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Texas Plumber’s Used Truck Ends Up In Syria Being Driven By Islamist Fighters

Texas Syria

A truck that used to belong to a small Texas plumbing company has been spotted in Syria in the hands of anti-Assad Islamist: TEXAS CITY — A local plumber is being flooded with phone calls — and some threats — after a picture of one of his old company vehicles being used by Islamist militants […]

Obama Has Made An Historic Change In U.S. Cuban Relations, It’s A Good First Step

Cuban American Flags

The resumption of diplomatic relations between U.S. and Cuba, and expansion of some commercial trade ties, is historic but it’s only the first step toward the goal of ending an outdated embargo.

American Held By Cuba Released, U.S. And Cuba To Begin Talks On Normalizing Relations

Diana Nyad

An American freed from captivity, and potentially huge changes in America’s diplomatic and trade relationship with Cuba.

Colombia also Feeling the Fall of Oil Prices

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Via Reuters:  Colombia Congress passes tax reform to contain deficit Colombia’s lower house passed a tax law that will earn the government 53 trillion pesos ($22.3 billion) over the next four years mostly from businesses, by extending and modifying existing taxes that will expire at the end of this year. The package was passed by […]

Chart of the Day

travel-suitcase

This is from the iPhone story, but it deserves its own post:

Rubles and iPhones

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Via the BBC:  Rouble turmoil leads to Apple halting online sales in Russia Technology giant Apple says it cannot sell products online in Russia because the rouble’s value is too volatile for it to set prices. The company stopped sales of its iPhones, iPads and other products in the country after a day in which […]

Russia’s Economic Problems Just Getting More Grim By The Day

Putin Smirk

For a year that started out with regaining long-lost territory in Ukraine, 2014 is not ending so well for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

From the “You Can’t Make this Stuff up File” (Chinese Constitution Day Edition)

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Via Foreign Policy:  On First Annual Constitution Day, China’s Most Censored Word Was ‘Constitution’ On Dec. 4, China’s first annual Constitution Day, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Dailyposted the complete text of the Chineseconstitution to its Weibo microblogging account, accompanied by the upbeathashtag: “Let’s all read the Constitution!” The easy-to-read attachment included each constitutional article — including […]

Nobody Else In North Korea Can Be Named “Jong Un”

Kim Jong Un

If you live in North Korea, and if you do you’re not likely to be reading this blog post, don’t even think of naming your child  Jong-Un: SEOUL, South Korea — There is plenty that is off-limits to North Koreans. Televisions that receive anything other than government broadcasts. Traveling outside their hometowns without official permission. […]

Russian Government Projects Sanctions, Declining Oil Prices, Will Lead To Recession In 2015

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin travels in Russia's first high speed train Sapsan in Leningrad Region

Russia’s own government is projecting that its economy will slip into recession next year. How that will impact Putin’s current belligerence remains to be seen.

German Public Backs Sanctions Against Russia Even If They Hurt Germany

German Russian Flags

A new poll finds that a majority of Germans support sanctions against Russia, even if those sanctions end up hurting the German economy.

Worldwide Ebola Cases Top 16,000 With 7,000 Dead, But There Is Some Good News

Ebola Virus And Caduceus

The numbers on the Ebola outbreak are bad, but they aren’t as bad as had been feared.

Egyptian Court Drops Charges Against Mubarak, Further Cementing Renewed Military Rule

Mubarak

Well, so much for that “people’s revolt” that brought down a military dictator.

Black Friday Hits Britain And Other Parts Of Europe

Black Friday Britain

Black Friday chaos has crossed the pond.

Ebola Continues To Be A Big Problem In Sierra Leone

Ebola Virus

While it has largely disappeared from the headlines in the United States, the Ebola crisis continues in Sierra Leone: While health officials say they are making headway against the Ebola epidemic in neighboring Liberia, the disease is still raging inSierra Leone, despite the big international push. In November alone, the World Health Organization has reported […]

U.S. Bombings Driving Anti-Assad Rebels To Support ISIS

Obama Syria

Our supposed Syrian allies seem to have a different idea of who the enemy in Syria actually is.

China’s Coming Collapse?

China Flag and Skyline

A knowledgeable observer has a dim forecast.

Spread Of Ebola In Liberia Appears To Be Slowing

Ebola Virus

There appears to be some good news on one of the main fronts in the fight against Ebola: WASHINGTON — The international response to West Africa’s Ebolaepidemic, coupled with more effective action by local communities, has stopped the exponential spread of the disease in one of the hardest-hit countries, Liberia, the director of the Centers […]

Should The U.S. Reconsider Its Policy Of Not Paying Ransom For Hostages?

