Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

This probably doesn't count anymore

June 3rd, 2014, WSJ, Brian Spegele, Josh Chin, “China Quiets Dissent on Anniversary” The 4th is the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown that left hundreds if not thousands dead. This year is the 25th. Student protesters in 1989 were assaulted by the full force of Chinese military. China has swept the protests under the rug, but globalization, Chinese students studying in the U.S., and increased access to the internet, the Communist party worried that this year would be the year for revival – so they jailed anyone and everyone in the Chinese activist world and essentially shut down the internet. Historically, the man with the groceries standing down the tank has meant many things to many people. The captioned picture shows protesters in Hong Kong, who have more Civil and Political Liberties than those in Mainland China, acting out the scene with the unidentified man with groceries standing down a Party Tank in Tiananmen Square – a visual that has truly inspired me as a student and will continue to do so for many young Chinese citizens. It seems unthinkable, even in Hong Kong, that anyone would be doing this. It just really struck me. Mitch Wood

Sunday, June 8, 2014

South Korea Gives PH a Warship To Keep Eye on China

In a June 7, 2014 International Business Times online article titled, "South Korea Gives Philippines Warship to Monitor China," author Mark Piggot describes the ongoing debacle in the Pacific between China and countries with territory in and around the South and East China seas. Most importantly over the course of the past week, the Philippines have purchased 12 FA-50 jets from South Korea, the South Koreans also loaned the Philippines a battleship to keep an eye on the Chinese, possibly for deterrence purposes, but definitely not for provocative purposes. Perhaps the real agenda is to show China that these countries, albeit small, are not afraid and will band together to defend themselves, if necessary.

The Chinese are also at odds with Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, as well as the United States. Recently, the United States released statements condemning China for being a bully in the region. It is clear that Chinese interests are economically motivated in their slow, but steady takeover of the $4 trillion trade route. The United States also signed a mutual defense agreement with the Philippines and also have interests to protect Japan. The United States' presence in the region has increased greatly over the past decade, but still are not near the level of involvement pre-1990's.

The possible implications of this disagreement in the Pacific are grave. Hopefully an agreement can be reached, but that would involve Chinese cooperation of which they have refused on multiple occasions.

By Christopher M. Vacek

World Cup Probs

Brazil is preparing for the World Cup that many people around the world will be watching on Thursday, June 12th. However, one of the host cities, Sao Paulo, is looking at having more than just soccer matches to worry about. Metro workers took the streets as part of a union strike this past Thursday leaving the city to deal with severe traffic issues. The workers demand a 12.2% pay raise and will not stop the strike until their demands have been met. The courts have offered them an 8.7% increase in pay but after the workers rejected their proposal, the courts have announced that any person who does not return to work by Monday will be would be dismissed. With the World Cup being less than a week ahead, the city has a lot of pressure to resolve this problem. Who do you think will win this battle?

Ana Mayo

Iranian and US diplomats to meet for nuclear programme negotiations

Iranian, United States and European Union officials will begin talks about Tehran's nuclear program on Monday--thus moving towards ending a decade-old dispute. Bill Burns, who negotiated an interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States, is the head delegate for the United States during these two day talks. Talks in Vienna last month state Iran is looking to maintain an excessive uranium enrichment capability. Officials from Iran argue that they are trying to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers of oil for it's nuclear reactors.

Monday's talks seem to be a step in the right direction for Iranian-U.S. relations. U.S. officials have stated the upcoming meetings with Iran are critical to reaching a diplomatic agreement on Iran's nuclear program. The talks will also concern sanctions on Iran that have damanged the OPEC member's oil-dependent economy.

Tess Godhardt

Boko Haram Kills Hundreds More In Village Raids

Move on over Taliban, the Boko Haram is the newest most violent threat. The Boko Haram is a group of Islamic militants who don't agree with anything Western. This is also the group that abducted nearly 300 girls in Nigeria a little over a month ago. This time they are raiding villages and killing people. They have targeted villages in Nigeria's northeast Borno State. They are said to ride up on motorcycles and in big military trucks, posing like military officials and telling the people of the villages that they are there to protect them from the Boko Haram. They ask them to assemble, separate the boys and men and open fire on them. No one was discriminated in these attacks. Men, women, and children were killed making the death toll rise between 400 and 500 people. Other attacks have been carried out by this group, killing thousands of people in the last five years.

