Paraguay’s Awful History– A story in the Economist about how a war waged by Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay against Paraguay in 1865 is having direct political consequences today. The immediate impetus is that those countries kicked Paraguay out of an economic agreement following the ouster of a leftist president that they interpreted as a coup. The new Paraguayan government then accused them of trying to create a new Triple Alliance–the alliance that waged war against Paraguay, killing up to 60% of the total population and 90% of the male population.
Haredi education is dragging Israel closer to the third world– From Ha’aretz, a story about how Israel will be forced to cease taking international education tests because the numbers of people (learning disabled, special ed, Haredim) do not take educational tests. The largest chunk of those students are Haredim who are not required to learn math or English and thus are not subject to the tests. The author of the article accuses the Israeli government of “financially allowing” the Haredi to operate their own school system and, as a result, of crippling their ability to function within the Israeli economy and Israel’s ability to complete in the world system.
The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown – An article in the New Yorker about a crackdown on leftist artists and intellectuals in Hungary, including (likely) coerced repudiations of statements in opposition to the government.
Project Plans to Pump Oxygen into Baltic Sea– From Spiegel, there is a project currently being tested in a fjord that will artificially pump oxygen into the Baltic Sea. Fertilizer flowing into the sea has caused a rapid growth of algae, which, in turn, has caused de-oxygenation of the sea, suffocating the ecosystem. The hope is that an artificial process can restore that balance, but neither supporters nor opponents actually know what will happen.
Semi Charmed Life: The Twentysomethings are alright– An essay at the New Yorker about the enduring features of being a twenty-something, arguing that despite the changes in the job market, technology, and the nature of society, there is something persistent and resonant about being twentysomething. While that may be of little comfort, it is an engaging essay and sometimes all you can do is laugh.