Category Archives: Politics

Political issues

Is the Independence Referendum in Catalonia Unconstitutional

The autonomous community of Catalonia – one of the 17 autonomous communities that form the country of Spain – voted on October 1, 2017 in a referendum for independence from Spain. Voting day was marred by violent clashes between Catalan voters on one side, and Spanish police and the Guardia Civil on the other side. It was also marred by the seizure of some ballot boxes by the Spanish authorities. One of the main reasons for these clashes was that the Constitutional Court of Spain had already suspended the referendum (on September 8) on constitutional grounds. Was the Catalan referendum – whose results state that 92.01% of participating voters backed independence in a 43.03% voting turnout (not accounting for the missing ballot boxes) – unconstitutional? This article will look at just this question without discussing any political, economic or social implications. Continue reading

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Kurdish Referendum: Legitimacy and Policy Implications

Introduction

On Monday, September 25, 2017 Iraqi Kurds voted on a referendum for independence, and on Wednesday results came in with an overwhelming approval (92.73% as Wikipedia cited a KHEC URL which cannot be accessed from the United States) of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. While Kurds in Iraq were cheering, the central government in the Iraqi capital Baghdad had already expressed its disapproval of the referendum, mainly on constitutional grounds, while Iraq’s neighbors – Iran and Turkey – who also have Kurdish minorities – over fear that their Kurdish minority populations will demand independence as well, did not approve of the referendum either. Syria, the other country with Kurdish minority in the Middle East, was also opposed to the referendum on the grounds that it is a unilateral action – and understandably so, since Kurdish leaders in Syria were quoted by Reuters as saying that the referendum could “bolster their cause for autonomy in negotiations with the Damascus government”. Continue reading

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Should Ukraine Allow Minorities to Study Their Mother Tongue

As a Bulgarian citizen and as a follower of events concerning Bulgaria and Bulgarian culture I learned that Ukraine’s Parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) approved a bill on September 5 that “restructures Ukraine’s education system and specifies that Ukrainian must be the main language used in schools, rolling back the option for lessons to be taught in other languages,” as ABC News reported. Continue reading

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The End of DACA

Introduction to DACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was signed as an executive order by former President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. It was aimed at providing temporary work permits to people who met the following criteria: Continue reading

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What happened in Venezuela

Venezuela – a country of 353,841 square miles and more than 31 million people (estimated population for 2016 was 31,028,637, according to the Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics; 27,227,930 people as of the latest Census which was in 2011) – is currently experiencing a significant shortage of food, drugs and cash, among other vital needs. As Francisco Toro, a Caracas resident and journalist, said on C-SPAN Radio on August 18 (in the following quote I paraphrased what I heard on the radio back then), “there is no food… the situation is rapidly deteriorating… many people are fleeing to neighboring Colombia and Brazil seeking medical help… [in a household survey] many people reported to have lost weight of the likes of 20 pounds due to the little food that they eat about just twice a day – rich on carbohydrates, poor on proteins… there is also shortage of drugs”. With regards to the household survey, he most likely referred to ENCOVI 2016 whose nutrition survey (page 17) reported on the weight loss. Continue reading

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North Korea’s missile test in Kusong – a different perspective

On Sunday, May 14, 2017 North Korea launched a long-range missile apparently targeting Japan having flown for about 435 miles before landing in Japanese Sea, around 400 kilometers from North Korea’s east coast, according to Voices of America. This is not the first time that missiles have launched from Kusong. In November 2016 a second launch within a week at the time was conducted there, as reported by CNN, near the military Banghyon Airport (or Panghyon Airport, according to Wikipedia). Surprisingly I did not come across a report that would make any mention about the military airport in connection with the latest missile launch. It will be aimed at the airport in connection with the latest missile launch and some surroundings. It won’t have any purpose to speculate one way or another. Continue reading

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Is al-Qaeda falling apart?

On February 3, 2014, the al-Qaeda leadership officially announced online that it disavowed its longtime ally in Iraq and Syria – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – over its recent confrontations with other rebel groups operating in Syria. Experts may see this move as an effort by al-Qaeda to consolidate its influence on militant groups in Syria aimed at toppling the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, particularly and especially al-Qaeda’s influence on the jihadist group al-Nusra Front. Recent clashes between rebel groups – both moderate and extremist – have apparently disunited and destabilized the Syrian opposition, particularly the Islamist opposition, in its efforts to oust President Assad and the government. Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces started regaining control of areas in the north of the country that have long been under opposition control in what is now a conflict that has lasted for almost three years. Continue reading

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