Longitude #50

June, 2015


The rising allure of the tangible

Back to tangibles
by Stefano Cingolani

Music, images and information: they’ve all been subsumed by digital technology. However, instead of disappearing, the old paradigms are simply adapting to a wider range of possibilities. The result is a resurgence of the material world.

The market of revival
Map by Marie Joveneau
Scratching an itch for vinyl
by Maurizio Stefanini

It may be that the sound quality is better, or it may just be due to the frustration of enjoying music – already an ethereal art form – without having anything to hold on to. Whatever the case, vinyl albums and turntables are making a comeback.

Europe’s boat people

The migration wave crashes down on Europe
by Angelo Baiocchi

Migration may be as old as humanity, but its most resent manifestation in Europe, with refugees coming from across the Mediterranean Sea, poses unprecedented political problems. Europe’s very identity may be at stake. Willfully ignoring the challenge will only lead to a more rapid demise.

Human traffickers as liberators
by Christopher Caldwell

It’s convenient and politically safe to blame the disastrous recent wave of migrants on unscrupulous human traffickers. But in doing so we ignore the real strategic problem of migration as such.

Charting the exodus
Map by Marie Joveneau
Dealing with uninvited guests
by Maurizio Melani

Is the EU finally coming together to map out a policy to manage the increasing number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean? While flawed and in need of deeper considerations, the policy now envisaged is a step in the right direction.


Time to talk
by Stefano Stefanini

Washington and Moscow are on speaking terms again.
It might be too early to call it cooperation, especially with respect to Ukraine, but they are off to a good start on what promises to be a rough road.

A strategic need to re-engage
by Franco Frattini

The world is brimming over with hotspots. In order to deal with them sensibly the great powers must cooperate. So it’s only reasonable that the US not try to isolate Russia indefinitely. And Europe must pull its weight.

by Stash Luczkiw

As the fragile Minsk accords get tested on a daily basis, so do Ukraine’s volunteer battalions protecting Mariupol. A report from the front lines takes a look at the vanguard of Ukraine’s revolution.

by Stash Luczkiw

For the time being, neither side in Ukraine’s war can benefit from decisive escalation. But both sides stand to gain from low-intensity fighting.

Swinging London

Peering into a Pandora’s box
by Antonio Armellini

Now that David Cameron is safely ensconced in Downing Street, he will have to live up to his promise to hold a referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU. The potential for disaster is enormous and his task will be to find a right balance.

From push-ups to posh up
by Marco Maretto

The 2012 Olympic Games in London were certainly a sports mega-event, but they were also an opportunity for urban renewal. Sites built specifically for the Olympic games were designed to be retrofitted to the city’s needs once the games finished.


The Islamist connection
by Shahram Bahadori

In need of money to capture territory and spread their radical ideas, Islamist groups have turned to the cash cow of drug smuggling to finance their endeavors, making strange bedfellows along the way.


Macao’s gambling problem
by Fabrizio Franciosi

Macao is more than just China’s version of Las Vegas. It represents the Communist government’s first flirtation with the Western capitalist system. As such, its fate may be seen as a bellwether for China’s future.

The Orientalist

Proxy war in the Gulf
by Maurizio Molinari

Saudi Arabia and Iran are very close to direct armed conflict against each other. To judge by the new king’s recent moves, the Saudis intend to wait out the Obama presidency and maintain their close relationship with the US.

Inside business

Two train giants are better than one
by Hermann Simon, Danilo Zatta

China is about to create a monopoly out of two huge railroad companies. Despite economies of scale, this could, in the long run, hinder its competitiveness in the sector.

Warming bloopers

The climate finance dilemma
by Carlo Clini

At every summit on climate change nations make pledges to contribute to the financing of initiatives. Over the years, developing countries have become cautious regarding commitments from developed countries, which do not always materialize.