Wednesday, April 30, 2014

South Sudan’s Warring Leaders Draw Rebuke From U.N. Rights Chief

Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief, has warned the leaders of South Sudan that they would investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. The president of South Sudan, President Salva Kiir and his former VP, Reik Machar, may be under review for hate speech and revenge killings that often targeted victims based on their ethnicity. These killings have escalated in recent months, with the UN citing NGO's and religious leaders as the source for this information.

These killings have been happening since the young country has been in a civil war since December. Machar was dismissed from his VP role months earlier for leading a coup attempt. The UN Security Council called for an investigation in April after troops loyal to Machar killed hundreds of civilians in Bentiu. This came days after armed youths attacked a UN base in Bor which killed civilians as well. The UN Security Council agreed to send 13,000 troops to South Sudan in December but only about one-third have be provided. Pillay says this situation is more dangerous than many of the world leaders believe.

The Security Council also reported that there is a major famine going on in South Sudan which they stated could be the worst starvation Africa has experienced since the famine of Ethiopia in the 1980s. There are peace talks going on in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, but the talks have dragged on since January. It will be interesting to see if peace can be agreed upon and the UN can take action against these ruthless leaders.

For more info, here is the full article:

-Mike Prosia

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

US senator to block sending foreign aid to Egyptian military over 'sham trial'

Vermont State Senator, Patrick Leahy, claimed on Tuesday that he would not "approve sending funds to the Egyptian military" due to a "sham trial". Leahy was referencing an Egyptian court's decision to sentence the Muslim Brotherhood's outlawed leader and 682 supporters to death.

The United State's and Egypt's relationship has been strained the past year due to the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi by Egyptian military. Each year Washington sends 1.5 billion dollars in military aid to Egypt, except if the government was brought to power via military coup--a law written by Leahy. After events in Cairo last year, the Obama administration finally cut off aid after months of deliberation. Leahy believes that the recent decision by the Egyptian court has shown that the country is not a democracy, but a dictatorship "run amok". He believes they should not receive the 650 million dollars in additional aid because of this reason.

There has been no response to Leahy's comments by the State Department, White House, or the Pentagon. However, John Kerry has stated he will be discussing the judicial decision with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.

Tess Godhardt

UN Lifts Ban On Diamond Imports From Ivory Coast

     A unanimous decision made by the U.N. Security Council lifts the ban on importing rough diamonds from the Ivory Coast. They explained that the Kimberly Process recognized that Ivory Coast has fulfilled its diamond certification's minimum requirements. Ivory Coast has been smuggling and illegally dealing diamonds as well as gold and oil which has caused millions of dollars to be lost. The lift of the ban is to hopefully dismantle the illegal taxation efforts and make trade safer.
Serene Branch

Read the article here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ancient Vatican ceremony makes saints of John Paul II and John XXIII

    This past Sunday, Pope Francis canonized John Paul II and John XXIII, honoring sainthood on to them for changing the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century. The event brought together two men that were viewed as different. By declaring both saints on the same day, the first Latin American pope had supposedly set out to please both reformers and traditionalists. John Paul II has been noted as the "first truly global pope, a charismatic conservative known for stirring oration and staring down communism".
    I remember hearing about the miracles he performed as a child and he truly was an inspirational religious figure that everyone knows about, Catholic or not. Some of the occurrences that stood out was how he survived the assassination attempt where he was shot in the abdomen and intestines.. to me, that sounds almost impossible for a man his age to survive. That alone is a miracle to me and a sort of sign that proposed that he still has more to offer as a pope to the world and perform the many more miracles he brought upon us all throughout the rest of his life time.
    It can take centuries to declare someone a saint, however, John Paul II’s took only nine years. The thought of  his sainthood began at his funeral, where shouts rang out from mourners of “Santo subito!”, meaning “Sainthood now!”
    Overall, I feel that making John Paul II a saint was a a great decision and very bold of Pope Francis to do, especially for stirring up some controversy for some by breaking tradition in honoring the saints in such a short time.

 -Monica Gryszowka

South Korean prime minister resigns over ferry disaster response

The Prime Minister of South Korea, Chung Hong-Won has made the decision to resign after the governments slow initial reaction on the fairy sinking a couple weeks ago. He apologized on behalf of the government for their subsequent rescue operation. He admits that the government took inadequate measures and disappointed the public. He says "this is not the time for blaming each other but for finishing the rescue operation and dealing with the accident." He also states "in order to get over these difficult times, I ask the citizens for help." I don't understand why he said that because he wasn't there when the citizens needed help. I think it sounds like he is trying to do a quick fix before he abandons the people. Also, I think resigning is a bit much just for screwing up once. Yes, this is a big issue and a huge deal but he shouldn't turn his back now. Someone says in the article that he wasn't a beloved person but not unpopular. I believe that him resigning is taking away from the horrible situation at hand. It just seems odd and unprofessional. Rachel Rodewald
John Kissel- 4/27/14 -Week 4

Russia is upset that Ukraine has mobilized a large number of troops. They took stance all around the city and it is causing problems between them and pro-Russian militants.  Each country have been performing drills and tactics due to Ukraine killing five Russian militants.  The Ukraine prime minister has recently gained support from the Vatican after a meeting with the pope.  Ukraine urges Russia to leave stay away and let them be.  Ukraine is making plans to make it safer for Russian leaders and speakers.  They are trying to make peace in the east.

14 Human Traffickers Captured and 104 Victims Released

Two houses on the Mexican border in the state of Chiapas were raided and as a result, Mexico and Guatemala were able to release 104 human trafficking victims. They were also able to capture 14 Guatemalan human traffickers that also happen to be wanted men in the US. At the houses, they actually found about 60 immigrants and 6 human traffickers. The human traffickers kept the victims in captivity and held them hostage for money until found by Mexican authorities.

To read the full article, click here.

