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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

This week's window on the Middle East - June 25, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: events in the Arab world are becoming more and more interlinked, and more and more - sectarian tensions cloud thinking.

The road for another Europe

A Brussels forum on June 28 seeks alternatives to the inaction of the European Council on Europe's recession and the restoration of democracy.

The Progressive Challenge: taking on robber baron politics

The following is taken from the opening speech at the Take Back the American Dream Summit in Washington, D.C., on June 18

Watching the watchers

Lack of co-operation on supervision of sovereign credit raters is undermining Rio+20’s pursuit of new Sustainable Development Goals

The immorality of tax-dodging - reserve some indignation for the State

The basis of taxation - especially of the super-rich, but also of the increasing numbers who feel no great traditional or ethnic attachment to the nation - must be solidarity, whose only sustainable basis is a common view of the good we're building. The State needs to recognise its duty in supplying that if we are to solve our fiscal crises

Modern Greek history podcast, parts 2 and 3

Parts 2 (50 mins) and 3 (50 mins) of the generalists' introduction to modern Greek history take us from 1920 to the present day. Part 1, 1820-1920, is here, and the two articles that have served as anchors for the conversation are here (Doxiadis on the historical roots of current economic structure) and here (Takis Pappas on the political history that led to crisis)

German own goal: why Berlin’s sense of invulnerability will be its undoing

Without a mutualisation of risk, the euro will collapse, with devastating implications for German exports, the value of Germany's foreign investments, and the stability of its banking sector. By contrast, the reforms needed to stabilise the eurozone pose far fewer risks to Germany.

Trimming the hair of an old man: or, volunteering within Chinese civil society

The focus on radical political activism in most western discussions of Chinese civil society is unrepresentative of the civil society that actually exists. What this does have is a box of hats, a network of contacts and a presence on QQ, the instant messaging service that has penetrated deep into the fabric of Chinese life.  

Erdogan vs women: the abortion debate

Is it a coincidence that a woman minister’s ideas overlap with many Turkish men’s ideas? We really need some of Foucauld’s understanding of state power to be able to answer this question.


Why all the fuss over Fujairah?

Behind the sabre rattling, analysts should not overlook growing relationships between the emirates and Asian countries.

“Syriza is the expression of a new radicalism on the left”: excerpt of an interview with Stathis Kouvélakis in late May

The rise of Syriza is a profound transformation for a radical left that is still traumatized by the defeat of Greek communism in the last century. This radical left now wants to break with its position of being eternally in the minority - a force dedicated to nothing but “resistance”. 

Yemen’s transition: a model to be followed?

What is actually happening in Yemen?  It is either presented as a ‘solution’ which could be a model for Syria, or as a ‘phoney’ change that only conceals continuation of the previous regime

How to impose austerity and destroy culture: the example of the Mediterranean

As the European crisis intensifies, the Mediterranean’s cultural funding is increasingly landing on the chopping block. But can a cultural policy presided over by a bipolar Union ever hope avoid becoming a victim of the continent’s single-minded drive for austerity?

Greek election result: an assessment

The New Democracy party will lead the government even though it is utterly clear that at least one in three of the voters who backed it think very little of the party but felt they had no other option. This is as inauspicious a beginning for a new government with a mountain range of challenges as one could have imagined.

End in sight to "Othering the Union". Hope for Europe.

The European debt crisis is political more than financial, as argued by George Soros. But the solution to the political problem needs to confront domestic political elites throughout Europe, jealous of their power, with the dishonesty of their stance. Hold on tight - this process provides hope for genuine democratic transformation throughout the Union

Reflexivity, Soros and three months for the euro

The euro crisis needs a collective solution, designed and implemented by both the core and the periphery. It has to be a political solution underpinned by good economic and financial reasoning. What George Soros is telling us is that the latter is by no means guaranteed.

This week's window on the Middle East - June 18, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: while Libyans are quietly proving that they can forgive, forget and move forward together, the current political and military powers in Libya seem intent on proving the opposite to the rest of the world.

After the Greek election

Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Syriza will further increase its voting power. 

History podcast - the birth of modern Greece

In this hour-long informal conversation, Terence Mitchison provides the historian's background to the modern Greek state - from Venetian/Ottoman contestation to the Balkan wars of the 20th Century, the rise of Ataturk and the great population movements in the early 1920s. Parts 2 and 3 are available here.

