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AssessmentsJan 1, 2020 | 04:00 GMT
The History of the Gregorian Calendar
The Geopolitics of the Gregorian Calendar
When England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, some 170 years after it was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on Sept. 2, and not have to get up until Sept. 14." Indeed, nearly two weeks evaporated into thin air in England when it transitioned from the Julian calendar, which had left the country 11 days behind much of Europe. Such calendrical acrobatics are not unusual. The year 46 B.C., a year before Julius Caesar implemented his namesake system, lasted 445 days and later became known as the "final year of confusion."
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Contributor PerspectivesNov 6, 2019 | 18:30 GMT
John Cena (L) competes with Triple H during the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Greatest Royal Rumble event in Jeddah on April 27.
The Sports World Wrestles With the Khashoggi Scandal
By most standards, Saudi Arabia tends to punch above its weight in geopolitical matters. However, the same cannot be said about sports in the kingdom. Whether considering the performance of its national and Olympic teams, the number of major sports events hosted by the country or the development of professional leagues, the Saudis are G-20 bottom-feeders, arguably superior only to Indonesia in this regard. Yes, they have a decent professional soccer league compared to the region (money helps). They also hosted the first three iterations of what is now called the Confederations Cup, FIFA's marginally prestigious World Cup warm-up tournament, and have qualified five times for the World Cup proper. Some members of the royal family have also held symbolic leadership posts in FIFA and the International Olympic Committee's sport governance apparatus (again, money helps). This began to change two years ago as it began making moves to develop a
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On SecurityJan 8, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) addresses senior officers of the Federal Security Service during an annual meeting of top officials of the service in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2013.
The Curious Story of an American Arrested by the Kremlin
The holiday season was less than merry for one Paul Whelan. On Dec. 28, 2018, the U.S. citizen (and bearer of additional passports from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom) was arrested by officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in his room at Moscow's Metropol Hotel. His family said the former Marine was in Moscow to play tour guide for the family of a fellow service member who was marrying a Russian woman, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Russians, naturally, have a different story. For them, Whelan is an intelligence officer who was using "non-standard methods for intelligence gathering," as well as social media to target Russians with access to classified information. In fact, the FSB claimed they arrested Whelan shortly after a contact gave him a flash drive that contained a list of employees at a classified Russian government agency. The Western press was quick to
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Contributor PerspectivesDec 5, 2018 | 09:15 GMT
Some recommended titles for your geopolitics of sports library.
The 2018 Gift Guide for the Geopolitically Curious Sports Fan
It's the first week of December, which means that my fellow Americans and I have been inundated with holiday jingles and gifting imperatives for (at least) the past fortnight. It also means that it's time for the second annual edition of "Gifts for the Geopolitically Curious Sports Fan," which is quickly becoming one of my favorite seasonal traditions. In the inaugural edition, I selected books (and a few films) that might serve as the foundation of a sport and geopolitics library. This year's recommendations include some more recent titles to add to your collection.
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On SecurityOct 30, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
The bomb squad of the Broward County Sheriff's Office uses a robotic vehicle to investigate a suspicious package at the building housing an office for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)  in Sunrise, Florida, on Oct. 24, 2018.
When Terrorism Isn't Intended to Kill
On Oct. 26, law enforcement officers arrested a 56-year-old Florida resident in connection with a series of mail bombs that were sent to prominent Democratic politicians and liberal figures, including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The suspect (whom we will purposefully not name here) has a long criminal history, including a 2002 conviction for threatening to bomb Florida Power & Light, an electric utility company. His social media accounts contained a great deal of disturbing and even threatening material directed against the media, Democratic politicians, moderate Republican politicians, celebrities and high-profile liberal figures such as George Soros.
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On SecurityJul 24, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
Police officers present suspected ISWAP militants, as well as a cache of weapons, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on July 18.
