Focus on Child Marriage, Genital Mutilation at All-Time High

By Julia Hotz

WASHINGTON, Jul 23 2014 (IPS) – As Tuesday’s major summits here and in London focused global attention on adolescent girls, the United Nations offered new data warning that more than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation, while more than 700 million women alive today were forced into marriage as children.

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Japan Remains Committed to ‘Advancing Vibrant Diplomacy’

By Isamu Ueda*

TOKYO, Jul 2014 (IPS) – In recent years, Japan has found itself it in a rapidly changing security environment. The global balance of power has shifted and various new threats have emerged within the region, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems that may soon be capable of delivering them.

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Move over, big brother

Amitav Acharya – The Hindu

The western media has been dismissive of the BRICS move to set up a bank, but such cynicism misses the larger picture — the end of western hegemony and the rise of the multiplex world

For the first time since its creation in the aftermath of World War II, the structure of global economic governance established and dominated by the United States has some serious competition. At their summit in Brazil on July 15, 2014, the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) agreed to set up the New Development Bank with a capitalisation of U.S. $100 billion) and a contingency fund to deal with financial crises.

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Gaza and Israel: The Road to War, Paved by the West

By NATHAN THRALL – The New York Times

JERUSALEM — AS Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities and Israel follows up its extensive airstrikes with a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the most immediate cause of this latest war has been ignored: Israel and much of the international community placed a prohibitive set of obstacles in the way of the Palestinian “national consensus” government that was formed in early June.

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

Phyllis Bennis* – The Nation

With the collapse of an Egyptian cease-fire proposal, the horror of Israel’s latest Gaza assault continues. At least 185 have been killed, almost 80 percent of them civilians. Almost half are women and children. At least seventy homes were specifically targeted and destroyed. Five healthcare facilities, including a hospital, have been damaged in air strikes. There was a direct attack on a center for profoundly disabled people. It was one of Israel’s much-bragged-about “carefully targeted” bombings, including the now-iconic “knock on the roof” message from the Israeli bombers—the small bomb that signals much worse to come. It wasn’t an accident. Three people, two patients and a caregiver, were killed there. It goes on.

And Congress—indeed almost all of official Washington—is speaking with almost one voice: we stand with Israel. Israel has the right to “defend” itself. No country would stand by and allow this. But something is different this time. And not only that the assault is different, and worse.

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From Financial crisis to a crisis of Legitimacy; Europe on the Brink

By Tony Phillips*

London July 17th – The European phase of the current global financial crisis began in 2009, just one year after the US “sub-prime” crisis flowed across Europe’s deregulated financial frontiers. Transatlantic financial contagion was facilitated by the adoption by European banks of the use of untested financial ‘products’ such as ‘derivatives’. Derivative trades also enabled excessive levels of debt, much of it bad debt. The derivatives were not just deployed in Europe’s banks but also in Europe’s cities and municipalities, they were even sold to national governments. For example, in both Greece and Italy derivatives were used to mask borrowing so that countries could meet debt-to-GDP ratios required by the Maastrict treaty to enter the Eurozone. The crisis has tested the mettle of the Eurosystem, a ten-year-old financial framework consisting of national central banks and the European Central Bank (ECB). The results can hardly be described as positive. Financial innovation had yet again become subverted for private gain. This time the money was to come from the European taxpayers.

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A golden moment for Germany that may not last

By Gideon Rachman – Financial Times

The country has re-emerged as the leading political power in Europe but challenges lie

Germany has a habit of winning the World Cup at symbolic moments. Victory in 1954 – captured in the film, The Miracle of Bern – allowed Germans a moment of pride and redemption after defeat and disgrace in 1945. A second victory in 1974 went to a West Germany whose “economic miracle” had, by then, allowed it to regain its status as one of the world’s most advanced nations. Victory in 1990, just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, caught the joy and potential of a soon-to-be united Germany.

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An Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional County? The Empire as Basket Case

Tom Engelhardt* – TomDispatch

One thing is obvious. No one ever joins the government in order to be a whistleblower or leaker. Whistleblowers are created, not born. To offer an example, as Peter Van Buren is happy to admit, before he spent a year on two forward operating bases in Iraq running a State Department provincial reconstruction team, he was “a more or less content Foreign Service Officer.” It is perhaps typical of whistleblowers and leakers that something they are privy to simply pushes them over the edge.

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Cuba-United States – Something Is Moving

By Ignacio Ramonet*

PARIS, Jul. 2014 (IPS) – In ‘Hard Choices’, her new book about her experiences as Secretary of State during U.S. President Barack Obama’s first term (2008-2012), Hillary Clinton writes something of prime importance about Cuba – she says that late in her term in office she urged Obama to reconsider the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
“It wasn’t achieving its goals, and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America.”

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Sarkozy’s Reckless Political Encore

By ARTHUR GOLDHAMMER* – The New York Times

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On July 2, France awoke to images of an unshaven and bleary-eyed Nicolas Sarkozy seated in the back of a police car after 15 hours of interrogation by the judicial police. Several officers accompanied the former president to a midnight confrontation with two examining magistrates, who informed him that he was then under formal investigation for “active corruption” and “influence trafficking.”

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