Plays That Sound the Sirens: Of Human, Global and Political Tolls

This week bore witness to a variety of global crises, some brewing, others resolved. Even so, their urgency was punctuated by heavy-hitting players and high-friction plays. Here's a quick breakdown:

U.N. ON UN The United Nations wants everyone to know: North Korea's violations of human rights is without parallel. Citing atrocities based on ideological impurities, torture, banishment, imprisonment and more, U.N. officials urged the International Criminal Court to act. The play was a Challenge, teamed with an extreme Screen on Nazi death camps and the likening of North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, to Adolf Hitler.

BAD COLOR CAP Like the U.N. officials, California researchers revealed troubling new findings that taped the mouths of global warming deniers and accelerated worries over a quickly-changing climate. The melting polar ice cap, they say, is leaving not only water in its wake but more color than earth can stand. Where bright-white ice sheets once sprawled, there is now the deep blue of a deep ocean that is itself a sponge to the sun's energy. Color and something called Arctic albedo are the new variables in the global warning equation, we learned. The play was less dramatic than U.N. reports of human wrongs, a sober Fiat by sober scientists, and too weak for the wake-up call it represented.

FRACAS IN CARACAS More quickly than ice caps are melting, politics are steaming Venezuela. Student-led protests are rocking Caracas and threatening the short tenure of its new president, Nicolás Maduro. To turn up the heat, opposition leader-in-hiding Leopoldo López made a daring move by announcing another protest and his appearance of it. The play was part Bait, part Peacock and part Crazy Ivan, a cocktail of influence strategies to keep Maduro guessing and to dare his arrest. But as quickly as López showed himself, Maduro took him away, delivering his own speech and accusing the radical of sedition, a counter play Label.

EXPRESSION OF DEPRESSION When a crisis does abate, leaders are always eager to write its history. That was surely the case this week as The White House put a happy face on the early heroics of the Obama administration's $800 billion stimulus (aka, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or ARRA). With the benefit of five years hindsight, the president's own Council of Economic Advisers, boasted that the ARRA was a job-creator and nation-saver. Said CEA chairman Jason Furman: "The act had a substantial positive impact on the economy and helped avert a second Great Depression." His play was a Recast, aided by a dark Screen on everyone's nightmare: worthless stocks and endless food lines.