Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is working hard these days to reassure jittery allies in Gulf that the US still has their back. It appears that the shock, rage and horror from long time allies about the administration’s negotiations with Iran has concentrated some minds in the US government. The White House does not have total freedom to make any deal it likes with Iran.
A Japanese company thought way, way beyond the box with this idea: putting a ring of solar panels around the moon’s equator and beaming that energy back down to earth. This idea is much more fiction than it is science, but dreams like this one may be achieved sooner than we might expect.
The US could save anywhere from 1 to 8.5 billion dollars a year by reducing the inefficiencies in hospital waiting rooms. This is an example of the kind of expensive defects in our health care system that aren’t even really on most people’s policy radars, but few reforms will be really achievable until we can a handle on the waste and inefficiencies currently making the system expensive and dysfunctional.
A new report on the Vatican Bank shows a church, and a Pope, on the move, but with much left still to do.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is coming down heavily on the side of a “strategic partnership” with Russia, but without aid from China, Putin may have to buy Ukraine on his own.
It is now a commonplace belief that a worldwide diffusion of human rights norms occurred following the Cold War, creating a consensus favoring humanitarian intervention. This is wishful thinking. Armed humanitarian interventions since the aftermath of the Cold War have been selective, poorly executed, strategically naive, morally incoherent and even dangerous. Far from reflecting, let alone having contributed to, a global consensus, they have been divisive. This is so not because the world has just done it wrong; it is so because of flaws in the concept itself.
As you read this, I’m on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic flying back to the States. I’ve been in Budapest for most of the week completely swamped in meetings, all the while trying to meet several competing writing deadlines. As such, you’ll have to forgive me, dear readers, if my post explaining the site changes you see in front of you is a little brief.
Despite the recent arrival of French troops, there appears to be no end in sight for the violence sweeping CAR or the underlying issues—poor governance, corruption, religious divides, a badly struggling economy—driving it.
A date has been set for Iran and the P5+1 powers to work out how to implement the landmark nuclear deal. But to what extent we’re actually witnessing the prelude to a historic bargain remains something of a mystery.
Diplomatic sources have told Via Meadia that, contrary to the muddled and contradictory reporting by the international media on East Asian tension in recent days, Washington and its allies in Asia have actually been on the same page regarding China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone. The international press has, with a few exceptions, bungled this important story, which is still unfolding.
Another month, another Chinese city drowning in a sea of thick smog. This time, it’s Shanghai, the country’s largest city, where visibility has been reduced just a few meters and people walk the streets with protective masks to shield their lungs from the pollution. The situation has become so bad that the government requires schoolchildren to stay inside for protection from the dirty air.
The new Burmese government, while tackling historic political and economic reforms, is neglecting the plight of its ethnic and religious minorities. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority for the western Rakhine region, continue to suffer persecution, and for some it only gets worse after they flee the country.
Riyadh and Jerusalem have common interests that are not limited to preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Saudis believe Iran is leading Shiites in a religious conflict with Sunnis now engulfing the Fertile Crescent. They fear that the Islamic Republic, nuclear or not, poses an existential threat to their security as the Shiite tide rises.
Bulgaria is the latest European country to take action in cutting rising electricity costs due to the over-subsidization of green energy. The Bulgarian parliament voted today to levy a 20 percent tax on income generated from green energy production.
Some European and American officials deeply fear that violence in Syria will come home. Dozens and in some cases hundreds of people from European countries like the UK and Denmark have made the trek to the eastern Mediterranean and are fighting in the Syrian civil war. They could bring their new skills, contacts, and a hardened ideology to their countries of origin.
President Obama’s address yesterday on inequality was a concerted effort to shift the conversation away from Obamacare, at least until the implementation is far enough along to be repeal-proof. Whether or not it succeeds, the speech is another sign that ideological arguments over the causes of social immobility are heating up. Whichever narrative wins over an increasingly attentive public is likely to influence policies ranging from tax code reform to social welfare spending, so it’s worth parsing Obama’s version carefully.
10 Downing Street has talked a big game on fracking in recent months, but local opposition has stymied efforts to explore Britain’s estimated 1.3 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. As heating bills spiral ever upward, British politicians are flailing about trying to find ways to bring energy costs down. On Thursday, in his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Osborne outlined tax incentives meant to jump-start the country’s shale gas production.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s choice for the new chief of Pakistan’s powerful army is General Raheel Sharif (no relation), a man said to be a “soldier’s soldier” with little interest in politics. Having been ousted and then exiled for ten years by the last army chief he selected, Gen Pervez Musharraf, Sharif was keen on making a safer choice this time around.