Hearing about this group is really starting to anger me, and I'm positive that it has started to anger many more. Something needs to be done about them because the Nigerian government is sitting on their thumbs. They know where those girls are, but the leader of Nigeria doesn't want to use force in order to get them out. A little conspiracy theory is that he's either just lazy, or he's one of them. Honestly, I get so angry about this. Just send some people in, kill them and don't bother asking any questions because they make home videos as to why they do this. I don't want to hear the news sensationalizing these people because everything is laid out. I am really surprised that the US government hasn't said a peep about any of this. They are just as threatening as the Taliban.

For more on this story:

-Liz Brennan

Three Men Escape Quebec Jail

Just this afternoon, three men escaped a jail in Quebec with the use of a helicopter. The green helicopter was reported landing in the courtyard of the jail and picking up the criminals before fleeing westbound. The three men have been linked to a criminal organization, though not much detail has been released on that organization in particular. Quebec Provincial Police are actively participating in a massive search for these criminals with the help of Canada and the United States, but have had no luck so far. Quebec Provincial Police have advised that if these dangerous men are spotted to not approach them directly, as the three are considered dangerous criminals. The Quebec Provincial Police are also requesting anyone with information that could possibly help the search assist by reporting all known information.
-Larry Holman

Contemporary Artist Guo Jian to be Deported from China

     This story is particularly interesting to me since I am an art major. It's not every day you see an artist making world headlines. Guo Jian is a contemporary artist working in China who recently constructed a large diorama of Tiananmen Square and completely covered the surface of the sculpture with ground pork. It might sound odd to outsiders, especially those who do not understand contemporary art. However, the idea behind the work is powerful when one remembers the violent crackdown on protesters by the military. The ground pork symbolizes the stacked and rotting bodies that the artist witnessed outside the hospitals immediately after the event. The Chinese government said that they were holding Guo Jian on a visa issue, not in relation to his controversial work. The artist's colleagues, however, say otherwise. This news is alarming considering the Chinese government's treatment of another prominent contemporary artist - Ai Weiwei.

Pakistani Taliban Infighting

Since the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group's leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a November U.S. drone strike, the group has been experiencing a fair amount of infighting. This culminated recently in the killing of the so-called explosive mastermind Ashiqullah Mehsud on thursday. Since the leader was killed, the group failed to come to an agreement on who the next leader should be, so the "Mehsud" faction of the group has decided to split. They have alleged that the TTP has engaged in un-Islamic practices such as kidnapping and extortion. It's interesting to see that even a terrorist organization can face such problems given their overall objective. Nonetheless, this raises the question as to how effective this group will continue to be in the future. 

Alec Phillipp

'I'm not going to Brazil' hashtag tackles World Cup

A hashtag trend that started in Colombia is used to protest again the World Cup in Brazil. The World Cup is a couple of days away but people are still using the media to speak on why they are not going to Brazil. These hashtags are main coming from Latin America and Spain and they are a response to poor development, political system, and corruptions of Brazil.

Example of hashtag:  “Brazil needs good education and health, not COPA. And much less of you gringos.#NoVoyABrasilPorque"

Zahabu Lenning 

Why Modi is No Erdogan

India has a new Prime Minister and he was not huge on the international political scene before he gained this title. Because of this everyone was scrambling to figure out what this new guy meant for Indian politics and many people were thrown into the mix. Eventually everyone in the comparison game came to the the general consensus was that Prime Minister Modi was most similar to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. There are some pretty impressive similarities. Upon further reflection though, there are some pretty important differences. Its also important to note the differences between the two governments of India and Turkey. Even if the new Prime Minister was as extreme as Tayyip Erdogan, there are systems in place in India to keep him in check. No to mention, so far Prime Minister Modi seems to have completely different goals for India than Erdogan does for Turkey. Mr. Modi seems to monitor himself much better than Mr. Erdogan. India is on the fast track to fully embracing globalization and all it has to offer. The Prime Minister seems to reflect that. I see the comparisons between the two drying up as quickly as they came out. I am very interested to watch India's progress under the rule of Narendra Modi.

