“It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.”

― Edward W. Said

"A developing country that wants to develop its economy must first of all keep natural resources in its own hands."
- Deng Xiaoping

Friday, January 30, 2015

China says no room for 'western values' in university education

Education minister says books which ‘smear socialism’ will be banned

THE GUARDIAN - Friday 30 January 2015

China’s education minister has vowed to ban university textbooks which promote “western values”, state media said, in the latest sign of ideological tightening under President Xi Jinping.
“Never let textbooks promoting western values appear in our classes,” minister Yuan Guiren said, according to a report late Thursday by China’s official Xinhua news agency.
“Remarks that slander the leadership of the Communist Party of China” and “smear socialism” must never appear in college classrooms, he added according to Xinhua.
China’s universities are run by the ruling Communist party, which tightly controls discussions of history and other topics it construes as a potential threat to its grip on power.

READ MORE....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A New Book: Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented 'Terrorism’

By Dr Lisa Stampnitzky

Cambridge University Press – 2014

Since 9/11 we have been told that terrorists are pathological evildoers, beyond our comprehension. Before the 1970s, however, hijackings, assassinations, and other acts we now call 'terrorism' were considered the work of rational strategic actors. Disciplining Terror examines how political violence became 'terrorism', and how this transformation ultimately led to the current 'war on terror'. Drawing upon archival research and interviews with terrorism experts, Lisa Stampnitzky traces the political and academic struggles through which experts made terrorism, and terrorism made experts. She argues that the expert discourse on terrorism operates at the boundary - itself increasingly contested - between science and politics, and between academic expertise and the state. Despite terrorism now being central to contemporary political discourse, there have been few empirical studies of terrorism experts. This book investigates how the concept of terrorism has been developed and used over recent decades.

1. Introduction
2. The invention of terrorism and the rise of the terrorism expert
3. From insurgents to terrorists: experts, rational knowledge, and irrational subjects
4. Disasters, diplomats, and databases: rationalization and its discontents
5. 'Terrorism fever': the first war on terror and the politicization of expertise
6. Loose can(n)ons: from 'small wars' to the 'new terrorism'
7. The road to pre-emption
8. The politics of (anti)knowledge: disciplining terrorism after 9/11
9. Conclusion: the trouble with experts.

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Think Harder: The world of think tanks is due for a reality check

By Ilya Lozovsky    

Foreign Policy - January 27, 2015

Every year, American parents turn to U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings, a frequently consulted (and just as frequently derided) index indicating year after year the surprising fact that Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are, once again, the best places to send your kids to school.

What if you’re not an anxious parent looking to get your kids out of the house, but an anxious government official looking for policy advice? Where’s the best place to turn? This year, you might reference something called the “2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report,” just released by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program.

Billed as “the most comprehensive ranking of the world’s top think tanks,” the report ranks 150 think tanks across several categories, including region and area of research. Of course, there’s also a “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” section, which allows the Princetons and Harvards of the think tank world (Brookings, Chatham House, and the Carnegie Endowment) to get their due.

READ MORE....

Robert Putnam - Bowling Alone

"Moving from a state [or country?] with a wealth of social capital to a state with very little social capital (low trust, low voluntary group membership) increased one's chances of poor to middling health by roughly 40-70 percent. Indeed, the researchers concluded that if one wanted to improve one's health, moving to a high-social-capital state [or country] would do almost as much good as quitting smoking." ~Robert Putnam

http://bowlingalone.com/

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

POTUS visit catalyses radical change in India's stance on China

Krittivas Mukherjee, Hindustan Times, New Delhi - Jan 28, 2015

India may no longer be unwilling to act to offset a rising China in Asia-Pacific, aligning its strategic vision for the region with that of the United States in what seems a radical departure from New Delhi’s history of independent foreign policy.   In 2012, the United States egged India to become the ‘lynchpin’ in its Asia-Pacific military strategy, but back then New Delhi refused to act as a credible balancing power in the region, possibly deterred by its history of non-alignment as well as growing trade with China.   But by the time US President Barack Obama wound up his three-day trip to India on Tuesday, the two sides had sealed their common suspicion of Beijing’s ambitions in a landmark joint strategic vision aimed at responding “to diplomatic, economic and security challenges” in Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region.   The agreement, if it holds, could signal a far-reaching shift both in India’s ties with the United States as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “near-abroad” policy that appears to break from simply seeking full navigational rights to some of the world’s busiest sea-lanes.

READ MORE....

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No silver bullet will cure all the problems of capitalism – we need commonsense and political will. Yanis Varoufakis

Greek economist and author Yanis Varoufakis talks to IRIS

Printed in Irish No 21 January 2012
http://issuu.com/anphoblacht/docs/iris25/1?e=4548481/4617068 

A PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS at the University of Athens and a much-sought-after commentator on mainstream media, Yanis Varoufakis is a person of contradictions. As a teenager he was arrested for distributing political leaflets promoting the Greek Socialist Party and he cites political and economic heroes in Che Guevara and Marx. But this has not hindered the forging of a successful academic career in economics, a discipline the limitations and deficiencies of which he is ever ready to enumerate.
Yanis has a solution to the euro crisis – bad bonds, zombie banks and economic free-fall. If you don’t mind mixed metaphors, Yanis believes he can cap the well but there’s no silver bullet to cure all the problems of capitalism and the free market.
When Yanis recently visited Dublin, ROBBIE SMYTH got an audience sandwiched in between a day of briefings, interviews and a public meeting and heard how a theorist firmly in the left wing socialist camp has what he thinks could be the panacea for the conservative free-market Europe.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS positively fizzes with energy. Ensconced in a Leinster House meeting room, I got 40 minutes with this disarmingly witty, articulate force of nature. Yanis is just 50, looks decades younger and (despite spending a day in the hothouse confines of the Irish parliament) was focused, energised and probably for the umpteenth time ready to tell of his plan to save the European economy.
But first how did Yanis get here?
“My mother and my father lived through a dictatorship. I grew up through a dictatorship. My father spent eight years in a concentration camp. When I was seven, the police broke the door down and dragged him out and he disappeared into a football stadium that had been turned into a prison.
“My uncle was sentenced to death for political activities in 1970 to 1971. So it was impossible not to be political. I was political from the age of zero.
“When the dictatorship fell in 1974, I was a young teenager, I was already organising and distributing leaflets and all that.”
Economic and political heroes
On the economic side, Yanis says: “It would have to be Marx because Marx was the first person and the only person that gave me a glimpse into the astonishing and wonderful and awful contradictions of our era.
“I think that Marx defines my frame through which I look at the world. Marx moved at some point from being an activist, a philosopher, a revolutionary critic, into being a political economist. That’s where he loses me.”
And his political heroes? “Like many young people in the 1970s, Che Guevara was high up in the list”. In Greece itself? “It would be Aris Velouchiotis, partisan leader, Communist Party member, effectively responsible for starting the resistance against the Nazis, and he was never one of those communists who became entrenched in Communist Party machinations.
“When I was young I was extremely impressed by Andreas Papandreou, the father of the [then] current prime minister, to the extent that I joined the Socialist Party he set up in 1974. I was one of the first kids who set up the youth wing of the party.”
Greek view of Ireland
Yanis explained his support for the Troops Out Movement and how as children they sang songs about Irish hunger strikers from the 1920s.
“When I was growing up, Ireland was very close to our hearts, particularly the conflict in Northern Ireland. The people that I associated with in Greece (though none of us had ever met an Irish person!), we felt that Belfast was our second home.”
The Irish economy in Europe
When it comes to talking about the economy we get closer to the crux of Yanis’s economic theories regarding the eurozone crisis.
“The problem with this crisis is that because the revolutionary aspects of our lives have taken a beating in the last 20 years, Europeans are indulging in a inane and ridiculous game of trying to look at their circumstances as unique to themselves. For instance, after Greece blew up, the Irish were very much concerned that they should not be thought of as similar to the Greeks.
“Soon after that, the Portuguese were saying, ‘We’re not Irish.’ Now the Italians will want to pretend that they are very different to the Spaniards, who were previously saying they were not like the Portuguese!
“I always talk about the crisis as being a European crisis and I never talk about ‘the Greek crisis’. I incur the anger of the media by denying there is such a thing as a Greek crisis.”
A climate change view of the economic crisis
“When it comes to climate change, it takes many different forms: for instance, floods in north Queensland and bushfires in Siberia – two very different phenomena yet they have the same cause. It is silly to refer to one or the other as separate. If you do that you don’t know what is going on.
“They keep saying, ‘What do you propose about Greece?’ My answer is, ‘Nothing.’ I don’t propose anything about Greece because nothing that can happen in Greece can solve Greece’s problems unless it’s an attempt systematically to deal systematically with the crisis at a European level.
“I am very much afraid from what I hear in Ireland that you have the same problem that the Irish people are insular in the sense that if they do the right thing then they will be rewarded within the context of the Irish economy. That is impossible.”
The Roosevelt/United States example
“Imagine if you were in 1930 now in the United States of America and you happened to be in Ohio state and there was this question, ‘What can Ohio do to end the Great Depression?’ The answer is, ‘Nothing.’ But it is not an answer that people like to hear. I understand that psychologically because people would like to be owners of their own fate.
“I say, ‘You know what, mate, there is nothing you can do about it as an Irishman or woman or as a Greek or as a Portuguese, but there is something you can do about it as a European.”
Tolstoy’s happy families
The logic of Yanis’s argument is clear but I asked about the wider social and economic problems in the Irish economy, not just debt and banking problems but healthcare, housing, education and political corruption. Yanis’s answer is to quote the opening lines of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’: “All happy families are alike, but unhappy families are unhappy each in its own different way.”
Developing the theme, Yanis continues, “We are now unhappy in different ways and yet the causes of our unhappiness are one and the same. Unless we realise that we will not be able to deal with the causes of our unhappiness.
“Greece has malignancies that the average Irishman or woman would not be able to comprehend and which are very different to your malignancies. We have completely different circumstances we are facing. In Greece, we have a corrupt state, much more corrupt than the Irish state is.”
Silver bullets are for zombies and werewolves
So what is the solution?
“Silver bullets are all very well when you have zombies and werewolves. We don’t have zombies or werewolves. We have a very simple crisis which can be solved very simply so we don’t need a silver bullet; we need a modicum of commonsense and political will to apply that commonsense and solve a problem.”
He says we have three problems in Europe that affect everyone:
1)        A banking sector catastrophe, everywhere including Germany;
2)       A significant problem with debt;
3)       A massive under-investment crisis.
“Mrs Merkel and the powers that be are saying we have to continue down the road of austerity and this is making the problem worse.
“There are others who say, we should have a common economic policy, a fiscal union, effectively a federation. When I hear that, I panic, because I know we are not going to have a federation before the euro zone collapses so what is the point in talking about it?
“Our proposal – Stuart Holland and I – (it is called ‘A Modest Proposal for Overcoming the Euro Crisis’) is to use the institutions we have without any treaty changes otherwise it won’t happen.”
Varoufakis and Holland believe that the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) could be reassigned the tasks that they have in such a way as to deal with the three problems.
They argue that the EFSF, instead of lending money to Ireland, Greece or Portugal (money that cannot be repaid, therefore exacerbating the problem), should recapitalise the banks forcefully, just like it happened in 1992 in Sweden, in 1998 in Korea, and in 2009 in America under the TARP programme “which means that you expropriate the bankers, simply because you won’t give them the capital for nothing – you take shares”.
“It is not a radical idea,” says Yanis. The next step is to deal with the debt, he says.
“You take the euro zone debt in its entirety, each member state’s debt and you slice it into two parts, the first part which is legal, according to Maastricht, is the 60% of GDP debt which you shift into the ECB. They don’t buy it, they service it.”
The idea is that, over time, the ECB replaces short-term and medium-term member state debt with longer-term cheaper debt.
“The ECB issues another long-term bond over 20 years at a low interest rate and this is owned by the member state.
“The beauty is that this happens for every country in the euro zone. Suddenly, the whole mountain of debt, which is mostly interest, the whole debt crisis goes away. The ECB has not printed money, the ECB has not paid anything and no German taxpayer is guaranteeing Ireland’s loans.”
The remaining debt will be “serviced by the member state country; with the debt crisis gone, the spreads will fall on servicing this debt”.
Under-investment in the EU
Varoufakis and Holland believe that the EIB has the willingness, the track record and the capacity to effect very large investment projects that will boost the economy of the euro zone, not just Ireland or Greece. “The EIB has a long list of potentially profitable projects it would love to invest in.”
Wouldn’t this mean that the EIB would end up driving local economies? “It is exactly what Roosevelt did under the New Deal [the programme to transform America’s economy which had been shattered by the Wall Street Crash]. The way that Roosevelt got the American economy out of depression was by utilising the capacity of the federal government to borrow to invest in the states. That’s what we need to do.”
But what about the banking sector, the bad governments, the lack of regulation that created this problem?
“There is no silver bullet which will cure all the problems of capitalism. I really don’t believe that there is any simple policy one can implement that will rid us of all the malignancies and troubles that come with capitalism.
“Capitalism will always be a problematic socio-economic mode of production but, you know what, currently we are in freefall and the freefall is like 1929 – it is not conducive to progressive politics.
“The only people that benefit from the freefall are the xenophobes and the nasty underbelly of our societies. This set of policies is not going to be a blueprint for the good society. It is a blueprint for arresting the freefall and giving us an opportunity to sit down both within our communities, our nation states and within the euro zone, the European Union, even globally, to discuss ways of rationalising our world.”
Want to see more of Yanis? Have a look at:
http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/

