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Congress Is Making The U.S.-Israeli Relationship Even More Partisan

Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu

By inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress, Republicans are damaging the U.S. relationship with Israel.

Syriza Wins Greek Elections

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The anti-“austerity” party Syriza has won a commanding victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections: Greece’s far-left Syriza party, which seeks to renegotiate Greece’s loan deals with Europe’s central authorities, won the largest share of seats in the Hellenic Parliament in historic elections Sunday, capturing 35.5 percent to 39.5 percent share according to exit polling. Syriza’s victory […]

The Global 1%

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Via the BBC:  Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam. The charity’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% […]

John Kerry Outsources American Foreign Policy To James Taylor

John Kerry JJames Taylor

With some still criticizing the Administration for not sending a higher-ranking officials to Sunday’s unity rally in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry decided it might be a good idea to stop by Paris on the way home from India. And, to show our French friends that America stands beside them in the fight against […]

Obama’s Absence From Paris Rally: Egregious Diplomatic Error, Or Much Ado About Nothing?

World Leaders Paris

Some are criticizing the President for not going to Paris for yesterday’s rally.

Cuban Activists Released; US-Cuban Talks Set

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Via the BBC:  Cuba releases dozens of opposition activists The Cuban authorities have released at least 36 opposition activists since Wednesday, according to dissident organisations. They are believed to be from a list of 53 activists the United States requested to be freed as part of efforts to mend links. More info at the link. […]

Terror Attack Kills 11 at French Satirical Newspaper Charlie Hebdo

coran-merde-charlie-hebdo-karim-achoui-balles

At least 11 are dead and 10 wounded in an attack on free expression.

Venezuela Officially in Recession

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela recession confirmed as Maduro attacks US ‘oil war’ The Venezuelan economy is now officially in recession after the central bank released figures showing that it has been shrinking all year. The bank said the economy had declined by 2.3% in the third quarter of 2014. It also revealed for the first […]

Rousseff Starts Second Term

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Via the BBC:  Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff sworn in for a second term Representatives from more than 130 countries attended the swearing-in ceremony, which also saw Vice-President Michel Temer take his oath. The presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; Uruguay, Jose Mujica; Bolivia, Evo Morales, and Chile, Michelle Bachelet were among the leaders present. US Vice President […]

Public Opinion on Cuba

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Via WaPo‘s The Fix: Sixty-eight percent support ending the trade embargo with Cuba — up 11 points from 2009 — and 74 percent support ending travel restrictions to Cuba — a jump of 19 points from five years ago. The main issue over time: More info at the link.

Dangerous Times: Perception and Reality

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Steven Pinker ad Andrew Mack remind us over at Slate that:  The World Is Not Falling Apart News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not […]

North Korean Internet Connections Collapse

North Korea

What does exist of North Korea’s connection to the Internet has largely collapsed in what may be an attack from outside sources: SAN FRANCISCO — North Korea’s already tenuous links to the Internet went completely dark on Monday after days of instability, in what Internet monitors described as one of the worst North Korean network […]

China Losing Patience With Pyongyang? Don’t Believe It Until You See It Happen

China North Korea

There are again reports of Chinese frustration with the Kim regime in North Korea, but change is unlikely to happen in the DPRK until Beijing is ready to let it happen.

Russia Invades Ukraine, Hookers Raise Prices

condoms-russia-crisis

Talk about your second- and third-order effects.

Comparative Human Rights Abuses

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Via the Monkey Cage (Putting Cuban human rights violations in some context), Erik Voeten notes In a recent article (ungated) in the American Political Science Review, Penn State political scientist Christopher J. Fariss develops a smart measurement model that captures the common component among different measures of physical integrity rights. Moreover, this model generates measures […]

Drezner on Cuba

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If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend Dan Drezner’s piece on Cuba from yesterday:  Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered

Some Questions for Those who Oppose an Opening with Cuba

Cuban American Flags

A little round of Qs and As on US-Cuban policy.

Ok, This is Silly: No “Team America”

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Via TPM Livewire:  Paramount Blocks 2004 Movie ‘Team America’ From Being Shown In Theaters

Rand Paul Breaks With Other 2016 GOP Contenders In Backing Obama’s Opening To Cuba

Senate Homeland Security Holds Hearing On Federal Programs Equipping Police Departments

Rand Paul is one of the few Republicans who seems to be evaluating the new policy toward Cuba through something other than an outdated Cold War perspective.

US-Cuban Relations and Venezuela

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Via Bloomberg:  Obama Makes Maduro’s ‘Insolent Yankees’ a Tougher Sell “Maduro’s anti-US rhetoric is being undercut by the Cuban government,” said Gregory Weeks, head of Latin American studies at the University of North Carolina. “One of the biggest repercussions is that Maduro’s foreign policy is based on exclusion of the U.S. and now its biggest […]

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

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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:

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