13 November 2014   Leave a comment

The leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, purportedly called for attacks on Saudi Arabia in a speech given today.  The audio recording could not be verified as authentic, but some analysts believed the speaker was Baghdadi.  The Islamic State also called on other groups in the Middle East to join the jihad, and groups in Egypt and Libya declared their affiliation with the IS. The threat against Saudi Arabia is new, and is an attempt to delegitimize the Saudi regime and to lay down a claim by the IS to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.

The domestic pressures on Russian President Putin may be so intense that he may find himself forced to take more dramatic actions in support of the Russian-speaking separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine.  The falling oil price has hurt Russian revenues, and investors are running away from the Russian economy as the value of the Ruble has plummeted.  Putin will need some sort of “victory” in Ukraine to justify to the Russian people the necessity to endure such economic difficulties.

The New Republic has a fascinating essay on the effects of wealth on the very rich in the US.  The essay is a book review of a book that identifies several psychological experiments on how great wealth affects behavior.  Many of the results conform to some stereotypes, but some provide some counter-intuitive conclusions.  Needless to say, money does not buy happiness.

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Posted November 14, 2014 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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