A New Festival in Madhya Pradesh Revives a Lost Indigenous Culture

The festival of Rani Kajal Mata / Screenshot from YouTube By Sangeeta Rane / 06.06.2017 Thousands of people have gathered in Verwada village in Barwani district to celebrate the newest festival in Madhya Pradesh – the festival of Rani Kajal Mata, an ancient, indigenous deity. The deity, a sacred rock, is the guardian goddess of the[…]

What the Turkish Referendum Means for the Divided Country’s Future

Photo: Elif Sogut/Getty Images After a long campaign, President Tayyip Erdogan has finally achieved his long-sought goal to rewrite the constitution. By Kiran Nazish / 04.28.2017 Pots and pans, whistles and hoots erupted in alleyways in Istanbul, the city where a majority of citizens voted “No” in Turkey’s referendum last week. Thousands crowded the streets[…]

The New Ruins of Syria

The Bel Temple, Aleppo, 2004. Courtesy of and © Ross Burns. All rights reserved An archaeologist explains why cultural heritage monuments in Palmyra and Aleppo have been used as weapons of war. By Dr. Ross Burns / 02.08.2017 Adjunct Professor of Archaeology Macquarie University Syria is a singular treasure trove of numerous phases of world[…]

Chinese School Creates ‘Grade Bank’ That Lets Students Borrow Grades to Pass Exams

In an effort to ease the intense pressure that its students face in China’s notoriously rigid exam-based education system, a school in Nanjing has created a “grade bank” that lets students “borrow” grades so that they can pass exams, and then repay them in subsequent tests. Oh man, I wish we had something like this when I[…]

Emboldened by Trump, Israel Rapidly Expands Illegal Settlements

“The Trump administration is giving Israel the green light to entrench a separate and unequal one-state reality with more illegal settlements.” (Photo: Reuters) Seeing willing partner in new U.S. president, Israel defies U.N. resolution with massive expansion of illegal settlements. By Nika Knight / 01.24.2017 Emboldened by the new right-wing Trump administration, Israel Prime Minister[…]

Trump is Trying to Ride Two Horses

Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Warsaw, Poland on Jan. 11, 2017. AP Photo/Alik Keplicz By Dr. Brian Porter-Szücs / 01.18.2017 Professor of History University of Michigan When comparing Europe and America, we frequently overlook differences that hide inside similarities. There is no doubt that President-elect Donald Trump is surfing the same wave as European authoritarian nationalists like[…]

Rethinking the Cost of War

A grief stricken American infantryman whose buddy has been killed in action is comforted by another soldier. In the background a corpsman methodically fills out casualty tags, Haktong-ni area, Korea.  August 28, 1950.  Sfc. Al Chang. (Army) What if casualties don’t end on the battlefield, but extend to future generations? Our reporting this year suggests[…]

The Russians Tried Once Before to Meddle in a U.S. Presidential Election

The Moscow Kremlin / Photo by Jorge Láscar, Flickr/Creative Commons By Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne / 12.29.2016 Historian The CIA has concluded that the Russians interfered with the 2016 Presidential election, including hacking into and releasing e-mails from the Clinton campaign, to help Donald Trump. That may have determined the outcome of the election. President[…]

Ukraine Says Hit by 6,500 Hack Attacks, Sees Russian ‘Cyberwar’

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, right, and Oleksandr Turchynov, Chairman of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, chair a council meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2016. Both Poroshenko and Turchynov have made cybersecurity a strategic priority. / Reuters Reuters / 12.29.2016 Hackers have targeted Ukrainian state institutions about 6,500 times in the past two months,[…]

As Trump Prepares His Kissy Face for Putin, a Glimpse into the Dictator’s Soul

Marian Kamensky, Slovakia / Cagle Cartoons By Dana Milbank / 12.28.2016 Washington Post Columnist “Spare us the kissy-face.” It was June 2001 and I was covering President George W. Bush’s trip to Slovenia, where he had just met Vladimir Putin for the first time. I and others were struck by Bush’s praise for the Russian[…]

Israel Advances Plans for Settlements in the West Bank, Despite UN Resolution to Stop

