Michele Kelemen

Randy Berry has seen dramatic changes during his more than 20 years at the State Department.

When he moved from a post in Nepal to New Zealand years ago, he had to pay for his husband's plane ticket because such spousal benefits were not covered for gay and lesbian couples.

"Those days are gone," Berry says in an interview at his State Department office.

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The Obama administration has shaken up U.S. policy by reaching out to longtime foes including Cuba, Iran and Myanmar. This has spurred a debate about what impact, if any, the U.S. moves have on human rights in these countries.

Some argue that such engagement can encourage authoritarian countries to improve their human rights record, while others say it makes no difference, or may even lead regimes to feel they don't have to worry about punitive measures for rights violations.

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President Obama's visit to Argentina this week coincides with the anniversary of a dark moment in that country's history. Thursday marks 40 years since a 1976 military coup that ushered in that country's so-called Dirty War, when as many as 30,000 Argentines were killed or disappeared during a seven-year dictatorship.

Human rights groups want the U.S. to divulge what it knew back then. The president is now promising that he will declassify new documents.

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President Obama is preparing for an historic visit to Cuba this weekend. Just a few months ago, he told Yahoo! News he would only go if the conditions were right.

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's term expires at the end of this year. The election process to find a successor usually plays out behind closed doors. This year, though, the U.N. is trying something new — giving candidates a chance to make their case in public. And, there's a big push by activists to get a woman at the helm.

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