A "Virtual Mad Dash" Around The World :-)

November 2013 has begun in earnest.   It has been a very interesting, challenging and tough month around the World.  

I was amazed as my eyes was fixated on the atmosphere this week as the International Space Station flew over my local town.   There was no cloud in the sky as the small and bright spot on the sky worked its' way over the sky.   This was a simple yet fabulous reminder about how the World could come together for the betterment of all.    It was also gratifying to see the Solar Decathlon that was held in the United States recently that showcased some of the best technologies in sustainable design and sustainable transportation that was out there for all to see and take advantage of.

Such monumental achievements  is constantly overshadowed by all that has gone on around our World.   I have decided to draft this "Mad Dash" by focusing on a "broad brush" of the World based on the Regional Focus of the US State Department:

A) Near East

The tragedy in Syria continues to consume the region.    1/3 of the Syrian Population--7 Million People--are refugees.   An estimated 2 Million People have left Syria.   6,000 people leave Syria every day.    One of the largest refugee camps in the World is in Jordan that is home to 150,000 Syrian Refugees.    It is the 3rd Largest City in Jordan.  This is as the Syrian Opposition continues to bicker as the Country is destroyed.    The rather feeble efforts by the Arab League and the UN to put together another Geneva conference underscores how the international community is paralyzed.  

What is going on in Syria is essentially a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.      There have also been reports I have reviewed that has noted that the Saudis want to increase their aid to the opposition.      There is no unified opposition that could mount a serious challenge to Bashar Al Assad.  

The refugees' lives are simply dreadful.   The shocking story on Israel24, the Israeli News channel that reported on the sale of young Syrian Girls was just one example of what is the unfolding tragedy in Syria Today.  As I saw the report and the cries in the eyes of the 16-year child being sold for 3,000 Dollars sends shivers through my spine as I write this.  The realignment of the Near East is in full swing and the Arab Winter is yet to truly work itself out.   Tunisia is in a state of political uncertainty.    Egypt continues its' precarious march as Morsi and 14 of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are about to be put on trial for murder.    More than 1000 people have been killed so far by Security Forces.

Beyond Syria, there is Iraq.    Sectarian Violence in Iraq may be shocking to those outside Iraq.   Inside Iraq, though, it has become part of the norm.   I was especially shocked when one of the Iraqi commentators underscored the simple fact that there is not one Iraqi who either knows someone or knows someone who knows someone who has been killed as a result of the violence.  This is as the Iraqi Prime Minister went to Washington to discuss the situation.  Arms sales will go through.    The challenge is that there are over 1 Million Security Personnel which seem not to be able to somehow impose security.

Iran and the P5+1 team have continued conversations in Geneva.  I have held out hope that some good results will emerge.  This is as Iran continues to deal with some very challenging economic and environmental problems in large measure due to both the sanctions and the mismanagement of the 8 years of the Ahmadi Government.   Inflation is around 45%,unemployment is in the high 30's and people have not been paid in months.    One statistic reported by the Government reflected a debt of 72 Billion Dollars that state institution owe.    In the North of the Country, the Oromieh Lake has been gradually drying out in large measure due to the negligence of policy.   Deforestation has resulted in the Caspian Sea being deprived of fish stock.   In the South of the Country, the Karoun River is in extreme difficulty and there is even talk of rationing of Water in the Capital-Tehran.  

B) Europe

Over the last few weeks, there has been some reasonably decent news coming out of Europe.  There has been some growth in both in the United Kingdom and Spain. Spain has officially ended recession by an estimated .5 percent.   The United Kingdom's growth was also feeble--but the current Government has claimed that the austerity policy it has pursued has worked. However, there are storms ahead beyond the sovereign bonds with what the Economist recently noted as "Zombie Firms" that Europe has to deal with.  The continued economic challenges has given rise and helped sustain the far Right in Europe--as reflected by the continued surge in the National Front in France as it has humiliated the ruling Socialists in a recent French National Assembly by-election.    

Europe has a lot still to celebrate.   It has been 20 years since the treaty that brought Europe ever so closer with now 28 Member states that have their unique culture but yet have somehow managed to represent a very interesting experiment about open borders and open economies.     This is as it has had to deal with an Economic Disaster and the corresponding Social ramifications it has entailed.    One of the largest, the United Kingdom,  will have profound challenges before it as it embraces the new year.   Scotland has an independence vote planned and it will change the landscape of Europe even more so than today.  

