United States

Democracy in Decline?

23 November 2020 There’s no hurricane coming, but the windows of downtown Washington are covered with plywood. They were initially boarded up due to fear of street violence during the election, but that fear lingers three weeks after the vote because the restaurateurs and shop-owners (whose premises remain open behind the plywood) think the violence …

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Armenia Ceasefire

11 November 2020 This time, the truce will last. The 2,000 Russian troops flying into Armenia this week and fanning out to police the ceasefire lines in Nagorno-Karabakh are being sent there for five years renewable, and neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan will challenge them. Armenia is in shock, but what remains of the Armenian enclave …

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Herd Immunity, Reinfection and the Great Barrington Declaration

14 October 2020 After eight full months of the global pandemic, the pressure to keep the economies open and let the chips (or rather, the elderly) fall where they may is growing strong. The ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ of 4 October was signed by three medical professors from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford universities and by tens …

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Trump: The Odds

7 October 2020 Now is when it gets interesting. The announcement last Friday that US President Donald Trump had fallen ill with Covid-19 hardly came as a surprise. His political strategy of playing down Covid-19 required him to be reckless about his own health, and other Republicans were already dropping like flies. Fourteen Republican Senators …

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China, Climate and Blame

23 September 2020 China took a major stride forward on climate on Tuesday. President Xi Jinping, addressing the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, for the first time committed China to a hard target for future greenhouse gas emissions. By 2060, he promised, his country will be carbon neutral (‘net-zero’). After that, China …

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Losing Both Elections

6 September 2020 “To lose one parent…may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness,” wrote Oscar Wilde in his play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ in 1895. In somewhat the same spirit, British journalist Robert Fisk wrote last week “At some point in the next two months we are going to …

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An October Surprise

5 August 2020 An ‘October Surprise’ in the United States is now almost inevitable, because that will be Donald Trump’s last chance to get re-elected legitimately. He might try to cling to office even if he loses the vote, but it would be a lot easier and neater if he actually won a majority in …

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Slavery and History

29 July 2020 “Assessing the people of America’s past by today’s standards would compel us to cast the majority of our heroes as villains.” That seemed to be the line taken by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas last week in his opinion piece for the New York Times. It caused great outrage, the Opinion Editor …

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