The speeches and encyclicals of Pope Francis are almost like the fulfillment of a fantasy for left-leaning individuals everywhere.
Between his speech to the UN and Laudato Si’, his papal encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis has pointed a way forward for mankind. (Photo: Alfredo Borba / Wikimedia Commons)
Pope Francis will never be all things to all people — such as half of them: women. For example, while in the United States, he supported the right of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk to refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples (albeit under the guise of conscientious objection). Nevertheless, his election as pope had to constitute one the most extreme institutional about-faces in recent history. It surpasses Barack Obama succeeding George W. Bush as president and even Bill de Blasio succeeding Mike Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani. The speech that Pope Francis delivered to the United Nations on Sept. 25 struck all the right chords for forward-thinking individuals everywhere.
By failing to implement economic reforms, Romania lagged behind the rest of East-Central Europe.
Romania, says economist Dragos Negrescu (pictured), has finally become a fiscally normal country. (Photo: John Feffer)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
Bucharest was once known as the Paris of the East. In the 1930s, it was a vibrant city of cafes, artists, and poets. The playwright Eugene Ionescu, the historian of religion Mircea Eliade, and the essayist Emil Cioran all became friends at this time at the University of Bucharest. Romania was also enjoying a brief economic boom, and many of Bucharest’s most beautiful houses were built during this period leading up to World War II.
Some of those houses are still standing, including the family home of economist Dragos Negrescu. That’s where I met him in 1990 when we talked about the future prospects of Romania.
Despite risks to domestic politics and local administration, Germany is opening its gates to vast numbers of refugees.
Germany plans to admit as many as 800,000 refugees by the end of 2015. (Vito Manzari / Flickr Commons)
Maher Zain, a 1981-born singer who was just eight when his Lebanese family was admitted by Sweden, is the latest showcase that Muslim immigrants can make contributions to world peace rather than causing troubles to their receiving countries. With millions of fans in Europe, England, Malaysia, Indonesia, Palestine, Pakistan and China, Zain’s anti-war songs [Note 1] are no less heart-touching than Pakistan-born Canadian singer Irfan Makki’s “You and I”. Yet, Germany is the only state in the West camp welcoming Muslim refugees when all its peers hesitate. Berlin’s once again deviation means something important to International Relations.
Were it not for Republicans, developments to mitigate global warming would be cause for celebration.
The decline of the coal industry is one example of good news about global warming. (Photo: CSIRO / Wikimedia Commons)
Yesterday we wrote about the extent to which conservatives in the United States are opposing not only action on, but acknowledgment of, global warming. That’s the bad news. But, on the eve of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference beginning Nov. 30, there is, writes Jonathan Chait in New York magazine, a surprising amount of good news. Global warming has been perceived as a “drama” that “has taken on an air of inevitability, of a tragedy at the outset of its final scene — the tension so unbearable, and the weight of looming catastrophe so soul-crushing, that some people seek the release of final defeat rather than endless struggle in the face of hopeless odds.”
Denying global warming can leave one open to legitimate comparisons with Hitler.
Global warming can lead to wars for resources similar to the one that Hitler waged on Russia. Pictured: Water distribution in Darfur. (Photo: UNAMID / Flickr Commons)
As global warming worsens, the world may see states or other groups warring over diminishing resources, especially food and water. But first allow us to interject the definition of Godwin’s Law, of which you may have heard. It holds: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” What does global warming have to do with Hitler?
When Walt Whitman wrote of “burial clouds, in black masses spreading,” he couldn’t imagine that a century later, they could invoke the nuclear mushroom cloud.
The Pleiades, written about by Walt Whitman in his poem “On the Beach at Night.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The 2000 remake of the film On the Beach, based on the 1957 novel by Nevil Shute, ends with a quote from an 1871 poem by Walt Whitman titled On the Beach at Night. I haven’t seen either film or read the book about an impending nuclear holocaust. But I would venture a guess that the intent in using the quote was to compare “the ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading” to a nuclear mushroom cloud.
The United States may equip Israel with weapons to attack nuclear energy sites in Iran.
Some Americans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal calls for the United States to sell the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator to Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Last Tuesday at FPIF Rob Prince wrote that congressional hawks — Democrats, as well as Republicans — were seeking to neuter the Iran nuclear deal by creating legislation allowing the United States to sell Israel weapons for attacking Iran. At one point, he quoted Asia Times’s M K Bhadrakumar from his blog.
Tehran has every reason to be concerned that in its efforts to placate the Israelis who are hopping mad at the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration may begin supplying Israel with the means to attack Iran on its own, without US direct involvement. The prevailing assessment of experts is that while Israel may succeed in penetrating the Iranian air defence system (at a high cost, of course), it needs very large bombs or so-called Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOPs) and very large aircraft to carry them to destroy the Iranian nuclear sites some of which are buried deeply underground.
Pressure is indeed building up in Washington on the US supplying the MOPs and the legendary B52 bombers to Israel. In a joint article in WaPo recently, two hugely influential pro-Israeli voices in the US Dennis Ross (formerly special assistant to Obama for the Middle East) and David Petraeus (formerly director of the CIA) made precisely such a recommendation.
In the defense world, the terms “strategic” and “systems” seem like they’re used almost indiscriminately.
The B-52H Stratofortress: a “strategic system” in itself. (Photo: U.S. Air Force / Mike Dey)
Two of the most overused words in the defense world are “strategic” and “systems.” The latter, of course, is omnipresent in the culture, especially in business programs and consumer goods. (Try looking it up on Google shopping.) I’m currently reading the third edition of Sir Lawrence Freedman’s seminal — hey, at least I didn’t use that old standby of reviewers and blurbers: “magisterial” — book The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy. He provides some much-needed perspective on both terms.
The Russian military moves to shore up the Syrian Regime in its fight against the Islamic State and other rebel forces.
Russia was the decisive force in defeating Nazi Germany. Will it serve the same role in the war against the Islamic State? (Photo: WorldWar02.com)
Last week, at the Daily Beast, Michael Weiss wrote of Syria v. the Islamic State and other rebel forces it’s fighting :
Much discussed in U.S. defense circles is what the Israeli news portal YNet reported Monday, that a new “expeditionary force” of the Russian military has arrived in Damascus and converted a Syrian air force installation into its own forward-operating base. Russian pilots will also apparently start flying their own combat missions.
… The goal is said to be purely counterterrorist in nature and conforms to a new period of bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in salvaging a common ally—Assad—while also amplifying the fight against ISIS.
Nuclear weapons came in many shapes and sizes, one more insidious than the other.
A nuclear air-to-air missile, to be launched by jet fighters. (Photo: Wikipedia)
In the early years of nuclear weapons, it was still thought that smaller nuclear weapons (called tactical) could fall under the aegis of conventional weapons. Before military planners disabused themselves of that notion and conceded that, with regards to tactical nukes, if it looks like a nuke … , various species of nuclear weapons were developed. Though it wasn’t publicized at the time, you may have heard of the suitcase bomb — a miniaturized nuclear weapon that fit inside a sort of backpack. The smallest, the Mk-54 SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition), weighed only around 50 pounds.