Analysis

5 takeaways from EU’s big Balkan get-together

Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama (C) speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron (2ndR) and Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite (2ndL) as they pose for a family photo during an EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia on May 17, 2018. - European Union leaders meet their Balkan counterparts to hold out the promise of closer links to counter Russian influence, while steering clear of openly offering them membership. (Photo by Darko Vojinovic / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DARKO VOJINOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Macron plays party-pooper at leaders’ gathering in Sofia. Andrew Gray Politico SOFIA — It wasn’t a renewal of the wedding vows because the big ceremony never happened. It was two partners declaring they still want to be engaged — even though one is now playing hard to get. Fifteen years ago, EU leaders told their western Balkan counterparts at a summit in Thessaloniki they belonged together — and their countries could one day join the European Union. But only one of those ... Read More »

President Maduro’s Likely Re-election in Breadline Venezuela

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As tens of thousands of Venezuelans stream into neighbouring countries, President Nicolás Maduro appears set to win elections on 20 May. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the Andes Phil Gunson looks ahead to the vote and its aftermath and explains why the crisis is likely to deepen. Phil Gunson ICG What is at stake in the 20 May elections? These elections are for the presidency of the republic and for regional legislatures in each of Venezuela’s 23 ... Read More »

At a crossroads, Part II: No more shadows: The future of intelligence oversight in Congress

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In the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, M (Judi Dench) and Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) debate how to respond to a leak that has led to the assassination of several MI6 intelligence agents. Tommy Ross War On The Rocks They are torn between a desire to ensure that MI6, Britain’s premier spy agency, remains a credible part of British democratic institutions and the need to avoid antiquation in the face of rapidly changing technology and… At one point, Mallory laments, “We ... Read More »

Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains

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Imagine the director of a big company announcing an important decision and justifying it with it being based on a gut feeling. This would be met with disbelief – surely important decisions have to be thought over carefully, deliberately and rationally? Valerie van Mulukom The Conversation Indeed, relying on your intuition generally has a bad reputation, especially in the Western part of the world where analytic thinking has been steadily promoted over the past decades. Gradually, many have come to ... Read More »

The Long Haul Ahead for Myanmar’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis

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More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from brutal military operations in Myanmar are stuck in Bangladesh, with returns to Myanmar unlikely soon and Bangladeshi goodwill being tested. ICG In Myanmar, international partners must be allowed access to northern Rakhine State. In Bangladesh, donors must help both refugees and their local hosts. What’s new? Since August 2017, nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s brutal military operations in Rakhine State to Bangladesh, joining tens of thousands who left earlier in 2017. The two ... Read More »

Yanny or Laurel? It’s your brain not your ears that decides

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As a speech scientist, I never thought I’d see so much excitement on social media about one tiny little word. Jennell Vick The Conversation The clip, which went viral after being posted on Reddit, is polarizing listeners who hear a computer voice say either “Laurel” or “Yanny.” @AlexWelke tweeted, “This is the kinda stuff that starts wars.” While I can’t prevent a war, I can explain some reasons why this sound file has created such a controversy. Basically, the “word” ... Read More »

Tom Wolfe elevated journalism into enduring literature

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In 20th-century popular culture, journalists were portrayed as needy hacks desperate to write the Great American Novel. William McKeen The Conversation Journalism was the means to an end that few achieved. But Tom Wolfe, who died May 14 at age 88, helped change that in the 1960s. He was one of the New Journalists, who wrote nonfiction using the techniques of fiction. As an example: Journalists had long been trained to use direct quotations sparingly and to look for money ... Read More »

Tessa Jowell’s farsighted vision for media literacy was ahead of its time

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The untimely death from cancer of former UK Labour cabinet minister, Dame Tessa Jowell, has triggered a wave of tributes from across the political spectrum. Richard Wallis The Conversation Her vision for securing the 2012 Olympics for London, her formative role in New Labour’s flagship Sure Start scheme, and most recently, her campaign for cancer research, have all been given many column inches. By contrast, Jowell’s less certain legacy as principal advocate for media literacy is barely given a mention. ... Read More »

