July 27th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Society

Consumerist

Article on a study that was conducted on a wide range of consumers, all in the first world, on the kind of purchases they made with their money and how happy it made them. Apparently, these people gained more happiness If they produced time-saving devices/ services with their money.

I think it would be very interesting if someone tried to replicate this experiment in a third world-country. I think there’s a certain value attached to status items when people acquire money in a country that isn’t part of the first world.

Right Wing

Acting Man

Person who claims that the British were the best thing to happen to India. Real Uncle Tom vibes from this one.

Rightly Considered

Philosophical argument against the death penalty. Blog that is dedicated to right wing philosophers. Article on why the author considers the death penalty to be just: because some people deserve it. He also brings in the question of who authorizes said punishments. As an aside he also mentions that God and the Church can punish him.

UK

SPERI

With the UK leaving the EU, they will have to renegotiate with the SACU, a bloc of Southern African countries that includes Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa among its members. It’s imperative that they lock that down since they apparently quite a large amount to these countries. The article also points out that since the SACU negotiates as a bloc, this makes things a little more complicated, since there are varying levels of importance in these linkages.

LSE Blog

Does MP voting reflect what the MP believes or what his constituents believe? The article feels like since MPs voted for what their constituents felt like on a certain range of issues (free votes?), this would also extend to other issues. I’m not sure about this one. I think the behavior of members of the parliament are dictated by a much more complex array of preferences. One of which is the institution of the political party.

Iran

Al Monitor via The Iran Project

Inflation in Iran is set to climb a marginal amount (from 10.2% to 10.9%) in Rouhani’s second term. Iran’s cash economy seems to be one of the biggest reasons why the country struggles to keep inflation in check. Their central bank has to keep up the supply of money in the economy to ensure that it satisfies all potential transactions, and this can lead to inflation if left unchecked. The central bank is also looking to manage the interest rate so that they can manage the balance between investment and inflation.

Scotland & Catalan

Fair Observer

Scotland and Catalan are both countries within countries. Or at the very least that’s how the local population predominantly feels. They have both tried to hold referendums in the past. Article focuses on why the referendum attempts that they might attempt in the future need the support of the British and Spanish governments, even if it is by coercion.

Catalan National Day (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Catalan National Day (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Media

YouTube via Long War Journal

Watch an Al- Qaeda affiliated organization along the Syria-Lebanon border shoot down an armed Hezbollah drone. The drone is seen dropping its payload at various locations, before being shot down.

Israel

Al Jazeera

Israel has removed the metal railings at the Al-Aqsa mosque. They removed the metal detectors on Tuesday.  According to an Al Jazeera reporter, this is a very people centric movement and is not directly influenced by any political organization (read: Hamas). I posted a video of the protests outside the Al Aqsa mosque which was essentially Muslims praying on the street. Though, there has been media of major unrest around the area.

Middle East

National Interest

Iran is significantly important in the world at this moment. Back before the nuclear deal, Iran was just one bit of the “axis of evil”. The nuclear deal and the restrain that Iran and the United States showed in reaching it, changed all that. Iran sort of came out of the shadows of the world. Sort of. The problem is, with an Iran that could work with nuclear fuel came fear from majority Sunni Gulf States and Israel. The article details how the Iran issue is driving them together. This is a good example of how something can make it seem like there’s some modicum of co-operation, but it’s really more of an alliance of convenience. I think that if the Gulf States and Israel do come closer solely on the basis of the Iran issue, it would be like if you got married to someone just for the sex. Eventually you realize that it’s not enough. There needs to be much wider engagement between the two blocs.

United States

Vox

Skinny Repeal is essentially the only thing that the Republicans can get enough numbers behind to pass. Anything else is way too radical. All of them know that they would be impaled by their constituents if they repealed Obamacare wholesale. Not to knock Obamacare, but at this point of time, it really does not matter if Obamacare is the most splendid healthcare bill on the planet. As long as it does a half decent job and people perceive it as kind of fair, it’ll be nearly impossible to repeal. Healthcare and other government services are kind of like that. They’re massive and have such enormous amounts of inertia that it becomes political suicide to touch them.

Tech

Zero Hedge

The internet was around a long time before 1995, but it started to experience 100% growth year upon year from 1995 onwards. That’s the year Netscape was introduced. With respect to the article, I don’t think bitcoin has really had its Netscape moment yet, but time will tell.

July 24th – International News Round-Up (Part IV)

United Kingdom

LSE Blog

The increasing polarization of Brexit politics led to an enormous political space in the center. As Labour moved further left and insisted that all immigration was good, the Conservatives moved further right and insisted on being British. The post discusses how neo-liberalism as a political and economic ideology has led to the peculiar character of British politics at the moment.

Jeremy Corbyn (Source: Wiki Commons - https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/10/Jeremy_Corbyn_Bahrain_1.png/1024px-Jeremy_Corbyn_Bahrain_1.png)
Jeremy Corbyn (Source: Wiki Commons)

Libya

Al Jazeera

More reports of executions of ISIS linked rebels. This one is from Libya. According to a video that has been circulated online (which I have not personally watched). General Khalifa Haftar and his soldiers are said to be seen carrying out executions. This adds to the wider trend of executions of ISIS fighters from Iraq to Syria and Libya, after being sentenced by kangaroo courts.

General Haftar and his forces are still in control of the eastern part of Libya, with the backing of the UAE and Egypt.

Cambodia

The Cambodia Daily

The King of Cambodia, Norodom Shiamoni has reportedly left the country.

“His departure follows a formal petition delivered by the CNRP on Thursday asking the king to avoid endorsing the changes, which could hold the party liable for any endorsement of or affiliation with its former, exiled president Sam Rainsy.”

This is the not the first time the Head of State has done this. He made a trip to China during another critical time as negotiations for constitutional laws were taking place. The ruling CPP claims that they have exerted no pressure on the King and that he is acting purely on his own volition.

Security

Small Wars Journal

Trump’s pick for Special Ops and low intensity conflict has floated a scenario in which a commercially available drone could be used to great effect and he says that the future where that would be a reality is just 5 years out.

Jordan

Trend via Reuters

Two Jordanians entered the Israel embassy at Amman under the pretext of being workers and opened fire, before they were shot. Jordan and Israel don’t get into it very often, but Israel and its metal detectors at one of Islam’s holiest sites in the Middle East is causing increasing tension with its otherwise quiet (if reluctantly) neighbors.

Lebanon

Long War Journal

Hezbollah claims to have made advances on the Lebanese border against Sunni jihadist forces.

“Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a coalition of different jihadist and rebel groups in Syria in which al Qaeda’s branch operates, has also claimed that its forces killed over 50 Hezbollah fighters and that several attacks were repelled. This number is likely exaggerated.”

Venezuela

Sputnik

President Maduro says that he will arrest all the Supreme Court judges that were appointed by the opposition led parliament. This is in response to what he sees as a new “parallel state” being formed.