Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. With a length of 9,289 kilometres, from Moscow to Vladivostok, it is the longest railway line in the world; the railway was built between 1891 and 1916 under the supervision of Russian government ministers appointed by Tsar Alexander III and his son, the Tsarevich Nicholas. Before it had been completed, it attracted travellers who wrote of their adventures; the Trans-Siberian Railway has connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916. Expansion of the railway is still taking place today, with connecting rails going into Mongolia and North Korea; the railway is associated with the main transcontinental Russian line that connects hundreds of large and small cities of the European and Asian parts of Russia. At a Moscow–Vladivostok track length of 9,289 kilometres, it spans a record eight time zones. Taking eight days to complete the journey, it is the third-longest single continuous service in the world, after the Moscow–Pyongyang 10,267 kilometres and the Kiev–Vladivostok 11,085 kilometres services, both of which follow the Trans-Siberian for much of their routes.

The main route of the Trans-Siberian Railway begins in Moscow at Yaroslavsky Vokzal, runs through Yaroslavl, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Ulan-Ude and Khabarovsk to Vladivostok via southern Siberia. A second primary route is the Trans-Manchurian, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian east of Chita as far as Tarskaya, about 1,000 km east of Lake Baikal. From Tarskaya the Trans-Manchurian heads southeast, via Harbin and Mudanjiang in China's Northeastern Provinces, joining with the main route in Ussuriysk just north of Vladivostok; this is the oldest railway route to Vladivostok. While there are no traverse passenger services on this branch, it is still used by several international passenger services between Russia and China; the third primary route is the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Ulan-Ude on Lake Baikal's eastern shore. From Ulan-Ude the Trans-Mongolian heads south to Ulaan-Baatar before making its way southeast to Beijing. In 1991, a fourth route running further to the north was completed, after more than five decades of sporadic work.

Known as the Baikal Amur Mainline, this recent extension departs from the Trans-Siberian line at Taishet several hundred miles west of Lake Baikal and passes the lake at its northernmost extremity. It crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure, reaches the Tatar Strait at Sovetskaya Gavan. On 13 October 2011, a train from Khasan made its inaugural run to North Korea. In the late 19th century, the development of Siberia was hampered by poor transport links within the region, as well as with the rest of the country. Aside from the Great Siberian Route, good roads suitable for wheeled transport were rare. For about five months of the year, rivers were the main means of transport. During the cold half of the year and passengers travelled by horse-drawn sledges over the winter roads, many of which were the same rivers, but ice-covered; the first steamboat on the River Ob, Nikita Myasnikov's Osnova, was launched in 1844. But early beginnings were difficult, it was not until 1857 that steamboat shipping started developing on the Ob system in a serious way.

Steamboats started operating on the Yenisei in 1863, on the Lena and Amur in the 1870s. While the comparative flatness of Western Siberia was at least well served by the gigantic Ob–Irtysh–Tobol–Chulym river system, the mighty rivers of Eastern Siberia—the Yenisei, the upper course of the Angara River, the Lena—were navigable only in the north-south direction. An attempt to remedy the situation by building the Ob-Yenisei Canal was not successful. Only a railway could be a real solution to the region's transport problems; the first railway projects in Siberia emerged after the completion of the Saint Petersburg–Moscow Railway in 1851. One of the first was the Irkutsk–Chita project, proposed by the American entrepreneur Perry Collins and supported by Transport Minister Constantine Possiet with a view toward connecting Moscow to the Amur River, to the Pacific Ocean. Siberia's governor, Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky, was anxious to advance the colonisation of the Russian Far East, but his plans could not materialise as long as the colonists had to import grain and other food from China and Korea.

It was on Muravyov's initiative. Before 1880, the central government had ignored these projects, because of the weakness of Siberian enterprises, a clumsy bureaucracy, fear of financial risk. By 1880, there were a large number of rejected and upcoming applications for permission to construct railways to connect Siberia with the Pacific, but not Eastern Russia; this made connecting Siberia with Central Russia a pressing concern. The design process lasted 10 years. Along with the route constructed, alternative projects were proposed: Southern route: via Kazakhstan, Barnaul and Mongolia. Northern route: via Tyumen, Tomsk and the modern Baikal Amur Mainline or through Yakutsk. The

Philosophy and Real Politics

Philosophy and Real Politics is a 2008 book by British philosopher and scholar Raymond Geuss whose main subject is the relationship between politics and human needs. The book is an expansion of a lecture given at the University of Athens in April 2007 under the title'Lenin and Political Philosophy'; the book has been regarded as a remarkable contribution to the social sciences due to its author's rejection of the popular politics as applied ethics approach in the current philosophical and political landscape. Professor Geuss argues that a dried and disembodied view of politics is the result of certain western philosophical traditions. Geuss points out that the recent and ongoing social conflicts call into question whether politics can be reduced to the realm of ethics without taking into account the needs and goals behind people's actions; the first part of the book deals with what Geuss calls the'realist approach to political philosophy'. According to him, since Hobbes this approach has been persistent among political scientists but it tends to overlook the fact that historical and geographical differences among societies and cultures play a major role in the concepts of'order' and'intolerable disorder'.

