Why the dangerous new turn for piracy matters
April 29th, 2014
08:52 AM ET

Why the dangerous new turn for piracy matters

By Anthony Russell, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Cdr Anthony Russell, USCG is the 2013-2014 Coast Guard Executive Fellow to the RAND Corporation. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. government.

Off the western coast of Africa, just north of the equator, the Gulf of Guinea has endured piracy for decades. But recent spikes in new, more dangerous forms of piracy imply a troubling sense of invincibility in the minds of the perpetrators. Pirates have become more sophisticated, more brash. They think they can operate with impunity.

Consider recent reports of two large tankers going missing in the gulf. These hijacked vessels reportedly maneuvered freely, while pirates transferred their stolen cargo, confident they could filter it back into the market.

Such acts of piracy destabilize regions and contribute to an insecure environment. They also have very real international implications, producing ripples that spread throughout the global economy. For example, Nigeria, the region’s lynchpin, is the world’s fourth-leading exporter of liquefied natural gas. Forty-three percent of its exports go to Europe, accounting for one-fifth of the continent’s non-EU gas imports.

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April 5th, 2014
11:37 AM ET

Why we believe conspiracy theories

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

For those of you tired of the coverage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, I want you to try an experiment.

When you're with a group of friends – whose eyes might roll over when you even bring up the issue – ask them what they think happened to the plane. Very quickly you will find yourselves in the midst of a lively discussion – with many, different, competing theories, each plausible, each with holes.

The plane was hijacked, someone will say. But then why were there no demands? It was an accident, someone else will say. But then why were there no distress signals? This mystery of what actually happened is at the heart of the fascination with this story. And the mystery has now morphed into an ever increasing number of conspiracy theories about what actually happened that fateful day last month when the aircraft disappeared.

There are YouTube clips suggesting that aliens are involved, blog posts accusing the Iranians of hijacking the plane, and many who believe that the passengers and crew are still alive, perhaps on an island somewhere – like in the television show "Lost”.

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Zakaria: Why Russia is spooked
April 1st, 2014
11:17 AM ET

Zakaria: Why Russia is spooked

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the latest developments in the Crimea crisis – and whether Russia is serious about pulling troops back from the border with Ukraine.

One of the things John Kerry is now focused again on, in Brussels he is talking with NATO allies about what to do about the Ukraine and about what's going on with Russia. I want to get your take on a few headlines that have come out. But what do you make of the fact Vladimir Putin reportedly called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said that he was open to pulling back troops that are on the border? At this point, how do you trust him?

You can't. He's trying to make a deal that gets him, you know, the best case scenario. So, the best case for him is he keeps Crimea. Most important, he keeps Ukraine off guard and feeling like it can do things that would mesh with Russia. And he gets relaxation of sanctions.

So, for Putin that's the trifecta, if you will. He has Crimea. The problem is on the other two fronts, because the Ukrainians are now pretty determined to be more pro-Western, have association agreements with the European Union, maybe even have a closer relationship with NATO. This is spooking the Russians.

And the sanctions, at least the limited sanctions that are in place now, reportedly they are in place because of the annexation of Crimea. That is to say, unless Putin gives up Crimea, it's tough to see this set of sanctions being overturned. So, he's trying to play a game now, and says I've got what I want now I promise to be good. So, you guys relax.

There's no way they're going to say, act first and believe you second.

Right. And Angela Merkel is a tough lady. She's slow to act, but when she does, she stays pretty tough.

Look, the Russians are more spooked by all this. That statement you read tells you, because actually Ukraine is not on track to be a NATO member. But what they see is something you and I talked about before, which is Putin got Crimea but he's losing Ukraine. And he sees Ukraine slipping out of his grasp.

So now, they're warning the Ukrainians, don't get close to NATO, don't get close to the European Union. But we've had our reporters in Ukraine. The mood in Ukraine is very anti- Russian, very pro-European right now.So, the very actions that Putin did that looked like a masterstroke have caused it to be very difficult for him to retain influence in Ukraine. That statement is an expression of it.

Topics: Uncategorized
March 21st, 2014
04:30 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Will robots take our jobs? And the rise of 'ultimate human performance'

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

On GPS this Sunday: Will robots take over the world? Probably not. But computers might take your job. Fareed looks at the remarkable growth in computer processing power – and why the human factor could remain indispensable.

And, pushing the limits of what used to be possible – Why are world athletic records being broken on a regular basis? Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman:  Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, offers his take.

