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Is Russia really a threat?, Whaling: a divisive pursuit, The myriad forces assailing Mosul, Major in witchcraft?, To legalize or not to legalize

A roundup of global commentary for the Nov. 14, 2016 weekly magazine.

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    A member of Peshmerga forces rides in a military vehicle in the town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq, November 9, 2016.
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The Guardian / London

Is Russia really a threat?

“Why is the UK establishment in general, and UK intelligence in particular, so fixated on a supposed threat from Russia?...” asks Mary Dejevsky. “If Russia really harbours ambitions to reconstitute an empire, its only success to date is the expensive (in every respect) reacquisition of Crimea, a contested no-man’s land of ragtag rebels in the rust belt of eastern Ukraine, and two miniature enclaves inside independent Georgia.... Here are a few ideas. The first is that blaming Russia carries little cost.... A second reason, now as in the past, is that blaming Russia aligns us comfortably with the US.... A third factor is the consensus about a strong and malevolent Russia that still rules the ‘expert’ community.... Then again, all this anti-Russianism from MI5 could just be a front.”

The Asahi Shimbun / Tokyo

Whaling: a divisive pursuit

“The Japanese envoy to the latest plenary session of the International Whaling Commission ... said the discussions at the meeting represented ‘a step forward and a step backward’ for Japan,” states an editorial. “But the assessment is highly disputable. There are concerns that what transpired at the conference ... could only strengthen the view that Japan is ignoring international criticism of its scientific whaling program. At the conference, New Zealand and Australia denounced Japan for resuming its controversial scientific whaling efforts in the Antarctic late last year. A resolution to tighten the procedures was adopted by a majority.... It is clearly time for the government to change its obstinate adherence to its whaling strategy.”

The Jerusalem Post / Jerusalem

The myriad forces assailing Mosul

“Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, backed by US-led coalition air and ground support, launched their military offensive operation to retake Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city, on October 16,” writes Abdulsalam Khanjar. “Mosul has been under Islamic State (ISIS) rule for over two years.... But going back to the diverse forces participating in the Mosul operation, each with its own agenda in the fight against ISIS,... all these lead us to think about what awaits a post-ISIS Mosul.... There are many questions in need of answers.... We leave the answers to these questions to the future – the not-too-distant future, as the offensive’s progress looks to be swift.”

The Namibian / Windhoek, Namibia

Major in witchcraft?

“In the past few weeks, a satirical website in South Africa caused a frenzy with the story that universities would start offering witchcraft courses, come 2018...,” writes Ndumba J. Kamwanyah of the University of Namibia. “Africa is home to countries where the casting of spells is accepted. It is a belief so deeply ingrained into the African psyche that witchcraft informs the continent’s social, political, economic and cultural lives.... If you are a black African, in one or another way, you have been affected by witchcraft-related conflict.... Now is the time for Africa to debate witchcraft, subject it to public policy.... [W]itchcraft is ... a belief premised on assumptions, paranoia, fear, and capitulation of the mind.”

Guyana Chronicle / Georgetown, Guyana

To legalize or not to legalize

“How much money is being wasted yearly to take away future opportunities from the nation’s youths for daring to burn a ‘spliff’?...” asks Akola Thompson. “I think one of the most interesting things in the debate about whether to legalise or decriminalise small quantities of marijuana is that we, as a Caribbean people, through the Rastafarian movement, are the ones who have popularised marijuana usage.... So it is interesting to note that our leaders are still bickering among themselves, while world powers such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom, which would have learnt about marijuana from us, are already in the process of decriminalising and completely legalizing it.” 

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