Newsletter – October 2013

Welcome to The Global Dispatches,

This month we have Daniel Levy, the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council of Foreign Relations writing on Benjamin Netanyahu, Charles Perrow, Professor of Sociology at Yale University on the increasing dangers at the Fukushima nuclear reactor; Rodric Braithwaite who was British ambassador in Moscow 1988 to 1992 on Vladimir Putin’s performance at the recent Valdai Club conference; Alastair Wood on the banded stilt research project in South Australia; David Zarembka on Kenya’s troubled relationship with Somalia and Al-Shabaab; Alice Bell offers a brief history of climate change; Foulath Hadid and Mishana Hosseinioun, both Middle Eastern Scholars from Oxford University take a long term view of the Middle East; Felicity Ruby, an adviser to Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, takes a close look at Tony Abbott’s first 16 days in power and Dr Matthew Green offers an informative and amusing history of London coffee houses.

Beat Box
By MC Ledbetter

Updated for August 2017. Every month we recommend a few classic music CDs that rarely see the light of day. This month sees: Incredible Bongo Band, Jesus Guerrero, Budos Band, Dead Combo, Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos, Ali Khattab and The Cairo Jazz Band get main billing.

The Lost World of the London Coffee House
By Dr Matthew Green

In contrast to today’s rather mundane spawn of coffeehouse chains, the London of the 17th and 18th century was home to an eclectic and thriving coffee drinking scene.

Maximum Bibi
By Daniel Levy

Peace in the Middle East? Not if Benjamin Netanyahu has anything to say about it. The current standoff with Iran is an extremely useful way of distracting attention from the Palestinian issue, and a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran would likely shine more of a spotlight on Israel’s own nuclear weapons capacity.

Fukushima Forever
By Charles Perrow

Charles Perrow, Professor of Sociology at Yale University on the recent disclosures that tons of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima reactors are spilling into the ocean. However, the incompetence ot TEPCO and the decision of the Japanese government to step in may be the least of our worries. Much more serious is the danger that the spent fuel rod pool at the top of the nuclear plant number four will collapse.

The Potemkin village is inhabited
By Rodric Braithwaite

The 2013 Valdai Conference was held at a Potemkin village halfway between Moscow and St Petersburg. Putin was holding court with a select group of guests, to hear him talk about “Russia’s Diversity for the Modern World.” Former Ambassador to Russia, Rodric Braithwaite, makes sense of it.

The Banded Stilt Project
By Alastair Wood

Known for its boom and bust ecological strategy, the Australian Banded Stilt breeds only when large desert salt lakes fill. This year's rains brought 20,000 of these shorebirds to Lake Torrens in South Australia. Alastair Wood joined the research team monitoring this rare event.

No “Cake Walk” for Kenya in Somalia
By David Zarembka

When Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011, it overturned a 48-year-old policy of not involving itself in the armed conflicts of its neighbors. Kenya had previously been in a position to broker peace agreements in the region but now as a belligerent in Somalia it will have no such possibility.

A Brief History of Climate Change
By Alice Bell

I don’t want to alarm you, but earlier this summer, the North Pole melted. Here’s a picture taken from North Pole Environmental Observatory of a buoy floating on water there. Floating, because it melted. You might have seen headlines about it. But you probably didn’t. There were a few reasons for that. I’ll explain later.

The Middle East: a long-term view
By Foulath Hadid - Mishana Hosseinioun

The Arab world's problems of conflict and misrule are deeply rooted in the region's history. But its awakened peoples' demands for accountable government and a new social contract offer hope, say Foulath Hadid (1937-2012) and Mishana Hosseinioun.

16 days in Australian politics
By Felicity Ruby

Australia's 7 September election produced a conservative government that has acted swiftly on promises to reduce aid, increase defence spending and dismantle efforts to address climate change. However, a hostile Senate until July 2014 may block its legislative agenda.

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