Freshly landed in Boston, I was sitting in an Uber heading for Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus on move-in day in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic was seemingly finally starting to recede after more than a year of being mostly stuck at home, and there I was halfway across the world on the cusp of starting my college education in the United States. Tufts had not been part of my initial shortlist, but I kept hearing increasingly good things about it. I felt it was starting to gain name recognition at my school and in my home country of Lebanon.
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The first round of the French presidential elections came straight from a textbook. Held on April 10, the elections sent current President Emmanuel Macron, head of the centrist political party La République En Marche! (“The Republic On The Move” in English), to the second round with an admirable 27.85% of the vote.
Since the late 2000s, Russia has adopted a decidedly aggressive tone in its foreign policy. Eager to prevent NATO from expanding around his borders, Vladimir Putin used the relatively low-stakes annexation of Crimeato show the world he would not be afraid to pursue new strategic interests for his country. Back then, the West reacted in a lukewarm fashion. Sanctions only mildly hurt the Russian economy as they did not effectively target the specific industries or the oligarchs that funded Putin’s endeavors.
History has been particularly unfair to Iraq. The country has repeatedly tried to gain prestige and claim the foothold it deserves within the Arab world and the Middle East. But any prolonged stability or progress for Iraq seems to have been constantly barred. Nevertheless, the country might be finally ready to act and become truly independent again.
Russia is growing increasingly belligerent. With the United States busy confronting China’s growing influence in Asia, Vladimir Putin is now trying to send a message by threatening Ukraine to show the West that they shouldn’t discount his powerful country. It was then only a matter of time for an adage to return: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This saying holds in the context of Sino-Russian relations.
The fall and dismantling of the Soviet Union humiliated the newly created Russian Federation and left it in grave economic trouble. The countries that emerged from this process chose diverging paths when it came to relations with Russia. 11 of the 15 ex-USSR countries joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), essentially vowing to collaborate and align with Russian politics. Most importantly for Russia, this union was a political successor to the Cold War-era collective defense treaty known as the Warsaw Pact. The ex-superpower hoped this would prevent its young neighbors from joining NATO and bringing American weaponry to their doorstep.
“Being displayed in museums and staying in the streets: that is true glory,” Sophie Fontanel wrote on Giorgio Armani. I would argue this quote suits Virgil Abloh as much, if not more — a man who grew to become one of the most popular designers on Earth. Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, founder of Off-White and a unique force in the fashion industry, passed away last week at the young age of 41, victim to a cancer he had been privately fighting. While Abloh was a master of social media, gaining success as he publicized his brand on various platforms, he was able to protect his private life, highlighting the resilience with which he soldiered on while facing such a ruthless disease. Just as impressive was his versatility in his work. Indeed, the Illinois native never restricted himself to the medium of clothing. Far from it.
The right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has been governing Poland for the last six years. The ruling coalition has turned a blind eye to and even discretely defended societal measures that go directly against the European Union’s stance, notably on issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. These measures are a populist attempt by the PiS to ensure the loyalty of their crucial rural base, and they have already maintained the party at the helm through two elections. The country that birthed Lech Walesa and the fight against Soviet hegemony abruptly turned back on its history, bringing the Kaczyński twins, Jaroslaw and Lech, and their bigoted party to power.
A decade ago, following in the footsteps of its Tunisian neighbor, Libya revolted against the decades-long dictatorship of Muammar Gadhafi. The self-proclaimed “king of kings” of Africa responded in a typically bloody fashion by firing on demonstrators and imposing harsh repression. Bolstered by its European allies, notably Nicolas Sarkozy’s France, the U.S. assembled a wide-reaching NATO operation in support of the rebellion. The UN declared Libya a total no-fly zone, and months of round-the-clock aerial bombings quickly tilted the advantage into the rebellion’s hands. Gadhafi’s Jamahiriya (which, ironically, translates to “state of the masses”) fell in late 2011, and the dictator was captured and killed in October of that year.
Last week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published its largest global investigation to date: the Pandora Papers. More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have spent the past several months reading through almost 12 million documents including images, files, emails and spreadsheets collected from 14 sources which reveal the hidden assets, tax evasion and money laundering of some of the world’s richest people. Among the myriad groups and high-profile figures implicated, the United Kingdom’s property market and the tax policies of several U.S. states proved to be global hotspots for wealthy individuals to hide their assets.
Joy, disbelief, indifference or skepticism. These were the reactions of many Lebanese individuals to their home country's recent news. After thirteen months of an inactive caretaker government, Lebanon finally has a new government. Following a year of depressing news headlines and worsening domestic issues, it may be the last chance for my country to set things right.
Sixteen years in power. Only monarchs, autocrats and dictators last this long in office. The exception is Angela Merkel: the German chancellor who has had exceptional success in navigating the many crises she has faced.