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Tensions In Spain Rising As Catalan Independence Referendum Draws Near

People hold "estelada" flags, Catalan separatist flags, during a gathering to mark the Calatalonia day "Diada" in central Barcelona

As the date for Catalonia’s disputed independence referendum nears, tensions are rising between Madrid and Barcelona.

Donald Trump’s First General Assembly Address Strikes Belligerent Tone

Trump General Assembly

In a marked departure from previous American Presidents, Donald Trump delivered a highly belligerent speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

London Underground Bombed By Presumed Terrorists

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The London subway was hit by a bomb during the morning rush hour. Authorities are treating it as a terrorist attack.

United Nations Passes Watered Down North Korean Sanctions

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

The Trump Administration’s effort to impose sanctions against North Korea suffered a significant defeat in the United Nations Security Council.

Why Negotiations With North Korea Are (Currently) Impossible

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

Absent significant changes, expecting normal diplomatic relationships with the DPRK is a pipe dream.

Catalan Independence Vote Set For October 1st, Propelling Spain Into Crisis

People hold "estelada" flags, Catalan separatist flags, during a gathering to mark the Calatalonia day "Diada" in central Barcelona

In less than a month, voters in the Catalan region of Spain will be voting whether to remain part of Spain or assert independence.

Narco-Pigeon

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Via the BBC:  ‘Narco-pigeon’ shot by Argentina police Police in Argentina have shot a carrier pigeon that was delivering drugs to a jail, prison authorities say. I have to admit, this is a new one to me.  I am aware of numerous types of narco-subs, human mules, and catapults used to deliver drugs, among other […]

Colombia Signs Cease Fire with ELN

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Via WaPo, Colombia signs cease-fire deal with last guerrilla group: The deal struck in Quito, Ecuador, where talks with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, have been taking place since February, goes into effect Oct. 1. It runs through Jan. 12 and can be renewed if both sides agree. Under the cease-fire, the rebels agree to suspend […]

The FARC Makes the Official Transition to Political Party

FARC party logo

A key step in the Colombian peace process.

Understanding Where we are in Afghanistan

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The following from Foreign Policy is worth a read: There Is No War in Afghanistan. Ever since the Taliban government was toppled in late 2001, the heart of the strategic problem that has confronted the United States and its allies in Afghanistan has been the definition of victory: How does this end? We would all be better […]

The War on Information

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Via the Seattle Times comes a piece worth a read:  UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web […]

Trump and Latin America

Puzzle Map Latin America

Trump isn’t going to win any regional popularity awards in LA.

North Korea Conducts Sixth Nuclear Test

Kim Jong Un Bomb

More provocative action from North Korea, and another reminder that there are no easy answers to the problems represented by the Kim regime.

Racism and Nationalism Make you Dumb

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Via Politco:  Far-right German candidate promises to get rid of Arabic numerals Otfried Best, who is hoping to become mayor of Völklingen, near the French border, was asked by a member of Die Partei, a satirical party, during a debate earlier this week what he thought of Arabic numerals used in the town, Stern magazine reported.  ”Mr. Best … […]

At Least Thirteen Dead, Dozens Injured, In Apparent Terror Attack In Spain

Barcelona Attack

At least thirteen dead in an apparent terrorist attack in Spain.

South Koreans Not So Concerned About War From The North

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

The people who would most immediately be impacted by a war on the Korean peninsula don’t seem quite so concerned. Perhaps we should take a cue from them.

Trump’s Statement on Venezuela

Via CNN:  Trump says he won’t rule out military option in Venezuela Asked about the possibility of a military intervention in response to the mounting crisis in the country, the President said that is something the United States “certainly could pursue.” “We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not going […]

Pence Endorses The Really Bad Idea Of Bringing Georgia Into NATO

NATO Georgia Flags

Vice-President Pence is advocating the admission of Georgia into NATO. That would be a bad idea.

North Korea Launches Another Ballistic Missile Test

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

Another escalation on the Korean peninsula.

A Quick Russian Translation

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Via the NYT: When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions’  This is likely obvious to anyone who is even passingly familiar with the situation, but this piece is worth a read for a detailed discussion.  It also should take away any thought that a discussion about adoption policy is as innocent or low-wattage as it […]

Putin’s Big Win

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Via an opinion column by Masha Gessen in the NYT:  Trump Gave Putin Exactly What He Wanted Mr. Putin has for years — 17 years, to be exact, for this is how long he has been in power — been clear about what he wanted from his relationship with the United States president: He wants to […]

North Korea Launches Another Ballistic Missile Test

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

More provocation from Pyongyang.

Speaking of the ELN…

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Here is a brief Reuters report on the recent developments in the Colombian governement’s talks with the ELN that I mentioned in a previous post:  Colombia and ELN rebels move peace talks toward ceasefire. Pablo Beltran, leader of the ELN negotiating team in Quito, Ecuador, said the rebels would like to see a ceasefire in […]

Interview with Colombian President Santos

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To go along with my post on the Colombian peace process, here is an interview (in English) with President Juan Manual Santos that is worth watching if one is interested in the current situation. (And from about 7 minutes on, watch Santos try to be diplomatic about the current US administration).

Progress towards Peace in Colombia

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The FARC have disarmed. Now to the hard part.

