Wednesday, April 26, 2017

China launches its first homegrown aircraft carrier

The first aircraft carrier that was designed and built in China was launched Wednesday, amid streamers and champagne. So far it is unnamed. China has the second largest military in the world, its estimated that they spend about 148 billion dollars. The new carrier still does lag behind the US technologically but it is likely just a stepping stone to Chinas next generation of aircraft carriers. Sources believe that this was probably just designed to get China in the aircraft carrier game, and while it was a huge advance the next carrier deigns will be much closer to a US carrier and it will not be active until 2020.

--Jessie Birchall

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This article dives into some data with the current French election. We have been discussing this election in class and why it is so important internationally. We are seeing a rise in populism and these extreme parties are on the rise. I think it is interesting to see how just like here in America in 2016, there is this frustration among constituents that the establishment has failed them. Same thing in France right now, and it explains how the moderate left and right dominate parties failed to get out of the first round. The difference in support from 2012 and 2017 is almost like pure opposite. We see polarization looks to be on the rise not only in America but other countries as well.

Thomas Semanic

Sunday, April 23, 2017

US tells North Korea to cease 'destabilizing actions and rhetoric'

In light of the tension building g up between North Korea and the United States, the white house released a statement Sunday night urging the communist regime to stop the provocation and threats and to focus on its international obligation. The announcement came after a North Korean newspaper published that, the country is ready to sink a United States aircraft carrier

USS Carl Vinson Fighter Pilot Ejects During Routine Flight

On Sunday North Korea threatened to sink an American aircraft carrier just off the coast of North Korea. The US carrier has teamed up with two Japanese destroyers to begin joint drills. In a state-run newspaper a North Korean stated that their country is ready to sink a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike, provoking the US with violence yet again. In response to this Trump said that he would be sending "an armada" to Korean waters to deal with the constant threats from North Korea. During the training drills an F/A-18 pilot had to eject from the airplane while approaching the carrier for a landing. The pilot was recovered quickly and suffered no apparent injuries. The cause for the ejection is still unknown. Keeping an eye on military action between the US and North Korea over the next few weeks is going to be very interesting.

Matthew G. Mayes

Political polarisation has grown most among the old

In a shift of blame away from social media the article by the economist points to recent economic and political research that has reason to believe that polarization of American political ties is heavily isolated amongst American’s who are 75 and older. Additionally, the economic research aspect points to a connection between polarization and slower economic growth, citing that this decade we could see GDP growth slow by 1.2 then 0.6 in the following decade. One of the reasons for this diversion between age groups as they suggest is that elderly voting behavior is more concerned with cultural shift than they are with economic shifts, which is different from younger voters who are effected by the current economy. In conclusion, this article seeks to answer some of the rising questions about the changing political landscape across the U.S.

Nathaniel Dust

Australia Plans to Raise More Barriers to Citizenship

The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, just announced new citizenship requirements.  This includes stricter requirements for proficiency in English, a test on Australian values, followed by a four year waiting period.  The motivation behind this action is to limit migration into the country.  The Prime Minister holds the mentality that those who should be granted citizenship are those who prove themselves and demonstrate the greatest effort to adapt to the country's values.

I believe in meeting requirements for citizenship and going through a process of proper registration...however, I feel that with immigration systems such as Australia's or the United States', the steps leading to citizenship should be made more efficient and promising for those wanting to become citizens.  The system is corrupt, and many families wait years and years to come into the country.  Steps need to be taken to make the process smoother to ensure timely citizenship for immigrants while also ensuring safety and productivity for the country.

Ally Bockay

North Korea detains another American citizen, raising total # of detained Americans to 3

Tony Kim (Korean name Kim Sang-duk) was detained on Saturday, according to the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. The article states that a possible reason for his detainment is his involvement in relief efforts. North Korea, according to the article, is known for holding foreigners on "dubious" charges in order to use them as leverage in deals with other countries. The U.S.'s relations with North Korea are more strained now than ever with Kim Jong Un still testing nuclear weapons, and the U.S.'s promise of using force to stop North Korea if necessary.

North Korea Detained a Third American Citizen Amid Rising Tensions With the U.S.

