Italy is now a clear victim of globalization, which is governed only by those who have a very precise vision of their own country and have access to very confidential information, as well as by those who are able to quickly and wisely exploit its continued asymmetries and finally by those countries that impose their game with a wide range of “indirect strategies”.
These are the dimensions of the battlefield of this new, endless, “limitless war” which is fought without even firing a shot.
Non-sovereignty over its own national space, now ratified by unconscionable agreements on territorial waters with France in February 2016, or with the new borders between Italy and Slovenia on the Torrente Barbucina, as well as the utter foolishness – despite Interior Minister Minniti’s professionalism – in the late response to the epochal crisis of migration from sub-Saharan Africa, all are signs that – after losing the globalization game – Italy is also losing sight of the Hobbesian goals for which all Sovereigns are born, namely protecting the life, property and freedom of their citizens.
Today the losers do not go to Versailles hat in hand, but are simply wiped out.
Hence those who lose the globalization game are pulverized and turned into an undisputed mass of losers, whereas the winners become a new nation-State absorbing and hegemonizing its neighbours.
Not to mention the tensions on the external value of the euro and the complex manoeuvres on government debt securities.
The real rulers govern also financial markets; they do not expect to be contacted, they talk to those markets every day and can impose their will on them.
Hence, for Italy the Second Republic – as it is called with some exaggeration – has been only a crown of thorns.
Born as a swindle, the one of “honest” politicians against the “thieves”, it will end – unlike what T.S. Eliot said – “not with a bang but a whimper”.
And it will continue to be a silly crown of thorns, while the future governments will believe in an inevitable fate or in what Saragat – a great albeit now forgotten political leader – called the “cynical and cheating destiny”.
The rampant corruption which, in the transition phase from the First to the Second Republic, simply shifted from the ruling class to the administrative-bureaucratic class; the environmental crisis and the recent fires; the economic growth affecting only exports and only to the tune of 18%; mass poverty and the tension that will never slacken with these low economic growth rates, are all signs that we are passive subject and not the active subject of global strategies decided by others and about which our rulers know nothing.
As long as these are the elites representing us, the disgusted people will vote elsewhere, while the superficially globalized ruling classes will unite, but will gradually lose any power.
Hence the Catholic Church responds to the new global scenario with Pope Francis, a Bishop of Rome coming from Argentina, another country of failed globalization and economic disasters caused by the combination of hetero-directed policies and parasitic ruling classes.
As demonstrated by the latest article by Father Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica”, that rightly aroused great interest in the current cultural and political world, the Catholic Church knows very well what is really at stake.
In this perspective, Pope Francis’ Church is changing its evangelization model completely.
In other words, Catholicism is currently playing its new global role as winner of globalization in everybody’s favour – and particularly in favour of the countries and peoples that are losing this game.
Following his Jesuit background, Pope Francis wants to transform – on the basis of equality – Peter’s Church into a universal Church, even at physical and material levels.
Never be identified as “part of the West”, but as the suffering Heart of Christ in all mankind.
This reminds us of the Jesuits who learnedly equated the Sioux and Cheyenne mythologies to the Trinitarians’ ones, or of the Fathers who introduced – in Portuguese India – Hindu or Buddhist words in the Holy Mass.
The Holy Pope’s words seem to echo the cries of the Jesuits who organized estancias in Paraguay or who always defended Latin American peoples during the 20th century dictatorships. such as Father Jalics, or the cry of the six Jesuits killed in El Salvador’s universities only twenty-five years ago, possibly while some high prelates played tennis with the “Generals”.
Hence we can understand the Vatican’s rational negotiations with China, disliked by the Conservatives, or the political and religious connection with the Russian Federation, while Cardinal Parolin is preparing for a visit to Moscow that will certainly lead to significant results.
As Cardinal Parolin stated, the visit to Russia, at the time when the relations between Russia and the West are at the lowest ebb, shall build new “bridges” and pave the way for a dialogue with the Kremlin’s leadership “in which we put ourselves in the shoes of others” – so as to talk about Middle East, Islam and Ukraine also with Putin and his aides and associates, but certainly with Patriarch Kirill.
