Scott G. Frickenstein (USAF): The Resurgence of Russian Interests in Central Asia. From Gottingen Journal of International Law, a special issue on Russia and international law, from the North Pole to the Caucasus. From EJSS, Scott Nicholas Romaniuk (Carleton) and Joshua Kenneth Wasylciw (Calgary): Russia’s Authoritarianism in Strategic Perspective; and Помаранчева революція: The Disintegration of Ukrainian Political Identity. From History Today, three hundred years ago, Russia emerged as a major power after a clash of armies in the Ukraine — Peter the Great’s victory had repercussions that last to this day. Is Russia doomed to be always the part of the European jigsaw that doesn't fit or, to put it another way, to what extent is Russia part of Europe? Russia's new diplomatic strategy is cheap and counterproductive, but playing the pest is the only way for Moscow to claim relevance. Russia’s attempts to reassert influence over its neighbours are understandable and inevitable; such behaviour is hardly unique among former empires, including our own. From World Politics Review, a look at why Russia still matters in the Asian Century. An interview with Andrei Maylunas on books on pre-revolutionary Russia. A hidden history of evil: Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives? An interview with Lyubov Vinogradova on books from the KGB archives. Even before the first effects of glasnost kicked in, Soviet artists influenced by pop art but driven underground by censorship began to show new confidence as western collectors flocked to buy their work. Russia has been accused of abandoning its literary past after it emerged that the Kremlin has no plans to mark the centenary of Tolstoy's death, and an acclaimed film of "Anna Karenina" has failed to find distributors.

From Griffith Review, a special issue on Australia: Still the lucky country? From The Atlantic Monthly, private rail networks could save the housing industry, revive the economy, and help meet the booming demand for walkable neighborhoods; and a look at how new wireless technology will shape the city of the future — and automate everything from parking to engineering to traffic flow. From FT, a review essay on pirates. From Fedline, who knew hiring reform could be so exciting? From Obit, an article on Jack Bauer's final minutes: 24’s nightmare days are at an end; and HBO’s new film on Jack Kevorkian tackles a man and an issue. Race under fire: Is being white something you can learn? Robert Baird reviews Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy by Keith Waldrop. From Dark Roasted Blend, an article on flags of forgotten countries (and part 2). An interview with Gregory Currie, author of Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories. What's with conservatives' fetish for the Founding Fathers? Gabriel Winant wants to know. Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman's presidency. Mr. Bridge: The greatest player in the world — perhaps the greatest player of all time — is a seemingly unremarkable, quietly intense septuagenarian from Dallas named Bob Hamman. A review of Bradley J. Birzer’s American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll. An interview with James Galbraith: "The danger posed by the deficit is zero". Hip-hop holds African-Americans back: A review of Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture by Thomas Chatterton Williams. The Eggheads Scramble: How is intellectual life shaping up in the Obama era? Scott McLemee collects evidence from the news vendor.

From TLS, a review of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro (and more and more and more and more and more). From Slate, the Shakespeare apocalypse is coming in 2011. Big ideas (don’t get any): Why Lionel Shriver doesn’t get the respect she deserves. An interview with Juan Goytisolo: "No one emerges unscathed from an encounter with Genet". A review of Burying Bones: Pearl Buck's Life in China by Hilary Spurling (and more and more and more). Mythologist of our age: Nathaniel Rich on why Ray Bradbury's stories have seeped into the culture. Why were there only 8 women on the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels of the Twentieth Century, and why is only 3% of the literature Americans read in translation? From LRB, Frank Kermode on Eliot and the Shudder. Jessa Crispin on Girls of Lonely Means: A poet's death sparks a meditation on fiction, longing, and solitude. Far from having writer's block, Ralph Ellison wrote an endless book to match his endless and shifting ambitions. A review of Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and her Family’s Feuds by Lyndall Gordon (and more). From Evergreen Review, a review of Conversations with Samuel Beckett and Bram van Velde by Charles Juliet; and Marek Kedzierski remembers Barbara Bray, Samuel Beckett's long-term companion (and from Bookforum, Albert Mobilio reviews Beckett: Photographs by Francois-Marie Banier). In a new series, Intelligent Life analyses the style of a well-loved author; Tim de Lisle gets the ballpoint rolling with a close look at Philip Pullman. If you had to take one religious poet to a desert island, who would it be? A review of Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers by Lesley McDowell. A review of The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography by Robert Crawford.

And check out Paper Trail, Bookforum's blog on publishing, literature, and our favorite authors.

From NYRB, Peter Beinart on the failure of the American Jewish Establishment (and more). Once, headlines were meant to be clever or catchy or evocative — now they are there to get search engines to notice. The introduction to Intellectual Black Holes by Stephen Law. The Age of Political Risk: James Surowiecki on Greek debt and the most expensive “if” in history. From The Fortean Times, a look at the strange story of a dying man and a doppelganger searching for a photo; although the camera never lies it can certainly be misleading — especially when we're looking at the long history of ghosts on film; and telepathy on trial: The search for evidence of ESP. Activism v. Restraint: Jeffrey Toobin on what Obama can learn from FDR. The Gospel of Well-Educated Guessing: Sanjoy Mahajan teaches his students how to make good estimates, using both their heads and their guts. An interview with David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us. The Huffington Post recently celebrated five years in business; five CJR reporters reflect on various aspects of its legacy. Abigail Deutsch reviews The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott. From “Rogues” to “Outliers”: Can Iran and North Korea change their behavior absent a change in the character of their regimes? Someone on the Expo 2010 planning committee must have had the phrase "Axis of Evil" but in mind when it was decided that Iran and North Korea would be pavilion neighbors. From Inside Catholic, John Zmirak on how fake virtues are worse than vices. A new worm has infected millions of computers; its creators wield the most advanced encryption known to man, and have stumped the best cyber-security experts in the world — no one knows what the worm’s masters are planning to use it for, and no one knows how to stop it.

Peter Fitzpatrick (Birkbeck): Necessary Fictions: Indigenous Claims and the Humanity of Rights. Mark Moran (Queensland): The Intercultural Practice of Local Governance in an Aboriginal Settlement in Australia. From Meanjin, an article on Australian policy in indigenous affairs; Kate Grenville on the Indigenous Literacy Project, the Australian book industry’s initiative to get books into remote communities; and the return of the bones: The Ngarrindjeri still have a long road ahead before all their "old people" can be laid to rest. From the Department of State's eJournal USA, a special issue on indigenous peoples. A review of Indigenous and Popular Thinking in America by Rodolfo Kusch. From the United Nations, a report on the State of the World's Indigenous Peoples. From the Vatican's Zenit, an article on the development of indigenous peoples with culture and identity. A review of The Rediscovered Self: Indigenous Identity and Cultural Justice by Ronald Niezen. Living Maps: How new GPS technologies are being used in the Amazon to first plot and then protect Indigenous lands. An expedition conducted by FUNAI (Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Department) has confirmed the existence of a group of uncontacted Indians in Maranhao state in the eastern Amazon. Survival International has launched an international ad campaign calling for the protection of one of the last uncontacted tribes in South America. Tribal people say Avatar is real and find an ally in James Cameron (and more; Slavoj Zizek says the Dongria Kondh people in India are like the race of blue-skinned aboriginal people). If Avatar gets people to understand indigenous struggles and act on them, or allows us to demonstrate those connections for people, it will have served as useful.