In this article talks about how North Korea detained a U.S. citizen. This is also not the first U.S. citizen that is now being held in North Korea. The man that was detained recently was Tony Kim and he was taken by officials while he was at Pyongyang's international airport trying to leave. The Swedish Embassy where aware of Korean-American citizens being detained but couldn't further speak on the matter.  

Early Elections

As politics around the Brexit heats up, there was never any talk of calling an early election by the current PM Theresa May when she was first elected. However, that promise was short lived as she has now called for an early election slated for June 8th. Although she had told the constituents that she would not hold an early election when she was elected last year, she can legally de so due to the type of government there in Britain. The parliament allows the majority leader AKA PM to call a reelection if need be. Well I mean there;s a little more details than that, but the point is, is that it was totally in her legal right to call this early election. She is calling this in hopes of being able to pass policy that will really benefit Britain in this time of exit from the EU. She needs to do this now rather than wait, because her opposing parties are also split which allows her now to be able to take advantage of the break up of support for her competitors.

-Kaitlyn Roybal

Taliban attack on a key Afghan army base

Kabul is an army base that was attacked by the Taliban on Saturday, being one of the deadliest since 2001. The Taliban members were disguised as military officials waiting for members to come out of a prayer session, shooting any one who was in their way. The attack lasted six hours causing 100+ deaths including two Taliban members to blow themselves up and seven of them killed. A spokesperson for the Taliban claimed responsibility but did not give a reason for the assault. it is said to believe it is for retaliation due to the Afghan government overthrowing them.

30 dead in largest surge of gang violence in Mexico since 2011

This weekend, 30 deaths related to gun-related violence occurred over the weekend in Mexico, the highest since 2011. Of the 30, 10 were killed in Sinaloa state on Sunday Morning in different accidents. This region has seen an influx of gang violence, after cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, formerly head of operation in Sinaloa, was captured and extradited last year. Nine other deaths occurred in the Mexican state Michoacan in a battle between rival gangs in the village of Churumuco on Saturday. Five more bodies were found in Guerro on Sunday, while six more were found in Veracruz. In march, there were 2020 murders, second only to June of 2011. President Enrique Nieto is facing heavy criticism over his handling of the rise in violence.

-Bobby Gannon

Sessions: We'll fund the wall 'one way or the other'

In direct conflict with past statements made by Mexico's government that the country would not fund Trumps proposed border wall, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared on ABC's "This Week" in an effort to make it clear Mexico would still end up paying for it. This interview comes in the wake of several Tweets by POTUS, praising the wall and it's benefits towards preventing illegal immigration and gang violence. With the wall as one of his primary campaign points, Trump's determined pushes towards erecting the wall make sense.

In his appearance on "This Week", Sessions offered more insight into just how exactly Mexico would pay for the wall. Rather than being 'billed' directly into funding the multi-billion dollar undertaking, Sessions maintains that through trade and other actions at the border, the country would wind up paying for the wall indirectly.

Greener Trump?

After this past Earth Day, President Trump announced it was in his best interest to protect the environment. As he quotes "Rigorous science is critical to my administration efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection": this may seem promising to change his views on actions towards environmental concern, but, unfortunately, it has not. He then states "I am committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs Matter!" In other words, President Trump claims he "cares" about the protection of the environment but does not plan on changing his budget cuts to agencies such as The State Department; Department of Urban Housing and Urban Development; and The Environmental Protection Agency. Funding will be lost by a third, potentially, eliminating other federal programs. While Trump may say his concerns are with the environment, his current policies for the environment do not support his position

Cameron Butler 

Germany AfD: Right-wingers set to move further right

This article talks about a protest that occurred over the weekend against members of the anti immigration party AfD or alternative for Germany. The reason people were protesting was that Frauke Petry who was the co leader of the party wanted to move the party into a more mainstream position which the party rejected. This article goes into detail about the protest in regard to how many people were there, and police interaction with the protesters.  The article then talks about the recent past of the party and what it has accomplished and why it has become popular among German citizens. Overall after reading this article it reminds that there is a rising populist sentiment among the native born people of Europe that seems like it won’t end soon.



