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Cryptocurrency: What It Is and Why You Should Care

During the 2022 Super Bowl, millions of Americans watched as a colorful QR code bounced around their black TV screens. Interests piqued, over 20 million people scanned the QR code which led them to Coinbase, a cryptocurrency company urging viewers to join their exchange platform by offering $15 in free bitcoin to those who sign up for an account . However, the excitement did not stop there. Super Bowl fans witnessed not one, but four commercials featuring cryptocurrency exchange companies: Coinb...
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Iran’s Water Bankruptcy and the Inevitable Sociopolitical Implications

Introduction After decades of negative precipitation trends, Iran is on the brink of an environmental and socioeconomic crisis . Over the summer of 2021, thousands of Iranians from the southwest province of Khuzestan took to the streets to protest the mismanagement of the government in combating water scarcity. Five million Iranians in Khuzestan were left without water for multiple days in the blazing Iranian summer months. The protests resulted in the deaths of over 300 protestors .  ...
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The Rising Importance of PSMCs and Russia's Growing Influence in Africa

Russia has been steadily gaining strategic footing in Africa. This involvement marks a departure from Moscow’s traditional guarded stance vis-à-vis the African continent, where it had historically privileged economic cooperation and technical assistance (with Algeria for instance in the 1980s). Russia’s newfound involvement in Africa is characterized by a distinctly urgent dimension, taking place around the conflicts and crises playing out in Libya and Mali since the early 201...
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Opinion: The Removal of Russian Institutions From SWIFT Does More Harm Than Good

Article was written as the war unfolds in Eastern Europe, thus the scope is limited as the situation is constantly evolving   LOS ANGELES - On Wednesday, February 23rd, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, essentially waging war on Ukraine in what he calls an act to “protect people who are subject to abuse and genocide… and will strive to demilitarize ” . In reaction to Russia&...
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Fast Fashion, A Silent Killer

Introduction: In the early 1990s, fast fashion took the world by storm. Since then, the industry has grown exponentially. In fact, in the first six months of 2019, fast fashion accounted for 66% of all online fashion traffic . Companies’ ability to mass-produce clothing at remarkably low costs forever changed the fashion industry and the world. On the surface, fast fashion seems to be a positive development — both clothing companies and consumers economically benefit. Producers pr...
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U.S. International Food Aid Policies are Harmful and Inefficient

Hunger and food insecurity have been global crises for decades, one that is progressively worsening. According to a 2020 World Hunger report , approximately 750 million, or 1 in 10 people, suffer from severe food insecurity and malnourishment. Over 55 countries, many of which are considered to be developing, face hunger crises. However, such issues in these countries hardly developed overnight. Many of these nations were historically subjected to colonialism, and the aftereffects of colonization...
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COVID-19 in India: Is the Government to Blame?

17.7% of the world’s population resides on the subcontinent of India. But in May of last year, India accounted for a staggering 47% of global COVID-19 cases. This didn’t occur organically. Rather, Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s politically-motivated COVID policy jeopardized the health and safety of Indians.   Similar to many western countries, India initiated its first nationwide lockdown in late March of 2020. Prime Minister Modi’s initial messaging was ...
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The World Should Not be Stuck in the Geopolitical Landscape of 1945

The United Nations is the closest thing there is to a world government, representing 193 of the world’s 195 countries (excluding the Holy See, the universal government of the Catholic Church, and Palestine) . The stated goals of the United Nations are to promote global peace, develop diplomatic relationships between countries, and act as an institution where countries can coordinate common goals– namely the protection of human rights . If the U.N. plays such an important role in glob...
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As the Conflict With Russia Drags On, What Options Does Ukraine Have?

The buildup of Russian troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border became one of the first international incidents the new Biden administration has had to contend with this year. When discussing the conflict, much attention is paid to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s thinking and strategic decisions–and less is paid to Ukraine, a nation whose sovereignty and very existence is threatened by the continued conflict. What decisions and strategic alliances Ukraine makes is hampered by the...
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International Vaccine Inequity is the Problem, But a Vaccine Patent Waiver is not the Solution

Disclaimer: This article was originally written June 30, 2021 and in light of the evolving global COVID-19 situation, data and trends may have evolved as well   After a year of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, the focus has turned from mitigation to eradication. The miraculous expedition of COVID-19 vaccines from companies worldwide has presented new challenges in vaccine implementation and inequity. While wealthy nations that either host companies that develop vaccines or can affo...
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The Precarious State of Cross-Strait Stability: Calibrating Risk and Averting Conflict

US-China Relations in the Twenty-First Century – A Great Power Competition   The relationship between the United States and China is categorized, in many respects, as the most significant bilateral relationship of the 21st century. Previous expectations that China would eventually undergo liberal democratic reforms, adopt market capitalism, and accept American hegemony in a unipolar world, have gone from winning support among U.S. officials to being nothing more than a delusio...
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South Africa’s Voter Turnout Problem: How Lack of Government Accountability has Created Voter Apathy Amongst Their Citizens

