Smart Reads

  • The Calvert Journal looks inside the world of korobka, the rough-and-ready football played in courtyard cages in Russia.
  • Iraqi antiquities officials are calling for the Obama administration to save Nineveh and other sites around jihadist-occupied Mosul.
  • “I’m not sure if we’ve learned all the lessons about what we did wrong after July 7 – and I am even less sure that other countries have learned from our mistakes” says Dr. H.A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at Brookings.
  • Everything is expensive by historical standards. Neil Irwin explains why.

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  • Edward Luce examines EU-US drift: “Without US leadership, the transatlantic alliance will not spring back to life.”
  • Philip Stephens argues that London’s Heathrow airport has turned its “manifest failings into a potentially golden asset” by convincing travellers that “the only way to improve the dismal lot of passengers is guarantee Heathrow still higher profits”.
  • David Pilling asks: what is the real point of GDP and can it ever be accurately measured?
  • Smart view: the French government hopes that its package of business reforms will encourage investment – the FT’s Michael Stothard sees whether France’s business community is convinced.
  • The conflict between China and Vietnam in 1979 lasted less than a month, but the legacy of ferocious fighting permeates the sour relations between the two countries even now.

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  • Isis’s PR department is pushing its vision of an Islamic state.
  • Industrialisation has left China with soil pollution that is damaging health and livelihoods across the country. The government had declared soil pollution data a “state secret”, but officials have slowly started acknowledging the issue.
  • The US Navy’s most sophisticated warship is designed to be operated by video gamers – the young sailors who crew their ships have, after all, been raised on video games.
  • Neil McArthur, a philosopher, asks if humans will ever be liberated from basic biological needs when it comes to sex.
  • Steve Negus in The Arabist details how Iraq has been mismanaged by the Maliki goverment.

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  • Fuel shortages and power outages are putting pressure on the Islamist insurgents who seized control of Mosul last week.
  • Their military offensive has been matched by a digital offensive of equal prowess.
  • Moderate Islamists are being eclipsed by their extremist counterparts, while jihadists are on the march, roving unchecked across broad sections of North Africa and the Middle East.
  • Hong Kong is undergoing deepening tensions over its political future as a self-governed territory under Chinese sovereignty.

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  • Argentina is playing a game of chicken with NML, saying: we are prepared to go as far as the possibility of default not to pay you. Given that, how are we going to settle this case?
  • Oil majors including ExxonMobil and BP started evacuating staff from Iraq as Sunni militants battled for control of the north’s main oil facility.
  • China has been moving sand onto reefs and shoals to add several new islands to the Spratly archipelago, in what foreign officials say is a new effort to expand the Chinese footprint in the South China Sea.
  • Anti-Brussels sentiment in Hungary is manifesting itself in a fight over home-brewed palinka.

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  • China’s increased border security and pressure on Nepal to turn away Tibetans has reduced the flow of Tibetan refugees to a trickle.
  • Germany, the previous Darth Vaders of football, are keen to put an end to being beautiful losers and become beautiful winners.
  • Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia editor for the Times, writes about class war in Thailand and the story of Thaksin Shinawatra.
  • Nouri al-Maliki has made mistakes, but the real culprits in the present upheaval are the faultlines running through Iraq, contradictory Western policies and the predatory approach of Iraq’s neighbors
  • The seizure of 160 computer flash sticks has revealed how Isis came from nowhere and having nothing to possessing Syrian oil fields and control of Iraq’s second city.

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  • Ahmed Rashid argues that Pakistan desperately needs a ground offensive by the army, which aims to retake the territory the state has lost to the Taliban and the elimination of the group’s leadership.
  • Despite blows to his authority, Nigeria’s President Jonathan Goodluck is still the man to beat in the general election next February.
  • A second Chinese army unit has been implicated in online spying and, according to research, used yoga brochures to infiltrate systems.
  • Bloomberg has built a prototype of its data terminal hooked up to the virtual-reality headset Oculus.

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  • The US president’s thicker skin and conviction that he can transact little business with Congress means he is using his executive authority to shape policy – and his legacy.
  • The next king of Spain will need to work hard to restore faith in the Bourbons, says the FT’s Tobias Buck.
  • Not one of the ECB’s new measures addresses the problem of low inflation directly, says Wolfgang Münchau.
  • This week’s Ofsted report that is expected to warn of hardline Islamist teaching creeping into a handful of British schools will revive the debate on whether a much broader push is needed to combat extremism in the UK.
  • Even before the bribery allegations concerning Qatar’s World Cup bid emerged last Sunday, the young emir of the gas-rich state had reason to believe the world was turning against his country.

Football interlude:

  • Young prodigy Cassiano de Jesus has captured the footballing world of Brazil where the sport is one of the few equalisers in one of the planet’s most unequal countries.
  • Four years after the last World Cup, residents of South Africa are still waiting to see its legacy.
  • Lionel Messi “rejected the advances of Spain’s national team to choose Argentina, the land of his birth, only to find that he could never really come home.”

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  • Secret sanctions-evading oil deals were only the start of the corruption that thrived in Iran under Ahmadi-Nejad. The FT’s Najmeh Bozorgmehr looks at whether the country can clean up.
  • Philip Stephens considers the relationship between China and Russia: “The world is waking up from postmodern dreams of global governance to another era of great power competition.”
  • The European Central Bank lobbed in everything it could – bar quantitative easing – to counter the threat of a vicious bout of deflation, writes Claire Jones.
  • Egyptian presidential elections underdog Hamdeen Sabbahi wasn’t just beaten by Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi – he was also beaten by the number of spoiled ballots, of which there were over 1m.
  • Sisi himself is channeling António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal for nearly four decades beginning in the early 1930s, but can he last that long?
  • Tony Blair is a narcissist with a messiah complex who lives a tragic life, says his former friend, best-selling author Robert Harris.

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  • The Obama administration has launched the most ambitious plan in US history to combat climate change by proposing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power stations. But business groups and Republican politicians have vigorously attacked the proposals.
  • In the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the FT looked at what happened to the leaders of the protests there. The South China Morning Post’s Tiananmen retrospective is rich with footage from 1989 as well as a clip from the “River Elegy” television series that argued that Chinese culture was backward and oppressive.
  • Contemplating the recent allegations over corruption and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Dan Hodges argues that nobody cares about football corruption – or racism, diving, biting or any of the sport’s range of controversies – because when it’s match time we are only interested in our team winning.
  • The New York Times reports on how Poland’s ardour towards the US has cooled in recent years and Poles are focusing on becoming a more integral part of Europe. The intensity of [the] love affair has diminished,” says the paper.

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