In the past it was the Russian President who donated to Pope Francis a copy of St. Vladimir’s icon of the Mother of God, the highly-venerated icon that was flown over Moscow’s skies by the atheist Stalin at the toughest time of the Nazi siege.
Never was a gift more politically symbolic.
At that time, somehow rightly, there was talk about an alliance between Russia and the Vatican in a pro-Shiite perspective and, in any case, excluding the United States.
In our opinion, the fundamental fact is that currently the Church of Christ makes global politics just because it is abandoning its typically Western image and approach and hence does no longer want to be regarded and interpreted according to the positive or negative categories developed in the wake of this universe of political and cultural identities.
This is universalism, also and above by putting itself in the shoes of others and of their very ancient traditions.
In fact, Xi Jinping reminded Pope Francis of the Jesuit artist, Father Castiglione, and the Holy Father, who loves the Chinese people, said to the Chinese President that “the world is awaiting the wisdom and civilization of the Chinese people”.
As St. Ignatius of Loyola said, while obviously referring to Satan, the enemy is like a military leader who must besiege a city and get round its walls to find a weak point.
For the Pope who comes from the Society of Jesus, the enemy getting round the world that must be saved by the Word is the old dual thinking that caused the peripheral wars during the USA-USSR confrontation, characterized by a closed-mind cultural approach, by the fear of the others and by the hegemony of the old powers.
If the old “Cold War” balance of power remains after this phase of globalization, only old living corpses will remain.
While the globalization-Americanization still seeks to divide the world between the rich and the poor, between the winners and the losers, by crazily widening gaps, Pope Francis wants to build “bridges” with everyone so as to prevent the globalization of the economy – or indeed its Americanization – from still breaking mankind into two.
It is worth recalling that there is the severe danger that the universalisation of the economy – or even the absolute adoration of the golden calf – binds itself to an economic system based on a politically overvalued currency, with a huge debt – namely the US dollar – and to a project of “democratic wars,” such as the absurd Arab Springs, which are bound to create very poor small client States and often odd ethnicity pockets.
And the future wars will certainly be “never-ending” conflicts which are intended to stabilize at a high level of contrast.
Hence the Church’s bridges are designed to avoid or overcome a new Yalta, or to marginalize some peoples and favour others.
And this is a fundamental theme, namely the polemic on the Protestant political theology, which can be found in Father Spadaro’s article.
The Puritanism that was sent, as punishment, to the thirteen colonies was a kind of proto-jihadism within the Church of England that the sect sent there by the London Inquisition (also the Church of England had its own Inquisition) accused of being too pro-Catholic.
It is worth recalling that the word “fundamentalism” was coined in the modern era within the many factions of American Puritanism, and was later applied by similarity to the neo-extremist factions of the Wahhabi jihad and to the theology of the “Solid Base” (al-Qaeda al-Sulbah) – halfway between the Karigites and the Muslim Brotherhood – that went to Afghanistan with Saudi, Pakistani and US funds to fight against the Red Army.
It was a US friend, a cruel butcher of the Balkan wars, Alja Izetbegovic, who in the 1940s, in Tito’s prisons, wrote the book entitled “Islamic Fundamentalism”.
Hence, in the North-American Protestant theology, Father Spadaro sees an empirical connection between religion and politics, between the brains and the brawn, without any assessment of circumstances – a Machiavellian and Jesuit theme.
We may say that currently in the Unites States the reformed radical religiosity is present almost exclusively within the social classes marginalized by globalization, that have no voice in today’s US society.
Not even with a President prisoner of the “Deep State” between the State Department and CIA, that – for once – agreed to have a Clinton Presidency to “end the job” in Syria and create a casus belli with the Russian Federation.
A sort of Dr. Strangelove, who deals with psychological and IT wars, is currently operating in some US halls of power.
However, both the US ruling class and the US working class – that is more linked to the images spread by media – are prey to a real negatio Dei.
By using the title of a famous Rolling Stones’ song, this negatio Dei often turns into a practical and operational sympathy for the devil.
The refusal of any vestiges of Western civilization in fashionable university campuses; the servile implementation of “political correctness”, which even comically erase the great classics – as not even done by the Red Guards, who at least had the courage to destroy them; the systematic destruction of personal identities and “intermediate bodies”, that have always been the basis of every democracy from Pericles to the present time, are all signs that not only – and not so much – the old fundamentalist and Protestant theology, but today’s atheism-Satanism, are the real enemies to be fought.
