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Ideas

Society

The Ideal Age To Marry? Reflections Of A 20-Something Indian Woman

India is raising the minimum age for women to marry. What does that mean on the individual level (with your parents whispering in your ear)?

-Essay-

NEW DELHI — A few days ago, I got a call from my parents, who wanted to talk about the "ideal age to marry." This came after news about India raising the minimum age for women to marry to 21, to match the age for men. It's a laudable move, sure, but I even wonder if 21-year-olds will be able to fathom the expectations, responsibilities and limitations that come with such a socially-constrained institution.

I am not ready at 26, and won’t be even at 30.

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Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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Ukraine Has Exposed The Bankruptcy Of Germany's "Never Again" Pacifism

A group of pro-peace German intellectuals published a letter asking the country not to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, but they're missing the point completely. Germany needs to reinvent itself in order to face today's challenges — and threats.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — When even the brightest minds — some of whom have shaped the intellectual life of this republic for decades — suddenly seem at a loss, it can mean one of two things. Either the clever minds are not as clever as we were always led to believe. Or the times have changed so brutally that old pieces of wisdom are suddenly no longer valid.

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If you don't want to give up your childhood faith in the Federal Republic of Germany quite yet, you can settle on the second option.

Alexander Kluge, one of Germany's most versatile artists, founded a television production company, proving that there can even be television for intellectuals. Journalist and prominent feminist Alice Schwarzer has done more for the liberation of women in this country than anyone else. Yet Schwarzer and Kluge, along with another two dozen intellectuals, have written an open letter that basically recommends Ukraine to submit to Vladimir Putin for the sake of the authors' peace of mind.

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Why Macron's New EU Membership Scheme Is All About Appeasing Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a new European Political Community, with support from Germany's Olaf Scholz, that would include Ukraine in a second-tier union. No, this is not about European "core values" — it's just the latest attempt by the EU's two biggest players to be sure not to upset Vladimir Putin.

-OpEd-

KYIV — French President Emmanuel Macron said that Ukraine's accession to the European Union will take years, if not decades. He also proposed the creation of a new union on the continent — the European Political Community, which may include countries that must wait to join the EU, or which have left (like the UK).

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At the same time, according to Macron's plan, joining the new union will mean other states cannot gain membership to the European Union.

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Geopolitics
Peter Huth

How Millennials And Boomers See Putin's Nuclear Threats Differently

Baby boomers who grew up under the threat of nuclear armageddon warn against a nuclear escalation of the war in Ukraine. But the younger generations are not cowed by Putin's blackmail. And that’s a very good thing.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — It is a sentence that no German Chancellor had ever had to utter before. “I am doing everything I can to prevent an escalation that would lead to World War III. There must not be a nuclear war,” said Olaf Scholz.

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Ideas
Irene Caselli

How Italy’s New Draconian Bill On Surrogacy Twists The Meaning Of "Women's Dignity"

Italy’s right-wing politicians are trying to ban surrogacy, as the pope pushes parents to have children and feminists are divided on the issue. On such a complicated issue, hard thinking and nuance have been in short supply.

-Essay-

After almost two decades away from Italy, I ended up moving back just after I found out I was pregnant in 2018.

We lived in a stone house among olive trees in the Umbrian countryside, just off a beautiful medieval borgo called Montecastello di Vibio.

Even if I had tried, I could not have picked a better place for my pregnancy to be celebrated — and monitored publicly. With its aging dwellers slowly fading and younger families moving to the big cities, Montecastello was a perfect illustration of Italy’s falling fertility rates.

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Geopolitics
Andrés Hoyos

Why Chile's Radicals Are Already Sinking Their Own Leftist President

After becoming Chile's youngest president in December's elections, former student activist and socialist Gabriel Boric has disappointed his most radical voters. Will they prolong the social unrest and creative chaos that have smashed the country's fame as a conservative backwater?

