28/04/2016

Are the Olympics Still Games?

Why do we feel uneasy about the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil? The Olympic are the world’s grandest sporting event. We love to play games. We love to watch games. And yet, with about 100 days left until the August 5 opening in Rio, we have doubts that these Games will be “vivid, concrete, swift and fun,” as the theologian Michael Novak described the joy of sports.

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19/04/2016

The Contested Role of Public Intellectuals

The French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut was booed and chased away by participants in the Nuit debout (roughly translated as "Up All Night", "Standing Night", or "Rise up at night") movement Saturday in Paris. Finkielkraut was insulted and called a dirty fascist. He defended himself: “I was thrown out from a place where democracy and pluralism should reign…. They wanted to purify the Place de la République of my presence.” The extreme right in France wasted no time in lambasting the scenario as an example of the “hate and intolerance” of the protesters.

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14/04/2016

Feeling the Frustration of Others

What could be better than watching the Masters Tournament in early April in Augusta, Georgia, with its idyllic setting of rolling hills, blooming azaleas and the coveted green jacket waiting the winner? What better way to take off the radar screen pictures of exhausted, disillusioned migrants than to watch the world’s top golfers shooting for the ultimate prize of having last year’s winner put on the new champion the only jacket money can’t buy?

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11/04/2016

What Happened to “Give me your tired…”?

The sight of refugees streaming across the Mediterranean, only to wind up in detention centers and then boats back to Turkey, shocks our sense of justice. They have risked their lives to flee and many have died before and during the crossings. Most have left war zones. Families with young children are desperate to find relief of any kind. There are few alternatives, certainly not alternatives commensurate with the dangers of staying where they were. They have legitimate reasons to leave, but no place to go.

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05/04/2016

U.S. and Russia Return to Spheres of Influence?

Are the politics of spheres of influence returning? The visit of President Obama to Cuba was heralded as the opening of new relations between the two countries, relations that had been blocked since the United States imposed a trade embargo in 1960 and severed diplomatic ties in 1961. Obama’s visit was applauded from a diplomatic perspective. But looking from another perspective, it could also mean the re-emergence of an American sphere of influence in Latin America. With rising Russian influence in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, are we witnessing a return to major powers’ exertion of spheres of influence in their neighborhoods? 

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