On May 20, 2020, we registered my father's death from Covid-19. Remember that date. It turned out to be important.
His name was Shaun Brady. He was a proud factory worker at the Heinz Kraft plant in Wigan, in the North West of England. He was brilliant, honest and kind. He didn't think much of himself, but we thought the world of him, and he thought the world of us.
Dad was only 55. He loved cooking healthy food and went to the gym three or four times a week. But when the pandemic hit, he stuck to the lockdown rules.… Seguir leyendo »
"The United States is coming to an end. The question is how." Those are the jarring opening lines of Canadian author Stephen Marche's new book, "The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future." Released the same week as the anniversary of the January 6 attack on our Capitol that signaled how dangerous our political polarization has become, Marche's book shares different scenarios of how the United States could collapse.
Marche isn't the only Canadian worried about their southern neighbor's future. Just days before Marche's book released, political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon -- the executive director of the Cascade Institute, which focuses on ways to address threats to society -- penned a powerful op-ed in Canada's "Globe and Mail" that begins with a similar warning.… Seguir leyendo »
Pope Francis' comments that couples opting for pets instead of children were acting selfishly, has reinvigorated an important and timely debate about the future of our species. The pontiff's comments, however, are wholly wrong.
"Today we see a form of selfishness. We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one -- but they have two dogs, two cats ... Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children," the Pope told an audience at the Vatican Wednesday.… Seguir leyendo »
This was not part of Novak Djokovic's plan. The tennis star who posed with a big grin Tuesday, planes on the tarmac behind him, announcing that he'd been granted a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open and was about to fly Down Under, was instead about to embark on a saga of epic proportions.
Had things gone according to Djokovic's plans, he would have arrived in Australia Wednesday night and be out on Rod Laver Arena in the Melbourne summer sun by Friday at the latest, working out the kinks from the flight and preparing for the Australian Open.… Seguir leyendo »
As France gears up for a presidential campaign amid a savage fifth coronavirus wave sweeping the country, for the first time in the nation's history, female candidates occupy three of the principal axes of the political spectrum and may hold the key to the nation's future.
Far-right perennial Marine Le Pen, Socialist Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo and conservative governor of the Paris region Valérie Pécresse each pose a unique challenge to the incumbent, President Emmanuel Macron. For the moment though, he has still not officially declared his candidacy, and Macron remains the favorite to clinch a second and final five-year term.… Seguir leyendo »
I'm crouched down in front of a 10-year-old boy sitting hunched over himself in the Beirut office of my charity INARA, the International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance. His dark brown eyes, fringed with impossibly long eyelashes, peer over his facemask.
He shakes his head. He doesn't want to join the other children decorating the tree we've brought in.
"Why not?" I ask.
"Maali khili'" he responds -- he doesn't have the energy for it.
"He's always like this" his father explains, pulling him in closer and planting a gentle kiss on his forehead.
The child starts to cry big, fat, silent tears.… Seguir leyendo »
When the Soviet Union finally fell, it was in a mundane way, as if it had clocked off from a normal day's work.
On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev addressed the Soviet citizens and announced his resignation as president. A little after 7:30 p.m. that same day, the Soviet flag, waving in the wind, was lowered from the flagpole above the presidential residence in the Kremlin.
For five minutes the flagpole stood bare, as if to symbolize the transition of power. By 7:45 p.m. the Russian tricolor was hoisted on it.
The following day, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. And with that, the empire in which I'd been born and spent the first 26 years of my life came to an end.… Seguir leyendo »
With Iran on the cusp of building a deliverable nuclear weapon and with a growing perception that the United States may no longer be the staunch and reliable ally that many, especially in Europe and the Middle East, had long welcomed, the beginning of a realignment of traditional allies is beginning to take shape.
Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron paid a whirlwind visit to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In the UAE, he came away with a $19 billion order for 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters.
No such luck for the United States, after the UAE last week suspended its separate sale for $23 billion worth of weapons.… Seguir leyendo »
As 2022 nears, the West is trying to figure out Russian President Vladimir Putin's next move on a complex geopolitical chessboard -- and preparing an "aggressive package" of sanctions, should he decide to make another land grab in Ukraine.
Tensions are now at their highest since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and dispatched "little green men" into Ukraine's Donbas region. An all-out land invasion of Ukraine is now a real possibility.
But let's face it. Putin could care less about the West's threats, sitting as he does in the enviable position of being able to call the shots.
Europe is in the grip of an energy crisis with low reserves.… Seguir leyendo »
Having spent a couple decades in and around failing Arab-Israeli negotiations, I know a negotiation that's in serious trouble when I see one. The Iran nuclear negotiations that resumed this week in Vienna after a suspension of almost five months are a case in point.
Indeed, right now, probably neither the Biden administration nor Iran's Supreme Leader believes a mutually acceptable agreement is feasible. And it's not so certain that one of the parties -- Iran, which seems to be using the talks as cover to ramp up its nuclear program -- believes that an accord is even desirable right now.… Seguir leyendo »
Is Russian President Vladimir Putin going to launch an invasion into neighboring Ukraine? Enormous movements of Russian troops and military equipment toward the shared border have raised the alarm among Ukrainians and their Western friends.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it "hysteria," and the Kremlin denies any plans to invade, but the words of Russian officials have long lost their credibility. After all, it was Putin who turned gaslighting into a political weapon.
