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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

Greece and the eurozone: managing the crisis

A Greek exit from the European single currency would not bring the catharsis that some expect. Rather, it will create new challenges that can only be met with major institutional reforms - to which Germany is central, says Simon Tilford.

Bahrain: split over proposed GCC union, and chronic failure of Sunni groups to mobilize

Bahrainis of all political affiliations waited in tense anticipation as rumours of a Saudi – Bahraini union circulated days before the Gulf leaders convened in Riyadh for the Gulf Cooperation Council summit on May 14th, 2012. The summit fell short of expectations however.

New Silk Road: stabilizing Afghanistan post-2014

As Afghanistan looks to a future beyond international intervention, regional support will become ever more important.

The Alabama syndrome

The European Union is not the United States; Germany is not Massachusetts; and Greece is not Alabama, more’s the pity.

An open letter to the leaders of Europe: abandon the Euro's 'gold fetters'

European leaders need to abandon the fetters that chain them to the interests of private wealth, and threaten European disintegration.

Right to the Olympic Village: a review of David Harvey's 'Rebel Cities'

The Marxist geographer's new book on modern cities as central sites of revolutionary politics becomes a lens through which to decode London and the Olympic Games.

As the Yes to Independence campaign begins, Scotland needs a vision for self-determination

The campaign is launched today for a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Here are seven suggestions for an independence agenda that looks beyond the constitutional to embrace the economic, cultural, democratic and international.

The European Emperor has no clothes

Severe austerity measures cause malnutrition, homelessness and suicides across southern Europe. European institutions that apparently fail to protect their citizens from harm lose their legitimacy. The pro-European left should defend the values, not the institutions, of Europe and the quality of life of all its inhabitants

Big business under threat in Putin’s Russia?

A new president could be a new start and hope for the future, but Putin’s return to the presidency signals stagnation, rather than stability. The liberal and conservative elites are at loggerheads and the new wave of privatisation in the oil and gas sector will only exacerbate the problem, says Shamil Yenikeyeff

Football & politics: the legacy of Euro 2012 in Ukraine

Ahead of the Euro 2012 football championships, media attention on political scandal and excessive profiteering has undermined Ukrainian attempts to raise prestige in the eyes of the world. Janek Lasocki and Łukasz Jasina wonder if the hosts will eventually be able to defy critics and secure a positive legacy from the tournament.

Why the upcoming presidential election is one of the most important in US history: an interview with Theda Skocpol

This interview conducted at the Kennedy School in Boston was first published in Juncture, the new international journal of the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Russia's search for an anti-corruption model – from Sweden to Singapore

Just about everyone in Russia - the Kremlin, the opposition and most Russians in the street – agrees that corruption is one of the country’s most serious problems. Newly re-elected President Putin has promised to fight it, but where should he start, and what models in other parts of the world should he be looking at? Mikhail Loginov considers some of the possible alternatives.

Valuing Nature: Democracy or economics?

Policies which treat nature like a private, consumable good may actually exacerbate problems of environmental degradation. We urgently need a more sophisticated understanding of the problem at hand.

Social immobility in Britain: don't blame the parents

The Deputy Prime Minister has revealed a strategy aimed at improving the life chances of disadvantaged pupils at state schools. A good start, but what is needed is structural change to Britain, one of the lowest ranking countries for social mobility in Europe.

'Tiger Head, Snake Tails' by Jonathan Fenby: book review

Big-but-piecemeal reform will only exacerbate weaknesses elsewhere in the Chinese system, since everything is connected... Fenby isn't just right about the biases and simplifications that are commonplace in airport-book ‘polemics’ about China - he is right for the right reasons. 

Democracy against social reform: the Arab Spring faces its demons

The link between ‘karamah’ and ‘al hurriyah”, the call for dignified existence and the rejection of oppression has given birth to a further crucial concept – that of the social responsibility of public authority.  This cannot be achieved by maintaining the economic polices of the old regimes. 

A country mansion and a wireless connection: Raymond Williams and the future of transformative education

As formal education in Britain faces commodification, networks of informal participative learning are flourishing. openDemocracy is building ties with these through our relationship to the Raymond Williams Foundation, whose residential last week explored the theme of the Long Revolution.

Nine out of ten: the losers of Italy's long crisis

Every ultra-rich person has the income of 100 poor people. But this is not Dickensian England or Depression-era America. It is the Italy of today. Halting the rise of the super-rich will be a crucial issue for the politics of the future.

