Media Roundup

United States

Top News

Obama Cuba Policy Reversal Ignites Firestorm on Hill, Excites U.S. Businesses

By Ben Wolfgang and David Sherfinski | The Washington Times

Senators of both parties have issued blistering rebukes of the move, and a visibly angry Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida and a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, indicated he may look to block funding for a U.S. embassy in Cuba and could hold up the confirmation of a to-be-named American ambassador.

Drone Strikes Counterproductive, Says Secret CIA Report

By Philip Dorling | The Sydney Morning Herald

Drone strikes and other "targeted killings" of terrorist and insurgent leaders favoured by the US and supported by Australia can strengthen extremist groups and be counterproductive, according to a secret CIA report published by WikiLeaks.

Opinion

‘The Interview’ Disaster Is the Perfect Ending to 2014

By Alyssa Rosenberg | The Washington Post

As depressing as this all is, the controversy over “The Interview” also feels like a fitting coda to 2014, a year in culture that has been defined by actual and imagined totalitarianism.

The Americas

Top News

Cubans Hope for Better Future With U.S.-Havana Deal

By Anne-Marie Garcia and Andrea Rodriguez | The Associated Press

Cubans cheered the surprise announcement that their country will restore relations with the United States, hopeful they'll soon see expanded trade and new economic vibrancy even though the 53-year-old economic embargo remains in place for the time being.

Colombia's Leftist FARC Rebels Declare Unilateral Cease-Fire

By Chris Kraul | Los Angeles Times

Leftist rebels negotiating a peace agreement with the Colombian government on Wednesday declared a unilateral and indefinite cease-fire in hope of drawing a reciprocal halt by the armed forces, something President Juan Manuel Santos has so far resisted.

Opinion

Welcome Back, Cuba!

By Nicholas Kristof | The New York Times

Sending in gunmen to liberate the Bay of Pigs failed, but perhaps we’ll do better with diplomats, tourists and investors.

Off the Radar

Europe

Top News

Putin Accuses West of Trying to Sideline Russia

By Laura Mills and Vladimir Isachenkov | The Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to fix Russia's economic woes within two years, voicing confidence that the plummeting ruble will recover and promising to diversify Russia's gas-dependent economy.

Opinion

Whither Ukraine’s Revolution?

By Jeffrey Michels | Foreign Policy in Focus

Ukraine faces an almost impossible task: carefully balancing its internal contradictions while initiating monumental reforms.

Off the Radar

EU to Tighten Sanctions on Russia Over Crimea This Week

The Moscow Times

The European Union will widen its ban on investment in Crimea to target Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration, EU officials said Wednesday, tightening sanctions first imposed over Moscow’s annexation of the region.

Russia to Give Belarus Four S-300 Surface-to-Air Missile Systems

TASS

The Belarusian army will get four S-300 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia next year, Russian ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov said in Minsk on Wednesday. Russia also plans to increase the number of combat aircraft deployed in Belarus to 12, and the number of trainer aircraft to two.

Africa

Top News

Official: 28 Die in Clashes in Central African Republic

By Hippolyte Marboua | The Associated Press

Clashes in Central African Republic between Muslim and Christian fighters have killed 28, left dozens wounded and sent civilians fleeing for safety, a Red Cross official said Thursday.

Off the Radar

Middle East

Top News

Border Town in Iranian Kurdistan Booms Through Trade With Iraq

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr | Financial Times

At first glance, the Kurdish border town of Baneh is anything but prosperous. Houses are shabby, roads are narrow and potholed. Yet the town, home to 90,000 Kurds, has 75 shopping malls and is the hub of a multibillion-dollar illicit trade in home appliances and electronics.

Yemen's Parliament Approves New Cabinet

By Ahmed Al-Haj | The Associated Press

Yemen's parliament on Thursday approved a new government with a comfortable majority following months of violence and political wrangling.

