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The School of Government and Societies contribution to the Birmingham brief include:

Latest Birmingham briefs - intelligent thought on policy issues

Remembering Rwanda: can we ever say 'never again'?

Remembering Rwanda: can we ever say 'never again'?
Description
This week marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. More than 800,000 Rwandans, mostly from the minority ethnic Tutsi group, were killed by their Hutu neighbours while the UN force in the country and Western powers looked on.
Date:
Thursday 10th April 2014

A gay rights mountain to climb?

A gay rights mountain to climb?
Description
On 29 June 2013, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, signed a law banning the 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations' among people below the age of consent (18 years). For breaking the law, especially in the mass media or on the internet, individuals can be fined up to 1 million roubles. Foreign citizens can be detained for up to 15 days and deported back to their country, in addition to being fined up to 100,000 roubles.
Date:
Monday 17th February 2014

Crime on the high street goes missing

Crime on the high street goes missing
Description
Written by Professor John Raine. For almost two decades now the statistics for recorded crime in England and Wales have been falling. And even though there has always been a difference, of some magnitude, between the numbers gathered through the British Crime Survey – a large-scale sample of the public's experiences of crime victimisation – and the (persistently smaller) statistics compiled by the police, there has been broad agreement at least in the downward trend.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

Ukraine and Europe: challenges ahead

Ukraine and Europe: challenges ahead
Description
Following the failure of the Ukrainian government to sign an Association Agreement (AA), a pillar of the European Union's much-vaunted Eastern Partnership with Ukraine at its heart, protestors spilled onto the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities to demand the rescinding of this decision.
Date:
Monday 9th December 2013

Building trust in public policing? The contribution of Police and Crime Commissioners, one year on

Building trust in public policing? The contribution of Police and Crime Commissioners, one year on
Description
Written by Professor John Raine. The 'Plebgate' saga, which has now drawn apologies to Andrew Mitchell from three chief constables, has once again raised questions about police integrity and dented public trust and confidence in policing more generally.
Date:
Tuesday 5th November 2013

The security impact of drones: challenges and opportunities for the UK

The security impact of drones: challenges and opportunities for the UK
Description
When President George W. Bush handed over the reins of US foreign policy to Barack Obama, he reportedly made two requests. First, that the incoming US president maintains the covert cyber attacks against Iran, and secondly, that he continues the counter-terrorist drone campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not only did Obama follow through on this request, but during his time in office US drone strikes have more than doubled.
Date:
Friday 20th September 2013

Success at Edgbaston hits the wickets at Westminster: Why efforts to increase the number of women MPs seems to have been stumped.

Success at Edgbaston hits the wickets at Westminster: Why efforts to increase the number of women MPs seems to have been stumped.
Description
Edgbaston, best known for cricket, is politically interesting for two reasons – it was once the seat of the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and this week, it is celebrating the fact it is the only UK constituency to have returned a female MP to Parliament for 60 consecutive years.
Date:
Monday 8th July 2013

Weighing up the real value of the G8 summit

Weighing up the real value of the G8 summit
Description
It is easy to be cynical over the value of summits such as the G8 meeting recently concluded in Northern Ireland. After all, this year's meeting was preceded by the erection of fake shop fronts in Northern Ireland to disguise empty businesses, and when Birmingham played host in 1998 the city council sprayed the grass verges green.
Date:
Wednesday 26th June 2013

Why national politics is a mixed blessing in today's local elections

Why national politics is a mixed blessing in today's local elections
Description
Local elections will be held today in 34 councils, for 2,362 seats in 27 county councils and seven mainland unitaries. There are also two mayoral elections. Gains and losses will be measured in terms both of seats won and which parties have overall control of which councils.
Date:
Friday 3rd May 2013

Calculation and Miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula

Calculation and Miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula
Description
While it is sometimes tempting to see the regime of Kim Jong-eun as superficially comical, with its extravagant uniforms, dynastic worship and wild rhetoric, it is also important not to underestimate the serious risk of miscalculation and military escalation inherent within the current crisis. While there are many aspects of the present situation that are familiar to observers of the hermit state, there are also enough differences to give concern that this manufactured crisis could end differently.
Date:
Friday 19th April 2013

Sistine Chapel chimney could get sootier

Sistine Chapel chimney could get sootier
Description
Benedict XVI told the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square on 24 February 2013 that his retirement 'doesn't mean abandoning the church'. Many Catholics, though, including those who are not church goers, consider his unexpected resignation as the Vicar of Christ, an ill-thought out decision that will lead to an irreparable desacralization of the role.
Date:
Friday 1st March 2013

Scandals, cover-ups and resignations: Is Eastleigh the by-election to reinvigorate British politics?

Scandals, cover-ups and resignations: Is Eastleigh the by-election to reinvigorate British politics?
Description
A high profile political resignation following a legal scandal, allegations of sexual misconduct, two political 'partners' tearing at each other's throats, controversial candidates grabbing the headlines for the wrong reasons and the future positions of the Prime Minister and his Deputy placed under the microscope.
Date:
Thursday 28th February 2013

Electricity Market Reform: All power to the Big Six!

