First Past the Post: January 4

East and South Asia

Police have filed charges in the horrific Delhi gang rape (now murder) that has much of India in protest.

A senior Pakistani militant leader, Mullah Nazir, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan.

Considering whether Shinzō Abe’s government is pursuing economic stimulus or stealth nationalization.

Jason Mikian in Foreign Policy has a fascinating story on the role of Surat, a city in Gujarat, on the world diamond trade.

More political wrangling in Indonesia for the support of Megawati Sukarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

The governing Awami League narrowly leads the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Former Hong Kong chief executive Henry Tang is calling for a freely democratic election in 2017.

Beijing and Shanghai are offering 72-hour visa-free stay policies.

North America

Alejandro García Padilla has been inaugurated as Puerto Rico’s new governor.

U.S. congressman John Boehner gets a boost with his reelection as speaker to the U.S. House of Representatives.  Long live the Merlot revolution.

Latin America / Caribbean

Hugo Chávez is now facing respiratory failure following his surgery in Cuba.

Francisco Toro argues that the Cubans have become the key power player in the drama over Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and any possible succession.

Rafael Correa has an overwhelming lead for reelection with 61%, followed by banker Guillermo Lasso with just 11%.

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto will move forward with fiscal and energy reforms in 2013.  [Spanish]

Panamá’s worsening crisis over president Ricardo Martinelli’s alleged corruption. [Spanish]

Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gets pushback against her incendiary letter to the United Kingdom regarding the Falkland Islands.

Africa

Talks between Joseph Kabila’s government and the M23 rebels are on again in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, if hanging by a thread.

Why development doesn’t automatically follow growth in Africa.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan backs away from 2015 reelection talk.

The ANC hopes to clean up Jacob Zuma’s reputation in advance of 2014 elections.

Europe

Russian president Vladimir Putin has changed the election system for Russia’s Duma from 100% proportional representation to 50% PR and 50% single-member districts in hopes of boosting his United Russia (Еди́ная Росси́я) party.

Comrade Depardieu?  More from Le Figaro. [French]

A to-do list for German chancellor Angela Merkel in 2013.

Portuguese president Cavaco Silva questions whether parts of Portugal’s ‘troika’-initiated austerity program are constitutional.

Middle East

One of the three leaders of Orthodox Jewish party Shas calls for a long-term peace deal with the Palestinians and withdrawal from the West Bank.

Lebanon’s governing cabinet proceeds with a plan for coping with increasing numbers of Syrian refugees.

Egypt faces its own austerity amid a crippled economic climate.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan says the era of political violence in Turkey is over.

Global

The Economist charts the top 10 countries forecast to grow in 2013 and the bottom 10 forecast to shrink in 2013.  Iraq, Timor-Leste and Mongolia are among the winners. Hint: the losers are 80% European.

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