U.N. Stiffens Sanctions on North Korea

After months of negotiations among United Nations Security Council member nations, new sanctions against North Korea have been adopted unanimously. These new sanctions aim to impose a cap on the amount of coal North Korea is allowed to export each year and the profits they can make on said coal. As was the case immediately following the passage of the previous sanctions, representatives from Security Council countries all provide very positive assessments of the projected effectiveness of these new restrictions.

I am hesitant to share their optimistic viewpoint.

The fact that China supported this new round of sanctions shows that the PRC does not believe these new regulations will have a significantly large effect on the North Korean economy. The Chinese government is unlikely to ever support sufficiently strong sanctions because it fears the wave of refugees flowing across the Chinese-North Korean border if the North Korean economy was upended. Thus, even though the Chinese vehemently oppose the North Korean nuclear program, any sanctions approved unanimously by the Security Council are unlikely to actually cause any lasting damage to Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Original Article


“The Islamic State’s brutality has written a new chapter in that dark history,” writes a New York Times journalist. The article was written in regards to the recent finding of a mass grave near Hamam al-Alil. This city was recently just taken back by Iraqi forces after several weeks of fighting.

ISIS has caused many families to search for their loved ones who have gone missing. The findings of these mass grave sites is one a horrifying and yet hopeful discovery. It potentially could provide closure for these families who are searching for their missing loved ones. This recent finding is the site where ISIS had killed former police forces, government politicians, and anyone that ISIS felt they needed to kill in Hamam al-Alil and surrounding areas. It continues to paint a dark picture for Iraq as ISIS continues to terrorize this region of the world.

I understand that there can be biases in the media or in American culture when we look out at events around the world. We can paint a dark picture on anyone or event that we as Americans don’t see eye to eye with, but with the things that ISIS has done, I don’t know how you can paint any picture but a dark one. Kidnappings, beheading, mass murders, using civilians as human shields, and the list goes on. When will this all end?

Let Women Drive, a Saudi Prince Urges

Along with other limitations and restrictions, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive.  Because of this, they often hire drivers to drive the cars that they own for them.  Most of these drivers come from outside the country and are a significant drag on the household income.  Prince Alwaleed has recently added his voice to the matter in saying that it is time for women to be given the right to drive their cars.  Women have the right to vote and be in office but because of religious and social reasons, cannot drive.  Prince Alwaleed focused mainly on the economic reasons for letting women drive.  These were mainly that the expense of hiring a driver was something that all households could do without.  Also, allowing women to drive would make it easier for them to find jobs and work.  They will be more likely to be more independent and the country will be better off because of that.  However, Price Alwaleed is not actually in the government and so cannot make real changes, but the voice of someone as prominent as he is is important in the ongoing conversation.

Women need to be given this right.  It may seem like a small thing but not being able to be independent and not being mobile significantly decreases a person’s potential for what they can accomplish.  Allowing women to drive will allow them to join the workforce and to contribute to society in many other ways.

Let Women Drive, a Saudi Prince Urges

Devastation in Iraq Returns

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As Iraqi forces retake more land on their march to Mosul, they find devastation. Mass graves are left in the wake of ISIS everywhere the Iraqi forces go. “It is the horrible symbol of what has been for decades a gut-wrenching constant of Iraqi life: the disappearance of loved ones into the machinery of despotism.” ISIS has continued the violent tyranny that began with Saddam Hussein. Mass killings are again normal, particularly of policemen.

Iraqi families are searching for the remains of their loved ones. Sadly, with so many individuals dead, there are many families left not knowing what happened to their loved ones. I’d like to say there’s some kind of silver lining to this current event, but there isn’t. This is a dark time for the people of Iraq. I only hope Iraqi forces can retake all of Mosul soon and end ISIS tyranny.

To find the article, click here.

To find the picture, click here.

Arab Awakening


The political and social elites in America have been talked about in much depth and targeted in the United States presidential elections this past november. Despite their faults, a much more dangerous and heinous elitist class dominates the warn torn and unsettled Middle-East.

The Economist reports that, “Arabs make up just 5% of the world’s population, but they account for about half of the world’s terrorism and refugees.”

With this troubling statement comes much further questioning. Why is such a small minority responsible for the majority of our world leader’s discussions? Why would a group characterized by devotion to faith be at the middle of this questioning?

In 2002, only about 5 arab states were in conflict. Today there are 11. In 2020, experts predict that 75% of arab countries will be. More and more, the arab youth is identifying with their tribe, region, secte, and religion over their country and government. At the heart of the issue is the elite class that rules the arab countries with an iron fist; the youth feel disenfranchised, distant, and forgotten. They have a strong sentiment that nothing will change through political process, and are therefore more inclined to violence.

What can be done to prevent the spread of conflict in the middle-east?

Should the United States let the region and their own problems, or should they resume their role as global police?

Read more here.

Europe and Russia

Recent French primaries gave the victory to Mr. Francois Fillon, a center-right politician running on a platform of accommodating Russia. This election, as well as other European elections, have increasingly given more power to  populist, pro-Russian leaders. Fillon advocates an advance of friendly relations with Russia, increasing migration between the two countries, and stepping away from NATO.

