There's been a disturbing decline in global freedoms over the past year with a clear erosion of political rights for the ninth consecutive year. These are among the dire findings of the Freedom House report which rates rights and freedoms in 195 countries around the world.
While America seems transfixed on a spate of six separate Middle East crises, there's been far less attention paid on the brewing storm in Europe. Thus as political/military efforts are focused on trying to sort out Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Iran, Washington policymakers have been blindsided by fast unraveling events in Ukraine. We had better take notice of a very dangerous situation.
Proclaiming an end to the American economic recession and declaring that "the shadow of crisis is past," U.S. President Barack Obama addressed a skeptical Republican-controlled Congress in the annual State of the Union Address. Yet the same speech offered a fuzzy view of key foreign policy challenges and, more importantly, no plan on solving other vital concerns.
More than a million people along with 44 world leaders rallied in Paris to proclaim liberty and call for press freedoms in the wake of the radical Islamist media massacre and subsequent terror attacks. The rallies were the biggest since the liberation of Paris from the Nazis in 1944. But while the Americans were a prominent part of the extraordinary events 70 years ago, this time around the U.S. was notably missing.
The appalling attack on the offices of a satirical magazine in Paris, which killed 12, was a deliberately focused and targeted hit not only to stun and intimidate a free press but a free society as well. In recent months France has seen a spate of attacks not only on the media, but on Christmas markets and Jewish synagogues.
It's time once again to peer into the crystal snow-globe to try to decipher and predict what we may expect ahead in 2015. After a dangerously tumultuous past year, the dust has yet to settle on a score of crises ranging from the man made chaos of the Middle East to the medical Ebola emergency in West Africa.
A growing global wave of criticism, concern and consternation continues as both the U.N. General Assembly and now the Security Council have firmly condemned North Korea's communist regime for human rights abu ses to its own population.
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.1 Comment
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.