bod.hunter2The United States and Russia are now at daggers drawn over Syria. Following the collapse of the ceasefire negotiated last month by Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the United States has abandoned talks with the Russians on Syria. Meanwhile, in a supposedly unrelated part of the relationship, Russia has suspended the 2000 agreement between the two countries on ridding themselves of excess stocks of weapons-grade plutonium. 

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spellmanWho bails out failed banks this time? With what means – public and/or private? And, to what extent to ensure safety, soundness in financial markets?

With numerous banks throughout Europe showing troubling balance sheets – the bad debts and non-core assets increasingly undermining financial institutions’ profitability in a sluggish global economy – Europe’s leaders, central banks, and investors are debating what should be done quickly to prevent bank failures, bolster investor confidence, and ensure that another global financial crisis does not flare up. On the sidelines of this week’s World Bank-IMF meetings, the issues are high among bankers’ concerns.

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MichaelWhite2016Given continental Europe’s bloody history, the Slovak capital of Bratislava is as symbolic city as any to host an informal unity summit of embattled European Union leaders. Besieged and conquered, occupied and liberated down the centuries, multi-ethnic Bratislava finally broke its uneasy marriage with Czechoslovakia in the post-communist “Velvet Divorce” of 1993. Regaining a status it previously enjoyed for 250 years as capital of Hungary, the city was known as Pressburg until 1919, when there was briefly talk of renaming it Wilsonstadt after the peacemaking US president. Nazi and Soviet conquerors who arrived later would not have liked that.

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davidjohnsonThe zero dollar contract under which the U.S. Department of Commerce designated ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to provide the crucial “IANA (Internet Assigned Number Authority) function" expired last weekend. Proposed legislation sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz was not adopted as part of a continuing resolution — and a last minute injunction sought by attorney generals of four states was turned down by a federal judge.

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katerinasokou.2016Greece currently hosts some 60,000 asylum-seekers – 10,000 on just three islands: Lesbos, Chios and Kos. Most will have to spend the winter in Greece, as asylum to their desired, northern European destinations is slow to be granted. To be sure, the number of new arrivals has dropped significantly after the EU-Turkey agreement, with more migrants diverting to the precarious mid-Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy. Yannis Mouzalas, the Greek Deputy Minister for Migration Policy, says that since the signing on March 19, new arrivals average 70-100 daily, which “proves the importance of the agreement with Turkey.” Without the agreement, he estimated that there would have been as many as 180,000 people arriving in the Greek islands during the same period. Lately, however, Greek officials are watching nervously as the number of asylum-seekers in the Aegean islands is rising once again—up by 76% since the July 15 failed coup in Turkey.

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