There are several motives for this Eastern shift, some of them more likely or more troubling than others.

These primaries could reflect a growing trend of isolationism in the world, an appealing philosophy to Europeans in the middle of a refugee crisis. The logic? Stop wasting energy and resources trying to contain Russia when we can just let Putin do what he wants and spend the money at home.

This could also be a populist reaction against elitism and intellectualism in foreign politics. The status quo political leaders traditionally care about balance-of-power politics; therefore, the antithesis party must disdain these notions.

This could be a fearful reaction to growing U.S. isolationism. The world’s largest power, and opponent of Russia, has been signaling a desire to stay out of world politics. With a more powerful neighbor on their eastern border, European nations may be seeking to align themselves with a more present power.

The last, and most troubling, explanation for this shift was offered by the author of this article: Europeans like Putin’s style of government. Hard-lining against refugees, homosexuality, and Islamic terrorism are key components of Putin’s reign. Putin seeks to establish a state of traditional conservative values. These things are appealing to voters. Unfortunately, these policy stances also come with human rights abuses, limits on traditional first amendment rights like the freedom of speech, the press, and religion, and the gradual dissolve of democracy itself. It is unclear whether European voters are choosing to turn the other cheek to Putin’s less than savory policies, or whether they believe that these principles are worth sacrificing to maintain greater security.

What do you think? Why the shift in Europe towards Russia?

Full story here.


Fewer Jobs and Lower Pay for Women Lawyers

Women are making 20 percent less than men in median annual earnings. A study done by Cornell University found that as more women enter a male dominated field, the average pay declines. This is unfortunately becoming evident as women enter the field of law.

Women now make up nearly half of the student population in US law schools. The top US law schools, however, are not admitting as many women, and once women are in school, they are not performing as well. Why? This last week, I talked to my best friend’s mom who is a lecturer at Stanford Law, and she said that the classes are not geared toward helping women. They are geared towards helping the men in the classes succeed. She said that Stanford Law School is doing everything they can to reverse these tendencies in the class room.

Read more here


Bombings in the Philippines Raise Questions

Last Tuesday, a security team of Rodrigo Duterte’s was bombed on the island of Mindanao in the town of Marawi in the Philippines. They had been sent to scout out the area for any risks or potential sources of harm preceding the arrival of President Rodrigo Duterte to the area. Amidst growing risks, Duterte stated that he will still be attending the scheduled meeting in Marawi in Lanao Del Sur, and that he might even take the same route as his security convoy.


This hasn’t been the only news of violence in the Philippines in the past week. Only a day before the attack in Marawi, police in Manila found an explosive device that had been planted outside the U.S. embassy.

There is reason to believe that these devices have ties to very militant Muslim rebel groups in the southern regions of the country. Duterte is still trying to come to a peaceful agreement with most of these groups, but has yet to connect with a few of the larger, more influential groups in the area including the well known Abu Sayyaf.

Read the full article here.

Photo Credit

Trump announces he will part with business during Presidency

President-elect Trump has just tweeted this morning stating that he will not be apart of the day-to-day business operations with his Trump businesses because his upcoming term as President of the United States is much more important to him at the present time. This certainly is a step in the right direction for Trump as he prepares for his Presidency, yet experts in Washington say that not removing himself in total from the Trump Organization would still serve as a conflict of interest during his service as President.

While not providing many details, Trump stated that he will hold a “major news conference” in order to explain to the media what his plans are going forward. Experts suggest that he needs to remove himself from the Trump Organization completely in order to remove the opinion that he is remaining owner in order to reap the financial benefits. Using a blind trust, which previous Presidents have done by placing their assets into a “blind trust” and then having an outside independent party control them. Another option would be to have one of his children take over ownership of the company. Either option would be in his best interest to avoid more scrutiny about his upcoming election. Removing himself from his business would be wise to prove to the American people and Washington that our country has his entire interest and attention.

Italy Jumps on the Trump Bandwagon

Italy is following suit as populist movements sweep the western world. Donald Trump’s success in the United States presidential election has inspired other individuals with similar a platform as him to become influential in the political scene in their own states. What I find interesting about this phenomenon is that many Americans think that the only kind of people that voted for trump were overly conservative middle class whites. What most of us don’t realize is that no matter who voted for Trump, states that are labeled as being progressive now have movements similar to what Trump started here in the US. Similar ideals are sweeping Europe, and this article deals with the influence of populism in Italy. If these political movements begin to succeed throughout the world, the globalization that we’ve seen occurring over the past two decades or so could start falling apart. Our world economy can be fragile, and if too many states call for reform of international policy towards more isolationist ideas, trade and alliance relationships could crumble.


I don’t necessarily remember any point at least in my lifetime where one individual such as President Elect Trump has had so much influence on the world’s political systems. I think that we as U.S. citizens only recognize the upheaval caused here on American soil. What we don’t remember sometimes is that other countries look to ours as an example of what is acceptable and what isn’t. With Trump’s win of the presidency, others states are allowing themselves to follow.