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U.S. President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House May 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama and Merkel emphasizied their continued support for the new government in Ukraine and their critisism of Russia after the failure of last month's Geneva Agreement. The Ukranian military said Friday that pro-Russiaon militants in the eastern part of the country had used sophisticated weapons to shoot down two of its helicopters.

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WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — The crisis in Ukraine is the product of many causes, but US foreign policy mistakes have been important factors.

First, in assuming that democracy and markets are desired and inevitable around the world, the US is blinded to nationalistic reactions in Russia. As NATO expanded through former Warsaw Pact countries, Russia felt increasingly encircled by the West and was not reassured when told these events were desirable and not threatening. Putin has clearly said he is determined to prevent such an outcome in Ukraine.

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People read Uganda's local dailies in Kampala on February 25, 2014. On Monday, President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill into law which holds that repeat homosexuals should be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays.

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SALEM, Virginia — Uganda’s new anti-homosexual law has generated chatter around the world. Outside Uganda, and Africa in general, this legislation is seen as an outrage. It comes from a president who is past his prime, a man who has ruled Uganda since 1986 and whose mind seems impervious to change.

The narrative on social media leans toward the view that President Yoweri Museveni is deeply misinformed about sexuality in general. His idea that oral sex is abhorrent and that kissing his wife in public would cost him the presidency is as obsolete as his notion that homosexuality is abnormal and pathological.

Yet these very ideas about Musenevi’s state of mind may themselves flow from an international audience that is ignorant of Uganda’s political culture and, perhaps, uninformed about the nature and character of social change there.

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NEW YORK CITY — A year ago gays didn’t exist in Afghanistan. They were simply invisible — never mentioned in the national discourse — until I applied liberal constructivist theory from international relations when I spearheaded an ongoing queer narrative that eventually gained traction and cemented a gay Afghan identity.

As the election in Afghanistan came into full swing this year, gay identity politics gravitated into the mainstream. In an unprecedented move, the Afghan media has started outing closeted politicians; notably, accusing Wahid Omar, also spelled Waheed Omer, the former spokesperson to President Hamid Karzai, for engaging in extramarital homosexuality despite his persona as a pious family man.

As the gay commotion sizzles in Afghanistan, the full preliminary election results released on Sunday have narrowed the field to a runoff between the two leading presidential candidates. Many still wonder whether Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani is more gay-friendly and who is better suited to lead Afghanistan.

Six months ago, I endorsed Dr. Ghani while the LGBTIQ community of Afghanistan mobilized their underground network (which includes atheists, feminists and humanists) to vote en masse for the former academic. It remains to be seen if the rainbow coalition’s preferred candidate will win the election and what enduring momentum the gay bloc will have on Afghan politics.

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Supporters of Turkey's ruling AK party (AKP) cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara, on March 30, 2014. The party of Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a strong early lead in local elections, despite turbulent months marked by mass protests, corruption scandals and Internet blocks.

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ISTANBUL, Turkey — Whether out of lack of contact with ordinary Turks, an attempted self-fulfilling prophecy, or just pure wishful thinking, many both inside and outside Turkey had predicted a large drop in the vote for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the local elections.

Even the AK Party had lowered its threshold of success to 38 percent, a slump from its last general election figure of 46 percent. So when the party managed to snatch 45 percent and declare a resounding victory, many asked themselves the question: how could our guesses have been so wrong?

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Mourners gather over the body of dancer Douglas Rafael da Silva at his funeral, after he was shot and killed, on April 24, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Da Silva's body was discovered in the pacified Pavao-Pavaozinho community, just blocks from Copacabana Beach, on April 22. Protests and shootings broke out as a result after protesters alleged he was killed by police in the pacified 'favela'.

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NEW YORK –— The United Nations 2013 Global Study on Homicide once again ranks Latin America as the most violent region in the world with more than one-third of all global homicides.

The report by the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC0 identifies a correlation between insecurity and illicit economies, especially in Latin America, Afghanistan, and West Africa. Latin America’s illicit market is particularly lucrative in illegal drugs, the chemicals necessary to manufacture drugs and weapons.

The illicit economy’s ability to corrupt, destabilize and fuel disease, violence, and death has made it an issue synonymous with Latin America. Especially relevant is the balloon effect, in which loss of production and trafficking in one country leads to an increase in others.

