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Recent developments on the South China Sea

China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over Admiral John M. Richardsonislands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

Beijing, Jan.20.– The U.S. Navy's top officer says he urged China to follow international rules at sea to avoid confrontations and insisted that ships should be able to pass safely though the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.


Sweden grudgingly gives Stefan Lofven another term as PM

With the far right rising, centre-right parties agree to keep the Social Democrat in power, for now ...  Stefan Lofven

Stockholm, Jan.18.– In most democracies, one side needs at least a plurality of the votes to form a government. Not so in Sweden, a polite country with a system of “negative parliamentarianism”: a candidate can become prime minister so long as an absolute majority of the Riksdag, the country’s parliament, does not explicitly object.

The result can resemble a family that keeps ordering the same unloved pizza because it cannot agree on anything else. On January 18th, 153 MPs voted against a second term for Stefan Lofven (pictured, right), the Social Democrat who has served as prime minister since 2014. Just 115 backed him, but 77 abstained, meaning Mr Lofven will continue nonetheless.


Will Belarus be anexed to Russia?

Vladimir Putin is looking forward to deep integration and is hinting at a political takeover

However, Belarus’s leader upsets Vladimir Putin by cosying up to the West

Minsk, Jan.13.– A giant statue of Lenin still stands before the forbidding House of Government in Minsk, built by Stalin in 1934 and occupied by the Gestapo a few Lukashenko & Putinyears later. But behind this totalitarian façade now sits a government that is trying to work out how to reform Belarus’s economy while following a political trajectory set a quarter-century ago by the country’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko. Now he must also fend off Russia’s looming threats to its independence. This is not an easy circle to square. But Mr Lukashenko is no ordinary politician.

A former collective-farm boss, Mr Lukashenko was swept to power in a landslide in 1994, three years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has ruled Belarus ever since, making him Europe’s longest-serving president. Unlike his peers in other European former Soviet republics, who rejected the old system as they asserted independence, he cherished the Soviet legacy.


Los Angeles County agrees to purge up to 1.5 million voters from its rolls in settlement

Los Angeles, Jan.7.– Los Angeles County has agreed to conduct a purge of its voting rolls, in a move that could strip perhaps 1.5 million inactive voters from the lists of those eligible to cast ballots.California voter registration form

The county made the deal in a settlement last week with Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest firm, saying that under a recent Supreme Court ruling, it has a duty to remove names of people who appear to have either died, moved from the county or lost interest in voting.


Xi Jinping Pushes for ‘Reunification’ With Taiwan, but ... How?

Jan. 2 (– China's President Xi Jinping said in a speech commemorating the end of a military campaign against Taiwan 40 years ago, that the self-ruled island “must and will be” reunited with China. Although he briefly referred to a “peaceful reunification,” Xi said his government reserves the right to use “all necessary measures” to bring Taiwan back into its fold — a top priority for Beijing, but a move Taiwanese independence supporters have long feared. The island state has found itself increasingly isolated in the global community as allies drop direct diplomatic relations under Chinese pressure.

China's Xi threatens Taiwan with force but also seeks peaceful 'reunification'  

BEIJING/TAIPEI, Jan. 2 (Reuters).– China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification” with the self-ruled island that has a bright future under any future Chinese rule, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.