World

Celebrity, Social Media, and War

By on 4.3.14 | 1:30PM

It’s finally happened. Kim Kardashian weighed in on the situation in Syria. Spoiler alert: She gets it all wrong. It shouldn’t come as a shock that silly people have stupid opinions about important issues that confound them. Still, let's investigate. It all speaks to a bigger point about celebrities, social media, and war.

Tweets Kardashian:

Please let's not let history repeat itself!!!!!! Let's get this trending!!!!

#SaveKessab

#ArmenianGenocide

Moments later:

If you don't know what's going on in Kessab please google it, its heart breaking! As an Armenian, I grew up hearing so many painful stories!

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Crimes in Crimea

By on 3.18.14 | 4:55PM

In 1853, Russia invaded the Danubian Principalities, just west of its empire on the Black Sea. Britain and France responded by allying with the Ottoman Empire and declaring war on Russia. Much of the fighting over the next three years would take place in Crimea, as allied forces tried to break Russia’s grip on the city of Sevastopol. The Crimean War would leave about 375,000 allied troops and anywhere from 143,000 to 522,000 Russian troops dead—mostly from disease—and devastate the Crimean Peninsula.

During the Russian Civil War, Crimea would become a stronghold for the anti-Bolshevik White Army and its sympathizers. But by 1920, the White Army was evacuating and the Bolsheviks stormed the peninsula. The communists distributed questionnaires and, foreshadowing Nazi tactics that would one day be used against them, used the answers to divide the population into those to be killed, imprisoned, or saved. More than 50,000 people, most of them civilians, were slaughtered over about six weeks.

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Another Perspective

An Airborne Hunt for Red October?

By 3.18.14

Is Zaharie Ahmad Shah a real-life Marko Ramius? Is the mystery of Malaysia flight 370 lifted straight from a famous bestselling thriller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster? Recall: A brand new high tech Soviet nuclear submarine vanishes with officers and full crew aboard. A frantic search begins, though the alarmed Kremlin is silent about the fact that it has been notified by the captain that he intends to defect and hand the sub over to the Americans. The officers — but not the crew — are in on the plan.

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At Large

Pain in the India Partnership

By 3.7.14

Of late, the news from India has been dismaying. Economic growth according to the International Monetary Fund has declined to 4.6 per cent for fiscal 2014, nowhere near the high single digits achieved in recent years that delivered tens of millions out of poverty. Inflation estimated at almost 10 percent for 2013 is a major challenge for the Reserve Bank of India, the nation’s central bank. Aggressive deregulation of massive government bureaucracy which had come to be known as License Raj has stalled, as has privatization of state-owned enterprises with the decline of the Rupee and investor confidence. Foreign direct investment has also been a disappointment, reflecting unease about tax policies, political risk, and governance. Agriculture, which employs over half the work force but represents only 17 percent of GDP, has not received the emphasis of the Green Revolution which started in the late 1960s.

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Dictator Watch

Putin’s Sudetenland

By 3.4.14

Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine back. In fact, the ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Union’s KGB is on record with his view of the fall of the U.S.S.R. “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” he said in 2005. In a foretaste of things to come, Putin added “Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.” 

Secretary of State John Kerry went before ABC’s cameras on Sunday and said: “If [Russia has] legitimate concerns about Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, there are plenty of ways to deal with that without invading the country.”

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Another Perspective

Why Pussy Riot Deserves Our Sympathy

By 2.20.14

Let’s be honest: the images that came out of Sochi yesterday were sickening. Thugs in uniforms beating young women with horsewhips, kicking them to the ground and throwing their things in garbage cans — piggish behavior in defense, we are told, of “traditional values.” And why? Because four members of Pussy Riot, the feminist punk protest group, decided to sing and dance a bit. What a lot of nonsense. Or at least I wish it were nonsense rather than the creeping totalitarianism that it is.

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At Large

Another North Korean Crossroad

By 2.3.14

There has been a well-defined pattern to negotiations pursued over the decades by North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — DPRK). It may be wishful thinking, but that pattern appears to have just changed and it looks like the Obama White House and John Kerry’s State Department have either missed it or chose to ignore the alteration.

The South Korean president, Ms. Park Geun-hye, sensing something different in the diplomatic climate, took the necessary first step in reconciliation on January 6, 2014 by again offering the possibility of resuming the reunion of relatives from North and South suspended since 2010. After a pro forma rejection Pyongyang quickly shifted ground in a few days and returned the same offer. The possibility of the effectively mutual gesture long had been available, but the timing now was right. The reason for the change in the position of the DPRK is what is most important.

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Persecution of Christians Continues in Nigeria

By on 1.28.14 | 5:55PM

Various reports estimate that between 52-99 Christians were killed Sunday in Nigeria.

The Islamic radicals, who officials claim are militants with the Boka Haram, set off explosives in the small village of Kawuri, which killed 85 people and burned down 300 homes.

"We are still searching and burying corpses since yesterday," said Dala Lawan, a Kawuri official. "The first burial was 53 but more corpses are still being picked in the bushes and some with serious injuries also died. We have just found two more corpses, which brings the death toll to 85 for now."

A church service in Wada Chadkawa, another village, was attacked as well. Gunshots and explosives added casualties:

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At Large

Corruption Haunting China

By 1.26.14

There is a practice in China that has been going on for many generations, but most prominently since the expansion of trade with the West in the 1800s. It has become accepted that whenever an advantageous exchange occurs a material or monetary “grateful thanks” will be offered. This is called a cumshaw, a foreign bastardization of the Mandarin, and it can be anything from a hotel gratuity to some special “additionality” to a multi-million dollar industrial deal. Under recent communist governments officials at all levels, including generals, have become rich by receiving cumshaws after approving certain civilian contracts and military purchases. What originally was a custom expressing thanks to an impoverished servant has led to high-level corruption — and China’s new president wants it rooted out.

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Upon the Anniversary of Eisenhower’s Farewell

By on 1.17.14 | 4:58PM

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together...

-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961

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