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OPEC bets against U.S. fracking
Articles - December 20, 2014
 

This month, the OnCue Express gas station in Oklahoma City lowered its price for a gallon of regular gas to $1.99.

 

Nationwide, the average price is $2.41 per gallon, down from a high of $3.70 the end of April. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in five years and are expected to decline further, following the $50 collapse in oil prices since this summer.

 
Money laundering taints wine trade
Articles - October 28, 2013
 

Bucolic regions in the south of France represent the newest frontier for law enforcement and intelligence officials searching for dirty funds. Since 2008, thousands of illicit actors have reportedly arrived in southwest France from Eastern Europe, Hong Kong and mainland China and snapped up vineyards to launder their money. European and Asian officials must take steps and curb this trend, including establishing Trade Transparency Units (TTUs) to combat trade fraud.

 
U.S. Credibility Already In Tatters Over Syria
Articles - September 4, 2013
 

The congressional debate over whether to support President Barack Obama's call for military action against Syria will revolve around the issue of "U.S. credibility," but here's the sobering fact: U.S. credibility around the world has already taken a huge hit due to White House actions of recent weeks.

 
A more sober approach to the Russian ‘reset’
Articles - August 27, 2013
 

Today, the U.S. and Moscow share few common interests

The fate of controversial National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was recently granted asylum by the Kremlin, is of little importance. His case, however, shines a revealing spotlight on the true state of U.S.-Russian relations, and on the sorry state of American policy toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

 
Austerity Brings Greece to the Brink
Articles - July 23, 2013
 

German chancellor Merkel has proclaimed that Europe needs to find “redemption” from its economic sins through austerity. In Greece another round of austerity measures could push the already fragile economy toward collapse and the public toward desperate alternatives.

 
The Russian Beachhead In Nicaragua Keeps Growing
Articles - July 9, 2013
 

What is Russia up to in the Western Hemisphere? That's a question increasingly on the minds of Latin America watchers, who have noticed signs that Moscow is again setting up shop south of the U.S. border.

 
Trouble on the Chinese Seas
Articles - June 19, 2013
 

Media coverage of the June 7-8 "shirt sleeves" summit between President Obama and new Chinese president Xi Jinping in Rancho Mirage, California has largely focused on the two issues that dominated the official agenda. The first was China's extensive intellectual property theft and hacking activities in cyberspace. The second was the threat posed by the regime of reckless "young leader" Kim Jong Un in North Korea.

 
Obama’s Dim Prospects For Reviving The Russian ‘Reset’
Articles - April 30, 2013
 

President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, recently set a September date for bilateral discussions. The goal is to mend ties between the U.S. and Russia, badly frayed by the recent passage of tit–for–tat human rights sanctions, and attempt to put the administration's "reset" of relations with the Kremlin back on track. The White House has already suggested disarmament, Iran, North Korea and Syria as the main topics for the talks.

 
The Dangers Of Neglecting Central Asia
Articles - April 16, 2013
 

Secretary of State John Kerry made news recently by referring to the venue of the latest nuclear talks with Iran as the fictional country of "Kyrzakhstan." That off-the-cuff comment was a telling indicator of the general lack of concern for Central Asia that prevails in official Washington.

 
The Cyprus-Crisis Culture Clash
Articles - April 8, 2013
 

On the surface, the Cyprus crisis was about money, but actually it was the result of conflicting political cultures: European, Greek Cypriot and Russian. The fissures exposed during the March 2013 crisis will leave a legacy of mistrust and enmity far beyond the eastern Mediterranean island that staged the drama. The underlying problem was that Europe had accepted a non-European entity (Cyprus) into its institutions and then failed to enforce upon it Europe’s standards of financial governance. Russian money became fuel for the catastrophe, but was not itself the cause. Money laundering and bank insolvency are both deplorable but are not the same thing.

