After months of threatening to undo the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Donald Trump once again opted to extend the deal by waiving economic sanctions on Iran. This was the “last chance,” he declared in a Jan. 12 statement, “to either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”
Fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks promise to blow away existing 4G connections. According to the U.S. government, the new systems will deliver 1,000 times more traffic, with far superior reliability and faster response times. Movies will glisten in ultra-high definition, while cities become smart, autonomous cars safe, and the Internet of Things ubiquitous. Mobile broadband may out-perform fiber optics, as The Economist notes, putting “your phone on steroids.”
In recent weeks, Iran has again been in the throes of an uprising. Signs of the regime change America had long hoped to see are on the horizon. In the unlikeliest cities — once the strongholds of the conservatives — Iranians have taken to the streets, demanding, not just reform, but a referendum.
Europe’s currency union - not so long ago on its sickbed - has started the year in rude health. The winning streak looks set to continue since economic confidence in the euro area is at its highest for almost two decades, but it will have an unwelcome side-effect. The more the euro zone economy thrives, the less pressure there will be on European politicians to take steps to prevent future crises.
Two men of the right were pulled from pedestals this past week: one, American, for being a source; the other, British, for having been a columnist. Their rationalizations and attempts at exculpation raise the question: does journalism operate in a space increasingly divorced from sober fact and judgment? Is most of it being enfolded, ever more completely, into entertainment or political intolerance?
Last year Kim Jong Un shocked the world with the unexpected speed of his nuclear missile development, his brutal crackdown on apparent rivals and suspicions that he ordered the assassination of his half-brother with a chemical nerve agent. This year, the North Korean leader is opening January with a diplomatic offensive – but that doesn’t mean a change of strategy.
The European political year, grinding back into gear for 2018, is full of doubt, even woe. In the continent’s major countries politics are stuck, or likely to stick, in cul-de-sacs from which exit is difficult. Only in France, under the banner not so much of the tricolor as the injunction En Marche! (Let’s Go!), is there official optimism and vigor.
Amid ever-heightening tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, there are finally some positive diplomatic signals. On Jan. 3, Pyongyang reopened a long-closed border hotline with South Korea – one day after Seoul proposed bilateral negotiations and two days after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year address that he was open to speaking with the South.
This will be a big year for the Paris climate agreement. The broad outlines of the deal were figured out in 2015, but the specific rules governing what it requires countries to do will have to be written by the end of 2018.
Iran’s deadly wave of protests has taken the government and security forces by surprise.
The views expressed by the authors in the Commentary section are not those of Reuters News.
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