Le Pen faces Macron in final round of French presidential election

In the first round of the French presidential elections, it is apparent that the far-right populist Marine Le Pen and the novice Emmanuel Macron are the leading candidates for the next round of elections. Macron had a slight edge over Le Pen with 23.7% of the votes to Le Pen's 21.8%. The 2017 election is contrary to traditional French politics because neither candidate is a member of the dominant political parties. Many attribute this change in tradition to world events, such as Britain leaving the EU and the election of Donald Trump. Le Pen's anti-immigration and anti-European Union rhetoric have gained her many nationalistic supporters while Macron, a former banker, represents a sense of optimism for  the French to break away from the elitism of politics. The two candidates are set to compete in the second election for the presidential nomination on May 7th. 

Sarah Obrist 

US tells North Korea to cease 'destabilizing actions and rhetoric'

The situation between the United States and North Korea has greatly escalated in the recent weeks. While North Korea has always been seen as a dangerous nation, the increase in weapons tests by the nation has undoubtedly increased tensions with the country. There have been comments made by both the US and North Korea that demonstrate a willingness to use military action against the other. I see this as a very tough situation to resolve. You have both countries posturing and making these provoking comments. The situation is only escalated when an agitative statement is made. I feel that the best way to handle the situation would be for the US to back away from the authoritative position we've taken against North Korea, in order to let tensions subside for the moment. Yet, if the US were to back down slightly, it might provide the perfect window the North Korea to refine their nuclear technology, which could pose a very serious threat to the US.

Ben Goodell

North Korea threatens to sink US aircraft carrier

This article pretty much sums up the heightening tension between North Korea and the United States. A United States aircraft carrier was sent over to begin joint training exercises with two Japanese destroyers near the Philippines. North Korea had promptly responded that they would sink said aircraft carrier with "a single strike." It is worth noting that North Korea had just tried to show off their prominent military prowess by sending off a test missile which effectively blew up within seconds of takeoff. North Korea had also mentioned that they are capable of reaching "continental US and Asia Pacific Region" with their "absolute weapon", the hydrogen bomb. The actual intentions of the US aircraft carrier and Japanese destroyers were to join with the Australian Navy and continue joint exercises with them. After completing the training, the US Navy had announced that the carrier would be heading back near the Korean Peninsula "to provide a persistent presence." How this threat by North Korea will be followed-up, we may not know. Regardless, the tension between the two nations as of right now has very much been peaking.

- Brett Johnson

US official: With eye on North Korea, China puts bombers on 'high alert'

This CNN article talks about China who temporarily put cruise missile-bombers on "high alert" in response to a potential crisis with North Korea.  Chinese spokesperson have expressed concern about recent missile tests conducted by North Korea. In response to North Koreas aggression, China has also increased their number of military aircrafts according to a US official. According to sources, this militiary measure is only a temporary measure to react to North Korea's most recent missile tests. China is anticipated to maintain a normal level of readiness in order to respond to a potential armed conflict in a timely manner. Furthermore, China is opposed to US military presence in South Korea.

- Helen Majer

North Korea Detains U.S. Citizen

In his article, James Pearson describes how a Korean-American, Tony Kim, has been detained at the Pyongyang International Airport in North Korea.  Kim was teaching an accounting course at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for the past month and attempted to return to the United States.  This marks the third United States citizen being held in North Korea, including Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old student, and Kim Dong Chul, a 62-year-old Korean-American missionary.  The US government is aware of Kim's arrest and will not release any more information due to privacy concerns.  Furthermore, an official at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said it was not aware of the reported arrest.

Pence says US will honor refugee deal with Australia

On Saturday the US Vice President Mike Pence stated that the US would “honor” their refugee deal with Australia.  The deal was made in the final days of the Obama administration.  It seems strange because President Trump described this deal as dumb.  The arrangement says that the US will take at least 1,250 refugees who are currently being held in an offshore detention center.  Many of the refugees are Iranian.  Then Australia would receive refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.  Pence was quoted saying, “President Trump has made it clear that we’ll honor the agreement, but it doesn’t mean we admire the agreement.” 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

False Warning For China-North Korea Tension

As tension rises around North Korea, we are starting to see relationships develop and trades emerge with surrounding countries. With the movement of U.S military ships, the fight for Japan’s weapon independence, and China’s agreement to help, we are seeing what many are claiming as the start of WWIII. But as the tension grows, so does the mainstream media’s attention. Because of this, we are subject to fake news and false claims being reported in hopes for more clicks and being the first to report the story. This is seen in the article below.

