The Great Debate

Orion, Dragons and Dream Chasers: What’s behind modern spaceship design?

By Irene Klotz
December 2, 2014

The Orion capsule is moved at Kennedy Space Center in Florida

As NASA prepares for the debut test flight of the first spaceship in more than 40 years to carry astronauts beyond Earth, a fleet of privately owned vehicles is in development to take over transportation services to and from orbits closer to home.

What’s behind the effort to make Israel, the ‘Jewish State,’ more ‘Jewish’

By Matt Duss
December 2, 2014

Israel's PM Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media in Jerusalem

With the myriad challenges the Israeli government currently faces – regional turmoil, unrest in Jerusalem, and opposition to a highly contentious budget — this might seem like an interesting time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promulgate a new law defining Israel’s identity as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The bill, which was supposed to have been voted on this Wednesday but has now been delayed, would recognize Jewish religious law as an inspiration for legislation, and affirm that, “The right to the fulfillment of national self-determination within the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

How Ukraine’s arsenal matches up against the Russian-backed separatists’

By Robert Beckhusen
December 2, 2014

ukraine_pic_1

On Nov. 18, several rockets fired from a separatist Grad launcher slammed into an apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toshkovka. It was another shelling in what’s become an almost daily event — as both sides in Ukraine’s civil war turn to heavier weaponry to shift the battle in their favor.

Want a helping hand? Try wearing high heels.

By Chloe Angyal
December 1, 2014

A participant runs during a high heels race in Tbilisi

A new study out of France’s Université de Bretagne-Sud in finds that men are more likely to lend a helping hand to a woman wearing high heels.

Which past is prologue for Putin’s Russia?

By Hannah Thoburn
November 30, 2014

People attend a rally called "We are together" to support the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea to Russia in Red Square in central Moscow

As Russia moved into Crimea in March, annexed it and then began to create, promote and support separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, commentators and citizens alike worried about a “new Cold War.” Others compared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s land grab to Nazi Germany’s 1938 annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Stock markets set to take off as Europe, Asia abandon austerity

By Anatole Kaletsky
November 28, 2014

A pedestrian walks past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo

The Great Divergence is a term coined by economic historians to explain the sudden acceleration of growth and technology in Europe from the 16th century onward, while other civilizations such as China, India, Japan and Persia remained in their pre-modern state. This phrase has recently acquired a very different meaning, however,  more relevant to global economic and financial conditions today.

My journey back to Ferguson, seeking a path forward

By Chip Goines
November 27, 2014

People walk towards a car lot where several cars had been burned and damaged following a night of rioting in Ferguson

As a black man who grew up near Ferguson, I dreaded going home for Thanksgiving this week. I watched cable news with dismay while I packed Tuesday. Familiar parts of my old neighborhood were burning. While the Tuesday morning sky was relatively calm above Ferguson as I landed, I knew things on the ground were different as soon as I saw the National Guard Humvees and police cruisers parked along the roads as I left Lambert-St. Louis Airport. Not even in the paranoid months following Sept. 11 had they been out in such force.

Here’s why killing the head of Islamic State wouldn’t yield results

By Arie W. Kruglanski
November 27, 2014

Aerial view of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad

Many believe that killing the leaders of terrorist organizations like Islamic State could change the course of events in Iraq and Syria. Like the cutting off of a snake’s head, eliminating the chief of a terrorist organization is assumed to deal it a fatal or near fatal blow. The U.S. government, for instance, has often boasted about eliminating major al Qaeda leaders, and viewed such assassinations as a clear mark of progress in the ‘global war on terror.’

Manufacturing’s false promise of a decent payday

By Catherine Ruckelshaus and Sarah Leberstein
November 26, 2014

An employee works on the assembly line at the General Motors plant in Asaka

Manufacturing, economists say, is the key to our nation’s economic recovery.  

Barack Obama and Ferguson: The cost of being the reluctant black president

By Peniel Joseph
November 26, 2014

Police officers shadows are cast onto graffiti on the wall of a Subway during the second night of demonstrations in Oakland

America, not for the first time, stands at a racial crossroads. The crisis of race and democracy unfolded before a global audience on Monday night as hundreds of demonstrators set police cars on fire and engaged in sporadic looting in the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old teenager Michael Brown.