May 23, 2015 |
LUXEMBOURG - Listeners probably thought they knew what they were getting at the Philadelphia Orchestra's Thursday opening concert of its 2015 Europe tour here. But after guest soloist Lisa Batiashvili played a hot Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 , she and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin regrouped in the rear of the stage where the piano was parked. They played Tchaikovsky. The two had cooked it up in Philadelphia before leaving on tour, choosing the first of the composer's Six Romances Op. 6 ("Do Not Believe, My Friend")
February 4, 2015 |
Money may not buy you love, but lack of money is so rough on the psyche that it's life-threatening. A new study led by a University of Pennsylvania professor found that economic turmoil in Greece correlated with an increase in suicides for both men and women. Researchers from Penn, Greece, and Scotland analyzed month-by-month data on 11,505 suicides from 1983 through 2012. Charles Branas, a Penn epidemiologist, said previous studies had found more suicides during rough economic periods.
February 2, 2015 |
Most Americans born after World War II take peace and democracy in Western Europe for granted. Enfolded in the European Union, France and Germany became allies and Spain absorbed democratic values. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, former communist countries joined the fold and embraced parliamentary norms. But we forget all too easily that the 70 years since 1945 are an anomaly for Europe, whose previous 150 years of history were marked by war, ideological strife, and revolution.
August 2, 2014 |
While both the U.S. and the European Union have begun to ratchet up economic sanctions on Russian banks and other interests following the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, the reaction of the Russian government so far has been muted, a panel of Dechert L.L.P. lawyers said in a conference call Thursday. Thus, the potential for a sharply escalating trade war apparently has been averted - at least for now. The conflict between the U.S. and European governments and Russia over Russian support for separatist rebels in Ukraine already has had damaging consequences for the Russian economy, said Dechert partner Laura Brank, and concern by the Russians over further harm from western sanctions has tended to weigh against retaliation.
July 14, 2014 |
I've got some foreign policy good news. Really. Never mind that U.S. foreign policy appears irrelevant in Gaza, spineless in Syria, irresponsible in Iraq, and grossly stupid in Germany (whoever OKd our dumb spy efforts there should be fired). There is one important country where U.S. efforts may yet achieve a positive outcome. I'm talking about Ukraine, where Russia's Vladimir Putin has just blinked in his efforts to dismantle the country - in large part because Western sanctions (even mild ones)
May 22, 2014 |
KIEV, Ukraine - The crowds are gone from Independence Square, known as the Maidan, where massive demonstrations unseated a Ukrainian president. Yet the signs of struggle remain, sprawling across the Maidan and the surrounding streets: the tents and soup kitchens, the piles of black tires and debris, and the posters of the youthful dead on walls and makeshift shrines that are adorned daily with fresh flowers. Pay attention to this revolution. The Kremlin has tried to crush it by dismembering Ukraine and mounting a fierce propaganda campaign that falsely labels the uprising "fascist.
March 24, 2014 |
George Santayana famously said, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. " But when it comes to Russia and Ukraine, Western leaders can't seem to decide which century's lessons they should take to heart. When Vladimir Putin's forces invaded Crimea, a stunned Secretary of State John Kerry initially opined: "It's a 19th-century act in the 21st century. " In other words, 21st-century rules of an interconnected world barred anything as atavistic as forceful seizure of European territory.
March 10, 2014 |
Last week, I wrote that the Ukraine crisis did not mean the return of the Cold War. Since then, I've received e-mails from readers confused about what it does mean and why it should matter to Americans. Their confusion is warranted. The Ukraine crisis is far more complex than a simple matter of East vs. West or Obama vs. Putin. So here are some answers to a few of the queries I've received. If the Cold War is over - meaning the end of an existential and global conflict between two superpowers armed with nukes - why should the United States involve itself with Ukraine?
September 22, 2013 |
In terms of foreign aid, it felt like a bit of role reversal Friday at the University City Science Center. An audience of science center reps, scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs heard about funding opportunities, not from their own country with an eye to expanding globally, but money coming from the European Union. That's right: The 28 countries that make up the European Union have put up 70 billion euros, or more than $90 billion, to promote science and research aimed largely at bolstering Europe's position in the world but also with an eye to tackling issues of global significance as well, such as climate change.
July 24, 2013 |
YOU THINK we have it bad, caught between a stagnant economy and gridlocked politics? Then take a trip to Europe, where the economy is going not sideways, but backward - and the politics are, too. In the United States, President Obama's much-derided stimulus package helped end our recession in 2009; in Europe, with no comparable stimulus, the recession isn't over. Unemployment in the 17 countries that share the euro is higher than 11 percent, and it's still heading up. Since 2008, Italy's gross domestic product has shrunk by almost 10 percent after inflation; by some estimates, Southern Europe is experiencing its worst drop in living standards since World War II. It all makes the U.S. recovery look positively healthy, even though our 2 percent growth rate and 7.6 percent unemployment feel anemic by modern standards.