Angels, Mobsters and Narco-Terrorists: The Rising Menace of Global Criminal Empires

Threats, Transnational Crime

Angels, Mobsters and Narco-Terrorists: The Rising Menace of Global Criminal Empires

In this ground-breaking book, Antonio Nicaso, an internationally renowned expert on organized crime groups, and Lee Lamothe, a veteran investigative journalist specializing in criminal conspiracies, present solid evidence of how established organized crime groups — such as the Mafia and the Triads — have changed their tactics and allegiances to protect their interests against the rise of violent and power-hungry gangs from Albania, Mexico, and Russia.

Angels, Mobsters, & Narco-Terrorists reveals how, due to their shared border, the USA and Canada have become prime targets for criminal groups that engage in money laundering and prostitution rings, and trafficking in human cargo, narcotics, and arms. On the international scene, state-sanctioned crime is thriving on heroin profits and cyber crime is emerging as a very lucrative and baffling activity to investigate and shut down.

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Unknown soldiers: America’s secret, privatized army

Civil War, Threats

Unknown soldiers: America’s secret, privatized army

While many American policy makers believe that their country is ‘exceptional’ and thus shouldn’t have to follow long established laws, other governments see the precedents they set and act accordingly.

It’s been years since Newsweek has been a regular news source for large numbers of readers but it still occasionally produces good investigative reporting. In a long feature story titled “Inside the Military’sSecret Undercover Army” published in the magazine last month, William Arkin, author of a number of books on U.S. national security, revealed that the Pentagon and, even more alarmingly, private contractors working with it, have deployed thousands covert operatives at home and abroad. These covert programs are believed to have 60,000 operators, twice as many as the CIA.

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The weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of the weapon: What knowledge do we need for revolution against capitalism

Economy, Policies

The weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of the weapon: What knowledge do we need for revolution against capitalism

A world in crisis

The ongoing pandemic has resulted in millions of death.1 Millions of people have been pushed to extreme poverty due to COVID-19. According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction”.2 The consequences of the 2007 economic contraction have not been fully neutralized. Hundreds of millions are under- or unemployed: “Almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work” (ILO, 2020). And those who are lucky to be employed are subject to “a global wages scandal, with some countries even having a minimum wage that is lower than the poverty line”.

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The 21st Century Nuclear Arms Race

Policies, Security

The 21st Century Nuclear Arms Race

A new report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)—focusing on nuclear weapons spending– following on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recent decision that their Doomsday Clock, should be set as close as it has ever been to nuclear catastrophe. should serve as a wake up calls for humanity.

Preparations for genocidal or omnicidal nuclear war are undeniably suicidal madness. Worse, with provocative military actions by the U.S., Russia, and China in the Baltic, Black, South and East China Seas, and in relation to Ukraine and Taiwan, an accident or miscalculation could all too easily trigger a life ending nuclear cataclysm.

At a time when scientific, financial, and diplomatic cooperation are desperately needed to stanch and reverse the climate emergency and to overcome and prevent the current and future pandemics, 21st century nuclear arms races are already claiming lives and threatening our future with national treasures being wasted in preparations to end all life as we know it.

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Russia: Frustrating Foreign Wars

Demographic, Russia

Russia: Frustrating Foreign Wars

Russia admits that about a third of its population is living in poverty. Many Russians, and foreign economists, believe the real rate is nearly 70 percent. Russian living standards have suffered continuous disasters since 2013 when the price of the major export (oil and has) fell by more than half and has not recovered. In 2014 Russia declared it was at war with NATO and Ukraine. That resulted in economic sanctions that have gotten worse since then. When the current Russian government took power in 2000 it became very popular by keeping a key campaign promise; to reduce the poverty rate. The poverty rate fell from 29 percent of the population in 2000 to just under 12 percent in 2012.

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Identity Politics With Chinese Characteristics

China, Demographic

Identity Politics With Chinese Characteristics

What is China? The answer is less obvious than it seems. Is the vast territory primarily a country, a civilization, or a political construct? Is it an empire or a nation-state? Is it a region with different languages and cultures or a (mostly) homogeneous people in which the great majority are closely connected by common traditions and ancestors?

For most of the past two millennia, the area known today as China was the center of empires. Some of those empires were large, extending into Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, and the northern Pacific. Others were smaller, containing only parts of present-day China. At times, the area was made up of a number of small states competing for influence, in patterns not unlike what existed in Europe after the fall of Rome. But, in general, empire has been the rule rather than the exception.

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Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia

Demographic, Russia

Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia

The prevailing narrative about Russia, Frye writes, is overpoliticized and oversimplified. All too often, outside observers reduce Russian politics either to “Putinism,” defined by the character and background of Russian President Vladimir Putin, or to Russia’s unique history and culture. They neglect the numerous comparative studies that portray Russia as a personalist autocracy with much in common with other contemporary regimes in Hungary, Turkey, or Venezuela. Standard political commentary on Russia also gives little importance to dynamics within Russian society.

But survey-based academic research—including Frye’s own—illustrates the impact of Russian public opinion on the Kremlin’s decision-making process.

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The Art of War in an Age of Peace: U.S. Grand Strategy and Resolute Restraint

Civil War, Policies

The Art of War in an Age of Peace: U.S. Grand Strategy and Resolute Restraint

This thoughtful and reflective book could serve as a guide for U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security team as they prepare for the challenges of the next few years. O’Hanlon draws on his experience of engaging in the big policy debates of the last three decades, including examining the preparation behind and the legacy of the United States’ recent wars.

Taking into account the polarized nature of U.S. politics, he concludes that the United States must learn to limit its ambitions even while continuing to defend core interests. He advocates a strategy of “resolute restraint,” which means, for example, that if China attacks Taiwan, the United States should move quickly to help defend the island without believing that it has to then defeat China in a wider war. This is a valuable addition to current policy debates, on issues from climate change to nuclear arms control to the challenges posed by China and Russia.

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A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin

Demographic, Russia

A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin

Galeotti skips through Russia’s centuries-long history in around two hundred pages by focusing on its successive rulers. He covers many early princes, along with every tsar and every Communist Party general secretary. The book traces feuds, wars, territorial expansions, and Russian leaders’ repeated attempts to modernize their country while keeping their subjects under tight control, but it does not have much to say about those subjects.

Readers will also not find much about Russia’s social structure, ethnic composition, high and popular cultures, systems of education, or faiths. Galeotti intends his book for a broad audience, and his narrative is, indeed, lively and easy to follow. The chapter on Vladimir Putin is brilliant. But a number of unfortunate inaccuracies risk misleading a curious reader.

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Globalisation of HE: the good, the bad and the ugly

Economy, Policies

Globalisation of HE: the good, the bad and the ugly

Globalisation – the tendency to global convergence and integration – has wonderful potential in the abstract. It offers the possibility that we can work our way out of the national container blocking collaborative action, for example, on climate change.

Global convergence suggests a full and formative encounter with the diversity of human ideas, knowledge, imagination, government, institutions, social habits, on the basis of unity in diversity, heer butong, in tianxia, all under heaven, the Chinese terms.No one country or culture has all the answers and we have much to learn from each other. That is the ideal.

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