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This week’s editor

Claire Provost

Claire Provost is editor of 50.50 covering gender, sexuality and social justice.

Marketing GM: the making of poverty

Marginal farmers in India find it difficult enough to ensure a modestly sustainable life on existing patterns of land ownership and seed availability. But when manipulative marketing strategies introduce GM seeds, cash dependency and debt, their poverty becomes a cruel trap.

Two nations, one project: keeping the Palestine-Israel Journal alive

The “Palestine-Israel Journal” is a remarkable experiment in cooperation across the bitter divides of the Middle East conflict. In the face of financial pressures, a Kafkaesque transport system, and the reality of two distinct national narratives, its Israeli co-editor describes his colleagues’ efforts to remain true to their core purpose: good professional work.

The Japanese decision

Why has the Japanese government decided to send armed forces to Iraq to assist in its economic recovery? A leading scholar of Japanese politics places the decision within the context of the country’s search for a self-defined global role over the past generation.

East is West: the German experience of people flow

The end of the cold war made a unified Germany the favoured destination for large numbers of migrants from farther east – including ethnic Germans from Romania and the former Soviet Union. How has the country managed these huge inflows, and what lessons does German experience offer to a possible Europe-wide migration model?

Botswana, the Bushmen/San, and HIV/Aids

The catastrophic HIV/Aids pandemic in southern Africa threatens even its most vigorous economy, Botswana. But it is displacement and dispossession that create the greatest vulnerability to HIV. And it may be that rights to land and a people's level of confidence in their own identity are a central means of protection against ravaging illness. Is this what we can learn from the Botswana margins?

China's split personality

Chinese changes, North Korean democracy, Silvio’s latest

The Pentagon: the force is with us

United States planners are undeterred by the casualties and setbacks of their Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. Indeed, with proposed new ‘global reach’ and nuclear weapons systems the Pentagon is sending a clear message to the world: business as usual.

The Clinton legacy and America

The fiercely partisan memoirs of the Clinton presidency by Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, and their public reception, illuminate the passionate contest over the meaning of these years of trial and bile in American life. In a major review, openDemocracy’s North America editor examines how the destructive impulses of American journalism and politics corrupt historical memory and the rational interrogation of power.

Perspectives on Iranian Theatre

Two award-winning Iranian directors met up with Tony Fegan of Lift and Rosemary Bechler of openDemocracy a couple of days after the International debate: The Rights and Roles of Young People as Artsmakers to discuss making theatre in Iran and what should be cherished from the exchange between young artsmakers.

Living on the edge: a Roma clan in Ostrava, Czech Republic

Roma in the Czech Republic have been hit hard by post-communist industrial decline and social prejudice. In the eastern city of Ostrava, they display a survivalist spirit amidst grinding poverty. But how can Roma children succeed in an educational system based on institutional exclusion and contempt?

The art of the possible: an interview with Florin Botonogu

The search for equality and respect by Roma people in Romania has produced a new generation of activists using creative, confident methods of expressing their identity. The leader of a Bucharest-based NGO, Florin Botonogu, talks to Julian Kramer of openDemocracy about the impact of social activism on Roma’s sense of their direction in modern Romania.

The perils of professionalism: the BBC in the Middle East

The BBC, under intense pressure in Britain itself over its coverage of the Iraq war, faces challenges to its professionalism and impartiality in an equally controversial political arena: Israel and Palestine. Sarah McGregor-Wood and Hillel Schenker of the Palestine-Israel Journal interview the BBC’s Middle East bureau chief, Andrew Steele, about the dangers and satisfactions of getting the story, telling the truth – and taking the rap from both sides.

Authoritarian Man: the Axis of Good

The cold war, neo-liberal triumph and 9/11 have ushered in the assertive global hegemony of the United States and its British and Australian satraps. But the millennial project of imperial nationalism conceals a labyrinth of fear – of ordinariness, lost greatness, multiculturalism, globalisation itself.

DeLaying Tactics?

America and the world, God and man, Quotes and campaign of the week

Where are the weapons?

The issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was crucial in the justification for war offered by the United States and its British ally. Their subsequent failure to find evidence of an active WMD programme is now raising serious questions of trust for governments in Washington and London.

Art as refuge

What happens if a child or a teenager suddenly loses home, family, schoolmates – everything that he or she is about? A multi-faceted identity is replaced by one word: refugee. Here, two young journalists from Children’s Express report on how art can help people to see past the word to the rich human reality beyond.

