Candles lit by activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi are placed outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

When FBI agents first showed up at Masih Alinejad’s Brooklyn home to warn her that she was the target of an Iranian state-backed kidnapping plot, she was incredulous at first. As a journalist and outspoken critic of the regime in Tehran, she is accustomed to threats and harassment. But the brazenness of the plot was startling. “What surprised me is the fact that the regime felt confident enough to resort to kidnapping me here, on American soil,” Alinejad told me in a direct message on Twitter. “I used to think I was safe here.”  According to an indictment unsealed earlier this month, […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, April 23, 2021 (pool photo by Francois Walschaerts via AP).

The European Union issued its second annual report on the rule of law in EU member states last week, singling out Hungary and Poland for harsh criticism.  “Risks of clientelism, favouritism and nepotism” are unaddressed in the former, the report reads, while the independence of the judiciary and political pressure on the media are a concern in both. In one sense, this harsh rhetoric only served to underscore the EU’s failure to meaningfully confront these illiberal regimes and prod them to change course.  But recent signs indicate that Brussels is ready to challenge the budding authoritarians in its midst by […]

Members of the Lithuanian Police Anti-terrorist Operations Unit ARAS arrive at the refugee camp in the village of Vydeniai, Lithuania, July 10, 2021 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Months after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko effectively hijacked a plane in order to arrest a Belarusian dissident, and weeks into a crisis in which he is encouraging migrants to cross Belarus’ shared border with the European Union as retaliation for Western sanctions, Brussels still has no plan for how to deescalate tensions with Minsk. Lithuanian […]

A man holds a banner showing the eyes of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a protest against the government’s alleged use of powerful spyware to spy on opponents, Budapest, Hungary, July 26, 2021 (AP photo by Anna Szilagyi).

Like picking up a rock in the garden, the NSO Pegasus spyware scandal exposes a repulsive world teaming with life in the muck and mire—so much so that it is tempting to put the stone back in place and pretend that world doesn’t exist. There are many layers to the story: the human cost, the murky ethics of selling powerful spy tools to states with poor human rights records, and the complexities of trying to regulate the global market for such software. They all point to a challenge that will be with us for some time, despite the popular outrage […]

Candles on the graves of people killed during the Syrian war, in the town of Qamishli, Syria, Oct. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

Since 2011, Syria has been ravaged by a civil war that has seen numerous atrocities committed against its civilian population, including torture and war crimes. In the face of such abuses, there have repeatedly been calls for accountability. But how can perpetrators be held accountable, and by whom?  In criminal law, including international criminal law, the state is primarily responsible for seeking and carrying out justice. But the idea that the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad would hold credible trials—especially into his regime’s own conduct—is fantastical at best.  Another option, then, might be to seek accountability through the International Criminal […]

A screen displays a notice on an iPhone in New York, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Jenny Kane).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Explosive revelations this week from the Pegasus Project detailed the widespread use of the Pegasus surveillance software program by repressive governments and three democracies—Hungary, India and Mexico—to spy on their own citizen activists and journalists, but also on foreign journalists and even heads of government. The software, developed and sold by the Israeli […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, and other EU officials speak during a press conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, July 14, 2021 (AP photo by Valeria Mongelli).

The European Commission last week unveiled a package of climate policy proposals it dubbed “Fit for 55,” a nod to the European Union’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent relative to 1990 levels by 2030. While those proposals have now grabbed the spotlight, they are still subject to negotiation and potentially significant changes during the lengthy legislative process they will now undergo before becoming law.  With that in mind, it’s worth taking a looking at the legal framework from which those policy proposals emerged: a new climate law approved by the European Parliament and the European Council […]

The empty area for TSA screening of travelers at the John F. Kennedy airport's Terminal 1 in New York, March 13, 2020 (AP photo by Kathy Willens).

Last week, the European Union surpassed the United States when it comes to the share of its population that is vaccinated against the coronavirus.  More than 56 percent of people in the EU have now received at least one vaccine dose, compared with just under 56 percent in the U.S. The EU looks set to overtake the U.S. shortly on the percentage of people who have received a second dose as well, which now stands at 48 percent in the U.S. and 44 percent in the EU. Five EU countries, including Belgium and Spain, have already administered second doses to […]

Indians watch a rocket carrying communication satellite GSAT-29 lift off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, Nov. 14, 2018 (AP Photo/R. Parthibhan).