Monday, January 26, 2015

SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left)

SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left)

http://www.syriza.gr/page/who-we-are.html#.VMcWwHaodKo


SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) entered a new stage in its life and action as a single party after its first (Founding) Congress (10-14 July 2013).

There were 3,568 Congress delegates, who had been elected by 491 organisations of members in Greece, Greeks abroad and youth groups. The Congress elected Alexis Tsipras as President of the party, as well as a 201-member Central Committee.  Some of the component organisations of the initial coalition did not agree with the transformation of SYRIZA into a single party and retain their relationship to SYRIZA as allied groups (Active Citizens, led by M Glezos, Democratic Social Movement - DIKKI, DEA, KEDA).

The Founding Congress of the new party defined itself as a party of the democratic and radical Left, which has its roots in popular struggles for Greek independence, democracy and labour and anti-fascist movements in Greece. The party comprises many different ideological currents and left cultures,   building its identity on a synthesis of the values of the labour movement with those of the ecological, feminist and other new social movements. This is why there are three flags on the SYRIZA logo: red, green and purple.

Since May 2012, when SYRIZA emerged from national elections as the second largest party (Official Opposition) in the Parliament of the Hellenes, with a percentage of 17%, it has attempted to evolve from an alliance into a single party of the modern radical 21st-century Left.

After that, SYRIZA drafted a government programme on the basis of which it fought the elections of 17 June 2012 with the visible possibility of being elected the first party.

However, it has met with fierce reaction from the domestic establishment and European circles, who mounted a fear-mongering campaign against SYRIZA to terrorise the Greek people, in order to stop SYRIZA from becoming the first elected left government in Greek history.

Despite this campaign, SYRIZA’s election percentage skyrocketed to 27%, with 71 MPs (after being joined by an MP who had been elected with the Democratic Left [DIMAR], it now has 72 MPs).

The first party in the June 2012 elections was New Democracy, which formed a government with PASOK and DIMAR. Subsequently (June 2013), DIMAR withdrew from the government after its sudden authoritarian decision to dismantle ERT (the state radio and television); so the pro-Memorandum government continued with ND and PASOK, insisting on and even stepping up the same neoliberal policies which are directed against the people.

Today, SYRIZA's main goal is to bring down the government and force it to call a general election in order to end the modern Greek tragedy that the Greek people are living through, with an unprecedented unemployment rate of almost 30% (among young people the unemployment rate is more than 60%!), widespread poverty, over-indebtedness of households, closures of many small shops and businesses and an economic recession that has exceeded 20% of GDP in the past five years.

SYRIZA insists strongly on its position that it will abolish the memoranda signed with the Troika of lenders when it assumes office and will re-negotiate the loans. At the same time it will promote a programme of social and economical reconstruction, aiming at development that promotes human needs and well-being and respects nature.

Regarding foreign policy, SYRIZA fights for a multidimensional, pro-peace foreign policy for Greece, with no involvement in wars or military plans, a policy of independence and friendly peaceful cooperation with all countries, especially our neighbours.

Together with the European Left Party, of which it is a very active member, SYRIZA is fighting for the re-foundation of Europe away from artificial divisions and cold-war alliance such as NATO.  As for the E.U., SYRIZA denounces the dominant extreme neoliberal and euro-atlantic policies and believes that they must and can be transformed radically in the direction of a democratic, social, peaceful, ecological and feminist Europe, open to a socialist and democratic future. This is why SYRIZA is in favour of cooperation and coordinated action of left forces and social movements on a pan-European scale.  However, it does not hold   euro-centric views and rejects the idea of an insulate "fortress Europe".

At the same time, SYRIZA is in favour of regional cooperation, especially in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. It attaches particular significance to confronting the crucial problems of peace within our broader region (Balkans, Mediterranean, Middle East). It is in favour of a diplomatic process of dialogue based on international law and of resolving the problems in Greek-Turkish relations to the benefit of both peoples and towards establishing peace in our region; it is in favour of the Cyprus issue being resolved on the basis of relevant UN Resolutions, so that the island be reunified within the framework of a bi-zonal, bi-community federation with a single citizenship, sovereignty, and international personality.

In the European Parliament, SYRIZA is a member of the confederal group European Unitarian Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).

SYRIZA draws inspiration from the progressive anti-neoliberal changes in Latin America and retains close relations with many left forces in that region and the São Paulo Forum.

 
 SYRIZA stands for a better Europe

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why Yemen’s Implosion Matters

The Shiite-Houthi takeover of the government in Sanaa is a call to arms for al Qaeda.

By Amal Mudallali is a senior scholar at the Wilson Center, a foreign policy analyst on the Middle East, and an advisor on international relations.

Foreign Policy - January 22, 2015

There’s a new boss in Sanaa, but for how long that city is the capital of a unified Yemen, no one quite knows. On Thursday, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Prime Minster Khaled Bahah stepped down, in the face of a Shiite Houthi insurrection that now threatens to dissolve the Yemeni state as we know it. Their resignations came just one day after Hadi bowed to the northern “invaders,” brokering an agreement with them to end their siege of his home, withdraw their militias from the streets and government institutions, and release abducted chief of staff Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak. In return, the government agreed to grant the Houthis the constitutional changes they seek, along with a greater share of power in government and state institutions.
But it’s Yemen’s government itself that may be the greatest casualty. Since the Houthis started their push to power last fall, al Qaeda has exploited the fears of Yemenis who oppose the Shiite group, trying to convince them that it is their natural ally against the Houthis. A sectarian war in Yemen would further strengthen al Qaeda, providing it with more recruits among the disaffected Sunni Yemenis who increasingly view the rise of the Houthis as an existential threat. There are already clear signs of a strengthened al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), including expanded operations and a larger presence across the country.