The article can be accessed here.

Katie Krupica

Urged to Multiply, Iranian Couples Are Dubious

Urged to Multiply, Iranian Couples Are Dubious
In Tehran, Iran there is an increasing number of young, middle-class Iranians who want children. Iran’s leaders are worried about the steep decline in fertility rates that they have taken an initiative t persuade Iranian families to have more children. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni announce last month a 14-point program that health officials hope will lead to doubling the population to 150 million by 2050. Hospital delivery stays are now free, and women are allowed longer maternity leave. Past policies to control population growth have been reversed, so the government has canceled subsidies for condoms and birth control pills and vasectomies are no longer free. There are now billboards in the capital showing a father with five children happy and a father with only one child unhappy. As well, parents who have five children are now eligible for $1,500 bonus. However, it does not seem that many of the young middle-class Iranians will be tempted to have children because they not only feel that they can’t afford to, but they also do not want a child born into the situation that Iran is in. Experts believe that if there are more permanent jobs that will allow people to feel more stable and secure that they would then be more willing to have children. Since currently young individuals are having difficulties affording rent, they are less willing to marry and have children because it will only make the situation worse. If the economy can change and provide more security, then the population will begin to increase.

Monique Martinez

Hong Kong Democracy

On June 4th, in Hong Kong, more 100,000 gathered in this semiautonomous Chinese city. The gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago and 1,000 miles away in Beijing, where the mainland government still forbids citizens from discussing the pro-democracy movement. People in Hong Kong want a democratic government, but are opposed by the pro-Beijing people and the Chinese government. This celebration heightened the tensions with Beijing are domestic issues such as elections in 2017, which will for the first time be held under a system of universal voting.

-Antonio Sobevski

At Swearing-In, Sisi Vows to Lead an ‘Inclusive’ Egypt

      On Sunday in Cairo Egypt,  Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former general who led the military take over a year ago, was sworn in as President. He is supposedly a strong man who in hopes of all people could fix the dysfunctional economy and the political polarization that has been going on for the past three years with the open democracy in Egypt. He pledged that he will work on gaining security and stabilizing Egypt and the region. Since 2011 it seems as if the country was facing long, challenging revolutions that led to a military takeover in 2013 after forcing out former President Hosni Mubarak. The new elected President sounds more promising to the people stating that the differences in all people will be worked out by voicing the different opinions, "the differences are enriching and diversifying, and bestowing the spirit of cooperation and love on our shared patriotic labors."
      The inaugural ceremony suggested that the president is in full control of the Egyptian state. There is supposedly little expectation of legislative, judicial or bureaucratic checks on his power. Egypt seems to be on the right path with the joy of citizens who are only wishing for a change for the better in the region which they seem to believe will happen according to Judge Sami who said that they see “a bright tomorrow and a new birth.” He sounds like a promising President to me and I only hope for the best for the Egyptians who have gone through troubling times in the past few years.

 -Monica Gryszowka

Israeli Peace Seeker Tries Yet Again

Pope Francis prepared to enter peacemaking talks today. The main concern is peace between Israel and Palestine. Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious  leaders will be meeting together today. They have been unable to sustain peace in the area since the signing of the Oslo Accords 20 years ago.

The 90 year old Israeli President, Shimon Peres's term will be ending in July. He hopes to bring agreements of peace between the two areas before the end of his term. However, Mr. Peres currently has very limited power. Some say the participation of Mr. Peres is a sign that there are few options remaining to start peace talks once again. In addition, many Palestinians don't think he will help the situation since he failed to help give Palestine their own state, which was promised in the Oslo Accords.Not to mention, the creation of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory during the beginning of his term. Few think he will be alive to see the formation of a Palestinian state.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has been urging the U.S and other western states to reject the formation of a Palestinian government . In addition, he has ordered construction of 1,500 of new housing units on lands that have already been claimed by Palestinians. This has already increased the tension. It will be interesting to see if peace talks will start again.

