Is Mr Xi the world’s most powerful man? Or a true Communist? Can’t he be both?

by Rashmee

Posted on October 17, 2017


Is Xi Jingping the world’s most powerful man? Or is he a true believer in Communism, with a plan to reinvigorate the ideology? It seems to depend on who you ask. And why can’t he be both? The Economist’s cover, to coincide with the start of the 19th congress of the Central Committee of the … Continue reading “Is Mr Xi the world’s most powerful man? Or a true Communist? Can’t he be both?”

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From beyond the grave, the ‘Austria First’ Jorg Haider effect

by Rashmee

Posted on October 16, 2017


So what’s new in Austria? In December, it missed electing Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party as president. (The margin of defeat was less than 10 percentage points). In the 1999 general election, the Freedom Party led by the late Jorg Haider, won 27 per cent of the national vote. This was more than … Continue reading “From beyond the grave, the ‘Austria First’ Jorg Haider effect”

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Vikings writing Allah? Read Michael Crichton’s 41-year-old novel ‘Eaters of the Dead’

by Rashmee

Posted on October 14, 2017


Those who wonder about the recent report on “Allah” embroidered onto Viking funeral clothes should read Michael Crichton’s novel ‘Eaters of the Dead’. The book’s title has a strapline ‘The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in AD 922 ‘. Later, Crichton’s novel was republished as The 13th Warrior to correspond with the film adaptation. … Continue reading “Vikings writing Allah? Read Michael Crichton’s 41-year-old novel ‘Eaters of the Dead’”

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ISIS is apparently rather better at governance than expected. Hold that thought

by Rashmee

Posted on October 13, 2017


This really is a hoot. Have a read, if you get the chance of Rand Corporation’s new study “The Economic Impact of Islamic State Governance in Iraq and Syria”. IS (or ISIS or ISIL) wasn’t that bad an economic manager, it says. In fact, says Rand, “local economies that struggled under ISIL control did so … Continue reading “ISIS is apparently rather better at governance than expected. Hold that thought”

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How about a plan instead of simple immersion in the muck that’s engulfing Harvey Weinstein?

by Rashmee

Posted on October 12, 2017


A few weeks ago, a cab driver in Tunis told me I was “tres belle”, adding just for Arab cultural context, that he saw me as a “gazelle”. In French or not, I’m hardly “very beautiful”, but that cabbie is just one of many, many men who have made various suggestions to me over the years. … Continue reading “How about a plan instead of simple immersion in the muck that’s engulfing Harvey Weinstein?”

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New world order? The Denmark model versus the Singapore model

by Rashmee

Posted on October 11, 2017


What should we to make of North Korea’s economic liberalisation? And the fact that it’s having an effect on its economy but not its politics? As Bloomberg View reported last month, the country’s six-year-old reforms have begun to take hold and the private sector is becoming increasingly important. It may now account for up to half … Continue reading “New world order? The Denmark model versus the Singapore model”

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UN winds up its Haiti mission with a pitiful epitaph: It brought cholera to the island

by Rashmee

Posted on October 9, 2017


  On Friday (Oct 6) the UN wound up MINUSTAH, its 13-year-old peacekeeping mission in Haiti, having changed it forever but necessarily in the way intended. The last 100 UN troops leave soon and the mission officially ends on October 15. So, what did it accomplish? The unkindest but truest epitaph for MINUSTAH is that … Continue reading “UN winds up its Haiti mission with a pitiful epitaph: It brought cholera to the island”

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Why Liberia’s election may provide hope for strongmen everywhere, including the US

by Rashmee

Posted on October 7, 2017


On October 10, Liberia goes to the polls and those who shrug must not stop reading at least until after the next sentence. It holds clues to the likely political prospects of Donald Trump. There, I said it. It sounds pretty startling but it’s not really. Irrational affection for politicians, no matter what they do, … Continue reading “Why Liberia’s election may provide hope for strongmen everywhere, including the US”

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This @POTUS isn’t fascist but post-fascist. He represents capitalism without a human face

by Rashmee

Posted on October 6, 2017


In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, let’s consider the way the word “fascism” is used in relation to this US President. The word is used all too often and all too wrongly says someone who can reliably be expected to know: Italian historian Enzo Traverso. He wrote an essay for the World … Continue reading “This @POTUS isn’t fascist but post-fascist. He represents capitalism without a human face”

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Trump went to Puerto Rico. And brought to life a scene in Graham Greene’s Haiti novel

by Rashmee

Posted on October 5, 2017


  When Donald Trump went to Puerto Rico, I remembered Graham Greene’s telling portrait of imperious largesse to the needy in ‘The Comedians’, his 1966 novel on Haiti. The US president threw rolls of paper towel and bags of rice to Puerto Ricans. Not, quite like the way Greene showed us the treatment of the … Continue reading “Trump went to Puerto Rico. And brought to life a scene in Graham Greene’s Haiti novel”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, UK and US