Fresh Elections in the UK: Holiday Gift or Lump of Coal?

In a breakthrough that will give the British people one more chance to weigh in on the tortured question of Brexit, the UK Parliament – after a series of baroque machinations – agreed late yesterday to hold a general election on December 12.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pushed for this vote (four times now!) because he's gambling that his Conservative Party can win the majority he needs to push through his Brexit deal before the newly-extended deadline to leave the EU hits on January 31. Although his party leads in the polls (some even show the Conservatives up by double digits), there is no shortage of risks for him—the polls could just be wrong (as they were when his predecessor Theresa May tried to cushion her own parliamentary majority by calling a snap election in 2017, only to actually lose seats), or voters could hold Johnson, and his entire Conservative party by extension, responsible for the endless anguish of Brexit. Some Britons will even treat this as a de facto second Brexit referendum instead of a national election since there are no guarantees they will have another chance to make their voices heard.


That's exactly what certain parties are counting on. The Liberal Democrats, for their part, will campaign for votes among those who favor remaining in the EU, as will the Scottish National Party, while the upstart far-right Brexit Party will try to poach Brexit supporters who think Johnson hasn't been hardline enough.

One of the big questions is how the opposition Labour Party will fare. Labour, which held out until the last moment on supporting a fresh election, is badly divided over whether to leave the EU or not. They will campaign on renegotiating the Brexit agreement and then putting their new deal to a vote to the British people. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a better campaigner than he is an opposition leader, but asking Brexit-fatigued folks to extend the political chaos so Labour can have a turn negotiating with Brussels is a tough message to win an election on.

What's certain is that this will be the most bitter and tumultuous British election campaign in recent memory. What is not as certain is whether it will in fact yield a clear majority for any of these parties. If not, the hell of Brexit will roll right through snowball season…

Earlier this year, two powerful cyclones struck the northern coast of Mozambique and were followed by months of torrential rain. Mozambique faced an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. "The coast road from Pemba airport to the city center and its harbor was totally destroyed," said Franco Picciani, operations manager at Eni Rovuma Basin. The damage brought the city's economy to a standstill.

Eni answered the call, providing its equipment and expertise. "We rebuilt the coast road in less than two months," Picciani said. "We work in the area. We have a logistics base here. It's home to us. When the area needed help, we didn't stop to think about it for a minute. It goes without saying that we should look after the community we work in."

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Latin America's longest-serving head of state is now out. Bolivia's fiery leftwing President Evo Morales resigned on Sunday, after weeks of increasingly violent protests over his apparent bid to rig last month's presidential elections.

Although he agreed under international pressure to hold a fresh ballot, he and his vice president were ousted by the military after a number of local police units sided with demonstrators.

His supporters say this is an illegal coup that undermines democracy. His opponents say Morales' attempt to rig the election was the real assault on democracy and that the army has merely stepped in to restore order so that elections can be held.

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The system of passports as we know it today dates from roughly a hundred years ago, when leading world powers were trying to figure out a way to regulate international travel in the messy aftermath of World War One. Ever since, these documents have been seen both as boarding passes to freedom and as levers for government control. But which of the world's passports open up the widest vistas of international travel? The Henley Passport Index has an answer. For 199 passports, it tallies up the number of countries that are accessible without obtaining a prior visa. Here's a heat map of which countries' passports are the most powerful right now.

What should we expect now that impeachment hearings go public?

Well, it's a huge week for Democrats, starting Wednesday. They'll take testimony from State Department officials saying that they believe there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine aid in return for an investigation of Joe Biden. They need to both shape public opinion and try to crack the GOP wall of support for Trump.

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Spain's far right surge — The far right Vox party made the biggest gains in Spain's general election Sunday, more than doubling their seat count to 52 (out of 350), to become the third largest party in parliament. For decades, the stigma of Francisco Franco's dictatorship (1939-1975) seemed to insulate Spain from the far-right populism that's swept Europe in recent years. But now Vox's ultra-nationalists will find it easier to shift the national dialogue on key issues like immigration and quashing the Catalan independence movement. The current Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez had hoped that the election – the country's fourth in as many years – would break a political deadlock and strengthen his hand to form a new government. Though Sanchez's Socialists came out on top, they fell short of an absolute majority, losing three parliamentary seats since the last election in April.

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