Venezuela heads to the polls on 7 October with Hugo Chávez, battling cancer, seeking to extend his rule until 2019. The increased prospects of victory for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, grave concerns over Chávez health and post electoral scenarios and fraud claims, coupled with weak political institutions, raise fears over the country’s stability.
On 27 June 2012, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner stood at a podium and ad-libbed a farewell speech to her country’s Olympic team as they made final preparations for their departure to the London 2012 Games. Kirchner reassured her nation that despite the recent increase in tensions over the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute, and despite competing in the capital city of the country with whom the dispute exists, neither her government nor the Olympic team would do anything during the Games that does not have to do with sports. During the competition, said Kirchner, Argentina would compete, represent its flag, and not do anything outside of sport to draw attention to itself.
Recently, two stories of American advocacy have been making the news, but not in the way their PR teams would have wanted. PBS’ This American Life (TAL) programme retracted contributor Mike Daisey’s story on Apple’s FoxConn factory in China due to exaggerations uncovered in his report, and Invisible Children’s (IC) Kony 2012 media blitz was derailed by criticism of the group’s methods and the arrest of its most visible figure, Jason Russell. These stories captivated American audiences because of the parties involved, but subsequent coverage has focused heavily on the scandals. This has overshadowed the issues at the heart of these stories, and detracts from a larger discussion of modern American advocacy.
Soft power is widely understood as a state's ability to get what it wants through attraction and moral authority, rather than raw military or economic coercion. Canada is one country that has made soft power a hallmark of its foreign policy. So what is soft power, and what does it have to do with the "hard" dimensions of state power? China seems to be paying attention. Read on to discover why some in Beijing are recommending that the Communist Party take a page out of Ottawa's playbook.
On 10 January 2012, a predator drone killed five presumed terrorists in Pakistan’s North-Waziristan region on the border with Afghanistan. This attack signalled the resumption of drone strikes in Pakistan for the first time since late November 2011, when such actions were curtailed following a misguided NATO airstrike which resulted in the deaths of at least 24 Pakistani soldiers in the country’s north-east.
Last week, many websites such as Wikipedia, Reddit and Google shut down or took action to protest two bills in the American Congress: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). SOPA and PIPA are essentially anti-piracy bills whose main goal is to prevent access from within the US to websites which "engage in, enable, or facilitate" the infringement of intellectual property. But if these bills are passed, it could usher in an era of widespread censorship affecting every website in the world and with unforeseen political repercussions.
After more than twelve years as president, Hugo Chavez is again facing re-election. Venezuela is accustomed to turmoil and conflicts, and after another year of chaos, the upcoming elections are to represent an end to the soap opera of Venezuelan politics. The opposition and its conglomerate parties will have primary elections in February to elect a unity candidate to compete against Chavez and his monumental governmental machinery. The opposition will also elect united candidates to participate in county and state elections. With general elections set for next November 2012, the question is who will have the final leverage and political momentum to carry out the winning results.