 
U.S. Universities Must Invest in China Studies
Articles - February 19, 2013
 

On December 14, Richard Baum, distinguished professor of political science at UCLA, renowned expert on Chinese politics, and adviser to presidents, died in Los Angeles. He was among the foremost in an unparalleled generation of Sinologists that was trained during the Mao Era and went on to inform countless Americans about China and its strategic intentions. Ironically, however, even as his contribution to the study of Chinese politics is eulogized around the world, the emphasis on area studies at the American universities that created Professor Baum and his cohort has withered. Today, many of America's best young Sinologists are forgoing academia and instead choosing more lucrative careers in government or the private sector—working for select audiences on specific topics.

 
Cutting The Iran-China Connection
Articles - February 14, 2013
 

Just what will it take to bring Iran’s nuclear ambitions to heel? The past year has seen a dramatic expansion of economic pressure against the Iranian regime by the United States and Europe, all with a single-minded purpose: to ratchet up the costs to Iran of its stubborn atomic endeavor.

 
Banking Without Borders
Articles - December 14, 2012
 

Money laundering and terrorism financing are global problems that transcend national boundaries, and launderers and terrorists are constantly adapting their techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in the financial system to disguise the movement of funds.

 
Are We Losing the Race for Rare Earths?
Articles - November 20, 2012
 

The United States, like most of the industrialized world, is currently engaged in a race to develop viable, non-Chinese sources of the rare earth elements that are so critical to modern technologies. And we better move fast, or we will lose that race.

 
Stop Nuzzling New Autocrats In Turkey And Egypt; Start Pushing Freedom And Democracy
Articles - November 1, 2012
 

The next president must discard two longstanding but problematic pillars of U.S. policy in the Middle East and chart a new course that reflects both regional realities and the dynamic changes that are underway there.

For decades, presidents have sought to maintain regional stability by propping up pro-Western autocrats and to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the first step toward addressing broader regional issues.

 
Iran's Mullahs Blame Mahmoud
Articles - October 11, 2012
 

You've got to feel a little sorry for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. With his nuclear brinksmanship and inflammatory public rhetoric, Iran's firebrand president is accustomed to hogging the international spotlight. But recent days have seen him making news for a different reason entirely. Ahmadinejad is now fighting for his political life against domestic opponents who blame him for the country's current fiscal crisis.

 
U.S. Must Rethink Egyptian Foreign Aid Strategy
Articles - October 9, 2012
 

As the world evolves, presenting new challenges to U.S. national security, the patterns of U.S. foreign aid should evolve with it.

Nowhere is this truer than in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous and historically most influential state, which is gradually transforming itself from a Western-leaning secular autocracy into an increasingly Islamic state that's run by the anti-Western (specifically, anti-American) Muslim Brotherhood.

 
Banking Without Borders
Articles - September 14, 2012
 

Money laundering and terrorism financing are global problems that transcend national boundaries, and launderers and terrorists are constantly adapting their techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in the financial system to disguise the movement of funds.

 
Pay to Play: European banks and Iranian sanctions
Articles - August 30, 2012
 
International banks wishing to do business in America or transact in dollars have to choose whether to comply with U.S. laws or close business that crosses American interests.
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U.S. and Russia in a new standoff
Articles - August 22, 2012
 

Tucked away in what is colloquially known as the “post-Soviet space,” the tiny, landlocked Central Asian republic of Tajikistan seems like an unlikely strategic prize. Yet a potentially significant geopolitical tug of war is brewing there between the United States and Russia. The stakes of this unfolding contest are high and involve continued Western access to Central Asia and, quite possibly, the political future of at least part of the region.

 
 
Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 122
Bulletins - August 10, 2012
 

Deepening economic malaise at home...; ...and an energy lifeline in Asia

 
Iran Courts Latin America
Articles - August 5, 2012
 

In October 2011, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller revealed the thwarting of an elaborate plot by elements in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington at a posh D.C. eatery, utilizing members of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel.