Europe, though, has been on a war path over the US NSA spaying scandal.    As I have assessed the NSA spying fiasco, I view as frankly the biggest disaster that has befallen the United States.    The idea that the United States would spy on its' closest allies should not be allowed.    There are news stories out of Germany noting that President Obama personally approved such surveillance on Chancellor Merkel is absolutely mind boggling especially after Mr. Obama awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.    Chancellor Merkel has just had her mandate renewed by the German People.   When Germany speaks, Europe and the World listen--and what the United States has done.     There is also reports coming out right now that the NSA has been monitoring Israel as well as it supposedly continued close collaboration between the NSA and its' Israeli equivalent-H200.  

C) Americas

The Americas was also a hotbed of activity.  Argentina's President fell ill and her party lost substantial ground in mid-term elections.  Brazil continued to be faced with challenging times as it geared up for the World Cup.   Ecuador's Correa went into another tirade--this time against the Economist of London as Maduro of Venezuela continued its' tirades against the United States while the Country dealt with rampant inflation and an ever increasingly high crime rate.    The biggest player of all,the United States, had its' share of challenges as well.  

October was also the month that saw the United States came to the brink of default.    The Grand Canyon that developed between the political leadership in Washington has undermined the United States in a profound way.   No one seems to want to trust the United States anymore.    The Republicans in Congress tried to impose their own views by wanting to defund the Healthcare law passed by the US Congress in 2009.   The roll out of the law itself at the Federal level was a disaster and US Media had a field day to investigate the problems once it stopped being fixated over the Debt ceiling and budget mess that was its' focus for two weeks.    The problems continue to persist.  However, there seems to be a concerted effort by the Obama Administration to fix the technical problems.    One of the most savage cuts is to a cut to what is referred to as the SNAP Program that helps over 22 Million People to avoid going hungry.   The United States will have a profound challenge in a few weeks yet again which will force the World to again be on edge as the nastiness of the US Political scene reared its' ugly head in the person of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.  Ted Cruz recently lifted a hold on the nomination of the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission until he received an assurance that the new Chair will not push through disclosures on political adverstising.  This is as Senator Lindsey Graham threatened to put confirmations on hold for all Obama nominees until Benghazi survivors were allowed to testify and as Chuck Grasley accused the President of "Court Packing" as President Obama initiated appointments for vacancies on the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia--the second most important Court to the US Supreme Court.

There are some interesting elections coming up in November that may be an indication of trends at hand:  The election of the new New York City Mayor and the election of the new Governor in Virginia.   This is as Republicans throughout the States have begun a concerted effort to revamp voting laws that would present a challenge and potentially disenfranchise millions throughout those states.   I saw reports that the Democratic Candidate for Governor of Texas, Wendy Davis, was almost turned away at the polls.  

Jaswant Singh, the former Indian Foreign Minister,noted this profound dilemma being faced today by the United States: "The United States’ era as a hyperpower has ended, leaving its policymakers to confront difficult questions about their country’s global role.".    It is a treacherous route indeed.

D) Africa

Mo Ibrahim did not award his annual 5 Million Prize for Good Governance.   I could not agree with him.    For instance, Uganda's Mouseni is one such leader.  As reported in a recent edition of the Economist, he apparently wishes to farm than to govern.   However, everyone has to travel to his farm outside the capital to receive his ascent on Government Policy.   He apparently has made Uganda into a family business that has his wife, sister, brother and other family members with prominent roles in Government.    There is of course Zimbabwe that Mugabe continues to run ever so further to the ground.    The biggest one of all, South Africa, continues to "limp along" as it saw a very slight dip in unemployment as it deals with the aftermath of the global natural resource commodity slowdown.

E)  Asia

The two biggest countries in the World--India and China--continued to deal with profound challenges of their own.  China is dealing with a nascent Muslim insurgency that reared its' ugly head as suicide bombers crashed their vehicle into Tienanmen Square.   China also had to deal with profound environmental challenges and a fundamental problem:  Water.    Rivers are disappearing in China at an extremely fast rate.

India's foray into Foreign Policy was undermined by continued domestic difficulties.   The opposition BJP's rally was bombed which underscored the level of political instability that continues to besiege the country.  But November 3 was also a day that saw India celebrated Diwali--the dawn of the new year in India.      It was also a day that saw it gearing up for a Mission to Mars that has seen investments in the billions to assert India's rightful place.    I was impressed by the images I saw on NDTV24 of India as the countdown has begun.    Whether it has the ability to transform this new-found confidence into a more concerted action remains to be seen.

Despite the challenging World, I see no choice but being reminded of these admonitions:

Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.
- Johnny Mercer

Count your blessings - not your troubles.
- Dale Carnegie

Positive thinking will let you do everything
better than negative thinking will.
- Zig Ziglar

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
- Winston Churchill

Onward!! :-)

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