“In extreme sports, something astounding has happened in the past 25 years,” Kotler says. “There's been nearly exponential growth in ultimate human performance.  Nothing like that has ever happened before in history.  So these guys give us a phenomenal case study for looking at flow. And the level of performance has gone up so much, we know that these athletes have to be in flow to perform. If they're not, as a general rule, they're ending up in the hospital or dead.”

Finally, what happens to the Union Jack if Scotland secedes?  We'll show you some of the options.

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March 20th, 2014
05:35 PM ET

Japan's 'miracle pine' reminder

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Three years ago last week, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of northern Japan, unleashing the largest tsunami in the country's history. Traveling as fast as a jet plane, the wave reached an astounding 132.5 feet high – that's roughly the height of Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue.

More than 18,000 people lost their lives. Coastal communities were decimated. And the most serious nuclear crisis since Chernobyl ensued.

In one town on Japan's coast, only a handful of buildings remained standing when the water receded.

A forest of 70,000 trees – trees that had protected the town for hundreds of years – were lost. All, that is, but one.

The pine tree in the video was the only one to survive the massive wave. It became known as the "miracle pine," a symbol of hope for the devastated community. When saltwater threatened its life in 2012, the 270-year-old, 88-foot tree was cut down, hollowed out and preserved. It was then erected in the same spot, now serving as a memorial to the tsunami victims.

Radioactive water from Fukushima is still said to be periodically leaking into the Pacific. 100,000 people are still living in temporary housing. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week he would not let the disaster "fade from memory."

This tree won't let it.

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February 7th, 2014
09:30 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Is China facing an economic crisis? And what traits lead to success?

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

On GPS this Sunday: Fareed will be speaking live with Michael McFaul, the outspoken U.S. ambassador to Russia who has just announced his resignation, about the Winter Olympics, security threats and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Then, Ruchir Sharma, managing director and head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, warns of the event everyone is worried about – the Great fall of the Chinese economy, something that would slow growth across the world.

Also, Yale professor and ‘Tiger Mom’ Amy Chua tells us why some ethnic groups succeed more than others. Racism or research? Fareed will be talking it over.

Then, technology seems to be moving ahead at warp speed – self-driving cars, computers playing chess and more – but where are the jobs? Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor of management at MIT's Sloan School, and Andrew McAfee, a scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business, discuss what they found in their book ‘The Second Machine Age.’

Topics: Uncategorized
January 22nd, 2014
09:21 AM ET

Can business and government meet Millennials' expectations?

By Barry Salzberg, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Barry Salzberg is global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. The views expressed are his own.

This week, some of the most influential figures in business, government and non-government organizations will meet at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to discuss how to “Reshape the World.”

It’s an ambitious but prescient theme. A new survey of Millennials (born January 1983 onwards), conducted globally by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, shows that many have lost faith in the ability of government and business to address the key challenges facing us all – economic security, youth unemployment, access to education, and the skills gap to name a few. The reputation of government is low; business is somewhat better regarded for at least doing what’s expected of it – creating prosperity and subsequently jobs. And yet, both groups could do more to address society’s greatest challenges.  Meanwhile, NGOs produce worthy ideas from tireless people, but without adequate resources or infrastructure, they often struggle to achieve their goals.

Against this backdrop, Millennials see an opportunity for both government and business to redefine how they tackle problems, and all over the world, this age group is demanding change. I agree with them. But what can business, government and NGOs do to drive that change?

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January 18th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: 1-on-1 with Robert Gates, and understanding Iran through neuroscience

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

On GPS this Sunday: Fareed sits down for a 1-on-1 interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss his controversial memoir Duty, why he published it so soon after leaving office, the biggest threats to U.S. national security, and whether military action against Iran would work.

“I think there was no doubt we were a war weary people.  Congress was tired of war, the American people.  And I think by setting the deadline, what people didn't realize was that the president bought us five more years to strengthen the Afghan Army and weaken the Taliban,” Gates says. “So I thought it was a smart move.”

Later, in our What in the World segment, we’ll look at why Japan's ageing population may actually be a good thing for the economy.

Also, the Carnegie Endowment’s Karim Sadjadpour and Nicholas Wright look at whether neuroscience holds the key to understanding Iran.