German Parliament Approves Bill Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

German Flag

The German Parliament has approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the country, a somewhat surprising move ahead of Federal elections in this fall: BERLIN — When Sarah Kermer proposed to her girlfriend in March, she knew she was in love, but she did not know when, if ever, Germany would allow them to marry. The […]

Conservatives Sign Agreement with the DUP

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Via the BBC:  Conservatives agree pact with DUP to support May government Under the so-called “confidence and supply” arrangement, the DUP will line up behind the government in key votes, such as on the Queen’s Speech and Budgets, which would threaten the government’s survival if they were lost. They will also back Theresa May on […]

Trump Reverses Parts Of Obama’s Opening To Cuba

Diana Nyad

Foolishly, President Trump is rolling back part of President Obama’s opening to Cuba.

Helmut Kohl, Chancellor Who Reunited Germany, Dies at 87

German Flag

Helmut Kohl, who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1982 to 1989 and then presided over the reunification with East Germany, has died at age 87: Helmut Kohl, a towering postwar figure who reunified Germany after 45 years of Cold War antagonism, propelled a deeply held vision of Europe’s integration and earned plaudits from […]

American Freed By North Korea Is In A Coma

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

Otto Warmbier, and American being held by North Korea, is being freed but his release is marred by the revelation that he has been in a coma for much of that time: WASHINGTON — Otto F. Warmbier, an American college student held prisoner in North Korea for more than a year, has been medically evacuated […]

Macron’s Centrist Party Scores Big Wins In French Legislative Elections

Emmanuel Macron

The political party formed by French President Emmanuel Macron just about a year ago scored big wins in yesterday’s first round of legislative elections.

Puerto Rico Votes Overwhelmingly For Statehood in Heavily Boycotted Referendum

U.S. and Puerto RIcan Flags

Puerto Rican voters voted overwhelmingly for statehood yesterday in a referendum whose legitimacy is being questioned due to boycotts by opposition parties.

Web Censorship in Turkey

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More examples of growing authoritarianism in Turkey via the NYT:  Turks Click Away, but Wikipedia Is Gone Wikipedia is just one of 127,000 websites blocked in Turkey, estimated Professor Akdeniz, who has led legal challenges against the Wikipedia ban and other web restrictions. An additional 95,000 pages, like social media accounts, blog posts and articles, are […]

Puerto Rico To Vote On Statehood For Fifth Time In Fifty Years

U.S. and Puerto RIcan Flags

For the fifth time in fifty years, Puerto Ricans will vote tomorrow on a referendum on statehood, but it’s not likely to have any impact on the island’s current status.

Japanese Parliament Passes Law for Abdication

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Via CNN:  Japan passes historic law to allow beloved Emperor to abdicate Imperial law decrees that sitting emperors cannot resign from their posts, but the one-off bill permits the 83-year-old to pass the Chrysanthemum Throne to Crown Prince Naruhito, the eldest of his three children. The piece also has an interesting discussion of the role […]

British Election Leads To Hung Parliament, Theresa May Forms Uncertain Coalition

British Parliament Building

A massive political miscalculation by Theresa May leads to an uncertain future in the United Kingdom.

British Voters Head To The Polls In The Wake Of Campaign Marred By Terror Attacks

British Parliament Building

Great Britain heads to the polls today.

Six Killed, Dozens Injured, In Late Night Terror Attack In London

London Attack June 2017

Another night of terror in the United Kingdom.

Withdrawal From The Paris Accords: Much Ado About Nothing?

Climate Change Word Cloud

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords was neither the big win his supporters claim nor the disaster his critics fear.

Paris Accords Withdrawal: A Win for Bannon (and a Confirmation for Merkel)

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Via WaPo: The Paris pact was a particular passion for Bannon, who spent the past two weeks consumed by the climate deal, including working feverishly from the West Wing after returning early from Trump’s foreign trip, according to two White House officials familiar with the discussions. He pressed his case directly with the president — arguing […]

Trump Signs Waiver Of Law Requiring Move Of U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem

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Despite campaign promises, President Trump won’t be moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem anytime soon.

Trump Considering Reversing Obama Policy On Cuba

Diana Nyad

President Trump is reportedly considering at least partly reversing one of the great foreign policy successes of the Obama Presidency.

Well, the Human Body is Like a Battery…

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Via the Times of London: The distance between Donald Trump and his G7 partners was spelled out dramatically today when Theresa May and the leaders of Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Canada strolled the streets of Taormina, Sicily — while he followed in a golf cart. The six are planning to put pressure on Mr Trump […]

Trump’s Muslim Speech Was A Change In Tone, But It’s Unlikely To Accomplish Anything

Trump Muslim Speech

President Trump’s speech on Islam was a change of tone. However, as critics noted, it was short on substance and is unlikely to accomplish anything.

The (non-)State of Syria

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A piece from Foreign Policy notes: Syria, after all, is today divided into no less than seven enclaves: the territory controlled by the regime, three separate areas of rebel control, two Kurdish cantons, and the Islamic State area. What is the government’s strategy to reverse this fragmentation, I ask? ”We have absolute faith that this is a […]

Iranian President Rouhani Overwhelmingly Re-Elected

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian voters have re-elected Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate whose election in 2013 was largely responsible for the shifts in policy that made the international agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear research program possible.

Trump To Keep Iran Nuclear Deal, For Now

Iran Nukes

During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to undo the nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Now his Administration is signaling that, at least for now, the deal will stay in place.

North Korea Launches Another Missile Test

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

Another provocative move by North Korea.

South Korea Elects New President Who Favors Dialogue With North Korea

South Korean Flag

South Korea has elected a new President who breaks with his impeached predecessor in favoring dialogue with the North.

Trump’s Military Advisers Want Him To Expand America’s Longest War

US Afghanistan

America’s longest war is still going on, and President Trump’s advisers want him to continue his predecessor’s policies of continuing to re-expand American forces in a war that has seemingly no end.

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