The foiled terrorist plot, with its Latin American connections, focused new attention on what had until then been a largely overlooked political phenomenon: the intrusion of the Islamic Republic of Iran into the Western Hemisphere. An examination of Tehran's behavioral pattern in the region over the past several years reveals four distinct strategic objectives: loosening the U.S.-led international noose to prevent it from building nuclear weapons; obtaining vital resources for its nuclear project; creating informal networks for influence projection and sanctions evasion; and establishing a terror infrastructure that could target the U.S. homeland.

 
The Threat to Greek Democracy
Articles - July 23, 2012
 

Everyone knows Europe faces the potential for Greek financial collapse, with serious ramifications for the euro zone and its financial institutions. Less discussed is the Greek impact on another key European institution, the less restrictive border regime instituted under the Schengen Treaty, and the danger of failure of constitutional democracy in an EU member state.

 
Eurasia Security Watch - No. 263
Bulletins - July 13, 2012
 

King Abdullah takes another stab at reform; Egyptian power struggle intensifies; Free Syrian army requests international intervention; The Palestinian Authority's (ongoing) financial crisis

 
Why UN Reform Can't Wait
Articles - July 11, 2012
 

It's no secret that the United Nations hasn't lived up to its billing as a champion of human rights and democratic values since its establishment in 1945. All too often, the UN system has aided and abetted some of the world's most odious regimes—and served as a political weapon for those countries against the West. Yet even by these standards, this summer has seen an unprecedented level of rot in the world's most powerful international forum.

 
Inflation And Iran's Regime
Articles - July 6, 2012
 

Europe and the U.S. may be in grim economic straits, but the Islamic Republic of Iran is doing just fine—at least if Iran's leaders are to be believed. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has insisted relentlessly that his country's economy is healthy, while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has christened the current Iranian calendar year as the "Year of Domestic Production and Support for Iranian Capital and Labor."

 
Reading Pakistan, By The Numbers
Articles - July 6, 2012
 

Is Pakistan an enemy of the United States? For the past two years, the Obama administration has doggedly maintained that the South Asian nation remains a vital American ally, even as it has grappled with what it itself admits is a "complicated" relationship.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1787
Bulletins - June 29, 2012
 

Rights council resigns en masse;
Former finance minister: economic problems on the horizon

 
The Vatican Bank: The Most Secret Bank In The World
Articles - June 27, 2012
 

Italian prosecutors have now detained the former head of the Vatican’s bank after searching his home and former office for suspected criminal behavior. Catholics and followers of the Holy See will be disappointed to learn that the Vatican’s bank appears to be embroiled in yet another financial scandal.

 
Asian Money Launderers Sent Region-Wide Warning
Articles - June 21, 2012
 

Law enforcement officials in China, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines have launched a blitzkrieg targeting money launderers who have been swindling and blackmailing average citizens throughout Asia to the tune of millions of dollars.

 
Why Iran Covets Brazil
Articles - June 20, 2012
 

On Wednesday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touched down in Brazil for his first state visit to the South American nation since 2009. The ostensible reason is to attend the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, a high-profile gathering of more than 100 heads of state taking place in Rio de Janeiro. But high on Ahmadinejad’s priority list is an important bit of diplomacy: reinvigorating the once-robust ties between Tehran and Brasilia. For Iran, Brazil is a potential economic lifeline in the face of mounting international pressure.

 
The Kremlin's Iran Problem
Articles - June 18, 2012
 

On Monday and Tuesday, all eyes will be on Russia as it hosts the third round in the troubled international negotiations now under way between Iran and the West over the former's nuclear program.

 
 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1784
Bulletins - June 14, 2012
 
Russian Orthodox Church backs the Syrian status quo;
The Duma take a stand against new assembly law - albeit briefly
 
Backsliding in Beijing
Articles - June 14, 2012
 

After early signs it might try to exert pressure on Iran, China seems to be easing up. Unfortunately for the West, all roads lead through Beijing.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1782
Bulletins - June 6, 2012
 

Hizb ut-Tahrir rising in Tatarstan;

New law raises the cost of protest
 
Economic Warfare against Iran
Articles - June 6, 2012
 

What is less understood is Tehran's abuse of the financial sector, banks, front companies, and other deceptive techniques to evade controls responsible countries have instituted to stop it from achieving nuclearization.

