Global Challenges

  • Could Russia's next move result in additional sanctions?

    Are More Sanctions Against Russia in Store?

    The third cease fire in Ukraine had a rocky start, but today the German foreign minister noted that tensions have calmed.  The top NATO military commander, US Air Force General Breedlove agreed earlier today that there has been a "definite decrease" in fighting.  Both sides have withdrawn some weapons.  He noted that the past two cease fires were used to rearm and prepare for additional action.

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  • The EU does not have much maneuvering room in the Caucasus.

    What Is the EU’s Game in the Caucasus Separatist Territories?

    The European Union is making a push to raise its profile in two trouble spots in the South Caucasus, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Brussels insists its forays in the region are nothing more than routine diplomacy. But some observers believe the EU is hoping to push back against Russia’s troublemaking in Ukraine.

    The opening EU diplomatic thrust was aimed at Abkhazia, a Black Sea territory that broke free from Georgia in 1993. It remains financially dependent on Russian subsidies to maintain a semblance of self-government.

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  • Chancellor Merkel received a telling gift from the Pope.

    The Need for a Stronger Germany and the Undertone of a Pope's Gift

    German Chancellor Merkel visited the Vatican over the weekend.  Consistent with the diplomatic practice, they exchanged gifts.  The Chancellor gave to the Pope a Bach CD and a donation for refugee children.  Pope Francis gave Merkel a medal with a picture of St.Martin giving his coat to the poor. 

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  • Government officials introduced a new imam. Kamalov had been arrested.

    Kyrgyzstan Silences Popular Imam with Extremism Charges

    On a normal Friday, Kara-Suu’s Al-Sarahsiy Mosque is packed with thousands of worshipers from across southern Kyrgyzstan. They come to this town of 20,000 to listen to the sermons of Rashot Kamalov, the mosque’s charismatic imam. Kamalov is respected for criticizing brutal and corrupt officials, society's moral decline and Western pop culture.

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  • Cyber hacking can digitally take your money right from your bank.

    Cyber Crime Meets the Banking Industry

    As banks slowly approach the age of digitalization they already seem to be facing tough challenges that are related to their own systems’ security.  Banks have been victims to many cyber crimes but so far the crimes had been related to hacking into customers’ accounts. The shift from hacking customers’ accounts to hacking banks’ systems seems to be one of the latest and perhaps the biggest and quietest cyber crimes. In the past, bank robberies might not have been so planned and professional but with changes in technology, even cyber crimes seem to keep up.

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  • The supply chain is only one at risk business component during wartime.

    How Prepared are Businesses for War?

    The turmoil of 2014 was a timely reminder to businesses that they need to be prepared and have contingency plans for global conflict. The crisis in Ukraine brought Russia and the West to the brink of military confrontation; relations between Japan and China became more fraught; and the year ended with the US and North Korea in something approaching what headline writers like to call “cyber war”.

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  • Maybe a compromise in Greece will occur and a Ukraine ceasefire will hold?

    Weaker Retail Sales, no Deal in Greece and a Ukraine Ceasefire Made for a Busy Week

    The US dollar's upside momentum, sparked by the strong January jobs report, and anxiety over the brinksmanship politics in Europe over Greece (and Ukraine), faded last week.  The weaker than expected US retail sales and some optimism over another ceasefire in Ukraine and suggestive signs from negotiations with the new Greek government gave the dollar bulls cause for pause.

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  • A Ukraine/Russia ceasefire happened, but not one between Greece and Europe.

    The Strategic Nature of the Russia/Ukraine and Greece/Europe Standoffs

    A ceasefire in Ukraine appears to have been reached, and despite some confusion late yesterday, no compromise has been struck over the new Greek government's demand that it is recognized that the previous agreements are not working. However, that may give a false sense of what is the more intractable problem.  

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