Defining Militant Groups: Why the Names Matter
On July 14, reports from Nigeria's Yobe state emerged regarding an attack on a military base. Media outlets around the world were quick to identify the main culprit, noting how "Boko Haram" – the name that has become synonymous with militancy in the country – had raided a base. Truth be told, while there was certainly an attack, it wasn't conducted by Boko Haram, but the al-Barnawi faction of Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The attack touched off a conversation between some colleagues and myself last week that centered on one curious question: Why do many media outlets continue to refer to the group as Boko Haram, even though it declared allegiance to the Islamic State and formally changed its name in March 2015?
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Contributor PerspectivesJul 23, 2018 | 10:00 GMT
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (L) smiles at FIFA President Gianni Infantino (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. As part of the closing ceremony, Putin passed a soccer ball to al-Thani, whose country will hold the next tournament in 2022, in a symbolic gesture.
The World Cup: Looking Ahead From 2018
It's been a week since France won this year's World Cup in a gripping championship match against Croatia. Now that the dust has settled, it's an opportune moment to reflect on the tournament past and to look ahead to future editions. For some, the end of the tournament is likely a relief, bringing to a close the associated monthlong frenzy in the media, both traditional and social. For my fellow soccer fanatics, the World Cup hangover can be difficult to shake: We realize it's time to get on with our lives, but would just a little bit more be so bad? Out of respect to the former group, I've attempted to keep my postmortem brief, with some final hair-of-the-dog thoughts on the geopolitical undercurrents of the recent World Cup and some anticipatory musings on the themes emerging from the next two tournaments in Qatar and in North America.
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On GeopoliticsApr 19, 2018 | 16:07 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump, during an April 17, 2018, meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Where U.S. Trade Policy and Grand Strategy Intersect
With the threat of a trade war looming over the global economy, it may feel like the world has been force-fed another one of U.S. President Donald Trump's signature cocktails -- shaken on the rocks, with equal parts tweets and tariffs, and a twist of terror. But if you want to shake off that foggy feeling and get a clearer vision of what will come to pass, focus on the line between a president's tactics, no matter how unorthodox, and the country's grand strategy. Great power rivalry is what gave rise to the global trading order in the 20th century; the return of peer competition will shake, but not necessarily break, that foundation in the 21st.
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SnapshotsFeb 20, 2018 | 23:35 GMT
Venezuela: New Cryptocurrency Can't Rescue Caracas
The Venezuelan government is hoping that a digital approach will help it solve the country's problems. On Feb. 20, the presale of the Venezuelan cryptocurrency called the petro opened. The project, which was announced several months ago, is a novel attempt to create an oil-backed currency and circumvent Venezuela's severe shortage of foreign currency. In theory, Venezuela's government will be able to use the petro to conduct transactions beyond what its meager foreign currency reserves can manage. However, using a cryptocurrency for foreign transactions will not solve Venezuela's extreme economic problems. And the petro will quickly run into problems that will hamper its effective use in international transactions.
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Contributor PerspectivesJan 15, 2018 | 09:06 GMT
Liberia's star soccer player turned politician George Weah shakes hands with former children soldiers in Monrovia.
Hat Tricks and Halos: How Athletes Become Politicians
Last week I found myself discussing former athlete George Weah's new political career with an old friend from the Argentine café days. The conversation drifted to the broader topic of athletes who become politicians, and why voters might be compelled to vote for people whose professional lives centered on throwing a ball or punching someone in the head. I'll concede in advance that my investigation of this topic is far from complete, but I think it raises some interesting questions.
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ReflectionsJan 3, 2018 | 17:37 GMT
Starting Jan. 1, Turkmenistan no longer permits the driving of black cars.
Viewing Turkmenistan's Recent Car Ban in Black and White
As people around the world celebrate the new year and embark on their respective resolutions, the president of Turkmenistan has issued a curious resolution for his own country. Starting Jan. 1, the country no longer permits the driving of black cars, according to a report by the opposition-run publication Chronicles of Turkmenistan. The report also claimed that authorities have confiscated dark vehicles over the past two months, returning them to their owners with instructions to paint them white or another light color.
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