Israel Has Been Spying on the US

The United States of America has always been, by far, the strongest ally Israel has ever had. We have supported them throughout all of their wars, both in terms of equipment and diplomatically, and we continue to support them as the Palestinian crisis gets bloodier and more complicated every year. Due to this continuing US support in the face of all controversies so far, Israel has always been respectful of the US and its diplomatic process. It is for these reasons that the information that Israel has been spying on US Iran talks all the more a difficult pill to swallow. With the recent tensions between newly re-elected prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Obama, the news of Israeli spying is only going to make a bad situation worse.yaser_khalifa_netanyahu

The news of this spying scandal comes hot on the heels of two more Netanyahu-ian actions that are already threatening the relationship between the US and Israel. The first major misstep happened when Republicans in Congress invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress without seeking approval from the White House. Not only was this a highly political move (it was two weeks before the Israeli election), but it also spawned that awkward letter to Iran. The second big blow to relations was Netanyahu’s last minute hail mary speech before the election during which he promised that there would never be a two-state solution. While he immediately rolled back on this after he won, this is still worrying to the US due to the fact that we do support a two-state solution.

These actions have done more than harm US-Israel relations; they have helped isolate an already isolated Israel even more than it already was. With basically only the US on it’s side in the world political game, Israel is desperate for friends and desperate to not anger its last friend. Now it’s known that Israel has been spying on US Iran talks and what was once tense and fraught with anxiety is now doubly so. While the Israeli government will deny the spying, it’s known how obsessed Bibi is with these talks and no one will believe that he didn’t try to spy. What will happen next remains to be seen but there is a very real chance that the cooling of relations will continue.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Germany Rejects Greece Bailout Deal

For those who follow international economics, the news of Germany rejecting Greece’s plea for a restructuring of its bailout deal isn’t a surprise. As international observers watch the Eurozone lurch from one financial and economic crisis to another, the chance of Greece leaving the EU is becoming more and more realistic and all signs are pointing to that happening. While Germany’s decision to say no isn’t the be all end all of the matter, Germany is the Eurozone’s strongest economy and so it’s decisions have unbalanced weight behind them. The Greek government is still saying that the deal might go through but with Germany saying no, the chances of some sort of successful reconciliation is getting further and further away.Eurozone_dates

Ever since the anti-austerity Syriza party was elected in a total sweep in Greece, the government has been lobbying for a change in the bailout terms that they say have continued to hurt the economy and prevent any sort of economic growth. The Greek government wants a series of short-term bridge loans to help keep the country afloat while new bailout conditions and plans are figured out so that the Greek economy can stay in the Eurozone, not face crippling cuts to governmental services, and still get money to help support new infrastructure and businesses. While these seem reasonable on paper, Germany (and other countries) have been wary of giving in to the demands even as Greece floats the threat of totally pulling out of the Eurozone if the demands aren’t met. Seeing as how bailout restructuring was a key part of Syriza’s platform during elections, the government has to stick to its guns and not give in.

If the Eurozone finance ministers all officially say no then Greece very well might leave the Eurozone for good. This would be a huge blow to the entire organization and could very well set a far more dangerous precedent. Other more independent countries, and those that have harsh feelings towards the austerity cuts the Eurozone has placed a numerous governments in return for bailout money, might use this as an excuse to leave the Eurozone too. Germany and those in charge have angered many countries through the demands for frequently painful levels of austerity and if one country pulls out, those that are angry might also pull out. If numerous countries were to leave the Eurozone then it might collapse and that would be bad for all countries involved.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

France Arrests Chechen Terrorists

The Charlie Hebdo attacks shocked the world and showed that Muslim terrorists were adapting new tactics in the face of heightened security on standard targets. The commando-style attack on the magazine office shows that terrorists and extremists might start shifting towards attacks on soft targets as opposed to the standard hard targets of airports, government buildings, and public locations. The heightened security at these places has made attacks more difficult and so terrorists are changing focus. To counter that from happening, France (and much of Europe) have drastically increased anti-terrorist efforts and surveillance and it has been paying off already. Belgium has arrested a number of terrorist suspects (as well as killing two in a firefight), some of whom were planning on attacking police, and now France has caught some too.

