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Showing posts from May 7, 2014

Germany and France Prepare for Another Battle Over the Euro

As the European Union braces itself for more timid economic growth and high unemployment, France and Germany are preparing the ground for their next battle: the value of the euro and the role of the European Central Bank. In its spring forecast, which was released May 5, the European Commission said that growth is becoming broader-based in Europe. The headline numbers seem to confirm this statement; this year, the European Union's economy is expected to grow by 1.6 percent, and the eurozone's by 1.2 percent. But the statistics hide the deep divisions between Europe's core and its periphery.

Germany and its satellite economies (Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia) are expected to see modest growth and decreased unemployment over the next two years. But Mediterranean Europe (Spain, Greece, Italy and even France) is forecast to experience low growth and high unemployment. Even if Greece and Spain see minor economic growth his year, unemployment is expected to decrease only…

Odessa: Another Possible Target for Russian Interference

A pro-Russian activist beats a pro-Ukrainian supporter outside the burned trade union building in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 3. (ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Russia may soon cast its gaze beyond eastern Ukraine to the strategic port city of Odessa. A historically unique and multicultural city, Odessa is vital to Ukrainian commerce, and its internal divisions, not to mention its proximity to Transdniestria, the Moldovan breakaway territory Moscow uses as leverage against Chisinau, may be too tempting for Russia to overlook as the standoff with its eastern neighbor drags on.

Analysis


Odessa was once a premier warm-water port, serving as the primary point of maritime access for the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. From Odessa, ships can easily traverse the Black Sea, then pass through the Bosporus before reaching the Mediterranean Sea and finally the Atlantic Ocean.

Like many port cities, Odessa is home to a variety of ethnic influences. Before succumbing to Russian control at…

China: Radicalism Could Spread After Another Railway Attack

Members of a Chinese SWAT team stand guard at Guangzhou railway station on May 6.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The third attack on a railway station in just over two months raises new questions about the potential spread of Islamist militancy in China. The May 6 attack in Guangzhou, the capital of the southeastern province of Guangdong, was preceded by an April 30 attack in Urumqi, the capital of the western Uighur Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and a March 1 attack in Kunming, the capital of the southern Yunnan province. The Chinese government linked the first two attacks to alleged Uighur terrorists, but in Kunming and Guangzhou, there are signs that suggest radicalism may spread into the ethnically Han Muslim Hui population, marking a major change in China's internal security dynamic.

Analysis


Reports surrounding the May 6 attack remain fragmentary, but according to Chinese state and social media, between one and four assailants wearing white clothes and white hats and wielding "…