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Same Sex Marriage in Colombia

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Via the BBC: Colombia legalises gay marriage Colombia’s top court has legalised same-sex marriage, making the country the fourth in Latin America to do so. Civil unions had previous been legal. The rest of the region:   Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalised same-sex marriage. […] In Mexico, gay marriage is legal in the capital […]

Brazil’s President Impeached

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With just a few months to go before the nation takes center stage, Brazil’s President is now facing impeachment: BRASÍLIA — Brazilian legislators voted on Sunday night to approve impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, the nation’s first female president, whose tenure has been buffeted by a dizzying corruption scandal, a shrinking economy and spreading disillusionment. After […]

‘Panama Papers’ Claim Prime Minister Of Iceland As First Victim

Panama Papers

One down. How many more to go?

Putin Announces Start Of Withdrawal Of Russian Forces From Syria

Vladimir Putin Sunglasses

To the surprise of many, Russia’s President announced that Russia would begin winding down its six month old intervention in Syria.

Placing Trump in Comparative Perspective

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I would highly recommend the following from Pippa Norris:  It’s not just Trump. Authoritarian populism is rising across the West. Here’s why.  (Norris is an expert on comparative politics and elections). It is a long piece (for a newspaper column/blog post), but is worth a read.  Not to encourage skipping the essay, I will post […]

Kim Jong Un Orders North Korean Nukes Placed On ‘Standby’

Kim Jong Un North Korean Flag

More saber rattling from Pyongyang.

United States Putting ‘Advisers’ On The Front Lines In Nigeria’s War Against Boko Haram

military-soldier-sunset

The U.S. is poised to send troops to the front lines of yet another war we have no reason to be involved in.

China, U.S. Agree On North Korea Sanctions That Are Unlikely To Accomplish Anything

North Korea Nukes

Can anything restrain the North Koreans besides direct action by China? That’s unclear, but the new round of sanctions pending at the U.N. seem unlikely to accomplish much of anything.

United Kingdom Sets ‘Brexit’ Referendum Vote For June 23rd

British European Flags

Britons will go to the polls in June to decide the future of their country’s relationship with the rest of Europe.

If you Want to Feel Better about our Presidential Candidates…

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…read up on Peru’s options:  An Alleged Killer, a Plagiarist, and a Jailed Ex-Leader’s Kid: Meet Peru’s Presidential Field. As I tell my students:  one of the great reasons for studying Latin America is that you really can’t make this stuff up.

A Primer on the Brexit Debate

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Via The Economist: A background guide to “Brexit” from the European Union

Obama to Visit Cuba

Cuban American Flags

The futility of US policy towards Cuba is obvious to anyone who gives it even a passingly objective assessment.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali Dead at 93

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt) 1992-1996

The godfather of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine has passed.

U.S. To Resume Commercial Air Travel To Cuba

Cuban American Flags

Another step forward with regard to the American-Cuban relationship.

China’s Economy Appears To Be Slowing Significantly, And That Could Have A Huge Impact

A dealer analyses the shares index to investors (not pictured) at a securities company in Chengdu, in China's southwestern province of Sichuan, 27 August 2007. Chinese share prices closed 0.83 percent up 27 August to record a sixth straight day of gains after more listed companies reported strong earnings for the first half, dealers said. AFP PHOTO/ LIU Jin (Photo credit should read LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s economy is still growing, but it’s most recently reported growth rate is slower than the nation has seen in quite some time.

Sanctions Against Iran Partially Lifted As Compliance With Nuclear Deal Is Confirmed By IAEA

Iran Nuclear Deal Congress

Another hopeful step forward, thanks to diplomacy.