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — I've been following Chile closely. While the country has South America's best social and economic indicators, and was supposedly a model to follow, it has suffered a political event not unlike the earthquakes so common to that land. And all in just three years.

Let's start with something Chile considered as solved since the restoration of democracy in 1990: violence or irrational destruction. Admittedly there were still active guerrilla groups like the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, close to the Communist Party, and the MIR (also Marxists), but Chileans generally reacted with measure to crises.

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Ideas
Anna Akage

So May 9 Has Passed? Why We Should Watch Putin Now More Than Ever

It’s a grim reality from Soviet times that Vladimir Putin continues to embody: Individual horrors and monumental changes of history happen without fanfare.

-Essay-

All the worst news from the Kremlin happens on some faceless Tuesday or Thursday. It happens in a room you will never see.

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And so it was never going to be this Monday, as much of the Western media was predicting. It was never going to be in Red Square. That’s just not the way the Kremlin works.

The world had been told that May 9, Russia’s annual Victory Day celebration, was the perfect time for Vladimir Putin to make some sort of loud, momentous statement that would change the course of the war in Ukraine. His address might include an official declaration of war, call on Russians for a national mobilization, state his readiness to use nuclear weapons — or even just announce that he’d won the war.

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Society
Ranjani Iyer Mohanty

From India To Canada, Tracking The Killer Wave Of Global Warming

Because of climate change induced heat waves, India is increasingly — and alarmingly — resembling Kim Stanley Robinson's climate-fiction book The Ministry of the Future, but nothing seems to be done to change its dramatic ending.

-Essay-

Kim Stanley Robinson’s book The Ministry of the Future begins quite dramatically. In the year 2025, an American aid worker experiences a horrific heatwave in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The chapter ends with many of the people in his town sitting in a lake trying desperately to stay cool; the term "dead in the water" takes on a new significance. Ultimately, some 20 million die in that heatwave.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Russkiy Mir Or Bust? How Putin's "Russian World" Will Backfire In An Epic Way

Under Putin, the phrase "Russkiy Mir," translated as "Russian world" but also "Russian peace," has driven Kremlin's foreign policy. It's built on the idea of a civilization that stretched well beyond Russia's borders, but it is Putin himself dooming Moscow to fade in importance, and the ancient capital of Kyiv to rise from the ashes.

-Essay-

The phrase “Русский Мир” (Russkiy Mir — “Russian world”) has appeared frequently in statements by Vladimir Putin and his top henchmen to justify the invasion of Ukraine. It’s the idea that Russia is not just a nation-state, but a civilizational-state with an important role to play in world history.

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In Putin’s vision, the Kremlin has a duty to protect ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers all over the world, including in the former Soviet republics.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

Why Ukraine War Won't Slow Iran's Quest To Become A Nuclear Power

A new round of comments from inside Iran's leadership ranks reaffirms its intention to produce a nuclear bomb, a decades-long cat and mouse game between the regime and an ever cautious West that hasn't seemed to change even as the Russia-Ukraine war brings in a new world order.

-OpEd-

Ali Mottahari, a former deputy-speaker of the Iranian Parliament, recently revealed that "right from the start of our nuclear activity, our aim was to build a bomb and strengthen our deterrent force. But we couldn't keep this a secret." It appeared he was admitting to what regional and Western states have long suspected and Iran's regime denies — that it wants to make nuclear bombs.

Mottahari's father, Morteza Mottahari, was a prominent theologian and confidante of the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This has allowed his son to speak with relative freedom under the Islamic Republic. In comments to a local press outlet broadcast on April 22, Mottahari blamed the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a Marxist opposition group, for revealing Iran's supposed nuclear plans.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

Is Emmanuel Macron Ready For New Role As Bonafide World Leader?

Having long articulated a strong pro-European stance, Emmanuel Macron's reelection comes on the heels of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Angela Merkel's departure. It is a clear opportunity for the French president to take a key leadership role in the world. How should he approach it?

