Orban’s Law, National Identity As Fear

That disturbingly flexible phrase “fear of the other” appears to be driving electoral politics around the world right now. Perhaps the intellectual center can be found in central Europe, specifically Viktor Orban’s Hungary. Since taking office in 2010, the smooth-talking right-wing prime minister has been a singular voice for those who see the West as under threat from alien forces. Eyes will be on Hungary this weekend, where Orban is sponsoring a referendum that would reject European Union policy on handling the influx of migrants and refugees, relying on billboards that blame migration for the terrorist attacks in Paris and rapes in Europe.

By now, we have grown used to seeing the language and tactics of those using the fear of the other to achieve their political aims â€" from Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Donald Trump in Council Bluffs, Iowa. But in Europe, history pushes people to do some hard thinking about where all of this comes from, and where it is going. Andreas Zielcke, writing in the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, notes how the otherwise neutral concept of “national identity” is turning sour in the face of an economic crisis and social instability in the West. “Only when national identity is threatened in the larger "collective mind" does it then become an integral part of the political agenda,” Zielcke writes. “When unchallenged, national identity is an epic tale, looking towards the future. When threatened, it becomes a drama focused on the past. In the whirlpools of the refugee maelstrom it is becoming an identity that is above all about self-defense.”

Polls show overwhelming support for Orban’s anti-immigrant referendum. For the election result to be binding, at least half of all registered voters need to cast their ballot on Sunday. The link between fear of the other and voter turnout has never been more important.



Dignitaries from 70 countries attended the state funeral of the former Israeli president and Nobel peace prize winner in Jerusalem. The ceremony brought together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Follow live updates in English from Israel’s Haaretz.


Turkey ordered the closure of 20 television and radio channels after accusing them of spreading "terrorist propaganda," Reuters reports. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to prolong the country’s state of emergency that was implemented after the July 15 coup attempt, Turkish paper Hürriyet reports.


Today’s 57-second shot of history remembers this movie icon who died in a car crash 61 years ago, at age 24.


Federal investigators are probing the wreckage of a train crash that killed one woman and injured more than 100 people in Hoboken, New Jersey, yesterday. According to NBC New York, police are trying to determine if the installation of overriding security systems could have helped avoid the crash.


“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews … There’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said early Friday, stepping up his anti-drug rhetoric, AP reports.


Steak or avocado, which is worse for the environment? Omnivore Barbara Vorsamer explores vegan life in this Süddeutsche Zeitung piece: “The German agriculture ministry recently advised citizens to abstain from meat for the sake of the environment. The council of experts advocated a ‘shift toward the consumption of a climate-friendly diet’. But that’s where things get complicated. What exactly is climate-friendly? Instead of salami, should I put avocado slices on my sandwich? Personally, I’d consider this a delicious alternative. But is it really more eco-friendly? ... If scientists consider a vegetarian diet the most effective way to counter climate change, there’s some bad news â€" the wealthier a country gets, the more meat it consumes. But I can do my bit. Each steak I refuse to eat is one steak less that has to be produced.”

Read the full article, Veganism And Climate Change, Quest Of A Curious Meat Eater.


The editorial board of USA Today, a newspaper with an estimated 7 million readers daily making it one of the most widely-circulated publications in America, has taken sides for the first time in its 34-year history â€" if not exactly for Hillary Clinton, at least against Donald Trump.


Deutsche Bank stocks plummeted by 8% in early trading at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange today, Deutsche Welle reports. Hedge funds have started to pull some of their business from the bank amid growing concerns about the performance of Germany’s largest lender, according to Bloomberg.


Four Hundred Pleats â€" Athens, 1997


Italian police recovered two Vincent Van Gogh paintings that were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002, La Repubblica reports. Seascape at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen were found in relatively good condition in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples, as part of an anti-mafia investigation.



Enraged that the iPhone 7 doesn’t come with a headphone jack â€" and fooled by a prank expand=1] YouTube video â€" some Apple users have reportedly started drilling holes into their new phones in the hunt for a hidden socket.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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