Is Zaharie Ahmad Shah a real-life Marko Ramius? Is the mystery of Malaysia flight 370 lifted straight from a famous bestselling thriller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster? Recall: A brand new high tech Soviet nuclear submarine vanishes with officers and full crew aboard. A frantic search begins, though the alarmed Kremlin is silent about the fact that it has been notified by the captain that he intends to defect and hand the sub over to the Americans. The officers — but not the crew — are in on the plan.
Of late, the news from India has been dismaying. Economic growth according to the International Monetary Fund has declined to 4.6 per cent for fiscal 2014, nowhere near the high single digits achieved in recent years that delivered tens of millions out of poverty. Inflation estimated at almost 10 percent for 2013 is a major challenge for the Reserve Bank of India, the nation’s central bank. Aggressive deregulation of massive government bureaucracy which had come to be known as License Raj has stalled, as has privatization of state-owned enterprises with the decline of the Rupee and investor confidence. Foreign direct investment has also been a disappointment, reflecting unease about tax policies, political risk, and governance. Agriculture, which employs over half the work force but represents only 17 percent of GDP, has not received the emphasis of the Green Revolution which started in the late 1960s.
Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine back. In fact, the ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Union’s KGB is on record with his view of the fall of the U.S.S.R. “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” he said in 2005. In a foretaste of things to come, Putin added “Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.”
Secretary of State John Kerry went before ABC’s cameras on Sunday and said: “If [Russia has] legitimate concerns about Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, there are plenty of ways to deal with that without invading the country.”
Let’s be honest: the images that came out of Sochi yesterday were sickening. Thugs in uniforms beating young women with horsewhips, kicking them to the ground and throwing their things in garbage cans — piggish behavior in defense, we are told, of “traditional values.” And why? Because four members of Pussy Riot, the feminist punk protest group, decided to sing and dance a bit. What a lot of nonsense. Or at least I wish it were nonsense rather than the creeping totalitarianism that it is.
There has been a well-defined pattern to negotiations pursued over the decades by North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — DPRK). It may be wishful thinking, but that pattern appears to have just changed and it looks like the Obama White House and John Kerry’s State Department have either missed it or chose to ignore the alteration.
The South Korean president, Ms. Park Geun-hye, sensing something different in the diplomatic climate, took the necessary first step in reconciliation on January 6, 2014 by again offering the possibility of resuming the reunion of relatives from North and South suspended since 2010. After a pro forma rejection Pyongyang quickly shifted ground in a few days and returned the same offer. The possibility of the effectively mutual gesture long had been available, but the timing now was right. The reason for the change in the position of the DPRK is what is most important.
Various reports estimate that between 52-99 Christians were killed Sunday in Nigeria.
The Islamic radicals, who officials claim are militants with the Boka Haram, set off explosives in the small village of Kawuri, which killed 85 people and burned down 300 homes.
"We are still searching and burying corpses since yesterday," said Dala Lawan, a Kawuri official. "The first burial was 53 but more corpses are still being picked in the bushes and some with serious injuries also died. We have just found two more corpses, which brings the death toll to 85 for now."
A church service in Wada Chadkawa, another village, was attacked as well. Gunshots and explosives added casualties:
There is a practice in China that has been going on for many generations, but most prominently since the expansion of trade with the West in the 1800s. It has become accepted that whenever an advantageous exchange occurs a material or monetary “grateful thanks” will be offered. This is called a cumshaw, a foreign bastardization of the Mandarin, and it can be anything from a hotel gratuity to some special “additionality” to a multi-million dollar industrial deal. Under recent communist governments officials at all levels, including generals, have become rich by receiving cumshaws after approving certain civilian contracts and military purchases. What originally was a custom expressing thanks to an impoverished servant has led to high-level corruption — and China’s new president wants it rooted out.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together...
-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961
The Chinese New Citizens Movement's fight for constitutional freedom continues to face fierce opposition from China's new president, Xi Jinping.
Not only did the Chinese government arrest the movement’s leader, Xu Zhinyong, in July for "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place," but the New York Times reported that another 160 protesters like Xu have been arrested over the last year.
What makes Xu such a dangerous threat? His rights campaign has centered on “anti-corruption”—fighting against abuses such as forced relocation of citizens, rape, beatings, and even a contaminated milk scandal.
The death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the final curtain on a long sad drama that began in 2005 when he was felled by a massive stroke. He was a legendary warrior for Israel against its enemies and a genius of tactics and strategy. Arguably it took eight years in a coma to wring the vitality from him. He was a giant and an exemplar for those who believe, as I do, that the Jewish state is a benign democratic outpost of civilization in the Middle East. For all those who think that area of the world would be at peace were it not for Israel, let them explain why practically all of Israel’s neighbors are in internecine conflict there today and only Israel is at peace and prospering. Its peace and prosperity comes in large part from the contributions of Ariel Sharon.