READ MORE....

GOOGLE CHIEF: ‘The Internet Will Disappear’

Dave Smith

Business Insider - Jan. 25, 2015

Google’s chairman and ex-CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about the future of the web during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  “I will answer very simply that the internet will disappear,” Schmidt replied.  “There will be so many IP addresses … so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

READ MORE....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A language family tree - in pictures

The Guardian - Friday 23 January 2015

Minna Sundberg’s illustration maps the relationships between Indo-European and Uralic languages. The creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, put the illustration together to show why some of the characters in her comic were able to understand each other despite speaking different languages. She wanted to show how closely related Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic were to each other, and how Finnish came from distinct linguistic roots.

READ MORE....

University libraries of the 21st century – in pictures

The Guardian

We invited you to help us document the university library of the 21st century. From the uber-traditional to the downright quirky, here's a selection of your pictures featuring some of the most interesting designs.



READ MORE AND SEE THE PICTURES....

Friday, January 23, 2015

A New Book: How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies

Edited by James G. McGann, Anna Viden, and Jillian Rafferty

University of Pennsylvania Press - 2014

Across the globe, there are more than four thousand policy institutes, or think tanks, that research or advocate for economic and social development. Yet the relationship between these organizations and the policies they influence is not well understood. How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies examines case studies drawn from a range of political and economic systems worldwide to provide a detailed understanding of how think tanks can have an impact on issues such as education policy, infrastructure, environment and sustainable development, economic reform, poverty alleviation, agricultural and land development, and social policy.
Each chapter provides an overview of the approaches and organizational structures of specific think tanks, as well as the political, economic, and social opportunities and the challenges of the environments in which they operate. The contributors study the stages of innovative think-tank-aided strategies implemented in highly industrialized world powers like the United States and Russia, emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil, and South Korea, and developing nations that include Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Accompanied by an extensive introduction to contextualize the history and theory of policy institutes, this comprehensive comparison of policy success stories will be instructive and transferable to other think tanks around the globe.

READ MORE....

2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

James G. McGann
University of Pennsylvania,
jmcgann@sas.upenn.edu

January 22, 2015 

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania today released its 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, the most comprehensive ranking of the world’s top think tanks. Simultaneous launch events were held by 77 organizations in 59 cities in 49 countries worldwide. The report will be translated into more than 20 languages.
The Brookings Institution topped the list, as it did last year.
As the premier database and measure of world think tanks, the Go To Index aims to increase the profile, performance and impact of think tanks, and to create a transnational and interdisciplinary network of centers of public policy excellence.
“In a world filled with tweets and sound bites that are often superficial and politically charged,” said James McGann, director of the program, “it is critical to know where to turn for sound policy proposals that address our complex policy issues. This independent Index is designed to help identify and recognize the leading centers of excellence in public policy research around the world.”
The launch of the 2014 Go To Index in Washington, D.C., was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A discussion was held about the challenges and opportunities for defense policy think tanks in the coming year. An afternoon session in New York at the United Nations focused on the connections between inter-governmental organizations and think tanks. The Index was also distributed through a network of global partners, giving institutions a chance to highlight the crucial role they play in building and maintaining civil society in their countries and regions.
The annual report, compiled with assistance from more than 1,500 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions and governments around the world, ranks the top 150 global think tanks across four categories:
  • Top Think Tanks in the World
  • Top Think Tanks by Region
  • Top Think Tanks by Area of Research
  • Top Think Tanks by Special Achievement
This year’s report also includes new Global Health and Domestic Health categories as well as a Global Trends feature, a detailed analysis of the biggest developments and challenges that think tanks have faced and will continue to face in the near future.
The Brookings Institution ranked first on the Global Think Tank list for the seventh consecutive year. Index reports since 2008 can be found at http://gotothinktank.com/rankings. Below are highlights of the 2014 rankings:
Top Think Tanks Worldwide (U.S. and non-U.S.)
  • Brookings Institution (United States)
  • Chatham House (United Kingdom)
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (United States)
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (United States)
  • Bruegel (Belgium)
Top Defense and National Security Think Tanks
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (United States)
  • RAND Corporation (United States)
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies (United Kingdom)
  • Brookings Institution (United States)
  • Chatham House (United Kingdom)
Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks
  • Brookings Institution (United States)
  • Chatham House (United Kingdom)
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (United States)
  • Council on Foreign Relations (United States)
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (United States)
Regional launch events of the Go To Index will be held in the following locations worldwide:
Sub-Saharan Africa
  • African Capacity Building Foundation, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • African Economic Research Consortium, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Center for Policy Studies, Monrovia, Liberia
  • Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, Dakar, Senegal
  • Development Research and Projects Centre, Kano, Nigeria
  • Institute of Economic Affairs, Accra, Ghana
  • Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, Nigeria
  • REPOA, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Asia and the Pacific
  • Australian Institute of International Affairs, Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Strategic and Defense Studies Centre, Canberra, Australia
  • Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Center for Economic and Social Development, Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, Development Research Center of the State Council, and China Center for International Economic Exchanges, Beijing, China
  • Chula Global Network, Chulalongkorn University and International Institute for Trade and Development, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, Mumbai, India
  • Japan Institute of International Affairs and Asian Development Bank Institute, Tokyo, Japan
  • Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, East Asia Institute and Korea Economic Magazine, Seoul, South Korea
  • Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, India
  • Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai, China
  • Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Singapore
  • Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan
Latin America
  • Argentine Council for International Relations, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • CEDICE Libertad, Caracas, Venezuela
  • Centro de Estudios Públicos, Santiago, Chile
  • Ethos Public Policy Lab, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Getulio Vargas Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Group for the Analysis of Development, Lima, Peru
Europe
  • Adam Smith Institute, London, United Kingdom
  • Barcelona Centre for International Affairs and Fundación Alternativas, Barcelona, Spain
  • Carnegie Moscow Center, Moscow, Russia
  • Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Ecologic Institute, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Berlin, Germany
  • EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Fundación Alternativas, Madrid, Spain
  • Institute for International Political Studies, Milan, Italy
  • Institute of International and Strategic Relations, Paris, France
  • Institute of World Economics, Budapest, Hungary
  • Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw, Poland
  • Populari, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Razumkov Centre, Kiev, Ukraine
North America
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., United States
  • Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Chicago, United States
  • Fraser Institute, Vancouver, Canada
  • Institute for Research on Public Policy, Montreal, Canada
  • James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Houston, United States
  • United Nations, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, UN Regional Commissions New York Office and International Peace Institute New York, United States
  • University of Pennsylvania, Lauder Institute, Perry World House, Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program and Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, United States
Middle East and North Africa
  • Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Doha, Qatar
  • Association for Liberal Thinking, Ankara, Turkey
  • Center for Strategic Studies, Amman, Jordan
  • Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, Cairo, Egypt
  • Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • International Strategic Research Organization, Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey
  • OCP Policy Center, Rabat, Morocco
  • Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Cairo, Egypt
The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the International Relations Program, University of Pennsylvania, conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world. TTCSP was established in 1989. The Program maintains a database and network of more than 6,600 think tanks in 152 countries. Often referred to as the “think tanks’ think tank,” TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. The Index is supported by Penn Arts & Sciences, PennGlobal and the Lauder Institute at the Wharton School. More information is at http://gotothinktank.com/.