Journalist beheaded

The idea that the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists is simply not historically accurate, so should we be reconsidering the policy of not negotiating with ISIS for the release of Western hostages?

Merkel Lashes Out Against Russia In Post G-20 Remarks

Angela Merkel Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin’s latest actions seems to have exhausted Germany’s patience.

Early Elections Called in Japan

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Via the BBC:  Japan PM Shinzo Abe calls snap election in December Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called an early election, two years ahead of schedule. At a news briefing, he said he would dissolve parliament later this week and was also delaying a planned but unpopular increase in sales tax. Mr Abe was […]

Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Implicated In Plot To Kill Robert Mugabe

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The Vice-President of Zimbabwe has been implicated in a plot to kill Robert Mugabe, the authoritarian ruler of that nation since the minority white government of what used to be Rhodesia gave up power: The deputy president of Zimbabwe has been linked to a plot to assassinate the country’s premier Robert Mugabe, according to a […]

ISIS’s New Beheading Video; Casus Belli, Or A Trap?

ISIS Map Iraq Syria

The latest ISIS video is horrible and barbaric but we should not take the bait they are offering before considering the consequences of our actions going forward.

Putin Makes Waves At G-20 Summit Over Ukraine, Reportedly Leaving Early

Putin Smirk

Vladimir Putin’s reception at the G-20 Summit in Australia has been less than warm thanks to recent events in Ukraine.

Russian Troops Have Entered Ukraine Again, NATO Says

Russia Ukraine Flags

The Ukraine crisis, which never really went away, is back,

APEC’s Silly Shirt Day, The Bizarre Tradition That Refuses To Die

APEC Shirts Beijing 2014

Yesterday’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting was marked by the return of odd tradition that has seemed to define these international conferences, a day that can only be called Silly Shirt Day: Every year at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting, leaders from 21 Pacific Rim member states meet to discuss the big issues. This year, for […]

Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 50 At Nigerian School

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A suicide bomber has killed at least 50 at a Nigerian school: A suicide bomber dressed as a student infiltrated the morning assembly at a high school in northern Nigeria on Monday and detonated explosives in a backpack, killing almost 50 students and teachers, according to news reports. Although there was no immediate claim of […]

Two Americans Released By North Korea After High Profile Visit

North Korean Flag

Good news for two released Americans, but no clue what’s motivating North Korea’s latest actions.

Supreme Court To Decide If Congress Can Dictate Where Jerusalem Is

Supreme Court Justices 2

The Supreme Court will decide if Congress can override American foreign policy when it comes to declaring who has dominion over Jerusalem.

Africa Ebola Map

Africa-Ebola-Map

This “handy Ebola guide” is a must for anyone considering traveling to Africa:

Boko Haram Leader Says All Nigerian Schoolgirls Converted To Islam, Married Off

Boko Haram Nigerian Schoolgirls

The leader of Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram says that all of the schoolgirls it kidnapped earlier this year are married off, presumably to much older men: MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — With a malevolent laugh, the leader of Nigeria’s Islamic extremists tells the world that more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls have all been converted to […]

Marijuana Legalization, Uruguay Style

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Via the BBC:  Uruguay cannabis growers’ clubs: Registration begins Uruguay has started registering cannabis growers’ clubs as part of the government’s plan to legalise the drug. Licensed clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants each year. In August, growing up to six plants of cannabis at […]

Coup in Burkina Faso

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Via the BBC: Army backs new Burkina Faso leader Isaac Zida Burkina Faso army chiefs have backed a military officer as transitional president. In a statement, the army said Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida was “chosen unanimously to lead the transition period”. This appears to end confusion over who has succeeded President Blaise Compaore, who stood […]

Two Claim To Lead Burkina Faso After Coup

Africa

Two different leaders are claiming to be the leader of Burkina Faso after a military coup: Two military leaders have made competing claims that they’re in charge of Burkina Faso after unrest that led to the resignation of the West African nation’s longtime president. Both the nation’s top military chief, Gen. Honore Nabere Traore, and […]

Violent Protests in Burkina Faso

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Via the BBC:  Burkina Faso parliament set ablaze. The conflict is over an attempt to amend the constitution to allow the long-standing president to run for re-election: Protesters angry at plans to allow Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year-rule have set fire to parliament. [...] Mr Compaore first took power in a […]

Oil Prices Have Been Falling For Months, And That’s Likely To Have Wide Repercussions

Oil-prices

Quietly, oil prices have been falling for months now. That’s potentially a very big deal.