-Analysis-

PARIS — In 2022, as in 2017, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy played as Emmanuel Macron walked toward his victory address after being re-elected. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen had promised, if elected, to remove the European Union flag from her official presidential portrait. Macron --- the pro-European par excellence --- appeared proud to reaffirm his loyalty to “the EU official anthem” as he stepped forth to address the French public. Consider it a final political jab at his vanquished rival by way of music.

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But beyond the seeming continuity, there are more than a few differences between the Macron of 2017, walking alone in victory to the Louvre Esplanade, and the one of 2022 holding his wife's hand, surrounded by a group of children and teenagers, at the Champ-de-Mars beneath the Eiffel Tower.

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Ideas
Anna Akage

Why Putin's 'Mass Mobilization' Trap Could Make Victory Impossible

Reports are circulating that Putin might use May 9, Russia's "Victory Day", to announce a mass mobilization of the war in Ukraine. That would be a huge escalation for what's still referred to as a "special military operation," and has so far mostly counted on recruits far from major population centers.

-Analysis-

The general ineffectiveness of the Russian army’s military capacities has been one of the biggest surprises of the invasion of Ukraine. Over the past two decades, the West has once again come to fear the Russian army that had been greatly expanded after the low moment at the end of the Cold War.

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But since the beginning of the Ukraine invasion, Russia, considered the world’s second most powerful military force, has been hampered by strategic and technical failures. There were early reports of Russian soldiers’ looting because of shortages of food and fuel, as well as poor troop morale.

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Ideas
Nolan Higdon

Elon Musk Wants Twitter For The Big Data, Not The Free Speech

Oligarchs of the ‘Second Gilded Age’ in the like of Elon Musk are already able to influence the public's minds through media ownership. But getting a hand on Twitter means having access to its users' data and exploiting it for financial purposes.

During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and the early decades of the 20th century, U.S. captains of industry such as William Randolph Hearst and Jay Gould used their massive wealth to dominate facets of the economy, including the news media. They were, in many ways, prototype oligarchs — by the dictionary definition, “very rich business leaders with a great deal of political influence.”

Some have argued that the U.S. is in the midst of a Second Gilded Age defined — like the first — by vast wealth inequality, hyper-partisanship, xenophobia and a new crop of oligarchs using their vast wealth to purchase media and political influence.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

A New Cold War Calculus: Ukraine's Domino Effects Around The World

The war in Ukraine has set off the dynamics of a new Cold War: a standoff between democracy and authoritarianism, whatever the ideological stripe. Faraway parts of the world will be affected by what happens on the ground in Ukraine.

-Editorial-

LONDON — Two months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians and their leaders' political skills have created responsibilities for the West and the democratic world. The first day of the invasion was a wake-up call for the West and its allies. The world is returning to bipolarity and a new Cold War.

If the last Cold War was between Soviet communism and Western capitalism, this one is between a front of liberal democracies and their authoritarian rivals. Younger people might call it Cold War 2.0.

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So what will be the characteristics of this next-generation Cold War? That will depend on how the war in Ukraine ends.

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Ideas
Lux Lancheros*

Political Fashion In Latin America Leaves White Men In Suits Behind

Politics has always been associated with image. This is especially true in Latin America, where white men in suits have dominated the field for years. But a new generation of women are shaking up politics — as well as how female politicians are expected to dress.

During "The Great Male Renunciation," toward the end of the 18th century, men stopped using refined forms of dressing in order to be taken seriously, leaving conspicuous consumption of clothing and ostentatious dressing to women. It was an attempt by the bourgeoisie to leave behind all the decadent vanity of the overthrown aristocracy.

Men flaunted their power through the clothing their female counterparts wore, though they themselves could not aspire to that same power. Men could no longer dress extravagantly and had to moderate their "feminine impetus", unless they wanted to be considered weak and frivolous. That is why many women at that time who wanted to succeed in “men's” professions had to dress in a masculine way (like French novelist George Sand), with some going as far as pretending to be men.

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