Global Issues

English is not enough – British children face major disadvantage when it comes to language skills

For a number of years now, the provision of languages in British schools and universities has been in decline. Authors: The Conversation Yet, as Brexit looms largely on the horizon, there has been much talk in the media and from politicians about the need for a… Arguably, a country can only really be global and outward looking if language skills are considered essential for its citizens. The government seems to share this view – at least to some extent. This ... Read More »

Ukraine’s crisis of faith

The Kiev-Kremlin conflict catalyzes a religious schism centuries in the making. Christopher Miller Politico VORSIVKA, Ukraine — For years, Father Vasily spent his Sundays behind the altar at St. Nicholas, a church in the small town of Vorsivka, in north-central Ukraine. That all changed in early January, not long after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in one of the biggest schisms in Christian history. That’s when the village faithful held a vote to decide whether their ... Read More »

All Eyes on Tangible Results from U.S.-North Korea Summit

The North Korean and U.S. leaders enter their second summit under pressure to achieve concrete progress toward their respective goals, sanctions relief and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Crisis Group senior adviser Chris Green suggests risk reduction measures each side can take. What has happened since the first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore? At the conclusion of the Singapore summit last June, the U.S. and North Korea issued a statement calling for a new bilateral relationship, a stable peninsular peace ... Read More »

Lessons from the Syrian State’s Return to the South

Russian mediation helped reduce bloodshed during the Assad regime’s reconquest of southern Syria. ICG But for similar arrangements to work in remaining rebel strongholds, better security guarantees by outside powers are needed to prevent regime reprisals, improve aid flows and, down the road, facilitate refugee return. What’s new? When the Syrian regime retook the south from rebels in mid-2018, Russian mediation limited the violence. Six months later, security and living conditions remain precarious; the regime has re-established authoritarian rule; and ... Read More »

Scott Morrison to reboot Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction fund with $2bn

PM to announce ‘climate solutions fund’ to appeal to voters concerned about Coalition’s record Katharine Murphy The Guardian Scott Morrison will attempt to appeal to voters deeply concerned that the Coalition have been been wreckers on climate change by rebadging Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction fund as a… Attempting to draw a line over years of destructive in-fighting within the Coalition that has cruelled various emissions reduction policies, the prime minister will use a speech in Melbourne on… The emissions reduction fund is a ... Read More »

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver. Derek Thompson The Atlantic In his 1930 essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century, creating the equivalent of a five-day weekend. “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem,” Keynes wrote, “how to occupy the leisure.” This became a popular view. ... Read More »

These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations

Maybe it’s something in the gazpacho or paella, as Spain just surpassed Italy to become the world’s healthiest country. By Lee J Miller and Wei Lu Bloomberg That’s according to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 economies according to factors that contribute to overall health. Spain placed sixth in the previous gauge, published in 2017. Four additional European nations were among the top 10 in 2019: Iceland (third place), Switzerland (fifth), Sweden (sixth) and Norway (ninth). Japan ... Read More »

The Conflict of Fener and Moscow Patriarchs about Church of Ukraine

Significant developments happened in the Orthodox world in the last autumn of last year. Arif Asalioglu POLITURCO Metropolitan Epifaniy, the Archbishop of the Independent Church of Ukraine established in Kiev, and his accompanying committee arrived in Istanbul in order to receive the “Tomos”, which recognizes the independence of the Church, from the Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos. Ceremonies, which were also attended by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, were held for the occasion. And in those ceremonies, Ukraine officially obtained an ... Read More »

Pope Francis Ends Landmark Sex Abuse Meeting With Strong Words, but Few Actions

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis ended a landmark Vatican meeting on clerical sexual abuse by calling “for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors” and insisting that the church needed to protect… By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias The New York Times But for all the vivid language and the vow “to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of our mission,” the pope’s speech was short on the sort of detailed battle plan demanded by many ... Read More »

Tajikistan: Activist Forcibly Returned from Russia

Faces Torture, Politically Motivated Prosecution (New York) – Tajik and Russian officials arbitrarily detained and forcibly returned to Tajikistan a peaceful opposition activist while he was visiting Moscow, the Association of Central Asian Migrants, Association for… HRW The activist, Sharofiddin Gadoev, is being held in Tajikistan. The government has issued a series of choreographed videos and photographs designed to show that he “voluntarily” returned. Russian and Tajik officials beat him in Moscow and on the flight to Tajikistan. Gadoev should be released and allowed ... Read More »

No-deal Brexit throws up really big calls on jobs, the rural economy and peace

Cliff Taylor: Government would need to embark on a major programme of assistance for the companies affected The Irish Times The Omnibus Bill on Brexit, published yesterday, is an important piece of work to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. But the big decisions lie elsewhere. How do we support the sectors worst hit? And what about the Border? There is an almost irresistible temptation among the political classes to reassure us that everything is ready, and it will all be alright ... Read More »

Bashir declares year-long state of emergency across Sudan

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared a nationwide state of emergency on Friday and dissolved the government, in an effort to quell weeks of demonstrations that have rocked his iron-fisted rule of three decades. Khartoum – AFP Hurriyet “I announce imposing a state of emergency across the country for one year,” Bashir said in a televised address to the nation from the presidential palace in Khartoum. “I announce dissolving the government at the federal level and at the provincial levels,” he added. Deadly protests ... Read More »

Are Freedom of Navigation Operations in East Asia Enough?

Are periodic cruises through waters where a coastal state claims rights and prerogatives beyond those codified by treaty enough to safeguard maritime freedom? James Holmes The National Interest The question is a hardy perennial among those who hold forth about maritime strategy in Asia: are “freedom of navigation” operations enough? Are periodic cruises through waters where a coastal state claims rights and prerogatives beyond those codified by treaty enough to safeguard maritime freedom? Answer: freedom-of-navigation operations are necessary but not ... Read More »

Saudi crown prince defends China’s use of internment camps for Uighur Muslims

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman turned a blind eye to the plight of China’s Uighur Muslims when he met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 22. ANKARA – Anadolu Agency Hurriyet The Uighur community both inside and outside China had expected bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, to raise the issue of China’s human rights violations against ethnic Uighurs. Instead, he… “We respect and support China’s right to take ... Read More »

The sharks are circling ahead of the election — and it’s asylum seeker policy in the ‘chum bucket’

In full parliamentary flight this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison raged at Labor that it had “gone to the bottom of the chum bucket” when it started its probing of… Laura Tingle ABC Chum buckets, for anyone not familiar with the term, are buckets full of fish guts and heads and other smelly stuff that is thrown into the water by fishermen to attract a feeding frenzy of fish, particularly… And there was some truth to what the Prime Minister ... Read More »

Work ban forces asylum seekers into destitution – but we now have a chance to change this policy

One of the ugly realities of the British asylum system lies in the work ban placed on people awaiting a decision on their asylum claim. Alex Powell The Conversation The ban on working often forces people to rely on friends and family, or, worse, into destitution. This restriction is often justified by the mistaken notion that it will limit the number of people claiming asylum in the UK. Following a sustained campaign, and two private members bills spearheaded by Labour ... Read More »