The Bang! moment is now

To understand the dynamics and timing of the Eurozone crisis, you need to understand how the European Central Bank actually works. The truth is, it is not really a fully fledged central bank at all. National central banks, including Greece's, have been using their power to transform bad bank loans into cash; that cash is now leaving the periphery and forcing a stark choice on Europe

Osborne's Mansion House speech - it's so hard to be honest, guv

An attentive reading of the UK Chancellor's (finance minster's) latest speech to the City reveals the strain of ignoring what really limits Britain's ability to formulate a good response to its own double dip recession or to play a constructive role in the Eurozone crisis. In both cases, the root cause is the absence of true democratic legitimacy that pervades the Westminster/City nexus

Egypt: the deep state resurgent

Egypt's incoming president will enter office without a parliament to oppose him, with a military empowered to arrest and court-martial civilians at will, and a constitution based on that of the Mubarak era. 

Submission to Leveson from Media Reform group urges focus on ownership

The Leveson Inquiry has a broad remit: the culture, practice and ethics of the British press. A new media reform group has submitted their evidence and is urging Leveson not to sideline one of the pivotal issues: media ownership. 

GREXIT and the sovereign crisis of trust: why the Greeks should not accept the German terms of austerity

Greeks should not accept Germany's austerity measures but should remain in the euro, and ultimately seek a federal EU. This is the only way to end the sovereign debt crisis and restore EU trust, solidarity and collective responsibility.

A Chinese spring?

While Chinese petitioners and dissidents hold protest rallies every day in defiance of unaccountable officials, few of them question the necessity of upholding a strong executive authority. Thoughts on revolution and reform by a Chinese student in Cairo.

Elite hauteur: Greece, Niger and the IMF

It may be time to remind ourselves of the parallels between today's IMF-Merkel-Cameron package for Europe’s nations in the red, and the structural adjustment policies of the 1980's. Meanwhile, the centre has everything to gain from the misery of the periphery if only everyone can be persuaded to hold their nerve.

Mapping Greece's forthcoming elections

As Greek electoral law awards the party that comes first 50 bonus seats in the country’s 300-seat parliament, whether that party is ND or Syriza will be crucial. In either case, with so many Montagues and Capulets arrayed on the Greek public square, forming a government will not be easy.

Supplying war in Afghanistan: the frictions of distance

Pakistan has said NATO's supply convoys can cross the Afghan border so long as America's drones do not. Though the expanded use of cyberwarfare, covert special forces and drones is designed to overcome the frictional problems of waging war from a distance, logistics still matter. The world is not flat - even for the US military.

This week's window on the Middle East - June 11, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Will Islamic fundamentalism be a threat to democracy?

Global, independent, watchdog media is good for business. And enlightened business should support it

Independent media throughout the world - but especially in the emerging world - is having to re-invent its business models. At the same time, the business sector benefits directly from the honest public sphere that watchdog media creates. There is room, therefore, for imaginative business solutions to media's woes

Labour should talk about England (but no action, please): Ed Miliband on the Union

The Labour leader has set out his defence of the Union in a speech that appealed to his party to recognise England and show pride in the English. But is this enough, with Scotland considering independence and the English question waiting to explode?

Anger and activism at the G4S annual meeting

More than 70 people demonstrated outside the G4S Annual General Meeting in London yesterday to protest against the security company’s human rights record in various business sectors, from Israeli prisons to “asylum markets” in the UK. Protesters told Hilary Aked why they were there.  

Greece should leave the Euro, but for jobs, not to get away from the vultures

In a lengthy response to Ann Pettifor's call for Europe to abandon the Euro's "fetters of gold", the author disagrees with almost everything, except for the conclusion that Greece should leave the single currency

The contradictory aims of USAID in Egypt

Prior to the Egyptian revolution, the US democracy-promotion strategy helped consolidate the power of an authoritarian regime and today, the course adopted by its funding bodies is facilitating the marginalization of alternative social forces.

What lost, what gained for Scotland in the last 60 years?

As Britain remembers Queen Elizabeth's ascension, how has Scotland changed since 1952? A glance back in time to the archives of The Scotsman newspaper reveals a past with much to say about the nation's present and future.

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