DOWNLOAD THE 2014 GLOBAL GO TO THINK TANK INDEX REPORT.....

Global Metro Monitor - 2014


 
With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies accounted for nearly half of global output in 2014. This interactive and report compare growth patterns in the world’s 300 largest metro economies on two key economic indicators—annualized growth rate of real GDP per capita and annualized growth rate of employment. These indicators, which are combined into an economic performance index on which metro areas are ranked, matter because they reflect the importance that people and policymakers attach to achieving rising incomes and standards of living and generating widespread labor market opportunity. 
 

The Language of the State of the Union

An interactive chart reveals how the words presidents use reflect the twists and turns of American history.

Benjamin Schmidt and Mitch Fraas

The Atlantic - January 18, 2015

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,” stipulates Article Two of the Constitution, “and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Since 1790, every president has made an annual report to Congress, highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing the nation. Presidents from Jefferson to Taft dispatched lengthy written addresses; since Wilson, most have emulated Washington’s example and delivered shorter remarks in person. Using the Bookworm platform for text analysis, we’ve combed through the full texts of all 224 State of the Union addresses and ranked the frequency with which each president used each word.

READ MORE....

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd

The West's best hope of dealing with the rise of Islamic extremism is to challenge the doctrines manufactured by religious scholars past and present, argues Ziauddin Sardar

Ziauddin Sardar

The Independent - Wednesday 21 January 2015

"This has nothing to do with Islam," say the imams. "These callous and fanatic murders have nothing to do with us," say the mullahs. "Islam means peace," say the worshippers. These disclaimers, and variations on them, have been repeated countless times by Muslim commentators since the Charlie Hebdo killings. They are designed to distance people from guilt by association with those who kill and maim in the name of Islam.

But what about the sentence recently handed down to the (mildly) liberal blogger Raif Badawi in the Islamic state of Saudi Arabia? Ten years in jail, a massive fine, 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks (currently suspended because the first 50 lashes have rendered him "medically unfit")? Does this have "nothing to do with Islam"? Does the hashtag "Je suis un couteau" – referring to this week's stabbing of 11 Israelis on a bus – have "nothing to do with Islam"? Not to mention the 10 Christians killed during Charlie protests in Niger last week, or the ongoing depredations of al-Qaeda, Isis, Boko Haram, the Taliban and the Laskar Jihad of Indonesia?

The psychotic followers of these organisations all think that they are Muslims, and their Islam is based on beliefs that millions who subscribe to Wahhabism, the Saudi version of the religion – and its kin, Salafism – accept as essential ingredients of their faith. For example, that sharia, or Islamic law, is divinely ordained and immutable; that apostates and blasphemers should be killed; that women should be shrouded and confined to four walls and that men are their guardians.

READ MORE....

The Global Innovation Index

BLOOMBERG - 2015

Billionaire venture capitalist Jim Breyer is heading to the Swiss Alps this year with an upbeat message. "This is a magical time," says Breyer, founder and CEO of Breyer Capital and a partner at Accel Partners. "Innovation is happening in centers of excellence around the world faster than ever before." His optimism contrasts with the trouble-ahead warnings that business and government leaders will hear this week at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Japan and Europe are expected to grow only about 1 percent this year, and one-time dynamos like Brazil, China, and Russia are losing speed.
The best antidote to stagnation is innovation, the creation of products and services that make life better—whether it's air conditioning, vaccines, or text messaging. Every country wants to foster a culture of innovation, but it's not easy to do. "I've had dozens of meetings over the years with leaders from around the world who asked how they can build their own Silicon Valley," says Breyer. "It never works." He has his own theory about what does work, though it's not exactly scientific: There's a magic. There's a love for entrepreneurship and experimentation that must be there.

READ MORE......

Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?


Saturday, January 17, 2015

China in 2015: What to Expect

By Shannon Tiezzi

The Diplomat - January 16, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a full plate this year: a continuing anti-corruption campaign, a stated commitment to developing the “rule of law,” and a need to move forward on difficult economic reforms. Christopher Johnson, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS, gives The Diplomat his take on what to expect (and what not to expect) from China domestically in 2015.

Equal in Paris? - On Baldwin and Charlie Hebdo

Thomas Chatterton Williams

NPLUSONE - January 13, 2015

James Baldwin wrote that although William Faulkner might not accurately be called a racist, the novelist “could see Negroes only as they related to him, not as they related to each other.” For Baldwin, Faulkner’s depictions of blacks had far less to do with them as people than with “the torment of their creator” who was “seeking to exorcise a history that is also a curse.
In these nightmarish days in Paris since the astonishing massacre of cartoonists, black and Arab police officers, and random hostages in a Jewish épicerie, it is Baldwin whose words echo loudest in my mind—more than Voltaire or Rushdie or Christopher Hitchens or any other exemplar of satire and blasphemy to be repeatedly quoted (and misquoted) in the press and on social media. In the above lines, taken from No Name in the Street, Baldwin is writing not only about Faulkner, but about France and his growing understanding of the country’s vexed relationship to its homegrown underclass.