Over the past several months, as China began building its own space station in low-Earth orbit and collaborating with Russia on an asteroid mission and new lunar base, some in the United States have expressed concerns that a new space race is on. Cold War-style rhetoric has cropped up in media reports and government statements alike—and not for the first time. The establishment of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, for example, was largely justified as a response to the alleged weaponization of space by China and Russia, both of which in turn saw the new American military branch as […]

A man walks past a Huawei store promoting 5G technologies in Beijing, China, July 15, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Once again, the U.K. appears to be out of step with its closest ally on chips and China, sitting on its hands over the sale of its largest semiconductor factory to a company with alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party. The U.K’s “have your cake and eat it, too” approach highlights disturbing inconsistencies that undercut its national security positioning and seem certain to reawaken tensions with the U.S. on policy toward China and technology. Highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of U.K. policy, the current controversy arises even as Hull, in the northeast of England, is due this month […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press conference to unveil the EU’s sweeping new climate legislation in Brussels, July 14, 2021 (AP photo by Valeria Mongelli).

Last week the European Commission seized global leadership on climate change, unveiling a sweeping scheme to reduce the EU’s carbon emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve “net zero” by 2050. Brussels envisions a total overhaul of the bloc’s economy, including eliminating the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered automobiles by 2035 and introducing border taxes to penalize imports from jurisdictions less committed to decarbonization.  The bloc’s bold move ramps up diplomatic pressure on the United States, China and other major emitters to respond in kind in the run-up to the Glasgow climate change conference. The ultimate fate […]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 14, 2021 (AP photo by Valeria Mongelli).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. BRUSSELS—The European Commission unveiled its mammoth proposed climate package Wednesday, called “Fit for 55.” It might sound like an exercise video or a dating service, but in fact it’s a package of 12 legislative proposals designed to get the union to its new target to reduce carbon emissions by […]

A Border Patrol agent watches as a group of migrants walk across the Rio Grande on their way to turning themselves in upon crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas, June 15, 2021 (AP photo by Eric Gay).

Last week, the British government introduced a bill that would allow asylum-seekers to be transferred outside the country while their claims are being processed. The measure, which was swiftly criticized by human rights groups, comes on the heels of a similar system being enacted in Denmark last month. On the latest episode of the Trend Lines podcast, Khalid Koser, the executive director of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the troubling erosion of the right to seek asylum in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, even as the total number of forcibly displaced […]

Protesters hold signs that read “Asylum is a Right” outside of the San Francisco Federal Courthouse, in San Francisco, California, July 24, 2019 (AP photo by Haven Daley).

According to article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” But that promise, which was enshrined three years later in the 1951 Refugee Convention, has never been completely honored. In fact, it has been progressively eroded in recent years across the Global North, even as the numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers around the world have swelled.  Just last month, the Parliament of Denmark passed a law allowing it to relocate asylum-seekers outside Europe while their claims are being processed. A similar measure is […]

Signs on a bank of computers at the public library in Wilmer, Texas, tell visitors that the machines are not working, following a ransomware attack on local Texas governments’ networks, Aug. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Tony Gutierrez).

The recent Fourth of July holiday weekend in the U.S. brought the latest installment in the wearying litany of colossal cyberattacks. The breach of the Miami-based software company Kaseya, which combined a supply chain attack with ransomware, affected hundreds of organizations all over the world—from kindergartens in New Zealand to a Swedish supermarket chain representing 20 percent of the country’s food retailers.  The company at the center of the incident, Kaseya, offers “complete, automated IT management software for [managed service providers] and IT Teams,” according to its website. Put another way, Kaseya software has low-level, privileged access right across the […]

A worker at a Huafu Fashion plant during a government-organized trip for foreign journalists, in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, April 20, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In January this year, two shipments of shirts made by the major Japanese brand Uniqlo arrived at a port in Los Angeles, where they were detained by the U.S. authorities. Few heard about the seizures until they were revealed in documents released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in May. It’s been a quiet story, receiving none of the media commotion that accompanied the Chinese boycott against fast fashion giant H&M and other retailers in March—but it has sent a ripple of fear through the fashion industry, nonetheless. The confiscation was part of a U.S. effort to prevent […]

The border fence that separates Spain, left, and Morocco, right, as seen from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, June 3, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

CEUTA, Spain—In March 2020, Morocco closed its land borders around Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, citing the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They have remained closed since, and with no indication of when they might reopen amid diplomatic tensions between Spain and Morocco, the two enclaves have been forced to confront their dependency on a newly assertive Morocco and come up with a radically different economic model. The economic picture in the enclaves, each of which hosts some 85,000 residents, has rarely been pretty. Today, about half the salaried workers in each are employed by […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 211 2 Last