Ana Mayo

Prime Minister of South Korea Offers to Resign After Ferry Disaster

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has offered to resign after the ferry disaster on April 16th that resulted in 302 mostly high school students either dead or missing. The country has remained angry and saddened about the loopholes in safety measures and lax regulatory enforcement that appeared during investigations of the ferry disaster, putting the South Korean government under fire. The government has also received criticism because of it's inability to respond quickly and efficiently during the early stages of the disaster. President Park Geun-hye quickly accepted Prime Minister Chung's resignation but has asked him to stay on until the government has completed its rescue operations. The president has been the subject of public anger as well, being criticized for not showing enough strong leadership in the handling of the ferry disaster. After giving an apology to the people, Mr. Chung stepped down from his post as prime minister, making him the highest-ranking public official to lose his job since 1995. The prime minister is a largely ceremonial in South Korea, and is sometimes fired  after a major scandal or policy favor when the government needs to soothe public anger. This disaster has followed many scandals that have place the government under even more criticism, and the resignation of the prime minister has been viewed as cowardly by many. As of Sunday morning, 115 ferry passengers still remain missing as investigations continues.

-Ambrielle Barker
Chandler Olah
Yememi Commandos Raid al Qaeda

Following up on my last blog about US-Yemeni commandos conducting raids on al Qaeda, Yemeni forces and US drones are continuing attacks on hideouts and cells on the outskirts of the capital, Sanaa, a Yemeni government official told CNN. The raids are part of recent operations to crack down on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered the most dangerous wing of the global terror group, and represents the most intense campaign against it since 2012. One of the sites targeted is in the same area where scores of al Qaeda followers had gathered recently to hear from Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the terrorist network's Yemeni branch and the global organization's "crown prince." DNA tests are being held to determine if the well-known bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri, is among the dead.

Sanctions Revive Search for Secret Putin Fortune

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a very mysterious person. While being the President of a so-called world power, not much is known about his personal life. It is estimated that Putin is the richest head of state in the world, while taking home only $102,000 in salary a year. It is assumed that Putin has his hands in many of the countries biggest industries. Recently sanctions have been imposed on many people believed to be in Putin's financial circle. This circle includes Yuri V. Kovalchuk, Vladimir I. Yakunin and Arkady and Boris Rotenberg. It is also believed that Igor Sechin and Aleksei Miller. Sechin is the president of Rosneft, the governments oil company. Miller, is the head of Gazpom, the worlds largest natural gas company in the world. By sanctioning these individuals close to Putin, they are putting on pressure on Putin to admit he is personally benefitting from his government position.

Jordan Messick


Obama due to begin state visit to Philippines

As discussed this past week, President Obama is finishing up his tour of South East Asia with a stop in the Philippines. President Obama will be meeting with President Benigno Aquino and attend a state dinner.

There are plans for a new defense agreement to be signed into effect called the Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement. This agreement will give US forces temporary access to some military camps and allow them to station jets and ships. The agreement will last for ten years and it allos a larger US military presence in the Philippines. The agreement is in direct response to the rising tension of the territorial disputes with China.

With the visit by the US, there are protests expected by anti-US activists. There are reports that these activists will march near the presidential palace during the meeting and will be arguing that the agreement will not benefit the Philippines.

For more information, read the full article here:

Mike Prosia

Syria still holds chemical weapons

Syria, once again, missed a deadline to remove all of it chemical weapon stockpile. The complete destruction deadline set by the UN is on June 30th. However, Damascus had vowed to complete the stockpile removal by April 27th. It is said that Damascus is still holding about 7.5% of its 1,300-tonne stockpile at one site.

Zahabu Lenning 

Three Years After the Tsunami in Miyakoji, Many Don't Want to Return

It has been three years since the tsunami hit the shores of Japan and struck Nuclear energy sites. Residents in the town of Miyakoji do not want to return because they believe that the 250 million dollar radiation clean up was not enough. Not only that, but many of the residents have not been fully compensated for the disaster leaving them with nothing. For most of them, their homes are their biggest investments. Many of them do not want to return, but they have no more money to stay away from their homes.

Many of the residents are suing the company in charge of the nuclear power plant, Tepco, demanding that more compensation is put forth from the company.

I think people are extremely afraid to go back because this isn't the first nuclear disaster that Japan has faced. Obviously, the government is doing what it can to help as much, but Tepco should give the people more support in their financial and emotional struggles. In the face of so much conflict between the Eastern Pacific countries, that company should do a lot more than just give families $3,000.

For more on this story:

-Elizabeth Brennan

"How Did Canada's Middle Class Get So Rich?"

This article from The Atlantic details how Canada surpassed the United States to become home to the richest middle class. For decades, America had the richest middle class, and this article offers three reasons as to why we lost the lead. These include "Canada's education attainment" which is becoming more than the U.S., American middle-class wages aren't keeping up with overall economic growth, and other governments redistributing income to poorer families. However, the article mentions that these three reasons do not mention anything about the housing market. The U.S is still recovering and emerging from a devastating crash of the housing market which greatly reduced or eliminated middle-class household wealth. On the other hand, Canada is experiencing a housing boom. These housing booms and busts have come at just the right time to intersect each other and put Canada in the lead.

Ann Nenoff

The Philippines-US stories are mine, lol

At approximately 3 AM central time on April 27, 2014, a breaking news alert spread across the world.  The United States and the Philippines reached a deal on allowing a 10-year US military presence in Southeast Asia.  In an article by Jim Gomez, titled "APNewsBreak: US, Philippines reach deal on troops," the author describes the details of the latest treaty between the Philippines and the United States.

Although the United States has had a very strong and symbiotic relationship with Manila for many decades, the US has not "officially" been allowed a significant military presence in the Philippines since 1991.  The treaty between the two nations is extremely significant in the realm of International Relations because an increased (and more permanent - not to mention substantial) military presence will deter an antagonistic Chinese military in the disputed Spratly Island chain.  

If US troops are stationed in the Philippines, it's doubtful that China will attempt any more of its bullish tactics against a smaller and weaker Philippine army and navy. This move by the US will also cause China to step up its military strength and could lead to an arms race.  This may take some time for China to accomplish, however, since their economy, army, technology, airforce and navy are all far inferior to that of the United States.