Certainly, the former created the latter and every Gnostic reference to God’s will according to our desires – from the Cathars to the Hussites until present time – with the theologies of confusion and wellbeing, is a Gnosticism calling the Enemy to operate directly.
It is worth remembering, however, that in the United States the fundamentalist Protestant theology is typical of those who are losing the game of globalization, while the establishment – that is the offspring of the LSD “dilated experiences” and of the American nonconformist 1968 protest movement (experiences that it later implemented in creative accounting and finance) – hates God, even Comenius’ God, with a fiery passion. Hence it has full sympathy for the devil and fights explicitly against any religion and forms of transcendence, with the pretext of a cheap form of “enlightenment”.
A fight even against the transcendence now lost in all Western ruling classes, focused on a unitary but not ecclesial, as well as a ritual but universalistic theology, which has always characterized the oldest traditions of Freemasonry, such as that of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
Today, especially in Italy, the narrative of the Association that has materially built Italy’s unit is linked to “Mafia”, “corruption” and to other scarcely esoteric issues.
Hence the real glue holding the ruling class is lost, while in the past the old Liberals and many Socialists, as well as many Republicans and some liberal Catholics, sat amicably in the Freemasons’ Lodge, thus being trained to dialogue and to political and human maturation.
In political terms, the loss of prestige of the Masonic Brotherhood is the seal of the structural fragmentation of Western ruling classes, which will bring them to death.
Without a unitary and identity narrative of elites, they will be progressively dissected and later destroyed.
Certainly the purpose of the current establishment is to reach a re-edition of Orwell’s 1984, but with a difference: what was previously explicit conditioning – engrammed, through consumers’ and Web algorithms, in everybody’s apparently free behaviour.
The new totalitarianism will lead us to do the same things, to buy the same items, to become poor and powerless, albeit with a feeling of instinctive omnipotence and uniqueness of the ego that certainly Orwell’s regime could not afford. Indeed, a Metaphor of Sovietism as it was.
Hence Italy will be a completely non-existent power.
We will only be a buffer country between Africa and North Europe, without even being allowed to say anything, by crawling like cats on the windows.
We will become a North-European colony with regard to the still productive structures. All the Northern productive chains are integrated into the German value chain. Hence it is worth recalling that the Neue Zuercher Zeitung has recently predicted a slow annexation of Lombardy to the Canton of Ticino by 2050 – and there are already many signs in this regard.
Nevertheless we will have a huge amount of people in the South – similar to what Baron Compagna defined as “rabbit runs” – who will live on charity at the expense of public debt or organized crime, which will make its globalization, between Africa and the South and between Southern Italy and the Balkan and Asian drugs routes.
As a great Italian banker predicted “we will be a country for tourism and art”.
When we created our great art masterpieces, however, Vespucci colonized North America, the Genoese bankers borrowed money to the King of Spain and Switzerland only provided us with the mercenaries that Machiavelli disliked.
Certainly, with a view to solving the Italian crisis at institutional level, the notes that President Cossiga sent to Parliament on June 26, 1991 would be enough.
Something very different from the Senate working half-time, as envisaged by the recent reform rejected by voters.
It was simple: end of the Constitution written by enemies who were glowering at one another, but were only busy blocking one another – and in fact a US analyst has defined our Constitution “the most dysfunctional in the world”; revision of local authorities and of the specific autonomy of the Higher Judiciary Council (CSM); a different and stricter organization of public finances.
We will talk about this issue, by also recalling a beautiful project developed by Gianfranco Miglio and some of his colleagues, gathered in the “Club of Milan”.
This ruling class, however, will do nothing but die in this institutional bed, now unable to dictate even one twitter to its press officer.
From Davos to Munich
An overview of the views and attitudes of European officials during the Davos and Munich Conference and their comparison with each other suggests that the security, economic, and political concerns of European countries have not only not diminished but are increasing.
During the World Economic Summit in Davos, the Chancellor of Germany and the President of France both gave a significant warning about the return of nationalism and populism to Europe. This warning has been sent in a time when Far-Right movements in Europe have been able to gain unbelievable power and even seek to conquer a majority of parliaments and form governments.
