14 March 2017   Leave a comment

The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies can ban their employees from wearing visible religious symbols.  The case involved a woman who wished to wear a hijab at work but was told by her employer that she could not.  The ruling prohibits any political or religious symbol and that the rule had to be uniformly enforced.  The European interpretation of secularism is more radical than the American definition:  personal expression of religious beliefis allowed in the US as long as it does not interfere with commercial objectives.

Russia has moved to incorporate a break-away part of Georgia, South Ossetia, into the Russian military.  South Ossetia was carved out of Georgian territory in 2008, along with a section of the country called Abkhazia, by a Russian military intervention.  Georgia had been part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but became independent after the break-up of the USSR in 1991.  Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, is reluctant to accept the break-up of the USSR and claims that it has a sphere of influence in what it terms the “near abroad”, a category which also includes Ukraine and the Baltic Republics. Russia fears that Georgia is too close to both the EU and NATO.

As US and North Korean relations continue to deteriorate over the North Korean nuclear weapons program, the country with perhaps that greatest ability to affect the outcome, China, has remained relatively silent.  The Chinese have much to fear from a US-South Korean-Japanese alliance, but the Chinese also have little influence over North Korean as long as North Korean believes that a nuclear arsenal is its only hope to forestall a US invasion.  The Chinese have some ideas about how to proceed, but they need to become more forthright in their objectives.

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Posted March 14, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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