Topics: Uncategorized
January 13th, 2014
08:50 AM ET

Time for U.S. to embrace Syria’s Kurds

By Mutlu Civiroglu, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mutlu Civiroglu is a Washington, DC based-journalist and Kurdish affairs analyst focusing on Syria and Turkey. You can follow him @mutludc. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

The United States has been searching for an ally in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. But while the exiled opposition coalitions have been dogged by infighting and a lack of real influence inside Syria, and the armed opposition within the country is rife with extremists, Washington has been ignoring a natural and potentially valuable ally: the Kurds.

Kurds administer the most stable, peaceful corner of Syria, and have been open in trying to secure better relations with the West. Yet despite this, there is little to speak of in terms of ties. It is time for Washington to accept that if it wants to eventually see a peaceful, pluralistic Syria, then the Kurds are its best partners moving forward.

Unlike the main opposition coalition, Syrian Kurdish groups are united. Indeed, the two major Kurdish umbrella groups, the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) and the Syrian Kurdish National Council (SKNC), recently announced they had reached agreement on several key issues, including unified Kurdish participation at the Geneva II Conference.

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December 6th, 2013
07:24 PM ET

Are U.S. voters really turning isolationist?

By David Adesnik, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: David Adesnik is a visiting fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Securities Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.

News anchors and correspondents casually refer to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul as the leader of the isolationist wing of the Republican Party. Sen. John McCain warned in August that the time had come for “a debate about the future of the [Republican] party,” a debate about “isolationism versus internationalism.” Isolationism was supposed to remain dead and buried beneath the waves at Pearl Harbor, but as noted by Bruce Stokes on GPS this week, a comprehensive new study by the Pew Research Center reports that “support for US global engagement, already near a historic low, has fallen further” while, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans want the US “to mind its own business internationally.”

However, a closer look at the data reveals a more complex picture, of an American public that is deeply dissatisfied but persistently searching for a president who can enhance American strength and exert effective global leadership.

Fully 84 percent of respondents said the United States ought to exercise either shared or singular global leadership, a question that has consistently been asked, and notably, answered the same way for decades. Since 1993, more than 80 percent of Americans have wanted their country to be a global leader. This data is consistent with the findings of similar surveys conducted in 2010 and 2012 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which also found that upwards of 80 percent of Americans favored strong leadership abroad. Additionally, by a margin of 56 to 32 percent, the Pew survey found that Americans favor policies designed to ensure we remain the world’s only superpower. Even more interestingly, about half of respondents oppose further cuts to the defense budget; while almost a quarter want to increase it – up ten percentage points from just two years ago.

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U.S. and Iran see nuclear deal differently
December 6th, 2013
12:10 PM ET

U.S. and Iran see nuclear deal differently

By Jonathan Schanzer, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies and author of the new book State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State. The views expressed are his own.

The nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran last month has been widely hailed as a successful interim measure to stave off an unwanted conflict over Tehran’s illicit nuclear program. But after initially celebrating a diplomatic success, Iran is now reportedly lashing out at the United States for releasing a modified version of the agreement to the American people that does not reflect its interpretation.

Just how far apart are Washington and Tehran on the deal they only so recently inked?

The Arak heavy water reactor may be the biggest sticking point. In the Geneva agreement, Iran commits itself to not making “any further advances of its activities” at a number of nuclear sites including “the Arak reactor.” The Joint of Plan of Action (JPA) states that a final agreement would “fully resolve concerns related to the reactor at Arak,” with the goal of ensuring there is “no reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.”

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Time to rethink the video games and violence debate
December 5th, 2013
09:22 AM ET

Time to rethink the video games and violence debate

Watch Global Lessons on Guns, a Fareed Zakaria GPS primetime special, this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN

By Julia Shaw, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Julia Shaw is a lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, U.K. The views expressed are her own.

Over-the-top violence in video games, with their glorification of killing and destruction, are a growing fact of life in our society. And they might also affect the way we view the world. But to what extent do these clearly fictional scenarios affect players beyond the games themselves – and are they resulting in growing violence, including gun-related deaths?

It’s a debate that has long generated much heat in public and academic circles alike. But the unfortunate problem for policymakers and a media that so often prefers clear cut answers is that complex behavior such as gun violence requires a complex explanation.

True, there is strong evidence to suggest a link between engagement with violent media and aggressive behavioral tendencies. Playing violent videogames has been shown repeatedly to be a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive thinking patterns, and aggressive emotions, coupled with a decrease in empathy. Together, these kinds of increased antisocial tendencies could certainly increase an individual’s risk for engaging in gun violence. But even this isn’t quite black and white, with some research finding no adverse effects from videogames on violence (or even pro-social effects), underscoring the complicated relationship on this issue.

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