U.S. President Barack Obama’s four-pronged strategy of air strikes, support to local proxies, defense against the Islamic State’s attacks through intelligence and counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance leaves many unanswered questions. It’s hardly a clear articulation of the sort of long-term, holistic strategy needed to deny the Islamic State the fertile ground it needs to thrive. The approach is fraught with trade-offs, risks, and hidden costs that need to be addressed.
Five Hidden Risks of U.S. Action Against the Islamic State – Syria in Crisis – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
September 13, 2014
September 10, 2014
The African Union (AU) gets a lot of flak. Critics often argue that it is slow to respond to security threats; that it prioritises power over justice; and that it fails to adequately represent the needs of this continent’s 1,11 billion citizens.
The continental organisation is often dismissed as a talk shop for tyrants, or depicted as an ineffectual, lumbering bureaucracy that worries more about per diems than it does about Africa’s most pressing political problems.
There is merit to some of these critiques. But they don’t tell the whole story, and they leave out the good bits. It is time to give credit where credit is due, and to recognise that – as imperfect as it may be – Africa is in much better shape with the AU than without it…
September 10, 2014
Originally posted on TechCrunch:
The developing world wants Facebook, and its accessibility initiative Internet.org could pay huge dividends. Those are the takeaways from Facebook’s announcement that it now has 100 million active users in Africa, and 80% of those come on mobile. That 100 million makes up 50% of all Africans connected to the Internet.
The news suggests that if drones, satellites, and deals for free access from local carriers can spread the Internet to more people around the world in places like India and South America, a big percentage of them will become consistent Facebook users. It’s not just smartphone-wielding Westerners that want the social network. Even if it means quantifying one’s life by likes, being social without face-to-face interaction, and giving up data for ad targeting, people all over the world are eager to connect with friends and family through Facebook.
Facebook’s announcement of the 100 million user milestone gives more detail…
View original 349 more words
September 8, 2014
Much of the reporting around ebola is rife with rumours and misconceptions. In my experience, there seem to be three main popular misconceptions around the viral outbreak.The first is that it is easy to contract ebola. Due to the gruesome nature in which the virus manifests itself in humans, people are understandably terrified of contracting ebola. Anecdotes abound about how people are scared of being on an airplane in the same confined space as anyone travelling from West Africa. However, ebola is not airborne and cannot be contracted by simply sitting beside someone and breathing the same air. Concern Worldwide have dedicated staff on the ground in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, none of whom have contracted the virus or come even close….
September 8, 2014
The Washington Post’s Todd C. Frankel writes about what it takes to leave some West African airports: a normal temperature. The cold calculation of health is many travelers’ ticket out of the Ebola-ravaged region
Here’s more about the epidemic, our perception of Ebola in the United States and the reality abroad:
1. The current Ebola epidemic has claimed more lives than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined.
As of last week, the number of suspected deaths (1,552) surpassed the number of confirmed deaths (1,548) from every outbreak since the disease was discovered in 1976, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...
September 7, 2014
Originally posted on Metro:
Stonehenge is one of the most recognisable sites in the world, while Barack Obama is one of the world’s most recognisable people.
And for one Wiltshire family, to see the leader of a world superpower at this World Heritage site was an opportunity not to be missed.
Janice Raffle, talking to the BBC, said ‘we had a brief tête-à-tête across the barbed wire’.
The mother of three boys explained ‘there was a bit of banter about boys being the best’ on account of the American president joking that she was ‘outnumbered.’
This surprising encounter was captured by the president’s photographer on Mrs Raffle’s phone.
The president had decided to visit the mysterious stone formation after leaving the Nato Summit in Newport, Wales.President Obama waving to the Raffle family he saw near Stonehenge after leaving the NATO…
View original 5 more words
September 1, 2014
BAGHDAD — With American bombs raining down from the sky, Shiite militia fighters aligned with Iran battled Sunni extremists over the weekend, punching through their defenses to break the weekslong siege of Amerli, a cluster of farming villages whose Shiite residents faced possible slaughter.
The fight in northern Iraq appeared to be the first time American warplanes and militias backed by Iran had worked with a common purpose on a battlefield against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, even though the Obama administration said there was no direct coordination with the militias.
Should such military actions continue, they could signal a dramatic shift for the United States and Iran, which have long vied for control in Iraq. They could also align the interests of the Americans with their longtime sworn enemies in the Shiite militias, whose fighters killed many United States soldiers during the long occupation of Iraq…