In her speech, Angela Merkel emphasized that the twentieth century’s mistake shouldn’t be repeated. By this, the German Chancellor meant the tendency of European countries to nationalism. Although the German Chancellor warning was serious and necessary, the warning seems to be a little late. Perhaps it would have been better if the warning was forwarded after the European Parliamentary elections in 2014, and subsequently, more practical and deterrent measures were designed. However, Merkel and other European leaders ignored the representation of over a hundred right-wing extremist in the European Parliament in 2014 and merely saw it as a kind of social excitement.
This social excitement has now become a “political demand” in the West. The dissatisfaction of European citizens with their governments has caused them to explicitly demand the return to the twentieth century and the time before the formation of the United Europe. The recent victories of right wing extremists in Austria, Germany and…, isn’t merely the result of the nationalist movement success in introducing its principles and manifestos. But it is also a result of the failure of the “European moderation” policy to resolve social, security and economic problems in the Eurozone and the European Union. In such a situation, European citizens find that the solutions offered by the moderate left parties didn’t work in removing the existing crises in Europe. Obviously, in this situation “crossing the traditional parties” would become a general demand in the West. Under such circumstances, Merkel’s and other European leaders’ warnings about the return to the twentieth century and the time before the formation of the United Europe simply means the inability of the Eurozone authorities in preventing the Right-extremism in the West.
These concerns remain at the Munich Security Conference. As Reuters reported, The defense ministers of Germany and France pledged to redouble their military and foreign policy cooperation efforts on Friday, inviting other European countries to participate if they felt ready to do so.
In a speech to the Munich Security Conference, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said Europe’s countries would not be able to respond nimbly enough to global challenges if they were stymied by the need to decide joint foreign policy approaches unanimously.
“Europe has to up its pace in the face of global challenges from terrorism, poverty and climate change,” she said. “Those who want to must be able to advance without being blocked by individual countries.”
Her French counterpart Florence Parly said any such deepened cooperation would be complementary to the NATO alliance, which itself was based on the principle that members contributed differently depending on their capacities.
“The reality has always been that some countries are by choice more integrated and more able to act than others,” she said.
The push comes as Germany’s political class reluctantly concedes it must play a larger security role to match its economic pre-eminence in Europe, amid concerns that the European Union is unable to respond effectively to security concerns beyond its eastern and southern borders.
But in their deal for another four years of a “grand coalition” government, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats have agreed to boost spending on the armed forces after years of post-Cold War decline.
The deal, which must still be ratified by the Social Democrat membership, comes as Germany reluctantly takes on the role of the continent’s pre-eminent political power-broker, a role generations of post-war politicians have shied away from.
Days after U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis reiterated President Donald Trump’s demand that European countries spend more on their militaries, Von der Leyen pledged to spend more on its military and the United Nations, but called in return for other countries not to turn away from mulitlateralism.
The pledges come as the EU seeks a new basis on which to cooperate with Britain, traditionally one of the continent’s leading security players, after its vote to leave the EU.
Earlier on Friday, the leaders of the three countries’ security services said close security cooperation in areas like terrorism, illegal migration, proliferation and cyber attacks, must continue after Britain’s departure.
“Cooperation between European intelligence agencies combined with the values of liberal democracy is indispensable, especially against a background of diverse foreign and security challenges,” they said.
First published in our partner Tehran Times
Election Monitoring in 2018: What Not to Expect
This year’s election calendar released by OSCE showcases a broad display of future presidential, parliamentary and general elections with hefty political subjecthoods which have the potential of transforming in their entirety particularly the European Union, the African Union and the Latin American sub-continent. A wide sample of these countries welcoming elections are currently facing a breadth of challenges in terms of the level of transparency in their election processes. To this end, election observation campaigns conducted by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Council of Europe, the Organisation for American States (OAS), the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division, the National Democratic Institute, Carter Center and even youth organisations such as AEGEE and Silba are of paramount importance in safeguarding the incorruptibility of election proceedings in fraudulent and what cannot be seen with the naked eye type of fraudulent political systems, making sure elections unfold abiding national legislation and international standards.