I find this article interesting because I will be traveling with North Central's Breakaway to Israel and Palestine this August!! I am very excited!

-Jackie Bland

"Ukraine's New Leader Stands Up to Moscow Over Crimea and Europe"

by Richard Balmforth

Ukraine just elected the "Chocolate King" as their new President. Petro Poroshenko gained a fortune as a confectionery entrepreneur.

The billionaire has publicly announced that his country would not give up Crimea to Russia in his inaugural speech on Saturday.

He spoke of peace as he assured that any Russian national would be allowed to turn back now without charges. Granted, according the Putin, they are not helping the separatists in the East. Furthermore, Poroshenko promises more power to the governments in Eastern Ukraine to make their own decisions. There are also promises of rights to Russian-speakers.

The separatists respond with hostility to the idea that they lay down their arms to Ukraine. The separatists have already created what they call a "people's republic." They have only responded to Poroshenko with insistence of their own separation.

This new president seems to want to end the conflict without bloodshed, but this may just be posturing, and the opposite side certainly does not appear to be at any hurry to end it without a fight.

To read full article, click here.

Katie Madel

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bilateral meetings regarding Iran's emerging Nuclear program

The United States and Iran are due to sit down and discuss the importance of diplomacy as Iranian Nuclear weapons gain legitimacy throughout the international community. The meetings kicked off last month between the U.S, Iran and six other world powers, hosted in Vienna. The so called "P5+1" process hit rough water when all countries represented felt the others had deeply unrealistic demands for negotiations, one including limiting Tehran's nuclear development in exchanged for dropped sanctions. 

I was happily surprised to see myself reading about such negotiations with new insight into the remarkable complexities that are apart of making bilateral decision, with the agreement of all parties participating needed to succeed. The Global Simulation (on top of being an engaging and enjoyable activity) provided me with some serious insight into the difficulty of any negotiation, let alone those involving Nuclear weapons and the argument of proliferation. 

-Alexandra Dominguez 

Freedom of Speech, anyone?

In a classic move to suppress things it doesn't want to hear, another government has censored (or in this case, stopped distribution altogether) a domestic newspaper. This time, the paper is Weekly Trust, based in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Days earlier, the very same newspaper made accusations about the military, saying generals of using an army barracks for personal use. So in response, the weekly Saturday paper was not allowed to be shipped out to the population thanks to armed soldiers showing up at the door of the Weekly Trust and performing a "routine security action."

Sue Valentine, the Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists which is a watchdog group based in New York said that by destroying the papers, it plants the seeds of rumors and distrust. When you try and cover up corruption charges by doing something that is corrupt, you're bound to get people's attention.When the military shows up and starts going through your paper word by word to look for security risks, the government is risking bad face with other nations because we all know how precious freedom of speech and freedom of the press are to the people in this day and age, especially in a democracy like America.

-Max Kachinske

Poroshenko has "tough words" for Russia

Petro Poroshenko, a pro-European billionaire, was sworn in as Ukraine's fifth president. Poroshenko was very vocal in his promise to end the separatist insurrection in the east and he also expressed a new resolve that Russia would not have its way. During his inaugural address, Poroshenko called for the rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine to put down their weapons and stop fighting. He also promised a safe return home for Russian mercenaries. However, Poroshenko was very clear in that there would be no negotiations with armed insurgents, which raises the "prospect of further bloodshed as the Ukrainian military seeks to squash the rebellion".
During the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France, the U.S and its Western allies expressed a new hope of a democratic resolution with Russia after meetings with Putin. However, the relationship between Ukraine and Russia is still unclear. Poroshenko told Putin that Ukraine would never accept Russia's annexation of Crimea. Poroshenko said this, and more, but then also stated that he hoped to mend relations with Russia. He stated that Ukraine will never know true peace unless it resolves its issues with Russia.
Poroshenko earned his fortune by making chocolate, and has strong business ties with Russia and some companies there. It will be interesting to see if this will affect the decisions he makes or the relationship he hopes to forge with Russia.

