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Behind the bravado: why Theresa May has to play hardball on hard Brexit

Written by Simon Toubeau.

Even prior to the formal start of what is likely to be a long tournament, the players are taking their seats at the poker table. They’re puffing their chests, turning stone-faced, sternly glaring at each other in the eye. They’re looking at the hand they’ve been dealt and deciding what strategy to pursue. Winning does not depend on having a strong hand but rather on persuading your opponent that you do.

And so, as Theresa May delivered the final few sentences of her speech on her plan for Brexit, the thinly veiled threat was issued: “No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” Continue reading Behind the bravado: why Theresa May has to play hardball on hard Brexit

High stakes as West Africa prepares military action against Gambia’s Jammeh

In further escalation of the post-election crisis in The Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency just a day before his official mandate was due to come to an end. The announcement followed reports that a Nigerian warship was deployed off the Gambian coast while a regional military force was being assembled in neighbouring Senegal for possible military intervention. The events are the clearest signs that the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) could act militarily to remove Jammeh from power. Abdul-Jalilu Ateku examines the prospects for intervention in Gambia. Continue reading High stakes as West Africa prepares military action against Gambia’s Jammeh

Lotte in Weimar – Thomas Mann’s Hope for a Humanist Culture against Barbarism

Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

Just a few steps farther, Frau Councillor! Down this corridor, no distance at all from the stairs. We have had to renovate very thoroughly, since the visit of the Don Cossacks, at the end of 1813: stairs, chambers, passages, salons, and all. Maybe the renovation was long overdue; anyhow, it was forced upon us by the violent, world-shaking course of events. They taught us, perhaps, that it is precisely violence that is needed to produce all memorable and historic moments. Yet I should not give the Cossacks all the credit for all our improvements. We had Prussian and Hungarian hussars in the house as well – to say nothing of the French who came before them! (Mann, 1968, [1939], pp. 17-18) Continue reading Lotte in Weimar – Thomas Mann’s Hope for a Humanist Culture against Barbarism

2017: Where do the U.K.’s political parties stand now?

Written by Glen O’Hara.

So, it’s the New Year, and there’s a long, long list of things to get through. There’ll be the French and German elections, the onset of the Trump administration in the US, and policy questions galore. Will the UK be able to disentangle itself from the European Union without a great deal of economic pain and wasted bureaucratic energy? Will Russia be happy to trade a more muscular American foreign policy for a more semi-detached stance from Uncle Sam in Europe? Will rising interest rates slow growth? How long can China continue to fuel the world economy? All these questions will be to the fore in 2017. For now, let’s kick off the year with a review of where British politics stands right now, shall we? We can take each party in turn if you’d like. Continue reading 2017: Where do the U.K.’s political parties stand now?

Yemen: a calamity at the end of the Arabian peninsula

Written by Vincent Durac.

At the tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen’s disastrous war has been raging for nearly two years. Somewhat overshadowed by the devastating crisis in Syria, it is nonetheless a major calamity: according to the UN, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives, while more than 20m (of a total population of some 27m) are in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 3m people are internally displaced, while hundreds of thousands have fled the country altogether. There are reports of looming famine as the conflict destroys food production in the country.

So how did Yemen get here – and what are the prospects for turning things around? Continue reading Yemen: a calamity at the end of the Arabian peninsula

A new law in China is threatening the work of international NGOs

Written by Andreas Fulda.

A controversial new law regulating the activities of foreign non-profit organisations (NPOs) in China came into effect on January 1. Under the Overseas NGO Law, foreign NPOs will have to meet very stringent registration and reporting guidelines, which raises concerns about China’s lack of progress towards good governance and the rule of law.

Critics have taken issue with the fact that the law brings foreign NPOs and their operations under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. This leads to an over-politicisation of the civil society sector in China. Chinese officials seem to consider foreign NPOs and their Chinese partners as potentially undermining the authority of the Chinese Communist Party. Continue reading A new law in China is threatening the work of international NGOs

Erdoğan could be losing his grip on a dangerous, divided Turkey

Written by Alpaslan Ozerdem and Bahar Baser.

Turkey’s New Year was marred by a terrorist attack, claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS), that killed 39 people and injured many more at a famous nightclub in Istanbul. After nearly two years of deadly incidents and alarming political instability, Turks were once again left counting the dead – and wondering how much more their country can take.

In the last 18 months, Turkey has seen 33 bomb attacks that have claimed 446 lives, 363 of them civilians. Some commentators even claim that low-level terror is now almost the norm in Turkey. Continue reading Erdoğan could be losing his grip on a dangerous, divided Turkey

It’s Not Just About Building and Providing Houses: Building Resilient and Secure Communities in Resettlement Areas

Written by Maria Ela L. Atienza.

Over three years ago super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) devastated Visayan provinces in the Philippines. The provision of permanent housing and resettlement for victims who lost their homes in the so-called “no build zones” or risky coastal areas remains a problem. In early November this year, Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros sought a legislative inquiry into governmental action regarding health and sanitation issues in resettlement areas. On the third anniversary of Yolanda last November 8, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte promised Tacloban that the backlog will be met and gave a deadline to the National Housing Authority (NHA) to finish all housing projects this December. Early this December, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the administration has successfully relocated 827 of 911 Yolanda families to their new homes.    Continue reading It’s Not Just About Building and Providing Houses: Building Resilient and Secure Communities in Resettlement Areas

“Mosaic” versus “Melting Pot”: Passing the Mantle of “A Nation of Immigrants”

Written by Francesca Speed.

On November 8th, the United States elected Donald Trump as its forty-fifth president. Just six days earlier, the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, ending a record-setting 108-year drought. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Israel Zangwill’s The Melting Pot had just made its theatre debut, and with the election of Trump, one must ask whether the era of using “the melting pot” as a metaphor for the multiculturalism of American society has come to an unceremonious end. Continue reading “Mosaic” versus “Melting Pot”: Passing the Mantle of “A Nation of Immigrants”

Anthony Crosland: the future of social democracy?

Written by Steven Fielding

Jeremy Corbyn has made Labour’s social democrats strangers in their own party. Instead of pulling the levers of power, Tony Blair’s children have been reduced to watching one of their own dancing on TV. Those who voted for Corbyn, not once but twice, clearly believed they might as well have a leader with socialist principles because to them Labour’s defeats in 2010 and 2015 suggested that centrist pragmatism was a busted flush. It’s not as if there were any social democrats in Westminster able to convince the majority of Labour members that they were wrong. Continue reading Anthony Crosland: the future of social democracy?