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Americas
Obama: A casualty of the Cold War?
By Lucia Newman in Americas on April 14th, 2012
[Photo: Reuters]
If this hadn’t been an election year , things may have been different.
Nobody realistically expected Barack Obama, the US president, to bow to unanimous demands by his Latin American and Caribbean peers to re-incorporate Cuba into the Organisation of American States (OAS) , from which  it was expelled - on Washington’s insistence - exactly 50 years ago.  
At the time, the communist island's Sino-Soviet alliance was considered a security threat to the region.
Fast forward to the last Summit of the Americas, held four years ago in Trinidad and Tobago, where nearly every country in the hemisphere, except Canada and the United States, called for Cuba’s reincorporation behind closed doors.
Pressure from the US State Department  managed to ensure that the subject did not make it to the official list of talking points.
Tags: Barack Obama, United States, Washington
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Dear America: My name is Khan. I'm not a terrorist
By Imran Khan in Americas on April 13th, 2012
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most famous men on the planet [Reuters]
He is one of the most famous men on the planet. Adored  by millions. His films are almost always box office smashes. But when Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan travelled to the US on Thursday, he was detained by security for two hours while they checked out his "status".
Ironic, considering his biggest hit film was the story of a man determined to visit the US president and give him a very simple message: My Name is Khan and I'm not a terrorist. 
The film is a powerful look at what it means to be Muslim in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I wonder if he told Homeland Security that he wasn't a terrorist. 
Tags: Shah Rukh Khan
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Santorum signs off
By Alan Fisher in Americas on April 11th, 2012
Photo: AFP
US Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has decided to 'suspend' his campaign.  Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher who has been following the Republicans on the campaign trail looks at what the decision means for the former senator and for the front runner, Mitt Romney.
Why has Rick Santorum stepped out of the race?
There are a number of reasons. The main one is he can't win. Mitt Romney is so far in front in the all important delegate count, he can't overhaul him.
The Republican Party would like to see an end to this contest to allow them to concentrate money and resources on the big battle in November.
Added to that is the opinion polls which suggest that Santorum may lose the primary in his home state of Pennsylvania at the end of the month. That would be hugely embarrassing politically. Remember, he was voted out of his senate seat there. To lose a second vote on your home turf is tough to explain away.
Tags: Mitt Romney, Obama, Republican Party, Rick Santorum
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In Colombia, after captivity, a long road back
By Gabriel Elizondo in Americas on April 6th, 2012

After more than a decade in captivity, 10 men straggled off a helicopter shortly after the engines shutdown and the rotor blades came to a slow halt.
It was Monday in Villavicencio, Colombia, dusk was setting in, and the men were exhausted physically and drained emotionally.
However, they were lifted knowing they finally had been freed from the FARC guerillas after more than a decade being held in some of the most remote parts of the Colombian jungle.
Tags: Bogota, Colombia, Luis Eladio Pérez, Luis Eladio Pérez He, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
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Saipan: Island of broken dreams
By Marga Ortigas in Americas on April 5th, 2012

It shimmers shyly in the Western Pacific like an unpolished diamond in a nest of sparkling opals.  Its size belying its strategic geographical importance. 
Saipan is the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands which are strewn like gems from a broken bracelet across the Pacific corridor that links east and west – between Asia and the United States.  
It has played vital roles throughout history for European colonisers in the middle ages to imperialist armies in World War 1 and World War 2.
Now, Saipan prides itself in sitting at the intersection of the modern world’s three largest economies – China, Japan, and the outer fringes of the United States.  
Tags: Ben Fitial, Rudy Francisco, United States
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Voting in America: When is a Democracy not a Democracy?
By Zeina Awad in Americas on April 2nd, 2012

Democracy. That buzzword we hear over and over again coming from powerful quarters in the US to help explain interventions across the globe, from Iraq to Central America.
But while many in the world are familiar with the buzzword, few may realise that a fight over democracy is being waged on American soil as we speak, and it comes in the form of challenging brand new voting laws.
Tags: Carolyn Thompson
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Big business and unions come to US schools' aid
By John Terrett in Americas on March 30th, 2012
Over the years, the reputation of teachers in the US has taken a bit of a pounding.
It's unfair,  in my view, as I've never met a bad teacher yet in all my years of dealing with them in my hometown and further afield.
Nonetheless, conservatives in particular seem to be willing to bash the profession and its trade unions on a regular basis for one reason or another.
I was intrigued, therefore, by an idea taking root in the state of West Virginia where a major teachers' union - The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - is teaming up with some pretty big US corporations - and you can't get more conservative than those guys - to help out ailing schools.
The project is taking place in McDowell County, an area that faces tough economic challenges and whose school test results have been among the lowest in the country.
The initiative, called "Reconnecting McDowell", aims to turn things around in five years.
I met Jim Brown, the su
Tags: American Federation, Jim Brown, United States
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BRICS Summit: A perspective from Brazil
By Gabriel Elizondo in Americas on March 29th, 2012
Photo by Reuters
Oliver Stuenkel was part of Brazil’s delegation to the Track II academic forum in preparation for the New Delhi Summit for the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) which was held on Thursday.
Stuenkel specialises in Brazil's relations with India, but also more broadly focuses his research on the BRICS. He is currently a professor of international relations at Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo. He also runs a blog called Post Western World, which looks at how emerging powers are changing the world.
Below is part of my interview with Stuenkel, where he sheds light on Brazil and the prospects and challenges the BRICS face.
Tags: Brazil, China, India, Oliver Stuenkel, Russia, South Africa, United States
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Going, Going, Gingrich
By Alan Fisher in Americas on March 28th, 2012
The word most critics use about Newt Gingrich is arrogant.
The former Speaker of the US House of Representatives wears the label easily.
The self appointed "best debater in the Republican Party" believes he has an exceptional mind, is able to think big and is the best qualified man around at the moment to be President of the United States.
His run at the nomination hasn't been simple. He launched his campaign last summer and then lost most of his senior campaign staff, who thought that while he was off enjoying a Greek cruise with his wife, perhaps he wasn't fully committed to winning.
Strong debate performances helped throw him to the front of the Republican field.  He could boast two certain qualifications to the party faithful: he was a conservative and he wasn't Mitt Romney.  
With little financial backing, the free TV exposure of the debates also helped him enormously.  
Tags: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum
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The Santorum nightmare
By Alan Fisher in Americas on March 28th, 2012
[Photo: AFP]
Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum won’t lose any core supporters for letting loose during a fiery run-in with a New York Times reporter. Seen by many on the right as the flagship of the ‘lamestream media’, they will be delighted he attacked the Times, even if he did swear during the exchange and it was caught by TV cameras.
It is, however, a sign that the pressure is getting to the former Pennsylvania senator. He has won a few primaries and caucuses, but he is way behind in the delegate count, way behind in the number of votes cast and way behind in endorsements from senior figures in the Republican party.
Tags: Puerto Rico, Republican Party, Rick Santorum, the New York times
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