Global Issues

Are US naval assertions in the South China Sea necessary?

FILE PHOTO: Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the Paracel Archipelago, which is known in China as the Xisha Islands, January 29, 2016.   REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

US freedom of navigation operations in the Spratly Islands are pre-emptive challenges to China’s potential claims and thus are beyond normal international practice Mark J. Valencia Asia Times  On October 10, the US Navy carried out yet another freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) against China’s claims in the South China Sea. The USS Chafee, a US Navy Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer, conducted what the Pentagon said were “normal maneuvering operations” in China’s claimed 12 nautical mile territorial sea ... Read More »

Green finance? Why global banks are pledging billions to fight climate change

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Banking giant HSBC has pledged US$100 billion (£76 billion) to “fight climate change”, to be spent on sustainable finance and investment over the next eight years. Simon Wilde The Conversation It also commits to increasing its own use of renewable energy and to reducing its funding of coal projects. HSBC is following a growing trend among investment banks which includes a US$200 billion funding commitment from JP Morgan Chase, the acquisition of the UK’s Green Investment Bank by Macquarie, and ... Read More »

Society relies on a social compact. Time for tax-avoiding multinationals to sign up

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Pat Leahy: The political centre needs to force big business to pay its way The Irish Times Pat Leahy Western countries are by and large the most civilised, comfortable and desirable places to live in the history of mankind. If, in a version the “veil of ignorance” thought experiment, you could choose any time or place to live, not knowing your race, abilities, talents or gender, you’d be mad not to choose to be born into a modern western country, ... Read More »

Yanis Varoufakis, the Bad-Boy Former Finance Minister, Is Back

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In a new book, a star of the European left argues that Greek’s financial crisis prefigured the fissures afflicting Europe today. Rachel Donadio The Atlantic PARIS — In the often-dismal European landscape of technocrats and party hacks, few figures are as colorful and polarizing as Yanis Varoufakis. Remember him? The bad-boy Greek finance minister who, in a heated moment in the European debt crisis in 2015, showed up to meet the chancellor of the exchequer in a long black leather ... Read More »

Will the Easy-Money Era Lead to a Recession?

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The Fed has already achieved its objective of escaping 0 percent Now the goal is to avoid recession. Samuel Rines As Janet Yellen readies for her departure from the Federal Reserve, a sentiment creeping into markets that the era of “easy money” is over—as if somehow the Yellen Fed was the root of all easiness. The National Interest Yellen’s Fed was the first in recent history to oversee only rate increases—and not encounter a recession. That is quite the accomplishment: ... Read More »

Small EU states caught between France and Germany

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In Greek mythology, the hero Odysseus was sailing home from the Trojan War through the Strait of Messina (which separates Italy from Sicily) when he was beset by two monsters – Scylla and Charybdis – one on either side. Lisbeth Kirk EUobserver Odysseus had to figure out which was the lesser of the two evils as he passed through the strait to reach home. The old trope came up again when Nordic countries recently met in Helsinki for their annual ... Read More »

Brussels to preserve Iran nuclear deal: Mogherini

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The European Union will make sure that the Iran nuclear deal “will continue to be fully implemented by all, in all its parts,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Nov. 10. SAMARKAND Hurriyet Speaking at a conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the EU’s Federica Mogherini said the agreement was “a major achievement of European and international multilateral diplomacy that is delivering,” Reuters has reported. U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 13 dealt a blow to the pact by refusing ... Read More »

A Huthi Missile, a Saudi Purge and a Lebanese Resignation Shake the Middle East

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Volatility is rising across the Middle East as local, regional and international conflicts increasingly intertwine and amplify each other. ICG Four Crisis Group analysts give a 360-degree view of the new risks of overlapping conflicts that involve Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Israel. On 4 November 2017, Huthi/Saleh forces in Yemen fired a Burkan 2-H long-range ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It was intercepted and destroyed before reaching its target. The attack occurred during a profound political ... Read More »

‘It’s been a night from hell’: Homeless pushed out of Santa Ana River face uncertain futures

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Lisa Weber pushed her red-rimmed glasses higher on the bridge of her nose Thursday morning as she pondered how best to move her belongings off the dirt trail she has called home for months. Hannah Fry Los Angeles Times Her blue eyes seemed to show a glimmer of hope in contrast with her doleful expression. A friend living in a tent farther down the trail passed by and waved. ‘I’m not scared because I have a plan’ Back to sleeping ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia Comes for Hezbollah

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Lebanon was stunned on Nov. 4 when its prime minister, Saad Hariri, speaking from Saudi Arabia, delivered a halting resignation speech. Mohamad Bazzi The New York Times Mr. Hariri said he left Beirut because he feared assassination. He placed the blame for his long-distance resignation on Iran and its main ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. In the days since, Saudi Arabia has accused Hezbollah of plotting against the kingdom and ordered Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon. Threats from top Saudi officials ... Read More »

Xi’s up, Trump is down, but it may not matter

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(CNN) – On the face of it, summit meetings this week between China’s domineering leader Xi Jinping and the scandal-plagued, unpopular US President Donald Trump are shaping up as a massive mismatch of political fortunes. Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN Xi is fresh from a Communist Party Congress that enshrined him as the strongest Chinese patriarch since Mao Zedong. His personal prestige is mirrored in his nation’s soaring self-confidence: China is now stronger than at any time in the modern era ... Read More »

Jihadism in Southern Thailand: A Phantom Menace

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Thailand’s Malay-Muslim insurgency appears to some observers a potential seedbed for transnational jihadism, but the separatist fronts do not share ideologies or objectives with ISIS or al-Qaeda. ICG The future is uncertain, and a resolution of the conflict, based on political decentralisation, could help deter prospective jihadist expansion in southernmost Thailand. What’s the issue? Media reports and some observers suggest growing potential for Islamic State (ISIS) activity in Thailand’s southernmost provinces. Crisis Group argues that to date there is no evidence of ... Read More »

Coal-fired plant shifted $1bn offshore while pocketing $117m from Australian taxpayers

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Payment to owner of Loy Yang B – one of country’s dirtiest plants – was compensation for short-lived carbon tax Christopher Knaus and Nick Evershed  The Guardian The owner of one of Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants quietly moved $1bn offshore within days of pocketing $117m from taxpayers in compensation for Labor’s now-defunct carbon tax. The revelation, contained in the Paradise Papers, has prompted renewed criticism of the “chronic failure” of Australian climate policy and warnings against future cash handouts ... Read More »

Sexual violence and harassment going up, according to ABS survey

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Sexual violence against women is on the rise, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) By social affairs correspondent Norman Hermant and Catherine Hanrahan  ABC The latest Personal Safety Survey shows the proportion of women experiencing sexual violence in the past year increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent since the last survey conducted in 2012. But very few sexual assaults are being reported to police. In 2012, an estimated 17 per cent of women reported their ... Read More »

The island that swapped donkey rides for offshore cash

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It was still dark when the private jet began its descent Inside, its decor was sumptuous, the black leather seats piped with red, but outside rain was falling and the temperature on the ground below was a bracing 2C. Jon Kelly BBC The date was 21 January 2013, and the island that the plane was heading towards hadn’t yet woken up. The candy-red Challenger 605 aircraft carried the registration G-LCDH – the initials of Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, the World ... Read More »

Citizens’ Assembly ideas confront worst of global warming

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Climate change is a pressing moral issue and action is needed for future’s benefit Kevin O’Sullivan  The Irish Times The recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly have the potential to achieve the kind of societal transformation necessary for Ireland to play its part in countering the worst affects of global warming caused by humans spewing out CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere. Its brief – to identify how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change – may in time ... Read More »