A History of Division: Why Catalonia has chosen to declare independence

Spain faces a sudden political crisis due to Catalonia's declaration of independence. One of Spain's 17 autonomous provinces, Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest regions, containing the major city of Barcelona. The Spanish Constitutional Court has ruled the referendum in favor of secession on September 30, 2017 as illegal. However, president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont officially declared independence from Spain on October 27, 2017. This division between Spain and Catalonia has a histori...
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Crackdowns on LGBTQ+ Rights in Tanzania

Amidst protests and parades for LGBTQ+ equality in the United States, the fight for equal rights in Tanzania seems to be ostensibly getting worse. The recent crackdown certainly came as a surprise, as Tanzania has in the past been relatively tolerant of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in comparison to other African countries such as Kenya and Uganda. Although sodomy is punishable by life imprisonment, homosexuality was not criminalised, and as such, many could live normal lives without be...
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Syrian Kurds After ISIS

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have liberated Raqqa from the Islamic State, replacing dead bodies that hung from railings with yellow and green flags and marking the end of ISIS’s control over its self-proclaimed capital. This allows the SDF and their parent group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to nearly complete their unification of a region of northern Syria they refer to as Rojava, which the PYD declared autonomous in 2016. While the liberation of Raqqa represents a triump...
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The Votes Heard Round The World

From Scotland to Crimea, self-determination has attracted much attention as independence movements across the globe have made big leaps towards self-rule. Though these movements, grounded in historical, ethnic and political disputes, have long existed, we have seen a resurgence of late in various regions’ pushes for independence. Recent votes in Catalonia and Kurdistan have captured the world’s attention and are likely to have far-reaching consequences for independence movements worldwide. &n...
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North Korea Is Not Backing Down Anytime Soon: Here’s Why (or Here’s Who)

On October 1st, TransTeleCom began providing Internet connection to North Korea. What is interesting about this is that TransTeleCom is a major state-owned telecommunications company- from Russia. The connection first appeared on routing databases around 5:38p.m. in Pyongyang time (which is not in line with how time is tracked by location, in its effort to “break from imperialism”). Prior to this, Internet connection was funneled through only one line: the route between North Korean ISP Star ...
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In Case You Forgot, It’s Dangerous To Be The Opposition In Russia

  On October 2nd, a Russian court sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 20 days in prison after he was accused of violating a law on organizing public meetings. The charges, which can carry a maximum sentence of up to 30 days in jail, were in response to a major rally Navalny had planned to hold in Vladimir Putin’s hometown of Saint Petersburg on October 7th, the Russian president’s 65th birthday. His sentence of 20 days will prevent him from being able to attend his rally,...
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ISIS and Women

Although it seems that the sun is setting on ISIS’ power as a terrorist group and quasi-state, recent findings suggest there has been a resurgence in recruitment, particularly of women. While initially, ISIS was highly reticent of female recruits, even going so far as to discourage them from joining, the need to build the caliphate and even manage women in captured areas has annulled this standard. According to a Times article, the existing social-media framework used to recruit male foreign fi...
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The Syrian Crisis

“Do not forget Aleppo!” These were the words shouted by an assassin as he gunned down the Russian ambassador to Turkey this past December. The words that accompanied the shocking murder were striking reminder to the Western world to not overlook the suffering occurring in the then-besieged Syrian city. Indeed, what was once an economic, cultural and historical hub of Syria has now been reduced to a city best known for the humanitarian crisis that has existed within it for nearly five yea...
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Puentes de Esperanza : Bridging Gaps in Nicaragua’s Education System

Nicaragua—population 6 million—has over 2 million school-aged children and is largely considered among the poorest countries in Central and Latin America. According to UNICEF, around 500,000 children are not in the formal education system, and half of all adults and children live in poverty. Although in recent years Nicaragua has maintained a stable youth literacy rate of 86.5%,  residents of rural areas continue to suffer from a lack of quality education and funding. Primary...
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A Modern Medieval Nightmare

Streets that lack asphalt, houses without water and electricity and whole communities wanting in proper access to schooling and healthcare— while this might sound like a description of a medieval town this is the reality for hundred millions of people in India. The Indian slums are known as prime examples of the economic theory of the poverty traps. What this theory states is that a certain set of factors such as low level of savings, poor education and/or poor healthcare can cause a self-perpet...
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