What exactly does an election observation mission supposed to accomplish?
An election monitoring mission consists of operational experts and analysts who are all part of a core team and are conducting their assignments for a period of time varying between 8 and 12 weeks. Aside from the core team experts and analysts, there can be short-term or long-term observers and seconded observers or funded observers. Joining them, there is usually a massive local support staff acting as interpreters and intermediaries. Generally, an election observer does not interfere with the process, but merely takes informative notes. With this in mind, it is imperative of the observer to make sure there isn’t any meddling with votes at polling stations by parties and individual candidates; that the people facilitating the election process are picked according to fair and rigorous benchmarks; that these same people can be held accountable for the final results and that, at the end of the day, the election system put in place by the national and local authorities is solid from both a physical and logical standpoint. Oftentimes, particularly in emerging democracies, the election monitoring process goes beyond the actual process of voting by extending to campaign monitoring.
In practical terms, the average election observer needs to abide by certain guidelines for a smooth and standardised monitoring process. Of course, these rules can vary slightly, depending on the sending institution. Typically, once the election observer has landed in the country awaiting elections, their first two days are normally filled with seminars on the electoral system of the country and on the electoral law. Meetings with candidates from the opposition are sometimes organised by the electoral commission. Talking to ordinary voters from builders to cleaners, from artists to businesspeople is another way through which an election observer can get a sense of what social classes pledged their allegiances to what candidates. After two days in training and the one day testing political preferences on the ground, election day begins. Since the early bird gets the worm, polling stations open at least two hours earlier than the work day starts, at around 7am. Throughout the day, observers ask voters whether they feel they need to complain about anything and whether they were asked to identify themselves when voting. Other details such as the polling stations opening on time are very much within the scope of investigation for election monitors. Observers visit both urban voting centres and rural ones. In the afternoon, counting begins with observers carefully watching the volunteers from at least 3 metres away. At the end of the day, observers go back to their hotels and begin filling in their initial questionnaires with their immediate reactions on the whole voting process. In a few weeks time, a detailed report would be issued in cooperation with all the other election observers deployed in various regions of the country and under the supervision of the mission coordinators.
Why are these upcoming elections particularly challenging to monitor?
Talks of potential Russian interference into the U.S. elections have led to full-on FBI investigations. Moreover, the idea of Russian interference in the Brexit vote is slowly creeping into the British political discourse. Therefore, it does not take a quantum physicist to see a pattern here. Hacking the voting mechanism is yet another not-so-classic conundrum election observers are facing. We’re in the midst of election hacking at the cognitive level in the form of influence operations, doxing and propaganda. But, even more disturbingly, we’re helpless witnesses to interference at the technical level as well. Removing opposition’s website from the Internet through DDOS attacks to downright political web-hacking in Ukraine’s Central Election Commission to show as winner a far-right candidate are only some of the ways which present an unprecedented political savviness and sophistication directed at the tampering of the election machinery. Even in a country such as the U.S. (or Sweden – their elections being held September of this year) where there is a great deal of control over the physical vote, there is not much election monitoring can do to enhance the transparency of it all when interference occurs by way of the cyber domain affecting palpable election-related infrastructure.
Sketching ideational terrains seems like a fruitful exercise in imagining worst-case scenarios which call for the design of a comprehensive pre-emptive approach for election fraud. But how do you prevent election fraud? Sometimes, the election observer needs to come to terms with the fact that they are merely a reporter, a pawn which notwithstanding the action of finding oneself in the middle of it all, can generally use only its hindsight perspective. Sometimes, that perspective is good enough when employed to draft comprehensive electoral reports, making a difference between the blurry lines of legitimate and illegitimate political and electoral systems.
Can Europe successfully rein in Big Tobacco?
In what looks set to become the ‘dieselgate’ of the tobacco industry, a French anti-smoking organization has filed a lawsuit against four major tobacco brands for knowingly selling cigarettes with tar and nicotine levels that were between 2 and 10 times higher than what was indicated on the packs. Because the firms had manipulated the testing process, smokers who thought they were smoking a pack a day were in fact lighting up the equivalent of up to 10, significantly raising their risk for lung cancer and other diseases.
