The Concerns behind a Finely-Balanced Political Landscape

With the new regional elections to be held this month (December 21) and official campaigning starting this Tuesday, Catalonia is deep in election mode. A variety of new and old players are running in the elections: some abroad, some in jail, and some on bail. One particular man will have to run his campaign for now from behind bars. After six separatist leaders were released on bail, four politicians and activists were denied bail by a Supreme Court Judge on December 4, 2017. This includes form...
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16 dead after militants attack Grand Bassam beach resort

On Sunday, six armed militants killed fourteen civilians and two soldiers in an attack on Grand Bassam, an Ivory Coast beach resort popular among Westerners and located only 25 miles from the capital, Abidjan.   According to a witness, the attackers were “heavily armed and wearing balaclavas” and “fired at guests at L’Etoile du Sud, a large hotel which was full of expats in the current heatwave.”  Photos posted by other witnesses on Twitter showed the assailants toting machine guns and a sign...
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U.N. crowdfunding app helps feed Syrian refugees

On Thursday, the United Nations World Food Programme released a new crowdfunding app in order to help feed Syrian children in Jordanian refugee camps. ShareTheMeal, available for iPhone and Android smartphones, encourages users to “share their meals” with these young refugees by donating as little as $0.50, enough to feed a child for one day.  Those who log in to the app through Facebook can even compare their charity efforts to those of their Facebook friends -- a special gamification featur...
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Paris to ban traffic when pollution levels peak

Last week, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo rejoiced as France’s Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal agreed to institute cuts to traffic in Paris when pollution levels peak. Royal had previously called for the bans to be introduced after three consecutive days of high pollution levels, but later conceded that the bans, which will allocate alternate driving days for cars based on odd or even registration plate numbers, will be installed “whenever the region and city authorities demand it.” The move wa...
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A New French Prime Minister

It appears that French president François Hollande might not be completely incapable of taking decisive action, after all. Today, he approved a new cabinet and fired his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, replacing him with the center-left interior minister, Manuel Valls. Though, frankly, this change is coming a little late. Recently, the president suffered humiliating losses at French local elections, which were predicted to be embarrassing, but not this embarrassing: the president's Socialist ...
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EU Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Are you a citizen of the European Union? Congratulations - you just won a Nobel Prize! The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced today that the Nobel Peace Prize is to be awarded to the European Union for its contribution to “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”[1] As EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy were quick to point out in a joint statement released shortly after, "it is a prize not just for th...
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