Palestinian Leader Supports More Talks on UN Bid

By Karin Laub | The Associated Press

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he supports further negotiations over a draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands that was submitted to the U.N. Security Council for a possible vote.

Opinion

The Russians Will Not Drop Assad

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed | Asharq Alawsat

To understand the recent changes in Syria, we may have to re-evaluate the political and military situation there. We may also have to ask the following question: if Russia hadn’t decided to support Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, would this have changed the course of the Syrian revolution?

The Arab World’s Vanishing Christians

By Christian C. Sahner | Project Syndicate

This Christmas, thousands of worshipers and tourists will travel to the Middle East to celebrate in the land of the Bible. At a time when the Arab world is aflame with sectarian strife, the observance of the Christian holiday is a sad reminder of the fact that the region was once a polyglot, multiethnic mix of peoples and faiths.

Off the Radar

Turkish FM’s Iran Visit Highlights Split Over Syria

Hurriyet Daily News

A visit to Iran by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today highlighted the two countries’ opposing views on the Syrian conflict, though both said “dialogue” was needed to close gaps.

German Cabinet Approves Training Mission to Iraq

By Reuters | Hurriyet Daily News

The German Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to send around 100 German troops to northern Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) militants.

Asia / Pacific

Top News

Sony Pulls Korea Film; U.S. Blames Pyongyang For Hack

By Ben Fritz, Erich Schwartzel and Devlin Barrett | The Wall Street Journal

Sony Pictures canceled its release of “The Interview” after hackers threatened violence against theaters that played the film, as U.S. officials concluded that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on the company.

Opinion

Go West, Young Han

By Pepe Escobar | Asia Times

If everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China's leaders), the "New Silk Road" will become the project of the new century and the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade. Washington may be intent on "pivoting to Asia", but Beijing has its own plan to pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.

Off the Radar

India to Lease Second Nuclear Submarine From Russia

By Rajat Pandit/TNN | The Times of India

India is on course to acquire a second nuclear-powered submarine on lease from Russia to bolster its depleted underwater combat arm as well as train its sailors in the complex art of operating such vessels.

Top News

Obama Cuba Policy Reversal Ignites Firestorm on Hill, Excites U.S. Businesses

By Ben Wolfgang and David Sherfinski | The Washington Times

Senators of both parties have issued blistering rebukes of the move, and a visibly angry Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida and a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, indicated he may look to block funding for a U.S. embassy in Cuba and could hold up the confirmation of a to-be-named American ambassador.

Drone Strikes Counterproductive, Says Secret CIA Report

By Philip Dorling | The Sydney Morning Herald

Drone strikes and other "targeted killings" of terrorist and insurgent leaders favoured by the US and supported by Australia can strengthen extremist groups and be counterproductive, according to a secret CIA report published by WikiLeaks.

Opinion

‘The Interview’ Disaster Is the Perfect Ending to 2014

By Alyssa Rosenberg | The Washington Post

As depressing as this all is, the controversy over “The Interview” also feels like a fitting coda to 2014, a year in culture that has been defined by actual and imagined totalitarianism.

Top News

Cubans Hope for Better Future With U.S.-Havana Deal

By Anne-Marie Garcia and Andrea Rodriguez | The Associated Press

Cubans cheered the surprise announcement that their country will restore relations with the United States, hopeful they'll soon see expanded trade and new economic vibrancy even though the 53-year-old economic embargo remains in place for the time being.

Colombia's Leftist FARC Rebels Declare Unilateral Cease-Fire

By Chris Kraul | Los Angeles Times

Leftist rebels negotiating a peace agreement with the Colombian government on Wednesday declared a unilateral and indefinite cease-fire in hope of drawing a reciprocal halt by the armed forces, something President Juan Manuel Santos has so far resisted.

Opinion

Welcome Back, Cuba!

By Nicholas Kristof | The New York Times

Sending in gunmen to liberate the Bay of Pigs failed, but perhaps we’ll do better with diplomats, tourists and investors.

