PS’s piece on EU blogging last week made a very good argument about its core proposition that EU funding of blogging would be a terrible and counter-productive thing (thanks again to @ronpatz for taking sure I read it!).

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by John Turner

The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iranmarked the beginning of the second Middle East Cold War. Saudi Arabia and Iran along with their allies have been engaged in cold confrontation since that time. However, in large part this began to thaw in the years following the election of Muhammad Khatami to the Iranian presidency in 1997. Recent events, most notably the Arab Spring along with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, have renewed old tensions.  Some have argued that the uprising in Syria has now set the country up to be a proxy conflict in a renewed Cold War between Russia and the West, dividing the world along the lines of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab states on the other. Indeed Syria is in danger of becoming a proxy conflict in a cold war, but this conflict is not reflective of the Cold War that consumed the world in the 20th century. It is rather a Middle East Cold War. It is driven not by external actors seeking to exploit regional uncertainty for advantage, but by internal rivalries that position the world’s great powers, the US, EU, Russia and China, in an awkward position, actors who for the most part prefer regional stability.

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It is common now for our students to be asked what they think about their pedagogical experience. One of the most important aspects on which our students are asked to comment is feedback and what has emerged is a much better understanding of what students want, what they need, and what we do and don’t provide in respect of both desire and need. If I’m honest, I’m not overly interested in hearing what students want, I want to focus on what they need. Their desires come into focus for me when/if there are different ways of achieving the pedagogical objective and I can justify (pedagogically) giving them a choice.

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One week on from the Russian presidential election, the various media outlets have been alive with commentary focused on some key questions in relation to the conduct of the election and what it will mean for Putin. Was the election free and fair, is Putin really popular, will he serve his 6 year term or will he be ousted by the Opposition? There is much debate too about what the future holds for Russia, what we can expect from it in foreign policy terms and how the West should now act towards Russia. Some of the answers to these questions are easy and predictable. Others will prove to be far more complex and contentious.

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Celebrations of international women’s day started in the early 1900s as a protest against working conditions of women in textile factories. March 8th became internationally recognised as women’s day in 1975, following the UN campaign for the International Women’s Year.

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Before Facebook, a poke was a word for a bag and the expression ‘buying a pig in a poke’ is just another way of saying ‘buyer beware’.  It’s one which has come to mind since my latest excursion into the Twitter-verse, where I’m meeting a lot of the type of people I study, namely eurosceptics.

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by Professor Sir Mike Aaronson, Co-Director of the Centre for International Intervention

There has been much debate about the merits or otherwise of forcible intervention to stop the killings in the Syrian crisis. This has never looked likely, partly because of the Russian and Chinese veto in the UN Security Council but also because of the inherent difficulty of the task, not least given the fragmented nature of the Syrian opposition. Given the impotence of the international community to prevent mass atrocities against segments of the civilian population is there any hope that the threat of being held to account will encourage the regime to show restraint, or are they free to continue to act with impunity?

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