Who’s at Fault for Cuba’s Economic Problems?

HAVANA – Chef Alexis Alvarez was in panic mode. He was preparing a gourmet meal for visitors from the United States when the electricity went out. He mostly cooks with natural gas and charcoal, but those won’t power his blender full of organic kale. So Alexis found a very Cuban solution. He slipped the blender … Continue reading “Who’s at Fault for Cuba’s Economic Problems?”

Trump Backs Down; Iran Conflict Continues

Trump blinked. After threatening to bomb military and cultural sites in Iran, President Donald Trump has apparently backed down on further escalation in his quasi-war with Iran. He tried to spin his decision as a US victory, claiming his administration had supposedly made America safer by assassinating Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani. Iran, in response … Continue reading “Trump Backs Down; Iran Conflict Continues”

What’s Next for Bolivia After Military Coup?

In 2005, I sat in a lounge off the Senate chamber in La Paz, Bolivia, waiting for an interview. I was wearing my best coat and tie. With my thinning hair and gray mustache, I could pass for a Bolivian of European descent. In fact, numerous people smiled and said "buenos días," as if I … Continue reading “What’s Next for Bolivia After Military Coup?”

A New Arab Spring in Lebanon and Iraq

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Lebanese have been demonstrating in the streets against corruption and for democratic rights. The protesters come from all economic classes and religious/ethnic groups. Like the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010, these protests are spontaneous and without traditional leaders. And they are sending corrupt political parties and foreign … Continue reading “A New Arab Spring in Lebanon and Iraq”

Turkey Plans Attack on Syrian Kurds

ISTANBUL – The Turkish government plans to use Syrian refugees to displace the local Kurdish population in northern Syria. But so far, the scheme isn’t working so well. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayep Erdogan announced his intention to settle up to two million refugees now living in Turkey into northern Syria. "We aim to … Continue reading “Turkey Plans Attack on Syrian Kurds”

What Trump’s Missteps on Iran Have Wrought

ISTANBUL – The drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities on September 14 is jolting the entire Middle East, the latest incident in a months-long battle between the Trump Administration and Iran. Yemen’s Houthi movement claimed credit for the devastating attack that shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo … Continue reading “What Trump’s Missteps on Iran Have Wrought”

Will Trump Bring Peace to Afghanistan?

Washington, DC was buzzing with talk of troop withdrawals and the impact on peace talks in  Afghanistan. The US could start withdrawing troops within months, the start of what would be a gradual withdrawal of all 14,000 US troops from the country. Then on Sept. 7, President Donald Trump called off planned secret Washington meetings … Continue reading “Will Trump Bring Peace to Afghanistan?”

What Is the US Role in the Hong Kong Protests?

I first met Jason Lee when he was promoting jazz concerts in his hometown of Hong Kong. More recently, he has been sending me Facebook messages about the Hong Kong protests. You would think that a relatively prosperous, 43-year-old Hong Konger would support the demonstrations that have rocked that city since June. Well, you may … Continue reading “What Is the US Role in the Hong Kong Protests?”

What’s Really Going On in Hong Kong?

For more than three months, people in Hong Kong massed in the streets to protest a proposed extradition law. Critics say it would allow China to extradite dissenting students, journalists, and business people to the mainland, where they could face prison for their views. Rallies and marches of tens of thousands grew to perhaps almost two … Continue reading “What’s Really Going On in Hong Kong?”

On Iran, the ‘Trump Doctrine’ Is Sinking Fast

Tehran resident Dariush is exactly the kind of person that the Trump Administration claims to be supporting. He is a middle-class businessman who hates the clerical regime. The White House thinks Iranians like Dariush would welcome the overthrow of their government. But when I talked to Dariush by phone, he was more angry at President … Continue reading “On Iran, the ‘Trump Doctrine’ Is Sinking Fast”