For the first time, Saudi Arabia is being attacked by both Sunni and Shia leaders

Robert Fisk* – The Independent, UK

What, the Saudis must be asking themselves, has happened to the fawning leaders who would normally grovel to the Kingdom?

The Saudis step deeper into trouble almost by the week. Swamped in their ridiculous war in Yemen, they are now reeling from an extraordinary statement issued by around two hundred Sunni Muslim clerics who effectively referred to the Wahhabi belief – practiced in Saudi Arabia – as “a dangerous deformation” of Sunni Islam. The prelates included Egypt’s Grand Imam, Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar, the most important centre of theological study in the Islamic world, who only a year ago attacked “corrupt interpretations” of religious texts and who has now signed up to “a return to the schools of great knowledge” outside Saudi Arabia.

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It’s Hillary Clinton’s Election to Lose

By Matthew Cooper – Newsweek

Comedian Bill Maher captured the anxiety of Democrats about the presidential election when he returned to his weekly HBO show in mid-September after a summer hiatus. “When I left five weeks ago, Hillary had a huge lead,” said the host of Real Time. “What the fuck happened? They say the race is tightening. My asshole is tightening.”

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China Takes Its Place on the International Stage

By Mahmood Hasan * – The Daily Star, Bangladesh

Sep 2016 – China hosted the 11th G20 summit from September 4-5, 2016 at Hangzhou for the first time since the group formally started holding summits when the world economy slipped into deep recession in 2008. The theme for the summit was “Towards an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy”. China also invited leaders of eight developing countries and chiefs of international organisations to participate at the conference.

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Land Degradation Aggravating Migration, Warns UNCCD Chief

Interview by Ramesh Jaura with UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut

NEW YORK | BONN (IDN) – “Migration associated with natural resource depletion and climate change is much wider in scale than previously appreciated,” Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), has warned in an interview.

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China, Germany and Sliding US Demand

By Lili Bayer – Geopolitical Futures

Declining U.S. demand for major exporters’ goods could spell disaster.

The world’s exporters are in turmoil. Over the past days, we learned that Chinese exports fell 2.8 percent in August compared to the same time last year, while Japanese exports declined 4.8 percent. German exports plummeted 10 percent year-over-year in July, while the European Union’s overall exports fell 2 percent between January and July compared to a year earlier.

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No One Is Indispensable in a Democracy

By Oscar Arias Sanchez*

SAN JOSÉ, Sep 20 2016 (IPS) – I have put a great deal of thought into whether or not to return to politics. Groups from different political parties, and without party affiliation, have expressed their concern over the current situation in the country and have offered me their support. And the opinion polls indicate that I would have a chance at a third presidential term.

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Migrants are Human Beings, Not Documents

by Rev. Liberato Bautista* – Church and Society

A commentary on the eve of the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants

High level summit, and why words matter

It is the eve of a crucial political process at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the High Level Summit for Refugees and Migrants to be convened on September 19. As UN member states arrive and UN officials and international public servants plan and prepare, NGO representatives are also busying themselves to find space and voice. United Methodists will be in attendance, for certain.

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Can the EU’s Leaders Muster a Show of Unity?

Geopolitical Diary – Stratfor Global Intelligence

The heads of government of the European Union will meet Friday in Bratislava for an informal summit, the first to be held without a representative from the United Kingdom present. Their main goal is to show unity at the continental level after the Brexit referendum. But fulfilling that aim will not be easy because, as is often the case with the bloc, though its members agree that the union is in trouble, they cannot agree on a strategy to counter its increasing fragmentation. Since the Bratislava summit will be informal, and the United Kingdom (which is still a full EU member) will not be present, no formal vote or binding decision on reforming the bloc should be expected.

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European Security with our without Russia?

By Roberto Savio* – Fondazione Italiani

Consequences of the Chinese-Russian Alliance on the relationship between USA and EU

The joint military manoeuvres between the Russian and Chinese navies, armies and air forces has kicked off. The common military manoeuvres, that just concluded, it’s a clear message for Washington, which has recently strengthened its action in Asia, indicating that as a country that overlooks the Pacific, it wants to play an important role in the continent, aimed at containing the Chinese expansion. Obama, during his visit to Laos, the first by an American President and his last in Asia as President, has explicitly stated that the United States are guarantors of Asian stability. One must also consider that the greatest continent of the world is going through a wave of nationalism (China, Japan, India) or populism (Philippines). Joint military manoeuvres are a clear message: the United States cannot decide the destinies of Asia.

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How Donald Trump’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security

Kurt Eichenwald – Newsweek

Would Donald Trump’s decisions as president be based on what is best for America, or on what would keep the cash flowing to him and his family?

If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States?

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UN Shaky on Protection of Journalists and Right to Information

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 2016 (IPS) – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, one of the strongest advocates of press freedom, is facing two politically-sensitive issues which are beyond his decision-making jurisdiction: a proposal for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) aimed at providing journalists with the right to access information, and the creation of a UN Special Envoy ensuring the safety of journalists worldwide.

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The Fed’s Misguided Approach to Tightening

by Yves Smith – Naked Capitalism
Yves here. The William Gibson observation, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed,” apples to America’s so-called recovery. The Fed has clearly been eager for some time to “normalize,” and has been eagerly seizing on shreds of data that confirm that stories it wants to tell, namely that its policies have been a great success and that it can now start rolling them back.

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What After North Korea’s Fifth Nuclear Test?

Viewpoint by Tariq Rauf*

STOCKHOLM (IDN) – The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported that at 00:30 UTC, a seismic event magnitude 5.3 was detected in North Korea that possibly could be the second nuclear test carried out this year by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea). The DPRK carried out its fourth nuclear test in January this year, following earlier tests in 2013, 2009 and 2006. Early speculative estimates put the yield close to that of the Hiroshima bomb (10-15 kilotons), which makes it the most powerful DPRK test to date.

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Stealth Sectarianism

by Sanam Naraghi Anderlini* – LobeLog

Not a week goes by without Saudi Arabia and Iran ratcheting up their war of words. In the latest round of colorful insults, the Iranian leader called Saudi leaders “puny satans” incapable of managing Hajj while the Saudis retorted that Iranians are not real Muslims but, rather, Zoroastrians or “sons of Magi” (no mention was made of Iranian women). These exchanges support the conventional wisdom that Sunni-Shia sectarianism—with Saudi Arabia the leader of the Sunni world and Iran the Shia—is the greatest global threat to Muslims and the societies in which they live.

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