There is a ton of news going on right now, I thought I would highlight a few articles that I found interesting and that I largely agree with.
Iran. The nuclear Iran question is a hot topic for the world, but especially for the United States and in particular Republicans. This is highlighted by an open letter that 47 Republican senators wrote, unfortunately including Idaho's misguided Republican senators as well. I think the recent deal reached regarding Iran's nuclear enrichment is a breakthrough applaud the Obama administration for it. Not everybody is happy about it. Here is an interesting article in the Atlantic that looks at the alternative options and comes to the conclusion that other options are not good options.
Rand Paul. The US presidential election has already begun! The election is well over a year away, but for some reason some candidates have already started their campaigns. One such fellow is Rand Paul who is my favorite Republican candidate. I appreciate many of the stances he has including more pragmatism and less intervention in foreign and security policies, civil liberties, drug policies, and much more. I have reservations about him as well including his movement towards the base of the Republican party, and his ideas of limited government regarding policies that actually need government regulation and intervention such as gun safety, climate change, and the environment. I don't think Rand Paul will win, and I'm not sure I would want him to but I am glad he is running and as of now he is my number one Republican choice. Here is an interesting piece about him that basically says the same.
Kansas. It is said that every country deserves their government. The same could be said about states in the US. They elected politicians that represented failed policies in the worst way because they were Republicans. Now they are paying the consequences that they new were coming and chose to accept anyway because they are in love with the letter R. Here is an over view of the budget situation in Kansas. Specific problems in education and infrastructure that come from Kansas' tax policies are written about here and here. Hopefully Idaho will learn some lessons, as they also have a habit of voting for Republicans who are responsible for failed policies.
Indiana. Indiana recently revised their problematic religious freedom law. This is a topic that gets a lot of attention from the LDS church as well (their top religious freedom lawyer just got called to be a general authority). Bottom line, religious freedom cannot be an excuse to discriminate against and margionalize others. Those are the rules of tolerant societies. Here is a good piece on the Indiana religious freedom law, before it was amended.
Estonian coalition. There is no article to go with this note, but recently Estonia agreed on a ruling coalition between three parties. The coalition agreement supports several principles that I can agree with: increasing the welfare of low wage earners (lower tax burden, higher minimum wage), lowering labor taxes for employers (decrease of the social tax from 33% to 32%), and an increase in support for families with children (special provisions for single parents). Lastly, the parties agreed on reforming the local government system which should have been done 10 or 15 years ago. These will be offset by increases in the tax on gas and an increase on the VAT tax on hotels from 9-20% (don't worry Mom and Dad it won't go into affect until 2016 or 2017). The new agreement doesn't do much on integration issues which is critical at this time given Russia's hybrid warfare tactics. It also did virtually nothing in the education field, which does need additional funding and attention. Perhaps the biggest problem is not in what they will be doing but who will be doing it. There are only two women out of the 15 ministers. Some of the most competent ministers of the last coalition were women who are not out of a job (Anne Sulling and Maris Lauri). They are replaced by long time politicians who had to resign from their jobs in the past due to scandal. This will most likely come back to haunt these parties. The Reform party will likely have another scandal on their hands and people will realize that their successful party rebranding was just an election gimmick which does not bode well for the next regional elections at some point and the IRL party (who had no women ministers) will be unsuccessful in rebranding their party after a monumental election loss.