On the Other Side


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The struggles of North Koreans trying to adapt to the South Korean life.

To blend into South Korean life, many women, like So Won, scramble to change their hair, their makeup, their clothing, their accents. “We want to look like ordinary South Koreans,” says So Won. Standing out as North Korean only invites prejudice. There is a widespread stereotype in South Korea that talbukcha are lazy, ignorant, prone to alcoholism, and a drain on the welfare state. North Koreans who move south are confronted by a people who are unfathomably foreign. The growing cultural and economic divides also mirror decreasing support for reunification. Older South Koreans remember a time when the two countries were one and treat peace talks with more optimism than their grandchildren. (A majority of the South Korean population viewed unification as necessary in 2017, but among those in their 20s, it’s just 38.9 percent.)

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Ann Babe — The California Sunday Magazine

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Brexit Has Brought Britain to a Standstill


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Is this a temporary grief?

Brexit may have been a demonstration of the wider country’s frustration at not having its voice heard, but the result is even more centralization of power in London. “Almost all the work of Parliament is built around Brexit,” says Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader who served as business secretary in Cameron’s five-year coalition government. “Big decisions that should be grappled with are all being put on hold because they are difficult and are going to involve some friction between ministers.”

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Jess Shankleman, Alex Morales & Suzi Ring — Bloomberg Businessweek

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How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump


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Twitter, the company, retweeted my talk in a call for job applicants to “join the flock.” The implicit understanding was that Twitter was a force for good in the world, on the side of the people and their revolutions. The new information gatekeepers, which didn’t see themselves as gatekeepers but merely as neutral “platforms,” nonetheless liked the upending potential of their technologies.

I shared in the optimism. I myself hailed from the Middle East and had been watching dissidents use digital tools to challenge government after government.

But a shift was already in the air.

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Zeynep Tufekci — MIT Technology Review

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U.S. RESPONSE TO SOUTH ASIA’S 1998 NUCLEAR TESTS


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Why did India and Pakistan test nuclear weapons in May 1998, and how did the United States and the international community respond?

How did the United States engage with India and Pakistan post-1998?

Within eight months of the nuclear tests, Pakistan, under General Pervez Musharraf, infiltrated military units into the Kargil sector of Indian-administered Kashmir. In May 1999, when these units were discovered, any negotiations towards the signing of the CTBT took a back seat to U.S. crisis management efforts to prevent a nuclear war over Kashmir. After 9/11, the United States’ strategic priorities in South Asia shifted, as it sought Pakistani help to fight the “war on terror.” As a result, any remaining sanctions were lifted in September 2001.

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South Asian Voices

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Pakistan’s Sham Election


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How will this outcome affect India Pakistan relations?

Those of us who have watched Pakistan for decades, however, viewed the election with a more jaundiced eye. It was marked by appalling levels of electoral violence, including an election day suicide bombing in Quetta that killed at least 31. Second, the result was predetermined by Pakistan’s powerful army, which engaged in electoral malfeasance for months leading up to the election and on election day itself. The army was hell-bent upon securing Khan’s victory and even encouraged political parties with overt ties to terrorist groups to field several hundred candidates, alongside some 1,500 candidates tied to Pakistan’s right-wing Islamist parties. These right-wing groups will help forge Khan’s electoral coalition, underwritten by Pakistan’s army and the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the intelligence agency that does the army’s dirty work at home and abroad.

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C. Christine Fair — Foreign Affairs

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Prisoners of a Vision: Dissidents in Sisi’s Egypt


All of them are unlikely rebels. They are quiet, mostly unassuming, and doggedly hopeful. “The strong hand over society will never protect any dictator forever,” Mohamed Zaree said, shortly after a hearing at which the assembly-law case was adjourned yet again. “At some point, however hard a fist is clenched, it comes apart.” The price to be paid in the meantime is the endurance of thousands of disillusioning setbacks. Dissidents do not have the luxury, as guerillas do, of living outside society and periodically striking at it. They remain in the midst of things, witnessing crimes and abuses too numerous and commonplace to note. Having lived so long with the contradictions of their lives, Egypt’s dissidents have forgotten that they are courageous, if they ever knew it. They just persevere, sustained by the belief that there is something in man that must be defended, and that the current state of affairs is beneath their dignity.

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Tom Stevenson — LARB

India’s demographic time bomb


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A strong warning.

For his part, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made no secret of his desire to drive a manufacturing sector. Under the “Make In India” banner, this has been a flagship policy of his first term in government, with hopes that India could eventually rival China as a mass manufacturer. While Make In India is regularly decried as a failure in newspaper headlines, it is still relatively early days, and the government has been working to remove some of the bureaucratic obstacles, such as approving changes to rules around wages.

At the same time, the government is in defence mode, working to hose down concerns about the growing unemployment problem. Earlier this month, Modi told a magazine that the issue was not about a lack of jobs, but rather a lack of relevant data.

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Aarti Betigeri — The Interpreter

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