patricia paolettaLate last year the Republic of Korea hosted the ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference, commonly known as the Plenipot, in Busan, South Korea. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an organ of the United Nations and meets every four years at a Plenipot to discuss any possible amendments to its foundational texts – its Constitution and Convention. Last month, The European Institute hosted a special program called The Busan Consensus: A Turning Point at which U.S. Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, who led the U.S. delegation, gave the Korean hosts high praise for facilitating a successful outcome, from U.S. perspective, that emphasized private sector management of the Internet.

December also brought tidings of concern that North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic) may have arranged the hacking of Sony Pictures in retaliation for its planned release of the comedy on Kim Jong-un, The Interview. The two actions, from countries divided geographically only by the 38th Parallel, provides a dramatic contrast in approaches by governments on Internet policy. In late December, North Korea’s Internet nodes suffered from several days’ disruption.

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jgrapinThe short term trend for the dollar is up. The recovery of the U.S. economy, and the combination of FED tightening on one hand and easing by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan on the other, creates a fatal attraction for the dollar. On top of this, U.S. sanctions against Russia push Russians and ruble holders to exchange declining rubles for dollars. Overall this situation will increase the value of the dollar, making it attractive for investors but more burdensome for American exporters.

This dollar surge, however, hides a longer term trend toward de-dollarization. Monetary diversification has become a key political goal for many governments, countries, and institutions.

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geoffpaul"Is there no one left in Britain who can make a sandwich?” asked a plaintive headline in a leading British tabloid, questioning the need to import 300 Hungarians to help make sandwiches for British supermarkets because the job did not appeal to local unemployed. The headline reflects the current obsession with the employment of European immigrants in menial jobs that Brits will not accept. There is also a constant stream of European migrants to fill vacancies for skilled workers in the building trade for which no trained local labour is available. Despite the country's need for these helping hands from Europe, they and their families are widely, if incorrectly, perceived (opinion poll in The Times) as negatively impacting the number of school places available for native-born children. They are also held responsible for low wages, lack of jobs and waiting times in hospital emergency departments. A sizeable proportion – 31 per cent of those polled – even blamed European immigration for the heavy traffic on major highways.

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larrybarrettIn 1969 Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser in Richard Nixon’s new administration, shared his boss’s dissatisfaction with the data and analysis flowing daily from the Central Intelligence Agency. Kissinger decided to enlist an outside expert with top security clearance to evaluate the CIA’s reporting process.

For this delicate task he chose Andrew W. Marshall, who in two decades at the RAND Corporation had become the think tank’s Director of Strategic Studies. Marshall had also earned a reputation among defense intellectuals as an apostate in the cathedral of conventional wisdom.

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CornellSvanteRussia went to war with Georgia in 2008, in a manner that, at least with the benefit of hindsight, appeared a trial run for this year’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, Russia has stirred trouble in Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and as far as the Baltic States, while bankrolling right-wing extremist parties in European Union countries. It is remarkable, however, that after the 2008 war, Georgia seemed off the target list.

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