Tuesday Headlines

Terrorism And North Korea Are Top Threats To US
Leaders of the Islamic State are determined to strike targets in the United States this year, senior U.S. intelligence told the Senate Armed Services Committee. In testimony today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said homegrown terrorism and North Korea remain the most prominent national security threats.

“We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor,” he said, adding that they believe “North Korea has been operating the reactor long enough so that it could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months.”

Clapper noted that al Qaeda, cyber attacks from China and Russia remain concerns as well.

Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that ISIS “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.”

The Biafran Independence Movement Rises Again In Nigeria
Nigerian writer Hussaid Obaro has suggested for a Scottish-style referendum as a means to help quash recent unrest that has arisen since calls were made for an independent Biafran nation.

“The right to self-determination, like other rights and fundamental freedom, are non-negotiable,” wrote Obaro. “Nations that genuinely desire to maintain unity should invest in justice and equality, shared prosperity, inclusion and social justice, and not force people to live together through the use of guns and ammunition.

While the Biafran independence movement may have sparked some of the violence, Max Siollun of Foreign Policy asserts it is a symptom of much deeper problems.

“The resurgence of the Biafran secessionist movement is symptomatic of a much deeper problem with the Nigerian state. The federal government’s chokehold on states and ethnic groups is fueling multiple demands for autonomy and the right to manage resources at a local level — demands that could ultimately lead to a fracturing of the country,” he writes.

Between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria was torn apart by a violent civil war as its eastern region unsuccessfully tried to secede from the country under the banner of the Republic of Biafra. The latest episode in the Biafra crisis stems from the arrest on October 19, of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a secession movement called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Kanu is presently facing trial for sedition and treason.

Is America Still A Shining Beacon Of Democracy?
The United States is seen as by many throughout the world as the beacon of representative democracy, but Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace argues the last few decades have dimmed its light.

The decline in America’s reputation and its ability to promote democracy abroad began in the 1990s with increased polarization in Congress, the disputed election of 2000 and what he believes is an unfair application of the law.

He says that since the 1990s “the image of the United States as a global beacon of effective democracy is greatly out of date,” thus imperiling its reputation abroad.

“As a result, many people on the receiving end of U.S. democracy aid are questioning why Americans believe they have the answers to others’ democratic shortcomings. What solutions, they rightfully ask, does the United States have to offer for overcoming, for example, a dysfunctional national legislature that commands little public respect, intolerant political populism, crippling polarization, problematic campaign financing, voter registration disputes, low voter turnout, or rights violations by security forces?,” asks Carothers.

 

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