Ann Nenoff

Friday, June 6, 2014

Brazilian President hosts dinner to defend World Cup preps

Brazil's preparation for the world cup was nothing but a big fiasco. Showing once again the incapacity of the current government, Brazil makes promises it cannot fulfilled. The article linked below reports the last public enunciation of President Dilma Rousseff defending the spending of the World Cup and saying that all the money made during the games will be invested in infrastructure. She once again goes on public television to lie about the government's future plans (no Brazilian believes that is going to happen, and hopefully she won't be reelected to prove us right). When President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva won the rights for the World Cup in 2007 (he is from the same party as President Dilma), the speech was that most if not all the stadiums were going to be build with private money. One week before the games start, 97% of the stadiums were build with public money or investment from BNDES (Development Bank of Brazil) which is partially funded from taxes. In a country that still struggles with poverty in the Upper North,  with zones of extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure even in rich states such as Rio de Janeiro with the Favelas, the last thing the population needs is FIFA standard stadiums. What scares me the most is that if Brazil wins the World Cup everyone (from the rich to the poor) is going to think everything is alright. Brazilians have the ability to put soccer above everything, even above their own rights. Now that the World Cup is going to start there is only one thing left for me to do... cheer... but for Argentina because the last thing I want is for my people to be fooled by politicians that use public money for their own interests in detriment to the interests of the population.

Mariana Cury
PSC 102

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

King of Spain Abdicates to Allow New Generation to Take Over

In a recent announcement, King Juan Carlos of Spain has abdicated the throne to his son, Prince Felipe. Some believe this move is caused by the scandals that have been surrounding the royal family, particularly Princess Cristina and her husband, Duke of Palma. Prince Felipe has been mostly untouched by the criticisms about the royal family's lifestyle and fiances during a time of joblessness and economic crisis in Spain. King Juan Carlos said that he hopes his son will bring "a new chapter of hope" and increased stability to the nation.

Overall, it seems that this is a political move by the former king in order to keep his family in power (even though Spain is a democracy). Rather than continue to take the criticisms and scandals his daughter and her husband are allegedly taking part in, he'd rather hand the throne to his more stable and responsible son, in order to return the country to stability. Even if Prince Felipe will not have much say in his democracy, he can help be a symbol of stability to the people of Spain and potentially give them hope for the future.

Posted by Evy Lopez

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Obama offers military help to Eastern Europe allies

On Tuesday President Obama announced that he would help beef up military support for eastern European allies that feel they could be next in Russians line of fire. Obama unveiled plans to spend up to $1 billion in supporting and training the armed forces of NATO states on Russia’s borders. Obama was to meet Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw on Wednesday and will attend celebrations in France with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the World War Two D-Day landings. Obama made it clear that he did not want to threaten Russia but only provide support to our allies.

Alexandra Avery

Monday, June 2, 2014

Obama Begins Diplomatic Tour of Europe

The White House still considers the situation in Ukraine to be in crisis state, however, it seems that the situation has cooled down a bit in the past few weeks. Ukraine has just elected pro-European President Poroshenko, and Russia has pulled back troops from the border. Obama will visit Poland, Belgium, and France, and will also meet with Poroshenko, in addition to other leaders that will convene in these countries as well. Obama's aides have not ruled out an unscripted conversation between Obama and Russia's Vladmir Putin, as they will both be in Normandy on the same day. While Obama is cautiously optimistic about the new developments, it should be stated that Ukraine is still a volatile region, the violence has not been fully contained, and Europe still needs to be weaned off Russian oil. It will be interesting to see how these converging world leaders will address the issues dealing with Eastern Europe.

