One of the last legacies of the Cold War has ended with Washington re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba after a fifty-three year break in relations.
Set to the backdrop of regional wars and simmering ethnic conflicts, the U.N. relief agencies made an unprecedented appeal for wider funding to address the current chaos in a score of countries. Valerie Amos, the U.N.'s emergency aid chief, stated candidly that the number of people affected by conflict “has reached record levels” for the post-WWII era.
The precipitous fall in petroleum prices has brought an unexpected holiday season bonus to oil and gasoline consumers throughout North America. And it's not a moment too soon that the high fuel prices of the past few years finally take a dip. But while cheaper costs, both for private drivers and the wider trucking and transportation industry, happily align with the upcoming holidays, there's actually a bigger story here.
The time is ticking as American and NATO forces begin the countdown to military withdrawal from Afghanistan by year's end. But as Taliban militants watch the clock and the calendar, eagerly awaiting the foreign troop pullouts, thus hoping to topple the country's still teetering government, still another threat as dangerous as the Islamic militants lurks in the shadows.
It's one of the tougher warnings the world community has sent to the neo-Stalinist regime in North Korea; a detailed condemnation of widespread human rights abuses in the reclusive communist country and, as significantly, a call that the Case and the regime leadership be eventually referred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
A quarter century ago, the Joshua trumpet of freedom sounded and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Naturally, this allegory was slightly more complicated as the epic political events which led to the fall of the Wall on Nov. 9, 1989 were long in coming but nonetheless still not at all anticipated.
Despite what many observers see as a politically reformist presidency of Hassan Rouhani, the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran remains dire. A recently released U.N. report paints a grim picture of widespread executions, a tarnished judicial system, systematic religious persecution, and widespread discrimination against women.
Canada has yet again been given a reality jolt. Twice within three days, “lone wolf” terrorists have killed Canadian soldiers on Canadian soil; one outside Montreal and another at the symbolic National War Memorial in Ottawa. The Ottawa incident also saw the apparent lone gunmen rush into the Houses of Parliament, wildly firing shots in an attempt kill legislators. Fortunately he failed.
In its annual round of diplomatic musical chairs, the General Assembly chose five new members for the coveted seats on the Security Council, the U.N.'s most prestigious body. The new members, Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela begin their two year terms starting in January 2015.
Hong Kong has always been a city of contrasts. Wealth, a free economy, a feisty media and rule of law have always contrasted with poverty, crowding and claustrophobia.