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The U.S. health care system is in crisis. In America, the health of our citizens not only compares unfavorably to many other nations; annual health care costs account for 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and drive a large portion of our growing annual budget deficit. There is no other country on the planet where the cost of health care is so disproportionate to the results achieved.

"This [Bitcoin] is a good development for the poor of the world. Those who do not have access to banking services, who do not have access to financial services of various kinds, are now gaining access through mobile payments. We are obviously in a period of disruptive innovation, and it is early in this revolutionary period, so we are kind of in the ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ period." -- Al Gore

Thursday, July 24th marks 100 days since over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria by extremist group Boko Haram. Since April 15th, nearly 60 girls have managed to escape their captivity, but efforts to recover the girls have been slow and bungled by a lethargic response from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.

Turkey’s trade deficit is growing from its lack of oil and gas, which is largely imported (over 90 percent) from Russia and Iran. The latest figures show that value of energy imported to Turkey in 2013 reached $55.9 billion, which makes up about 22.2 percent of the total imports and about 56 percent of the total trade deficit of the country. Were Turkey to find alternative energy sources, it could substantially slash its energy bills.

Since its first elections in 1979, the European Parliament has seen a gradual decrease in voter turnout. The results of polls from May 22 to 25 showed the second lowest civic engagement of its history, only 43.09 percent. This is a serious issue, taking into account the competencies of the Parliament such as electing the President of the EU Commission, approving laws, budgets, and treaties. In addition, many right wing parties were elected for the Parliament. For instance, in France, the National Front (FN), led by Marine Le Pen, received 24.8 percent of the vote to become the country’s largest party in the European Parliament (24 out of 75 French members of the European Parliament). Her party is known for its willingness to reduce the powers of EU. Thus, the labeled “Europtimists” will have to work together to balance the new “Eurosceptics”.

After the Khobrogade diplomatic dust up, FDA pushback on Indian generic drugs and FAA reprimand of India’s commercial airlines, the United States Government hopes Narenda Modi’s election will open the door to a relationship reset. But without more than a change at the helm of the Indian government, the relationship will continue adrift. The U.S. and India need something bigger to right their footing, and nothing brings countries together like a common, addressable humanitarian crisis that requires mutual cooperation. Stronger relations and lasting benefits would ensue for both countries if they pursued a strategic approach to combat Tuberculosis, a condition where the largest number of new cases resides in India and the highest costs of treatment for resistant cases are in the U.S.

At the Washington National Opera Ball, musical diplomacy finds its way to Washington, DC year after year.

“In our country, we don’t just measure progress by the height of our buildings, the size of our airports, or the impact of our investments. Art has always been at the heart of Emirati society.” These were the opening remarks by UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba at the unveiling of Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, a one-of-a-kind exhibition of Emirati artwork, at a reception on May 21st at the Meridian International Center. The exhibit, a collaboration between the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC and the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy, features twenty-five artists representing all seven of the nation’s emirates across a variety of artistic genres and styles. It is the first major exhibition of Emirati art to tour outside of the UAE.

Infectious diseases do not respect borders. In today’s era of easy transportation, what happens in one country can have implications for other countries near and far.

Just over one year ago, Glenn Greenwald’s NSA surveillance article in The Guardian shocked the U.S. public and the world. Disclosures of documents and court orders (e.g., Verizon) provided by Edward Snowden, then a Booz Allen Hamilton employee, revealed the scope of NSA spying and introduced the term “metadata” into the public consciousness. Metadata refers to the “envelope” of a phone call or internet communication, which usually includes location information. For a phone call, metadata includes call duration, phone numbers, and time of day; for an email, this includes the sender, the recipient, and time of day, but not the subject or content. [For a complete timeline of the NSA scandal’s unfolding, see this BBC piece.]

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