Minister criticises ‘snowflake’ artists who opposed arms firm sponsorship

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Jake Berry reacts after BAE Systems withdraws as partner of Great Exhibition of the North Frances Perraudin The Guardian The government minister responsible for the “northern powerhouse” has described campaigners who forced the arms firm BAE Systems to withdraw as a sponsor of a flagship arts festival in north-east England as “subsidy-addicted artists” and “snowflakes”. The Great Exhibition of the North, which will run from 22 June to 9 September in Gateshead and Newcastle, is being funded by £5m from the government’s northern ... Read More »

Why China’s Xi is not ‘Putin-plus’

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Xi Jinping is not following in Vladimir Putin’s footsteps. He’s carving his own path. Maria Repnikova Al Jazeera The recently announced constitutional amendments in China, ending term limits and paving the way for Chinese leader Xi Jinping‘s indefinite rule, have sparked quite a lot of debate and speculations in Western media. Some commentators went as far as comparing Xi to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming that China is now turning into a Russia-style autocracy. While the phrase “Putin-plus“ sounds catchy, the comparison does not reflect the ... Read More »

Empty threats won’t worry Russia. Britain needs a better approach

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The threat posed by the Kremlin can be reduced if Britain refuses to handle its dirty money and takes on a PR offensive Mark Rice-Oxley The Guardian Oh, Russia! Even before we point fingers over poison and speculate about secret agents and spy swaps and pub food in Salisbury, one thing has become clear: Russia appears lost, a global menace, a moral vacuum, a far greater threat than it ever was during the cold war. Its agents pop over for murder and shopping, ... Read More »

Syrians yes, Iraqis no: the startling disparity in Britain’s asylum decisions

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Collateral, a new TV mini-series on the BBC written by David Hare, revolves around the murder of a young man working as a pizza delivery driver in London. Jason Hart The Conversation One of the main themes running through the drama series is the situation of asylum seekers in the UK. We soon learn that the murder is linked to events that occurred while the victim and his two sisters were crossing by boat from Turkey to Greece. Initially pretending ... Read More »

Mobile phone pioneer encourages Scotland to embrace circular economy

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An influential designer who has worked on some of the world’s most popular mobile phones is to visit Edinburgh to speak on the benefits of adopting a more “circular” manufacturing sector. CHRIS MCCALL The Scotsman Tapani Jokinen, who helped develop the multi-million selling Nokia 3310 and 1100 cellphones, will devliver the latest in a series of lectures organised by Zero Waste Scotland on the need for a circular economy – in which materials are kept in high value use for ... Read More »

Arsene Wenger: Why some Arsenal fans are comparing him to Robert Mugabe

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When is a football manager like a controversial ousted ruler? Arsenal twitterdom has found an innovative way to call for an end to Arsene Wenger’s 21-year tenure as manager: by comparing him to former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Reha Kansara BBC Comparisons between the two men have been the basis for jokes all season long, but the meme really took off after Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton over the weekend. And the heat on Wenger has only continued in advance of Thursday’s ... Read More »

Russia Should Go Beyond Humanitarian Corridors in Syria

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Russia’s proposal for humanitarian corridors for Eastern Ghouta and Rukban camp have little chance of mitigating suffering there. Sam Heller ICG Instead, Moscow should push for a negotiated resolution of Eastern Ghouta through UN Security Council Resolution 2401 and secure normal aid agency access to Rukban, thereby enhancing its credibility as a mediator. Syria’s civilians have suffered tremendously through the country’s seven years of conflict. Now, as the Syrian government and its allies prepare to retake Damascus’s Eastern Ghouta suburbs, ... Read More »

US Tariffs: ‘Aluminum Companies Will Benefit, Everyone Else Will Lose’ – Analyst

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Trump’s decision to introduce higher tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would be detrimental to both the US and the EU. Sputnik This is what French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has stated, noting that the US measures would have a major impact on the European economy. Sputnik discussed this with Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst at Cato Institute. Sputnik: What is your take on President Trump’s statement that the US has been suffering from unfair trade, is that really the case? ... Read More »

