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A Photo for Friday


Since Colombia has been in the news this week, here is a photo I took of the opening ceremonies of the first round of the 2014 presidential elections, where I was acting as an electoral observer.  This process eventually led to Juan Manuel Santos’ second term in office.  This issue of the peace plan was central to that […]

Santos Wins Peace Prize


Via the BBC:  Nobel Peace Prize for Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the 52-year conflict with left-wing rebels. The Nobel committee in Norway praised him for his peace agreement with Farc rebels, signed last month after four years of […]

On Referenda


The NYT has a really good piece on why referenda are problematic instruments:  Why Referendums Aren’t as Democratic as They Seem Though such votes are portrayed as popular governance in its purest form, studies have found that they often subvert democracy rather than serve it. They tend to be volatile, turning not just on the merits of […]

Colombia’s Vote for Peace

001-114 (2)

Today Colombians got to the polls to vote in a plebiscite on the FARC peace accord.

On the Potential Global Consequences of a Trump Presidency

Donald Trump Victory

The reputation of the US matters in global affairs.

President Trump and Latin America


Andres Oppenheimer:  A Trump victory could push Latin America to the left and away from U.S. Judging from what I heard in recent interviews with several Latin American presidents, a victory by Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election would chill U.S.-Latin American ties, moving even the most pro-American presidents in the region to distance themselves […]

Investigators Conclude Flight MH-17 Shot Down By Missile Brought Into Ukraine From Russia

Malaysia Air Flight 17 Crash Scene

A new report concludes that Malaysia Air Flight 17 was brought down by a missile brought into Ukraine from Russia.

Looking to Peace with the FARC


By me at ORIGINS: Current Events in Historical Perspective Colombia: On the Brink of Peace with the FARC?

U.S., Russian Agreement On Syria Seems Doomed To Fail

US Syria Russia

The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to end fighting in Syria, but it seems unlikely to succeed given that it doesn’t involve the parties actually doing the fighting.

What To Do About North Korea?

North Korea Nukes

North Korea continues to advance its nuclear program but it’s unclear what anyone can do about it.

North Korea Conducts Another Nuclear Weapons Test As The World Runs Out Of Options

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

North Korea conducts yet another nuclear weapons test, and it’s unclear what anyone can do to stop them.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Convicted, Removed From Office On Impeachment Charges


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was convicted and removed from office on impeachment charges by the nation’s Senate earlier today: BRASILIA — Brazil’s Senate ousted Dilma Rousseff as president Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to impeach the leftist leader in the culmination of a protracted process that has divided the country. The vote to impeach Rousseff was 61 to […]

French Court Strikes Down Burkini Ban

Bikini Burkini

A high-level French Court has struck down the ban on the so-called ‘burkini’ adopted by many towns along the French Riviera.

French ‘Burkini’ Ban Provokes Backlash

Bikini Burkini

For largely irrational reasons, French police are arresting women on the beach for wearing swimsuits that are compatible with their faith.

The Deepening Disaster in Venezuela


Via CNBC:  Venezuela calls for mandatory labor in farm sector The government of Venezuela has issued a decree that “effectively amounts to forced labor” in an attempt to fix a spiraling food crisis, according to a new report from Amnesty International. A Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment […]

Attempted Coup Rocks Turkey, But Fails To Overthrow Government

Turkey Coup Protesst

Turkey’s government appears to have rebuffed a coup attempt, but questions remains about the stability of the government going forward.

Dozens Dead, Dozens More Injured, As Truck Rams Bastille Day Crowd In Nice

Nice, France Truck Attack

A night of terror mars Bastille Day celebrations in France.

Boris Johnson UK’s New Foreign Secretary?!


In her first official act as prime minister, Teresa May has appointed known nutjob Boris Johnson to run the UK’s foreign policy.   Let’s just say I was not expecting that.

Theresa May Set To Become Next British Prime Minister On Wednesday

Theresa May

A quick succession of events this morning means that Theresa May will become Britain’s Prime Minister far sooner than anticipated.

Leadsom Withdraws from UK PM Race


Or, more accurately, she withdrew from the race to be leader of the Conservative Party, which would have lead to her being PM had she won. The BBC reports:  Theresa May set to be UK PM after Andrea Leadsom quits In a speech earlier on Monday setting out her leadership campaign platform, Mrs May – […]

Tories Set To Pick Between Two Women To Replace David Cameron

British Houses Of Parliament

Regardless of the outcome of the Conservative Party’s leadership race, the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will be a woman.

EU Leaders Must Keep Calm and Carry On

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

Early panic over the Brexit referendum was an overreaction. It’s time for statesmanship.

ISIS Suicide Bombers Hit Inside Saudi Arabia

Saudi Bombing

The wave of Ramadan attacks continues, including a strike near the second holiest site in Islam.