Electricity Market Reform: All power to the Big Six!
Description
The Electricity Market Reform (EMR) has been billed as a measure to decarbonise the electricity economy whilst at the same time stopping the electricity system collapsing as old coal and nuclear power stations come off line. Unfortunately the Government is selecting policy mechanisms that give a market advantage to the electricity majors.
Date:
Thursday 10th January 2013

Size Matters: Two Decades after the Break-Up of Czechoslovakia

Size Matters: Two Decades after the Break-Up of Czechoslovakia
Description
New Year's Eve is traditionally a time for celebration, reflection and looking forward with optimism. As Czechs and Slovaks mark what they call 'silvestr/silvester' by popping champagne corks and setting off fireworks, some will reflect not just on the dawn of a new year, but twenty years of separate statehood.
Date:
Tuesday 8th January 2013

What should we vote for?

What should we vote for?
Description
Is there an ideal electorate system? As a recent Birmingham Brief demonstrated, we are often faced with a simple binary choice: do we want 'strong government' which can claim an empowering mandate, or do we want a government that represents, however messily, 'the will of the people'? If we want the former, in the UK at least, we have persisted with a first-past-the-post system. From time-to-time, though, we have had a dark night of the soul, wondered at the fairness of governments' claiming a mandate from a minority of voters actually supporting them, and flirted with alternatives.
Date:
Tuesday 11th December 2012

Legal, Legitimate, and Effective Drone Warfare: Grand Illusion or Future Reality?

Legal, Legitimate, and Effective Drone Warfare: Grand Illusion or Future Reality?
Description
On 14 November, 2012, an Israeli drone strike killed Ahmed Jabari, the head of the military wing of Hamas in Gaza. The sharply escalating violence in the aftermath of this so-called targeted killing, while particularly costly in human life, is part of a seemingly unending violent confrontation in the region: according to a timeline of the conflict, over the past almost four years (since the conclusion of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza) more than 300 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed, while in the past two years, some 800 missiles have been launched from Gaza into southern Israel.
Date:
Wednesday 5th December 2012

Georgia's Parliamentary Elections - Democracy in Action?

Georgia's Parliamentary Elections - Democracy in Action?
Description
On 01 October 2012 Georgia, a small post-Soviet state on the Black Sea coast with a population of 4.6 million people, conducted its 8th Parliamentary elections since 1990. The pre-election campaign was closely watched by the West and the number of international observers monitoring the elections was allegedly the country's largest-ever.
Date:
Wednesday 5th December 2012

The New Trident Debate

The New Trident Debate
Description
According to Sir Humphrey Appleby in the 1980s BBC sitcom "Yes Prime Minister", the Trident missile system was "the Rolls Royce of nuclear weapons, the sort of deterrent that one would buy from Harrods." As the decision point looms for the replacement of this capability, questions are being asked whether Britain can afford a new Rolls, whether it should instead go for a more modest system, perhaps more of a Ford Mondeo deterrent, or whether indeed it should go green and eschew the need for such a costly and controversial system altogether.
Date:
Monday 5th November 2012

Euro 2012: the Janus-Faced Nature of Hosting Sports Mega-Events

Euro 2012: the Janus-Faced Nature of Hosting Sports Mega-Events
Description
Avery Brundage, the former President of the International Olympic Committee, famously stated over 50 years ago that sport transcends politics and the former has no place in the dealings of the latter. Sport has always been inextricably bound up with politics, but nowadays the hosting of sports mega-events has become competitive in its own right, as potential hosts weigh up the benefits against the substantial costs of putting on such occasions.
Date:
Friday 8th June 2012

The eurozone crisis is Angela Merkel's chief dilemma

The eurozone crisis is Angela Merkel's chief dilemma
Description
Angela Merkel's second term as chancellor, which began in 2009, has been a difficult one. On the home front, there has been much infighting inside her CDU-FDP (conservative-liberal) government, her FDP coalition partner is weak and unpopular, and her own party, the CDU, has lost ground in important regional elections. Merkel's main challenge, however, remains the ongoing crisis in the eurozone.
Date:
Friday 1st June 2012
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Birmingham perspective:

Ariel Sharon dies at 85 after decades as polarising presence

Ariel Sharon dies at 85 after decades as polarising presence
Description
Written by Dr Asaf Siniver. "Described by Ronald Reagan as 'a bellicose man who seemed to be chomping at the bit to start a war' and by George W Bush as "a man of peace", few contemporary figures could match Sharon's talent for invoking such contradictory sentiments by two American presidents."
Date:
24/01/2014

Autumn Statement 2013 - Response

Autumn Statement 2013 - Response
Description
We asked six leading academics for their response to the government's Autumn Statement and the likely impact it could have on everything from taxes to local service provision, the high street to personal wealth.
Date:
10/12/2013

Autumn Statement 2013 - Expert Opinions

Autumn Statement 2013 - Expert Opinions
Description
We asked six leading academics for their expert opinions on this week's Autumn Statement and the likely impact it could have on everything from taxes to local service provision, the high street to personal wealth.
Date:
04/12/2013

Read more Birmingham perspectives.