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How We’re Making Progress With Iran, Even If the Nuclear Deal Fails

Behind the headline-making talks, subtler forms of diplomacy are laying the real groundwork for Iran’s international future.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Paris earlier this year.

Since negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries (America, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) commenced on June 26th, there have been missed deadlines and a spate of nervous nail biting as uncertainty reigned regarding the outcome of the talks. But early Tuesday morning, negotiators in Vienna, Austria finally produced a viable nuclear deal. The massive document, still being parsed for details, basically constitutes a promise by Iran to curb any nuclear activities that could contribute to weaponization for at least 15 years. Tehran will allow regular non-proliferation compliance inspections and unprecedented access to state facilities in perpetuity, with heightened monitoring by watchdogs for the next couple of decades. In exchange for this (and a host of other little guarantees), some of the world’s harshest sanctions, ratcheted up on Iran especially over the past decade, will slowly roll back towards normalization.

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The Year I Stopped Looking For a Script and Learned How to Improvise

Learning to improvise can be tough when the road to success seems like one big script.


I have always wanted to play jazz. I found the rhythms difficult to master, and the unscripted improvisations made me uncomfortable. As a flute player, I kept firmly to classically scripted scores through my collegiate years. The most improvised thing that I did was switch to playing the sousaphone in college marching band. While it was challenging and different, I still played off of a scripted and memorized sheet of music. During one brief, brilliant moment living in Morocco, I played with a big band jazz pickup group—a virtual United Nations of musicians from all over the world. But even then, I must be honest, I hid my meek flute sound, afraid of being heard making mistakes.

I recently conducted a retrospective on my career to give a presentation for colleagues new to public service. When I looked back from college, through graduate school, to a career in public service and international relations, I have constantly looked for that compelling scripted score to follow.

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Cancun Climate Talks: An Insider's Account So What Happened at the Cancun Climate Talks Anyway? An Insider's Account

Get a look at the inner workings of U.N. climate negotiations from somewhat who sat through all the boring meetings, and the frantic final ones too.

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The New Diplomats: Kazakhstan

Californian artists raised on graffiti, punk rock, hip-hop, and skate boards, Daniel Gallegos and James Reitano might seem like unconventional...

Californian artists raised on graffiti, punk rock, hip-hop, and skate boards, Daniel Gallegos and James Reitano might seem like unconventional candidates for foreign diplomacy, which generally involves more suits and ties (or bombs and guns) than spray cans and beats. But every once in a while, the U.S. government can surprise you. Davon Ramos's documentary "The New Diplomats" (see the festival cut after the jump) tells the story of a cultural exchange program, wherein the State Department sends the duo to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to communicate in the global languages of music and art.[vimeo][/vimeo]This is the kind of diplomacy I could really get behind, especially if we want to improve America's standing with young people residing in other countries. If we want to establish connections among young people around the world, these three are the right people to send. Reitano's created some incredible music videos, like this one for MADVILLIAN (the MF DOOM Madlib collaboration), and Gallegos is the creator of the awesome Artpologist (that's art plus anthropology). Meanwhile, Ramos has directed projects for DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, People Under the Stairs, Jurassic 5, and Stones Throw.

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Thiessen's Strike on Obama Misses by a Mile

When it comes to getting good intelligence, torture is what hurts, not drone strikes. When hawks on the political right go so...

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