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Threat watch

The Japan Times: despite floods, Pakistan's dire problem is drought. Foreign Policy: Museveni argues that it's either foreign aid or al Qaeda in Somalia. The Guardian: the climate change threat calls for civil disobedience.


Japan has little recourse as Yen value rises

David Watkins writes in Agence France Presse that concern over the weakness of the U.S. economy has driven investors to the Yen, which has reached its highest value relative to the dollar in over a decade. Yet Japan, which has emerged from its own 2009 recession, has few viable options for lowering the value of its currency and avoiding damage to its exports.

QUOTE: Contrary to Japan's weakness, the yen is seen as a safe haven in times of financial uncertainty as investors unwind risky positions in the dollar and euro on jitters over their respective economies' health.

Dryness is Pakistan’s real challenge

Gwynne Dyer writes in The Japan Times writes that despite its major flooding, dryness is the real long-term environmental threat in Pakistan. Glaciers that feed the Indus River could melt within 20 years, leaving the country in a permanently drier state and posing new conflicts with India.

QUOTE: What turns a problem into a potential conflict is the fact that five of the six tributaries that make up the Indus system cross Indian-controlled Kashmir on their way to Pakistan.

International aid is critical to the fight against terrorism in Somalia

Yoweri Museveni, president of the Republic of Uganda, writes in Foreign Policy that continued international support of Africa’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, as well as direct support to the Somali government, will be critical in overcoming an Al Queda backed insurgency in the country.

QUOTE: Currently, the Somali government's total annual budget is only $250 million. In Uganda, this is roughly the amount used to pay primary school teachers each year.

Civil disobedience is needed to save the environment

Dan Glass writes in The Guardian that a recent break-in of climate activists at Aberdeen Airport was not an act of terrorism but of environmentalism. The modest fines imposed on the activists were a clear signal of rising public sympathy with the environmental cause in the UK.

QUOTE: The Scottish legal system defines breach of the peace as activities "causing fear and alarm to the ordinary and reasonable person, and which threatens serious disturbance to the community." I can't think of a better way to describe climate change.

Iraqis carry the emotional scars of war

Kurdistan resident Sazan Mandalawi writes in The Guardian of the psychological toll war has taken on Iraqis. Such toll will take decades to heal, and there is a lack of qualified doctors and psychologists to help citizens recover.

QUOTE: It is hard to believe the country is floating on what the world refers to as black gold. The average Iraqi relies on food rations and is desperate for car fuel – that is, if he still has a car.

Obama’s weakening image runs counter to his record

Megan McArdle, business and economics editor of The Atlantic, writes that widespread criticism that President Obama has been an ineffective president doesn’t jibe with his actual accomplishments, nor take into consideration how the president has been hand tied by Congress.

QUOTE: In the world I live in, the administration got as much stimulus as it was going to get, against a population that was tepid and a bunch of senators who were timid.

Afghanistan’s Karzai shows little resolve to fight corruption

The New York Times writes that recent interference by Afghan President Hamid Karzai into a high-profile corruption probe indicates that he has not taken his own pledge to root out malfeasance seriously. Waning U.S. support in the wake of the revelation further threatens prospects to drive out the Taliban.

QUOTE: There are too few controls on all of the money sloshing around Afghanistan, including on the American end. But Mr. Karzai’s actions suggest that he has no desire to clean things up.

No good deed goes unpunished in Ireland

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business editor at the Telegraph, writes that Ireland’s efforts to responsibly deal with its debt crisis have resulted in it facing draconian borrowing rates while Greece, which is in worse shape but has dragged its feet on reforms, and has been rewarded with better lending terms.

QUOTE: Yes, I know that the Irish and Greek maturities are different but the fact is that Greece has extracted better terms by letting matters get further out of hand.

The focus of Mideast conflict has shifted

In the Washington Post, George F. Will argues that the concept of Arab-Israeli conflict is an anachronism. Israel has achieved peace treaties with two of its Arab neighbors while its biggest threat comes from Iran, which is not an Arab country.

QUOTE: Israel has changed what it can, its own near neighborhood. Since 1967, faced with unrelenting Palestinian irredentism, Israel has been weaving the West Bank into a common fabric with the coastal plain, the nation's economic and population center of gravity.

The Fed lacks tools to boost the U.S. economy

Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder writes in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. Federal Reserve is running out of means to stimulate the economy, having exhausted its most powerful controls.

QUOTE: …the gradual shrinkage of the Fed’s balance sheet – a key component of its exit strategy – comes to a screeching halt.