from The Great Debate:

Don’t believe the U.S. military when it says it doesn’t keep body counts

By David Axe
January 22, 2015

Residents inspect damaged buildings in what activists say was a U.S. strike, in Kfredrian

Residents inspect damaged buildings in what activists say was a U.S. strike, in Kfredrian, Idlib province September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof

from The Great Debate:

Where has this Obama been hiding? Six takes on the State of the Union

By Allison Silver
January 21, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

from MacroScope:

Europe reviews security

By Mike Peacock
January 12, 2015

French President Hollande welcomes Germany's Chancellor Merkel as she arrives at the Elysee Palace before the solidarity marchin the streets of Paris

After dozens of world leaders including Muslim and Jewish statesmen linked arms and led more than a million French citizens on a march through Paris, Europe has both security and social problems to face following last week’s Islamist attacks.

from MacroScope:

Europe’s security nightmare

By Mike Peacock
January 9, 2015

Members of the French GIPN intervention police forces secure a neighbourhood in Corcy, northeast of Paris

A massive manhunt continues for two brothers suspected of being the killers of 12 people at a satirical French weekly. The focus is on a large expanse of woodland northeast of Paris.

from MacroScope:

France grieves and questions

By Mike Peacock
January 8, 2015

Makeshift memorial is seen outside the Consulate General of France during a vigil for the victims of an attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in San Francisc

The youngest of three French nationals hunted over the killing of 12 people at a satirical magazine turned himself in overnight. The police have named the trio, the two still at large are brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi.

from MacroScope:

2015 and all that

By Mike Peacock
December 31, 2014

People watch as confetti falls during the annual "air worthiness" test in preparation for New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square, New York

The last day of the year and all is quiet – but not for long.

Unless the price of oil bounces markedly or Vladimir Putin walks away from Ukraine thereby loosening western sanctions – both unlikely – Russia could be heading for a serious economic fall. Reserves are being burned defending the currency. They are sufficient for now but without hefty tax increases, public spending cuts and/or a higher pension age the outlook for 2016 and beyond is much gloomier.

from MacroScope:

Russia’s plight

By Mike Peacock
December 22, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting of the Security Council at the Russian defense control center in Moscow

Trying to predict the rouble’s path is a fool’s charter but it’s fairly safe to say it won’t return to a level that will take pressure off the Russian economy. It has opened 2 percent higher versus the dollar in Moscow this morning, mirroring a rise in oil from $60 a barrel.

from The Great Debate:

Prediction: Obama will decide to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016

December 22, 2014

U.S. Marines prepare to board a plane at the end of operations for U.S. Marines and British combat troops in Helmand

In 2015, I predict that President Barack Obama will rethink his plan to have all operational U.S. combat forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

from The Great Debate:

Ghost army: You, too, can command an Iraqi division for only $2 million

By Peter Van Buren
December 10, 2014

Members of Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters eat on their vehicle on the outskirts of Baiji

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi recently revealed that there are 50,000 "ghost soldiers" who haunt the payrolls of the Iraqi Army. Many see the phenomenon as a factor in the army's defeat at the hands of the Islamic State, and as an example of how Prime Minister Abadi is trying to initiate reform.

from The Great Debate:

The pope’s door is always open to ISIS. Why America’s should be, too.

By Jonathan Powell
December 8, 2014

Hamas fighter speaks on the phone as he sits inside the personal meeting hall of President Abbas after they captured his headquarters in Gaza

Pope Francis strayed into controversy recently when he said that, while he supported military action against Islamic State, he also would not rule out speaking to the group if it would help bring peace to Syria and Iraq. “It is difficult, one could say almost impossible, but the door is always open,” he said.