Fidel Castro Passes Away

Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba for half a century, passed away last Friday at the age of 90.

After toppling the authoritarian government of President Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Castro turned his Revolution into a one-party Communist government that continues to govern Cuba today. Rejecting western liberal democracy, Castro allied Cuba with the Soviet Union placing himself, and Cuba, in the center of the Cold War and at odds with the US.

But Castro’s legacy is one that extends far beyond the Cold War. It is one that includes both improvements in Cuba’s literacy rates and healthcare, as well as human rights abuses and the deprivation of individual freedoms.

Jill Stein Requests Recount in Battleground States

Jill Stein began raising money to request recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, last week. Buoyed by a recent publication calling for the ballots in those three states to be manually reviewed to ensure no voter fraud had occurred, Stein quickly raised the money required to petition for the recounts.

Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, and one of the experts cited in the initial report on voter fraud has since said that the ballots were “[p]robably not” manipulated and no evidence has been found to suggest otherwise. While members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team will participate in the recount, given they have a duty to, they have said they consider the election to be over.

In response to the ongoing recount initiative, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend, without providing evidence, that “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Nonetheless, the Wisconsin recount is expected to begin on Thursday, a petition has been filed in Pennsylvania by Stein to initiate a recount in the state, and she intends to petition Michigan to do the same later this week.

Trump Meets with Members of the Press

An on-again off-again meeting eventually took place between Trump and members of the press at the New York Times Building last week. Trump stated he did not have an obligation to shield himself from his businesses because the president cannot have a conflict of interest. However he said he “would like to try and formalize something, because I don’t care about my business.”

Throughout the interview, he also discussed some of his other campaign positions. This included saying he was not looking to conduct an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails or the Clinton Foundation, and that he thinks the media will be “happy” with his interpretation of the First Amendment.

Francois Fillon Wins Conservative Nomination for France’s Presidential Election

Francois Fillon won the Republican Party’s primary, defeating Alain Juppe in the party’s run-off. The election of Fillon, a social conservative who believes in free-market economics, moves France’s conservative party farther right before France’s presidential election next year.

Fillon now has to prepare for the possibility that he will have to face Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, in the final round of France’s two round general election. A second round election battle between Fillon and Le Pen, whose campaign has received a boost from the election of Trump, would further underscore the rise of the far-right wave that has swept the West.