A couple walk in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank on December 24, 2016. / Amir Cohen, Reuters By Agence France-Presse / 12.27.2016 Israel could advance plans this week for thousands of more homes in settlements in annexed east Jerusalem in defiance of a landmark UN resolution demanding an end to such[…]

Christmas in Japan

Tokyo Christmas Illuminations, Mikimoto Jumbo Christmas Tree By Muza-chan / 12.19.2011 Muza-chan’s Gate to Japan Since the number of Christians in Japan is relatively low (under 1%), the Christmas day is not a national holiday and the Christmas in Japan is mainly a commercial event. However, there are several typical Christmas customs and traditions taking[…]

EU’s Top Court Delivers ‘Major Blow’ to Mass Surveillance

The ruling “makes clear that blanket and indiscriminate retention of our digital histories — who we interact with, when and how and where — can be a very intrusive form of surveillance that needs strict safeguards against abuse and mission creep.” (Photo: duncan c/flickr/cc) By Nika Knight / 12.21.2016 The European Union’s highest court on Wednesday issued a landmark[…]

Putin Is Doing to Aleppo What He Did to Grozny: Flatten the Place

By Dr. Brian Glyn Williams / 12.15.2016 Professor of Islamic History University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth In case you didn’t get the memo, Russian fighter jets are back and operating in the skies above the Middle East in numbers not seen since Syria and Egypt’s Russian-built Mig 21s sparred with Israeli Air Force F-4 Phantoms over the[…]

When Post-Fact Russia Meets Donald Trump’s ‘Truthful Hyperbole’

Syrians who have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo reach out for Russian food aid in the government-controlled Jibreen area of the city, Nov. 30, 2016. The text on the bag, which shows the Syrian and Russian national flags, reads in Arabic: “Russia is with you.” / Credit: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters By Charles Maynes / 12.16.2016 Is[…]

Tackling Antisemitism Doesn’t Mean Clamping Down on Criticism of Israel

Israeli military exercise near the Gaza border. Photo: IDF. Flickr. Some rights reserved. The Israeli government has formalised a flawed definition of antisemitism that includes ‘exceptional criticism’ of Israel. By Eleanor Penny / 12.14.2016 It is summer 2014, the height of the most recent Gaza war. With around twenty fellow members ‘Jewdas’ – a group[…]

US Senators Urge Trump to Take Tough Line on Russia Over Ukraine

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (shown) and Republican Senator Rob Portman are co-chairmen of the Senate Ukraine caucus. On Dec. 8, the group called on President-elect Donald Trump to take a tough line against Russia. Reuters / 12.08.2016 WASHINGTON —  A bipartisan group of 27 U.S. senators sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday[…]

Chinese Company Forces Employees to Eat Live Worms for Not Meeting Sales Target

11.15.2016 Photos by Weibo Chinese companies have been known to subject their employees to some of the most unusual and degrading punishments imaginable, but this latest one takes the cake. According to recent new reports, a company Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, decided to punish who failed to meet their sales targets by feeding them a disgusting cocktail of[…]

Chinese Drivers Who Blind Others with Full-Beam Headlights Forced to Stare into the Light by Police

11.03.2016 When driving at night, there’s nothing quite as annoying as being blinded by the full-beam headlights of another vehicle. Recognizing this problem, the police department recently started punishing offenders by making them stare at their own headlights for a full minute. Hopefully, this will make them see the error of their ways. On November 1st,[…]

Canada’s Trudeau Government Discards First Nations Pipeline Consult Promise

Indigenous leaders gather on Lelu island where the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation has set up camp to protest the construction of the Petronas LNG terminal. | SkeenaWatershed Coalition By Kimball Cariou / 10.17.2016 A vigorous debate is underway over what exactly Canada’s federal government means by its various statements and election promises regarding approval of[…]

Duterte Aligns Philippines with China, Russia – ‘Separates’ from U.S.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING / 10.20.2016 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two[…]

Five Fascinating Micronations

Source: D. Papallini / Wikimedia Commons By K. Kusch The Basement Geographer There are microstates, and then there are micronations. While a microstate is an internationally recognised sovereign entity (e.g., Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City), micronations are a bit fuzzier in their definition (as Micronation Central states it, ‘a micronation is any entity which purports[…]