The Philippines’ Disturbing new President


Via Guardian:  Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte urges people to kill drug addicts Following a measured speech after taking his oath before a small audience inside the presidential palace, the outspoken leader paid an evening visit to a Manila slum and unleashed profanity-laden threats against drug traffickers in front of a crowd of about 500 people “These […]

Farange Makes his own Exit


Another Brexit leader is making their own exit (via the BBC):  UKIP leader Nigel Farage stands down. So, Boris Johnson will not stand for the Prime Ministership and now Farange is quitting as leader of UKIP.  On the one hand, I can’t say that the UK is worse for either move, but it is striking […]

ISIS Attack Kills More Than 140 In Baghdad

Baghdad Bombing

A third major terrorist attack inside of a week.

A FARC Primer


For anyone interested in more on the FARC as the peace process progresses, here are two useful BBC pieces from about a week ago: Who are the Farc? and Colombia’s Farc rebels – 50 years of conflict.

20 Dead In Bangladesh Attack Claimed By ISIS

Bangladesh Attack

A third major ISIS-inspired or planned attack in three weeks.

On the Usage of “Radical Islam”


Via Vox:  I worked in the CIA under Bush. Obama is right to not say “radical Islam.” When I directed the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program at the CIA in the early 2000s, I frequently interacted with senior Bush administration policymakers about how to engage Muslim communities and, when doing so, which words and phrases […]

Post-Brexit, Both Of Great Britain’s Major Parties Are In Crisis Mode

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

One week after the Brexit vote, both the Conservative and Labour parties find themselves in chaos.

At Least 41 Dead In Terror Attack On Istanbul Airport

Istanbul Airport Attack

A massive attack hits Istanbul’s airport.

British Labour Party Leader Loses No Confidence Vote

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

In the latest example of the political backlash growing out of last week’s Brexit vote, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, lost a no-confidence vote among Labour’s Members of Parliament, but he says he will not leave office even as his position seems to become more and more precarious: LONDON — Britain’s […]

Turkey Apologizes To Russia For Downing Jet

Turkey Russia Flags

Turkey has issued a formal apology to Russia over the November 2015 downing of a Russian jet that had briefly strayed into Turkish airspace.

One Major Step Closer to Peace in Colombia


The final major piece of the negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government appears to be in place.

Why Didn’t The Brexit Vote Require A Supermajority For ‘Leave’ To Win?

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

Given the consequences of a Brexit, one wonders why the referendum didn’t require more than just a simple majority to pass.

Brexit Vote Setting Off Infighting In Britain’s Labour Party

British Houses Of Parliament

The outcome of the Brexit vote continues to reverberate throughout British politics. Already, of course, we’ve seen the outcome of the vote bring an abrupt and somewhat unexpected end to David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister, a move that could sweep pro-Brexit MP Boris Johnson into Downing Street. Now, there are signs that the vote […]

Info on the Panama Canal Expansion


A nice set of inforgraphics:  Weekly Chart: Panama Canal Trade before and after the Expansion

Scotland and the Aftermath of the Brexit Vote

Scotland and UK flags

Is Scotland next?

What’s Next with the Brexit?

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

A British political scientist lays out some of the political and institutional factors that will be relevant going forward.

Britain Votes To Leave European Union, Cameron Resigns As Prime Minister

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

By a narrow margin, British voters have chosen to send their nation, themselves, and indeed all of Europe into uncharted waters.

With The Future In The Balance, British Voters Head To The Polls In ‘Brexit’ Vote

British European Flags

Voters in the United Kingdom are headed to the polls in a vote that will have widespread consequences.

Murder Of Jo Cox, MP Looking Increasingly Like It Was Politically Motivated

Jo Cox

The murder of Jo Cox, MP is looking more and more like a politically motivated assassination, and that’s causing some in Great Britain to look inward.

Jo Cox, Member Of British Parliament, Murdered In Northern England, Possible ‘Brexit’ Connection

Jo Cox

A freshman Member of Parliament was murdered today, and there may have been a political motive.

‘Leave’ Takes The Lead In Latest ‘Brexit’ Polling

British European Flags

With just over a week to go, the latest polling shows voters in the United Kingdom leaning toward leaving the European Union.

Zika Virus Concerns Lead To Calls To Postpone or Move 2016 Olympics

Zika Virus

Concerns about the Zika Virus are leading some doctors to call for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be moved or postponed.

Plagiarism Plague in Russia


Via Slate:  The Craziest Black Market in Russia.  Apparently, a lot of Russians are paying for dissertations: In the past few years alone, there have been credible allegations of dissertation plagiarism made against Russia’s minister of culture, the governor of St. Petersburg, and the head of the country’s top federal investigating authority. Just in the past […]

Obama’s Visit To Hiroshima Brings Reflection, But No Apologies

Obama Hiroshima

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima left just the impression it should have.

Obama Announces End Of U.S. Arms Embargo Against Vietnam

Obama In Vietnam

On his trip to Hanoi, President announced the latest sign that the Vietnam War is finally something both nations have manged to put behind them.

The Horror of War and the Challenge of Peace in Colombia


If Colombia makes peace, the post-conflict era will be rife with challenges.

Twitter War between Head of OAS and President of Venezuela


This is amazing, amusing, and very Twenty-First Century, via the BBC:  Venezuela Maduro OAS: Latin American ‘traitor’ row escalates The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has accused the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of being “a traitor”. In a series of Twitter posts addressed directly to Mr Maduro, Mr Almagro also […]

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