Francia Marquez raises her arm next to presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, at an event presenting her as his running mate in Bogota, Colombia, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

TORIBIO, Colombia—At night, the hills around Toribio twinkle with the grow lights used to both illuminate and heat the marijuana plantations that dominate the local economy. Laid out in rectangular grids, these plots are a reminder that the fertile soils of this mountainous territory in Colombia’s southern province of Cauca are both a blessing and a curse. The local Nasa communities, key actors in the mass protests that rocked Colombia last year, cultivate a wide range of crops in an attempt to find alternatives to drug production, but marijuana and coca remain the mainstay of the local economy. “We have […]

Mark Zuckerberg—then the CEO of Facebook, which has since been renamed Meta—delivers a speech about the metaverse during a virtual event, Oct. 28, 2021 (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

“Society cannot exist without Law,” the 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley famously declared. Aristotle similarly remarked, “Law is order, and good law is good order.” Both men would have been horrified at the prospect of a new, virtual society that potentially lies outside the scope of any system of law, save for contractual provisions imposed by its commercially motivated, all-seeing creator. Nonetheless, in a recent survey, only 36 percent of Americans said that government-enacted regulations would be an important factor in their decision over whether or not to use the metaverse. Life in a virtual reality or augmented […]

A logo adorns a wall on a branch of the Israeli NSO Group company,
near the southern Israeli town of Sapir, Aug. 24, 2021 (AP Photo/Sebastian
Scheiner).

The international trade in digital surveillance tools has long been controversial, particularly their sale to repressive governments that have allegedly used them to target dissidents and journalists. That controversy reached a new level last year, when a handful of Israeli cyber firms were accused of selling highly sophisticated spyware to authoritarian regimes. One firm, in particular, the NSO Group, became the focus of an international investigative consortium, composed of 17 leading media organizations, including the Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and Haaretz, as well as Amnesty International and a media nonprofit. The consortium’s dozens of articles detailing its investigation were further amplified […]

A demonstrator holds a poster reading “Peace for Ukraine” during a protest against the Russian invasion, Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 6, 2022 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is upending the geopolitical calculations of states around the world. The fallout is especially complex for the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, which maintain extensive economic, political, cultural and other ties to both Russia and Ukraine. While Central Asia is far from the front lines of the ongoing war, and therefore less directly impacted than states like Moldova or Georgia, its leaders also face difficult decisions. Independent for three decades, the Central Asian states remain dependent to varying degrees on Russia as a security provider and economic partner, and as a source of political support. Their […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP photo by John Muchucha).

The government of Rwanda announced earlier this month what it described as a “migration and economic development partnership” with the United Kingdom, in which the U.K. claims it would send migrants who had reached British territory to Rwanda for processing of their asylum claims for possible settlement in the U.K. But in practical terms, the asylum seekers will be transported to Rwanda permanently. Almost immediately after the agreement was announced, it came under fire, with critics calling London’s role in it a legally dubious violation of international humanitarian norms that treats human beings like commodities, all to help the U.K. “outsource its refugee problems.” But […]

A ripped electoral poster of French President Emmanuel Macron is displayed in Lyon, France, April 22, 2022 (AP photo by Laurent Cipriani).

Unlike European Union directives, which must be published in the languages of all the bloc’s member states, the sighs of relief heard across much of Europe at the outcome of yesterday’s French presidential election needed no translation. The suspense had already receded in the two weeks since the first-round ballot, as polls showed French President Emmanuel Macron widening his lead over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. But with Macron’s reelection now sealed, the sense of having dodged a bullet in Brussels, the capitals of Europe, Washington and of course Paris is no less palpable. The implications of a Le Pen victory […]

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, attend a rally in Harare, Feb. 20, 2022 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—In late January, at the Bronte Hotel—a favorite haunt of foreign correspondents in Harare—a brand-new Zimbabwean opposition party was officially launched. Just three months later, that party, known as the Citizens Coalition for Change or CCC, was celebrating what looked to be a triumphant start. In a round of by-elections late last month, its candidates won 19 of the 28 parliamentary races and 61 percent of the local council seats that were up for grabs. This was proof, insisted party leader Nelson Chamisa in a press conference shortly after the results were announced, that the newcomers, who were hard to miss […]

Nepalese protesters clash with police as the parliament debated a proposed $500 million U.S. aid grant, Kathmandu, Nepal, Feb. 20, 2022 (AP photo by Niranjan Shreshta).

