Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Russia and Israel cosy up over Syria

"Though on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, Netanyahu and Putin agree on a lot."

Vladimir Putin expressed Russia's strong support for the Syrian army against ISIS at the UN General Assembly this week as Israel launched three missiles at the outposts of that very same army.  Israel is definitely not intimidated by Russia's military presence in Syria. However, the emergency meeting between Putin and Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has "put Israeli minds at ease" since Russia has agreed not to jeopardize Israeli's strategic interests in Russia, and Israel has agreed to not help those who try to jeopardize Russia-Syria relations.

Israel is largely benefitting from its agreement to not sell arms to either of Putin's neighboring Rivals, Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the drone technology they have supplied Russia with. Although Russia has continued supplying Israel's enemies with weapons, they haven't supplied Iran advanced systems, much to Israel's satisfaction. 

Israel has been diversifying its alliances, which includes Putin as well as leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and Japan. Although Netanyahu has a shaky relationship with Obama, America's decreasing influence over the middle east is going to benefit Israel anyway. 

Upasna Barath

Russia Launches Airstrikes in Syria, Adding a New Wrinkle

After reading this article, I was just in shock of how terrible of a condition Syria is in right now. I'm not an expert by any means in International Politics, and honestly before this class, had barely any knowledge of international politics, but it seems to me that what Vladimir Putin did today is extremely dangerous. Putin, who is the president of Russia, ordered an airstrike in Syria today. This makes the current situation in Syria that much worse. What really stuck out to me is what are the true intentions of Russia doing this. Russia has stated that the reason they are in Syria is to fight ISIS, but the airstrike took place in the central city of Homs. Homs is not really home to ISIS, but to groups who are against Bashar al-Assad, who is Syria's president. It should be noted that Assad is an ally for Russia. I believe Russia did this just to protect Assad, with very little interest in fighting ISIS. Also, in the article they mention how this will not go over well with western Diplomats. They warned Russia that fighting opposed groups who want Assad out of power is very dangerous. To me, I could just imagine Putin responding with a yeah oh well type of attitude. He does what he wants, and when he wants. Russia did warn the United States hours before the attacks that they were conducting an air mission. I'm not sure how I feel about this. It seems that Russia is just saying watch out America, because we are going to protect Bashar al-Assad. Another interesting twist to this is that America does not want Assad in power. Americans feel that for stable peace to occur, Assad must go. It is going to be much harder to get Assad out of power now with Russia helping him. This just goes to show that states are protecting their own interests. Russia wants Assad in power, and is willing to go to great lengths to keep him there. The article also mentions other reasons for why Putin would do this, such as to draw attention away from the Ukraine conflict and there troubling economy. This is towards the bottom of the article, and before getting to this part, I was actually thinking that Putin might be doing this to draw away attention to how weak Russia is right now. From what I have read about where Russia is as a country right now, they have all seemed to agree on the fact that Russia is as weak as it may ever have been. This would be a great way for Putin to strengthen the perception of Russia. Overall, I do not believe this issue in Syria will go away anytime soon, and it's kinda of sad. I hope everything gets better in Syria, especially for the refugees.

Milto Deli


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained by The New York Times

What if Greece left the Eurozone?
“At the height of the debt crisis a few years ago, many experts worried that Greece’s problems would spill over to the rest of the world. If Greece defaulted on its debt and exited the Eurozone, they argued, it might create global financial shocks bigger than the collapse of Lehman Brothers did.”

            Europe is a continent that was the center of two major military world conflicts in the first half of the twentieth century. At the end of the last century, the European Union was established as a central organization that would strengthen Europe. However, different generations have varying viewpoints as to the success of the European Union. For Europeans younger than fifty years old, the European Union is the root cause of Europe’s economic crisis. However, Europeans older than fifty years old realize that the European Union has been influential in maintaining peace on the continent.  The European Union needs to see the proverbial “big picture” and work together for the benefit of all of its countries. Although the system is relative new and adjustments are necessary, I am convinced that maintaining the European Union is the solution.
Yiby Person

Conflict in the Central African Republic

Violence in the Central African Republic is getting worse as ”transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza was in New York at the U.N. General Assembly.” Over the past few days at least 42 people have been killed, and on Monday over 500 prisoners had escaped from jail. The unrest is  “sparked by the death of a Muslim man whose body was left near a mosque.” Then over the weekend Muslim militants retaliated and killed several people in a Christian neighborhood.  

U.S. officials have condemned the unrest and have pledged their full support to Samba-Panza and her government. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, "We fully support the efforts of the Central African and international forces to re-establish order and bring these perpetrators to justice." “The era during which such individuals have been able to carry out their malevolent actions with impunity must come to an end."

