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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?

Italy says “No” to Renzi and she says it loudly

Written by Annalisa Cappellini

The Italian Constitution seems to be the biggest winner of the referendum on constitutional reforms that took place yesterday in Italy: in an era of political disengagement and low electoral participation 70% of Italian voters went to the polling station to have their say on its proposed modifications; over 19 million people (60%) said “no” to such changes. They said “no” to a reform the seemed to be both too rushed and badly written.

Matteo Renzi, on the contrary, appears to be biggest loser of this referendum, that he himself decided to turn into a vote on his government. He took a gamble, like Cameron did with the Brexit vote; Renzi took this gamble when all the political circumstances were in his favour but then the wind changed and he got wiped out, like many others political leaders. Continue reading Italy says “No” to Renzi and she says it loudly

What the world can learn from Disney princesses

Written by Robyn Muir.

The world of Disney and education combined last week when a lesson plan teaching children about sexism and racism within Disney films – specifically those of the Disney Princesses – emerged on a teaching website. The lesson plan mainly focuses on the gender issues that the Disney Princesses present, but also discusses racism within the films as well. And according to Tory MP Phil Davies, teaching children about sexism and racism represented in the media is “politically correct claptrap” rather than a valuable life lesson.

If we were to take the Online Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of ‘politically correct’, then it would be a person who “believes that language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to sex and race, should be avoided”. This seems like a reasonable belief, which should be passed on to children. Therefore, teaching children about gender issues in Disney Princess films is not ‘claptrap’, its teaching children the way gender is represented through a popular media outlet, and how that can affect the way women and men are represented in society. Lessons like these can teach children respect for others and how to value and promote a diverse society. Continue reading What the world can learn from Disney princesses

Gendered Livelihoods – recovery for women three years after Typhoon Yolanda

Written by May Tan-Mullins.

On 8 November 2013 super-typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the Visayas region of the Philippines. More than 6,300 lives were lost and homes, livelihoods and communities were devastated. It has been three years since the typhoon hit and recovery, housing and livelihood options remain a major challenge in the region. In particular, livelihood options continue to be a major concern, especially for the women. This is because many of the livelihood programmes put in place by the governments, international organisations and Non-governmental organisations are very much gender-biased towards men. Very few options or programmes are targeted at women or women’s groups. Indeed, as Oxfam notes, gender inequalities persist and may be even magnified during disasters, especially in the rebuilding phase. Continue reading Gendered Livelihoods – recovery for women three years after Typhoon Yolanda

Obama’s legacy will be forever tarnished by his inaction in Syria

Written by Scott Lucas.

As his administration winds down, Barack Obama has plenty to be proud of. He can point to international breakthroughs that seemed unthinkable when he took office, from the nuclear agreement with Iran to the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba after almost 60 years. He can cite the concerted international action to stave off economic catastrophe, a more constructive US approach to Latin America, and a solid if cautious relationship with China.

But as far as Obama’s legacy goes, few of these noble achievements will stick to the wall after he gives his farewell speech in January 2017. Instead, he will always be associated with the fate of one country: Syria. Continue reading Obama’s legacy will be forever tarnished by his inaction in Syria

India’s crackdown on cash corruption is really all about politics

Written by Diego Maiorano

When India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced that 86% of his country’s currency would be “just worthless pieces of paper” in a matter of hours, he immediately boosted his reputation as the scourge of tax-evaders and the corrupt. Unfortunately for everyday Indians, the hassle of adapting to the sudden change is bigger than many expected.

The policy demonetises 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, which Indians are now expected to change at banks and ATMs. This is an attack on what Indians call “black money”, cash that has been concealed from the tax authorities and/or used for criminal activity; it’s also meant to curb the spread of counterfeit currency. But it’s unlikely to achieve much – and ultimately, it’s at least as much a political move as it is an economic one. Continue reading India’s crackdown on cash corruption is really all about politics