- J Brooks Spector
A string of events, an exceptionally strong speech as eulogy, two Supreme Court decisions and passage of fast-track authority have given the Obama administration a real shot of adrenalin for the final laps of his presidency. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look at these four moments and what they may portend for the impending presidential election.
Lebanon and Syria have always been closely intertwined, from the days when they were both provinces of the Ottoman Empire, to a shared experience of French colonial rule, to the 1975-1990 civil war and post-war period, during which Syria claimed a big brother role. The INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP’s Lebanon Senior Analyst SAHAR ATRACHE discusses how Lebanon remains resilient in the face of Syria’s violent collapse – at least for now.
Once upon a time South Africans made meaningful contributions to international humanitarian law and its institutions – particularly in relation to the prosecution of mass rape. That however, was before some of us started disregarding court orders and spiriting people out of the country like thieves in the night. And so, because it seems to have been conveniently forgotten, let us revisit this history, whose roots stretch deep into the International Military Tribunals conducted at Nuremberg and Tokyo between 1945 and 1948. By LISA VETTEN.
Although South Africans have been consumed by a whole range of domestic and international snarls, over in the American political landscape, the Republican presidential contender field grows ever more crowded, most recently with the announcement by South Asian-American Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a first look.
He might not be a president, but Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake is still a very big fish. His arrest in London, on a Spanish warrant, could precipitate another crisis for international justice. A word of gratuitous advice for the British authorities: this one’s delicate. Handle with care. By SIMON ALLISON.
The recently published UBS/PwC 2015 Billionaire Report explores “the story of great wealth – how it’s created, preserved and how it breeds philanthropy”. The authors of the report maintain this prosperous period of wealth generation is soon to decline although various opportunities still exist. By SHELAGH GASTROW.
Data from the World Health Organisation show worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2014 over 600 million adults were obese. At the same time, here in Sub-Saharan Africa, one person in four is undernourished*. How, then, to improve food consumption and distribution? Through a revolution, says political economist and food activist Raj Patel. GAIA MANCO asks the questions.
The horrendous killing of nine people in a church Bible study class by Dylann Roof, driven by an idea of racial superiority, has left deep wounds in Charleston, South Carolina – and across the US nation. What drove him to do such a deed, and how is this tangled up with the history of Southern segregation, the role of the black church – and, of course, the easy availability of lethal force? J BROOKS SPECTOR takes an initial look.
Construction on two new nuclear plants in Nigeria edges closer. Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy corporation, has selected two sites for the plants which should start producing energy from 2024. Nigeria, like South Africa, clearly needs the extra power, but the same questions plague both countries: is nuclear really the best way to go? And is Rosatom the best company to make it happen? By SIMON ALLISON.
A much speculated on and debated encyclical on ecology is due to be released by Pope Francis later this week. The encyclical has caused a storm before its publication. Some politicians, most notably in the US, have advised the Pope to keep quiet about climate change and global warming. Yet, American Rabbi, Arthur Waskow, has been inspired by the Pope to write a letter to “all Jewish people, to all communities of the spirit, and to the world” on the climate crisis. The Dalai Lama tweeted to 11.2 million people “Since climate change and the global economy now affect us all, we have to develop a sense of the oneness of humanity.” And, to add to the pot, a veteran Vatican journalist, Sandro Magister, has had his press accreditation withdrawn from the Vatican for breaking an embargo on the release. By RUSSELL POLLITT.
The Six-Party Talks were established in 2003 as a multilateral forum to achieve the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. However, the parties (China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the US) have not met since December 2008, when the talks stalled over verification issues. The new channels of engagement are needed to further incremental change in North Korean society. By the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
While South Africans were transfixed by the debacle playing out in front of them with Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa – and his departure from the former national key point of Waterkloof Airforce Base – in defiance of a court order, some big things happened in the US presidential sweepstakes. Hillary Clinton delivered her first major speech since coming out as a candidate and former governor (and presidential son and sibling) Jeb Bush made his formal announcement of his candidacy. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a closer look at this unique clash of dynasties hatched in the world's premier democracy.
The appearance of Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov in an Islamic State propaganda video on 27 May has sent a chill across Central Asia. The head of Tajikistan’s Special Assignment Police Unit (OMON), a key element in President Emomali Rahmon’s security apparatus, had disappeared shortly before. In the video he promised to return to wage violent jihad. Cause for concern? In a word, yes. By DEIRDRE TYNAN for the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
Analogy may be the bane of analysis, but folks—I just can’t help myself. Consider Sunday’s landmark Turkish elections, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) were delivered a spanking from a Turkish electorate who were supposed to cow to his dictatorial tendencies by handing over a fourth consecutive parliamentary majority. It didn’t quite happen like that, which doesn’t mean that Erdoğan and the AKP are finished, but it does mean their power has been curtailed. Lessons for South Africa as we hurtle toward 2019? Why, certainly. By RICHARD POPLAK.
On Saturday, in what was billed as perhaps one of the most ambitious attempts at global participative democracy, South Africans took part the World Wide Views on Climate and Energy debate involving 10,000 participants from 83 countries on five continents over 24 hours. The views collected by citizens are intended to influence climate change talks that will take place prior to and at COP21 in Paris in December. MARIANNE THAMM was there.
The Afghan Local Police began as a small US experiment but grew into a significant part of Afghanistan’s security apparatus. In hundreds of rural communities, members serve on the front lines of a war that is reaching heights of violence not witnessed since 2001, as insurgents start to credibly threaten major cities. The INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP has compiled a report into whether it inspires violence instead of quelling it, and made recommendations on how, if it continues to operate, it should be reformed. These include stringent oversight and more accountability.
The lunacy that is the current Fifa scandal continues to roll on, and every day brings new and exciting delights coupled with complete disbelief. In today’s edition: The Irish FA admit to taking money from Fifa to shut up about Thierry Henry’s handball and Jack Warner pays for a political broadcast to promise an “avalanche”. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Although we all have our suspicions, we still don’t know the identity of co-conspirator 15 and 16 – the high-ranking South African officials who were fingered in the ever-growing FIFA corruption scandal. What we do know is that at least two people in government or the South African Football Association are very nervous indeed, and with good reason. By SIMON ALLISON.