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France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be

Giles Fraser

The Guardian - Friday 16 January 2015

At the start of this year, the school in the little French town of Sargé-lès-le-Mans instituted a “pork or nothing” policy. Muslim and Jewish kids have either to eat pork or go hungry. Apparently this move is necessary to “save secularism”, according to National Front leader Marine le Pen. “We will accept no religious requirements in the school lunch menus,” she said. “There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere.”
The glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church is one of the great foundation myths of republican France. And coded within this mythology is the message that liberty, equality, fraternity can flourish only when religion is suppressed from the public sphere. It is worth remembering what this ideological space-clearing involved.

READ MORE....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The End of Power by Moises Naím review – a study in mass alienation

Made popular by Mark Zuckerberg, this is a subtle and persuasive account of the way societies are becoming both more restrained and more anarchic  Facebook founder’s book club choice sends sales rocketing

Lili Loofbourow

The Guardian - Thursday 15 January 2015

It’s easy to see why Mark Zuckerberg likes Moisés Naím’s The End of Power. Naím’s thesis is that “in the 21st century, power is easier to get, harder to use – and easier to lose.” Zuckerberg’s understands this (as shown by his strategic acquisitions of potential competitors WhatsApp and Instagram) and grasps that Facebook’s success depends on bridging the gap between old corporate and new grassroots models of power. Facebook is constantly balancing the need for user control – or the appearance of it – and a careful, authoritarian, behind-the-scenes structuring of user experience in ways that benefit the company.
In this sense, Facebook is the perfect test case for Naím’s book. The End of Power lucidly describes and extols the extent to which recent developments have made traditional repositories of power – whether political, corporate, or cultural – newly vulnerable to challenges from smaller, nimbler entities. He warns, however, that the imminent death of the superpower as a structuring global authority is producing less stability than ever before. He suggests that a model where smaller actors have power to veto but not dictate – destroy but not create – is a recipe for gridlock, anarchy, or both.

READ MORE....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Cheesy Love Story - The Ad Doritos Don't Want You to See


17 October 1961: Massacre in Paris

Socialist Worker - Tue 11 Oct 2011
BST Issue No. 2273

Fifty years ago police in Paris killed over 200 Algerian protesters and threw their bodies into the River Seine. Historian Jean-Luc Einaudi exposed the murders in his book The Battle of Paris. He spoke to Sellouma from France’s New Anticapitalist Party

The protesters killed on 17 October 1961 were calling for Algerian independence. Could you describe the political situation in France leading up to the massacre?
The Algerians were fighting for independence, led by the National Liberation Front (FLN). The war in Algeria had lasted seven years and had serious repercussions within France itself.
France was then home to around 350,000 Algerians—130,000 of whom lived in or near Paris. The FLN had a large French section.
Talks between France and the provisional FLN government were suspended in July 1961. Both sides expected that these talks would eventually resume, and sought to consolidate their positions.
One faction of the French government had been lobbying for a more repressive strategy. In August it was given a free hand.
In France itself raids became much more frequent—particularly from the Auxiliary Police Force (FPA), which was formed of Algerians with a score to settle with the FLN. They tortured people in basements and empty hotels.

READ MORE....

Monday, January 12, 2015

Saudi cleric condemns snowmen as anti-Islamic

Reuters Dubai, January 12, 2015

A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.  Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country's north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: "It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun."  Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom's strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.

READ MORE....

WATCH: 'House Of Cards' Trailer For Season 3: 'We're Murderers, Francis'

"We're murderers, Francis," says Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, over the pounding rhythm of A Perfect Circle's "Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums."
The show returns on Feb. 27.
Watch the trailer below:

Ivy League’s meritocracy lie: How Harvard and Yale cook the books for the 1 percent "

We are credentializing a new elite by legitimizing people with an inflated sense of their own merit”

Lani Guinier

Salon -  Sunday, Jan 11, 2015

A special lottery is to be held to select the student who will live in the only deluxe room in a dormitory. There are 100 seniors, 150 juniors, and 200 sophomores who applied. Each senior’s name is placed in the lottery 3 times; each junior’s name, 2 times; and each sophomore’s name, 1 time. What is the probability that a senior’s name will be chosen?   Excerpted from "The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America"

Does this kind of question look familiar? For most of you, it probably does: it represents just one of the nearly two hundred questions that presently make up the SAT. (The answer, by the way, is 3/8, or 37.5 percent, for those among us who prefer percentages to fractions.) For nearly a century, universities across the country have used SAT scores and other quantifiable metrics to make decisions about admitting one candidate versus another—decisions that can have far-reaching impact on both the admitted and declined candidates’ educational, social, professional, and financial futures. On the basis of what? we might ask. Originally the acronym SAT stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, on the strength of the argument that a high schooler’s success on the test correlated with his or her success in the increasingly rigorous environment of college. As evidence of this correlation dwindled, the name was changed first to the Scholastic Assessment Test (keeping the handy, well-known acronym) and later to the SAT Reasoning Test. Call it what you will, the SAT still promises something it can’t deliver: a way to measure merit. Yet the increasing reliance on standardized test scores as a status placement in society has created something alien to the very values of our democratic society yet seemingly with a life of its own: a testocracy.

READ MORE....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Critical Articles on Charlie Hebdo

How 'Je suis Charlie' makes matters worse
By SAREE MAKDISI
The Los Angeles Times - January 16, 2015
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0118-makdisi-je-suis-charlie-makes-things-worse-20150118-story.html

French Muslims feel deeply torn by viral ‘I am Charlie’ slogan
By Anthony Faiola
The Washington Post - January 13, 2015
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/they-are-not-charlie/2015/01/13/7c9d6998-9aae-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_story.html

'Charlie Hebdo cartoons are bigoted'
By Vidya Venkat
The Hindu - January 15, 2015 
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article6789470.ece 

In remembering the Charlie Hebdo attack we must not forget the responsibility that goes with free speech
By Tariq Modood
The London School of Economics and Political Science - Jan 12, 2015
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2015/01/12/in-remembering-the-charlie-hebdo-attack-we-must-not-forget-the-responsibility-that-goes-with-free-speech/

‘France Tries To Mask Its Islamophobia Behind Secular Values’ The Pakistan-born British commentator seldom minces words.
Pranay Sharma Interviews Tariq Ali 
Outlook - Jan 26, 2015
http://www.outlookindia.com/article/France-Tries-To-Mask-Its-Islamophobia-Behind-Secular-Values/293132

A Postcard From Paris
By JASON STANLEY
The New York Times - January 8, 2015
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/a-postcard-from-paris/?_r=0

Why Charlie Hebdo offends me Middle East
By Hicham Tiflati
Mondoweiss - January 16, 2015
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-offends 