By Christopher M. Vacek

Tensions Rising on the Korean Peninsula

When Kim Jong-un came to power in North Korea a few years ago it is safe to say the United States didn't know what to expect. I remember a time when people were starting to think that maybe this was a time we could improve relations with North Korea and finally start moving on from the 1950's. Since then, the leader has proven U.S. intelligence wrong many times, and once again we have know idea what North Korean officials are thinking. Since North Korea's newest leader is more unpredictable than ever, it looks like the U.S. is going to have to change up their strategy when dealing with the nation. They seem to be reviving their nuclear program and getting dangerously close to actually creating a nuclear weapon, something western nations historically don't want. They also seem to be stepping up their game in other areas of warfare, like cyber weapons and mobile launchers. If this conflict escalates, the implications could be far reaching and severe. As relations between China and many other counties in the area are already shaky and China being the chief financial backer of North Korea, this could get real messy real fast. I started this earlier in the week and when the class discussion turned to North Korea, it seemed like the issue had escalated even within that 24 hour time period. Since there have been more things added to the equation, and its been less than a week. It will be interesting to see if something significant comes out of this and what the Obama administration has to say in light of the president's recent trip to the area.

Katie Krupica

The link is here.

National Pride Swells the Crowds for a Polish Saint

Thousands of Polish pilgrims were in Rome on Sunday in honor of the historic figure John Paul II. John Paul II, the first Polish Pope died in 2005 but on Sunday there was a canonization ceremony, which elevated him to sainthood. He became a saint along with John XXIII. The ceremony was attended by 800,000 people, including those who were all over Rome at various squares watching on large screens and those at the Vatican. This elevation to sainthood was a huge deal, as many people were camped out in the streets in order to have a good spot for the ceremony. The ceremony was not the only event as there were series of events to honor John Paul II in the days leading up to the main event. As John Paul II brought out lots of national pride in the Polish people, he also had a universal appeal. His published poems were read at one of the events leading up to the canonization. This is a great example to be of individuals being from different areas, but being connected by a common belief. Catholicism is what is uniting these different nations, and even though one country can take pride in one of their own becoming a saint, everyone who follows the catholic religion is able to take pride in a great pope being elevated to sainthood.

Monique Martinez

North Korea says U.S. Tourist Detained, While Obama in South Korea

In a recent post by the New York Times, North Korea has stated that they are detaining a U.S. citizen, due to the rash behavior he showed as he went through customs. North Korea claims that the man, Matthew Miller, tore up his visa, saying that he came to North Korea seeking asylum. North Korea seems to be playing a power move, by releasing the report hours after Obama's meeting with "his Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye", even though North Korea is known for not releasing reports until much later.

It is difficult to know so early what N. Korea's intentions are in releasing this formation or if the reasons for detaining Miller are accurate. It does feel like N. Korea is beginning a strategic move to get attention on an issue, while President Obama is so close in proximity. The claims that Miller chose N. Korea as a country to seek security in seem off, but it could be a ploy by the government to show its citizens and the world that N. Korea is a major contender.

Posted by Evy Lopez

Military officers captured in Ukraine

Today pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine marched captured Nato military officers before the media. The Nato forces were in Ukraine as a military observance mission and were captured by pro-Russian forces and now labeled as spies. Russia claimed it would do all it could to make sure all the men are released, but leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in the city of Slovyansk remained adamant that they had no intention of freeing the men. This is causing even more tension and more Nato forces are going to be brought to the western part of Ukraine.

-Antonio Sobevski

"The Coming Clinton Economic Boom"

by Sean Braswell

While this article is based on American politics, it makes claims that could have international affects. This journalist makes five claims on economic and political trends that will lead Clinton into office in the light of a new economy. An U.S. energy explosion led by fracking and other new drilling strategies will help the United States become independent in energy. Major industries in America are dependent on energy. The boom in energy creation will turn into an American manufacturing renaissance. China's costs are apparently rising which, Baswell theorizes, will lead to more internal growth. Unemployment will shrink and exports will rise. With all of this growth, Millennials will step up and feel safe to start buying, when they have been too scared to in the past. This growth in capital use will only help America.
The rest of Braswells claim are built around Hillary Clinton being the obvious forerunner and the loss of Republican support in the United States. This in turn means the Democrats will remain in presidential power, and that power will be centered on Clinton.

This all could have a huge affect on international relations if the author's theories prove correct.

Article can be found here.

Katie Madel

Yesterday, Pope Francis made history by declaring two of his papal predecessors as saints. Something that has never been done before in a dual setting. We have talked in class about how religion is one of the many sources of conflict that we see throughout the world but with the canonization of the two premiere members of the Catholic church during the twentieth century, religion can also be a unifying factor in the world. No matter what conflicts or travesties happen to us in the world of international affairs and politics, at least for these two men, John XXIII and John Paul II, they over came all of it. As Francis said yesterday during his homily, "“They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful.” Most of us were very young when John Paul II was pope, I personally still remember when he died but he particularly had a strong influence in the world of politics. Being the first Polish pope, he was considered a hero and a leader in the fight against Communism during the twentieth century. While John XXIII was very liberal compared to John Paul II, the canonization was not to focus on their differences but to bridge the differences of the Catholic church, a historic unification seen throughout the world.

-Max Kachinske 

Philippines agrees to the return of U.S. military forces

U.S. and Philippine governments have established a new defense cooperation agreement.  The agreement is a ten year deal that will allow all U.S. military joint use of the Philippine military and training bases.  This agreement is able to take effect without any official approval from the Philippine senate.  This is important because in 1991 their senate rejected an extension of U.S military forces in the Philippines.  This new agreement marks the improvement of relations between the U.S. and the Philippines.  Although this shows the improvement in relations between the two countries it also shows how the improving tensions in the South China Sea are getting a lot of attention.  Perhaps the presence of U.S. warships will persuade China to back off.  The agreement is also considered to be the most visible accomplishment of Obama’s recent visits to Japan, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Alexandra Avery,0,6497128.story#axzz306Rid9zk

Human Rights, Economy Test Iran's Leader

Voters had high hopes for Iran's President Hasan Rouhani, to improve human rights. However, in recent weeks there has been several protestings against his government over neglected domestic issues. People believe that Mr. Rouhani is focusing more on foreign policy issues such as the nuclear issue. Recently, he intended to trim gasoline and energy subsidies, which has lead to prices nearly doubling.

