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Muslim pilgrims pray to God after they threw pebbles at pillars during the 2nd day of "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on October 16, 2013.

- AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK — Since Syria’s conflict began in 2011, a stream of jihadists militants has travelled from Saudi Arabia to join rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al Assad. Although travelling fighters are a Saudi tradition going back to the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Saudi government worries that this time they may return home and take up arms against the monarchy.

So it was perhaps no surprise when the government this year criminalized the act of fighting in foreign conflicts, and named as “terrorist” several groups with which the Saudi jihadists identify: Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various factions of Al Qaeda.

What was surprising was the inclusion of another group on the “terrorist” list: Saudi atheists.

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U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (L) answers questions during a press conference following a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the U.S. Capitol May 29, 2014 in Washington, DC. Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders spoke on Edward Snowden and the U.S. economy during their remarks. Also pictured (L-R) are House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Conference Chairman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

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OWL’S HEAD, Maine — The book that's capturing the headlines this spring is, surprisingly, a 600-pager by a French economist, Thomas Piketty.

What's particularly striking about "Capital in the 21st Century," is that its key point — how during the last four decades the US has returned to the kind of economic inequality that last existed in the Gilded Age of the 1890s — is something we've all sensed that now we finally grasp.

Economic stagnation for the majority of Americans over the last two generations is only part of the story. Our country’s unique uni-power status in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's disintegration initially boosted US self-esteem and subsumed the underlying economic developments. But in the aftermath of the failed Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they resurfaced with a vengeance.

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Turkish miners shout slogans during a protest over the Soma deadly mining disaster, on May 28, 2014 outside the Energy Ministry in Ankara. A total of eight officials from Soma Komur have now been charged over last May 13, 2014 accident that claimed 301 lives at the Soma mine, and sparked anti-government protests in several towns and cities.The placard in yeloow reads: " It's not an accident, but a massacre!"

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ISTANBUL — At the time of writing this article, at least 301 people have lost their lives in the Turkish district of Soma, where the largest mining accident in the country's history struck last Tuesday.

This is not, however, the first such incident in recent times. According to official statistics, more than 3,000 miners have been killed in Turkey's coal mines alone since 1941, and the largest tragedy before Soma left 263 dead near Zonguldak in 1992. Turkey has the highest death rate per million tons of coal in the world.

We might think that no politician in Turkey would or could make matters worse. But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who seems to have become incapable of making a neutral speech on any subject, immediately proved this assumption to be false.

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Supporters of the Greek ultra nationalist party Golden Dawn I during a pre-election rally on May 23, 2014 in Athens, Greece. Greeks go to polls on Sunday for the European elections and the second round of the local elections.

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WARSAW — On the eve of the 2014 Euro-elections, and 69 years after World War II and the Holocaust, a spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of nationalism. Today, revolutionaries of quite another sort storm Strasbourg and Brussels to dismantle the EU: nationalists from Britain, Italy, France, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as from the rest of the EU.

Never before has the Europroject been the object of such a concerted attack. The union that was suggested by Winston Churchill and formed by Christian democratic leaders, now faces a phalanx of enemies.

Leaders of today’s radical right are elegant and buff, articulate before the cameras and comfortable on the social networks. Among them are Marine Le Pen of the French National Front, the well spoken, photogenic blond successor of her father; the dapper Nigel Farange from the UK Independence Party with his cutting wit tailor-made for YouTube; Poland’s Janusz Korwin-Mikke from the Congress of the New Right, playing the jester in his neat bow tie, and, lest we forget, Jörg Haider, the consummate skier, player and man about town, who in 2008 perished in his fast and furious Phaeton, leaving a mass of Austrian neo-fascists orphans.

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Palestinians demonstrate holding posters and waving national flags in front of the United Nations (UN), demanding UN intervention against Israel's polices in the Israeli occupied West Bank, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 28, 2014.

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DENVER — Israelis and Palestinians failed to reach any kind of agreement before the April 30 deadline set by Secretary of State John Kerry. So, what do the parties and the United States do now?

