• Xi Jinping and Sinzo Abe
    Two Ceremonial Acts, One Bad Omen

    As history looms large, tensions flare up between China and Japan. Tienchi Martin-Liao looks at the now infamous events of December 26, 2013: China’s celebration of Mao Zedong’s 120th birthday and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni shrine, a World War II memorial.

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  • Carpet of Baskerville
    What We Talk About When We Talk About Iran

    In a recent Gallup poll Americans rated Iran as their “biggest enemy.” Why is it like this? “Why do Americans believe all news that tries to paint Iran as an ‘enemy’ and a ‘terrorist’ only interested in building nuclear bombs?” Iranian writer Yaghoub Yadali attempts to dispel the widely held myths.

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  • Venezuelan flag
    Venezuela Express

    In this week’s Night Watch Venezuelan writer Israel Centeno traces the history of violence in Venezuela from the turn of the 20th century up to the present. “Venezuela is a cocktail of poverty, injustice, resentment, a rentier mentality, and clientelistic wealth.”

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  • Willi Munzenberg and Double Lives by Stephen Koch
    The Innocents’ Club

    Israel Centeno reviews Double Lives by Stephen Koch, which looks back at Willi Müzenberg and the Innocents’ Clubs of the early 20th century. Such groups of naïve left intellectual sympathizers of “good despots”, Centeno argues, still abound today.

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  • A Classroom After Nargis
    Education in Burma

    While researching my article on the Burmese refugee community in Pittsburgh, I heard time and again that the refugees struggle with adapting to the American education system. They are used to a pedagogy based almost entirely on rote memorization. This is to ensure that the students won’t develop the kind of critical thinking skills that would enable to them to criticize the government or organize opposition. The government also strictly controls what information is available to students, leading to a skewed perspective on history and politics.

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