By Gideon Rachman
Sometimes one or two events can change the political mood all over the world. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990 came just three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those two events inspired democrats and liberals across the globe.
Broken-hearted by Brexit, thousands of Britons are applying, or thinking of applying, for citizenship in another EU country. All I can say is, unless you have recently won the BBC television quiz shows Mastermind or University Challenge, forget Denmark.
According to Inger Støjberg, Denmark’s integration minister, more than two-thirds of the first batch of foreign applicants who took a new Danish citizenship test in June have failed the exam. Only 31.2 per cent passed, she announced on Tuesday. Take a look at some of the questions, and you will see why most people have flunked the test. Read more
Lifting of sanctions offers hope to Iran’s ailing economy
The lifting of UN sanctions on Iran reconnects a potentially vibrant emerging economy to world markets, with the allure of a bonanza for international and local investors and a brighter future for a restive young population. The FT’s Siona Jenkins asks Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Tehran correspondent, Martin Arnold, banking editor, and Anjli Raval, oil correspondent, what obstacles remain and how soon the country is likely to see results.
Following the deadliest terrorist atrocity in a western city in more than a decade, security and border controls have been tightened across Europe. France is in a state of emergency, and security forces across the continent are scrambling to track down those involved in the plot, which French president François Hollande described as “an act of war” in a television address.
- The French police are looking for a suspect named as Salah Abdeslam, 26, a French national, who is still on the loose
- Two of the attackers are believed to have been French nationals who lived in Brussels
- Belgium authorities have arrested at least five people in relation to a car with Belgian number plates found near the scene in Paris
- A further suspect has been identified as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old Frenchman, known to the authorities. Six of his relatives have been detained by authorities, including a brother who said that he had had no recent contact with Mostefai
- The attacks were carried out by at least seven gunmen in three co-ordinated teams
- Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on Saturday saying “this is only the beginning of the storm”
- 132 people were killed and 349 wounded in a series of co-ordinated attacks on Friday night
- There will be a minute’s silence across Europe tomorrow at 11am
- For a full round-up of the FT’s coverage as well as the best from the rest of the web see FirstFT
By Emily Cadman and Joseph Cotterill
A series of co-ordinated attacks across Paris has left more than 120 people dead with Isis claiming responsibility.
French President François Hollande has declared a state of emergency and deployed the army around Paris in response to one of the deadliest terrorist atrocities in a western city since September 11 2001.
By Mark Odell and Josh Noble
Britain has long built its foreign policy around a special relationship with the US. The coming week will witness an attempt by the UK government to build another special relationship — this time with the People’s Republic of China. The government of David Cameron will be straining every sinew to honour President Xi Jinping, during his five-day state visit to the UK. The Chinese leader will be the guest of honour at a banquet at Buckingham Palace, he will give a speech at Westminster, he will spend time with the prime minister at Chequers and will travel to Manchester with the chancellor of the exchequer.
President Xi’s visit has been meticulously planned to provide images that will play well in China. But all this pomp could well be disrupted by some unplanned circumstances. The US Navy has let it be known that, over the next few days, it intends to challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing has been bolstering these claims in recent months, by “land reclamation” exercises that have created artificial islands — some of which now host airstrips. The Americas are expected to sail within 12 miles of these new islands — to make the point that they do not accept that China has established new territorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. Read more
Tunisia is a small country with a population of just less than 11m. But it has played a big role in the upheavals that have shaken the Middle East.
It was in Tunisia that the popular uprisings against autocracy that became known as the “Arab spring” began in December 2010, setting an example that shook the region.
Zine el-Abidene Ben-Ali, Tunisian president, became the first autocrat to be toppled when he fled the country in January 2011. Mr Ben-Ali’s fall helped to electrify the rest of the Arab world as slogans and ideas that had first appeared in Tunisia spread to countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain.
Four years later, Tunisia is still important — but for different, sadder reasons. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
“American and Chinese presidents do not really know how to talk to each other. They are like computers running on different operating systems.” That was the verdict once offered to me by a US official, who has watched many US-China summits from close quarters.
Who would be a political pollster in Singapore? It is perhaps unsurprising that they are pretty much redundant in Singapore, where every election since the Southeast Asian nation’s independence 50 years ago has been won resoundingly by the People’s Action party . Read more
Flexibility is a prized trait for leaders in a world of uncertainty, constant change, and unpredictable competition. So it is hardly surprising that leaders should seek the same flexibility from their own staff.
