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Vehicles of Finnish police are seen parked at the re-opened Vaalimaa border checkpoint between Finland and Russia in Virolahti, Finland, on Dec. 14, 2023.

Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa/via REUTERS

Finland, USA to sign defense cooperation agreement

Early next week, the United States will sign a Defense Cooperation Agreement with Finland, which shares an 830-mile (1,340 km) border with Russia.

But Finland already joined NATO earlier this year, ditching its decades of non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So what gives?

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Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland.

REUTERS/Blair Gable

Will Trudeau’s digital services tax lead to trade dispute?

The Liberals announced plans this week to introduce a 3% digital services tax on big tech companies, setting Ottawa up for a likely showdown with Washington.
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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-LA., returns to his office in the US Capitol on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

Mike Johnson has a plan to avert the shutdown – will it work?

Is it better to kick two cans down the road rather than one? House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is about to find out in the first big test of his speakership. With another government shutdown deadline looming on Friday, the House plans to vote today on Johnson’s plan to keep the US government from plunging over the fiscal cliff – again.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin hold a joint press conference after their talks in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2023.

Kyodo via Reuters

Blinken comes home, Biden gears up for Xi

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrapped up a tour of Asian nations last week, as the United States worked to shore up support for its positions on issues including Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s increased belligerence toward Taiwan, and the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen take part in a ceremony honoring Railway Workers at the Central Railway Station in Kyiv on Nov. 4, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidency via ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

Is there support for a diplomatic settlement for Ukraine?

As the Israel-Hamas war intensifies, there’s talk that Ukraine is being pressured to seek a settlement in its war with Russia, now in its 20th month.

On Saturday, a current and a former U.S. official, both anonymous, claimed US and European officials have spoken to Kyiv about possible peace negotiations. The speculation follows an Economist interview with Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny who said the conflict has hit a stalemate, and that unless Ukraine acquires more advanced weaponry and information technology, “(t)here will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”

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Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ramallah in the West Bank on Nov. 5, 2023.

Thaer Ganaim apaimages via Reuters

Israel-Hamas war, 31 days in

A month in, and there’s no end in sight for the Israel-Hamas war. At least 1,400 Israeli civilians are dead, and 240 remain hostages, while some 9,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. Protests around the world are calling for an end to the fighting, but there is no sign that a cease-fire is in the cards for either side.

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Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, hands small Canadian flags to 53 new Canadian citizens representing 22 diverse nations, as they embark on their citizenship journey during a special ceremony at Canada Place, on Oct. 12, 2023, in Edmonton, Alberta.

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Reuters

Support for immigration fades in Canada

While political tension around immigration in Canada is nowhere near as intense as in Washington, there are signs that may soon change. Canadians’ traditionally strong support for high levels of immigration is slipping, according to a long-running tracking poll, putting pressure on Ottawa to stop letting so many people in.

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Jess Frampton

Will the Middle East war cost Biden politically?

President Joe Biden woke up on Oct. 7 to find himself thrust into the middle of the second major foreign-policy crisis of his term. His response since has been guided by two conflicting imperatives: support Israel and prevent the crisis from escalating into a broader regional war.

Biden’s strong embrace of Israel is principled and non-negotiable. It reflects the longstanding bipartisan consensus in Washington as well as current public opinion across America. Polls show that most Americans side with Israel in the conflict and approve of both Israel’s retaliation against Hamas and US support for it. While Republicans tend to be more supportive of Israel than Democrats, who have become more sympathetic toward Palestinians over the past several years, majorities of both parties are broadly supportive of Israel.

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