Recently there has also been alleged beatings on dozens of political prisoners, which Mr. Rouhani said is being investigated. The head of the country's prison network first denied this incident but later acknowledged it but said only a few prisoners were mildly beaten due to resisting routine cell check. Prisoner authorities told families that their visitation rights were revoked, which lead to a long protect by Mothers who were threatening to commit suicide. After families were able to see their children, they said a group of men beat the prisoners in the heads and faces with batons and kicking them. They even shaved their heads and beards as a form of humiliation. Many of the prisoners sustained severe injuries such as a broken neck and ribs.

This issue threatens Mr. Rouhani's reputation as his government prepares to meet with world powers on May 5th in New York in hopes to reach an agreement over the country's nuclear program. Overall, Mr, Rouhani is appearing very weak on domestic issues.

-Jackie Bland

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Palestinian Unity Deal Troubles Isreal, U.S.

Ahmed Abuhamda, Nicholas Casey "Palestinian Agreement on Unity Government Troubles Israel, U.S." Leadership from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank tentatively agreed this week to unify, giving them more leverage in the bargaining process which the U.S. is mediating between Israel and Palestine. Alignment of Hamas, an openly, violently anti-Semitic organization makes the outlook for a peace deal with Israel much less likely. In fact, Netanyahu, Israel's PM commented Wednesday to the effect that there were two roads; one in which Palestine looked towards cooperation with Israel and the other looking towards Hamas. This will strain John Kerry's ability to achieve the historic peace deal that he so badly wants in the Obama Foreign Policy legacy. Incredibly odd, at least I thought, was the glossing over of Israeli sponsored terrorism. In a seven hundred-plus word article in the Wall Street Journal, just one sentence is offered to Palestinian defense. "Shortly after the announcement of a reconciliation agreement, Hamas said rockets from Israel hit Northern Gaza, wounding seven people." I understand this to mean that the rockets were a use of hard power to condemn the agreement. Understanding that both sides are actively participating in Religious war should make it absurd for the United States to take such a Zionist (pro-Israel) stance, despite their clearly shared Judeo-Christian Western identification with Israel. How can shared ethnic background make it impossible to condemn blatant violations of Human Rights? Huntington argued that one of the quintessential differences between The West and the Islamic World was the value of our traditional, Western human rights (Freedoms of Speech and Press, Assembly and the like, but also a different value of life). If this is truly the case, it would be understandable to dismiss Hamas terrorism against Jews as a policy of a culture that we, as Westerners, do not understand or relate to. Though it may upend our sensibilities, as educated, compassionate westerners we should be able to rationalize from the perspective of the Arab World. With this in mind, we should condemn and reject any self-identified western institution -- state or organization -- that violates clear-cut, western, human rights. When it comes to American Policy with Israel, we ignore their aggression, usually calling it defensiveness, and routinely point to Gaza and Palestine as the root cause -- not how it should work. Mitch Wood

Friday, April 25, 2014

-Another post from earlier in the term-

The United States is trying to flex their muscles a bit. All because Russia has recently flexed theirs. It's interesting to watch these two world powers counter each other in an effort to show supremacy in the global arena. I for one don't think it will escalate to Cold War-level hostilities but one could make the argument that it is being pushed in that direction. The U.S. and other NATO members have offered to station troops in Poland and Estonia for "routine exercises." It's funny how often that phrase comes up in conflict. All of this, whether it's a company or two brigades, is a direct response to the aggression showed by Putin's Russia after the annexation of Crimea. Intimidation or precautionary measures? Maybe the U.S. is just coming to the aid of Poland but this power struggle could last a long time knowing these two country's histories.

-Max Kachinske 
-Post from earlier in the term-

This article in the Washington Post is a great example of a few things we talked throughout Week One. We had talked about realism and how the strong must take what they want while the weak must accept it. That's not saying that Japan is "weak" so the speak but in their land disputes with the much more powerful China, they are when looking at the two states comparatively. The United States, and specifically Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, are rejecting realism and saying that even though China is a "great power", the lack of disrespect they are showing to ally Japan is unacceptable for any nation in today's world. This disrespect that be linked to how other nations feel about Russia's takeover of the Ukraine and it is wrong for nations to start re-defining boundaries at will. While China needs to respect Japan, North Korea is still flirting with the idea of nuclear tests so the U.S. have sent in two additional warships to help counter the threat as well as come to the aid of one of their strongest allies. Under the two nations' mutual defense treaty, the US has sworn to protect Japan's interests even though they are not taking sides in the island disputes between Japan and China. America is looking to beef up security in Japan "just in case" by deploying surveillance drones later this month.

-Max Kachinske

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mobsters, Gelato, and Southern Italy

Italian mobs are hardly news. Southern clans have been a cultural and economic strong house in Italy since the mid-1800's, but have maintained a "safe" distance from political epicenters, such as Rome. However, in recent  months a strong crack down has occurred on local, unassuming businesses (Gelato shops, cafes etc) under suspicion of laundering large amounts of money right under the nose of large government houses. According to the New York Times and confirmed reports from Europol, a surge of organized crime has been sweeping Europe, with strong ties to the Italian Mafia, with  annual estimated earnings of 180 billion Euro. 

With a history of mob ties to the political community, primarily through construction, mining or waste disposal where their political influence can be better controlled through government contracts, concerns from European nations, specifically France, Germany and Switzerland, is rising in regards to the swift spread of the mafia and its affects on National economics. I look forward to see how the EU addresses this increase of economic corruption and its influences or future influence on policy and national spending.

