Today's Headlines and Commentary

Clara Spera
Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 10:27 AM
The United States will help to recover over 200 female schoolchildren abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The Washington Post reports that the White House will be sending “specialists” to Nigeria to help with the situation.

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The United States will help to recover over 200 female schoolchildren abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The Washington Post reports that the White House will be sending “specialists” to Nigeria to help with the situation. Secretary of State John Kerry promises a “very, very rapid response." The New York Times Editorial Board weighs in on the ongoing horror in Nigeria, calling Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan “inept” and “shockingly slow” in his response to the situation. It’s been a rocky twenty-four hours for the strategic relationship between China and North Korea.  As the Wall Street Journal explains, North Korea is inching closer to being able to launch a full-scale nuclear attack on any city in the Asian Pacific or even urban centers in the United States---what the Journal describes as China’s “nightmare."  Meanwhile, military documents leaked to the Japanese media describe China’s contingency plan in the event of the North Korean government's collapse.  This comprises, among other things, detaining and protecting leaders and creating refugee camps along the Chinese-North Korean border. Details on the plan are over at the Diplomat. But the Guardian reports that China vehemently denies that any such contingency plan exists. Needless to say, the world is paying attention to the two allies and wondering what the fallout might be from this diplomatic kerfuffle. All eyes are on Ukraine as it prepares for its upcoming election. The Times explains that multiple nations have a vested interest in the outcome, and, as such, Western powers and Russia are trying to out-maneuver each other in the lead up to the May 25 election day. Russia wants to delay the election, while the West sees the election as critical to reestablishing stability in Kiev. Russia is, however, trying to push for a different vote---this one on a referendum to make way for Russia to do in eastern Ukraine what it did earlier, in Crimea. The Post reports that multiple branches of the U.S. government---from the Senate to the Pentagon---have pledged to push further sanctions on Russia if it makes moves to annex eastern regions of Ukraine. Speaking of the Crimea referendum, the internet was abuzz last night with this not-so-shocking story: apparently the results of the vote on Crimea's annexation were fudged by Russian authorities. Forbes reported that Putin’s Human Rights Council posted the ‘real’ results online. Those results were quickly taken down, but not before they could get snatched up by media outlets.  From the Forbes account:
Official Kremlin results: 97 percent of polled voters for annexation, turnout 83 percent, and 82 percent of total Crimean population voting in favor. President’s Human Rights Council mid-point estimate: 55 percent of polled voters for annexation, turnout 40 percent, 22.5 percent of total Crimean population voting in favor.
Meanwhile, in Russia itself, President Putin signed a law requiring online bloggers to register with the government, allowing the government an easier hand in tracking---and restricting---certain sites, according to the Times.  The Wire has a grimmer outlook on the new legal development, claiming that it could give Putin “total control of Russia’s internet.” Egypt is also preparing for a quickly approaching presidential election. After the political elimination of the Muslim Brotherhood, two candidates are left standing:  the country’s former military chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Hamdeen Sabbahi, a self-proclaimed leftist. Al Jazeera takes a closer look at the lead up to the election in the aftermath of the country’s recent military coup, predicting that Egypt will continue down a path of instability, no matter the outcome of the election. The AP has a profile on el-Sisi. The Journal considers the wider economic impact of the elections, explaining that the eventual leader of the country will be key in setting foreign investment policy. Syrian rebels are evacuating the strategic city of Homs after signing a deal with the Syrian military. The Times reports that, after two years of a standoff in the city once dubbed the “capital of the revolution,” the rebels have reached an agreement---one seen widely as a defeat to the rebel movement, and as a real turning point in the Syrian conflict. A British woman, once kidnapped as a hostage in Yemen, served as a witness in the ongoing federal trial of Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, yesterday in New York.  Ben Weiser of the Times reports that Margaret Thompson described her horrific experience of being kidnapped while visiting Yemen as part of a tour. Abu Hamza is  accused of playing a “vital role” in that kidnapping, and faces other charges involving terrorism. Today, the court is expected to hear from another kidnapping victim. The trial is in its fourth week. The NSA is recruiting new talent, and it’s targeting the young and tech-savvy. The Agency is sending out tweets that look like gibberish to the naked eye, but those with decoding skills will quickly realize that the tweets are promotional material for exploring careers. The Daily Dot has the story.

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Clara Spera is a 3L at Harvard Law School. She previously worked as a national security research intern at the Brookings Institution. She graduated with an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge in 2014, and with a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2012.

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