Analysis

I lived through Saddam Hussein’s fall – and the horror that came next

I was a senior university student in Baghdad, Iraq. It was March 2003, and over the past few months, my classmates had whispered to each other about the possibility of a US-led invasion and the likelihood that 35 years of dictatorship and tyranny could be brought to an end. Balsam Mustafa The Conversation We could not dare to speculate on Iraq’s future, but many were longing to see Saddam Hussein fall. And soon enough, the war came. An intense and ... Read More »

The genocide of the Roma – and how commemoration of this ‘forgotten Holocaust’ is shifting

The genocide of the Roma by the Nazis remains for many the “forgotten Holocaust”. February 26, 2018 marked the 75th anniversary of the day in 1943 when, following an order issued by SS leader Heinrich Himmler the preceding December, the first transport carrying German Sinti and Roma arrived at the “Gypsy Camp” in Auschwitz-Birkenau – the beginning of a wave of mass transports which peaked that March… Eve Rosenhaft The Conversation By war’s end, some 20,000 Sinti and Roma had ... Read More »

Could America’s Big Tech Industry Create Free Speech Problems?

The courts or Congress should clarify that the legislation amends Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act cannot be used to restrict political speech. Mark Epstein The National Interest Last week, the Senate passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. The legislation amends Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which holds that online platforms cannot be responsible for their users’ content, to exclude sex trafficking. Big tech companies warned that the bill could inadvertently ... Read More »

Australia’s immigration policy is meant to be blind to race, but is it?

Analysis: the principle of non discrimination, particularly in the humanitarian program, seems to be eroding Ben Doherty The Guardian Since the abolition of the White Australia policy, the fundamental basis of Australia’s immigration policy has been proudly, declaratively “non-discriminatory”. All of this week and last, the prime minister, home affairs minister and foreign minister all felt obliged to reconfirm this as controversy swirled over what was meant by Australia’s “special attention” for white South African farmers facing violence. “It is ... Read More »

Addressing the Migration Bottleneck in Southern Mexico

Mexico is not doing “nothing” to curb northward migration, as U.S. President Donald Trump claims. Ivan Briscoe ICG In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Latin America & Caribbean Program Director Ivan Briscoe says Washington should help Mexico meet the challenge of migrant and refugee flows from Central America, which are now concentrated in its… What is the migration crisis in Mexico? Poverty and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America (comprising El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) are forcing hundreds of ... Read More »

Why China prefers its own ideology to US-style democracy

Western pundits, particularly those in the US, have it all wrong when they assume that allowing China into the global economic or trading system would eventually lead the country to become “one of us.” Ken Moak Asia Times The fact of the matter is that China has never wanted to  adopt Western democracy. In view of more than 80% popular support according to US-based Pew and Gallup Polls and China’s ability to deliver on most of its promises (such as improving ... Read More »

German politicians invest in opera when seeking re-election – here’s why

In virtually all rich democracies, governments subsidise expensive highbrow culture, such as theatre and opera. And they hire artists to work for these theatres and operas as public employees. Pieter Vanhuysse The Conversation At first sight, this might seem to pose a puzzle. After all, highbrow culture is elitist. And it seems electorally irrelevant. Parties don’t really compete on culture in elections. It’s unlikely that hiring artists to turn them into grateful voters (patronage) makes electoral sense. Even if it ... Read More »

Russophobia in the New Cold War

Several factors make this US-Russian Cold War more dangerous than its predecessor—is “Russo-madness” one of them? Stephen F. Cohen The Nation Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at… Cohen has previously explained why the new Cold War is potentially even more dangerous than was its 40-year predecessor, citing factors such ... Read More »

How the message of Martin Luther King’s ‘dream’ got lost

Martin Luther King Jnr cast an enormous shadow in my childhood. By Matter of Fact host Stan Grant ABC It was a presence that outlived his death — indeed his assassination added potency to his leadership of a black struggle that mirrored our own. This wasn’t the acceptable Dr King as Santa Claus — as one black scholar remarked this week — our Dr King was a man of righteous anger who spoke with moral urgency to an American nation ... Read More »

Antipsychotics used to manage autism and intellectual disability behaviour can have serious side effects – new study

Antipsychotic medication is typically licensed in the UK for people with serious mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia. Sinead Brophy The Conversation But in recent years, some antipsychotic drugs have been prescribed more and more “off label”. That is, for a condition for which they do not have approval from the medicines regulatory agency to treat. Off label prescribing can be done under certain circumstances, such as when the prescriber believes it is in a patient’s best interests. For example, ... Read More »

Russia-Turkey: The Interdependent Relationship Shaped by Energy or a Deeper Friendship?

Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the deepening relationship between Russia and Turkey showed itself in the first agreement designed to enhance their economic relations… Nargiz Hajiyeva Modern Diplomacy The agreement was signed on March 15, 1977, between them, which mainly embraced the cooperation in the promotion of the industrial development and… Meanwhile, the parties also inked an agreement concerning the scientific and technical cooperations. Therefore, energy had been a significant issue amid the negotiations processes between Russia ... Read More »

Do we need human rights law?

In a world of unprecedented refugee flows, seemingly endless wars and rising levels of xenophobia and inequality, many have been questioning the point of human rights. Kiran Grewal The Conversation What do they mean to the huge numbers of asylum seekers detained across the globe? To the Rohinyga, fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar? To the children dying in bombings across Syria and Yemen? For many the optimism of the post-WWII era when the international human rights system was set up ... Read More »

What King, Kennedy, Obama’s great speeches have in common

Two of history’s great rhetoricians – Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert F Kennedy – were assassinated 50 years ago. Their words have resonance today, writes Benjamin Ramm. Benjamin Ramm BBC Popular volumes of great speeches celebrate the mastery of the art of persuasion. These tomes are full of rhetorical flourishes, of stirring appeals to universal ideals, with elevated cadences and effortless assurances. But two of the most significant rhetoricians of the 20th Century, both of whom were assassinated 50 ... Read More »

Electoral Poker in DR Congo

Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been postponed since December 2016, but now seem to be slated for the end of the year. ICG All parties should work to ensure credible polls, the best hope for a peaceful transfer of power. What’s new? After repeated delays, President Joseph Kabila’s government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made progress over the past few months toward organising elections for 23 December 2018. But there are still important concerns ... Read More »

How to Colonize Mars

First-stage explorers to Mars will likely include those with strong ideological motivations and those with little or nothing to lose on earth. Urs Vögeli The National Interest Plans to colonize Mars have made some recent progress. In the realms of science and engineering, Elon Musk published a paper with the ambitious title, “Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species,” which elaborates on certain technological, but also societal, dimensions of Mars colonization. In another context, Musk mentioned that direct democracy might work as ... Read More »

Gas, pipeline dreams and gunboat diplomacy in Mediterranean

A spate of recent deals and gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean Sea has positioned Egypt to be a major energy hub. Chase Winter DW Turkey, which is flexing its military muscles, may be left out. For years, there was hope that gas fields under the eastern Mediterranean Sea would usher in peace and prosperity in a volatile region. But a string of recent deals and gas finds have revealed deep geopolitical fault lines. Since 2009, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus ... Read More »