The Plague

In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus describes how death comes to an ugly French port in Algeria. Thanks to an infestation of rats and the fleas they carry, the bubonic plague descends upon the city in the spring and intensifies during the hot summer. After a short period of denial, the residents panic, then sink into despondency and alcoholism. The port is put under quarantine. Undeterred by...
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Resolving Conflicts in Romania

An ethnic map of Romania explains a great deal about the relations between the majority and the minorities in the country. Ethnic Hungarians have an absolute majority in two counties – Harghita and Covasna – in the very heart of the country. Together with parts of Mures county, this region is known as Szekely Land. This area maintained a high degree of autonomy – and distinct cultural...
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Making It in Lowicz

One of the economic advantages that Poland has over its East-Central European neighbors is its relative decentralization. Hungary is completely dependent on Budapest just as Bulgaria leans heavily on Sofia and the Czech Republic on Prague. Poland has a number of major cities, including Krakow and Gdansk. Moreover, decentralization was a chief aim during the transition period. In March 1990,...
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The Costs of Reunification

Here’s a condensed version of what happened in Germany in 1989-90. The Germans in the East rose up against their authoritarian regime because they wanted freedom. Eventually they also got the German deutschmark and reunification. The cost of that economic and political reunification was shouldered almost entirely by West Germans while the benefits flowed mostly to the East Germans. Economist...
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The No-Complex Generation

It is commonly said (on the Internet) that the second most widely spoken language at Microsoft, after English, is Romanian. Even if this is just a fanciful e-myth, it’s certainly true that the corporation does a great deal of recruiting in Romania and, in 2007, established its Global Business Support Center in Timisoara and Bucharest. Once a supplier of computers to the Soviet bloc, Romania...
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Bombing the Caliphate

The last Islamic caliphate ended in 1924. Claimed by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, the caliphate saw its fortunes rise and fall with those of its imperial protectors. When the Ottoman Empire expired at the end of World War I, the caliphate’s days were numbered. Never recognized in far-flung areas like Somalia or Malaysia or by the Shi’a and other minority communities, the Sunni...
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