France: The Ground Shifts
By Mark Lilla
The New York Review of Books - January 14, 2015
http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/jan/14/france-after-terror-ground-shifts/

French Muslims feel deeply torn by viral ‘I am Charlie’ slogan
By Anthony Faiola
The Washington Post - January 13, 2015
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/they-are-not-charlie/2015/01/13/7c9d6998-9aae-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_story.html

Let's Not Fall for the Terrorists' Trap (Again)
John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed
The Huffington Post - January 14, 2015
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-l-esposito/lets-not-fall-for-the-ter_b_6465580.html

The Charlie Hebdo Attack And What It Reveals About Society
By Zygmunt Bauman
Social Europe - 13/01/2015
http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/01/charlie-hebdo/ 

“Charlie Hebdo”, not racist? If you say so…
by Olivier Cyran translated by Daphne Lawless
Leninology - Thursday 5 December 2013
http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-not-racist-if-you-say-so.html?m=1

As a Muslim, I’m fed up with the hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists
By Mehdi Hasan
New Statesman - 13 January, 2015
http://www.newstatesman.com/print/node/220106 

On Charlie Hebdo: A letter to my British friends
By Par Olivier Tonneau
Media Part - 11 janvier 2015
http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/olivier-tonneau/110115/charlie-hebdo-letter-my-british-friends

Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy
Rabbi Michael Lerner
The Huffington Post - 01/09/2015 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-michael-lerner/mourning-the-parisian-jou_b_6442550.html

Charlie Hebdo and Europe's Rising Right
By Anne Norton
The Huffington Post - 01/10/2015 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-norton/charlie-hebdo-and-europes_b_6444368.html

Ahmed Merabet's eulogy is the most important thing you'll read on Charlie Hebdo
By Max Fisher
Vox - January 11, 2015
http://www.vox.com/2015/1/11/7527697/ahmed-malek-merabet-eulogy-charlie-hebdo

Why Charlie Hebdo attack is not about Islam Charlie Hebdo massacre is rooted in generations of violence, hypocrisy and greed.
By Mark LeVine
Al-Jazeera - 10 Jan 2015
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-islam-cartoon-terr-20151106726681265.html

‘I AM NOT CHARLIE’: Leaked Newsroom E-mails Reveal Al Jazeera Fury over Global Support for Charlie Hebdo
By Brendan Bordelon
The National Review - January 9, 2015
http://m.nationalreview.com/corner/396131/i-am-not-charlie-leaked-newsroom-e-mails-reveal-al-jazeera-fury-over-global-support 

The Charlie Hebdo I Know
By Scott Sayare
The Atlantic - Jan 11 2015
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-secularism-religion-islam/384413/

Hey, Media: Instead Of Lionizing Charlie Hebdo, Support The Artists You're Exploiting
Talking Points Memo - Jan. 8 2015
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/media-dont-glorify-charlie-hebdo-racism-support-cartoonists-exploiting

What We Know About the Charlie Hebdo Attack, Day Two
Foreign Policy - Jan. 8 2015
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/08/what-we-know-about-the-charlie-hebdo-attack-day-two/

Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech — It Was About War
Medium- Jan. 7 2015
https://medium.com/@asgharbukhari/charlie-hebdo-this-attack-was-nothing-to-do-with-free-speech-it-was-about-war-26aff1c3e998

Europe’s Brutal Truth: Europeans are both too Islamophobic and too timid to face up to the roots of Islamic fundamentalism.
Slate - Jan. 7 2015
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2015/01/europe_s_confused_debate_about_islam_and_terrorism_europeans_are_both_too.html

Charlie Hebdo: Norway didn’t give in to Islamophobia, nor should France
The Guardian – Jan. 8, 2015
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/08/charlie-hebdo-norway-islamophobia-france-anders-breivik 

‘Do you support ISIS?’: CNN’s Don Lemon stuns Muslim human rights attorney
Raw Story – Jan. 8, 2015
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/01/do-you-support-isis-cnns-don-lemon-stuns-muslim-human-rights-attorney/

The bitter fruits of racism and imperialism
Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century - January 8, 2015
http://rs21.org.uk/2015/01/08/the-bitter-fruits-of-racism-and-imperialism/

Washington Post opinions section publishes controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoon
The Washington Post - Jan. 8, 2015
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2015/01/08/washington-post-opinions-section-publishes-controversial-charlie-hebdo-cartoon/

Islam in Europe
The Economist -  Jan 7th 2015
http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/01/daily-chart-2

In France, Prisons Filled With Muslims 
The Washington Post - Tuesday, April 29, 2008
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/28/AR2008042802560.html

3 Frenchmen Among Those U.S. Military Holds in Iraq
The New York Times - February 5, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/05/international/middleeast/05fighters.html

Let’s not sacralize Charlie Hebdo
By Arthur Goldhammer
Al-Jazeera - January 7, 2015
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/1/charlie-hebdo-gouaillesatireislamjournalism.html 

No, we are NOT all Charlie (and that’s a problem)
By Cas Mudde
Open Democracy - 7 January 2015
https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/no-we-are-not-all-charlie-and-that%E2%80%99s-problem 

Charlie Hebdo Is Heroic and Racist
By Jordan Weissmann
Slate - Jan. 8 2015
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/charlie_hebdo_the_french_satirical_magazine_is_heroic_it_is_also_racist.html 

Moral Clarity
By Adam Shatz
London Review of Books - 9 January 2015
http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/01/09/adam-shatz/moral-clarity/ 

I Am Not Charlie Hebdo
By David Brooks
The New York Times - January 9, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/opinion/david-brooks-i-am-not-charlie-hebdo.html

This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo
By Max Fisher
Vox - January 10, 2015
http://www.vox.com/2015/1/10/7524731/french-muslims-attacks-charlie-hebdo

Why I am not Charlie
A Paper Bird - January 9, 2015
http://paper-bird.net/2015/01/09/why-i-am-not-charlie/

In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons
By Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept - January 9, 2015
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/09/solidarity-charlie-hebdo-cartoons/

Joe Sacco: On Satire – a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks
By Joe Sacco
The Guardian - January 9, 2015
http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015/jan/09/joe-sacco-on-satire-a-response-to-the-attacks

Who is Michel Houellebecq, the French novelist on the Charlie Hebdo cover? 
By Martin Pengelly
The Guardian - January 10, 2015
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/10/michel-houellebecq-french-novelist-charlie-hebdo-cover

