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Versions of Democracy and Manifestations of Division

Walking with a friend across town yesterday toward my apartment on the West Side of Manhattan, two moments caught me off guard. Between 5th and Madison Avenues on 96th street, a middle-aged man walking in the opposite direction muttered a homophobic slur under his breath as he passed us. A little later, waiting for the light to change on Amsterdam Avenue, a young man to my right pointed at another man and said, “You’re so ridiculous, you’re like a f**king Jew.” Startled, I turned around, and they looked back, laughing. You may be wondering what this could possibly have to do with international relations—but the way that different groups interact with and speak about one another is at the core of any success or failure of global politics. full story »

Thoughts on Snowden and Russia

Edward Snowden, the now infamous NSA leaker, said that his worst fear was that everything would stay the same. For a while, it looked as if his fear would be realized, that his leaks would fail to change anything about the international security status quo. But today, I have good news for Snowden. Things are changing in perhaps the least likely of places: Russia. To guard against the heightened possibility of leaks, the agency responsible for the Kremlin’s security is spending 486,540 Rubles ($14,909) on new typewriters. This measure at the same time reduces the likelihood of leaks and makes it easier to catch potential leakers, as each document can be traced to the typewriter it comes from.

Why I Stand With Morsi

I do not think it an overstatement to say that much of the progress of the Arab Spring was reversed on Wednesday in Egypt, that the popularly backed military coup is a serious blow against democracy. Morsi was the democratically elected president of Egypt – the first freely elected president in Egyptian history – and although his exercise of power was less than democratic, nothing can take away from the significance of his election and the power it vested in him. Employing extra-constitutional means to remove a democratically elected president from office is a both a blow against democracy and constitutionalism. It is a moot point, I will try to show, that perhaps Morsi usurped power and exercised his authority unconstitutionally. full story »

Immigration Overhaul Comes Up Short: A Look at History

Last Thursday the US Senate passed a far-reaching immigration reform bill which, unlike most current policy directives, won the approval of politicians on both sides of the aisle. Yet the new bill—especially the provision allocating $40 billion in funds to border security—may hinge on a misunderstanding of the US-Mexico border's history. This legislation, which may shape the future of immigration, grew from piecemeal appeasement of both political parties—a last ditch attempt at political cohesion—rather than from a coherent vision that considers the past and future of this complex topic.  The $40 billion could be much better spent./p> full story »

Are Americans Able to Take a Moral Stand?

Unfortunately, it seems that Nelson Mandela is fated to pass away shortly. This certainly gives us cause to reflect on his singularly significant life: in a sentence, Mandela saved South Africa. After spending 27 years in prison, he advocated restraint and inclusion. He urged his fellow Africans to forgive and tried to include whites in the ANC. Without his leadership and vision of compassion and equality, it is not hard to imagine that South Africa would degenerate into violent civil war, which could very well precipitate despotism and even genocide. However, when remembering Nelson Mandela it is important to also remember the role that the United States played in ending apartheid. full story »

The Globalization Game

Chip Starnes, the co-owner of a Florida-based business, spent much of the past week trapped inside his Chinese factory by workers demanding severance packages after deducing that their factory would be shut down and its operations moved to India. Though Starnes was let out today after an agreement was reached and signed by 97 workers, the root of his problem is still very much present all over China and the world. With China’s wages rising and their economy slowing, the country seems ready to end its thus far omplicated relationship with the process of globalization.

Democratic Pitfalls

It is being reported that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has approved Pope John Paul II’s second miracle. What this means is that the only thing that now stands between John Paul and sainthood is the approval of the Congregation’s commission of cardinals and bishops. They are expected to meet in the next few weeks. If any readers are curious, both of the soon-to-be-saint’s miracles are medical: his second miracle, he performed an “extraordinary healing” on a woman suffering from a brain injury; his first miracle, his intercession in heaven cured a French nun of Parkinson’s.

In Iran, a Mix of Hope and Skepticism

In a choice between losing the government by force and losing it through democratic election, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei chose the latter. By allowing Hassan Rowhani to run, and then allowing votes to be counted accurately, Khamenei allowed a self-professed moderate with views of reforming both domestic and foreign policy in Iran to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Obama's Severely Flawed Syria Policy

“We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.” Thus spoke Obama. And thus acted Obama: on Thursday the White House announced that it would begin to arm Syrian rebels. full story »

A New Doctrine for Sustainable Development: Case Study in Venezuela

On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was presented with the proposed set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This new Development agenda will serve as a replacement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight initiatives designed in 2000 to reduce global poverty and increase quality of life by 2015. Anticipating the end of the established timetable for completing the MDGs, in August of 2012 the UN Secretary-General established the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a body representing all branches of civil society and academia, intended to work closely with the UN on a new global development plan.

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