"Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." So said Winston Churchill in November 1947, a time when Soviet Communism was beginning to offer the world a new alternative.

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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Syria ISIS attack A suicide bombing in Syria claimed by ISIS killed 14 people including four Americans this week. Two questions we'll be watching: Will this attack impact the pace of President Trump's ordered withdrawal of US troops from Syria, and is the bombing part of a broader ISIS strategy to launch a wave of new attacks as US troops depart?

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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (widely known as AMLO) was elected Mexico's president on the promise to bring about a "peaceful but radical transformation."

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Rahaf al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, boarded a plane this week in Kuwait in hopes of reaching Australia. On arriving in Bangkok, where she intended to change planes, she says she was greeted by a Saudi official who seized her passport. (Saudi officials deny this.)

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After weeks of rising tensions, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was named the winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo recent presidential election. Mr. Tshisekedi himself appeared surprised as he spoke with reporters following Thursday's official announcement. "Nobody could have imagined such a script would seal the victory of an opposition candidate," he said.

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Each year is shaped by unforeseen events and unexpected crises. But there are also, of course, events we know about in advance that create major potential turning points in national, regional, and global politics. Here are ten good examples to keep an eye on in 2019:

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Donald Trump enters 2019 locked in political combat. He says he won't sign a bill that reopens and funds the federal government unless Congress apportions enough money to build a "wall" to halt illegal immigration across the US border with Mexico. New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a simple message: "Forget it."

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We begin with a word on yesterday's events in Washington. We encourage you to read this resignation letter from US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

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