The religious and ethnic unrest has been going on since 2013 when “Muslim Séléka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country.” Over the past two years the rebels have divided a nation, and continuous violence has killed thousands of people. There is an election scheduled to replace the interim president on October 18th but many experts don’t see the election actually happening on time as the violence continues. The Pope is also scheduled to visit in November as he tours Africa. It will be interesting to see if he follows through with his visit if there is still uncontrollable violence in the country. It will also be interesting to see if once a new president is elected, if they can bring this unrest to a stop and lessen the divide between the two religions.

Ashley Rot

Monday, September 28, 2015

Obama , Puti, meet in New York

Finally after almost 2 years Obama and Putin shakes hands during the Untied Nations General Assembly. This meeting came to restart the talks between both side to discuss several issues like Ukraine and Syria conflicts. Yet the white house wants to know what is the Russian objectives in Syria and they got the Russians will keep defending the Islamic state group and supporting Assad , apparently the Obama administration said that if Putin  uses his army to fight the Islamic state that a welcomed call but if he is supporting Al Assad the US will be against that call. I think that this action of shaking hands will be a good step in the way of starting talks between the both side and it will give the chance to make many things but , its not going to be a rough chat especially you will never what action brings the Russian President because he double confirmed in the UN that the most best option to Syria is by keeping Al Assad in position and this is totally what the United States are going for. Again I find that shaking hand and start the talks between the two leaders will be a great chance to make sure that there is a mutual understanding but there is always the chance to go back the start point. This really interesting and it is going to be more and more in the near future. Are the two sides going to have an agreement about the Syrian crises or more people will need to die and leave their countries ?

Radhouane Ben Ida

Article Link:

More unrest in the Middle East

This article just goes to show the instability of the middle east right now. According to the article the girl was only requesting what she had the right to and was shot because she wouldn't let a male officer check her, that how the story goes anyway. We don't know for a fact that this is how it happened but we also know that there has been plenty of other issues like this one. Whenever someone is shot by an officer in some sort of department it is always a huge investigation and a big deal to the community wherever it may be. It seems that whenever a shooting like this happens, there is always a riot to some capacity. We have had plenty of these here in the states and recently they have gotten pretty ugly.

I think that there is always going to be unrest in the middle east because of all the different ideas and interpretations of their different religions. Although there can be steps taken to eliminate this unrest, it will never be fixed completely. I wish these shootings didn't happen anyway in the world but that is asking a lot of society and in my opinion we will never live in a world that these types of things don't happen.
Jacob Cox

Sunday, September 27, 2015

700 People Dead at Mecca

Mecca Stampede Kills Over 700

During one of the holiest events for muslims over 700 people were killed by a stampede with hundreds more left injured. Mecca is a holy place that able bodied Muslims are required to journey to at leaste once during their lifetimes. This years pilgrimage has turrned into a deadly mess but the alarming part is this is not the first time nor the deadliest. Back in 1997 over 1400 people were killed and in 2006 another 300 were left dead. This is alarming news for a handful of reasons. For starters the fact that this is not the first problem is huge, Stampedes and other safety aspects for this trip have been the casue of all of these deaths troubling. Espically when considering the population, this year over 2 million Muslims were apart of this pilgramage and it is not about to get smaller anytime soon. Statisically the number of people going on a journey like this will continue. The sheer number of people pose a huge problem; where to house them? How to provide safety and sercurity for that manuy people? Food? Sanitation? And that would have to be some of the simpler problems.

At this point officals are not positive what casued the stampede. This year they implemented a new time limit system in hope to maintain the peace and keep things moving along smoothly, clearly that was not the case. The time limits were never enforced so some people stuck around too long while other were quick. This prevented any sort of regulation and status quo. Officials are not sure what to do in future years to prevent other disasters such as this one from happening again. It was interesting read that back in 2011 1.3 billion dollars were spents to help expand and prevent such a thing but already it has proved to be insufficient.

Alex Benson

France Says It Has Struck at ISIS in Syria

France that announced to begin air surveillance missions over Syria by Mr. Hollande, a president of France, this month attacked and destroyed a training camp in Syria in France’s first airstrikes against ISIS, and he also stated that the French forces did not do civilian population an injury.
Although France has been taken a cautious posture on the air campaign to hit the group in Syria, the French government changed the posture because the Islamic State is planning to attack France.
Mr. Hollande is claiming Mr. Assad’s departure and asserting that Mr. Assad has a responsibility for a lot of deaths of Syrian due to massacres by ISIS.
Tomomi Osada

Johnnie Carson on Tanzania upcoming elections!

Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south; and the Indian Ocean to the east. It has an estimated population of 51 million (2015) according to the CIA Factbook , and has been regarded among the most democratic government on the African continent. In fact, this year mark the 20th anniversary for the country to adopt multiparty democratic elections . It is with this fact that Johnnie Carson highlights the gravity and pertinence of the upcoming elections(the presidency and members of parliament) next month, as the country still facing economic hardship and high profile financial scandals. In brief, they are two main runners of the presidential seat. John Pombe Magufuli , the former minister of Works and Roads, who is representing the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and his rival Edward Lowassa, former prime minister, who is representing the united opposition parties Chadema, the NCCR - Megeuzi, the United Democratic Party (UDP) ,and the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP). Despite the monopolization of the presidency for the past 20 years by CCM party, in the past 5 years, we have seen a conspicuous decline in influence of the CCM party while the opposition parties have gained some momentum mainly due to their ability to influence young voters who are frustrated by the inability of the CCM party to deliver on the promises they have made. Another main concern of the elections that Carson raises, it the possibility of post election violence since the election race is really close and the presence of small organized militias by the three major parties. To conclude, we should all look forward to the elections in Tanzania, hoping the outcome will be welcomed without violence.

Below is the map of Tanzania and its neighboring countries

By Tim Byukusenge
Source article : Tanzania Gears up for its Closet ever Elections by Johnnie Carson

U.S donates Food Supplies to Malawi worth $15 million

Malawians must be filled with jubilation. A few days ago, United States of America announced that America will be donating $15 million to Malawi, worth of food supplies. The ongoing climate issues in Malawi could not go unattended to by USA. Despite Africa being a farming and agriculture continent, things haven't been favorable for Malawi. Feed the Future and Climate Change Initiatives, under Barack Obama rule, will now see to it that 2.8 million Malawians will receive food.

This liberal act by USA is one that most world powers should learn from. I found this very interesting because an individualistic nation such as USA is enhancing its international cooperation, and performing as proposed by some of its former Presidential predecessors. As Bush said, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." America  heightening its foreign policy in Malawi will help eradicate hunger, and poverty in the region, and hopefully USA's involvement in the development, and welfare of Malawi can prove to be a wake up call for other major powers. The future is bright for Malawi, which brings me to my question, what is USA's interest in Malawi?



Bloggers, Writers, and Activists on Global Hitlist

Last Wednesday, September 23rd, the Guardian reported that a worldwide execution list comprised of bloggers and other writers and activists was published by the Bangladeshi Islamic militant group, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), in hopes of achieving a demand: the canceling of citizenship in Bangladesh for “enemies of Islam…education…otherwise they will be killed wherever they can be found in the Almighty’s world.” Working closely with an Al-Qaida organization, ABT is thought to be behind the year and a half long spree of horrific homicides of those who have spoken out against radical Islamic religious teachings. Regarding one of the blogger murders, the ABT leader and two of his associates were already arrested earlier in September. The most recent deaths occurred in February and March in Dhaka, where blogger victims were brutally killed with machetes and, according to an earlier article, meat cleavers. In relation to the March attack of 27-year-old Washiqur Rahman, law enforcement filed charges against five ABT members. The U.S.-surviving wife of Avijit Roy, the “science writer and blog moderator” American citizen murdered in February, is one of the targets on the list. Although one Bangladeshi blogger adamantly claims, along with others listed, that he will continue writing, he has fled to Europe for safety. There has been no response from Bangladesh authorities, yet in the past, rather than supporting free speech and providing protection to those threatened, Dhaka authorities have told bloggers to refrain from inciting “religious issues”—a position which the Human Rights Watch group has challenged.

No doubt anti-Islamic extremism writing and blogging has taken on a high level of risk as the Bangladesh government is slow to stop militants and their atrocities. Given that two U.S. bloggers are on the list as well as nine from the UK, seven from Germany, and one each from Canada and Sweden, the U.S. and European countries have new security threats to address. Some have questioned the validity and origin of the list, but with or without such a list, the record of recent blogger, writer, and activist murders should be enough to warrant serious alarm.

Amanda Zgonina

The White house loves immigrants now

Barrack Obama's administration is undertaking a huge effort to help legal immigrants become citizens. They are setting up workshops and practice tests for the naturalization exam. Basically they are trying to help more LEGAL immigrants become citizens. This is eerily similar to the 2012 presidential elections when President Obama issued Deferred Action (an executive order that gave “Dreamers” a work permit and other benefits) right before election time in a clear effort to sway Latino voters. I firmly believe that this sudden interest to naturalize immigrants (the majority of which are Latin@ and Asians, two groups that voted Democratic last election) is a political ploy. Several others agree despite the White house's rejection of such a claim. Go ahead and read it. Decide for yourself if it is a ploy or if the White house has suddenly decided to care about immigrants.
Joceline Hernandez
 Shakar Aamer, the Last Remaining British Guantanamo Detainee, is Finally Going to be Freed.

