A wake-up call for democracy

A note from the editor

Vanessa Baird and Jess Worth

Exciting times at New Internationalist!

With this issue, we are thrilled to unveil a fresh design with many new elements. There’s now a regular debate – called Argument. This month’s tackles the ethical minefield of buying and selling human organs for transplantation. We have introduced a forward-looking news section – Agenda – that links to events in the month ahead. There’s more global culture in an extended Arts section. And we now have a slot for Alternatives and an ‘Applause’ page that celebrates individuals or groups who are making change happen.

At the same time we have just launched a new website. See what you think at www.newint.org. The aim is for easier interaction with you, our readers and subscribers. But we also want to connect all of New Internationalist’s different activities – the ethical shop we run, for example, and the wide variety of books we publish. Talking of which, there are two mouth-watering recipes from the hot-off-the-press Global Vegetarian Kitchen on page 54.

This new-look magazine is the product of months of consultation, with readers, subscribers and potential subscribers. You told us you wanted more positive stories, more debate, larger text and more of a chance to interact with us. We hope we’ve delivered.

One thing we absolutely did not want, was to lose the things that people really value about the magazine – its in-depth analysis, its capacity to get to the issues behind the news, its international focus on justice, human rights and the environment.

In this month’s issue we give special attention to the state of democracy in the world today, with an article from India about Arundhati Roy’s extraordinary confrontation with the authorities, an interview with Robert Fisk about the Middle East and a piece by Latin America’s leading commentator on grassroots democracy, Raúl Zibechi.

As we worked on the magazine, democracy seemed a doubly appropriate subject for us to be tackling. The process of developing the new look has been unusually democratic – it’s the way we tend to do things in a workers’ co-op. As a charmingly understated placard on a recent demonstration in Stuttgart put it: ‘Democracy is sometimes a little bit difficult...’

But the most important part of this process is yet to come. That’s the bit when you tell us what you think of the new magazine and website.

Please be honest. We can take it.

Vanessa Baird and Jess Worth for the New Internationalist co-operative.

The big story

Residents from the shanty city of El Alto, Bolivia, are famously unafraid to speak truth to power.

Residents from the shanty city of El Alto, Bolivia, are famously unafraid to speak truth to power.

Jose Gomez / Reuters

The beauty of Big Democracy

Vanessa Baird celebrates the joys of disenchantment and the birth of hope.

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Who knows what she had in mind? In her purse were a return train ticket and one for a dance later that day, suggesting that martyrdom was not her intention.

Perhaps she was planning to attach a banner to a racehorse so that as it crossed the finishing line it would be, literally, flying the suffragist flag.

But that is only one of many theories. Emily Wilding Davison never recovered consciousness that day at Epsom near London in June 1913. She has gone down in popular history as the wom...


We don't really have a democracy

Tony Benn, Caroline Lucas MP and Agent Bristly Pioneer reflect on this year's UK election

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Adivasi women of Lalgarh - a Maoist-domained region - attend meetings armed, following police attackson them.

Arundhati Roy – princess to pariah

Arundhati Roy's fierce critiques of Indian democracy have made her public enemy number one. But, argues Shoma Chaudhury, her story is that of contemporary India itself.

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Afgan women are conditoned to mistrust each other.

I put a spell on you...

Zuhra Bahman gives the inside story on how male sorcerers are keeping women down in Afghanistan.

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Chicks on speed

Naked art-piles, wireless guitar shoes, and jackets that turn into tents...
Also: a controversial comedy about farmer suicides (yes, that's right) from Indian filmmaker Anusha Rizvi, and a special focus on a new generation of exciting and talented

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Interview with Robert Fisk: we preach democracy yet befriend dictators

We only have ourselves to blame for the Middle East's cynicism, says Robert Fisk.

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Recipe of the Week: Cheese Pies (Greece)

Recipe of the Week: Cheese Pies (Greece)

Week 3: Take a trip to Greece with these gorgeous Cheese Pies, straight off the streets of Athens!

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Take One Action

Take One Action

Braving the train to a rather special film festival in Edinburgh.

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Read more blogs...


Is it ever right to buy or sell human organs?

Join the debate as US psychiatrist Sally Satel goes head-to-head with Jeremy Chapman, President of the Transplantation Society.

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Letter from Cairo

Maria Golia meets the man with the eyes of a caged god.

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Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah on inspiration, regret and the inadequacies of twitter

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Nestléd in controversy

Nestléd in controversy: the babymilk boycott saved many babies’ lives. But there’s still a way to go…

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Looking into an uncertain future - a girl outside the St Mariam Coptic Orthodox church in Entoto, on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.


A profile of the African country

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Queen Pokou

Queen Pokou

By Véronique Tadjo translated from the French by Amy Baram Reid

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