Alexandria Corriveau

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Russia threatens already embattled Ukraine with cutoff of natural gas over unpaid bills

     By June 3rd Russia may decide to cut off natural gas to Ukraine due to unpaid bills. The president of  Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, promised a new dynamic effort to combat the pro-Russian separatists who have detained buildings and cities across eastern Ukraine. The gas debt may have went up to $5.2 billion by the end of May and Russia is asking for at least a good portion of the payment by Monday (June 2nd). A few days ago Ukraine has decided to give Russia $786 million as payment for the debt which they are hoping will be enough for Russians to accept. Negotiations have been going on for months now, so the results of it all will be interesting to see how Russia will accept the offer that Ukraine/ Poroshenko have offered or if they will indeed start cutting off natural gas given to Ukraine The problem with Ukraine’s gas debts is that Ukraine is bankrupt,” stated by What Gazprom, chief executive.

-Monica Gryszowka

India Continues Slow Pace of Economic Growth

India's economy grew only 4.6 percent in the last economic quarter under the Congress party-led administration. This figure was released by the Indian government Friday, and was under the 4.7 percent increase from last quarter, that ended in December. Analysts had forecast a 4.8 percent growth for this quarter, so the decrease came as a surprise is being viewed as a demonstration of the challenges ahead for the newly elected government under Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party. This has been the second straight year of fiscal growth under 5 percent, a major decrease from the 8.4 percent growth during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. While the electoral victory has resulted in increased business confidence, economists caution that it will take some time for the effects of the victory to result in real economic growth. The Indian economy  is filled with stubborn inflation, weak domestic demand, a considerable fiscal deficit, elevated borrowing rates and depleted industrial output. The elect of Modi and his party comes with heavy expectations of a quick recovery to the economy because of his reputation as a friendly businessman and tract record of expediting large-scale infrastructure projects. However, economists argue that the euphoria that comes with his election ignores the systemic issues that caused the economic downturn in the first place, and therefore that expectations of a quick recovery are unrealistic. Predictions for the next fiscal year put the economic growth of India at 5-6 percent.

-Ambrielle Barker

Mentally, G.I. Has Long Path Back to Idaho

He has been the only prisoner of war in Afghanistan for the past five years. Sgt Bowe Bergdahl is finally free from captivity. He has been held in complete isolation and is in very poor physical conditions. He has a three step treatment before he gets to go home. He first will receive medical treatment and initial counseling in Germany. He then will proceed to get medical help in San Antonio. Finally he will get his homecoming in Idaho. Although he will get counseling along the way, once he is in Idaho he will probably need to forgo more medical counseling.

John Kissel

Iranian Social Media Hackers

Hackers from Iran have been reported spying on high ranking U.S. and Israeli officials through the use of social media (more specifically Facebook). These hackers have been said to be working to get close to there targets for the last three years, connecting with over two-thousand individuals. They were found to have made fake accounts and proceeded to make connections with there target's family and friends. After awhile the hackers would connect to there targets, and post credible information, before luring them to a website that would steal their targets passwords and other passwords and other credentials, or get them to download malicious software. The targets of these acts included senior American military and diplomatic officials, congressional staffers and defense contractors in the U.S. and Israel, as well as a four star Admirals in the U.S, Britain and Saudi officials, journalist, and lawmakers. The situation has been exposed and handled, with the ending remarks being to not establish connections with unknown organizations or individuals.

-Larry Holman PSC 102
Initially Reported by By Elise Labott and Jethro Mullen, CNN

Prisoner Trade Yields Rare View Into the Taliban

The Taliban and the United States took big strides in peace making. The US release five Taliban members in return for a captive US soldier. It was a side that's rarely been seen from the group. It has shown that they are capable of holding to their word. The only backlash with the trade is that it could boost the moral of the Taliban. The proposition had been proposed 3 years ago, but has been a stalemate until now. It has been a long wait for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who is now home in Idaho with his family.

Jordan Messick

Israel Warns Against Embracing Newly Reconciled Palestinian Government

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is calling the international community not to recognize the new Palestinian government that is to be sworn in on Monday. He believes the new government has a continuous attachment to Hamas who is deemed to be a terrorist organization. However, Palestinian President declared that the new government will made up of ministers who have no attachment. He also promised to recognize Israel and renounce violence. Israel does not seemed to be moved at all. 

U.S. is to be providing $440 million to Palestinian Authority this year but if the government does include Hamas, then things might look different. 