Indonesian terror attacks highlight an often forgotten truth

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The recent spate of horrific terrorist attacks in Indonesia highlights a number of unfortunate, and often overlooked, truths about this global epidemic of violent slaughter. Editorial The Canberra Times The first is that by far the greatest number of terror attacks carried out by so-called Islamic extremists occur in Muslim countries. A second is the attackers, who appropriate the name of a worthy and long-established faith that espouses tolerance, justice and civil harmony, have about as much to do with ... Read More »

Can Turkey’s opposition finally unite and challenge Erdoğan?

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June 24, 2018 instead of late 2019: that’s the date decided for Turkey’s “snap presidential and parliamentary elections”, called by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political partner from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli. Authors: The Conversation The elections are needed by the incumbent president, who wants to maintain his position and stay in power. AKP’s weaknesses Erdoğan has to deal with several issues that have recently weakened his party and leadership both domestically and abroad. Turkey’s military intervention in Syria has ... Read More »

The “Israel”-Hellenic Alliance That May Push Turkey to Cut Ties With Tel Aviv

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The Turkish government has just announced the effective expulsion of Eitan Na’eh, “Israel’s” Ambassador to Ankara. According to the Daily Sabah, Adam Garrie EurasiaFuture “Na’eh was asked to leave Turkey indefinitely by the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs following the Israeli bloodshed and his tweets”. The move comes as Erdogan has openly challenged other nations that have formal relations with the occupier entity to question whether such relations are beneficial to the Muslim world. The clear targets of… The “Israel”-Hellenic… Read More »

In squats by the Serbian border, young men trying to enter the EU live in dangerous limbo

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Just 300 metres from the border crossing between Serbia and Hungary, a gateway to the European Union, around 30 men are standing in the middle of a field. Karolina Augustova The Conversation It’s late January and the temperature is near zero. Nearby are several abandoned buildings where they are temporarily living. An open fire, made of wood, tires, and plastic, serves as the only source of warmth, but it creates heavy and poisonous air inside the squat. They are waiting ... Read More »

One day, two students: What college looks like from opposite ends of the income gap

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A college degree has long been touted as society’s great leveler, essential for entry into the middle class. Rachel Kurzius andHarrison Smith The Washington Post Nearly 20 million students enrolled in an undergraduate program in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Movies and television tend to portray an idealized college experience, featuring 18- to 21-year-olds who attend four-year institutions and live on campus. But in reality the college experience is far more varied. Only 15 percent of the undergraduate ... Read More »

Israel At Seventy: Time To Celebrate And Time To Lament

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At seventy, Israel has every reason to celebrate its remarkable achievements that every Israeli can take pride in, as they witnessed the redemption of the Jews they have been dreaming of, but never though they could realize. Alon Ben-Meir – Institute Israel’s accomplishments in various walks of life have made the country a global power; it did so with one hand tied behind its back as the country fought wars, battled violent extremism, and struggled economically, while wrestling against all ... Read More »

Maria Agnesi, the greatest female mathematician you’ve never heard of

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The outmoded gender stereotype that women lack mathematical ability suffered a major blow in 2014, when Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to receive the Fields Medal, math’s most prestigious award. Authors: The Conversation An equally important blow was struck by an Italian mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi, born 300 years ago this month. Agnesi was the first woman to write a mathematics textbook and to be appointed to a university chair in math, yet her life was marked by paradox. ... Read More »

US embassy in Jerusalem opens amid violence: 4 essential reads

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On May 14, the day the U.S. embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem, at least 55 Palestinians were killed and 2,700 wounded by Israeli soldiers amid protest at Israel’s border, according to The New York Times. Danielle Douez The Conversation What began as Palestinian protests against economic sanctions in Gaza months ago now also includes a response to the embassy move. President Donald Trump announced the move back in December 2017, when he recognized Jerusalem as the “true capital” of ... Read More »