Even before negotiations ended, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas took actions that made the negotiations problematic. Netanyahu’s government issued 700 permits for apartment construction in contested areas of Jerusalem, and suspended Palestinian tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian finance ministry, on which the Palestinian Authority relies heavily for paying government salaries.

Abbas signed 15 United Nations conventions, some of which could lead to membership in UN organizations, a violation of a critical condition of the talks established by Kerry. In the coup de grace, Abbas then announced the fourth reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and still advocates violence against the Jewish state, prompting an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the talks.

These actions contributed to a markedly worsening atmosphere of distrust, suspicion and stubborn refusal to compromise.

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A teenager fills out an application at a Queens Job fair sponsored by State Senator Jose R. Peralta and Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities on May 3, 2012 in New York City.

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BOSTON — Belief in the American Dream has long defined, distinguished and sustained our country. Our deeply held notion that people of all backgrounds who work hard and play by the rules can get ahead and begin to climb the ladder of success has changed the world, and paved the way to security and prosperity for generations of Americans.

Yet our faith in equality of opportunity is increasingly at risk. The number of Americans living below the federal poverty line remains stubbornly high, at 46 million, and millions more hover too close to that threshold. Among those paying the highest price are youth, who have been hard hit by the Great Recession.

More from GlobalPost: Generation TBD, a Special Report on global youth unemployment

Shockingly, one in seven young people ages 16 to 24 are not in school or working, a tragic loss to them personally and to our nation as a whole. The costs of such disconnection is steep, costing taxpayers $93 billion annually and $1.6 trillion over the youths’ lifetimes in lost revenues and increased social services.

Youth unemployment is unacceptably high.

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Israeli policemen (C) separate young Israelis holding national flags (R) and Palestinian protestors with their national flags (L) on May 8, 2013 in the Damascus gate in Jerusalem's Old City.

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OWL’S HEAD, Maine — Our peripatetic secretary of state has been less so these last few weeks since the collapse of his Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Lying low. And no wonder. It's hard to squeeze any good news out of the failure: Did we learn useful information about the Israeli and Palestinian positions we didn't know before the Kerry initiative? On the contrary, both sides stuck to their publicly expressed views.

Well, then did we at least lay the groundwork for the next round of talks en route to the two-state solution? Hardly. Both sides came away more recalcitrant than ever, with each taking steps to make another round impossible so long as either Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu or Palestinian President Abbas remain in charge.

Then why did Kerry do it?

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South Sudanese women queue for water being distributed from a UN reservoir at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba on December 21, 2013.

- AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council will soon decide what should be the objective of thousands of peacekeepers in South Sudan.

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An Indian school child looks at a display exhibited at a science fair at a government primary school in Hyderabad on March 24, 2014. The science exhibition has been organized for the first time at primary school-level to encourage the development of talent and activities.

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NEW DELHI — India’s six-week-long election, in which about 537 million out of 814 million eligible voters went to the polls, is finally over with the election of a new government led by Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

While the hopes of all voters are for a future of opportunity and progress, the politicians all too often campaigned along retrograde lines, perpetuating divides on the basis of caste, religion, or ethnicity. Overcoming those enduring obstacles to social development is particularly important for the millions of children from poor and marginalized communities—Muslims, tribal groups, and Dalits—who are being denied a basic education.

India produces well-trained professionals who excel in the world economy; so much so that in the United States, there is a growing concern that the US education system is unable to keep up with India and China. Yet, India’s public education system, especially at the elementary levels, is excluding children because of bias.

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WASHINGTON, DC — At a five-year-old’s birthday party over the weekend, I chatted with a therapist, a publishing executive and a furniture maker (no, this is not the opening to a bad joke). The subject matter wasn’t the flavor of the ice cream. Everyone wanted to talk about net neutrality, the principle that all online content must be treated equally — and the biggest tech issue of the moment.

No one understood why a Democratic Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman President Barack Obama had appointed would make the disastrous decision to end free speech and innovation online.

“Doesn’t the president support net neutrality?” one person asked. “How could he let this happen?”

My friends were responding to last week’s vote on the future of the Internet, in which three Democratic FCC commissioners voted to move forward with a plan that would trigger a corporate takeover of the Internet, ushering in an era of inequality and discrimination online.

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