Clinton Calls for More Sanctions on Iran

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Via The Hill:  Clinton calls for new sanctions on Iran Hours after the U.S. dropped sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear deal, Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton called for new sanctions on the nation for its ballistic missile program. Clinton on Saturday praised President Obama for securing the safe return of four U.S. citizens […]

Guatemala Inaugurates President

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Via the BBC:  Jimmy Morales inaugurated as new Guatemala president Guatemalan former TV comedian Jimmy Morales has been inaugurated as the country’s new president. He was elected in October after huge anti-corruption demonstrations that led to the prosecution of a former president and vice-president. Mr Morales has no previous experience in government. In his inaugural […]

Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian, Four Others, Freed By Iran In Prisoner Exchange

Iranian And American Flags

Good news for Jason Rezaian and four other Americans, and another example of how diplomacy can help resolve disputes that seemed irresolvable.

Economic Crisis Continues in Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela economy: Nicolas Maduro declares emergency The Venezuelan government has announced a 60-day economic emergency to deal with the country’s worsening crisis. President Nicolas Maduro will govern by decree for two months. The edict includes tax increases and puts emergency measures in place to pay for welfare services and food imports. The […]

Drug Lord Chic?

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Via the BBC:  ‘El Chapo’: LA company cashes in on drug lord’s shirt A US shirt maker says its shirts are flying off the shelves after Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was pictured wearing one. The distinctive patterned blue and grey number is seen in a picture of Guzman shaking hands with US […]

Iran Frees US Prisoners

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Via the BBC:  Jason Rezaian and three other US prisoners freed in Iran Iran has released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-American prisoners as it anticipates the lifting of international sanctions. Rezaian, 39, was convicted of espionage in Iran last year. Iranian state TV named the other three as Saeed Abedini, Amir […]

Taiwan Elects First Female President

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Via the BBC:  Tsai Ing-wen elected Taiwan’s first female president Tsai Ing-wen has been elected Taiwan’s first female president. Ms Tsai, 59, leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that wants independence from China. In her victory speech, she vowed to preserve the status quo in relations with China, adding Beijing must respect Taiwan’s democracy and […]

W.H.O. Declares 2014 Ebola Outbreak Officially Over

Ebola Virus And Caduceus

The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola Outbreak that began in 2014 to be officially over.

Quick Release Of American Sailors Shows The Value Of Diplomacy

Iranian And American Flags

Ten American sailors detained by Iranian forces late Tuesday were released early today, something that seems to clearly demonstrate the value of diplomacy.

U.S., South Korea Hint At Military Buildup In Response To Nuclear Test

South Korean U.S. Flags

The United States and South Korea are hinting at increased military cooperation in the wake of last week’s North Korean nuclear test.

Experts Cast Doubt On North Korean Claim That It Tested Hydrogen Bomb

North Korea Nukes

Experts are casting doubt on North Korea’s claim that it tested a thermonuclear device earlier this week.

North Korea Claims To Have Detonated Hydrogen Bomb In Nuclear Test

North Korea Nukes

The North Koreans claim to have made a major advance in their nuclear weapons program, but there are many reasons to be skeptical.

Tensions Rise Between Saudi Arabia And Iran In Wake Of Saudi Executions

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The execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric has led to a rapid deterioration of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iraq/ISIS Updates

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Via CNN:  Ramadi has been taken back from ISIS, Iraqis say Iraqi troops have retaken the city of Ramadi from ISIS, the country’s military said. Troops have raised the Iraqi flag on top of the government compound in central Ramadi, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul said Monday. Ramadi, in Anbar province, about 110 kilometers […]

Polling Errors in the UK Elections

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Some may recall that the polling for the House of Commons elections in 2015 did a pretty poor job of predicting the final outcome.  A piece in the Guardian discusses some studies as to why that may have been the case:  Why opinion pollsters failed to predict overall majority for David Cameron. Analysis undertaken by polling […]

Medical Marijuana Legalized in Colombia

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Via the BBC:  Colombia fully legalises medical marijuana Colombia’s president has signed a decree fully legalising medical marijuana in a shift away from preventing drug crop production. Juan Manuel Santos said the move put Colombia “in the group of countries that are at the forefront…in the use of natural resources to fight disease”. But, he […]

