First Past the Post: April 3

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East and South Asia

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak dissolves parliament ahead of elections later this month.

Another Aquino to run for vice president in 2016?

Baijiu in the time of modesty.

James Fallows and his readers give us reason to doubt the seriousness of the North Korean threat.

What to make of new North Korean prime minister Park Bong-ju?

Martin Wolf at Financial Times worries about the Chinese economy.

India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh inveighs against a future ‘perennially stuck’ at 5% growth, warns government action is crucial.

North America

It’s a hot economic topic this week but if you haven’t read it yet, former Reagan administration budget director David Stockman’s New York Times piece is still very much worth a read on its own terms.

Venezuela

Acting president Nicolás Maduro kicked off his campaign Tuesday in Barinas state, the home of late president Hugo Chávez.

Challenger Henrique Capriles kicked off his campaign in Barinas, too.

Maduro relates what he heard from a little birdie.

Latin America / Caribbean

Why Colombia is no longer the world’s top cocaine producer.

Uruguay’s senate votes in favor of same-sex marriage.

Paraguayan president Federico Franco confirms that neither presidential contender possesses a ‘Bolivarian tendency‘.  [Spanish]

An interview with Daniel Sánchez, the head of the Confederación de Empresarios Privados de Bolivia, on Chilean-Bolivian relations. [Spanish]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Former South African president Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized.

Kenyan president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta makes the case for dropping his ICC charges.

The plight of Gambia’s opposition parties and April 4 local elections.

Europe

The problem with mortgages and evictions in Ireland.

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano holds talks with 10 ‘wise men’ over Italian political impasse.

Cypriot finance minister Michael Sarris has resigned.

Eurozone unemployment rises to 12.0%, a 1.1% increase in the past year.

Former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac admits having an undisclosed Swiss bank account.

Senegalese immigrant Karamba Diaby could become Germany’s first black MP.

Serbia-Kosovo talks aren’t going so well.

New polls in the Paris mayoral election.

Polls show support for the Social Democrats in Sweden is rising.

Russia and Former Soviet Union

The latest on Armenia’s presidential standoff.

Middle East and North Africa

So Israel and Gaza are once again exchanging fire.

Russians illegally climb the Great Pyramids and take some amazing photographs.

American comedian Jon Stewart comes to the aid of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, sparks diplomatic crisis.

The agenda for Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington on May 16.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will work for Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Global

A primer on the nine candidates to become the next secretary-general of the World Trade Organization.

Photo credit to Guillermo Legaria / AFP / Getty Images.

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