Another oil firm seeks sweeping injunction against UK protesters

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Critics say legal move by UK Oil and Gas, that could see protesters at its sites jailed and fined, is draconian and anti-democratic Rob Evans The Guardian Another firm is seeking a sweeping injunction against environmental protesters, drawing accusations that the legal move is “draconian and chillingly anti-democratic”. UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has applied for a broad injunction to prevent campaigners from mounting protests that it says would unlawfully interfere with its operations. The injunction, if granted by a… ... Read More »

Peacekeeping in Ukraine’s Donbas: Opportunities and Risks

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The prospect of a UN peacekeeping force in Ukraine’s Donbas offers a rare opening to discuss how to resolve the conflict. ICG But Moscow’s diplomatic overtures also risk fueling political infighting in Kyiv in the run-up to next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region will soon enter its fifth year. In September 2017, talk of a settlement picked up after Russia circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution proposing the deployment of UN forces ... Read More »

Turkey key to Russia NATO strategy – U.S. intelligence

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Russia’s ambitious foreign policy in the Mediterranean region revolves around engagement with Turkey, U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley reported to the U.S. Senate in a worldwide threat assessment on Tuesday. Ahval According to Ashley, Russia’s foreign policy is driven by the wish to increase its defensive capacity against the United States, which it views as its primary threat, and by a desire to expand its military capabilities and influence to gain recognition as a great power. Its ... Read More »

‘This could be the end’ Italy set to fundamentally change its relation with the EU

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With anti-EU sentiment growing across the continent, is Italy the next nation to leave? EUwatch The rise of anti-establishment, populist, parties after the weekends election in Italy will have ‘signifiant meaning for the EU,’ one minister has warned. Both the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and right-wing Lega party seeing strong gains in the vote Sunday. Meanwhile, parties like Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the… ‘This could be… Read More »

Why the Dutch plan to scrap advisory referendums is a step back for democracy

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Dutch voters will go to the polls on March 21 for a referendum on the Security Act 2017, a law which grants the authorities extended surveillance rights. Matt Qvortrup The Conversation As in many other states, such legislation has raised concern in the Netherlands that the government is snooping on emails and other personal communication. Unlike most countries, however, Dutch voters can currently do something about it thanks to a 2015 law that means the government must hold an advisory ... Read More »

Turkey and NATO: From Loveless to Hateful Marriage

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The West’s self-imposed Pollyanna game over Turkey a decade or so ago seemed delusional to most Turks who knew the true nature of the Islamist politician lauded as a pro-reform, pro-West democrat. Burak Bekdil BESA Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, western leaders argued, would consolidate Turkey’s democratic system, bring the country closer to its western allies and even win a historic membership in the European Union. Erdogan’s Turkey would be a perfect bridge between western and Islamic civilizations, thus being a role ... Read More »

Turkey Drifts Away from the West

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Turkey has lost its soft power attractiveness due to its leadership’s increasing absolutism and failed foreign policy priorities. Antonia Dimou ModernDiplomacy The “zero problems with neighbors” concept that unraveled almost at the time of the Arab Spring has given its place to “nothing but problems with every single neighbor”. Key dimensions of Turkish foreign policy, namely relations with the United States (US), NATO, the European Union and MENA countries face growing challenges. Despite that Turkish-NATO relations are still valued and ... Read More »

Is There Hope for EU Foreign Policy?

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While the foreign policy reforms in the Lisbon Treaty have improved the European Union’s foreign policy machine, the EU’s overall international position has weakened in the ten years since the treaty’s signing. Stefan Lehne Carnegie Europe Insufficient leadership and dysfunctional institutional arrangements, the tendency of bigger countries to prioritize their national foreign policies, and the habit of some smaller ones to get free rides have all impeded effective collective action. The EU’s current consolidation, however, offers an… Is There Hope… Read More »