Early today, CNN reported that China put their bombers on high alert for a response to North Korea. This sent many into a frenzy, and CNN did not update its story until hours later once the false information was spread already. I would like to remind everyone to stay alert on these large topics and always fact-check. It is important to ensure the articles you read are fact and not made from an interpretation by someone else, as seen in this article. China has not put their bombers on high alert, and their border security has not been added to or subtracted from.

Lucas Wittenkeller

Casualty toll exceeds 100 in Taliban attack on army base

On Friday, a group from the Taliban went into an army base in Afghanistan in the most secure northern Balkh province.  More than 100 military personnel were wounded or killed.  How the Taliban members made it into the army base is unclear.  Some reports claim that they were able to enter by joining a convoy of military vehicles that were returning to base from a province near by.  An army spokesman for the region, however, said that one of the bombers detonated a vehicle filled with explosives at the main entrance of the base, which then allowed the other members to gain entrance as well.  From there, the members went to the dining facility and a mosque and opened fire on anyone they saw there.  A Taliban spokesman, however, denied reports that any attacks were made on those near the mosque and that attacks were insteaded directed at those in their rooms or barracks.  The attack finally ended after about six hours of gun battle.

Shannon McDonald

Friday, April 21, 2017

"Amid Venezuela Protests, G.M. Plant Is Seized, and Company Exits"

On Thursday April 20th, the Venezuelan government seized control of a General Motors company stationed there, which resulted in the laying off of 2,700 workers. While the General Motors said that they were unfairly shut down due to an "illegal judicial seizure of it assets", it should be recognized that the plant was hardly the picture of success. It was stated in the article that last year automakers were only able to sell 3,200 new vehicles. The demand used to be higher, but has declined steadily in recent years due to the "devaluation" of their national currency and limited imports of necessary technology to increase efficiency, which translates to a slash in revenue. These days in Venezuela most business is done with the government and state-owned companies and this has resulted in the state taking away more than 1,400 businesses, signaling corruption, which explains all the current political tension. Another pitfall to having a state-owned business is the period of time in which one has to wait for their payments. There is also a huge decline in the availability of resources, as evidenced by the withdraw of Coca-cola due to the lack of sugar. This is horrifying because there was a day where Venezuela was one of the top sugar producers in South America. The biggest concern of all, is the amount of oil companies being expropriated. Oil is the economy's most valuable resource, and since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, millions of oil-producing companies have been expropriated. The successor of Chavez, Nicolas Maduro is not helping this as he is attempting to keep all the oil-companies on board, despite not paying them enough, with the hope that Venezuela will return to its once successful days of oil producing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

UK Prime Minister Theresa May Calls for Election

The UK Prime Minister has recently called for a general election in hopes of allowing her party to gain more support in parliament, and then finally breaking away from the European Union. With the UK finally making it's decision to leave the EU, there have been many mixed views on how negotiations and conflicts will be resolved, as well as the position of continuing relationships with Europe. Due to these mixed views, leaving the EU has been difficult, and Theresa May has not been able to push for negotiations. With this new election, there are hopes that more power will be given to Theresa May, and her party, allowing her to take the actions she needs to remove the UK from the EU as soon as possible, without backlash from other parties.

-Asfa Anwer

"Mother of All Protests" broke out in Venezuela on 4/19

Yesterday, protesters in Venezuela gathered in a massive demonstration, marking exactly five years since President Maduro took office. Speaking out against the food shortages, poverty, and dictatorship, demonstrators faced a tense divide between themselves and pro-government forces. In a mess of tear gas and rocks being thrown about, violence escalated quickly between the demonstrators. It was reported that two people were shot and killed by pro-government groups: Carlos Moreno, a teenage student not actively involved in the protest, and later that day a 23-year old woman named Paola Ramirez.

