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Milk, Politics and other Perceptions

Since the early days of this year’s October, Russia has been imposing restrictions on imports of dairy products from Lithuania. Gennady Onishchenko, the chief of the Russian consumer protection service Rospotrebnadzor, has officially declared that some of the Lithuanian products failed to meet the requirements of quality and adequate safety. However, the officials of Lithuania and the European Union consider ... Read More »

Russian Film, Art and Music… In Groningen!

Russia has received quite a lot of attention in the last few weeks. The media have emphasized the new laws on gay propaganda, the upcoming G20 meeting in Saint-Petersburg and of course, Russia’s stance on the possibility of a military intervention in Syria. These are all very important political questions that have rightly received a lot of media attention. But ... Read More »

Hands up! It’s the Language Police!

Oh no, you have not misread the title. This specialized office has the remarkable duty of, for example, fining restaurants that inaccurately call their pasta ‘pasta’ or those who give away plastic spoons with only English writing on it. Where on earth, you might ask yourself, does the police involve itself with such surreal and seemingly trivial practices? Dictating the ... Read More »

What a Canard!

One of the most influential weekly magazines in France is a satirical paper that has eight pages, overpaid employees and a miniscule online presence: Le Canard enchaîné, “The chained duck”, first published in 1915, has become an institution in France, beloved by its readers and feared by the rich and mighty. France´s media landscape is a mess: Nearly all big ... Read More »

A Muslim in Japan

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Islam and Muslim integration have gained a significant place in the public debate in the West. The presence of these terms in Western political discourse seems to contrast with the absence of information about the situation in other parts of the world. Yet, as show the Japanese, ways of looking at and ... Read More »

The Inbetweeners

Ukraine is deeply divided over where it should head – East or West. While the EU offers an Association Agreement including a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, it isn’t the only one reaching out its hand. Russia, the powerful neighbour to the East, offers membership in a customs union with Belarus, the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, which might one day turn ... Read More »

The Kennedy Curse

In the United States, Joseph Patrick ‘’Joe’’ Kennedy started what would become one of the modern world’s most powerful dynasties. Even today the surname seems to go hand in hand with power and success. However, a shadow follows the Kennedy family wherever they go.  The original Kennedy family consisted of the nine children of Joe and Rose Kennedy, descendants of ... Read More »

South Africa: Riot or Revolution?

Many problems are awaiting Zuma’s second term of presidency this year. The killing of protesting mineworkers in the Rustenburg area in August 2012 has brought to the surface what has been boiling below South Africa’s political landscape for a while: an explosive mix of governmental failures at the municipal level, endemic corruption and nepotism, combined with high unemployment rates and ... Read More »

World’s Poorest President

The lifestyles of political leaders are often far removed from those of their electorate. There is a clear exception to this rule. This is Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguay, who lives on a quiet farm and gives away most of his earnings to charity. A ramshackle farm is the home of the Uruguayan president and his wife. Only two ... Read More »

Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois: The Separatist Dream

“We want a country and we will have it.” According to Pauline Marois, the newly elected prime minister of Québéc, Canada, there is no doubt that she will lead the French-speaking region to independency. But how realistic is that? It is clear that some substantial obstacles have to be overcome before the Québécois flag can be risen. Separatist and nationalist ... Read More »