A couple notes from beyond our borders:
Cuba's Fidel Castro apparently let down his guard recently with Jeffery Goldberg and confessed that the "Cuban model" of governance had been a failure (by all measures save enriching himself at the expense of his people, of course). Castro later recanted, so the "he said / she said" revolves around a question of credibility, but the Cuban government on Monday announced massive privatization reforms - including the immediate firing of one-tenth of Cuba's public sector workforce. Goldberg is publishing a series of articles summarizing his Cuban trip - they're certainly worth a read.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a referendum which will have the effect of consolidating power in his Islamic party by largely marginalizing the counter-balancing check of the nation's courts and military. The vote may have reflected the political wisdom that "it's the economy, stupid," as Erdogan's secular government has boosted Turkey's economic growth. As a de facto Muslim nation yet in the aftermath of a secular, democratic revolution, Turkey is a fascinating and critical perspective into the question of Islam and the modern world. The recent referendum seems troubling, given the present government's dim view of U.S. First Amendment-style rights and anti-American foreign policy - but President Obama has expressed gratification with the results.
France's senate has passed the long-debated ban on veils in public. Proponents contend the law "will preserve the nation's values, including its secular foundations and a notion of fraternity." Observers might note that secular values always trump religious liberties in liberal societies - particularly within the most arrogant and self-congratulatory liberal societies.