April 17, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula caught Western leaders by surprise, but it shouldn’t have. The Russian strongman clearly professes a nationalist, authoritarian, expansionist ideology that defines Russia in opposition to the West.
Putin’s Expansionist Ideology Seeks to Fill Post-Soviet Void
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a press conference on Ukraine at his country home, Novo-Ogaryova, outside Moscow on March 4, 2014. (Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese Use Copper as Collateral, Distorting Metal’s Price
March 28, 2014
Special Economic Report
by Peter Warburton, PhD

The price of copper dropped to its lowest level in more than three years in March. A perfect storm of weak China data, a Chinese corporate default and a surge in Shanghai copper inventory precipitated the downward move. Overlaid on the fundamental demand for and supply of copper is a complex web of financial transactions. The extensive use of copper as collateral in the Chinese financial system is a recurring source of rumor and speculation, and could signal imminent trouble.
Next Stop, Estonia: Steps Putin Could Take to Destabilize NATO
March 28, 2014
In a March 18 speech announcing the annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the case that the people of Crimea had the right to determine their political fate and strongly hinted that ethnic Russians outside the Russian Federation had the same right. That logic now can be applied by Moscow to Western allies on the periphery of Russia, in line with Putin’s presumed long-term goal: destabilizing NATO along Russia’s borders.

In the speech, Putin reiterated Moscow’s concerns regarding NATO, saying that it “remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory.” Absent a firmer response from the West than mild economic sanctions, it appears that Putin has made Crimea’s new status a fait accompli and a powerful argument to further test Western resolve.
One Way the West Can Really Hurt Russia: Ban the Bolshoi
March 27, 2014
Russia’s blithe reaction to Western sanctions following the annexation of Crimea makes clear the impotence of such limited moves in the face of Russian realpolitik on the ground. Russia is simply not susceptible to trade or financial sanctions that the West might impose, especially not from Europe, which remains dependent on Russian energy supplies.
Striking Israeli Diplomats Threaten Pope's Visit to Holy Land
March 27, 2014
A three-week strike by the staff of Israel’s Foreign Ministry is dealing a blow to its diplomatic efforts and could cancel Pope Francis’ spring visit to the Holy Land. With the standoff escalating this week to include the closure of Israel’s embassies and consulates, the nation’s ability to defend its security and diplomatic interests is being compromised.
Indian Privacy Erodes Under NSA-Style Surveillance Regime
March 27, 2014

Indian privacy advocates are sounding the alarm over broad government snooping operations that ensnare not only Indian citizens but anyone in contact with individuals and businesses in India via email or telephone. Two massive new surveillance programs — Project NETRA, covering Internet traffic, and the Content Monitoring System, targeting telecom — now scoop up vast quantities of personal data throughout the country.
Make an IED in an Airport? DIY Bomb Builder Shows How
March 26, 2014
Authorities this month yanked a magazine from the newsstands at London’s major airports that showed in detail how to build an IED using ordinary gift-shop items purchased after passing through security: a coffee mug, a battery, water and body spray. The piece went on to explain how to build a shotgun and crossbow using magazines, an umbrella and other common airport-shop purchases, with photos and how-to diagrams.
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