Introduction In 1994, South Africa held its first election with universal suffrage, allowing all adult South African citizens to vote regardless of their race. The election results dramatically changed the composition of South Africa’s government, with the African National Congress (ANC), which was previously banned from participating in South African elections, obtaining 62.65% of the national vote and 252 out of 400 seats in the lower house of the national legislature. A new constitut...
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MAD World – The Politics of Nuclear Armament

There are about 13,100 nuclear warheads stockpiled today. A single 5 megaton bomb, or half the tonnage of the U.S.’s strongest deployed bomb, can destroy the greater L.A. area in a matter of seconds. There are enough warheads on ‘high alert’ to obliterate nearly every major city in the world in the span of a few minutes. Despite these grim realities, a number of countries are still investing in, expanding, or maintaining nuclear arsenals at world-ending capabilities. Why? And, ...
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Russia’s Sham of a Democracy is Crumbling in the Wake of Navalny’s Arrest

Vladimir Putin’s presidency is on the brink of returning Russia to its old totalitarian state given recent events. Alexei Navalny’s arrest has shaken up not only Russia but all of the West in fear of Putin’s growing autocratic rule. It is no surprise that Russia has been disguising itself as a free, democratic nation for a long time, but recent events suggest an alarming shift towards a dictatorship. With growing intolerance for political opposition, Putin is slowly becoming a ...
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The Battle for Regional Hegemony: A Realist Examination of the Trump Administration’s Handling of Competing Coalitions in the Middle East

Since the beginning of the United States’ intervention in the Middle East, countries around the world have looked to our involvement as an example of the dangers of overextending resources and lack of planning. Following the September 11th attacks in 2001, the United States military intervened in Afghanistan to drive the Taliban from power, and then in 2003 invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime. These decisions inserted the United States military into the Middle East for ...
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The 2019 Hong Kong Protests Through A Realist Lens

Abstract  In 2019, the Hong Kong protests against the extradition bill captured worldwide media attention. The Hong Kong government proposed a bill that would allow China to exert greater control over Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic government order. As a response, Hong Kongers took to the streets with five demands to Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, which contributed to Hong Kong’s growing social movement against China. Over the course of six months, only one demand received...
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Canary in the Coal Mine: Twitter's Warnings and Possibilities for the Future of Diplomacy

Fans of Stanley Kubrick’s humorous 1964 film Dr. Strangelove will recall a scene of the U.S. presidential administration gathered dramatically in a war room, frantically trying to reach a drunken Soviet Premier through landline explaining that total nuclear annihilation is only a few hours away, as a result of a rogue armed bomber. Four decades later, in Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, a nuclear disarmament deal is only reached through secret code, as the Russian president mistrusts hi...
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America’s Moral Obligation to Palestine

We stand today on the precipice of a great moral crisis as an international community, and indeed as a nation; one that has been culminating for over seven decades. Ironically, the crux of this crisis parallels the motivation that drove our country’s birth; yet that irony has seemingly been lost on our leadership, and perhaps more regrettably, on our general populace.   Since the end of the Second World War, the United States’ inaction on the humanitarian and political cri...
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China’s Threat to American Hegemony: Is This It?

America’s hegemonic decline has been ongoing since the early 2000s, but the US is now facing an increasingly difficult path to maintain the liberal international order. The emergence of China as a military peer-competitor, preeminent economic power, and a regional player through the Doha Round and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) represents the most significant postwar challenge to American leadership, leading to the revitalization of a Cold War-like setup that is causing many countries ...
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Will Thailand Ever Break the Status Quo?

In 2020, Thailand gained international attention for a series of mass protests led by the Free Youth student group. Among many other democratic reforms, the student group called for the dissolvement of the parliament and the application of the rule of law in regards to the King . This is not the first time that Thailand has experienced political unrest. In order to understand why this cycle of pro-democratic mobilization has persisted for so many years with no end in sight, we must recall past t...
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Understanding the Causes of Hong Kong’s National Security Law

As Beijing unilaterally imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last year, right before the twenty-third anniversary of the city’s handover to China from British rule, scholars have argued that the legislation signaled the “end of Hong Kong” and likened it to a “dagger that has stabbed into the heart of the city’s liberal foundations.” Others, such as  Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, condemned the law as a “compreh...
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A Not So United Europe is At a Crossroads

When the clock struck midnight to bring in 2021, the United Kingdom left the European Union’s Single Market. The future of the United Kingdom is increasingly uncertain with a slow economic outlook and the popularity of nationalist parties in Scotland and Northern Ireland threatening the union itself .  In contrast, much of the conversation about the EU’s future is optimistic, especially around the prospect of further integration.   Two twin crises–Brexit and the...
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Reassessing the North Korean Nuclear Threat

Foreign policy pundits have paid acute attention to Chinese and Russian nuclear enhancements over the past decade as geopolitical concerns and technological capacities have increased. Just as considerable is the North Korean nuclear threat. Despite the DPRK’s nuclear program creating vast implications for international security and foreign policy, the country has received little sustained attention. Yet, viewing Kim Jong-un’s North Korea as a limited nuclear power instead of a formid...