France’s National Front Rebrands

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National Front Party Leader Marine Le Pen. Wikimedia Commons.

A visit by Steve Bannon. A vote to change the party name. These were just some of the elements at the far-right National Front’s conference in Lille, France this past weekend. The conference comes amidst substantive presidential and legislative losses for the party as well as accusations that it has not done enough to distance itself from its Nazi origins. In response, party leader Marine Le Pen has noted the need for rebranding, hoping the efforts will change public attitudes, revive member support, and make it easier to form political alliances.

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SPD Hands Merkel a Fourth Term

Chancellor Angela Merkel at a CDU rally in September. Flickr. 

Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted Sunday to form a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), ending months of uncertainty after an indecisive September election. The decision secures Merkel a fourth term, avoiding the possibility of governing without a majority or facing another election. While pro-European leaders and businesspeople heralded the decision as good for the continent, both voters and party members are unhappy at the loveless Grand Coalition (GroKo).

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Chile’s Renewable Energy Transformation Leaves Much to Be Desired


A recent New York Times article praised Chile for its innovative renewable energy transformation, lauding the country for making its energy sources more sustainable while serving as a leader for the rest of Latin America. But the Times did not offer a comprehensive look at energy and the environment in the country.

Chile is one of ten global leaders in renewable energy, due to geography that provides a plethora of natural resources: the Atacama Desert is perfect for the procurement of solar power, the long coastline provides ample winds for wind farms, and active volcanoes make the country poised for geothermal energy collection. Yet, investments in these renewable sources are new, and face problems of transmission and excessive demand.

Furthermore, the Times article focused on energy for electricity, but ignored heating. While endowed with a natural advantage for renewable electricity sources, Chile has little to no natural gas reserves to speak of. The country is thus reliant  on Argentinian imports for heat energy, making utilities incredibly expensive and environmentally harmful.

Therefore, while Chile is well-positioned to develop both electric and geothermal alternatives, these avenues have not been sufficiently explored. Thus, Chile is not yet experiencing as much of an energy transformation as projected and must further develop these technologies.

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Debt Crisis Hinders Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Relief

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Months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20th, 2017, relief efforts continue to be stalled by the island’s damaged infrastructure. Outdated power and water systems were already in need of fixing long before the storm’s landfall because of bankrupt public service agencies following the island’s debt crisis. Coupled with previous damage from Hurricane Irma and the fact that many power and water lines were outdated and above ground, Maria’s landfall meant a complete breakdown of both power and pipelines. Contrary to Texas and Florida, which completely restored electricity and water seventeen days after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively, experts predict Puerto Rico is likely to go at least six months without power.

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American Exceptionalism and United Nations Institutional Challenges in Realizing the Responsibility to Protect

United Nations Member Country Flags at the UN Headquarters in New York. Flickr.

Abstract: The fall of the Soviet Union has created complex intra-national security conflicts previously unforeseen to the United Nations (UN), challenging the institution’s efficacy and complicating the United States’ (US) role within the body. As the US continues to oscillate between a leader in international interventions and a removed state that prioritizes its own national security interests, its selectivity has formed a policy of exceptionalism within the United Nations. Throughout the most recent humanitarian conflicts, the US has selectively chosen the UN missions in which it involves itself, otherwise circumventing the Security Council (UNSC) to unilaterally interfere and/or aligning itself with alternative coalitions of the willing to retain the option rather than obligation to intervene. Most importantly, it has directly blocked multilateral negotiations over the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) (a norm that would codify shared standards under which international intervention is permissible) further complicating the potential for cooperation in crisis. Yet the UN is similarly unequipped to enforce RtoP, as certain institutional barriers such as weak mandates, insufficient communication, and the UNSC unanimity rule impede its ability to enforce and administer peacekeeping operations. Thus, this article argues that both American exceptionalism and institutional UN obstacles hinder the implementation of RtoP, while also reaffirming the norm’s benefits.

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The Search for Argentina’s Missing Submarine Continues

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The Missing A.R.A. San Juan. Wikimedia Commons. 

On Wednesday, Nov 15th, an Argentine Submarine – the ARA San Juan –vanished 240 miles from the country’s coast with 44 crewmembers aboard. The Argentine Navy reports they first lost signal with the vessel near the Valdez Peninsula while the craft was completing a routine voyage back from Ushuaia in Patagonia to Mar del Plata south of Buenos Aires. On Saturday, Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad remarked the receipt of seven satellite calls seeming to originate from the submarine, signaling hope that the crew is still alive.

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Argentinian Activist’s Body Found Amid Congressional Elections

Protestors After the Finding of Maldonado’s Body. AP. 

Santiago Maldonado, a 28 year old indigenous rights activist for Argentina’s Mapuche people, was found dead in Chubut River near Buenos Aires on Saturday. He had been missing since August 1st after he and other protesters clashed with police at an indigenous rights demonstration in Patagonia. Authorities transferred his body to the city for identification and an autopsy, where his brother Sergio was able to identify him and morticians were able to deny visible wounds on the body. His death has been highly politicized amid Argentina’s upcoming Congressional Elections, with the leftist opposition accusing security officers for his death and President Mauricio Macri of covering it up.

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Puerto Rico Continues to Feel Maria

Flooding in Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria. Wikimedia Commons. 

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20th, the island has seen an influx of aid from American federal agencies. Relief efforts are focused on repairing broken power grids, fixing roads and infrastructure, and draining excess water. However, ten days after the storm’s landing, 90% of the population is still without access to power, food, or water, especially in rural areas.

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No MÁS: The Time Has Come for Evo Morales to Step Down

Quito, Ceremonia de entrega de las "Llaves de la Ciudad"President Evo Morales has made his legacy in Bolivia by presenting himself as a man of the people. Under his socialist administration, he decreased poverty by more than 60 percent through public spending and social programs, successfully re-nationalized natural resources, and, as the country’s first indigenous president, implemented a new constitution that strengthens Bolivia’s indigenous rights. However, recent events indicate Morales is transitioning from a moderate populist towards an undemocratic autocrat. In addition to corruption scandals, desperate attempts to control free speech, and a falling approval rating, Morales is now attempting to out the constitution to remain in power longer than its term limits allow. Despite a failed referendum that would have allowed him to run for a fourth term, Morales defied the voters and accepted his Movement To Socialism (MAS) party’s nomination for president. But in order to avoid moving Bolivia towards autocracy, Mr. Morales must instead step down and name a successor.

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OAS to Discuss Venezuela Crisis

A protestor waves a Venezuela flag in front of police. Wikimedia Commons. 

The Organization of American States (OAS) will meet Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to discuss the ongoing politico-economic crisis in Venezuela after fourteen of its members called on President Nicolas Maduro to restore democracy in the country. Venezuela has been experiencing massive inflation due to dropping oil prices, leading to extreme good shortages. Many have criticized Maduro of mismanaging the economy in response to the crisis.  Meanwhile, Maduro has also stifled political opposition, indefinitely delaying congressional and recall elections that were projected losses for his party, while mitigating Congressional laws through judges loyal to him.

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