11.3.2014

Putin’s Friend Profits in Purge of Schoolbooks

Over half of Russia’s textbooks have been barred from its national curricula, citing, among other things, lack of patriotic sentiment or ethno-cultural value. But publisher Enlightenment, a Soviet era former juggernaut now owned by a longtime acquaintance of Vladimir Putin, has gotten away nearly unscathed.

Putin’s governance of post-Soviet Russia seems to clearly reflect his pre-glasnost KGB experience. But as the iconic secular patriarch of “Putin’s Russia,” is he not justified in seeking a more cohesive national narrative in primary schools, and is that cause enough to sanction the apparent favoritism and probable corruption in his methods?

 

Fragmentation Will Hinder Peace Efforts in Libya

“Libya’s militia groups have coalesced into two broad camps — the Dignity and Dawn blocs — but even within these camps, they are far from unified. Towns are competing against other towns, tribes against each other, ideological groupings against everyone — and all vying for influence and access to the state’s oil wealth.”

With a fragmented post-Gaddafi Libya posing an unfortunate – if perhaps less brutal – similarity to the results of global democratic evangelism in Iraq and Afghanistan, what social and political factors have made its current reality so different from those of its North African neighbors?

 

Amid Record Waves of Refugees, Italy Finding Limits to Its Compassion

The history of trans-Mediterranean migrations between the African and European coasts is a long and rich one. The fallout from the Arab Spring has seen a massive egress of refugees to Italy and its outlying islands, exhausting the Italian response. This latest swell of movement has entered a new dramatic phase – one rife with mistrust, tension, and occasional violence between black Africans, ethnic Arabs, and native or naturalized Europeans.

Refugee movements of this magnitude and diversity inevitably bring interlocking ethnic and cultural narratives with them into regions that may be unprepared or unwilling to adjust. Will Italian law enforcement and institutions be enough to contain, support, and condition the peninsula’s disparate press of new people? Or will unrest develop there, too, a plague of ill will spreading despite good intentions on both sides of the sea? 

 

Germany ‘Would Accept UK Exit from EU’

David Cameron’s UK has repeatedly spoken against the influx of EU immigrants, drawing anxious negotiations out of his continental counterparts – but now it seems Angela Merkel is ready to call it quits on the whole conversation.

Is this latest dialogue a step toward a final separation of United Kingdom and European Union? Or is it, like North Korea’s marionette dance between blustery paranoia, heartstring-pulling, and “charm campaigns,” simply a yank on Merkel’s golden chain?

 

Chinese officials arrested for buying corpses to meet government cremation quota

An offbeat point against Chinese communism? Or simply a statement about the absurdity of legal standards applied without review?

11.3.2014