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Showing posts from February 4, 2014

Ending the World the Human Way

By Tom Engelhardt

 - The fact that 97% of scientists who have weighed in on the issue believe that climate change is a human-caused phenomenon is not a story. That only one of 9,137 peer-reviewed papers on climate change published between November 2012 and December 2013 rejected human causation is not a story either, nor is the fact that only 24 out of 13,950 such articles did so over 21 years. That the anything-but-extreme Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) offers an at least 95% guarantee of human causation for global warming is not a story, nor is the recent revelation that IPCC experts believe we only have 15 years left to rein in carbon emissions or we’ll need new technologies not yet in existence which may never be effective. Nor is the recent poll showing that only 47% of Americans believe climate change is human-caused (a drop of 7% since 2012) or that the percentage who believe climate change is occurring for any reason has also declined since 2012 from 70% to 63…

After Failed Geneva Talks, US Steps Up Threats Against Syria

By Bill Van Auken

- In the wake of last week’s failed talks in Geneva, Washington and its allies are escalating pressure on Syria over chemical weapons and professed “humanitarian” concerns.

The shift toward a more aggressive posture toward the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad only underscores the fact that the Western powers remain committed to an agenda of regime change, whether by means of United Nations-brokered talks or outright military aggression.

UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi was compelled to admit last Friday, after the final round of talks, “We haven’t made any progress to speak of.”

The reason for the collapse of the negotiations was clear. The talks began with a ceremonial session in which US Secretary of State issued an ultimatum that the Syrian regime had to accept the removal from power of President Bashar al-Assad and the installation of a puppet of Washington’s choosing. Throughout the rest of the talks, the Western-backed “rebels” of the Syrian Nationa…

Romania Looks To Streamline Decision-Making in a Changing Region

Members of government listen as Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta addresses parliament in Bucharest in 2012. (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Constitutional reforms under discussion in Romania have raised concerns that the country is headed the same direction as Hungary, where the ruling Fidesz party is using its control of parliament to enhance its influence on the economy and politics. Since coming to power in late 2012, the government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta has been calling for Romania to abandon its semi-presidential system and introduce a parliamentary system, which would diminish the role of the president and concentrate power in parliament. Ponta's ruling Social Liberal Union currently holds two-thirds of the seats in parliament. However, the difference between Romania and Hungary is that the former has more significant obstacles in the way of increased control of the political economy.

Analysis


The Romanian parliament plans to vote on the constitution…

Europe's Evolving Terrorist Landscape

Summary


Throughout the Cold War, state-sponsored terrorism was a Marxist-Leninist/Maoist phenomenon that spanned the globe. In Europe, the Soviets and their allies trained and equipped left-wing terrorist groups such as the Red Brigades in Italy, the Irish Republican Army and the Red Army Faction in Germany to carry out bombings, kidnappings and targeted assassinations to undermine their opponents in the West.

Such groups were dealt a serious blow in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. In the following years, logistical support, funding and advice from the Soviets, as well as the Marxist ideology that inspired leftist militants, withered away. The radical impulse in Europe that began with student protests in the late 1960s eventually moved toward other issues, such as environmentalism and anti-globalization, thus creating a complex mix of overlapping ideologies.

Further hindered by other developments such as German reunification, the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland and the…

Instability and Legal Challenges Will Follow Thailand's Elections

Anti-government protesters block off polling stations Feb. 2 in Bangkok. (RUFUS COX/Getty Images)

Summary


Thailand concluded one of the country's most contentious elections ever on Feb. 2 despite a widespread boycott, prolonged street protests and violence and heightened speculation of a military intervention in the lead-up to the election date. Thanks to a heavy security deployment, the voting was able to proceed in a relatively peaceful manner. Though there will be immediate relief in the streets, the country will enter a period of uneasiness as the royal establishment raises a slew of procedural and legal challenges in the wake of the anticipated Pheu Thai party victory. In the longer term, the unsettled political arrangement behind the scenes means Bangkok will continue to struggle with political polarization that can never be resolved through an election or protests.

Analysis


Despite an electoral boycott in many Democrat Party strongholds in the southern provinces and general …