Stories to Follow
North Korea test-fires another missile
North Korea launched a missile 300 miles into the Sea of Japan on Sunday morning. North Korea’s Central Korean News Agency (via CNN) reported that leader Kin Jong-Un gave the orders to launch the Pukguksong-2 himself. North Korea has been conducting such tests, long interpreted as political gestures, since the 1990s. For an idea of what the launch might have looked like, you can find North Korean propaganda videos on Youtube from previous missile launches. The Associated Press reported that Kim “expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means.”
Anti-corruption protests in Bucharest enter their third week
Hundreds of thousands of Romanians have crowded the streets of Bucharest after the new government proposed an emergency ordinance decriminalizing certain corruption offenses. The list includes crimes allegedly committed by Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democrats. The spontaneous uproar, similar in many respects to other outpourings of popular discontent in 2012, 2013 and 2015, is said to be the largest such demonstration in Romania’s history.
Plans to close the world’s largest refugee camp stall in Kenya
A court has blocked Kenya’s government from closing the Dadaab refugee camp. Over 250,000 mostly Somali refugees live in the camp, which the government says is prime recruitment ground for Islamist terrorists. The court ruled that the closure plan was unlawful and discriminatory, and that the refugees could not be relocated by force. The government said it will appeal the ruling.
Happening This Week
Travel in Scandinavia: Finland
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue | Monday, February 13 @ 6:30 PM
Plan your perfect Scandinavian getaway at this workshop hosted by Scandinavia House. According to Lonely Planet, Finland is one of the ten best countries in the world to visit in 2017. Helsinki draws architecture buffs with the largest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Northern Europe and nature lovers can take advantage of Finland’s hiking trails, bike routes, and nearly 200,000 lakes.
Everyone Loses: the Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia
420 W 118th Street, #1219 International Affairs Building | Wednesday, February 15 @ 12:00 PM
A talk with Samuel Charap, co-author of Everyone Loses. The book argues that the Ukraine crisis has yielded a ruinous outcome, in which all the parties are worse off and international security has deteriorated. This negative-sum scenario resulted from years of zero-sum behavior on the part of Russia and the West in post-Soviet Eurasia, which the authors rigorously analyze. The rivalry was manageable in the early period after the Cold War, only to become entrenched and bitter a decade later. The upshot has been systematic losses for Russia, the West and the countries caught in between.
Conference: A Break-Up of the European Union?
285 Mercer St., 7th Floor | Friday, February 17–Saturday, February 18
This conference brings together academics and political practitioners to discuss the state of the European Union at the beginning of what is shaping up a decisive year for the EU. Topics include the political tactics of far-right parties in Europe, the role of the ECB, migration as a challenge and an opportunity, and the link between public opinion and government compliance with EU rules in accession countries. A final round-table discussion will look at possible ways forward for the EU. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Your Spare Time
Explore the strange world of pro-North Korean Youtube channels. The propaganda video mentioned above came from a channel called “stimmekoreas,” which means “The Voice of Korea” … in German. Go figure. That channel has other enlightening videos as well, like “This is Human Rights,” a tsk-tsking explanation of Juche, the political philosophy of Kim Il-Sung, complete with computerized voiceover and a soundtrack played by what sounds like a military band in a large Styrofoam box. What will you learn from this video? Well for starters, you’ll learn that “the Juche idea is the greatest idea in the history of human thought.” Who knew?
This week’s Monday Briefing came from Kyle Walker, a copy editor at JPI and the editor in chief of the New York Transatlantic.