Boris Nemtsov, Tipping, Donetsk, China-Watching, Israel, Bank Robbery

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Remembering Boris Nemtsov

Keith Gessen | London Review Of Books | 10th March 2015

Affectionate and perceptive obituary which draws Nemtsov from life and proposes a motive for his death. "It wasn’t for his human flaws, or for his contribution to the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. He was killed for his opposition to the war. Since the start, critics have been warning that the war in Ukraine would eventually come home to Moscow. No matter who pulled the trigger on the bridge, it has" (2,680 words)

Tipping And Status

Julian Baggini | Aeon | 10th March 2015

Tipping makes no obvious economic sense. The tip is usually given after service is rendered, often with no expectation of future service. In general we tip people whom we do not respect; so perhaps the tip serves as apology for that. Tipping is lower in more egalitarian societies. The average tip at Noma in Copenhagen is 3%. To tip in Japan is an insult because it is clearly understood to imply a lower status for the recipient (2,600 words)

The Isolation Of Donetsk

Christian Neef | Der Spiegel | 9th March 2015

It takes days to get into Donetsk, the main city of rebel-held eastern Ukraine, and then you can't get out; to cross into western Ukraine you need a permit that can only be obtained in western Ukraine. Donetsk is relatively peaceful while the ceasefire holds, but food is scarce and civilians stay indoors: "The war-torn city seems to have lost its moral bearings, with the newspapers reporting 18 murders in the last three days" (2,360 words)

You Have No Idea What’s Happening In China

Eric Fish | Sinostand | 9th March 2015

China-watchers know very little about what is happening in Chinese politics today, let alone what will happen next. Imagine taking today's pundits back to 1986 and asking them to predict developments five years ahead. Repeat the exercise for 1976, 1966, 1956, 1946. Even if they had all the information available to the Chinese leadership of the time, "does anyone believe any of them could have predicted what actually unfolded?" (1,080 words)

Israel: The Original Terrorist State

Adam Kirsch | Tablet | 9th March 2015

Terrorism works. Just ask Israel's founding fathers. Their "campaign of terror" against the British was decisive in the struggle for independence. Bruce Hoffman's Anonymous Soldiers tells the story: "As we read the telegrams from Jerusalem to London and the orders that flowed back, we see something remarkable: The inner workings of a world power as it is utterly defeated by a few thousand determined militants" (1,790 words)

International Men Of Mystery

Kate McClymont | Sydney Morning Herald | 13th December 2012

Classic crime reporting. An Australian gang steals $150 million from J.P. Morgan by hacking into a fax line. But how do you launder money on that scale? Here's how. You transfer it to a client account with a Hong Kong company that runs gambling cruises to Macau; get on the boat in Hong Kong, gamble all night, and take an IOU for your balance when the boat docks; go to the casino in Macau and exchange the IOU for clean cash (4,000 words)

Video of the day: Peter Blake — The Art Of Satire

What to expect: The much-admired cartoonist of the London Times describes his work (7'19")

Thought for the day

The surest defense against evil is extreme individualism
Joseph Brodsky (

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