11.4.2014

Rivals Tehran, Riyadh pledge billions to Lebanon’s army

Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have offered competing military aid packages to Lebanon as it copes with the ongoing conflict in the Fertile Crescent. The population of Lebanon, the most religiously diverse state in the Middle East, has relatively equal shares of Shiites and Sunnis; however, depending on the strategic decisions of the near future, this troubled state may soon see military and cultural advantages slip toward one or the other side of its Shiite and Sunni populations.

Could that diversity cause backlash against the upset of Islamic sectarian balance, with the losing sect potentially aligning its cause with other minorities? Or will the winning sect (and its foreign backers) prove too adept at the management of its new political power? 

Top British Spy Warns of Terrorists’ Use of Social Media

Director of UK electronic intelligence Robert Hannigan has decried US social media companies for the insecure structure of their services and systems, calling them “command and control networks” for skilled dissidents such as lone wolf hackers, paramilitary organizations, and terrorists.

With this issue in mind, is it in the best interest of modern global democracies to sacrifice informational transparency to their governments as a matter of self-protection? Is a single-blind surveillance state truly democratic – and if not, is rule-of-surveillance a perversion, or simply a newer and more reliable approach to stability and security?

The Wealth Gap Preoccupies Wall Street

Wealth inequality at both the global and national levels has increased at alarming rate in recent years, creating a vicious circle in the weak economic environment created by the recent recession. Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s recently released a report that stated, “At extreme levels, income inequality can harm sustained economic growth over long periods. The U.S. is approaching that threshold.”

Beyond the fundamental concern about inequalities, and the questions of how and for how long to address the myriad problems created by said inequalities, there arises the question: who must take the lead in driving of a solution? Will there be resistance from the plutocrats and their sycophants, or will there be sufficient power behind a government plan or popular movement to achieve true breakthrough?

90-year-old charged under Fort Lauderdale’s rules against feeding homeless

Does the City of Fort Lauderdale hate humanity?

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11.4.2014

10.31.2014

Is Capitalism Environmentally Unsustainable?

It is undeniable that there have been massive increases in the average material quality of living since the agricultural and industrial production revolutions of the 18th-19th centuries, especially leavened by Anglo-Saxon free market philosophy. Medicine, private and public entertainments, and engineering are among the chief benefits we enjoy today. But while we disencumber ourselves of pain, toil, and anxiety, another undeniable fact has emerged: our global environment pays a steep price, in often unexpected ways.

The article asks the most pertinent question: how well suited is our current free-market economy, even our global infrastructure, to the health and longevity of our natural environment? Can we continue to produce this quantity of goods with the qualities we are accustomed to, or will we have to innovate a less ecologically destructive marketplace?

Sectarian Wedge Pushes from Syria into Lebanon

The Bekaa Valley in northern Lebanon, first home of Shiite group Hezbollah, has seen Shiite-Sunni clashes as militants and insurgents from across the Syrian border find a foothold there. The threat of war looms.

Can civilian resignation and fear be overcome in favor of peace, or will sectarian hatred continue to polarize these communities to the point of senselessly re-enacting bloodshed both current and past?

NATO Cites ‘Unusual’ Russian Air Activity as Intercepts Rise

NATO intercepts of Russian military aircraft over European airspace has tripled since 2013.

With prolonged Russian involvement in Crimea, the continuing possibility of compromised intelligence due to the Snowden affair, and Russia’s geographically anxious, expansionist character, is the Kremlin testing its fences – or ours?

Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Eric Schmidt of Google “locked horns” over the shape and purpose of freedom on the Internet, elaborating opposite views on what this freedom meant, how it should be achieved, and what it was ultimately for.

Is the worldwide web best for humanity if it is left unfettered, uncensored, and transparent, benefiting from the exchange of ideas and resources between free people – disregarding any societal blowback – or do we need a strong, paternalistic apparatus to purposely sculpt it for the uses of a single political agenda ostensibly – but not necessarily – invested in freedom and democracy? 

Scary Clowns Are Terrorizing France

The cultural epicenter of Western Europe reels at its youths’ poor taste and random acts of violence.

10.31.2014