Global Issues

America is Addicted to Sanctions

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Ukraine is a good case study in the ineffectiveness of sanctions. The best way to think about the role of sanctions in American foreign policy is to regard it as an addiction. Nicolai N. Petro The National Interest Think about it. The inability to change the behavior of even the most rinky-dink nations must be enormously frustrating to those at the helm of the world’s lone superpower. This leads, not surprisingly, to the search for ways to assuage this sense ... Read More »

Gunmen besiege Kabul compound as Afghans mourn Shite dead

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Gunmen besieged a compound belonging to the Afghan intelligence service in Kabul on Thursday, police said, as the city’s Shiite residents held funeral services for the victims of a horrific suicide bombing the… KABUL – Associated Press Hurriyet Police officer Abdul Rahman told The Associated Press from the location of the morning siege in a northwestern neighborhood of Kabul that the gunmen were holed up in a partially constructed building near the… The shooting – which underscored the near-daily, persistent ... Read More »

Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar

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A barefoot farmer is making his way through a forest. Quiet drops of rain tumble steadily through the night, picked out in the light from his torch. Nancy Kacungira * BBC The rusty machete he holds isn’t for cutting down vines or chopping away stubborn branches – it is a defence against thieves. Lots of other men – farmers like him – are out in the rain, patrolling the forest. For the past three months, they have left their homes ... Read More »

Poland’s Duda vetoes change to European Parliament voting rules

epa06952548 (FILE) - President of Poland Andrzej Duda speaks during a press conference in Riga, Latvia, 27 June 2018 (reissued 18 August 2018).  Andrzej Duda said he would veto a law proposed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party that would benefit bigger parties such as PiS and its main opposition grouping in European Parliament elections in 2019.  EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS

Critics say planned change would have resulted in just two parties being able to win seats in next year’s European election. By MICHAŁ BRONIATOWSKI Politico WARSAW — Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday refused to sign into law a change to the way the country elects members of the European Parliament, which critics say would have squeezed out all but the largest parties. The proposed change — which he said would have raised the election threshold to over 16 percent — is going ... Read More »

Nauru hunger strike: 12-year-old boy at imminent risk of dying

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Island staff report a looming children’s health crisis ahead of Pacific Islands Forum Ben Doherty The Guardian A 12-year-old refugee boy on hunger strike on Nauru for more than a fortnight is at imminent risk of dying, medical staff on the island say, but efforts to move him to hospital care in Australia have foundered. He is one of several critical child cases on the island – including a 14-year-old boy with muscle wastage so severe he may never walk normally again, ... Read More »

Why Jewish giving to Israel is losing ground

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American Jews donate at high levels to charity. One way they support causes in the U.S., Israel and other places is collective, often through large grant-making organizations. Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim The Conversation In researching this organized philanthropy, I’ve observed that the proportion of Jewish institutional giving to Israeli causes has fallen since 2009. I believe that several factors, including demographic and social changes, a diminishing perception of Israel as being in need and concerns over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have ... Read More »

Truth to power: my time translating Behrouz Boochani’s masterpiece

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The GM picks me up from the airport. I call him the GM because after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the Manus Island immigration detention centre illegal, this man was able to leave the prison and… Omid Tofighian The Conversation Behrouz Boochani has arranged for me to stay at that lodge. The GM’s Manusian colleague and another refugee accompany him. Driving into town we see police blocking part of the road beside a school; some locals are dispersing, others are ... Read More »

How Crete changed the course of World War Two

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The Cretan Resistance caused significant damage to German morale and is likely one of the reasons why Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union was unsuccessful. Jessica Bateman BBC Our car pulled up a dusty track next to a grove of olive trees. My guide, Stelios Tripalitakis, got out and started briskly walking in between their gnarled trunks, stopping every couple of metres to investigate objects he spotted on the ground. I followed, desperately trying to keep up in the heavy ... Read More »

Rising Tensions Between U.S. and Turkey

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Readers criticize Turkey’s president (who wrote an Op-Ed article for The Times) for his increasingly autocratic and theocratic rule. The New York Times To the Editor: Re “Tensions Mount Between Ankara and Washington” (front page, Aug. 11): Let me get this straight. Last year President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looked on while his thuggish bodyguards assaulted American citizens peacefully protesting in Washington, and President Trump did nothing. This year, Mr. Erdogan ordered the Turkish military into northern Syria to attack and… ... Read More »

Botched CIA Communications System Helped Blow Cover of Chinese Agents

Illustration by Kotryna Zukauskaite

The number of informants executed in the debacle is higher than initially thought. Zach Dorfman FP It was considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically dismantled the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle. How were the Chinese able to roll up the network? Now, nearly eight years later, it ... Read More »

A-level results: should universities lower entry grades for disadvantaged students?

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Students from less advantaged backgrounds are grossly underrepresented in Britain’s top universities. Authors: The Conversation This underrepresentation of certain groups is particularly pronounced in highly competitive courses such as medicine. In England, for example, 80% of medical students come from just 20% of the country’s secondary schools. This leads to a profession dominated by certain demographic groups. This imbalance isn’t just an issue of “fairness” or social equality. It is well established that UK trained doctors from affluent backgrounds are ... Read More »

Australia could house around 900,000 more migrants if we no longer let in tourists

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Many who fear Australia’s population boom believe we should be cutting down on immigration. They blame immigration for congestion and expenditure of environmental and other vital resources. Raja Junankar The Conversation They say Australia’s cities are becoming overcrowded and cannot sustain more people. But if Australia were to cut down on immigration, it would also then make sense to introduce policies that limit numbers of international tourists and students. Why single out one group of people? If any person living ... Read More »

Aboriginal traditions describe the complex motions of planets, the ‘wandering stars’ of the sky

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The five planets we can see by naked eye were known to the ancient Greeks as “asteres planetai”, meaning “wandering stars”, due to their wandering journey across the sky relative to the fixed stars. Duane W. Hamacher The Conversation This is where we get the word “planet”. But knowledge of the planets and their movements goes back much further, being prominent in the traditions of the oldest continuing cultures in the world. Recent research reveals a wealth of information about ... Read More »

New Zealand bans foreigners from buying property in effort to clamp down on house price growth

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New Zealand’s Parliament has passed a law to ban many non-resident foreigners from buying existing homes, completing the Labour-led Government’s election campaign pledge. ABC Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern campaigned before September’s election on a promise to clamp down on house price growth and reduce high rates of homelessness, in part by banning foreign buyers. “This is a significant milestone and demonstrates this government’s commitment to making the dream of home ownership a reality for more New Zealanders,” Associate Finance Minister ... Read More »

How the moral lessons of To Kill a Mockingbird endure today

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Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the classics of American literature. Never out of print, the novel has sold over 40 million copies since it was first published in 1960. Anne Maxwell The Conversation It has been a staple of high school syllabuses, including in Australia, for several decades, and is often deemed the archetypal race and coming-of-age novel. For many of us, it is a formative read of our youth. The story is set in the ... Read More »

Kathy Sheridan: Imagine if Boris Johnson is right about the burqa?

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Dogwhistle signal sent not by hack or clown but by former foreign secretary Kathy Sheridan The Irish Times Watching Boris Johnson offer mugs of tea to door-stepping journalists outside his country home was the latest in a series of “shoot me now” modern political vignettes. This was not about something jolly like an extra-marital fling or some private fetish. His comparison of burqa-wearing women’s appearance to letterboxes and bank robbers had become the number-one story in Britain. It may surprise ... Read More »