Charlie Hebdo: Paris attack brothers' campaign of terror can be traced back to Algeria in 1954 
Robert Fisk
The Independent - January 9, 2015
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/charlie-hebdo-paris-attack-brothers-campaign-of-terror-can-be-traced-back-to-algeria-in-1954-9969184.html

Do France’s Intellectuals Have a Muslim Problem?
Foreign Policy - January 8, 2015
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/08/do-frances-intellectuals-have-a-muslim-problem/

Marine Le Pen blames radical Islamism for Charlie Hebdo attack – video
http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/jan/08/marine-le-pen-radical-islamism-charlie-hebdo-attack-video

Kouachi Brothers' Radical Islam Began Long Before Charlie Hebdo Attack
http://www.ibtimes.com/kouachi-brothers-radical-islam-began-long-charlie-hebdo-attack-1779080

French Premier Declares ‘War’ on Radical Islam as Paris Girds for Rally 
By DAN BILEFSKY and MAÏA de la BAUME
The New York Times - JAN. 10, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/europe/paris-terrorist-attacks.html

Here's How Arab Papers Reacted to the 'Charlie Hebdo’ Massacre
By Jordan Valinsky
World Mic - January 9, 2015
http://mic.com/articles/108076/here-s-how-arab-papers-reacted-to-the-charlie-hebdo-massacre 

Friday, January 9, 2015

China, CELAC deepens cooperation with major documents

 (Xinhua) January 09, 2015

BEIJING, Jan. 9 -- China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) agreed on with three major documents on the last day of the first China-CELAC forum ministerial meeting.
The two-day meeting, co-chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Costa Rican counterpart, Manuel Gonzalez Sanz, passed a five-year cooperation plan, regulations for the forum and the Beijing Declaration.
Calling the forum a first, Wang said that China and CELAC were embracing opportunities for their all-round cooperation partnership.
Wang noted that the forum had given a strong "China-CELAC message" to the world.
China will work for both sides to reap early harvests from the forum and build a new model of South-South cooperation, Wang said. "We will be especially thorough in basic infrastructure. China has great strength in this field including production, techniques and equipment."

READ MORE.....

Monday, January 5, 2015

What linear logic misses out about ISIS and why that matters to Europe

By NESLIHAN ÇEVIK

Daily Sabah – Jan. 5, 2015

To combat radicalism, EU countries should avoid considering an increased interest in the origins and nature of Islam as a sign of potential radicalization, while Muslim states should encourage the youth to analytically inquire about their religion and systematically reject radical Islamism based on that inquiry

Debates on whether the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) represents Islam or is a malevolent distortion of the religion continue to divide not only Western skeptics and Muslims outraged by ISIS, but also domestic political frontlines in the U.S. and EU. This debate gained new momentum as renowned German journalist, Jürgen Todenhöfer, 74, managed to gain exclusive access to ISIS-controlled territories, reporting that the group is much stronger than we realize, concluding that to defeat the militant group we must have a deeper understanding of what it is and what it stands for.
If we were to follow a linear logic, we would conclude, as have the skeptics of Islam, that ISIS represents and stands for Islam. After all, ISIS is composed exclusively of Muslims, it claims to speak in the name of Islam, it has declared itself to be the caliphate, and it overwhelmingly quotes Quranic verses and concepts while slaughtering Muslims and clerics, beheading Westerners, tearing down places of worship and historical sites and forcing women and girls into the sex trade and slavery. Moreover, the violent doctrine and militancy of the 21st century's self-claimed caliphate are not without historical precedence – they, in fact, rekindle parts of the Islamic past.

READ MORE....

Sunday, January 4, 2015

China is still the main engine of world economy

People's Daily Online - January 05, 2015

China is facing slower economic growth, but it will continue to be a main engine of the world economy. According to the “World Economy Analysis and Forecast (2015)" issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the U.S. and China will be two largest engines and the biggest contributors to the world economy.
Through its rapid development, China serves as a major market for its trade partners. China imported an average of 750 billion US dollars in goods and created an average of 14 million jobs annually for its trade partners between 2001 to 2011, said Ding Yifan, deputy head of World Development Research Institute of Development Research Center of China’s State Council. More recently China’s overseas investment has been growing, providing a boost to world economic development.

READ MORE....

SPRING 2015 COURSES: FOUNDATIONS OF GLOBAL STUDIES (INTL390) AND DEVELOPMENT-URBANIZATION-WORK (INTL407)


FOUNDATIONS OF GLOBAL STUDIES (INTL390) - SPRING 2015

“I'm no prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls.” - Michel Foucault

When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.” – Ayn Rand

Short Course Description:This course is designed to give an overview of social and political theories, and will examine questions of state and society; in so doing, we will address theoretical questions such as: What are the origins of current social, political and economic transformations? What is the relationship between the individual and society? How is alienation created in modern economic structures? How has the state formed and how has it changed over time? What is the relationship between the state and citizen? Do you think we are more obedient and less free than 50 years ago? Are we becoming more individualistic, and if so, why? What is organic and mechanic solidarity? Do you think we live a more community-oriented life or a societal life (which is compromised of interconnected individuals)? What is the one-dimensional man? Are we believers, individuals, citizens or consumers? What are our rights in the nation-state, and how has this changed under modern neoliberal conditions? Are corporations replacing the role of the nation-state?

READINGS:
  1. Social Theory The Multicultural, Global, and Classic Readings By Charles Lemert (Author) March 2013. 
  2. Readings in Globalization: Key Concepts and Major Debates By GeorgeRitzer (Editor), Zeynep Atalay (Editor) 2010.

DEVELOPMENT, URBANIZATION AND WORK (INTL 407) - SPRIGN 2015 

Urbanization is not about simply increasing the number of urban residents or expanding the area of cities. More importantly, it's about a complete change from rural to urban style in terms of industry structure, employment, living environment and social security.  Li KeqianG

Short Course Description: The subject of this course is work, urbanization and development in the globalized world. These three concepts cannot be understood separately, they are all related with, and influence one another. In this class, we will explore these three components of modern life.


READINGS:

  1. Timmons Roberts and Amy Hite (Editors). The Globalization and Development Reader: Perspectives on Development and Global Change. 
  2. Saskia Sassen. The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton University Press 2001. 
  3. Keith Grint, The Sociology of Work, Polity Press, 2005.