Europe’s burqa rage

Posted by osurce, 27th May 2010
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Michael Gerson
5/26/2010

Throughout history there have been times when respect for another culture clashes with universal human rights. A form of this is playing out now among traditional, burqa-wearing Muslims and a more liberal, European society. Seen as a sign of subjugation and oppression, some European leaders find the burqa unacceptable. But Gerson points out that banning or otherwise regulating the wearing of burqas is actually an assertion of European cultural identity that undermines the concept of religious freedom.

Gerson writes about politics, global health and development, religion and foreign policy.

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Two Theories of Change

Posted by osurce, 25th May 2010
John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Indep...

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David Brooks
5/25/2010

There were two periods of enlightenment, Brooks says, which include the French and British Enlightenments. Americans have never figured out which they are children of. Brooks looks at each vision of change and compares them. He says the core question in American politics is whether our nation’s founding was a radical departure or an act of preservation. Brooks adds that this was a source of dispute between Jefferson and Hamilton and between and within political parties today.

Brooks is a New York Times columnist.

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A hollow ‘reset’ with Russia

Posted by osurce, 25th May 2010
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Robert Kagan
5/25/2010

The Obama administration and the media are hailing the president’s successful “reset” diplomacy with Russia, claiming Obama’s approach has resulted in Russia’s agreement to a UN Security Council resolution against a nuclear Iran. But the author notes that Russia’s verbal agreement with the US about Iranian nuclear proliferation is nothing new. In fact, the Bush administration elicited similar agreeable responses from Russian leaders in 2006, 2007, and 2008. This latest agreement could very well be just another round of “Charlie Brown and the football,” says Kagan.

Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes a monthly column for The Post.

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The Big Fat Greek IMF Crowd-Out

Posted by osurce, 20th May 2010
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Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar
5/20/2010

The rules of the IMF are being bent to accommodate the fiscal needs of European countries that together dominate its shareholding. Although the IMF articles of association allow lending specifically for supporting countries’ balance of payments, the organization is not supposed to lend for fiscal support alone, and no developing country has ever received a loan to meet a purely fiscal problem, as Greece is now. Profligate Europeans may be squeezing emerging markets out of limited lending capacity. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the “BRICs”) have all contributed to the latest expansion of IMF lending capacity, transferring significant cash to Europe. Yet this change in balance between creditors and debtors is not reflected in IMF voting shares, which must rise sharply to reflect the significance of the BRICs.

Aiyar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity in Washington, DC.

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Sunny Days in Israel

Posted by osurce, 7th May 2010

Roger Cohen
5/7/2010

jerusalen_israelCohen tells of his recent talk with Col. Avi Gil of the Israeli Defense Forces, who seems cautiously optimistic about the prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine. After leaving Israel for a two year stint training with the US Marine Corps, Gil returned to West Bank surprised to see the thickness of the yellow pages had tripled, a sure sign of an increase in business as well as a decrease in violence. Gil admires the state-building of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad but thinks he may be “walking on the edge” because his pledge of nonviolence hasn’t stopped the stone throwing or Molotov cocktails. Tensions will surely flare when the world pushes for Palestinian statehood in 2011 or 2012 and Israel applies the brakes. For now, Gil says, “Let’s walk slowly to arrive as fast we can.”

Cohen is a columnist for the New York Times.

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A Money Too Far

Posted by osurce, 7th May 2010

Paul Krugman
5/7/2010

greek crisisKrugman says the only plausible ending for the financial nightmare in Greece is for the country to end up in default and perhaps its eventual departure from the euro. Unlike California, which also has a history of financial woes, Greece has no central government to bail them out. California’s budget woes seem to have little effect on the state’s residents who can always rely on Washington to keep funding their Medicare reimbursements, Social Security checks, and defense contracts, but Greece has no such system in place. The only thing that could help Greece avoid default and get back on its financial feet is to leave the euro behind and go back to its own currency, which it could then devalue and increase its export competitiveness.

Krugman is a columnist for the New York Times.

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America and Europe meet midway

Posted by osurce, 18th April 2010

Clive Crook
4/18/2010

us-europeThe gap in the political landscape that separates the US and Europe is shrinking, writes Crook. European governments from both the left and right have adopted ideas from American capitalism in recent years, while Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms show the US is being influenced by policies on the other side of the Atlantic. Crook says that in general this is to be welcomed, although the US must be careful about some of the influences it embraces. European governments have become more moderate in recent years, and governing from the center ground is well suited to making a success of welfare policies. With the Democrats and Republicans seemingly moving towards opposite political poles, US policymakers will find it harder to make welfare reforms workable.

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Indo-China relations

Posted by osurce, 16th April 2010

Ajay Kaul
4/16/2010

india-china_relationsOn the 60th anniversary of India-China relations, the ties still remain complex, suspicious, and uncertain. From border disputes to India’s dejection in China’s involvement in PoK, both countries have remained strained over the years. But the recent high-level meeting was highly optimistic, where they agreed upon broadening the bilateral connections in economy and trade, says Kaul. At the same time, the envoys have realized the complexities of the border disputes and appointed special representatives to address it on a long-term basis. Both countries have also appealed to the media to desist from exaggerated criticisms which could cause mutual harm.

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The Age of Concrete

Posted by osurce, 15th March 2010

Blaine Brownell
3/13/2010

burj-khalifaDubai’s Burj Khalifa, now the world’s tallest building, is made of reinforced concrete, a material that has surpassed the use of steel used to build the previous recordholder for height. This engineering achievement shows that the strength of concrete has tripled in the last four decades, allowing concrete structures to be thinner, lighter, and far taller.

Brownell, the author of “Transmaterial: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine our Physical Environment,” is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture.

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