The Briefing: February 16th, 2014

Welcome to The Briefing. This is Roosevelt Talk’s newest means of communicating what we feel you should pay attention to both here and abroad. I’ll usually be the one writing for it but my colleagues are also along for the ride. So without further ado, let’s begin. 

Chirag

P.S. I’ve taken the liberty of linking articles beneath each respective bullet should any of you need the full details.

The International

  • The Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, has stepped down following divisions in his party. The likely successor is thought to be Matteo Renzi, the charismatic Mayor of Florence. Regardless of the situation’s politics, if Renzi hopes to succeed he’ll need to address electoral reform in Italy along with the economic fears ravaging the debt-mired nation. One wonders whether he’ll change anything about Italy’s austerity policy?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/14/italian-pm-pyrrhic-victory-matteo-renzi

  •  Unsurprisingly, a United Nations Committee of Inquiry Panel found reasonable grounds to accuse North Korea of Crimes Against Humanity. It seems to be the first step toward the usual international legal action but I wouldn’t suspect this to change things at the border in any meaningful way. 

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/14/un-panel-finds-crimesagainsthumanityinnorthkorea.html

  • The French are boosting their presence in the Central African Republic by 400 troops to a total of 2000. The violence against Muslims by Christian tribes is to the point where Ban Ki-Moon has mentioned the possible necessity of an even larger peace keeping force. All the while, worries of genocide and ethnic cleansing abound. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26195583

  • The Germans are pushing the possibility of a European Communications Network to bypass American servers. What effect this will have on the ongoing NSA-reform debate in the United States is up for grabs. 

http://preview.reuters.com/2014/2/15/merkel-hollande-to-discuss-possible-european

  • A United Nations mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, has issued an apology for the lack of progress in ongoing Syrian Peace Talks. Though we must hold out hope, there is absolutely no indication that Syria is any closer to seeing an end to the violence. 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/UN-mediator-apologizes-to-Syrians-for-lack-of-peace-progress/articleshow/30502075.cms

The Domestic

  • The number of American soldiers being outed for illegal conduct is rising; particular focus should be given to those outed for sexual assault. It seems that, now that the wars are slowly winding down, the military is finally paying closer attention to the behavior and quality of its recruits. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/15/us-soldiers-misconduct_n_4794685.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

  • I have two links on this one. Banks have been given careful and tentative permission to do business with Marijuana providers in states that would allow it. However, banks appear wary if only for the lack of more specific legal guidance. Regardless, it’s a first step to securing marijuana as a legitimate industry and can only help in the fight for full legalization. 

http://qz.com/177508/marijuana-is-now-legal-for-us-banks-too/

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/02/14/3296871/feds-marijuana-banking/

  • There are huge concerns regarding the possible merger of Time Warner and Comcast. Given our nation’s past experiences with telecommunication monopolies, it’s worrying why there isn’t a more significant chance that the government will block the merger on anti-trust grounds. 

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/monoposony-begets-monopoly-and-vice-versa/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

  • Companies as a whole are scaling back matching contributions to 401(K) plans. Those in retirement policy should take note considering that Washington seems to have a particular fixation on entitlement reform; there’s only so much more that the remnants of the three-legged stool can take. 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/companies-scaling-back-matching-401k-contributions/

  • The scale of the GOP’s weakness in urban areas is captured by the following statistic. The two largest cities with Republican mayors are San Diego and Indianapolis respectively. Democrats should tap into that weakness and reenergize their urban policies and platforms should they wish to increase their chances at the state and national levels.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/02/15/275939519/gop-struggles-to-sell-message-in-big-cities

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