January 31, 2013 | 3:45 am
To Read: With a whopping 134 countries receiving some form of military assistance from the US, FP's John Norris believes America needs to start being more selective with the countries it aids:
Underwriting security assistance to countries with autocratic leadership or nations that are of little strategic significance doesn't make much sense. U.S. military aid and training should be concentrated in a far fewer countries rather than being sprinkled all around the globe like fairy dust in hopes that good relations result. Nations should be chosen to receive such military aid and training based on their commitment to reform -- both within the military and within the broader structures of democratic governance, free markets, and respect for human rights. Such aid should be a reward for high-performing countries, not a party favor dispensed at the door.
Quote: "I right now am not inclined to do that, but I will do everything I can to make sure that women compete at the highest levels not only in the United States but around the world.”, Hilary Clinton, about the prospect of her running for President.
Number: 22, the percent decrease in defense spending last quarter.
To Read: Amos Harel offers his valuable analysis of the alleged attack in Syria and predicts the unquiet will continue for a while:
The bigger problem is that this wasn’t a one-time event: The worse Assad’s position grows, the more attempts Hezbollah will make to grab whatever weapons it can get its hands on. And it seems Israel, if it was responsible for the air strike, has made its red lines clear. Thus the tensions in the north are liable to persist for a long time to come.
Quote: "If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it", the Russian foreign ministry condemning Israel's attack in Syria.
Number: 4,000, the number of gas masks/kits distributed this week alone.
The Middle East
To Read: Fareed Zakaria contrasts Egypt and Iraq's dramatic revolutions with Jordan and Morocco's more gradual evolution:
The Arab world’s two largest experiments in democracy, Iraq and Egypt, have, unfortunately, poor choices in common. Both placed elections ahead of constitutions and popular participation ahead of individual rights. Both have had as their first elected leaders strongmen with Islamist backgrounds who have no real dedication to liberal democracy. The results have been the establishment of “illiberal democracy” in Iraq and the danger of a similar system in Egypt.
The best role models for the region might well be two small monarchies. Jordan and Morocco have gone the opposite route, making measured reforms and liberalizing their existing systems. The monarchies have chosen evolution over revolution. So far, it seems the better course.
Quote: "Hezbollah expresses its full solidarity with Syria's leadership, army and people", A Hezbollah statement issued yesterday.
Number: $1.5b, the UN target sum for effective relief efforts in Syria in the first half of 2013, a target which was exceeded following a conference in Kuwait.
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi Judith Hauptman thinks Israel has a lot to learn from the US in its relation to institutionalized religion:
Does it follow that in order to achieve the aims of its own Basic Law Israel has to stop being a Jewish state? No, not necessarily. If Israel could learn from the American model and implement religion in a way that does not discriminate against women or ordinary Jews, it could meet its goal of protecting the dignity and liberty of its citizens, without regard to gender or religious affiliation. In such a state, women would have the opportunity to become rabbis hired by the government; they could initiate divorce proceedings against men; the Western Wall rules would give full prayer access to all Jews; the two chief rabbis would be elected or selected in a broad-based way; women could sit in the front of all public buses, and so on. Is this a description of the messianic period? I don’t think so. The good news coming out of Israel last week is that the populace voted in large numbers for religious tolerance, for an end to religious favoritism. Change may be on its way.
Quote: "I am not against the Jewish faith, I am not against Jews who practice their religion", Mouhammad Morsi, doing some more damage control in Berlin.
Number: 35,000, the estimated number of times Rabbi Avrohom Cohn has practiced metzitzah b’peh, according to this intriguing piece about the controversial practice.
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