Off the Radar

Top News

Putin Accuses West of Trying to Sideline Russia

By Laura Mills and Vladimir Isachenkov | The Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to fix Russia's economic woes within two years, voicing confidence that the plummeting ruble will recover and promising to diversify Russia's gas-dependent economy.

Opinion

Whither Ukraine’s Revolution?

By Jeffrey Michels | Foreign Policy in Focus

Ukraine faces an almost impossible task: carefully balancing its internal contradictions while initiating monumental reforms.

Off the Radar

EU to Tighten Sanctions on Russia Over Crimea This Week

The Moscow Times

The European Union will widen its ban on investment in Crimea to target Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration, EU officials said Wednesday, tightening sanctions first imposed over Moscow’s annexation of the region.

Russia to Give Belarus Four S-300 Surface-to-Air Missile Systems

TASS

The Belarusian army will get four S-300 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia next year, Russian ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov said in Minsk on Wednesday. Russia also plans to increase the number of combat aircraft deployed in Belarus to 12, and the number of trainer aircraft to two.

Top News

Official: 28 Die in Clashes in Central African Republic

By Hippolyte Marboua | The Associated Press

Clashes in Central African Republic between Muslim and Christian fighters have killed 28, left dozens wounded and sent civilians fleeing for safety, a Red Cross official said Thursday.

Off the Radar

Top News

Border Town in Iranian Kurdistan Booms Through Trade With Iraq

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr | Financial Times

At first glance, the Kurdish border town of Baneh is anything but prosperous. Houses are shabby, roads are narrow and potholed. Yet the town, home to 90,000 Kurds, has 75 shopping malls and is the hub of a multibillion-dollar illicit trade in home appliances and electronics.

Yemen's Parliament Approves New Cabinet

By Ahmed Al-Haj | The Associated Press

Yemen's parliament on Thursday approved a new government with a comfortable majority following months of violence and political wrangling.

Palestinian Leader Supports More Talks on UN Bid

By Karin Laub | The Associated Press

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he supports further negotiations over a draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands that was submitted to the U.N. Security Council for a possible vote.

Opinion

The Russians Will Not Drop Assad

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed | Asharq Alawsat

To understand the recent changes in Syria, we may have to re-evaluate the political and military situation there. We may also have to ask the following question: if Russia hadn’t decided to support Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, would this have changed the course of the Syrian revolution?

The Arab World’s Vanishing Christians

By Christian C. Sahner | Project Syndicate

This Christmas, thousands of worshipers and tourists will travel to the Middle East to celebrate in the land of the Bible. At a time when the Arab world is aflame with sectarian strife, the observance of the Christian holiday is a sad reminder of the fact that the region was once a polyglot, multiethnic mix of peoples and faiths.

Off the Radar

Turkish FM’s Iran Visit Highlights Split Over Syria

Hurriyet Daily News

A visit to Iran by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today highlighted the two countries’ opposing views on the Syrian conflict, though both said “dialogue” was needed to close gaps.

German Cabinet Approves Training Mission to Iraq

By Reuters | Hurriyet Daily News

The German Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to send around 100 German troops to northern Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) militants.

Top News

Sony Pulls Korea Film; U.S. Blames Pyongyang For Hack

By Ben Fritz, Erich Schwartzel and Devlin Barrett | The Wall Street Journal

Sony Pictures canceled its release of “The Interview” after hackers threatened violence against theaters that played the film, as U.S. officials concluded that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on the company.

Opinion

Go West, Young Han

By Pepe Escobar | Asia Times

If everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China's leaders), the "New Silk Road" will become the project of the new century and the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade. Washington may be intent on "pivoting to Asia", but Beijing has its own plan to pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.

Off the Radar

India to Lease Second Nuclear Submarine From Russia

By Rajat Pandit/TNN | The Times of India

India is on course to acquire a second nuclear-powered submarine on lease from Russia to bolster its depleted underwater combat arm as well as train its sailors in the complex art of operating such vessels.