The leader of the Palestinian Authority and of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, gave a speech to the UN in which he asserted that he favored the creation of a Palestinian state within the boundaries established by the 1967 war. Implicitly, that statement excludes the “right of return” which has been a key Palestinian demand–Abbas is suggesting that Palestinian refugees do not possess any rights to lands not included within the Occupied Territories. Hamas has blasted Abbas for the speech, and the Palestinian movement faces a serious rupture.
The Obama Administration has made intensive use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It claims that the drones have significantly weakened the Al-Qaeda network and that few civilians have been killed in the attacks. There is no way to verify these claims, and it is very difficult to get hard information in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan, in particular, has protested the drone attacks as a violation of its sovereignty, but it has not pushed its protests beyond verbal rebukes. Slowly, however, civilian groups have made progress in finding out the truth about the effectiveness of the attacks.
The political status of women globally is very low–in only a handful of countries are women effectively represented in government positions. Even though there has been a lot of rhetoric on this unequal division of power for a number of years, change is very difficult to measure. Even the Chinese seem willing to ignore Mao’s famous aphorism that “women hold up half the sky.”