Salman Succeeds Abdullah as Saudi King -- Saudi Arabia's aged King Abdullah passed away yesterday, and succeeding him is his half-brother Salman. The oil markets rallied $1 a barrel on the news, which only goes to show how little oil traders understand the local politics. King Salman ibn Abdul Aziz is known as a mediator among the Saudi royal family members, which boasts of 4,000 princes. His health is not great, and at 79, his reign is likely to be short. Given the way Saudi Arabia is governed, the policies and practices will continue as they did under Abdullah. [23 January]
GOP Congresswomen Force Withdrawal of Anti-Abortion Bill -- The House of Representatives was poised to vote on a bill yesterday that would have banned all abortions in the US after the twentieth week of a pregnancy. This was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that overturned laws against abortion in the US. At the last minute, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) pulled the bill from the floor. Instead, the House votes later today on a bill that bans federal funding of abortions, which doesn't really happen anyway. Unlike previous occasions when the Speaker withdrew bills, he had the votes to pass it. The decision to withdraw the bill stems from a suddenly developed sense of political intelligence delivered in large measure by the 22 female members of the GOP House caucus. [22 January]
State of the Union Speech Sets Stage for Political Fights -- Last night, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress in the annual State of the Union speech. He was his usual eloquent and polished self as speaker, and the Congress behaved better than it did a few years ago when at least one member interrupted to call him a liar. Yet behind the civility of the occasion, the president set down his markers to protect his legacy, and the Republican Party now has two years to foil him. It's going to be an ugly return to the Ford administration's government by veto. [21 January]
UK Greens Surge while Labour's Lead Shrinks -- Britain's latest poll numbers, just a few months ahead of the general election, should be grounds for concern among the opposition Labour Party's fans. Its lead in the opinion polls over the coalition-leading Conservatives is just 3 percentage points. Meanwhile, the Green Party has moved to 9 percent support. The triopoly of Tory, Liberal and Labour that has persisted since the demise of the Con-Lib duopoly 100 years ago has ended.
Oxfam Claims Top 1% to Have 50% of Wealth by 2016 -- The charity Oxfam has just released a study that suggests the concentration of wealth into a few hands is continuing apace. If the current trend holds, the richest 1% of the human race will possess more than 50% of the wealth on the planet as of 2016. This has ramifications for political, economic and social policy. The report, however, cherry picks the data despite a clear and present danger to everyone if the wealth is not more widely distributed. [19 January]
Copyright 2015 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.