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Supporters of the Ukrainian Communist Party wave red flags in front of a statue representing Soviet Union's founder Vladimir Lenin in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 22, 2014, on the 144th anniversary of Lenin's birth.

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WASHINGTON — People all over the world are struggling to make sense of the dramatic events in Ukraine, often by placing today’s events in historical context. For many in the United States and Western Europe, that context is the Cold War. Russian government and media commentary stress memories of World War II.

Whether one views events in Ukraine as a continuation of conflicts between the Soviet Union and the West, an echo of the struggle against fascism, or even an extension of the tensions that led to World War I, an accurate assessment of the current situation must be rooted in a clear understanding of the past.

This is especially important, and difficult, because few places have as complex and contested a history as Ukraine. The Nobel laureate and Polish-Lithuanian poet Czeslaw Milosz once said he had “the privilege of coming from strange lands where it is difficult to escape history.” Ukraine is such a land.

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A Syrian refugee woman walks among tents at Karkamis' refugee camp on January 16, 2014 near the town of Gaziantep, south of Turkey.

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WASHINGTON — Turkey is host to an increasing number of refugees from Syria, fast approaching one million. By the end of this year, their numbers are expected to approach 1.5 million.

But although world attention has focused on the vast numbers of Syrians seeking protection in Turkey, Syrians are not the only refugees in the country, and its other refugees deserve protection too.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin smiles while meeting Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, on April 18, 2014. The chief executive of Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden met today President Vladimir Putin at his private residence, telling the Russian strongman that the company wanted to expand its operations in Russia. The European Parliament called on yesterday for the EU to reinforce sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis and be prepared to target economic interests.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia — It is Vladimir Putin’s vision to regain the greatness of the Russian Empire. He has chosen Ukraine as his starting point, and why not, other than international law and a few pesky treaties? A combination of circumstances has emboldened him to do it now, not later.

Economics favor him now. Russia’s role as an energy exporter has funded the reconstitution of his military. Energy exports are also a lever for economic warfare against those who oppose him.

But all this is fleeting. As the United States is becoming the world’s largest fossil fuel producing nation, despite the current Obama administration’s effort to stifle that development, Putin knows that over time, both advantages will erode.

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Peolpe of the Pulaar ethnicity wait in line in the Begoua district, northeast of Bangui, to receive humanitarian and medical aid on April 9, 2014. The Security Council of the UN has just adopted authorizing the deployment to Central African Republic in September of about 12,000 peacekeepers.

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NEW YORK — The UN Security Council has voted to send almost 12,000 peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) to stop a two-year-old conflict that the United Nations fears could become a genocide. The UN force would supplement French and African Union troops already on the ground.

Peacekeeping may be the key to ending the violence, but advocates such as Human Rights Watch and the Enough Project acknowledge that a UN effort offers no guarantees for peace – or for building long-term stability in the troubled country.

Pessimism centers on the volatility of the Central African Republic’s post-independence history and the sheer complexity of the current conflict. The country, rich in precious minerals, has survived three military coups and a series of failed revolutions since it gained independence from France in 1960.

The latest conflict began in 2012, when the Séléka, an alliance of domestic rebel militia and mercenaries from Chad and Sudan, invaded parts of the country, claiming to fight against the corruption and abuses of President François Bozizé’s government. A year ago, the rebels ousted Bozizé’s forces and installed Séléka leader Michel Djotodia of CAR as the country’s first Muslim president.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton speak during a press conference at the Intercontinental hotel on April 17, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Leaders from EU, US, Ukraine and Russia are meeting today in Geneva to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine and to find a political solution.

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OWL’S HEAD, Maine — The Palestinian-Israeli peace train just left the station, once again empty.

Secretary of State Kerry's decision last summer to focus on finding a solution to the decades-long insoluble issue was not necessarily wrong. But what was wrong, in retrospect, was his apparent decision to do so without getting any agreement from President Obama that the US would put the needed pressure on either party for a solution.

What's the point of an honest broker if he merely moderates a discussion in preference to brokering a deal?

What has become known as Kerry's "poof" moment was his laying the primary blame for the apparent breakdown in the talks on Israel. Another more pressing and critical development emerged, overshadowing his Middle East focus even before his official nine-month deadline, on April 29 has been reached.

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