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Written by @ameliezilber // @twominutetimes
Political & International Update

When Law Ends, Tyranny Begins

In a plot twist never been before seen or heard, Russia has plans to interfere in our election.

Last week, a solid number of intelligence officers warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the 2020 election with a preference for Trump’s re-election. They claimed Russia had already begun meddling in both the Democratic primary and the 2020 general election, with the ultimate aim of sowing discord in the US. When Trump heard about the briefing, he was enraged – not by the fact a foreign power was corrupting our election integrity, but because someone in his administration told Democrats about it.

What was Trump’s exact response 
Trump purged acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for allowing such information to reach Democrats in the House, replaced him with Richard Grenell, who has literally zero experience in the field, and dismissed all reports of Russian interference as a Democratic hoax. 

Instead of rejecting Russia’s interference or pressing his officials to work even harder to deter corruption, Trump shoved the accusations under the rug and made them seem like a suspect plan on behalf of the Democrats.

I don't often use emojis, but I think this fits the mood: 🤦🏻‍♀️

Negotiating with Terrorists

A reduction of violence began on Saturday in Afghanistan, the first major action to come out of recent negotiations between the US and the Taliban. The next step would be even bigger, a peace deal to end the fighting once and for all – nearly 19 years after the war began. 

But here’s the problem – the Taliban won’t accept any deal that doesn’t give them at least some form of power in Afghanistan. They talk about not wanting a monopoly on power and speak on the need for an inclusive government, but those are generalities; what their specific ideas are, what the outcome of negotiations could be, and what compromise could look like is quite unclear.

A permanent ceasefire and a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is a big “if” – an agreement will be fragile and peace talks in the region have a history of falling apart.

Turning a Blind Eye

When over one million refugees from Africa and the Middle East flowed into Europe in 2015, the EU took a tough stance on immigration. Today, however, we see the grim outcome of its policies.

Here’s what you need to know
For the past two years, the EU has spent nearly 100 million euros funding and training the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) to keep migrants out of Europe. In the past few months, however, accusations of serious human rights abuses on behalf of the LCG have become public.
A report that came out in the fall documented the treatment of migrants detained by the LCG, where issues of sexual violence, labor exploitation, torture and trafficking became explicitly clear.

Despite the EU knowing of such abuses, in addition to the Libyan government, money continues to flow into the hands of the LCG. Tens of thousands who could have their asylum claims assessed if they managed to reach European soil have instead been returned to Libya to spend months or years in for-profit detention centers where they are at the mercy of Libyan militias.

Foreign policy aside, this is hugely concerning from a humanitarian and human rights perspective, and the EU should be condemned for turning a blind eye.

A Case of Xenophobist Terror 

Nine people were killed when a far-right extremist opened fire at two hookah bars in Germany.

The shooter had written a racist manifesto speaking negatively about migrants from Arab countries, and posted a video, days before his fatal expedition, containing right-wing conspiracy theories.

Surely he must've been a "lone wolf" with a history of mental illness... 
A System Plagued by Corruption
This week, Iran held parliamentary elections, and it looks like the conservatives are on the brink of a landslide victory.

A minor detail to consider
There’s been a growing lack of confidence in the country’s leadership after the Iranian government disqualified tons of moderates and reformists from running. The disillusionment with what many Iranians see as a skewed election is strong amongst women and voters under 30, who tend to vote in favor of social reform and who make up a majority of the electorate.
All this is to say, turnout might have been super low considering the success of reformist candidates was a risky bet given the current stiff political atmosphere. 

A 19-year-old female Iranian voter said it best: “I want to vote, this is my duty as a citizen. But I will vote in a free election. This is not a free election.”
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