-Alexandra Dominguez 

Voting Fraud in Afghanistan Election

   On april 5th in Afghanistan were the elections for president. Unfortunately Afghanistan has established a very low bar with electoral fraud. Election officials refuse to say how many votes are really at risk; however, 80,000 votes have been taken to review for fraud, just for one candidate. They commissions only have until May 14 to release official results, even though the voters and candidates are both complaining stating that there is no way to know that any of the votes are clean. The success in this Western-funded election is very important to countries supporting to continue to donate and support the Afghan government.
Serene Branch
Read the article here.

What the Boston Marathon winner and bombers have in common

This article from CNN was especially interesting to me after our class discussion on the Clash of Civilizations. The article questions what the real differences in the Boston Marathon’s winner and bombers are. This year’s U.S.A. win was full of nationalist pride. According to the article, Keflezighi was the first American to win since 1983. What some people may not know is that this year’s winner was born in Eritrea. And this is important because Keflezighi is a naturalized citizen of the United States which immigration wise is the same status that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (one of the brother’s from the bombing attack) held. The question then is what makes someone an American?  


Mariana Cury

PSC 102  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chlorine Bombs in Syria?

Almost all of Syria's chemical weapons have been removed, as per an agreement negotiated between Russia, Syria, and the US signed in August of last year. However, there have recently been reports of 9 incidents where it is suspected that chemical weapons made with chlorine were used to attack. The perpetrators of the attacks have not yet been identified. Although Syria had agreed to remove its chemical weapons, chlorine was not on the list of mandatory substances to be removed because of its common household uses. It is also not as dangerous as nerve gas, though it can be fatal. Even though chlorine was not mandated to be removed, it would still be a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention agreement it signed last year if Syria had employed the use of chlorine bombs. The reports are currently under investigation.

Alexandria Corriveau


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Families of passengers on Missing Malaysian flight can file suit in U.S.

It's been 45 days since the Malaysian flight MH370 has went missing, so families of passengers on the missing flight can now file suit in the U.S. against Boeing Co. However, the face that there are no bodies and no wreckage yet found makes it difficult to conduct a case. The family members are hoping that pleading their case will help to uncover new information that has not been yet released. Coverage of MH370 has been dominating the airwaves of some news sites like At this point some families that have been asked report that they are not seeking financial compensation at this time, they merely want answers that they believe the Malaysian government has access to. Many of the questions that the families want answered revolve around the flights log book, maintenance records of the jet, and recordings that the MH370 pilot has with air traffic controllers before they lost contact. 

Alec Phillipp

Syria Will Not Hold Elections June 3

Recent news reports U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has requested that Syria not hold elections on their already agreed upon date of June 3rd. His reasoning for doing so lies within the current state of Syria, Stephane Dujarric, one of Ban’s spokesmen said to reporters that such elections "will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for political solution,”. It is Ban’s thoughts that elections will not bring about any change for a country going through a civil war.

            There are mixed feelings about the postponing of the election. Some support the current power (Bashar al-Assad) and others would like him to be replaced as soon as possible. The pro-Assad side believes the government is fighting terrorist groups that are attacking in attempts to destabilize the country. The con-Assad group however, goes to the numbers of causalities for back up.  During Syria’s three year civil war an estimate 100,000 plus, people have been killed. It is said that 107 people (including 20 children) were killed just this past Monday alone.
-Larry Holman 
By Holly Yan and Elise Labott, CNN

MP killed in Somalia

     Somali official, Isak Mohamed Rino, was killed by a car bomb in the capital of Mogadishu yesterday. Al-Shabab, an Islamic militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Considering the amount of coverage that the conflict in Ukraine, the capsized ferry in South Korea, and the missing Malaysian aircraft are getting, it is interesting to see a story related to the conflict in Somalia. Since the Gulf War, fighting still plagues most of the country, yet most American citizens have little to no idea what is going on in that part of the world.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Panel Orders Release of Memos in Targeted Killing of Awlaki

Ben Weiser presents an article that ultimately analyzes the extent of which government is above the law.

The debate involves the classified files regarding a targeting toward Anwar Awalki, a U.S. born, Al Qaeda turned individual in Yemen.  The ruling involves the legality of targeted killing by drone and if the "white papers" detailing if this targeted killing was legal.

Near the end of the article, Weiser mentions that another man from the South Carolina was killed in the drone targeting in Yemen as well.

This raises a frightening scenario in which the government, with suspicion of terrorist activity or believed ability to target and kill an individual after processing approximately a 16 page "white paper" of why, can occur to anyone.  If the government does not offer these details as to their motives or the legality of these motives to those who request, the extent of which government operates above the law can be dreadful for future scenarios.

Scott Bishop

On the east side of Ukraine in the town of Slavainsk , there is an investigation going on as to whom massacred a Pro-Russian roadblock (well.. it’s not really a mystery) early Sunday morning. A Pro-Russian leader said that three or four cars approached the roadblock, and a shooting happened. It is said that six people died in the shooting, although it wasn’t confirmed to CNN that, that was the final body count. After the shooting, two cars took off to the Kharkiv region, while the other two were set on fire. Pro-Russian leaders did, however, obtain a body of one of the alleged assailants and displayed it outside of state Security. Ukrainian Nationalists, called the ‘Right Sector’, denied that any of its supporters were in the area at the time of the shooting. Although violence was set aside in the midst of Easter Sunday, it is still a mystery as to whom acted against the non-violent pact.
With this whole situation, Vice President Joe Biden is supposed to visit Kiev this week and meet up with different leaders in the Ukraine, hoping to discuss a peaceful compromise.

For more on this story:

-Elizabeth Brennan

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fractured State of Pakistani Taliban Calls Peace Deal Into Question

The Pakistani Taliban had a dream to make Pakistan into an Islamic caliphate. In recent times, they have recently set out to make peace with the government and abandon this idea. Last month there had been ongoing talks between negotiators to bring peace between the two sides. With a recent US drone strike, it has lead to questions if the Taliban is going to go through with this idea. The drone strike killed the commander of the Taliban, which has lead to internal conflicts. This has led to a divide within the leadership of the organization, which has recently boiled over into a battle between leaders. This lead to the death of 40 members of the Taliban. This conflict shows that the organization isn't completely content with the peace deal.

