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Shifting Relations In The Americas

Donald Trump dominated global headlines once again this morning after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City, and later reaffirming his hardline stance on immigration in a speech in Phoenix, Arizona. In front of a cheering crowd, the Republican presidential candidate delivered enough anti-immigrant applause lines for his supporters' hands to get blisters. It was a head-spinning day after the earlier visit across the border along which he's vowed to build a wall that "Mexico will pay for 100%," and failed to apologize for earlier references to Mexicans as "rapists."

While the invitation from President Peña Nieto was widely lambasted in Mexico, the cross-border encounter was just one of several recent flashpoints of the shifting relations and the high stakes at play between the U.S. superpower and its Latin American neighbors ahead of November's elections.

Trump's show yesterday happened to coincide with the first commercial flight between the U.S. and Cuba in more than half a century, which landed in Santa Clara. But even as the rapprochement continues between the two former enemies, tensions are rising elsewhere in the area. Venezuela's embattled leftist President Nicolas Maduro accused Washington of being behind the nationwide protests that are set to kick off today, calling it a coup attempt. "The government of President Barack Hussein Obama ... seeks the instability of Venezuela and the region to legitimize its imperial plans against the peace and development of the people," he said earlier this week.

Meanwhile, next door to Venezuela, Brazil is facing profound instability of its own after Dilma Rousseff's impeachment was confirmed yesterday by the Senate. To the north is perhaps the best diplomatic news of the summer, as Colombia and leftist rebel group FARC have reached an accord to end 52 years of civil war. The lengthy negotiations, we should note, were hosted in Havana. Could evolving U.S.-Cuba relations become the rock of stability in the Western Hemisphere?



"They think they have beaten us but they are mistaken," a defiant Dilma Rousseff told her supporters yesterday, vowing to fight back and appeal the decision to impeach her. An overwhelming majority of Brazil's Senators (61-20) voted in favor of her impeachment, marking the end of her Workers' Party 13-year rule. In a pre-recorded address that was broadcast after he was sworn in, interim President Michel Temer said "this moment is one of hope and recovery of confidence in Brazil. Uncertainty has ended." But clashes erupted overnight between Dilma's supporters and the police for a third day in a row in São Paulo, as well as in other cities across the country, with Folha de S. Pauloreporting several injuries.


Two people were killed and others were wounded last night in Libreville, Gabon, when security forces stormed the headquarters of the defeated presidential candidate Jean Ping, after days of unrest that followed a disputed election on Sunday, France 24 reports. Earlier, the parliament had been set on fire and the government said security operations aimed at "rooting out criminals." Jean Ping's supporters accuse reelected President Ali Bongo of stealing the polls.


The day science-fiction movies were born! This is your 57-second shot of History.


The U.S. and its negotiating partners agreed "in secret" to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in last year's landmark nuclear agreement in order to meet the deadline for it to start getting relief from economic sanctions, Reuters reports.


Malaysia reported its first case of the Zika virus today , Al Jazeera reports. A 58-year-old woman tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus after travelling to Singapore.


Decades of civil war have ravaged Colombia's environment and undermined opportunities at oil exploration. For Colombian daily El Espectador, now with peace looming, big and small firms alike are ready to pursue the government's "sustainable" energy plan: "Just one figure may offer an idea of what big oil has lost in the government's battle against the forces of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC): Energy infrastructure like pipelines have been dynamited more than 2,500 times in the past three decades. ...

Big, medium and smaller oil firms have all declared their eagerness for a new era. ‘If we were in Colombia in the worst periods of conflict and insecurity, we'll certainly do so now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,' says Orlando Velandia Sepúlveda, who heads the state hydrocarbons agency ANH, citing conversations with sector representatives. The peace deal inked last week with the FARC, he says, ‘is the best news for the oil sector.'"

Read the full article, Why Oil Firms Are Pumped About The Colombia Peace Deal.


A scheduled commercial flight flew from the U.S. to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years yesterday, CNN reports. JetBlue Flight 387 departed from Fort Lauderdale, near Miami, and landed in Santa Clara, carrying 150 people on board. It lasted just 45 minutes. Meanwhile, British Airways announced this morning it will resume direct flights from London to Tehran later, after suspending them four years ago, according to the BBC.


Birds Of Prayer — Bharatpur, 1994


Scientists have discovered fossils in Greenland that formed 3.7 billion years ago, making them the oldest physical evidence for life on Earth, the scientific journal Nature reports. These new fossils are 220 million years older than fossils previously discovered.



The friendliest countries in the world for expats are Taiwan, Uganda and Costa Rica. Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, on the other hand, are where you'll make the fewest friends, according to the 2016 edition of Expat Insider, a worldwide expat survey that ranked the "ease of settling in" 67 countries.

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It's A Golden Era For Russia-Turkey Relations — Just Look At The Numbers

On the diplomatic and political level, no world leader speaks more regularly with Vladimir Putin than his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But the growing closeness of Russia and Turkey can also be measured in the economic data. And the 2022 numbers are stunning.

Photo of Erdogan and Putin walking out of a door

Erdogan and Putin last summer in Sochi, Russia

Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS via ZUMA
Aytug Özçolak


ISTANBUL — As Russia has become increasingly isolated since the invasion of Ukraine, the virtual pariah state has drawn notably closer to one of its remaining partners: Turkey.

Ankara has committed billions of dollars to buy the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system, and contracted to Russia to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant. The countries’ foreign policies are also becoming increasingly aligned.

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But the depth of this relationship goes much further. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin more than any other leader: 16 times in 2022, and 11 times in 2021. Erdoğan has visited Russia 14 times since 2016, compared to his 10 visits to the U.S. in the same time period (half of which were in 2016 and 2017).

But no less important is the way the two countries are increasingly tied together by commerce.

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