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US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement in Vienna on the status of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program before he leaves Vienna on Nov. 24, 2014. Kerry defended extending a deadline for a deal with Iran, saying "real and substantial progress" was made during talks in Vienna and calling on US lawmakers not to impose new sanctions on Tehran.

- AFP/Getty Images

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — The international nuclear negotiations with Iran are close enough to succeed so the talks are being extended to next year. The new deadlines are March for a political agreement and June for the full final signatures.

The deal will mean Iran agrees to make abundantly verifiable the entirely peaceful character of its civilian nuclear energy program and thereby cancel out Western suspicions that Iran’s ambition is for a weapon.

An accord would constitute the first truly good news out of the Middle East in a long while. If we peacefully settle this dispute it would mean an historic opportunity to get policy right in that area of the world.

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US President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress on foreign policy on July 31, 2014 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC. At left is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV.

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DENVER — The United States and other members of the P5+1 have agreed to extend the deadline for reaching a nuclear deal with Iran by several months. While administration officials, including Secretary John Kerry, have indicated progress in the most recent round of discussions, considerable space remains between the positions of the two sides.

However, Congress and American public should be wary of the talks’ extension. This administration is eager for an agreement it could tout as a signature foreign policy achievement. 

And for good reason. Its record on foreign policy is marked more by failure than success, especially on conflict-related issues. The lack of progress on so many pressing issues raises doubts about the administration’s competence and judgment to reach a deal with Iran – a state with longstanding, venomous animosity toward the US and our Mideast allies, a record of promoting terrorism against the US and those allies, and a history of perfidy on its nuclear weapons program.

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Indian sex workers hold placards as they participate in a rally at the Sonagachi area of Kolkata on Nov. 8, 2014. Hundreds of sex workers with their children and family members participated in the rally to demand better legal protection of sex workers, claiming that better laws will reduce human trafficking and exploitation.

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TURIN, Italy — Over the last few weeks, two territories thousands of miles apart made a similar commitment to gender equality. Northern Ireland became the first part of the United Kingdom, and Canada the first country outside of Europe, to vote in favor of a bill that recognizes the gender dimension of the commercial sex trade.

In both cases, the selling of sex will be decriminalized. Exiting services and support will be provided to those in prostitution, and the focus will move to pimps, brothel-keepers and buyers – those who create the demand that fuels sex trafficking. The approach is known as the “Nordic Model,” initially established by Sweden in 1999 and later adopted by Norway and Iceland.

Today, Ireland and France are considering similar approaches, while the European Union and the Council of Europe both recommended that other countries follow suit.

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US President Barack Obama and Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speak during a press conference at her residence in Yangon on Nov.14, 2014. Obama began talks with Suu Kyi in a show of support for the opposition leader as the nation turns towards elections next year with uncertainty over the direction of reforms.

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CHICAGO — Two world figures whose political destinies were launched in hope took center stage in Myanmar last week.

As fledgling leaders, President Barack Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi both expressed confidence they would “get things done” by reaching out to those who wished them ill. The very titles of their respective memoirs — Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” and Suu Kyi’s “Voice of Hope” — suggested a heady confidence rooted in a belief in the essential goodness of human beings and a limitless possibility when people work together.

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US President George W. Bush holds Baron Mosima Loyiso Tantoh as Tantoh's mother Manyongo Mosima Kuene Tantoh (L), who suffers from AIDS, and Bishop Paul Yowakim (2nd L) look on, after Bush spoke about the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief on May 30, 2007, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.

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BOSTON — With the declaration that Texas is now Ebola-free, the last potentially infected person having cleared the 21-day monitoring period, the United States is quickly shifting focus to other hot-burner topics.

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Attorneys Beatrice Lindstrom (2nd L) Marioa Joseph (2nd R) and other attorneys exit the federal courthouse in New York on Oct. 23, 2014 in New York. Cholera has killed more than 8,500 people and infected more than 700,000 in Haiti since 2010, when the plaintiffs allege it was introduced by UN peacekeepers, dispatched in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

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CAMBRIDGE, England — Late last month, attorneys argued before the US Federal District Court in Manhattan that the United Nations is not immune from liability for the spread of cholera throughout Haiti. The medical science is clear on this point, and none but the UN itself disputes this conclusion.

Yet in denying its role in the Haitian cholera epidemic that has killed more than 8,500 and sickened hundreds of thousands more, the UN jeopardizes its own future.

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Communist-affiliated protesters gather during a massive anti-austerity rally in front of the Greek parliament in Athens on November 1, 2014. Thousands of protesters gathered under a motto "we won't live with crumbs" against low wages and unemployment.

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LONDON — Europe has once again found itself in crisis mode with Greece at the centerfold weighing down the ship, and creating a déjà vu atmosphere among politicians and market watchers alike.

Political uncertainty and fears that Greece will have to call snap elections early next year if the coalition government doesn’t muster a way to secure a 180-majority backing for their presidential candidate, have left investors scurrying to sell off Greek bonds.

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Iraqi Defence minister Khalid al-Obaidi (2nd) and Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Mustafa Said Qadir (3rdL) visit a training camp for Kurdish peshmerga troops on Nov. 3, 2014 in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Though the peshmerga are leading the attacks against the militant group Islamic State, the historic divisions between the Kurds and Arabs should be considered when monitoring the troops' actions in the war zone.

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BARZANKE, Iraq — Unlike in nearby villages recently captured from the Islamic State (IS) by the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), not a single villager has returned to Barzanke.

As I go from house to house, it becomes clear why: There is nothing for the residents to return to, as virtually all the houses have been destroyed or damaged by bombs or fighting. Most were evidently blown up from inside.

The peshmerga, as the KRG forces are called, offer conflicting explanations for the mass destruction. Some say that their own colleagues had blown up the houses because the villagers supported IS. Others say that IS fighters bombed all the houses before they left – a questionable narrative, as retreating militants did not destroy nearby Kurdish villages. Why would they destroy an Arab village? Other peshmerga say they had to blow up the houses because they were booby-trapped, and warn us not to go into the village because of other traps in the streets. There are also those who claim that the destruction was the result of fighting, even though no sign of battles in the village is evident; no pockmarked walls or spent munitions or cartridges.

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Domestic worker from the Phillipines, Bea stands at the entrance to the illegal boarding house where she lives in Pokfulam on Jan. 26, 2014 in Hong Kong. The domestic help systems in Hong Kong and other Asian and Middle Eastern countries are under scrutiny following recent cases of abuse.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Sex trafficking gets a lot of attention, as it should. It’s a horrific crime. But trafficking in forced labor is also a grave abuse that has even more victims.

In 2012, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that worldwide there were 14.2 million victims of forced labor compared with 4.5 million victims of forced sexual exploitation. Migrant domestic workers, for example, are at high risk of being trafficked into forced labor, but their stories rarely make the headlines.

Some governments have a blind spot when it comes to trafficking into forced labor. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one example.

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Re-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff delivers a speech following her win in Brasilia on Oct. 26, 2014. Leftist incumbent Rousseff won after a down-to-the-wire race against center-right challenger Aécio Neves.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The bitter fight between Brazil’s newly re-elected president Dilma Rousseff and her opponent, Aécio Neves, was not just about a slowing economy or rumors of corruption. This election divided the nation around tough questions of class, race, gender and power.

The presidential election in Brazil was a cliffhanger. By 7 p.m., one hour before the polls closed, Brazilians waited to hear who won: Would it be Rousseff of the Worker’s Party (PT) or Aécio Neves, grandson of former President Tancredo Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB)?

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