the Philippines

Yesterday, a Republican-drafted revision of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed on the House floor by a mostly partisan vote. This was an unusual occurrence: Normally, reauthorization of the bill, which funds protection and services for victim of domestic violence, enjoys bipartisan support and passes easily. That’s what happened last month in the Senate, which reauthorized the bill in its present form. But House Republicans objected to a few provisions of VAWA, particularly one that allows abused immigrant women to self-petition for protected immigration status.

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The idea that immigrants, especially those  highly educated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, can help our economy recover from the recession by creating jobs and contributing to our tax base has gained a lot of momentum. Places like Detroit, Dayton, and Cleveland are actively wooing immigrants to help stem population loss, revitalize neighborhoods, and spur entrepreneurship. It’s happening at the federal level, too. A couple weeks ago, my colleagues blogged about a bill passed by the House that would change the way employment visas are allocated that should reduce t

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F for Effort

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy had a great idea. He would create an agency, the Peace Corps, to send idealistic young Americans abroad to spread their wealthy nation’s know-how among the impoverished peoples of the world. Lately, public schools in the United States have taken JFK’s idea and turned it around. Why not invite the impoverished peoples of the world to come here to enlighten us? America is still the planet’s wealthiest country, but it is no longer, by international standards, a particularly well-educated one.

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As the revolt that started this past winter in Tunisia spread to Egypt, Libya, and beyond, dissidents the world over were looking to the Middle East for inspiration. In China, online activists inspired by the Arab Spring called for a “jasmine revolution.” In Singapore, one of the quietest countries in the world, opposition members called for an “orchid evolution” in the run-up to this month’s national elections. Perhaps as a result, those watching from the West have been positively triumphalist in their predictions.

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Transition Traps

After the peaceful mass uprising that toppled one of the world’s oldest autocracies, it is now possible to imagine the emergence of a genuine democracy in Egypt—the most important country in the Arab world. The very possibility of it marks an historic turning point for the entire region.

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Mother Superior

Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir about raising children “the Chinese way,” has provoked, well, a reaction.

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The memory of Stephen Solarz, who died this week, should serve as a rude reminder of a time, not long ago but nonetheless ancient, when Capitol Hill was deeply immersed—when it led—in American foreign policy, and a congressman could become a significant figure on the world stage. The honorable gentleman from Brighton Beach had an impact upon the fate of nations.

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Independent humanitarian action, commonly if not entirely accurately thought to have begun with the so-called ‘French Doctors’ in Biafra in the late-'60s, was never as independent as either relief groups like Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, or the International Rescue Committee, themselves liked to claim or as the general public assumed them to be. U.S. organizations in particular, despite their efforts to develop an individual donor base, were always and remain too dependent on American government funding for the claim to stand up to scrutiny.

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In late July the Washington Post published an ambitious report on U.S. national security intelligence that we are told had taken the Post’s staff two years to complete. The project was led by two competent and experienced reporters, Dana Priest and William Arkin, and the report has received an enthusiastic press. Having written about national security intelligence in books like Countering Terrorism: Blurred Focus, Halting Steps (2007), I was looking forward to reading the Post’s report. The report is, in fact, a disappointment.

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Does the Constitution Follow the Flag?: The Evolution of Territoriality in American Law By Kal Raustiala (Oxford University Press, 328 pp., $29.95) In 1898, American and Spanish officials signed the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. Spain ceded Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and other colonial possessions to the United States. The Spanish-American War had been fought in the name of Cuban freedom, and sentiment in the United States favored Cuban independence.

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