Myths of history, Euro-scepticism and fundamental rights

If we want to develop effective co-operation within and among the member states of the EU, history should be kept at a distance. Living in the past is not feasible, and this is equally true for Euro-scepticism, the application of human rights as well as the fight against racism and extremism.   

Supply Side and Plan A - the straightest path to human tragedy

The Coalition's economic 'Plan A' ultimately has a strategy of wage repression at its heart. This will undermine the conditions needed for economic revival but, above all, will impose incalculable human costs on the mass of British people 

How to bury nuclear waste under the democratic carpet in Cumbria

Nuclear waste is a problem - dangerous and long-lived, it needs geologically "secure" sites to be laid, one hopes, to rest. But in the UK, the government finds it more convenient to shoe-horn it in to geologically delicate areas under a carefully managed sham of local democracy. The national public good is being obscured by the narrowest of interests, to the potential grave danger of future generations

Beyond the G8: reversing the global food crisis

We need to build a civil society voice to rival the corporate lobbies, which are protecting their lucrative stake in the price speculation commodities market. We have the choice to make this the decade where world hunger ends.

Don't accuse us of morality, we're British politicians!

There was a time when Britain's politicians were eager to show their moral convinctions. Now to admit being swayed by ethics is percieved as a weakness, whichever party you happen to be from.

The environmental case for drug legalisation

The number of people in Colombia killed by US tobacco is way beyond the number of Americans killed by Colombian cocaine… Do they have a right to come to the United States and carry out chemical warfare on North Carolina and Kentucky because they have a tobacco problem and it’s coming from here?

Reaping the political rewards of the Iranian nuclear crisis

Both Iranian and Israeli governments mutually benefit from the threat of war, as they both use the excuse to polish their propaganda and to silence internal opposition.

The Mexico you didn’t see (this Adventure World Travel Summit)

Despite what the Mexican Federal government would have us believe, especially since taking presidency of the G20 summit, racism and repression against the indigenous people of Mexico remains strong, in fact it could be called a way of life.

Energy, land and food

As the EU and the UN work to expand access to sustainable energy for all, the land and food rights of millions of people in the developing world must not be jeopardised, argues Aaron Akinyemi.

French elections: what does normal stand for?

The vote for Hollande is not so much a radical desire for change as a possibly illusory desire to go back to the pre-crisis period. The socialists have meanwhile opened up a new approach to the economy. But 'racism from above' has led the way in this historic fight over what is normal 

Egypt’s uncertain road to prosperity: economic challenges to long‐term stability

The livelihoods of the Egyptian people are a political priority. In the 1990s, at the behest of the IMF and the US, neoliberalism exacerbated the gap between the haves and the have-nots by ensuring that the primary benefactors of growth have been wealthy Egyptians.

10 years after: taking stock of China’s WTO membership

China's accession into the WTO in 2001 sparked fierce debate as to its consequences for China's development, the impact on (un)employment in economically advanced states, and the effect on the international devision of labor. Ten years later, it is time to take stock.

Out of view: the unnameable poor in India and Bangladesh

My friends in teaching jobs in Afghanistan and Korea or aid organizations in Bangladesh, nearly all returned to the United States, to ask themselves hard questions about their educational pursuits or their student loans. Suffering offers infinite growth. But faith is like a blanket, only large enough to keep so many children warm. 

Biopolitics, territories and signs of crisis in multinational network companies

There is still a solid social cushion in France if we compare it to other European countries. But the pressure for work-hour productivity – one of the highest in the world – oppresses generations of digital cognitive workers. 

UK security firm G4S provides services to Israeli prisons, police and army

The world’s biggest security company, fast devouring UK public services — police, justice, health, asylum housing, is complicit in Israeli human rights abuses

Jobless reindustrialisation: down and out in Detroit and Turin

The consensus of the UK's three main political parties of the need to 'rebalance' the economy fails to acknowledge the paradoxes of modern systems of production. Aaron Peters examines how the global processes of mechanisation and outsourcing have together made impotent the possibility of recovery via 'reindustrialisation'. 

Goldman Sachs and hard work

Since trucking deregulation began under President Jimmy Carter, trucking rates are no longer set by the federal government, but by companies like SSA Marine, who can avoid paying benefits if their truckers are not classified as employees

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