June 17, 2018
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Conservative Ivan Duque of the Democratic Center party is the next president of Colombia, after winning 53.9 percent of the vote in a second round runoff election Sunday.

Duque campaigned against the peace deal the government signed with FARC rebels in 2016, which ended 52 years of civil war. He vowed to modify parts of the deal that were controversial, like giving former militants guaranteed seats in congress. His opponent, Gustavo Petro, is the former mayor of Bogota and was once a leftist militant; he supports the peace deal.

When Duque takes office on Aug. 8, shortly after his 42nd birthday, he will become the country's youngest ever president. He worked at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., before returning to Colombia in 2014 at the insistence of former president Alvaro Uribe to fill a seat in the senate. Critics say Duque is Uribe's puppet. Catherine Garcia

June 10, 2018
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he is ready for a face-to-face meeting with President Trump in the near future. Trump has suggested a summit several times, most recently in a call between the two leaders about the risk of a new arms race.

"The U.S. president has repeatedly said that it's reasonable to hold such a meeting," Putin said while attending a conference in China. "As soon as the U.S. side is ready, the meeting will take place, depending, of course, on my working schedule." He proposed Austria as a possible location.

This overture comes after Trump ruffled feathers at the weekend's G7 summit in Canada by repeatedly suggesting, once on Friday and once at a press conference Saturday, that Russia be added back to the group to make it again the G8. Bonnie Kristian

June 2, 2018
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While Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visits Beijing for trade negotiations, Defense Secretary James Mattis on Saturday warned China against "intimidating neighbors" in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

"China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promises; it calls into question China's broader goals," Mattis said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security summit in Singapore. "The U.S. will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, cooperating when possible and competing vigorously where we must."

"Of course, we recognize any sustainable Indo-Pacific order has a role for China," he continued, but "[m]ake no mistake: America is in the Indo-Pacific to stay. This is our priority theater."

A Chinese military official labeled Mattis' remarks "irresponsible." Bonnie Kristian

May 31, 2018
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On Thursday, Italian officials agreed to a deal that puts two populist parties in charge of the government.

The announcement was made just days after President Sergio Mattarella rejected the parties' pick for finance minister because he was critical of the European Union and suggested abandoning the euro. Mattarella was presented with a new cabinet on Thursday, which he approved. The anti-immigrant League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement will lead together, with law professor Giuseppe Conte serving as prime minister. Both parties have said they want to renegotiate treaties on budgets and migration with the EU, as well as lift sanctions against Russia. Catherine Garcia

May 30, 2018
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The Trump administration on Wednesday levied new financial sanctions against a selection of Iranian organizations, officials, and individuals accused of censorship and human rights abuses against the Iranian public.

Iran "routinely violates the rights of its own people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "The Iranian regime diverts national resources that should belong to the people to fund a massive and expensive censorship apparatus and suppress free speech." The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will administer the sanctions.

Among the entities targeted is Ansar-e Hizballah, a quasi-official paramilitary organization, as well as Evin Prison, a tech firm called Hanista Programing Group, and Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), a state-run media outlet. Ansar-e Hizballah "has been involved in the violent suppression of Iranian citizens and has collaborated with the Basij [militias] to violently attack Iranian students with knives, tear gas, and electric batons," the Treasury statement says, while inmates at Evin are subjected to torture. Hanista created messaging apps that facilitated state surveillance of protesters, the sanctions announcement says, and IRIB engaged in censorship and propaganda. Bonnie Kristian

May 14, 2018
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Iraqi election officials announced on Monday that Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric and militia leader, is the front-runner in the country's national elections.

Sadr's coalition has won a majority of the votes counted in 16 of Iraq's 18 provinces, officials said, and while he was not a candidate and cannot become prime minister, he could end up choosing the next one. Sadr, 44, led an alliance of several groups, including Sunni businessmen and Communists.

During the Iraq War, Sadr was a fierce opponent of U.S. forces in the country, and his followers also clashed with Sunnis in sectarian fighting. Today, he's rebranded himself as a populist outsider who will fight corruption and Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs. Catherine Garcia

May 13, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated Sunday his nation will stay in the nuclear deal if "the remaining five countries" — the U.K., China, France, Germany, and Russia — "continue to abide by the agreement" despite 'the will of America,' namely President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Trump continued to critique Rouhani's government on Twitter:

The actual increase is about 30 percent, bringing Iran's defense budget back to what it was in 2006, and it is part of a broader government spending increase in Tehran. Bonnie Kristian

April 16, 2018
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A former Japanese prime minister is predicting that the country's embattled current leader, Shinzo Abe, will resign in June.

"The situation is getting dangerous," Junichiro Koizumi told the weekly magazine Aera. "Won't Mr. Abe resign around the time parliament's session ends," on June 20? Abe has denied several reports that he intervened in land sales and building deals to help friends, but he's facing mounting calls to step down. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated near parliament, chanting, "Abe quit!"

Nippon TV released a new survey on Sunday showing Abe's support is only at 26.7 percent — the lowest point since he took office in December 2012. Catherine Garcia

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