The Great Debate

How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)

By Sam Hardy
October 27, 2014

1“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State, ” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste this month.

Why finger pointing about Ebola makes Americans less safe

By Joan Bregstein
October 27, 2014

Demonstrators wearing surgical masks protest over the government's handling of Ebola in Madrid

With widespread accusations of repeated errors rampant in the media, it is easy to see how the public may feel the system’s response to the Ebola threat is one big mess.

How congressional hawks plan to kill Obama’s Iran deal

By Trita Parsi
October 27, 2014

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani gives a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York

Negotiations with Iran over the future of its nuclear program have not even concluded yet some members of Congress are preparing to manufacture a political crisis over a deal. Their beef? President Barack Obama may initially bypass Congress and suspend sanctions imposed on Iran to make a deal possible and only later ask lawmakers to end them permanently when it is determined that Iran has complied fully with its obligations under the deal.

Putin’s Moscow is anxious, gilded and hollow

By Lucian Kim
October 25, 2014

Putin chairs a meeting with members of the presidential council for civil society and human rights at the Kremlin in Moscow

The last time I saw Maria Baronova on Nikolskaya Street in Moscow, she was taking part in a silent anti-government demonstration before being bundled into a police bus with a half dozen other protesters. Now, almost three years later, we meet for a beer in an English pub on that same ancient street near the Kremlin. So much has changed. The Moscow protest movement fizzled out after Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency; activists like Baronova were prosecuted, and a blanket of repression is muffling the last voices of dissent.

Life in New York in the time of Ebola

By Jason Fields
October 24, 2014

Commuters depart an L train during the morning commute a day after an announcement that the subway system had been used by a doctor now testing positive for Ebola in New York

New York is a disgusting place. There are strange, unpleasant smells that greet you every morning as you leave your apartment and walk to the subway on your way to work. Often, you can’t even identify the lingering foulness.

Sykes-Picot drew lines in the Middle East’s sand that blood is washing away

By Michael Williams
October 24, 2014

sykespicot

Last week British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said the struggle against Islamic State was “effectively Iraq’s last chance as nation state.”

from John Lloyd:

Pope Francis and his season of struggle

By John Lloyd
October 23, 2014

Pope Francis celebrates a mass in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican

This month, Pope Francis had to come clean.

Time’s Man of the Year for 2013, the object of seemingly universal affection, is a liberal: and that means a season – perhaps a papacy – of struggle. His honeymoon as the Amiable Argentinian is over.

What the Synod of Bishops that discussed divorced, LGBT Catholics did – and didn’t – do

By James Martin
October 23, 2014

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If you told me a few years ago that a synod of bishops would make the front page of almost every newspaper, be featured prominently on almost every news website, and be the topic of heated conversation among Catholics worldwide, I would have said that you were — to use a theological term — crazy.

from Jack Shafer:

Ben Bradlee, the last giant standing

By Jack Shafer
October 22, 2014

Ben Bradlee, a former Washington Post executive editor discusses about the Watergate Hotel burglary and stories for the Post at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda

One of the great payoffs of having lived a long life arrives on the day the newspapers publish your obituary. By out-lasting your competitors and foes, the storyline naturally bends your way. Time blurs precise recollection in favor of generous feelings, which we tend to bestow upon most famous survivors, no matter what sort of lives they lived.

Why the world shouldn’t write off the Iraqi Army just yet

October 22, 2014

Shi'ite volunteers, from Abbas Unit who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, parade down a street in Kerbala

On Sept. 10, President Barack Obama outlined an overall strategy for countering the al Qaeda’ist movement that grandiosely calls itself the Islamic State. The president vowed to defeat and ultimately destroy it.