Zahabu Lenning 

Cuban President Raul Castro meets U.S. delegation

Cuban President Raul Castro met with a delegation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during the past week. According to CNN, the talk was aiming to improve U.S.-Cuban relations. Most trade between the two countries is outlawed by a trade embargo that lasts more than 50 years. Lately, the Cuban government have been trying to attract more foreign investment which is seen with good eyes by the U.S.. There is still issues among both countries but chances are that the embargo may not last for that much longer.
Mariana Cury

PSC 102

Nearly 800 killed in Iraq in May, the deadliest all year

According to the United Nations, nearly 800 people were killed across Iraq which included 196 members of the Iraqi security force, the rest were civilians.
The victims of attacks were by Sunni Islamist insurgents who have been regaining ground and momentum Iraq over the past year.
The real number of deaths would be higher if the UN counted the casualties from the western province of Anbar. Iraqi army has been fighting tribal and insurgent groups since they overran two cities at the start of the year.
Even with the security getting worse, Iraq’s incumbent Prime Minister Nouri-al-Maliki won the largest share of parliamentary sears in national elections last month.
Luckily, the number of deaths is still below the levels back in 2006 and 2007. “I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence and terrorist acts that continues rocking the country,”

Venezuelan and U.S. Relations Have Difficult Week

During a very busy week for Venezuelan and U.S. relations, Venezuelan officials have accused the U.S. State Department (particularly the new American ambassador to Columbia, Kevin Whitaker) of conspiring to kill President Nicholas Maduro. These allegations seem to be a way to defuse the tension on Venezuela's potential human rights violations and propel them onto the U.S.. The State Department responded to this with a statement that called the allegations "baseless and false". They have stated that they have seen Venezuela try to distract from its own actions by blaming the U.S. many times.

This week, the House of Representatives has talked about freezing the assets of Venezuelan officials in the U.S. that could be held accountable for these human rights violations during the country's recent anti-government protests. Furthermore, the Senate has also decided not to place sanctions on Venezuela. Administration officials said the timing wasn't right and that the sanctions might harm potential discussions between Venezuela's government and the opposition.

It seems that the U.S. is attempting to keep Venezuela accountable for their potential human rights violations, by intervening where it can here on U.S. soil. I'm not sure what reaction the Venezuelan government will have to the frozen U.S. assets, but as their recent allegations show, I'm sure it will be theatrical.

Posted by Evy Lopez

Sister of bludgeoned Pakistani woman says her husband killed her

Sister of bludgeoned Pakistani woman says her husband killed her

On Tuesday, a pregnant woman in Pakistan was bludgeoned to death in broad daylight outside of a court building. The initial belief was that her family, in another case of “honor killings” killed her. The woman had just married a man that she chose instead fo the cousin that her family had chosen for her. On Saturday, the older sister of  the vitim, Farzana, spoke our and said it was not her father who had killed her, it was her husband Muhammed Iqbal. Her sister claimed to have been present at the scene and said that after she left the chamber of the lawyer, she saw her family and began to run to them when her husband and his accomplishes chased her down and began hitting her with bricks. Farzana’s sister claims that Farzana was abducted by her husband. Muhammed claims that it is all lies and that the real murderer was Farzana’s father, brothers, and family that killed her for going against their wishes and marrying for love. However, the husband has admitted to killing his first wife over a dispute about Farzana in 2009. The sister Khalida said that she spent some time in a women’s shelter with Farzana last month, where Farzana was hiding from her husband. Faranza was said to have been afraid that her husband would kill her just as he did to his previous wife. This case has twists and turns in it that make it difficult to determine who the killer really is. On one hand, it would not be uncommon for her family to have killed her for entering into a marriage against their wishes. But on the other hand, the husband has killed a wife before so he could have abducted her and forced her into the marriage.  The killing in my opinion is a human rights issue. 