After the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office, France deployed 15,000 extra police troops to help the existing police and gendarmerie patrol the streets and make sure high-value public buildings and institutions that might be seen as targets had bolstered security. The country also started to monitor anti-terrorism channels with extra vigilance and it seems as though that extra scrutiny has paid off. French police have arrested and detained 5 men from Chechnya who are suspected of possessing explosives and planning a terrorist attack on French soil. Chechnya has a history of Muslim extremism and terrorism due to a constant struggle for independence from Russia and a heavily Muslim population that feels isolated and ignored by the Russian government.

While the French government says that there should be no rushing to judgement and that there’s no proof of a Chechen terrorist attempt on French soil, people are still wary. The region has had massive protests against Charlie Hebdo and its showing of the Prophet Muhammad and so there is validity to the threat of terrorism. Either way, France is showing that it is taking terrorist threats much more seriously than before and hopefully nothing like Charlie Hebdo happens again.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Mexican Protesters Clash With Police

For the past few weeks, Mexico has been crippled by massive protests against a number of issues that all focus on one aspect that needs changing, corruption in the government. What began with an attempted protest has now evolved into a full blown civil movement against the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto and his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The conflict was started when 43 students from a radical farming college were kidnapped and disappeared by what is assumed to be a combination of Mexican local police and a local drug gang acting under the orders of the mayor of the town of Iguala. While this is only the starting point, the resulting protests have both scandalized the world as well as shaken the very foundation of the Mexican government and the faith people placed in it.

As of now, the initial localized protests have now morphed into a national movement that is using the disappearance of the 43 students as a launch point to target the increasing corruption, inefficiency, and seeming lack of care that the Mexican government has been sliding into since Nieto took office. The fact that captured gang members have admitted to working alongside Iguala police under the orders of the mayor and his wife has just added fuel to the fires that the protesters are using for inspiration and energy. While the missing students started the movement that is now encompassing Mexicans from all states and walks of life, it most certainly isn’t the only thing driving it. Corruption in all levels of government is under-fire and there is a mounting pressure to respond without violence as more and more people join the protests.

With activists and protesters violently clashing with police in a number of states and cities, it seems like things are going to get worse before they get better. The Mexican people are showing that they are tired of living in a somewhat narco-state that is fueled by corruption and rules through fear. The hashtag #Yamecanse (I am tired) just goes to show how fed up the people are and how they’re willing to risk jail and death to see an actual change in the way the country is run.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

As Referendum Draws Closer, The Masses Rally

Tomorrow is the day that the entire UK has been both looking forward to and dreading for years; tomorrow is the day Scotland holds the referendum vote regarding it’s independence and status in the United Kingdom. While the race was once a clear victory for those who wanted to maintain the union, it is now too close to call with the results going both ways falling into the margin of error. As the pressure ramps up and the date comes closer, representatives and politicians for both sides have increased their efforts to get their message out and sway voters towards their respective sides. With the most recent unofficial polling (that excludes undecided voters) saying that pro-independence had 48% while pro-union had 52%, both campaigns have launched into overdrive to maintain their lead and win over the voters who still haven’t made up their minds.

While Scottish independence has been a movement since the borders wars during the Middle Ages, this is the first time that there has been an actual threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom and it has many people worried. For those who were born with the UK and who have never experienced anything else, this is a momentous occasion that is leading to both formerly unseen patriotic fervor as well as crises of national being. If Scotland gained independence it would mean a number of things for both people who live there as well as for the world’s newest country. For one, Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU as well as facing the loss of the NHS, the UK welfare state, and the possibility of a number of companies fleeing Scotland and moving to England. For the people, they will now have to deal family members living in other countries and wrapping their heads around their new political reality.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.