9 April 2015   Leave a comment

In an effort to buttress its claims of ownership, China is assiduously building up Mischief Reef in the Spratley Islands.  Satellite photographs show the dramatic results of dredging efforts on the reef to create sufficient surface land to build military buildings.  The reef is close to the Philippines which also has claims to the territory, as does Vietnam in other areas of the South China Sea.  The Chinese are taking these actions in order to solidify their ability to hold the islands in the face of both legal and military opposition.

Photographs taken on January 24, 2012 and March 16, 2015.  The white areas denote the dredged sand that China is using to build up the reef.

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has an article on the publication of The Social Progress Index for 2015.  He examines the ranking of the US on various indices of social progress, such as life expectancy, traffic fatality rates, and suicide rates.  These rankings are sobering for Americans.  Despite the high level of economic activity in the US, it seems clear that other less-endowed countries do a much better job of making sure that their citizens lives are more stable and secure.

Iran has demanded that their interpretation of the nuclear agreement demands that all the sanctions against Iran be lifted as soon as the agreement is signed.  US Secretary of State Kerry said earlier in the week that the sanctions would be lifted in “phases.”  It is difficult to determine whether this demand is non-negotiable or whether it is simply part of Iran’s bargaining strategy.  One would expect Iran to raise issues given that the US Congress has clearly indicated that it wishes to raise issues itself.  What is interesting is that the other members of the P5+1 have not raised any additional issues to this point.  The US Congress may find that its changes are opposed not only by Iran, but also by its allies, the Russians, and the Chinese.

 

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Posted April 10, 2015 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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