Canada has its oil sands, the United States has its shale boom, and now Mexico has its energy reforms. Add those three recent energy trends together, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a North American energy powerhouse. A new report from the Energy Information Administration paints an even rosier energy future for the US and North America.
The Japanese government set forth its latest National Security Strategy today, a comprehensive 10-year plan to build up its defense forces, invest in new weapons, ships, and aircraft, and prepare for conflict in an increasingly hostile neighborhood. The new strategy will focus on defending Japan’s far-flung islands, with new amphibious transport ships and surveillance technology high on the shopping list. North Korea, China, and Russia are named as possible threats to Japan’s security, and the strategy document calls on the US not to abandon its role as the provider of security and stability in the region.
It’s beginning to look like Detroit’s bankruptcy will come in with a pretty hefty price tag. Despite being effectively broke, the city has already spent an astonishing $28 million on fees for lawyers and consultants brought on to assist with the process, some of whom are earning nearly $200,000 per month. The lesson for other cities: Bankruptcy is expensive and should be avoided if at all possible.
Violence erupted again in South Sudan on Monday, with bouts of gunfire reported across the capital and claims by the President that a group of soldiers attempted to overthrow the government. The country remains one of the most unstable in the world, yet its sizable oil wealth has made it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and an attractive country for foreign investment.
If you separate out men from women, women in America are roughly as upwardly mobile as women anywhere else in the world. It’s only when you add men back in and compare the whole US population to populations abroad that things look bleak. Declining economic mobility looks less like an American problem than an American male problem. But men’s gradual slide into poverty, crime, and social isolation has been largely met with silence.
The American Studies Association, a group of nearly 5,000 professors, has voted by a large margin to boycott all Israeli institutions of higher education. The decision is a bad one, and has brought forth charges of anti-Semitism. But while anti-Semites are not absent from the BDS movement, there’s a lot more going on here than mere bigotry.
While media reports spilled gallons of ink on the ups and downs of the Ukrainian protest movement over the weekend, few seemed to be wondering what Putin’s next move would be in response to the latest developments. Well, we now know. Emerging from talks with Yanukovich in Moscow today, Putin announced that Russia would buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds and sharply cut the price of natural gas to help Ukraine stave off a financial crisis and keep Kiev out of the EU’s grasp.
While presidents and prime ministers across Europe are cajoling parliaments and persuading voters to approve retirement age hikes and benefit cuts for retirees, Germany is taking a step in the opposite direction. As part of a deal to cement her party’s coalition with the center-left Social Democrats, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new program includes a provision to lower the retirement age for some workers and contribute more money to retiree pensions. The measure is popular with voters and the country has enough money to make it feasible, at least in the short-term, but it sends mixed messages to its European neighbors, who have long been lectured on the need to cut back on retirement programs.
After a period of transition, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the 25-year old son of assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has firmly planted his feet in Pakistan’s dangerous, fractious political grounds. In a fancy ceremony in Karachi, he officially announced a Sindh Festival to take place early next year, to celebrate the cultural heritage of the province in which his party, the PPP, is based.
According to a draft letter received by Angela Merkel’s government in Berlin, the EU is finally opening up an investigation into Germany’s green policies to see whether its exemptions to green energy surcharges, extended to Germany’s most energy-intensive companies, are giving the firms an unfair advantage. Germany’s energy policy isn’t just ill-conceived, it might also be illegal.
As the Ukrainian protests show, Europe presents a strong pull to many living in former Soviet countries. Helping Georgia along its reforms today is critical, as an important association agreement with the EU is only a year away.
After decades of growth, car sales are beginning to falter in the BRICS, with India, Russia and Brazil all posting lower growth numbers than during the boom years. The economic slowdown that hit the BRICS this year has led to a saturation in the market—the ranks of the middle class aren’t growing as fast as expected, and many of those already in the middle class have the cars they need. This is bad news for the many companies that have invested heavily in building factories in these countries to make up for low demand at home.
Secretary Kerry’s visit to Vietnam, and the coastal patrol aid package he promised to Hanoi and other Southeast Asian nations, helps reinforce the US pivot to Asia. Some doubt Washington’s ability and interest in continuing to be the ultimate provider of security and prosperity there—with good reason. Hopefully this is a sign that Washington has not forgotten its friends.
Tuition revenue and enrollment for colleges are falling, but the people at the top aren’t feeling the pain.2011 was a banner year for executive pay on campus, with college presidents raking in more money than ever before. Including bonuses and benefits, 42 presidents took home $1 million. This is already difficult to defend, but it will look even worse when colleges begin tightening their belts.
Sharks and wind don’t mix well, as anyone familiar with the SyFy movie Sharknado knows. Plans for a wind farm off the coast of Scotland were recently trashed so as not to disrupt the habitat of basking sharks in the area. It’s the latest in a string of offshore wind failures for Britain.
Productivity increases are almost always a good thing, but this time, rising productivity hasn’t translated into more jobs or higher wages. This has happened before, but coping wasn’t easy. Can we transition again?
The Saudis are continuing to refuse to back down in a dispute with Washington over Middle East policy—at least when it comes to words. But where else can they turn?
As miraculous as India’s economic growth has been over the past two decades, systemic discrimination has ensured that religious groups and low-caste Indians remain excluded from India’s new-found wealth. Things have gotten so bad that Muslims have adopted the names and appearances of Hindus to increase their chances of employment.
Now that same sex marriage is here to stay, a new frontier in the marriage wars seems ready to open. A George W. Bush-appointed judge in Utah has struck down important parts of the state’s anti-polygamy law, though for now at least it is still illegal to have more than one valid marriage license at the same time.