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“We Are Whatever They Want Us to Be”: Identity Politics and Hungarian Roma

“We Are Whatever They Want Us to Be”: Identity Politics and Hungarian Roma

  Despite their status as the country’s largest minority, Hungarian Roma remain excluded from the political and cultural movements—and the basic human rights—enjoyed by their non-Roma compatriots. Reflecting the broader European trend of Roma exclusion, Hungarian Roma suffer at significantly higher rates than other minorities from infant mortality, shortened life expectancy, and extreme poverty.   If Roma had the cultural capital to form a unified movement within Hungary, instances of forced eviction and (sometimes fatal) violence against Roma would attract greater national and international attention. Roma voices would form a stronger contingent in media and the arts, which could inspire...

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(Not) Made in China

(Not) Made in China

In 2014 China reported yearly economic growth at 7.3% of GDP. In 2015, it reported 6.9%, the slowest annual growth rate since 1990. On March 5th Premier Li Keqiang announced China’s GDP growth target for 2016 to be between 6.5% and 7%. Forecasts from the IMF estimate an expansion of 6.3%. In January of 2017 many expect China to announce it hit its goal. In January of 2017 many will doubt it actually did.   Reasons abound for the skepticism and pessimism. Analysts increasingly take official Chinese economic data with some salt (a pinch or bucketful depending on who you...

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Putin’s Russia, Part VI: A Political Machine – Society

Most tellingly, the majority of Putin’s mass popular support stems from the historical contrast of current living conditions in Russia against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1990s , which continues to cast its dark shade in the minds of Russians.   Russia, under Boris Yeltsin’s rule in the 1990s, was marked by years of anarchy and abuse during the long, costly, and unstable transition towards liberalization and decentralization. The country plunged into political deterioration, economic depression, and widespread social decline and wrecked the standard of living as corruption, inflation, and lawlessness ran rampant in the country. This experience effectively discredited...

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Putin’s Russia, Part V: A Political Machine – Economy

The Russian economy is a blend of liberal free market and statist socialist features, plagued by pervasive corruption. Under Putin’s system, the economy is carefully managed by the state.  Since Putin assumed the presidency in 2000, the Russian government has nationalized and seized control of the country’s raw materials export economy, which is especially pertinent to its energy sector. Through his management, Putin was able to siphon revenue from Russia’s oil and natural gas trades during the oil boom years of 2000-2008 to build state reserves large enough to pay off the countries’ outstanding Soviet-era debts to foreign countries—over $40...

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Putin’s Russia, Part IV: A Political Machine – Politics

Nominally, Russia is a democracy. It holds free, competitive, multi-party elections to vote candidates into different branches of the government and guarantees basic freedoms to its people under its constitution. However, ever since Putin attained power in 1999 as Prime Minister then President of Russia, he has centralized Russian politics to create a distinct, highly personalized system of rule in his country to serve his own political agenda. Putin’s government consists largely of officials who support Putin and his objectives: Executive The administration is composed disproportionately of members of the militocracy—military and security officers with connections to Putin during his...

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Raúl Castro: Is Cuba Better off Now?

Raúl Castro: Is Cuba Better off Now?

In the United States, ten different polls can be conducted on Barack Obama and the findings can be assumed to be fairly accurate.  Researchers even go as far as to ensure that the methods are as unbiased as possible.  This gives us an idea of the general views regarding our president and the current decisions he’s making.  It also gives Obama updates on his country’s supporters after recent political changes or responses to global disasters.  Other countries, not shockingly, don’t have such freedoms.  We forget that not all countries are allowed to “bad mouth” their leaders without consequences.  Cuba, with...

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Putin’s Russia, Part III: Western Encroachment

Putin’s Russia, Part III: Western Encroachment

So Russia is sliding into economic decline, but why does political support for Putin remain high amidst the economic downturn? To truly understand the average Russian’s mindset, we have to examine the historical, political, and social frameworks that have shaped their way of life and observing the world. ———————————————————————————————————– NATO Expansion In 1990, during the negotiations between the US and USSR over German reunification, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and US Secretary of State James Baker discussed NATO expansion in the context of a reunified Germany. Baker told Gorbachev that “if the US maintained its military presence in Germany within the NATO framework,...

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Putin’s Russia, Part II: Ukraine

Putin’s Russia, Part II: Ukraine

So Russia is sliding into economic decline, but why does political support for Putin remain high amidst the economic downturn? To truly understand the average Russian’s mindset, we have to examine the historical,  political, and social frameworks that have shaped the their way of life and observing the world. ———————————————————————————————————– Ukraine Historically, Russia has viewed—and continues to view—Ukraine as “Little Russia” because the two regions share deep ties. Prior to gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine was a territory of Soviet and Tsarist Russia. During the Middle Ages, Ukraine became divided along its Dnieper River. All land that lay on the Dnieper River’s...

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Putin’s Russia, Part I: Economic Woes

Putin’s Russia, Part I: Economic Woes

Today, I’m going to elaborate on a post that got a lot of attention recently on our Facebook page: Russia has been in an economic recession due to Western sanctions and the decline in oil prices–however, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has reached an all-time high, with 9 out of 10 Russians approving of him. Why is there such strong support for the brusque authoritative president when economic performance has been steadily decreasing? To learn more, read here: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/5-things-you-need-know-about-putins-popularity-russia-13380?page=2 Russia’s role in propagating the Ukraine Crisis has caused the United States and the European Union to slap it with crippling...

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Brazil

Brazil

On July 1, 2013, the Brazilian National Soccer team ousted the Spanish National team in the finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup in front of their home fans in Rio de Janeiro. The night that followed was a night of nationalistic pride to say the least, but not in the way that President Dilma Rousseff might have hoped.  Amidst the preparations to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the people have decided to speak out. Bus fares have increased throughout the nation, taxes have been slightly increased, and living spaces of the poor have been cleared in order to make...

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Meet our new Intern!

Meet our new Intern!

            Nishil Thakkar Hello everyone! My name is Nishil and I am so excited about my upcoming internship with the World Affairs Council of the Greater Richmond Area!  As a graduate from the IB program at Henrico High School, as well as a future attendee of the School of International Service at American University, there is no summer job or internship in the state that could match up to what WAC is offering me. My passions include world politics, languages, and diplomacy, especially in regards to the United Nations and other peacekeeping organizations. In my first few days here...

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What is Wrong With France?

                When discussing  the Eurozone crisis, most news stations spend most of their time focusing on the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain).  These are the countries that have faced the most economic turmoil and pose some of the greatest risk to the future of the Euro.  However, another problem seems to be looming from the second largest Economy in the European Union.  This is the problem of France and its loss of competitiveness in the world market.                 When France elected François Hollande in May, he spoke of reviving the country’s stalling economy...

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