Apple and its Chinese Supplier’s Labor Practices in Spotlight

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman Jr.

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com)

Once again, Apple is on the front pages because of problems with its suppliers in China. But hard questions still exist about whether the new indictment will make any difference.

The headlines shout that one of Apple’s main suppliers is “Vowing Reforms in China Plants.” This pledge from Foxconn, the huge Chinese electronic supplier, came after the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an independent monitor, issued a report confirming widespread violations of Chinese labor laws and other labor standards at three factories that make iPhones, iPads and other devices. Under pressure from recurring supplier problems, Apple had been forced to hire FLA earlier this year. Continue reading >

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Why Europe Still Matters

Nicholas Burns

By Nicholas Burns

(This is an excerpt from my latest Boston Globe column on Friday, March 30. See that piece for a longer assessment of these challenges.)

At a recent conference in Brussels sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, I heard from countless European officials how simplistic, shallow, and plain wrong the pundits are in forecasting the declining importance of Europe for Americans. Europe still matters greatly to the United States, these officials say, and we should be skeptical about predictions of its imminent demise. Continue reading >

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Americans can help protect Tibetan rights

Andrea Strimling Yodsampa

By Andrea Strimling Yodsampa

Research Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In a dramatic contrast to the festivities welcoming the Chinese New Year, Tibetans in Boston and across the globe have refused to celebrate Losar. Tibetans are in mourning – not only for the loss of their homeland and the threat to their culture under the Chinese Communist regime, but for the 25 monks, nuns, and lay people who have set themselves on fire over the past year. Continue reading >

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Russia and Putin Redux: Prospects for Change

Simon Saradzhyan

Simon Saradzhyan

Nabi Abdullaev

By Simon Saradzhyan  and Nabi Abdullaev           

(Updated Monday, March 5, 2012)

There was little doubt that Vladimir Putin would be elected president of Russia on Sunday and return to the Kremlin for a third term. The Central Elections Committee announced on Monday that Putin won more than 60 percent of the vote and avoided a second round. But there is also little doubt that the legitimacy of his presidency will be contested during his third term, given the scale of recent protests against his return and strong criticism of the Sunday vote, which some of the opposition leaders and independent observers condemned as unfair and fraudulent. Continue reading >

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Scholars reflect on Afghan Koran burnings, rioting

Several Harvard Kennedy School scholars who have worked in Afghanistan were asked to comment on how the United States should respond to the accidental burning of Korans by the U.S. military, and the subsequent deadly rioting in the country. Here are their responses:

Aisha Ahmad

Aisha Ahmad, International Security Program research fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Ahmad, a doctoral candidate at McGill University, studies political Islamic movements, and has done field work in Afghanistan and Pakistan..

(Note: this comment appeared first on the Los Angeles Times World Now)

Afghans are very religious people, and the desecration of the Holy Koran is an extraordinary offense to Muslims. However, these riots are symbolic of a much larger discontent with the international presence in Afghanistan. Continue reading >

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What happens the day after an attack on Iran?

Ehud Eiran

By Ehud Eiran

Former Associate and Research Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

With the war drums beating, I reviewed for Foreign Affairs.com on Feb. 24  some aspects of the discussion in Israel about the “day after” a possible attack in Iran. I highlighted the gap between the rather frank and detailed discussion of the military aspects, and the limited conversation about the broader political ramifications.These ramifications include, among other things, the internal effects in Iran and possible crisis with the United States. Continue reading >

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Swing Vote: How the Election Could Tip the Balance of the Supreme Court

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman Jr.

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com

Justice Kennedy is often the deciding vote in divisive 5-4 decisions. A new nomination could strip him of this role and steer the court sharply left or right.

The president sworn in next January may have the opportunity, through a single appointment, to move the Supreme Court strongly in a conservative or liberal direction, with significant implications for some of the most controversial issues of this era far beyond the future of Roe v. Wade. Continue reading >

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Fighting for Food?

By Halvard Buhaug, Helge Holtermann, and Ole Magnus Theisen

The globe keeps warming and a global food crisis is looming, but evidence suggests that, contrary to the opinion of many observers, tensions over scarce food and water will not increase the risk of civil war.

The number of undernourished people on our planet may never have been higher. Soaring food prices and a global financial crisis have increased the ranks of the world’s food insecure to more than a billion people according to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization. According to the World Bank’s World Development Report 2011, increasing food prices have stirred protests and riots in more than 60 countries in recent years. Some experts also attribute the ongoing wave of revolutionary uprisings across the Arab world partly to unstable food supply, suggesting a causal connection between weather-induced crop failure and armed conflict. Continue reading >

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India disappoints U.S. friends with its Iran policy

Nicholas Burns

By Nicholas Burns

The Indian government’s ill-advised statement last week that it will continue to purchase oil from Iran is a major setback for the U.S. attempt to isolate the Iranian government over the nuclear issue.  The New York Times reported Sunday that Indian authorities are actively aiding Indian firms to avoid current sanctions by advising them to pay for Iranian oil in Indian rupees.  It may go even further by agreeing to barter deals with Iran—all to circumvent the sanctions regime carefully constructed by the U.S. and its friends and allies.  According to the Times, India now has the dubious distinction of being the leading importer of Iranian oil. Continue reading >

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America’s Global Anti-Corruption Strategy: Time for a Reset

By Ben W. Heineman Jr.

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Note: this article first appeared on theatlantic.com

Corruption in emerging markets is at the core of key development, globalization, foreign policy and national security problems facing the United States. In recent years, the U.S. has had some success in implementing an international anti-bribery convention. But it has had significant issues when fighting corruption in major counter-insurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and in new international development initiatives.

As it exits Iraq and Afghanistan and tries to reshape its development programs, the U.S. faces a fundamental question: can it provide realistic leadership, with others in the world community, to help reformers in corrupt nations combat this global scourge? Continue reading >

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