War on Christmas, Brunei Style

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Via the Sydney Morning Herald:  Brunei bans Christmas celebrations in public, including wearing Santa hats. Oil-rich Brunei has banned public celebrations of Christmas, including sending festive greetings and the wearing of Santa Claus hats. Muslims seen celebrating Christmas and non-Muslims found to be organising celebrations could face up to five years jail. However the country’s non-Muslims, […]

Boko Haram Update

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Via the LAT:  Boko Haram has grown stronger, more lethal and even less compromising Boko Haram was blamed for recent twin suicide bombings in Kano: one carried out by an 11-year-old girl, and a market bombing in Yola that killed 34. The extremist group was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, a 300% increase from the […]

France’s National Front Suffers Setbacks In 2nd Round Voting, But Still Seems Likely To Rise

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen suffered setbacks in the second round of regional voting on Sunday, but the party still seems likely to become more popular in the coming years.

Paris Climate Change Agreement Mostly Hype, With A Lot Of Hope

Climate Change Word Cloud

Representatives from 195 nations reached an agreement supposedly devoted to addressing global climate change, but it’s really more hype than anything else.

Is Syria Already A Quagmire For Putin?

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Some analysts are already suggesting that Russia’s two month old intervention in Syria is becoming a quagmire. That seems to be a premature judgment, but it’s not accomplishing much more than anything the West is doing.

Kim Jong Un Claims North Korea Has Thermonuclear Weapons, But It Probably Doesn’t

North Korea Nukes

North Korea’s mercurial leader now claims to have thermonuclear weapons, but analysts are saying this is likely braggadocios nonsense.

Trump’s Latest Anti-Muslim Plan Receives Worldwide Condemnation

Trump Announcement

Donald Trump’s plan to exclude Muslims from the United States is provoking condemnation, and confusion, around the world.

National Front Makes Major Gains In French Regional Elections

Eiffel Tower French Tricolor

Europe’s anti-immigrant, xenophobic far right scored major victories in France yesterday.

NATO Admitting Montenegro As Full Member For Some Reason

NATO

NATO is extending full membership to the tiny nation of Montenegro, and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason why they’re doing it.

German Parliament Approves Expansion Of Involvement In Anti-ISIS Campaign

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The German Parliament has approved expansion of the nation’s involvement in the campaign against ISIS, but that doesn’t make the current campaign any less incoherent.

British Parliament Approves Airstrikes Against ISIS In Syria

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The British Parliament has approved expansion of that countries airstrikes into Syria, but it’s unclear just how much of an impact that will have on the ground.

The Vote Could Be As Much As Two Years Away, But Support For A ‘Brexit’ Seems To Be Growing

British European Flags

A vote is still as much as two years away, and support for staying in the E.U. still has the most support, but support for the idea of a British exit from the European Union has grown in the past several months.

Electoral Fraud in Haiti

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Via the Miami Herald:  U.S. observers: Haiti’s presidential elections deeply flawed. A team of U.S.-based lawyers who witnessed last month’s Haitian elections say there is mounting evidence showing a clear pattern of systemic fraud, voter confusion and intimidation, and in some areas disenfranchisement. The report paints a grim picture of a flawed, chaotic electoral process […]

Is Portugal Europe’s Next Greece?

EUropean Portugese Flags

The election of an anti-austerity government in Portugal is raising some concerns.

Francois Hollande’s Quest For A United Front Against ISIS May Be Doomed To Fail

Hollande Putin

France’s President has spent the week trying to forge and agreement on an anti-ISIS policy, but the two nations that matter the most also disagree the most.

Tensions Between Russia And Turkey Remain High In Wake Of Russian Jet Incident

Turkey Russia Flags

Tensions between Russia and Turkey remain high in the wake of yesterday’s incident, but there are some signs that things are starting to cool down.

Turkey Downs Russian Jet

Turkey Russia Flags

A potentially big complication in an already complicated situation.

New President in Argentina

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Via the BBC:  Argentina’s President-elect Macri lays out new course Mr Macri won Sunday’s run-off election by a narrow margin over Daniel Scioli, who was backed by outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He said one of the key problems was the lack of accurate information about the state of Argentina’s economy. […] Mr Macri, […]

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