-Monique Martinez

Boko Haram Strikes Again

The militants who grabbed the world's attention by kidnapping 200 Nigerian schoolgirls have been around for longer than people know. They're also not a one-trick pony. Just today, two Italian priests and a Canadian nun have been freed after they were captured by the group. The abductions were caused by a riff at the Cameroon/Nigeria border two months ago. In previous cases, when Boko Haram has taken Europeans, their returns usually only come with the safe return of their fellow militants or large quantities of cash. The area is lightly policed, and the militants have carried out four kidnappings of foreigners there in the past 18 months, with the latest being the seizing of 10 Chinese road workers from their camp two weeks ago.

This group has been causing havoc for years and during his speech addressing the Nigerian girls, President Obama said that they have been on his radar since his election in 2008. It amazes me that this group, that is so public in its doings, like posting videos and causing trouble in a very specific area, that they haven't been dealt with yet. The world has turned and given them attention in recent months and that's exactly what they wanted. Now that they have our attention, they want to keep it. What we need to do is not give them anything and quietly ensure that they are brought to justice. 

-Max Kachinske

U.S. Democracy

On Monday President Obama will embark on a weeklong trip to France, Poland, and Belgium in hopes of showing the world the United States still defends democratic governments. Senior U.S. officials, say that Obama will make it absolutely clear that the United States remains firmly committed to the defense of democracy and self-rule in Europe. Obama was supposed to attend the G8 summit in Russia, but after the Ukraine crisis broke out, he will now attend the G7 summit in Brussels. The goal of the trip is to set democratic security back in Eastern Europe after the Ukraine crisis.

-Antonio Sobevski

China Accuses U.S. and Japan of Incitement

On Saturday, a Chinese military official accused the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the Prime Minister of Japan of basically stirring up  unnecessary trouble in Asia. These allegations are in stark contrast to what the U.S. and I assume Japan has been reporting on the topic. The Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong cited a couple of speeches made earlier in the week by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and said that they were “full of threats and intimidating language”. According to reports General Wang's speech seemed geared more towards Mr. Hagel and the U.S. than anything else, although he also called out Japan. This makes sense for a number of reasons. China has not admitted to any wrong doing and insists they are staying within their borders. China seems taking the role of the underdog getting picked on by the big bad U.S. and its allies. These are some pretty bold allegations coming from a place that is accused of the same thing: stirring up trouble for no good reason. This dissonance between sides of this conversation could play a key role in the direction this takes. It will be interesting to see what kind of response the U.S. and Japan will give. As tensions rise over who has control of what in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, it will be interesting to see if it escalates from a really lame international version of he said she said. I'm not saying it wouldn't cause some nasty problems, but it seems like the problems have already started. Another interesting aspect of this is how American businesses will respond to all of the controversy in the area and whether American business interests will have an influence in changes in policy.

The link to the article is here.

Katie Krupica

Bowe Bergdahl Released from Afghanistan

The release of the last known P.O.W. in Afghanistan, Bowe Bergdahl, has been successfully negotiated and he is to return to the United States in the near future. Bergdahl had been detained for over five years in Afghanistan and it's believed he was exchanged for 5 Tailban members who were detained in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He is currently in Germany recovering and receiving medical treatment, and apparently there is some question as to why he was detained; whether he had left his post without permission or deserted. Nevertheless, Bowe was the last soldier still detained as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan and he has been released.

Alec Phillipp

Jewish Museum shooting

On May 24th a man shot three people dead at a Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium.  The suspect was identified as Mehdi Nemmouche a 29 year old Frenchman.   After identifying Nemmouche as the shooter he was arrested at a train station in France and it was revealed that he had recently spent a year in Syria and is a radicalized Islamist.  It is believed that his time in Syria may have influenced this attack.  In addition to the rifle Nemmouche was arrested carrying a .38 special, police discovered 57 rounds of ammunition for the revolver, more than 270 cartridges for the Kalashnikov, gun parts, a portable GoPro camera, a digital Nikon camera, a black hood and gloves, a Nike cap, a gas mask, and a blue nylon jacket, all objects matching the description of the Brussels shooter.  Two of the victims who died in the attack were an Israeli couple in their 50's from Tel Aviv. The third victim was a French woman.
Alexandra Avery