Both Spencer Ackerman and  Matthew Yglesias, males both, are highly offended by the cover of the current The National Interest depicting the foreign policy triumvirate of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Janet Napolitano as "Obama's Angels," claiming the implication that these accomplished women are somehow analogous to sexy female crimefighters is insulting to women.

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Millennium Development Goals Photo

In an International Herald Tribune column asking "Is Europe's welfare system a model for the 21st century?" Katrin Bennhold contends that, as the world's economic elite gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, there is decidedly less Europe-bashing than in years past.

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The Obama administration will be stepping up the pressure on the Karzai government and NATO to do more in Afghanistan while simultaneously sharply cutting back the goals of the mission there.

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I noted earlier this morning the news that Iceland's government has collapsed and that Social Affairs Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir will likely be the new prime minister  until elections can be held in May.

Via Andrew Sullivan, though, I see that Iceland Review has a bit of trivia that justifies mention as a standalone post rather than a mere update:  "If Sigurdardóttir does become prime minister, she will be the first woman to serve as prime minister in the country’s history and also the first openly gay prime minister in the world."

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The young Obama administration has sent yet another signal that it intends to improve the public diplomacy ties strained by the Bush administration:  His very first major television interview was granted, not to an American network or even one of our European allies but rather to Al-Arabiya, the controversial Middle Eastern  network founded six years ago as a competitor to Al Jazeera.

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Now that the piracy crisis centered off the Somali Coast/Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and, to a lesser degree, the West African Coast in the Gulf of Guinea has become big news, the international community, most recently the United Nations, has sprung into action.  The end of piracy draws nigh.  In fact, those Somali pirates are reportedly shaking in their Sperry Topsiders while bending over and kissing their booties goodbye.  OK, perhaps not.

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Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson has asked center-left Social Democratic Alliance Party leader Ingibjorg Gisladottir to create a new coalition with the Left-Green movement to replace the government of Geir Haarde that collapsed Monday, AP reports.  Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir is expected to serve as the interim prime minister until new elections are held in May.

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The foreign ministers of several EU members say that will consider taking prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay, provided that the United States can prove to a degree of absolute certainty that they are not dangerous. 

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The ITAR-TASS news agency reported that a Russian naval base will be constructed this year in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia.  An Abkhaz official said that the base will not succeed Sevastopol (the Crimean port whose lease Kyiv does not intend to renew in 2017) as the new Black Sea Fleet headquarters.

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As the global financial crisis deepens, the strongest reactions thus far are coming from the emerging democracies in Don Rumsfeld's New Europe.  Phillip Pan writes on the front page of today's WaPo of a protest in Latvia's capital that turned into a riot

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