Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States has stood out for its failure to contain the virus’ spread. Meanwhile, governments in places such as Vietnam and China (after its initial attempts to conceal the existence of the virus) have been noted for the ways in which they have stopped the spread of Covid-19 within their borders. Given that Vietnam and China are both authoritarian countries, and the United States, a democracy, the popular idea has arisen that authoritarian governments are better at adequately preventing the spread of the virus. However, this is false. It is the quality of the institutions that matter, not the type of government.
Fox News, CNN, and MSMBC consist leading cable news in the United States in 2020, a mix of liberal and conservative.  Chosun Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo are the three most highly circulated newspapers in South Korea, all three of them conservative. As a native Korean, I’ve always wondered how the US has such successful liberal media outlets. Now, as an international student surrounded by peers from all around the globe, I’ve realized the real question is why all South Korea major media outlets are conservative.
The last decade has shown an increase in foreign-spread disinformation through social media, which has been especially highlighted in recent US and EU elections. In May 2018, Christopher Wylie, a whistle blower from Cambridge Analytica, told Congress, “If a foreign actor dropped propaganda leaflets by aeroplane over Florida or Michigan, that would universally be condemned a hostile act. But this is what is happening online.”  He went on to argue that information warfare should be taken seriously, but unfortunately, disinformation on social media has already deeply infected Western democracies. This is evidenced by foreign interference in recent elections of the US and the EU as well as civil unrest directly linked to foreign spread propaganda and conspiracies.
This past October, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons provoked another deadly incident. After a French teacher showed cartoons of Prophet Muhammed to his class, he was beheaded by one of his students. Days later, three people were killed in front of a church in Nice. President Macron labeled the incident as an “Islamist terrorist attack.”  The recent killings have evoked widespread fear and memories of the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the November 2015, in which two Muslim gunmen broke into Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters and killed twelve people, as well as the Paris terrorist attacks. Can France construct a secure society without alienating its Muslim citizens?
As Joe Biden unexpectedly became the Democratic nominee after his rival, Bernie Sanders, conceded, there was much debate about how Joe Biden would be able to attract voters to his left. Before the Democratic National Convention, many within the Bernie Sanders campaign were able to push Joe Biden to adopt somewhat more progressive stances on healthcare, criminal justice, and environmental policy. Notably absent, however, were any substantial changes to Joe Biden’s foreign policy positions. The statements, advisors, appointments, and policy proposals of the future Biden administration that are currently available indicate that any substantial structural reform or progressive shift in terms of American foreign policy will not occur during the Biden administration.
On November 8th, 2020, Luis Arce was sworn in as the third president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.  Before serving as the presidential candidate for the Movimiento al Socialismo party, Arce served as Economic Minister under its previous leader, Evo Morales. During his tenure, he implemented policies that delivered economic growth rates far exceeding other Latin American countries. The Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) noted that during his tenure, Bolivian GDP per capita rose more than 50%- one of the highest in the world.  This radical transformation was in part owed to nationalizations he oversaw: from 2006 to 2019, industries such as telecommunications and mining were nationalized to finance anti-poverty campaigns. These programs also paid astounding dividends, with poverty rates slashed in half from over 60% in 2006 to 35% in 2019. 
In a 2019 interview with Time, North Korean diplomat-turned-defector Thae Yong-Ho boldly predicted, “Materialism will one day bring change.”  Like Thae, many North Korea watchers are betting on the power of pop culture and its ability to take down a 75-year-old regime. But is North Korea’s trajectory really pointing toward collapse? And if so, does the credit for that go to Korean dramas, K-Pop, and other flows of outside information? The short answer: no, and no.
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. The national motto of France. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Unless, you are a Muslim.
This year’s U.S. voter turnout is nothing worth bragging about. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still worth celebrating. The 2020 election was heralded as a breakout year for American voters. Though counts are ongoing, the election is projected to have record-breaking turnout numbers. According to the University of Florida’s United States Election Project, the turnout rate among the voting-age population was 61.8%.  A note to clarify what exactly they mean: the voting-age population (VAP) is defined as those eligible to vote “regardless of voter registration status” in an election.
For every 1,000 individuals, 5.4 are subjected to inhumane treatment under a modern-day institutional adaptation of slavery: human trafficking. With 40.3 million victims across an array of trades ranging from forced labor to sex cartels, human trafficking has grown to become the second largest international crime industry, accruing approximately $32 billion dollars annually due to its low risks and high profits.  Due to rampant poverty, violence, and oppression, the 21st century has faced an alarming increase in global trafficking, prompting political leaders to establish enforcement measures in an effort to curb the rise of transnational crime. Despite the creation of four novel task forces by the United Nations to define, prevent, and prosecute human trafficking, Lindsey King, a high-ranked essayist in the field of International Studies, warns that compliance with international law remains one of the largest issues derailing its elimination on the global stage.  This year, while celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report debuted in 2000, it is important to acknowledge the progressive anti-trafficking legislation enacted by 154 countries. Nevertheless, it is equally imperative to consider the roles these countries and international conventions play in still perpetuating and exacerbating exploitation worldwide.