Administering such a system of shorter-term or temporary contractors is ostensibly easy, using shift-management software that matches hours required to hours on offer. The economic advantages look attractive.
But if companies treat temporary workers as factors in an equation rather than as individuals, they will undermine the benefits of a less rigid labour system. It is training that will make the difference between a flexible but durable approach, which is of mutual benefit to employer and employee, and one that eventually disadvantages both company and worker.
Keep an eye on Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway state in Moldova. On Monday, Dmitri Trenin, one of Russia’s best-known foreign policy analysts and a man with good Kremlin antennae, tweeted: “Growing concern in Moscow that Ukraine and Moldova will seek to squeeze Transnistria hard, provoking conflict with Russia.” On Tuesday, a columnist in the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper warned that Russia “seriously faces the prospect of a repeat of the  situation” – when it went to war with Georgia – “this time around Transnistria”.
What sparked the tensions was a May 21 vote in Ukraine’s parliament to suspend military co-operation with Russia. That included a 1995 agreement giving Russia military transit rights across Ukraine to reach Transnistria, which borders Ukraine’s Odessa region. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
It is half-time in the match between the US justice system and Fifa. In the first half, the Americans took a shock early lead, with the unexpected arrest of several of Fifa’s leading players. But world football’s governing body struck back with a defiant equaliser — re-electing its discredited president, Sepp Blatter.
There are drawbacks to being a satirist from a deeply authoritarian state. Exile is a frequent consequence. But it has its advantages.
“I’m really blessed as an Iranian comedian,” Kambiz Hosseini told the audience of democrats, dissidents and defectors who gathered this week in Norway for the annual Oslo Freedom Forum (or “Davos for dissidents”). “There’s no shortage of material for me.” Read more
If you think that getting fast-track authority from Congress to negotiate trade agreements is hard, just wait for the deal that it is designed to pass.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the US, Japan and 10 other economies in Asia and Latin America has run into a barrage of criticism. Some of it is probably justified; some of it is not. The problem is that we don’t really know.
The governments involved, and particularly the US administration, have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the negotiating texts secret. Even senators and congressmen are only allowed to look at them in a secure location without taking away notes.
The birch forests and heaths across Estonia are echoing with gunfire, explosions and the heavy crump of artillery as the tiny Baltic state holds the largest war games of its independent history
South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma is mired in scandals that have tarnished his and the ANC’s reputation, as a recent wave of xenophobic violence puts his record under fresh scrutiny
South Korea is facing a dilemma over Jehovah’s Witnesses, who conscientiously object to military service but have hope of a softening judicial stance towards their boycott
A team of Syrian investigators have risked their lives to collect secret government documents that provide evidence of war crimes by Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Will an international court ever hear their cases? (Guardian)
The most surprising event of this political era is what hasn’t happened. The world has not turned left despite the financial crisis and widening inequality, writes David Brooks in the New York Times Read more
The city of Baltimore is in lock-down after a night of riots and violent clashes between police and protesters that followed the funeral of a black man who died in custody.
In scenes that marked the latest episode of unrest over the treatment of African Americans by police, shops were looted, cars torched and 15 officers injured by youths who threw bottles and rocks.
While the convulsions reignited the debate about police behaviour towards ethnic minorities in the US, some commentators have pointed to the city’s high levels of deprivation and inequality as underlying causes of the outbursts.
These charts show the ethnic composition of Baltimore and shed light on some of its socio-economic problems. Read more
Ed Miliband outlines his foreign policy plans at Chatham House in London
If Ed Miliband becomes Britain’s prime minister next month what will this mean for the country’s foreign policy? The question is one that the UK’s allies should start considering because the prospect of him winning power is growing. Betting companies believe there is now a greater chance of Mr Miliband entering Number 10 after the May 7 election than of David Cameron returning to office.
EU officials have come under renewed pressure to take action against flotillas of migrants from Africa following the deaths of more than 1,000 people during attempted Mediterranean crossings over the past week alone.
A massive search and rescue operation remains underway to find survivors among the wreckage of a ship thought to be loaded with more than 800 migrants which capsized over the weekend off the coast of Libya, potentially representing the worst maritime disaster of its type in the Med. Only 27 of those on board have been rescued.
The migrant deaths have shone a spotlight on Libya’s lucrative people smuggling industry. While the human cargo consists mainly of young men from Africa and the Middle East, more than 900 children also embarked on the dangerous crossing in the first three months of 2015.
In the aftermath of Libya’s bloody civil war, business is booming for the people traffickers. These figures illustrate why. Read more