Jordan Messick
PSC 102

South Korean President: Actions of sunken ferry crew 'akin to murder'

In Jindo, South Korea, a ship called "Sewol" sank Wednesday morning. The captain failed to slow down after sailing a narrow route and turning excessively. They have found at least 64 bodies while 238 remain missing and 174 have been rescued. A lot of questions have been raised as to why people weren't saved by lifeboats to which the president said "the ship tilted so quickly that it left many of them unable to move." The coast guard was notified and was told the ship was in danger and to come quickly. After talking to a traffic center in Jeju, they were advised to get people into life vests, to which a crew member on the ferry said it was hard for people to move which leads us to believe that no one had a life vest on at the time of the accident. The captain was advised to make passengers escape but defended his order to delay the evacuation by stating "it is a fairly fast current area and the water temperature was cold." Captain Lee Joon Seok has been charged with abandoning his boat, negligence, causing bodily injury, not seeking rescue from other ships and violating "seamen's law" the state media reported. He was not in the steering room when the accident happened. He was "tending to something" in his cabin. He was also rescued soon after the ferry began to sink violating an "internationally recognized rule that a captain must stay on the vessel," maritime law attorney Jack Hickey said. If convicted, the captain is looking at 5 years to life in prison. Rachel Rodewald

Massive Attack Targets al Qaeda in Yemen

Chandler Olah

A high-level Yemeni government official who is being briefed on the strikes told CNN on Monday that an operation targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is under way in Abyan and Shabwa, Yemen. "Massive and unprecedented" were the words used to describe the attacks on al Qaeda in the area with at least 30 militants being killed already. A day earlier, suspected drone strikes targeted al Qaeda fighters in Yemen for the second time in two days, killing "at least a dozen," the government official said. Further attacks are to be planned while US and Yemeni nationals join forces to further slow the al Qaeda organization.

Fatal Clash at Ukrainian Checkpoint Shreds Cease-fire on Easter Sunday

   Today, on Easter Sunday,  the Ukrainian government established an Easter truce. However, only a couple hours after, three people had died from a gunfight caused by the pro-Russia militia right outside the city of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine. Not only was this a tragic event for many to go through and witness but has now proven a sign to the Russian Foreign Ministry that the new Ukrainian government cannot maintain order. What makes matters worse is that Ukraine and Russia had just signed a recent agreement in Geneva that would ensure lower tension between the two countries. The new mayor of Slovyansk has asked Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, to send "peacekeepers" to protect the people. The leaders of Ukraine are worried that Putin is attempting to take more direct action in Ukraine. "The Security Service of Ukraine called Sunday’s attack a “cynical provocation” staged by pro-Russia elements." Today's events have caused much more tension between the two countries which may turn into new and more serious problems in the near future. 

-Monica Gryszowka

Saudi Arabia Announces Jump In New Cases Of Deadly MERS Virus

"Saudi Arabia confirmed 20 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)on Saturday and Sunday, adding up to 49 infections in six days, a sudden increase of a disease that kills about a third of the people infected and has no cure."

According to the Health Ministry this SARS-like disease had emerged about two years ago infecting 244 people, killing 76 people. Authorities say this disease originated from camels and is not easily transmitted. They think the disease may die out, but that does not mean one should not take precaution. People in he United Arab Emirates and a Malaysian who was recently in the Gulf confirmed to being infected.

The number of cases had suddenly rose in the past two weeks and officials are worried the disease may have a possibility of mutation.

For precaution Saudi Arabia has invited European and North American companies to work together to find a vaccine for MERS.

--Crystal Madrigal
PSC 102

French Journalists Found in Syria

On Friday, four French journalists were found chained in a basement in Syria by Turkish soldiers. The men had been deprived of natural light and were found unkempt but still in good health. They were found in a no-man's land called Sanliurfa where they had been since June. Although negotiations had been ongoing, the French government denied having paid any ransom or contact with Syrian government. Syria had been and continues to be a very dangerous place for jounalists.

To read the full article, click here.

Ana Mayo

Broken Easter Truce

While violence was meant to have ceased based on the agreement of the "Easter Truce", a shootout Sunday morning seems to have dashed the intentions of peace talks. The violence is reported to have erupted between pro-Russian separatist and ultra Ukrainian-Nationlaist. The predominate concerns circling the international community following the attack is the giving pretext for Russia to seize and tighten grip on Ukrainian territory.   

With this "isolated" outburst of violence the hopes of demilitarization has been dramatically set back, according to Foreign and Interior ministries.  Russian media is painting a grave picture of the Ukraine claiming it has a high propensity to violent, irrational outburst. Tension is high, but we shall see how relations play out in the coming week. 

-Alexandra Dominguez 

South Sudan conflict: UN outrage at deadly Bor attack

A deadly attack on April 18th at Bor, South Sudan caused UN uproar. The attack occurred on one of the UN bases by armed youths. South Sudan, who gained independence from Sudan in 2011, was born with hope from severe conflicts. However, things have not been so bright for this new country. Originally, the war in South Sudan was sparked by political battle between its leaders but now it has turned into ethnic killings. South Sudan has continuously been undergoing deadly ethnic hostilities. These conflicts have caused thousands of deaths and have led people to flee to neighboring countries. 

The attack at Bor has caused the UN to call on the government of South Sudan to take immediate action to protect its citizens and UN sites. Currently, about 5,000 are taking shelter at the base in Bor and peacemakers believe that the attacks may constitute a war crime.  I hate to say it but I feel like this conflict is looking more and more like Rwanda. 

