Baghdadi’s Death Will Make Global Affiliates More Independent


Baghdadi’s death could also lead to an uptick in Islamic State-inspired attacks in the near term, primarily as a reaction to the news that he was killed by U.S. special operations forces. But over the longer term, the death of Baghdadi could have an attenuating effect on the group’s inspirational pull, given the way that Baghdadi specifically resonated with legions of supporters throughout the West and the broader Islamic world. Previous announcements of his death never had this effect, but mostly because these rumors were squashed relatively soon after they spread.

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Colin P. Clarke — RAND

China Experiments with a New Kind of Megalopolis


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Trust China to do the most bold things.

Chen Yalei, the financial broker, says Beijing is making a kind of offer to the cities in the Greater Bay Area that they simply can’t refuse. “Of course, there will be major shifts and, of course, some of these cities will lose importance while others gain ground.” But, he adds, at least for the time being, Hong Kong will remain indispensable, as the financial center of the Pearl River Delta and as China’s gateway to the world.

And afterwards? “The reformer Deng Xiaoping created a monument to himself in Shenzhen, and for his successor, Jiang Zemin, it was in Shanghai ” says Chen Yalei. “The Greater Bay Area is the project that President Xi Jinping intends to be remembered by in the history books.”

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Bernhard Zand — Spiegel Online

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The Antidote to Prejudice


There has been a lot of debate happening on the Kashmir issue. Friendship tested over political views.

Yet a people without prejudices, a people with altogether neutral vision, is so unthinkable in any civilization of which it is useful to think, that no scheme of education could be based upon that ideal. Prejudice can be detected, discounted, and refined, but so long as finite men must compress into a short schooling preparation for dealing with a vast civilization, they must carry pictures of it around with them, and have prejudices. The quality of their thinking and doing will depend on whether those prejudices are friendly, friendly to other people, to other ideas, whether they evoke love of what is felt to be positively good, rather than hatred of what is not contained in their version of the good.

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Maria Popova — Brain Pickings

I give therefore I am


How are consumption and acknowledgement related to each other?

Part of consumption may be explained as need. But we can never really know where need begins and where desire takes over. The two are inextricably intertwined. I prefer to approach consumption from another angle: the desire for distinction, explored in particular by Bourdieu.3 Unlike utilitarian visions of social action, the Mauss movement4 sees the principal motive for human action as being the desire for acknowledgement. More precisely, it sees the desire for acknowledgement in terms of gifts, the desire to be acknowledged as a generous donor; and, beyond that, to be seen in terms of generativity. We wish to be seen as being involved in life-enhancing, creative action.

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Alain Caille — Eurozine

The Strengths And Weaknesses That Will Shape Iran’s Future


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The Islamic regime’s persistent fear of an outside aggressor and its direct military involvement in Syria and Iraq, and proxy actions elsewhere, have contributed to making threat and counter-threat, as well as mutual distrust, the defining patterns in the Islamic Republic’s international relations. The memory of foreign interventions and the hostility of the international community have instilled in the ruling cluster a siege mentality and sense of paranoia. Indeed, the regime’s internal and external defensive measures have aimed primarily to guard against the threat of history repeating itself in another foreign-backed coup or military intervention, similar to the one in 1953. Its regional policy adventures—either directly or indirectly—have been in pursuit of an iron-clad resistance to political dissent at home and impenetrable national security and foreign policy posture.

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Amin Saikal — Task & Purpose

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Understanding the Origins of the Pulwama Attack Inside Pakistan


Views from Pakistan.

If one is to go with what Pakistan’s foreign minister said recently then clearly there are elements in Pakistan that are acting on their own and are not in the state’s control. It’s undeniable that JeM leadership is based in Pakistan’s Punjab province and the Pulwama suicide bombing was claimed by the group. While JeM remains a banned group in Pakistan, the group’s leadership is not necessarily isolated in Pakistan when it comes to the outfits movement and networking in the country. While Islamabad has officially condemned the attack on Indian forces, New Delhi clearly blames Pakistan for the attack. If Pakistan’s government and military leadership are serious about improving ties with India, then some sort of action against the leadership of the JeM has to take place in Pakistan.

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Umair Jamal — The Diplomat

The Social Fabric of Chavismo


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What’s happening in Venezuela?

Politics is not a game of chess, and much less so when the world is no longer divided along the unipolar axis of the 1990s, when the United States could make and unmake governments –the way in which the war in Syria has mutated is testament to this. Venezuela is hostile terrain for calculated outcomes, and the Venezuelan rightwing has been a costly, poor investment: this is the fourth attempt to seize power in six years. One reason for this repeated failure is in the nature of Chavismo itself, its complexities, potency, architecture, and capacity to fight back when it is against the ropes.

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Marco Teruggi — Verso

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