In a video call with Putin on Tuesday, the White House says President Joe Biden warned the Russian president that any escalation would be met "with strong economic and other measures," by the US and its allies.… Seguir leyendo »
On November 24, the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa identified a new coronavirus variant of concern, dubbed Omicron. Since the variant's initial identification in South Africa, it has been discovered in a number of countries spanning multiple continents, and on Wednesday, the first case of Covid-19 caused by this variant was reported in California.
Two days after news of Omicron's existence was announced, after it had also been detected in Hong Kong and Botswana, the UK issued a travel ban on all foreign travelers from South Africa and a handful of neighboring nations with more than 20 countries, including the US, following suit in some form.… Seguir leyendo »
Five years ago, Breshna Musazai was studying law at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. Her future seemed bright. She was attending the best university in Afghanistan, a coed institution offering an American-style education and was on a full scholarship provided by the US government.
Then, on August 24, 2016, Taliban gunmen stalked the campus killing anyone who moved. One of them shot Musazai in the leg. She pretended to be dead and the gunman shot her again to finish her off. A bullet struck her in the foot. For the next six hours, as the terrorists rampaged on the campus Musazai lay motionless in a hallway.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine, for a moment, what the world looks like to people living in China today — say, to an average couple.
Their country, home to one of the greatest and most ancient civilizations in the world, long a leader in science and technology, was largely isolated from the great wave of military and technological advancement that began in the West in the 16th century. It was late coming to the powerful economic gains that began with the industrial revolution in the 18th century. It was dominated by outside powers during the 19th century.
And for the last century — when this Chinese couple's parents and grandparents were alive — China suffered through a collapsing Qing dynasty, civil wars, a brutal occupation by Japan, a prolonged battle between the forces of Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong.… Seguir leyendo »
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has not been seen in public since she used Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, to accuse former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual misconduct. Her post has been deleted, and the 35-year-old doubles champion all but disappeared from Chinese online media.
Amid global outcry over Peng's fate and with "Me Too" publicly resurging in China, it looks like the Women's Tennis Association is ready to take the lead, which is noteworthy.
Historically, tennis as a sport has not been known for prioritizing the care and keeping of its young female athletes' mental or physical health.
Yet, in addition to the declaration by the United Nations Human Rights office that China needed to not only prove that Peng is alive and well, but also engage in a thorough investigation about her allegations of sexual assault, the Women's Tennis Association has stepped up.… Seguir leyendo »
Last year, like many people across the US, I couldn't imagine feeling more anxious about a presidential election than I did in November 2020. In the weeks leading up to the vote, I followed every twist of an often surreal and harrowing campaign.
Every Sunday night, I would call my father, a horse farmer and part-time political pundit in Nicaragua, who would give me his analysis of the week's events, followed by a simple question: "Have you voted yet?" Then, he would say, "This is probably the most important election of your lifetime." And it was—at the time.
Now, an even more crucial election for me and my ancestral country is happening in Nicaragua this weekend—and most people in the US aren't following it.… Seguir leyendo »
Americans—particularly businesspeople and the politically engaged—should be thinking twice about traveling to China.
For years, China watchers have warned of Beijing's increasing use of "hostage diplomacy," and last month, it was on full display. Two Canadians in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were detained by Chinese authorities in 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at America's behest over alleged violations of US sanctions. As soon as Meng was returned to China in late September, Kovrig and Spavor were released.
The Chinese government insisted for years their seizure of the Canadians was unrelated to Meng's detention. So how is it they were released only hours after Meng's plea deal was executed?… Seguir leyendo »
Want to save our democracy from Trumpism? One approach is to follow the blueprint that led to last week's surprising defeat of Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who's also known as the Czech Donald Trump.
Babis, a billionaire tycoon at the forefront of Czech politics since 2011, was elected as prime minister in 2017. He's spewed anti-immigrant rhetoric, proposed disbanding the Czech Senate and was a loud critic of Western European alliances like the EU -- all while being a fan of Hungary's far-right leader Viktor Orban. Just before the election, the right-wing populist was also accused of controversial business dealings -- allegations Babis in essence dubbed "fake news."… Seguir leyendo »
The warning was hardly veiled. Vladimir Chizhov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's tough-minded representative to the European Union, recently said that if Europe wants to resolve any future issues with its supply of natural gas quickly, treating Russia as a "partner," not an "adversary," will help.
It's not the first signal that Russia is prepared to hold Europe hostage to natural gas prices, which are escalating dramatically. But with Europe currently facing an energy crunch, the context and timing are significant -- on both sides of the Atlantic. It's quite clear that both Washington and Brussels need to mind what's on the mind of Chizhov -- and especially Putin.… Seguir leyendo »
Today, 46% of the world's population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. It's hard to overstate what a remarkable achievement this is. Humanity has never made and distributed a vaccine for a disease faster than it did for Covid-19. It accomplished in 18 months something that used to take a decade or more.
But within this amazing success, there is a startling disparity: Just over 2% of people in low-income countries have received any Covid-19 vaccines. And the gap will be harder to close as the world's richer governments buy up extra doses to serve as booster shots.… Seguir leyendo »