Zahabu Lenning

Russian Nationalism Vs. Globalization

David Herszenhorn, in his April 12th article from Moscow titled "a Xenophobic Chill Descends on Moscow", beautifully contrasts the Russian isolationist vibe that has come with Vladimir Putin's divisive rhetoric with the modern nature of major Russian cities. "Moscow today is a proudly international city, where skateboarders in Gorky Park wear New York Yankees hats they bought on vacation in America, and where the designer French or Italian handbags might just as well have been picked out in Paris or Milan as in one of the boutiques in Red Square. Apple iPhones and IPads are nearly as common on the subway here as they are in Washington." Moscow is as culturally "West" as any other major city in the former Eastern Bloc. The technology has become involved in their lifestyle just as it has in America, so much so that the isolationist, "us against the world" rhetoric that has come from the Kremlin seems incredibly odd and even a bit hypocritical. Herszenhorn refers in the article to the level of rhetoric as even more potent than anything that came in the era of Brinksmanship. "One of the country’s most prominent television hosts, Dmitry K. Kiselyov, declared during an evening newscast last month that Russia remains 'the only country in the world capable of turning the U.S.A. into radioactive ash.'" Also incredibly odd is the plan of action from the West. Being that the state of the world economy makes us all interdependent, the idea of using economic sanctions that would damage Russia not only harm overall global growth (Russia is a top 10 economy that provides much of the worlds natural resources), but they also contribute to Russia's isolation in that it gives leaders like Putin a platform to look abroad for the source of their problems rather than looking at their own policy. The idea of pushing an integral country (with veto power on the U.N. Security Council) to isolation would seem to undermine the amount of progress that we see in Herszenhorn's brief picture of modern Moscow. Its hard to distinguish what the ultimate cause is, and though The West often immediately look to The Russian Federation as the aggressor and the cause of their own problems, they need to realize their role and become aware that they may be contributing to a cyclical problem of angry nationalism. Mitch Wood

Ukraine PM asks US for 'real support' to prevent further Russian hostility

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, called for the United States to increase financial and economic support. He requested the U.S provide 'real support' or the need to , "overhaul the Ukrainian military. We need to modernize our security and military forces." However, the U.S ambassador to Kiev released comments early Sunday morning stating that there was no military solution to the crisis, that Ukraine was "outgunned." 

Republican congressmen in the U.S. have been calling for increasing pressure on Russia and the Crimea situation. Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker stated, "We are going to lose eastern Ukraine if we continue as we are going. Our foreign policy is always a day late and a dollar short."

Nato is expected to increase training exercises in Poland and Estonia over the next two weeks, with the deployment of 150 US soldiers.

Tess Godhardt

Haiti's Cholera Epidemic

It seems like Haiti just can't catch a break. The article starts out mentioning how it is very possible that the deadly outbreak is a direct result of U.N. intervention three years ago. Now the U.N.'s focus is on battling the disease. The only problem is there is a serious lack of funds for this project. The goal for the project was 38 Million dollars and they were able to raise about 9.5 million. Without those funds the problem will not go away and the people of Haiti will continue to die. This is the second natural disaster to hit in three years and I'm sure it will have lasing and far reaching effects. The U.N. also is struggling to raise money for vaccines, which will add to the crisis as the rainy seasons approach. Aside from these costs are the costs of updating Haiti's infrastructure and water sanitation systems. The United Nation's secretary general blames what he calls "donor fatigue" in the face of humanitarian disasters. Add all of these factors to the fact that the country is still in shambles from the earthquake and it is not hard to see how all of this happened. This is a prime example of the international community being unable to provide any kind help in the face of crises in countries that could use as much help as they could get, which has come up several times in class. The concept of people only acting out of self interest also comes up in this story. No one will help Haiti because fixing Haiti has no economic incentives. It will be interesting to see what happens next, especially with all of the law suits. Personally, I'm rooting for Haiti, but that means who ever is asleep at the wheel here has to wake up. 

Katie Krupica

And the link to the page is here.

Fatal Conflict in Ukraine

This Easter Sunday was the worst violence seen since the signing in Geneva last week. Hours after the Ukrainian government declared an Easter truce a gunfight broke out leaving three people dead at a pro-Russian checkpoint in eastern Ukraine. This was seen as the new Ukrainian government could not hold a deal and the mayor of Slovyansk begged Vladimir Putin to send in peacekeepers. This looks like one more thing to have Putin send troops into Ukraine.

-Antonio Sobevski

Facts and Analysis about the Philippine-China Dispute

In a March 30, 2014 article at titled "Philippines Sues China Over Sea Claims," author Ted Regencia reports that the Philippines has filed suit against the Chinese government regarding the Scarborough Shoal.  In 2012, both nations sent forces to the Scarborough Shoal and were engaged in a standoff for an extended period of time before the United States stepped in and diffused the hostility. The Philippines left the area, as was agreed, but China ignored the orders and has stayed to occupy the area.  

Just last month, the Philippines filed a lawsuit at The Hague against China over the Spratly Island chain as well as the Scarborough Shoal.  The Philippine government promulgate an uncooperative Chinese government, as is evidenced by China's refusal to entertain arbitration and mediation on any level below showcasing its naval capacities to the world. In other words, China wants to deal the with problem without the world looking over its shoulders. 

Although the Philippines proclaims its sovereignty over certain Spratly area territories, China insists that it has proof of its land claims. The majority of Chinese evidence is historical in nature, with stories told of fisherman using some territories for fishing as far back as 2000 years ago. Although it can be said that China has a legitimate argument, the Philippines and China signed an agreement regarding Exclusive Economic Zones (EECs). The agreement dictates an EEC of 322 Kilometers (roughly 140 miles) of space surrounding a territory. 

The Filipino government holds that according to international law, the Scarborough Shoal, as well as a good portion of Spratly, are territories belonging to the Philippines - as they fall within the 322 Km range.  A simple google map search shows the Scarborough Shoal well within the 322 Km mark.

I believe this conflict to be the beginning of a serious future conflict. The tension between the two nations has consistently escalated over recent years and continues to hinge on the breadth of war.  The United States has proclaimed support to countries in the region, and have shown more recently as honoring a military response if aggression exceeds past words. 

