Hey Cabral, where’s Amarildo?’


Versão em português  (English version below)

Ei, Cabral, cadê o Amarildo?

Essa foi a pergunta gritada por dezenas de pessoas nas ruas do Brasil durante alguns meses em 2013.

Amarildo Dias de Souza é um ajudante de pedreiro brasileiro que ficou conhecido nacionalmente por conta de seu desaparecimento, no dia 14 de julho de 2013, após ter sido detido por policiais militares, na Favela da Rocinha, em direção a sede da Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora do bairro, ironia que essa mesma polícia que foi elaborada com os princípios da polícia de proximidade, um conceito que vai além da polícia comunitária e tem sua estratégia fundamentada na parceria entre a população e as instituições da área de Segurança Pública. Atualmente quem está no comando das Unidades de Polícia Pacificadoras é o ex-comandante do Batalhão de Operações Especiais (Bope) da Polícia Militar (conhecida sua pela maneira “efusiva” de atuação).

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Lessons not learned

Europe over the last decade was confronted with the worrying development of uprisings by young people without any sort of apparent political goal. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 Paris riots, we would like to ask whether lessons have been learned from these events. Considering the fast pace of today’s media, which barely allows for the consideration of a problem before covering us with a mountain of ‘newer’ issues, have politicians pushed through those promised measures, with which we were appeased in the immediate aftermath of each period of unrest? Did they tackle the actual causes, which include mostly a lack of opportunities and social inclusion of young disadvantaged people- or was the issue left to fade slowly from our memories? Too often do we forget pressing issues of the more recent past, and therefore fail to ask whether the problems that we were briefly so concerned with have actually been solved.

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