Robert Siegel

It has already been a messy game at Havana's Latin American Stadium, the premier baseball stadium in Cuba. The home team, the Industriales, has given up five runs in the first inning; a shortstop fumbled a ball, an outfielder failed to hustle and an easy out became an extra-base hit.

The home crowd isn't deterred. The vuvuzelas, those ear-splitting plastic horns, still swell when an opposing batter reaches two strikes.

After the sun sets on Havana on weekends, G Street turns into a kind of runway.

Blocks of the promenade — which is very colonial with its big, beautiful statues and impeccable topiaries — swell with crowds of young Cubans. For the most part, they just walk up and down, greeting each other with kisses.

It's a spectacle: Everyone, it seems, is here to impress. They're perfectly coiffed, perfectly matched; they're splayed on benches, arms wrapped around each other.

There's a election law implemented in 2010 in Jordan known as "one person, one vote" that advocates of reform and democratization there regard, surprisingly, as a big step backward.

That's because of the strong ties Jordanians feel to family, clan and tribe, says Omar Razzaz, an economist and banker in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

Earlier this month, Jordan's Information Minister Mohammad Al-Momani told a conference that freedom of expression can contribute to stopping radicalization.

On the very same day, a military court in the capital Amman sentenced a man to 18 months in prison for a Facebook post that was seen as insulting a friendly country, the United Arab Emirates.

Momani spent years studying at Rice University in Houston, so he knows what Americans think of as free expression. But he sees it a little differently.

Jordan's King Abdullah has faced a delicate balancing act ever since he ascended the throne in 1999 following his father's death. His country shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Israel among others, and there always seems to be trouble in the neighborhood.

His latest challenge has been to convince Jordanians that it's in the country's interest to play a prominent role in the U.S.-led coalition against the self-declared Islamic State.

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