Chart Of The Day: Ebola In West Africa Edition

Ebola Virus

While politicians in the United States worry about a grand total of one active Ebola cases in the United States, this chart from German Lopez at Vox shows that the disease continues on the march in western Africa: There are some indications that, at the very least, the worst case scenarios that W.H.O. and other […]

Kim Jong Un’s Absence Due To Foot Surgery, Report Claims

Kim Jong Un

Reports out of South Korea are claiming that Kim Jong Un’s month and a half long absence was due to foot surgery: SEOUL, South Korea — The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whose prolonged absence from public view aroused rumors that he was ill or deposed, or both, was recovering from surgery on his left […]

US, UK Declare Victory in Helmand and Go Home

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We’ve handed off operations in Helmand Province to the Afghanistan army.

World Health Organization: Ebola Cases In Africa Top 10,000

Ebola Virus

The World Health Organization has upped the number of people known to be infected with Ebola in Africa to over 10,000: GENEVA — The number of people infected with Ebola in three West African countries has exceeded 10,000, the World Health Organization reported Saturday. A total of 10,141 people had contracted the disease worldwide, the […]

Darth Vader Running For Parliament In Ukraine

Darth Vader Ukraine

Among the candidates in today’s parliamentary elections in Ukraine is a Dark Lord of the Sith: One candidate in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections hopes to bring voters to the dark side: Darth Alekseyevich Vader. Dressed in full Star Wars regalia, Vader prowls the streets of Kiev atop his black campaign van wooing voters with promises to […]

Shooting at the Canadian Parliament

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Via the BBC:  Shots fired inside Canada parliament “Shots fired at War Memorial at 9:52am today; one person injured,” Ottawa Police tweeted on Wednesday as a witness reported seeing authorities search from room to room for the suspect. The gunman fired on soldiers guarding Canada’s main war memorial and then ran into the parliament. The […]

More Good Ebola News

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Via the BBC we find that : 1)  Nigeria has been declared Ebola free Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital Abuja, said it was a "spectacular success story". Nigeria won praise […]

Nigerian Government Hopeful That Kidnapped Schoolgirls Will Be Freed Next Week

Boko Haram Nigerian Schoolgirls

The Nigerian Government says it is hopeful that the schoolgirls who were kidnapped earlier this year by Boko Haram will be free early next week: Campaigners calling for the release of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls have said they are “cautiously optimistic” about a reported ceasefire between the government and al-Qaeda-linked militants that would include the […]

Senegal Declared Free Of Ebola

Ebola Virus

Following in the footsteps of Nigeria, Senegal is the latest nation in Africa to beat back the spread of Ebola from the “hot zone” countries in the western part of the continent: GENEVA — The World Health Organization declared the West African nation of Senegal to be free of Ebola on Friday, a rare success […]

It’s Time To End The U.S. Embargo Of Cuba

Diana Nyad

The U.S. embargo of Cuba, and our lack of diplomatic recognition of the government in Havana, is an outdated relic of the Cold War. It’s time to end it.

Report: Islamic State Training Pilots On Captured Syrian Jets

Obama Syria

Reuters is reporting that groups monitoring the war in Syria are saying that former members of the Iraqi military who have defected to the Islamic State are training pilots using jets captured from the Syrian military: (Reuters) – Iraqi pilots who have joined Islamic State in Syria are training members of the group to fly […]

Turkish Forces Bomb Kurdish Positions

Turkey Flag Map

The Turks have entered the conflict in Syria. Unfortunately for the United States, it’s not on the side we would prefer.

North Korean Media Shows Kim Jong Un In Public For First Time In 40 Days

North Korea Military Parade

After an abcense of more than a month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been shown appearing in public by the country’s media: SEOUL, South Korea — The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whose prolonged absence from public view generated speculation about his health and grip on power, has visited a housing project and […]

Trouble for Rousseff

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Via the BBC:  Brazil election: Silva backs Neves in blow for Dilma The Brazilian environmentalist Marina Silva, who came third in Sunday’s presidential election, has backed opposition centrist candidate Aecio Neves in the second round. Mr Neves won 33.5% of the votes in the first round to 41.5% for President Dilma Rousseff, who is running […]

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