Animadversions on translation

It is rare to find the latest Latvian, Chilean or Vietnamese novels made into English. As the translation of foreign novels withers into decorative star-gazing or random exoticism, a translator of Franz Kafka and Joseph Roth registers the intimate bond between a healthy writing culture and the enlarging experience of literary otherness. What happens when it is lost?

Beyond the zero sum: from Chávez to Lula

The search for a meaningful Latin American political project beyond neo-liberalism is taking a variety of national forms. Does the careful, inclusive strategy of Lula in Brazil offer more long-term hope than the radical populism of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela? And do contrasts in political culture and civil society illuminate their chances of success as well as the nature of their political leadership? 

The global conversation: info-anarchy, dissent, and human rights

The core issues raised by p2p are those of ideology and potential, not technology. They imply a defence of universal rights that seeks the end of all architectures of control.

Bikinis in Saudi Arabia: info-anarchy as cultural imperialism

The advocacy of p2p as a libertarian panacea is a covert rationalisation of corporate control and United States power. What the net really needs is democratic regulation to guarantee online equality.

The politics of Roma identity: between nationalism and destitution

The arrival of Roma on the political stage is often heralded as a mark of enlightenment and social progress. But the search for Roma nationalism and political representation is better understood as part of the regressive empowerment of ethnic and nationalist cleavages as an organising principle in European politics. Rather than top-down leadership, the Roma need grassroots campaigning for equality with their fellow-citizens.

The European Union and genetic information: time to act

The principle of genetic testing of entire populations carries the great risk of putting the integrity of the individual in the service of commercial interests. The ensuing struggle for control of information cannot be resolved on the national level alone. Within the European Union, the tension between the internal market in services and harmonisation of national legislation reveals the urgent need for a European policy on genetic information.

Andhra Pradesh: the land is ours

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, local farmers are under pressure to embrace a future of large-scale monoculture producing crops for the global market. But the farmers themselves, especially women, are convinced that traditional practices and knowledge are the best guarantee of their livelihood and food security.

Bi-polar disorder - part one

The US and the countries of the European Union may argue over liberal intervention; but on key issues of global justice they are together, and on the wrong side.

Making the roadmap work: the call for American troops

The argument for external intervention, in the form of United States troops, to help the Palestinian Authority defeat its internal opponents like Hamas and Islamic Jihad has been increasingly heard as a way to help implement the roadmap. But it is deeply misguided: one lesson of history is that real progress towards peace in the Middle East always arises from agreements made not via outsiders, but by the warring parties themselves.

Religious zealotry and the crisis of American democracy

The danger of religious fundamentalism has been present in the American political bloodstream since the arrival of the Puritans. Now, with a government of religious conservatives locked in a polarising mindset of us-them and good-evil, the threat it poses is not just to American freedom, but to the world’s.

Shorelines: jumping off part 1

This is the first of a two-part piece to launch Objects & Projects’ latest theme: shorelines. What are they, how are they formed, and why do they hold such endless fascination? openDemocracy’s globalisation editor takes you to the end of the cliff… Read on, and a trip to the beach will never be the same again.

The Romanian right and the 'strange' Roma

The condition of Roma people is a vital issue in negotiations over the accession of Romania to the European Union. Roma who leave in great numbers (claiming human rights violations) and those who stay (enduring multiple sources of social injustice) alike challenge democratic and social ideals in a context of far-right revival. An academic of Roma origin reflects on the tortured history of Roma in Romania, and affirms the need for a new discourse and practice of equality for Roma at the European level.

Crime without punishment: Russian policy in Chechnya

Russia’s attempt to suppress the movement for Chechen independence in the past decade is marked by human rights violations on a massive scale. The rape and murder of one young Chechen woman, and its scandalous legal outcome, is emblematic not just of a savage military occupation, but of a criminal politics that deserves condemnation not indulgence from other world leaders.

The Indian refusal

The Indian government has finally refused America’s request to send thousands of troops to help police Iraq. Our New Delhi columnist welcomes a triumph of principle over power but questions the meaning of its long delay. For India’s ambitious new elite, the request appealed to the country’s martial-imperial legacy and its own hunger for global status. Can the moral foundations of Indian statehood survive this elite’s ambition to make India a superpower?