Americans have become increasingly aware of the addictive effects that Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram have on young people. But we should all be even more concerned about Tik Tok, the English-language version of the signature app owned by China’s ByteDance company.

TikTok consists solely of catchy, fast-moving short videos…

Christopher Columbus was born in the bustling north-Italian port city of Genoa in 1451 CE, just a couple of years before the Ottoman Turks captured the great East Mediterranean metropolis of Constantinople (Istanbul) from its longtime Christian emperor. …

Historic engraving of a slave market in Mauritius

The French and the Anglo-Saxons have gotten into a big pissing match over Australia’s decision to nix a longstanding contract for French-built submarines in favor of a bigger one with the United States (with some UK involvement), for nuclear-powered subs, instead. The French have been understandably miffed by the loss…

Detail from a late-19th century painting of a Viking ship off the coast of Greenland

Throughout history there have been numerous empires, none of which was built using peaceful means. All were built through the use of greater or lesser amounts of violence. During the 15th century CE, the era in which the first two great West-European transoceanic empires were first being built, there were…

Part of a portrait of Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões, painted in 1581 in Goa

I’m at the transition point between completing the big essay on the birth of the Portuguese empire, which I published August 30, and sitting down to plan the next essay in the “Big Western Imperialisms” series, the one on Spain. Astute readers of the Portugal essay will have found some…

A 20th-century mural of Afonso de Albuquerque by Jaime Martins Barata, located at a “Palace of Justice” in Lisbon

In the longform essay on the birth and early decades of the Portuguese empire that I published last week, I referred to the uses the Portuguese conquistadors made of “exemplary terror” as they built their trading-forts-based global empire in the 15th and early 16th centuries CE. Any history of this…

Painting of King Manuel sending Da Gama’s 1497 expedition off from the shore near Lisbon

1492? How about 1415 CE?

If we’re trying to identify the start-date of the era of Western domination of world affairs that is now lurching toward a close, then the very serious moves that Portugal made, long before 1492, to build a colonial empire in West Africa and the mid-Atlantic…

Projected food insecurity in Afghanistan

If you followed most US corporate media coverage you might believe that (1) the only important news in Afghanistan today is what’s happening in and near Kabul airport; (2) all “sane” Afghans want to leave their country; and (3) the best way Westerners can help is by bringing these people…

(A Twitter thread by @helenacobban)

Can we say that what is happening in #Afghanistan is the #EndOfAnEra? Yes, in many different ways… (thread) >

First, it’s the end of this 20-year era in US/world politics bracketed by 2 searing, much-photographed incidents that each involved (a) airplanes & (b) desperate people falling out of the sky…

Helena Cobban

Veteran analyst of global affairs, with a focus on the Middle East. Senior Fellow, Ctr for International Policy. Fuller bio at my Wikipedia page.

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