Last week: Once again, the news was dominated by Syria, but Russian President Putin's proposal to involve the United Nations has offered a peaceful alternative to a U.S. military attack. Meanwhile, the Syria issue has backlogged all the vital domestic issues in Congress, such as the budget, Obamacare, immigration, limits on NSA surveillance, etc.
Looking ahead: House Republicans will try to force a vote on requiring at least some level of verification of the claims of applicants before they receive Obamacare payments. Otherwise, they fear massive fraud.
Last week: President Obama backed off an immediate attack on Syria and is seeking approval from a skeptical Congress. Currently in Russia for the G-20 meeting, the President has an excellent opportunity to achieve a peaceful solution by convincing President Putin, Syria's main enabler, to pressure Assad into stopping his use of chemical weapons.
Looking ahead: Unfortunately, the possibility or reality of a military attack on Syria will continue to dominate the news next week and beyond.
Last week: President Obama is reportedly planning a military attack on Syria to back up his "red line" comment of last year, but apparently without any clear strategy or approval by Congress, the UN or the Arab League — and risking reprisals from Syria, Iran, Russia and/or terrorist groups against U.S. citizens and interests, as well as nearby Israel. This could be a dangerous undertaking, with many unintended consequences.
Looking ahead: The concerns about the turmoil in the Mideast, rising interest rates, change at the Fed, along with the recent revelation that the debt limit is approaching more rapidly than expected, all continue to take a toll on the financial markets as we enter the stock market's historically worst months. Emerging markets have already been hard-hit. Look out below?
Last week: Reports of over 1,000 deaths from chemical weapons used by Assad's military against rebels and civilians in Syria, along with continuing deadly violence and burning of Christian churches in Egypt, bring the turmoil in the Mid-East back to the front pages. The U. S. seems impotent and irrelevant, having angered both sides in Egypt and the rebels in Syria who were promised assistance and a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons.
Next week: While always hard to predict, the recent rise in interest rates and declines in the stock market may augur more financial and economic problems ahead as the Federal Reserve considers cutting back on the monetary stimulus, marking the end of the historically-low interest rates which have been the backbone of the economic recovery. Severe impacts have already been felt as far away as India and other developing countries.
Last week: As someone who came of age during the 60's/ Vietnam era, the story of the week was Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN documentary "Weed", in which he "apologized" for previously speaking against marijuana, saying that "we have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years" about the benefits and dangers of marijuana use.
Looking ahead: We continue to await information about the nature and extent of the terrorist threats that caused the shutdown of embassies throughout the Mid-East. Was the threat real or over-reaction? Is Al Qaeda still "on the run" or once again a serious threat? Was it related to the subsequent military crackdown in Egypt, or to Syria or Israel?
Last week: Re-Reset" with Russia? President Obama cancelled a planned meeting with Russian President Putin, apparently due to the asylum for Edward Snowden. However, this follows years of antagonistic and repressive actions by Putin since the original"reset" of relations, including his strong support for Syria's Assad and crackdowns on internal opponents, dissidents, gays and reporters. More issues may arise in the future regarding the September G-20 meeting in St. Petersberg and the Winter Olympics in Soci next February.
Looking ahead: Hopefully, further information will emerge about the nature and extent of the terrorist threats that caused the unprecedented shutdown of embassies throughout the Mid-East and whether Al Quida is still "on the run."
Last week: Often the most important stories continue evolve over time, such as the formerly-secret NSA programs of massive surveillance of US citizens.
Since the initial disclosure by Edward Snowden, there have been increasing demands for more openness, clarity and/or restriction from a wide spectrum of both liberals and conservatives, while the President and several top Congressional leaders continue support the programs.
Question to ponder: If all the data that has been collected in the domestic surveillance programs is so valuable in stopping terrorist attacks, should it also be used against serious criminal activity, like drug trafficking (which causes vastly more deaths in this country than terrorist attacks), organized crime, smuggling and human trafficing, Medicare fraud, etc.?
Looking ahead: Just as our submisions for this week are due, Florida insurance regulators unveiled the prices proposed for individual health care plans to be sold on the "Obamacare" health insurance exchanges and estimated that the cost of such policies may be 30-40% more expensive than a current comparable plan. Much more will be heard on this next week and for a long time to follow.
Last week: US: More problems with ObamaCare: corporate mandates are postponed but not the individual mandate, which may double or triple insurance costs for young people; the administration jannounces an ""honor system"" (""fraud system""??) to allow people obtain benefits without verification of their entitlement.
World: Egypt in turmoil; Syria's Assad (backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah) has the rebel strongholds under attack, despite promises of US suppprt; President Obama hints at an expedited pullout from Afghanistan.
Looking ahead: "Florida: The Zimmerman verdict.
US: More revelations about NSA spying and IRS targeting. House takes up immigration bill.
World: Continuing turmoil.
Looking ahead: Nation: The progress of the immigration bill. Continuing revelations and discussions about IRS political targeting and NSA surveillance of citizens. Continuing analysis of the landmark Supreme Court decisions. World: Continued turmoil in Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt and Turkey.
Last week: Nation: The series of major Supreme Court rulings concerning business issues, affirmative action and gay marriage. Nation: Another high-level IRS employee pleads the fifth, this time in an investigation of possible financial improprieties. World: The Taliban, our new "peace partners" in Afghanistan, kill nine foreign mountain climbers and attack CIA headquarters in Kabul. On a lighter note, Anthony Weiner flashed to the lead of the Democratic candidates for New York City Mayor.
Looking ahead: Nationally, the continued controversies of government intrusion in the lives of citizens: the NSA surveillance, FBI drones, IRS targeting of political groups, etc. Internationally, the deteriorating situations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and continuing problems with Russia, Iran, Korea and Chinese cyber-hacking.
Last week’s headline: Locally, the Heat seemed to be the most interesting topic of conversation and news, but our deadline is too early to know the final results. Nationally, the revelations of extensive secret ""spying"" on US citizens by the NSA, drone use by the FBI, and the announcement of our belated involvement in the Syrian war.Copyright © 2015, CT Now