 Once upon a time when two countries didn't get along, they fought wars, especially if they were within 100 miles of each other. As time progressed and countries realized how silly fighting is, they decided to try negotiating differences diplomatically. To facilitate this procedure an organization intuitively named the United Nations was formed. Among other things, this group of nations determined that torture was not something decent folks did, and so made it "illegal." Here we are at the present day, where the American government takes our tale of human rights and progress and shits all over it.

Guantanamo Bay is a piece of American pie on Cuban soil, a place where truth is stranger than fiction. It is a place where, right next to one of its enemies, a section of the American government with little accountability or oversight does things that would be considered torture by all the decent folk at the UN. Whether torture is effective or worth it is not my place to say, nor is it even the point. The political realism is out in full force on this quaint Caribbean island. But wait, there's more!

Shakar Aamer is a Saudi born, British citizen who's life of indefinite detention without trial at the hand of the American government has cost him 1/3 of his life and possibly 40% of his body weight. He wasn't the only British citizen in Guantanamo, he wasn't the only alleged terrorist who hadn't been put to trial, he wasn't the only one to have been cleared for release almost 8 years before his eventual release, and he wont be the last one to criticize America's use of Guantanamo for things they tell the Cuban government not to do, maybe 20 miles away from where they do it.

God Bless America, whose citizens someday hope for indefinite detention behind the pearly gates.
Stuart Young


UN High Commissioner for Refugees says rich countries waited too long to respond to Syrian crisis

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement Saturday that the developed world waited "far too long" to act in the Syrian refugee crisis. The countries of Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey have been dealing with a massive influx of Syrian refugees for the last four and half years, but it is only when the refugees began moving into Europe that the world took notice, the UN council said. Antonia Guterres, UN refugee chief, said, "Unfortunately, only when the poor enter the halls of the rich do the rich notice that the poor exist." Guterres went on to say that if the affluent world had acknowledged the crisis sooner and sent necessary intervention and support to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, the current refugee crisis in Europe would not have happened.

Conditions for the refugees who ended up in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are bleak; they are not allowed to work in their new countries, so the majority live below the poverty line. Because of this, Guterres warns that a continued lack of support in Syria's neighboring countries will lead to a mass exodus of refugees out of Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon and further into Europe, joining the multitude already heading there. According to Guterres, Syria's immediate neighbors will need billions in assistance to assure this doesn't happen.

Guterres further commented on the response of European countries to the crisis, refuting Hungary's claim that the refugees they were receiving were not true war refugees but migrants looking for economic opportunity. The majority of Syrians arriving in European countries, he said, are genuine refugees in need of aid.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, will be holding a "high-level meeting" this coming Wednesday to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis.

Samantha Johnson

US to Free Last British Gitmo Inmate

Today the US Secretary of Defense approved the release of the last British inmate at the infamous detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Shaker Aamer was arrested in Afghanistan and accused of leading a unit under Osama bin Laden. A notice of the release has gone to Congress and any member can raise an objection with the Defense Department. If no objection is raised during the notification period, then Aamer will be released to his family in Britain.

Given that Britain is one of the biggest allies of the United States, I found it interesting that a British citizen was being held by the American government. This as been a contentious issue between the two governments. The release of Aamer could be seen as an olive branch that could help facilitate even more cooperation and assistance between the UK and USA. Such cooperation is necessary with the raise of ISIS and other risks across the globe.

Full Article:

Tyler Allen

China gifts the UN 'Zun of Peace' for 70th anniversary

China gifts the UN 'Zun of Peace' for 70th anniversary

At the ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of founding the UN China's President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan presented China's gift to the UN along with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The ceremony was held on Sunday at the UN headquarters in New York City.

The gift presented was called Zun of Peace or as the President called it The Peace Bottle.  The article talked about how, "The Peace Bottle was inspired by ancient traditional Chinese bronze ware called "bottles" and carried to the UN best wishes from more than 1.3 billion Chinese people, Xi said" (Yue 1). I thought this was interesting because the symbolism of the bottle clearly had good intentions and further supported China's part and respect for the UN. Also, the gift not only sent a good message to the UN, but it also symbolized some of China's long history and modern civilization. The intention is to symbolize social growth and development. The President said that this gift represents the people of China's desire for peace, development, and win-win situations.

When Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked the President of China for the gift as well as for China's contributions toward world peace and development on behalf of the UN, he also said, "The Peace Bottle represents the common values and close cooperative relationship between China and the UN" (Yue 2). I thought this statement was interesting because I wasn't sure if the UN publicly by default says positive things about the countries when they present them with gifts or if this comment was very legitimate.

Some other gifts China has presented to the UN in the past are The Chengdu-Kunming Railway Ivory Carving (1974), Great Wall Tapestry (1974), Centenary Tripod (1995), and the Harmony Bell for Peace (2014).

Julia Albano  

Xi Jinping Vows to ‘Reaffirm’ China’s Commitment to Women’s Rights

Xi Jinping Vows to ‘Reaffirm’ China’s Commitment to Women’s Rights

Pro-Secession Parties in Catalonia Win Landmark Vote

What a day in Spain. The region of Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, has been fighting for independence from the central government. Today, elections were held for seats in the 135-seat regional parliament. The pro-independence group who refer to themselves as the "Together for Yes" group won 62 seats, putting the secessionists at 48% of the parliament. The Catalonians, believe that with 50% (or majority) seat-holdings in parliament, the plans for secession could be put into motion. This plan could be shot down quickly if the independents cannot convince the other pro-independence group "Popular Unity Candidacy" to join forces. CUP had wrangled in 10 seats in regional parliament. These 10 seats added to the "Together for Yes" 62 seats would put these parties at 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament, and make their combined percentage well over 50%. 

Why, many ask, is Catalonia attempting to break off from Spain and create their own nation? "They [Spain] have robbed us of our culture", said Jordi Perez, a 50 year old proud Catalan. The unique Catalan language was suppressed severely under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. The Catalans feel as if they are not treated as equals to the government. A common and motivating phrase throughout Catalonia is "'enough is enough.'"

The government feels quite differently about this matter, however. The government has made it clear in statements saying that they will use all legal means to ensure that Catalonia does not secede from Spain. The secession of Catalonia could shake the ever so fragile economic system in Spain.

It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next few months and in the upcoming years regarding this conflict. My only hope is that these efforts are only exhibited peacefully to avoid a potentially brutal and bloody civil war.

Ellen Kent

India to lauch Country's first space observatory

USA has a space program, China has a space program, but we never hear about developing country space programs, until now. India’s space program is called ISRO and they will be launching their first space telescope very soon. They are calling it AStroSat and they are referring to it as the mini Hubble, which is a US telescope launched in the 90’s. The life extent of the satellite will only be five years to avoid sending men into space and it will be ten times smaller than the Hubble. It will be launched on the day Narrendra Modi ,the prime minister of India, travels to see Barack Obama. This is a huge step for India because it’s the “first time they are launching a dedicated astronomy mission.” For that very reason the minister of India want to make their program well known in the space technology market. There’s also been talk about sending an Indian into space, but there has been no approval from the government. I think this is pretty exciting for India; this may open doors and opportunities to other developing countries wanting to make a mark in this world.

Noelia Reyes

FARC Rebels Prepare For Peace

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) founded in the mid-1960s, has continuously promised to fight on behalf of "peasants" in the struggle against what it saw as a wealthy and repressive state. At its peak in the 1990s, FARC controlled about a third of rural Colombia. It is the hemisphere’s longest-running revolution, and it may be in its decline.

For almost three years, top FARC commanders in Havana have been holding talks with the Colombian government to try to end the conflict. While the general outline of the talks’ agenda is public, negotiators from both sides keep the details of the agreements confidential. The Colombian public is informed of the latest changes through press conferences held by government representatives and FARC leaders. As negotiators try to strike a deal in the Cuban capital, the conflict in Colombia continues. 

In a country of deep-set inequalities and weak state presence, the conflict has played out on many fronts for 51 years. The people involved range from left-wing rebel groups (FARC being the oldest and largest), right-wing paramilitaries and state armed forces that have previously fought alongside the paramilitaries against rebels. 

Drug-related violence continues to be an incendiary element of the conflict, and the most common victims are usually civilians caught smack in the middle. Since the conflict began, 220,000 people have died, and upwards of 6 million have been forcibly displaced.

Negotiations have reached limited accord on rural development, the illegal drug trade, political participation for FARC and the establishment of a "truth commission", but certain issues stalled negotiations. That changed last week, when government and FARC negotiators announced that they reached an agreement on one of the pressing matters: how to hold perpetrators of grave human rights abuses accountable for their actions. It was a major development, although questions still remain.

With final peace agreements finally in sight, the rebels of FARC may have to start over and become civilians quicker than they thought.

Eryn Sanclemente