Author Archives: Karl Reiner

The lingering legacy of 1917

The world changing events brought on by World War I continued to unfold at a rapid pace in 1917. The United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the first U.S. troops arrived in France in June. Mutiny became a problem that vexed the struggling French Army. In the Middle East, British forces captured Baghdad. Large battles were fought on the Western Front, including Arras, the Neville offensive, Messines Ridge, the third battle of Ypres. In the south, fighting raged in Northern Italy. The belligerents who found it so easy to glide into war in 1914, found themselves trapped in endless combat with high casualties, growing economic hardship and for some, the waning support of their populations.

In the east, Russia, a vast and backward country, was a participant in the Allied war effort. It was also the first of the belligerents to fracture apart under the terrible strains imposed by the war. In March 1917, the riots and strikes that began in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) toppled the government and resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicolas II. A Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky replaced the failed Tsarist regime. The Kerensky government decided to keep Russia active in the war, fighting on the side of the Allied powers.

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Economic uncertainty on the Arizona border

According to U.S. Department of Commerce data, Arizona’s exports to world markets totaled $22.7 billion in 2015. The Phoenix region accounted for $13.8 billion of the total, the Tucson area provided $2.5 billion. The number of exporting Arizona firms was 7,566, their export efforts supported 101,579 jobs in the state. At $9.1 billion, Mexico was Arizona’s largest export destination. Though September 2016, Arizona’s exports to Mexico stood at $6.3 billion, somewhat lower than the $7.0 billion recorded for the same period in 2015. Given the growing uncertainty generated by President Trump’s Mexican policy, Arizona’s 2017 exports to Mexico are not expected to set any records for growth.

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The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq

Mosul is located in northern Iraq and is one of Iraq’s larger cities. In June 2014, Iraqi and American officials were stunned when a small force belonging mostly to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) quickly overran large chunks ofIraq Map Iraqi territory and captured the city. The Iraqi security forces, trained and supplied by the United States at great expense, simply dissolved in the face of the ISIS attack. During the military fiasco, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Iraqi troops fled the area. The swift capture of the city by ISIS shook the unstable central government in Baghdad to its very core and raised serious questions regarding the worth of the American military aid program. The sporadic urban fighting now underway to liberate the city from ISIS control is expected to continue until sometime in April.

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Mr. Putin’s economic legacy

The shattering breakup of the Soviet Union’s political, social and economic order added 15 countries to the map of the world. When the Soviet Union fell apart 25 years ago, optimists thought Russia was on the road to becoming a free-marketrussia-4 democracy. Many in the country wanted Russia to become a nation state similar to those found in Europe. They were to be sadly disappointed. Under Putin’s rule, the hope for Western style economic and political modernization has disappeared. In retrospect, the problems Russia faced after 74 years of Soviet rule and several hundred years of rule by the Tsars were underestimated. It may have been unrealistic to think that Russia could build new, unfamiliar governing institutions and adapt to them quickly.

At the time of the Soviet collapse, Vladimir Putin worked for the comparatively liberal mayor of St. Petersburg. When Putin came to power in 2000, he was thought to have democratic leanings and was not considered to be anti-Western. Over time Putin’s policies moved in the opposite direction, he promoted state nationalism, promoting the concept that Russia was a besieged country. Borrowing from the history of the Tsars, orthodoxy, nationalism, and autocracy became his guiding principles.

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The blockade of 1914-19

A hundred years ago, World War I was ravaging Europe. The grinding trench warfare was bleeding the armies of the European powers and the Ottomanblock-3 Empire at a fearsome rate. Although it was unanticipated in 1916, the massive, destructive and fateful watershed of the early twentieth century was pushing nations and much of the existing social order closer to the breaking point.

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Global occurrences of interest

According to recently released data, the median real household income in the U.S. jumped 5.2% or $2,800 in 2015. During that time, the nation’s poverty rate dropped from 14.8% to 13.5%, the largest percentage point drop since 1999.ineq-4 Although gains were made, the incomes of low-wage and middle income earners remain lower than before the financial crisis. The troubling inequality trend remained unbroken as the incomes of the richest Americans continued to accelerate, pulling ahead of the rest of the wage earners.

According to recent estimates, the world economy grew by 2.7% in the second quarter of 2016. India was in the lead with a growth rate of over 7%. India and China together accounted for 63% of second quarter worldwide economic growth. When compared to a year earlier, the second quarter growth rate in the U.S. was an estimated 1.2%. The American economy is now expected to grow 1.5% for the year.

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