Nepal’s recent political turmoil put its internal divisions in the spotlight and raised questions of where the country stands 16 years after the end of its civil conflict and five years after the first elections held under its new federalist constitution. Ostensibly a dispute over whether or not to accept a U.S. aid package—a $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, grant first initialed in 2017—the crisis saw years of indecision, polarization, disinformation and recently violent protests before Parliament eventually ratified the grant in February. The protracted ordeal over what was seemingly a straightforward development grant exposed deep cracks in […]

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai, attends World Government Summit at the Dubai Expo 2020, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 29, 2022 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Dubai’s Expo 2020, the international fair hosted in the United Arab Emirates, closed last month to rave reviews. The mega event, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic but retained its official name for marketing and branding purposes, ran from October 2021 to March 2022. In that time, it recorded more than 24 million visitors from more than 190 countries, according to the fair’s official website, with hundreds of millions more visiting virtually. That traffic reflects Dubai’s status as an emerging global hub between the Middle East and Europe on one hand, and Asia—particularly South Asia, from where more than a third […]

The words “No Money for Murderers, Stop the Oil and Gas Trade” are projected by activists onto the Russian consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, April 4, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

In banning Russian coal imports from August onward, the European Union has finally broken the “energy taboo” that had beset its discussions of punitive sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine. Yet, the coal ban is not going to hit Russia’s economy very hard. With the clock now ticking as Russia prepares its next offensive in eastern Ukraine, Europe should press ahead and move swiftly toward measures that target Russian oil imports. Western sanctions adopted against Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine have been unprecedented in both scale and scope. They have also been insufficient. Russia’s […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gestures while delivering a speech during his final pre-election rally, Szekesfehervar, Hungary, April 1, 2022 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

He’s been called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the European Union and accused of “eliminating democracy,” and he’s become the poster child of the global hard right. Now Viktor Orban has won a fourth consecutive term as Hungarian prime minister in a landslide. In parliamentary elections on April 3, Orban’s Fidesz and its small satellite party KDNP took more than 50 percent of the vote, with the opposition coalition United for Hungary winning just 35 percent. The new far-right Our Homeland Movement also entered parliament with around 6 percent. The result will give the Fidesz-KDNP coalition 135 seats […]

President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leave after a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, April 16, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In January, U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in which both leaders largely agreed to maintain the direction bilateral relations have taken in the 15 months since Biden took office. But if the meeting signaled both sides’ desire for continuity, there are still numerous unanswered questions regarding the future of the alliance. With Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, the U.S.-Japan relationship—and U.S. policy on Asia more broadly—appeared set to return to where things stood at the end of the Obama administration. As a candidate, Biden repeatedly stressed that it was urgent to […]

Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez and President Alberto Fernandez stand outside Congress after attending the ceremony marking the year’s opening session, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 1, 2022 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

In most of the world, the International Monetary Fund is just a multilateral financial institution. In Argentina, in contrast, the fund is a fundamental and highly controversial part of economic and political life. As if to highlight that, the country’s ruling Peronist coalition is currently unraveling from internal divisions following a recent agreement between the government and the IMF, approved only weeks ago. The Peronists returned to power in 2019 due to a clever political move by former President Cristina Fernandez. Aware that she herself was too polarizing, she anointed Alberto Fernandez—a moderate who is no relation—as presidential candidate, while she […]

The lithium-rich Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia, July 27, 2010 (AP photo by Dado Galdieri).

LA PAZ, Bolivia—With the swearing-in of Chilean President Gabriel Boric last month, the three countries of Latin America’s so-called lithium triangle—Chile, Bolivia and Argentina—all have leftist leaders who want their governments and citizens to benefit more from the extraction of their countries’ natural resources. At first glance, this could present an opportunity for the three countries to push for the creation of an OPEC-style price-setting cartel for lithium. They are all rich in the coveted resource, and there has been speculation about them banding together to form such an organization for years. But key differences between the oil and lithium […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with Yogi Adityanath during the latter’s swearing-in ceremony as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state in Lucknow, India, March 25, 2022 (AP photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, put on an extraordinary performance in recent state elections, winning 4 out of the 5 states that went to the polls in February and March. Not only did the BJP manage to win reelection in the states of Goa and Uttarakhand, despite polls suggesting high levels of anti-incumbent sentiment, it also put on a commanding performance in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state with a population of over 200 million and nearly one-sixth of the country’s population. This allowed incumbent Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a hardline Hindu monk and BJP member, to become […]

Employees prune plants at a greenhouse growing medical marijuana for export in Nueva Helvecia, Uruguay, Jan. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Matilde Campodonico).

Following nearly three years of debate, Costa Rica finally legalized medical cannabis on March 2. Upon signing it into law, outgoing President Carlos Alvarado said that the bill—which legalizes medical marijuana and the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes, but still restricts its recreational use—would be a “great benefit for the country.” However, to what extent medical cannabis legalization, and potentially recreational legalization, will be a positive development for Costa Rica or serve as a model for the broader region remains to be seen. Costa Rica’s medical marijuana legislation has been years in the making. As early as 2014, a survey […]

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, third from left, and top military officials attend a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

Addressing a security forum in Islamabad on Saturday, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in no uncertain terms, describing it as an “invasion” and “aggression against a smaller country that cannot be condoned.” These statements would be uncontroversial had they not contradicted the official position of Pakistan’s civilian government, which is in the midst of a political crisis that also involves the army. Indeed, Pakistan’s ongoing political turmoil—which has seen Prime Minister Imran Khan avoid a vote of no confidence through questionable parliamentary maneuvers, as his coalition and party fracture amid pressure […]

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