Christopher M. Vacek

Japan Revises Whaling Program to Continue Research Despite ICJ

Following a ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Japan has decided to cut back on a whaling research program in the northern Pacific Ocean. Though, Japan has said Friday that it would resume research whaling in the Southern Ocean, even after the Court found that “the hunts were in violation of Japan’s legal obligations under an international treaty banning commercial whaling”. Critics believe these research projects to monitor the activities and populations of whales are a cover up to hunt whales for their meat. Japan’s consumption of whale is going down, but it seems that commercial whaling is still evident.
It’s easy to see that the ICJ is limited in what it can accomplish in this issue. Japan can revise their program and resume whaling, regardless of the ICJ’s verdict. When it comes to international policing, there is little an international court can do to prevent whaling. The ruling states that whaling is legal for research purposes and Japan is revising plans to make sure it says within legal boundaries.

Though activists may be the best defense against whaling practices, it would be difficult for other nations to get involved, unless they are united. Without much state interest in whaling, other states might be hesitant to get involved, unless they plan on flexing their environmentalist muscles.

Posted by Evy Lopez

"Japan Plans to Resume Whaling Program, With Changes to Address Court Concerns" By Martin Fackler

Renzi cuts Italy growth forecast to 0.8% but repeats tax cut pledge

by Guy Dinmore

Italy's new prime minister, Matteo Renzi, has renewed his pledge to cut taxes for low-income workers. As Italy has been in it's deepest recession since World War II, Renzi has been attempting to fuel the economy, lower the debt, and help low-income workers all at the same time. He plans to cut taxes for those income-workers by lowering public spending, as well as raising taxes on banks and through other revenues. Renzi has, pridefully, pointed out that Italy did not hit it's debt ceiling this last year. Furthermore, the coming year, Renzi plans to give tax cuts which will effectively give low-income workers an extra 80 euros to spend. He optimistically believes that Italy will rise from the recession as a greater nation.

Katie Madel

Article can be found here,

China Details Vast Extent of Soil Pollution

A recent report indicates that about 1/5 of China's arable land is polluted. Some areas are relatively more severe than others. The polluted land is due to pollution from industries and mining.The most common pollutant found in the soil were heavy metals. Although air pollution is more visible and present in China than land pollution, it is affecting everyone. One person noted that "heavy metal particles in the air and water seep into the land, then get into the food and affect everybody".

A survey conducted found that 16% of the countries soil and 19% of arable land is polluted. This means that about 8.24 million acres of arable land has become unfit for farming. A 2013 study showed that rice from the country's top rice producing region showed high levels of Cadmium in the rice.

China's problem of land pollution will likely lead them to begin importing more food. China has also recently committed to spending $4.8 billion to clean up and prevent soil pollution in a five year plan. However, critics argue that it is going to cost a lot more that to clean up and prevent future pollution.

-Jackie Bland
I thought this article was interesting because just yesterday at work, a member told me about an article she read about how China's pollution is affecting our weather. I couldn't find the article but apparently one theory to our crazy winter weather across the country is that China's air pollution is moving over the pacific and some how causing weather patterns to change.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Obama signs into law 'terrorist' UN envoy visa ban

On Friday, President Obama signed a law that would bar entry to any UN ambassador whom the US says has engaged in terrorist activity. This law came into response  due to Iran's pick of a UN envoy linked to militants who overran the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The US denied Hamid Aboutalebi a visa because of his involvement in 1979. While Iran has filed a complaint with the UN, Aboutalebi has said that he was a translator a few times for hostage-takers. Since then Aboutalebi has served as a senior political adviser to President Rouhani and previously served as the Iranian ambassador to Italy, Belgium, and Australia. Because of his track record, the US will not budge, with the law passing both chambers of Congress with ease.

The problem becomes that the UN Headquarters are in New York City and the 1947 Headquarters Agreement says the US is required to grant visas to person invited to NYC. Iran will be discussing the new law with the UN Committee of Relations with the Host Country saying that it violates its legal obligations under the international law.

For more information, visit the link below.

-Mike Prosia

Friday, April 18, 2014

Berlin group advocates removal of Russian tanks from a memorial

I was surprised to read this story, considering I lived in Berlin in fall 2012. The memorial in question is the Soviet war memorial in the Tiergarten (think central park). It is shocking to see how far nations are willing to go in protest of the Russian invasion of the Crimea!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Korean Ferry Sinks, Leaving Country in Distress

On Wednesday, a South Korean ferry boat carrying about 400 passengers, many of whom were high school students, sank. Many passengers have been rescued, however, 9 have been confirmed dead and there are still many who remain missing. The students on the ferry were taking a four-day field trip to a popular island resort, as a break before they have to take their difficult college entrance exams. As of now, no foul play can be seen, but some speculate that the sinking was caused by an act by North Korea.

Alexandria Corriveau

Ukraine crisis talks

Diplomats issued a statement on Thursday to reduce the tensions in the Ukrainian crisis. The statement called for illegal activities such as armed groups and seized buildings to be disarmed and returned to their rightful owners. The statement also urges for the violence in Ukraine to stop. The statement was issued in hopes that the violence will stop and that all Russian troops on the border of Ukraine will be removed. President Obama has also issued many statements indicating that he has told Putin to back down. The president has also signed off on allowing nonlethal aid to be delivered to the Ukraine military. The U.S. has not agreed to sending lethal aid to Ukraine because it could only worsen the crisis. The statement developed from the crisis talk will hopefully diffuse the escalating situation between Ukraine and Russia.    

 Alexandra Avery

Nigeria: Fate of 115 Abducted Girls Unknown

In Maiduguri, Nigeria 115 female students were abducted from school by Islamic extremists. The Nigerian military reported that almost all of the school girls were returned but the principal of the school said that only 14 of the 115 were returned. The girls that returned all had escaped from the abductors. A reward of $300,000 was offered for information that would lead to the release of the girls. Schools had been cancelled in the area due to the attacks three weeks ago but the girls were called back to take their final exams. This abduction is one of many involving students. Extremists sometimes kill them, like in February when 59 students were burned to death in their dorms for going to school that is un-Islamic. Kidnapping the girls is a scary fate for them because they could be used as cooks, sex slaves, or porters. Considering that only 5 percent of children in Nigeria are able to go to school it is heartbreaking to see that they are under attack for it.

Monique Martinez