Geuss notes that nowadays the freedom to own private firearms is rejected in western European societies, while in the United States this is something considered natural. The way a given society adopts cultural and behavioural traits may be different from, sometimes, opposed to, another. Part two is devoted to the failures of the realist approach in political philosophy; the author discusses a variety of concepts such as equality, fairness and impartiality. Using many examples from history and everyday social life, Geuss concludes that those concepts are subject to many conditions and a closer inspection is needed in order to overcome their apparent universality. Politics is not a framework of theories, Geuss argues, but more like a skill or a craft that needs to be practised and improved through critical inspection. Philosophy of Politics John Rawls Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature Utopia for Realists Law & Politics Book Review: Philosophy and Real Politics The Philosopher's Zone - Getting down to reality: Raymond Geuss Philosophy and Real Politics at LibraryThing

Xinjiang conflict

The Xinjiang conflict is a conflict in China's far-northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang centred on the Uyghurs, a Turkic minority ethnic group who make up the largest group in the region. Though the conflict is traced to 1931, factors such as the massive state-sponsored migration of Han Chinese from the 1950s to the 1970s, government policies promoting Chinese cultural unity and punishing certain expressions of Uyghur identity, harsh responses to separatist terrorism have contributed to tension between Uyghurs, state police and Han Chinese; this has taken the form of both frequent terrorist attacks and wider public unrest such as the 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings, July 2009 Ürümqi riots, 2011 Hotan attack, April 2014 Ürümqi attack, May 2014 Ürümqi attack, 2014 Kunming attack. In recent years, government policy has been marked by mass surveillance, increased arrests, a system of "re-education camps", estimated to hold over one million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority ethnic groups.

There have been no known protests or attacks by Uyghurs since 2017. Xinjiang is a large central-Asian region within the People's Republic of China comprising numerous minority groups: 45% of its population are Uyghurs, 40% are Han, its industrialised capital, Ürümqi, has a population of more than 2.3 million, about 75% of whom are Han, 12.8% are Uyghur, 10% are from other ethnic groups. In general and the Han government disagree on which group has greater historical claim to the Xinjiang region: Uyghurs believe their ancestors were indigenous to the area, whereas government policy considers present-day Xinjiang to have belonged to China since around 200 BC. According to Chinese policy, Uyghurs are classified as a National Minority. During the Mao era the People's Republic oversaw the migration into Xinjiang of millions of Han, who have been accused of economically dominating the region, although a 2008 survey on both ethnic groups has contradicted the allegation. Current Chinese minority policy is based on affirmative action, has reinforced a Uyghur ethnic identity, distinct from the Han population.

However, Human Rights Watch describes a "multi-tiered system of surveillance and suppression of religious activity" perpetrated by state authorities. It is estimated that over 100,000 Uyghurs are held in political "re-education camps". China justifies such measures as a response to the terrorist threat posed by extremist separatist groups; these policies, in addition to long-standing unfriendly relations and prejudices between the Han and Uyghurs, have sometimes resulted in tension between the two ethnic groups. As a result of the policies, the Uyghurs' freedoms of religion and of movement have been curtailed, most of them believe the government downplays their history and traditional culture. On the other hand, some Han citizens view Uyghurs as benefiting from special treatment, such as preferential admission to universities and exemption from the one-child policy, as "harbouring separatist aspirations". There have been attempts to restrict the Uyghur birth rate and increase the Han fertility rate in portions of Xinjiang to counteract Uyghur separatism.

Although religious education for children is forbidden by law in China, the Communist Party allows Hui Muslims to have their children educated in Islam and attend mosques. After secondary education, China allows Hui students to study with an imam. China does not enforce the law against children attending mosques on non-Uyghurs outside Xinjiang. Since the 1980s Islamic private schools have been permitted by the Chinese government in Muslim areas, excluding Xinjiang because of its separatist sentiment. Hui Muslims employed by the state, unlike Uyghurs, are allowed to fast during Ramadan; the number of Hui going on Hajj is expanding and Hui women are allowed to wear veils, but Uyghur women are discouraged from wearing them. Muslim ethnic groups in different regions are treated differently by the Chinese government with regard to religious freedom. Religious freedom exists for Hui Muslims, who can practice their religion, build mosques and have their children attend them. Hui religious schools are allowed, an autonomous network of mosques and schools run by a Hui Sufi leader was formed with the approval of the Chinese government.

According to The Diplomat, Uyghur religious activities are curtailed but Hui Muslims are granted widespread religious freedom. In the last two decades of the 20th century, Uyghurs in Turpan were treated favourably by China with regard to religion. Uyghur and Han Communist officials in Turpan turned a blind eye to the law, allowing Islamic education of Uyghur children. Religious celebrations and the Hajj were encouraged by the Chinese government for Uyghur Communist Party members, 350 mosques were built in Turpan between 1979 and 1989; as a result, Han and the Chinese government were viewed more positively by Uyghurs in Turpan. In 1989, there were 20,000 mosques in Xinjiang; until separatist disturbances began in 1996, China allowed people to ignore the rule prohibiting religious observance by government officials. Large mosques were built with Chinese government assistance in Ürümqi. While rules proscribing religious activities were enforced in southern Xinjiang, conditions were comparatively lax in Ürümqi.

According to The Economist, in 2016 Uyghurs faced difficulties travelling within Xinjiang and live in fenced-off nei