According to the National Committee Against Smoking (CNCT), cigarettes sold by the four companies have small holes in the filter that ventilate smoke inhaled under test conditions. But when smoked by a person, the holes compress due to pressure from the lips and fingers, causing the smoker to inhale higher levels of tar and nicotine. According to the lawsuit, the irregularity “tricks smokers because they are unaware of the degree of risk they are taking.”
It was only the most recent example of what appears to be a deeply entrenched propensity for malfeasance in the tobacco industry. And unfortunately, regulatory authorities across Europe still appear unprepared to just say no to big tobacco.
Earlier this month, for instance, Public Health England published a report which shines a positive light on “tobacco heating products” and indicates that electronic cigarettes pose minimal health risks. Unsurprisingly, the UK report has been welcomed by big tobacco, with British American Tobacco praising the clear-sightedness of Public Health England.
Meanwhile, on an EU-wide level, lawmakers are cooperating too closely for comfort with tobacco industry executives in their efforts to craft new cigarette tracking rules for the bloc.
The new rules are part of a campaign to clamp down on tobacco smuggling, a problem that is particularly insidious in Europe and is often attributed to the tobacco industry’s own efforts to stiff the taxman. According to the WHO, the illicit cigarette market makes up between 6-10% of the total market, and Europe ranks first worldwide in terms of the number of seized cigarettes. According to studies, tobacco smuggling is also estimated to cost national and EU budgets more than €10 billion each year in lost public revenue and is a significant source of cash for organized crime. Not surprisingly, cheap availability of illegally traded cigarettes is also a major cause of persistently high smoking rates in the bloc.
To help curtail cigarette smuggling and set best practices in the fight against the tobacco epidemic, the WHO established the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005. The first protocol to the FCTC, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, was adopted in 2012 and later ratified by the EU. Among other criteria, the Protocol requires all cigarette packs to be marked with unique identifiers to ensure they can be tracked and traced, thereby making smuggling more difficult.
Unsurprisingly, the tobacco industry has come up with its own candidates to meet track and trace requirements, notably Codentify, a system developed by PMI. From 2005 through 2016, PMI used Codentify as part of an anti-smuggling agreement with the EU. But the agreement was subject to withering criticism from the WHO and other stakeholders for going against the Protocol, which requires the EU and other parties to exclude the tobacco industry from participating in anti-smuggling efforts.
The EU-PMI agreement expired in 2016 and any hopes of reviving it collapsed after the European Parliament, at loggerheads with the Commission, overwhelmingly voted against a new deal and decided to ratify the WHO’s Protocol instead. Codentify has since been sold to the French firm Impala and was rebranded as Inexto – which critics say is nothing but a front company for PMI since its leadership is made out of former PMI executives. Nonetheless, due to lack of stringency in the EU’s draft track and trace proposal, there is still a chance that Inexto may play a role in any new track and trace system, sidelining efforts to set up a system that is completely independent of the tobacco industry.
This could end up by seriously derailing the EU’s efforts to curb tobacco smuggling, given the industry’s history of active involvement in covertly propping up the black market for cigarettes. In 2004, PMI paid $1.25 billion to the EU to settle claims that it was complicit in tobacco smuggling. As part of the settlement, PMI agreed to issue an annual report about tobacco smuggling in the EU, a report that independent researchers found “served the interests of PMI over those of the EU and its member states.”
Given the industry’s sordid history of efforts to prop up the illicit tobacco trade, it’s little surprise that critics are still dissatisfied with the current version of the EU’s track and trace proposal.
Now, the CNCT’s lawsuit against four major tobacco firms gives all the more reason to take a harder line against the industry. After all, if big tobacco can’t even be honest with authorities about the real levels of chemicals in their own products, what makes lawmakers think that they can play a viable role in any effort to quell the illegal cigarette trade – one that directly benefits the industry?
Later this month, the European Parliament will have a new chance to show they’re ready to get tough on tobacco, when they vote on the pending proposal for an EU-wide track and trace system. French MEP Younous Omarjee has already filed a motion against the system due to its incompatibility with the letter of the WHO. Perhaps a ‘dieselgate’ for the tobacco industry might be just the catalyst they need to finally say no to PMI and its co-conspirators.
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