Emily Stagg

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

U.S prepares for long-planned test of missile defense system against North Korea

The Pentagon is planning to conduct two major high-stake tests in May to test their ability to shoot down missiles launched out of North Korea. These tests in the Pacific are a part of the US military's overall ballistic missile defense program to defend against North Korean or Iranian threats, but for now they are aimed at ensuring the US can defend against a threat from North Korea. One of the tests will involve test-firing an improved Standard Missile off a Navy ship, and they are taking place over the Pacific because test ranges are large enough to accommodate them. The upgraded missile has only been tested once before, the newer version has an improved booster and warhead. This means the missile can fire from longer ranges and have a greater chance of hitting the incoming threatening missile.
--Jessie Birchall

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    Tensions are on the rise with North Korea after continued parades, threats of nuclear war from North Korea, U.S sends air craft carrier to the Korean waters, and Mike Pence's recent visit to the boarder saying our "strategic patience" with North Korea is over. This belligerent talk is pretty normal when it comes to North Korea and does not necessarily mean we are going to go to war but, this Trump administration was willing to threaten a country openly. This is something that neither Obama nor Bush had ever done. This might be a little sign that maybe it is not China, Russia, or ISIS that poses the biggest threat to us, it might be North Korea.

    Thomas Semanic

    Monday, April 17, 2017

    Trump is Finding China's Blind Spot on North Korea

    Growing tensions between North Korea is an obvious concern for United States foreign policy as well as other nations around the world. How China will react to North Korea will also determine the United States’ future relations with President Trump and Chairman Xi Jinping. In this article the China is coming up short. Two days after North Korea failed at launching a missile, China is opposed to putting in an American built missile defense system (THAAD) in South Korea. China is also economically punishing South Korea for their involvement in Thailand. On Monday the Vice President reiterated the American plan for deployment, with South Korea’s support. Of course China does not welcome a missile defense system to South Korea because it could be a potential threat to their military defense systems. At this moment, China is standing in the way of the United States erecting THAAD in South Korea.

    Emily Adams

    Sunday, April 16, 2017

    VP Pence visits Korea's DMZ amid tension with North Korea

    The article discusses Pence's visit to the DMZ, a strip of land that separates North and South Korea, and is heavily occupied by military troops. Pence's visit comes within a day after North Korea's "Day of the Sun", where, among a parade, they displayed new nuclear warheads. They also attempted another test launch, but the test missile exploded on launch. President Trump used his visit with China's Xi Jinping to discuss North Korea's actions, and applauded China's refusal to accept North Korean coal ships. U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMasters says that the North Korean threat may be coming "to a head."

    ETA: We still want an independent Basque state

    The ETA is a separatist group in the Basque Country in northern Spain and southwestern France. They were founded in 1959 and evolved from a group that promoted traditional Basque culture to a group that engaged in violent actions like bombing, assassinations, and kidnappings to gain independence for the Basque Country. “ETA killed 829 people, mostly in Spain, and left thousands more injured. The separatist group was blamed for hundreds of shootings, bombings and kidnappings from the 1960s until 2011.” Last week ETA gave up its arms to authorities. The group told the press that their campaign is ending and they will be taking more decisions from all its members. It is unclear whether the Basque community will want its independence. “While ETA says it will continue to push for independence, a survey last October by pollsters Euskobarometro suggested that just 29 percent Basques were strongly in favor of independence, while 37 percent didn't want it.” In my opinion, there is some suspicion whether ETA has truly given up its campaign for independence.

    Emily Adams

    China’s Economy is Maintaining Steam

    Offering a brief insight for those unaware the BBC’s article talks about China’s Q1 GDP figures, first draft, which were reported at 6.9% above the estimated 6.5% but below the previous Q1 report in 2016. With mention that resurgence in growth is in part being driven by a drastic rise in public spending on infrastructure related projects as well as a rise in consumer consumption. As a cautionary warning, for those unfamiliar with the topic, the article heeds caution for the statistics put out by the heavy handed Chinese government. In conclusion, this article offers a brief, but important, update on the world’s second largest economy by nominal GDP.

    The BBC:
    Nathaniel Dust

    Turkey's democracy died today

    The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is announcing a new constitutional referendum that gives the President a lot more power.  There was a national vote to decide to change the constitution which was very close.  When the vote against the constitutional change was threatening to win the election the electoral authorities stepped in and announced they would allow unsealed ballots to be counted.  Which was against the rules of the election.  After it was all over the vote to change the constitution won 51% to 49%.  The changes to the constitution gives the President almost unlimited power.  Which realistically makes him a dictator.  The opposing group says that the election was not fair and they say they will contest the election.