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.
Three years ago, the world was shocked to learn the news of the attempted ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a minority Muslim group primarily residing in the majority-Buddhist nation of Myanmar. In August of 2017, Myanmar military forces began entering Rohingya villages at random, killing indiscriminately and then leveling their structures to the ground. Global outcry quickly followed. Despite a sharp decrease in media coverage, the crisis is ongoing in 2020. In light of the political and public health firestorm of 2020, what does the future hold for this particularly vulnerable population?
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. 
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.
FAR Issue I (2019-2020)
Israel has stood as a unique example of a stable democracy in the Middle East for decades. However, in the last several years, political science scholarship has begun to raise questions as to whether Israeli democracy is under threat. Given the evidence that Israel is experiencing democratic backsliding, in what manner is this occurring, and what implications does it have for the country’s future?
There are many factors that contribute to the connection amongst Latin American countries: a similar culture, a strong passion for celebration, a love for soccer, essentially equal religious beliefs and a shared painful history of subjugation. However, in the past year, another aspect of these nations has become even more characteristic: massive movements that embody an enormous feeling of dissatisfaction, fear and anger resulting from inefficient governments and unfair policies.
Hong Kong, returned to China from British colonial government in 1997, maintained its prosperity and economic status under the “one country, two systems” framework. Although the Chinese government promised people of Hong Kong high autonomy, including an independent legal system, continued capitalism, and access to international institutions and conferences, protests against Chinese governance have been occurring since March.
Just as Mitch McConnell said, Jim Mattis’s departure from the Department of Defense more than a year ago was distressing. He was confirmed by a 98-1 vote after gaining a waiver from the National Security Act of 1947 that required a seven year waiting period between a retired military personnel could seek the Secretary of Defense spot. Kirsten Gillibrand was the sole no vote, not on the basis of Mattis’s nomination but on her objection to the waiver–a rare bipartisan support in the contentious confirmation process. The only nominee to get less opposition was former VA Secretary David Shulkin, an Obama-era VA Under Secretary.