Afghan President Hamid Karzai is trying to wring more concessions from the U.S.
WHILE THE HEADLINES from Afghanistan this week were dominated by its recalcitrant President Hamid Karzai, a little noticed but potentially significant development was taking place just across the border in Pakistan.
A small group led by a former cricket star turned politician has managed to block NATO supplies at a choke point in protest over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
The Pakistani authorities have, so far, done nothing to stop the protest. Their tacit approval speaks loudly about the government’s vehement opposition to American usurpation of its airspace for attacks, which have claimed many innocent lives.
It’s another indication of the limits of military firepower to make any noticeable impact in this turbulent but vital region.
PERCEPTION OF US STENGTH AS ALLY IN MIDDLE EAST SUFFERS AGAIN
The deal with Iran over its nuclear ambitions overshadowed, for most part, the Monday announcement that a new attempt would be made to convene peace talks on Syria.
But the two are inextricably intertwined.
President Obama has pivoted away from belligerence and that is admirable. But the cost to America’s ability to influence events in the turbulent Middle East is still unfolding.
With the response in Jerusalem and Riyadh, it has seemingly suffered another decline.
THOUSANDS OF NON-MILITARY UAVS UNDER DEVELOPMENT
It is an absolute certainty that the skies above modern metropolises and the surrounding countryside will soon be buzzing with UAVs.
The potential impacts on gathering sensitive personal data are huge. The ACLU has raised the alarm over the threat to privacy.
If you think government spying on electronic communications like email and telephone calls is bad, there might be a much bigger, less welcome surprise waiting for everyone as drones get deployed by the thousands over our homes and cities.
INEQUALITY, INSTABILITY TOP LIST OF GLOBAL CONCERNS
A significant discussion of research into the most important issues facing the global community went almost unnoticed by most media this week.
The Summit on the Global Agenda hosted by the World Economic Forum presented the top 10 most urgent issues of our time.
Few would argue the 10 cited are indeed the most important issues facing people everywhere, even if their exact position on the list might vary among difference regions.
But, perhaps most pessimistic of all is that included in this list is lack of confidence in leadership.
If the political elites are not paying attention, there is little hope these vital issues will be addressed.
TANGLED WEB ENSNARES FIGHTERS FROM MANY COUNTRIES
It is becoming increasingly clear that the conflict in Syria can no longer be seen purely as a civil war, and its effects are dramatically spilling over into neighboring countries.
What seems to be emerging is an alignment of combatants with either the Shiite regime in Iran or the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, both of which have deep pockets and the willingness to spend vast sums to further their disparate goals.
The Syrian battlefield is becoming a war-by-proxy between the region’s two most powerful players.
GYRATING VALUE OF BITCOIN CATCHES INTEREST OF PUBLIC AND REGULATORS
Bitcoin, the somewhat mysterious “cash” of choice for the so-called “dark web,” has raised anew the question: what is money?
If speculation is your goal, then investing in this unregulated, largely unknown netherworld of digital currency might prove fruitful.
But, apart from the recent huge run-up in its value, bitcoin has a credibility problem, no matter what officials in Washington may say.
FEAR OF NEW CATASTROPHE AT FUKUSHIMA SPURS UNPRECEDENTED ATTEMPT
An extremely risky but desperate attempt is under way to clean up the most dangerous part of the nuclear plant devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.
This is a situation that demands global attention. There are so many things that could go wrong, and each has potentially far-reaching consequences.
If another quake hits the area before the current operation is complete, all bets are off.
ISRAEL, SAUDI COOPERATION COMPLICATES CHANCE OF DEAL
With negotiations set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ominous developments mostly behind the scenes have enormously complicated any chances of a settlement.
The current compromise has the potential to divide America from some of its staunchest allies in the Middle East, and needs to be approached with extreme caution in case it backfires in ways not yet imagined that could change the balance of terror in the volatile region and actually increase the chance of a nuclear conflict.
AS WEATHER GETS MORE EXTREME, SOME BACK OFF GREENHOUSE GAS PROMISES
For those concerned with climate change the past two weeks have seen a number of disconcerting contradictions.
Despite record-breaking weather events, many nations seem to be slipping into complacency about global warming. They are doing so despite a growing body of irrefutable evidence that points to man-made causation.
If these trends are not reversed, we are all in serious trouble, far sooner than anyone has yet imagined.
MEDICARE FOR ALL WOULD SOLVE THE PROBLEMS WITH OBAMACARE
With President Obama himself admitting that the enormously complicated Affordable Care Act is enormously flawed, the time has come to consider a much simpler, proven and effective remedy.
It is time to put back on the table a national health insurance proposal – Medicare for All – that has not been given a public airing.
Before the current disaster, Medicare for All may have had no chance of surviving the onslaught by the enormously powerful vested interests.
In view of the events of the past six weeks, however, the American people now deserve an open discussion of the most obvious solution.