An increase in gas prices in the United States may have pushed US President Donald J. Trump to criticize the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in a tweet on April 20.

“Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!” Trump tweeted as OPEC and non-OPEC members met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to assess their agreement to curtail production.

The tweet comes as the US benchmark for oil prices, WTI, is close to $69 per barrel, while the international benchmark Brent exceeded $73 per barrel.

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Compassion and cooperation are key to dealing with global conflict, one of India’s renowned spiritual leaders, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 19.

“The value of compassion, of cooperation…should be emphasized more than aggression,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation.

“When we speak to people, we make them understand that we understand them,” said Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation. He called for world leaders to apply this principle to their politics. According to Shankar, in the midst of conflict, opposing parties must be made “to feel they are part of [a] dialogue. You cannot accuse someone and expect them to come forward.”

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For the first time in sixty years, Cuba will be led by a man whose last name is not Castro. However, this reality is unlikely to herald change in Cuba or soften US President Donald J. Trump’s hard line toward the island that sits just ninety miles off the US coast, according to the Atlantic Council’s Jason Marczak.

“The Trump administration is not going to be refining its Cuba strategy. If anything, it is going to be putting more pressure on Cuba” because of Havana’s support for Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, said Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council.

Miguel Díaz-Canel, the fifty-seven-year-old vice president of Cuba, was elected president, unopposed, on April 19. He succeeds Raúl Castro, eighty-six, who, while no longer president, will remain a powerful force in Cuba as head of the Communist Party.

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The remarkable news that CIA Director and US Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo made a secret trip to North Korea where he met North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a measure both of the head-spinning pace of diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula and of the seriousness with which US President Donald J. Trump’s administration takes the upcoming Trump-Kim summit.

Trump has made solving the North Korea nuclear problem a centerpiece of his foreign policy. North Korea has posed a vexing dilemma the answer to which has eluded four US presidents—from George H.W. Bush through to Barack Obama—over the past quarter century.

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Carlos Alvarado Quesada’s election as president of Costa Rica on April 1, which defied every recent opinion poll, marks the rejection by Costa Ricans of fundamentalist populism.

The thirty-eight-year-old ruling party candidate—a former labor minister, musician, journalist, and novelist—won 60 percent of the vote. Despite taking place amidst rampant corruption, rising crime and inequality, and a looming financial crisis, the election was defined by the issue of same-sex marriage.

Alvarado Quesada’s opponent, Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz, an ultraconservative evangelical preacher, relied on family values rhetoric and opposition to same-sex marriage to garner support. In the end, that was not enough.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the United States has been a significant blow to the US-European Union (EU) economic partnership, but this episode also offers a real opportunity.

Though the EU has been exempted from penalties until May 1, the mere prospect of future tariffs has caused considerable angst in Europe and in transatlantic business circles. However, the Trump administration clearly expects countries to bargain for a continuation of exemptions. As part of a deal to make the exemption permanent, the EU and the United States should enter into new negotiations for a free trade agreement that will respond to the economic concerns of the Trump administration while also providing the EU with some important gains.

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Syria’s civil war has come close to provoking direct kinetic clashes between the United States and Russia. Yet, despite the urgency to understand both sides’ goals, hardly anyone is assessing Russia’s overall objectives in the Middle East. Syria might be the most urgent issue of what the late Zbigniew Brzezinski called the Eurasian Balkans, but it is not the sole issue or focus of Russia’s Middle East policy. 

We must urgently grasp the nature of Russia’s goals. Without understanding the facts on the ground, the United States will be unable to forge a coherent strategy or policies to implement any strategy for the Middle East.

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After testifying to lawmakers in the US House of Representatives and the Senate for more than ten hours on April 10 and 11, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg appears to have weathered the worst of storm over news that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested data of 87 million Facebook users.

Here are some issues that came up in Zuckerberg’s testimony—and some that did not.

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When asked about her country’s establishment of overseas “data embassies” to back up its data, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid replied: “There’s nothing about the technology that’s interesting.” In a country known for making policy leaps and bounds in the digital realm, progress can easily be mistaken for technical know-how. However, important as technological innovation is, it is not the whole story.

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French President Emmanuel Macron said in a television interview on April 15 that he convinced US President Donald J. Trump not to withdraw troops from Syria.

“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term,” Macron said in the TV interview.

Macron said that he had also persuaded Trump “that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets.” He has since tried to walk back those comments.

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