 
India Key to U.S. Afghan Success
Articles - June 2, 2012
 

With two important diplomatic victories last month, the Obama administration has laid the groundwork for the final chapters of the Afghan war.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1781
Bulletins - May 31, 2012
 

Caucasus Emirate sets its sights on Sochi;

Putin takes a more distant approach to the U.S.
 
Global sanctions on Iran are working; relaxing them now would be foolhardy
Articles - May 31, 2012
 

Calls to ease sanctions on Iran to spur global negotiations over its nuclear program will backfire, making a deal far less likely and greatly raising the risk of an Israeli military strike to cripple the program.

To its proponents, sanctions-easing is a necessary confidence-boosting measure to assure Iran that the United States and the other "P5+1" negotiators - Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - want a deal.

 
Iran Woos Bolivia For Influence In Latin America
Articles - May 21, 2012
 

One of the most dangerous places in the Western Hemisphere is the city of Warnes, Bolivia, which lies a few kilometers outside the country’s industrial capital of Santa Cruz. There, set back in an open field off a bustling highway, is the new regional defense school of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, or ALBA—the eight-member economic and geopolitical bloc founded by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro nearly a decade ago.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1777
Bulletins - April 30, 2012
 

An unlikely champion for Russia's opposition;

Kremlin jitters over post-Coalition Afghanistan
 
Bold action in Syria now will save U.S. tons of grief in the Mideast later
Articles - April 26, 2012
 

As Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad continues his slaughter, the issue is not whether more forceful U.S. action to stop him is risk-free.


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/04/26/146829/bold-action-in-syria-now-will.html#storylink=cpy
 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1775
Bulletins - April 18, 2012
 

New U.S. envoy to Russia receives chilly reception;

Orthodox church "under attack" for political views
 
China Reform Monitor - No. 959
Bulletins - April 17, 2012
 

PLA claims it's a victim of cyberattacks; 

CPC forms monastery management agency for Tibet
 
Courting 'financial pariah' status
Articles - April 13, 2012
 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established by the G7 in 1989 to combat money laundering and terrorism finance.

Being on the FATF "high-risk" country list may not sound terrible but, in some circles, it is akin to being labelled a financial pariah.

 
How Moscow Is Helping To Solve The Iran Problem
Articles - April 12, 2012
 

Though news reports generally give a very different impression, Russia is actually playing a constructive role in dealing with the multifaceted issue of Iran's nuclear program. One hint came last month, when Russia's second-largest financial institution closed the accounts of Iran's embassy in Moscow. While given little attention by the media on either side of the Atlantic, this move signals the Kremlin's willingness to confront Iran on its march toward nuclearization.

 
Dim Prospects For Diplomacy With Iran
Articles - April 12, 2012
 

Tomorrow, the United States and its fellow members of the “P5+1” (Russia, China, France, England and Germany) will sit down once again with Iran for what has been billed as the Islamic Republic’s “last chance” to come to terms with the West regarding its nuclear ambitions. The likely outcome of those talks, however, is already within view—and it is far from encouraging.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1774
Bulletins - April 11, 2012
 

Domestic opposition on the decline...or still kicking?;

Oil retarding Russia's economic growth
 
A Crack In Europe’s Consensus On Iran
Articles - April 8, 2012
 

Since the start of the year, mounting concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions has translated into a serious economic offensive on the part of the European Union. Back in January, the European Commission voted on a series of punitive economic measures against Iran, chief among them a pledge by member states to cease imports of oil from the Islamic Republic by mid-summer.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1772
Bulletins - April 5, 2012
 

Human rights groups urge Jackson-Vanik repeal;

Post-election, dissent still simmers