21 1 Decade 8th yr
21 2008- AD
Jan 1 Cyprus and Malta change their currency to
Ghana struggles with democracy as election violence takes more lives
and a church filled with people is torched. In Iraq, violence continues
with a suicide bomber killing thirty at a funeral of a bomb victim. In
his New Year mass, Pope Benedict XVI suggests that this violence is
something more than small-mindedness, political immaturity and
unnecessary intolerance. He describes family values as the foundation
of world peace. "Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution
of the family," he states, "undermines peace in the entire community."
In Berlin, Cologne and Hanover, new regulations require motorists to
display color-coded stickers certifying that their car has normal
exhaust emissions. Drivers of cars without such a sticker face a fine
of 40 euros.
The city of Milan begins charging up to 10 euros ($14.65) for each car
entering the city, cars that are not electric or hybrid. The city
predicts a cut in pollution levels of 30 percent and plans to spend the
money received on rapid transit, buses, cycle paths and "green
In its thirty-third year of publication, the Arab News, published in
Saudi Arabia in English, praises Benazir Bhutto for having struggled
for democracy and describes "her opponents, Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Ladin
and all of his followers [as] fighting for a suffocating form of
leadership where dissent is not allowed and where women are treated as
second-class citizens." The writer, Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, adds that
"Benazir unfortunately never really was a good leader while in office."
In Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, some shops and businesses have
re-opened and mini-bus taxis are running again. Approximately 600 are
estimated as killed since the election results of December 27.
In Bolivia the four provincial governors who threatened separation have
joined with President Morales in conflict resolution. Their agreement
provides, among other things, greater state control of the economy and
more autonomy for indigenous communities.
Hashim Thaçi, former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army and now
president of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and Kosovo's Prime
Minister, continues to push for independence from Serbia. He promises
that his government will act "to create a climate of tolerance in
relations with minorities, especially with the Serb community."
Iraq's parliament allows former members of the Baath political party to
return to government jobs or to receive their pensions. This excludes
Baathists convicted of crimes - a criterion that could have been used
in 2003 rather than the de-Baathification now considered one of the
"coalition" mistakes. Parliament's move is done in the interest of
justice and hope that the measure will help reconcile Sunni and Shia .
President Bush speaks. "There's no doubt in my mind, when history is
written, the final page will say: Victory was achieved by the United
States of America for the good of the world."
Calling for change, Taiwan's old Guomindang political party wins 81
seats in parliament. Its rival, the DPP, the party of the incumbent
president, wins 27 seats. The DPP has angered China by favoring
independence. The Guomindang favors closer ties with China.
In Saudi Arabia, French President Nicholas Sarkozy describes the
kingdom as a key ally of France and a "pole of moderation and
stability" in a troubled region.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made a statement about the
role that President Johnson played in getting the Civil Rights Act
passed into law, a statement that in no way diminishes Martin Luther
King's heroic role in the civil rights movement. A few Democrats
opposed to Clinton's candidacy, including presidential candidate John
Edwards, demonstrate their struggle with language and logic or their
willingness to invent. Edwards: "I must say I was troubled recently to
see a suggestion that real change came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King but through a Washington politician."
In Mexico, another narcocorrido singer, Jorge Antonio Sepulveda, 20, is
In Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov is sworn in for his third term. He won
88.1 percent of the vote last December. The media in Uzbekistan is
state controlled, and critics accuse him of human rights abuses.
In South Waziristan, Pakistan's army chases forces loyal to Baitullah
Mehsud, blamed for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. On each side,
one or more are killed.
President Sarkozy of France decides not to take his romantic interest,
Carla Bruni, with him on an official visit to India, where a man
traveling with a woman with whom he is not married is a scandal.
In the United States, a credit crisis and expectations of a decline in
economic activity send stocks plummeting worldwide - the rush to sell
stocks the result of fears that the value of their stocks will not grow
or will decline in the near future.
In the United States, FactCheck.org is busy trying to keep up with the
inaccuracies stated in political campaigns. Today FactCheck.org writes
of Hillary Clinton: "Clinton falsely accused Obama of saying he 'really
liked the ideas of the Republicans' including private Social Security
accounts and deficit spending. Not true. The entire 49-minute interview
to which she refers contains no endorsement of private Social Security
accounts or deficit spending, and Obama specifically scorned GOP calls
for tax cuts."
In South Waziristan, Pakistan's army continues to clash with
"militants," the army using artillery and helicopters and reporting 40
militants killed and 30 captured.
In Mexico City, busses for women-only offer women welcomed relief from
Kofe Annan, former Secretary General of the UN, describes the change in
purpose that has appeared before in bloody conflicts. He says the
continuing violence and slaughter in Kenya may have been triggered by
an election dispute but that it has evolved into "something else."
George Habash, Palestinian Christian and founder of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which participated in airline
highjackings, dies of a heart attack. Mamoud Abbas, Fatah leader and
Chairman of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), calls him a
"historic leader " and orders flags flown at half mast.
In Kenya, people inflamed by passion continue their violence. People of
Kuo ethnicity have been killing Kikuyo, the tribe of President Mwai
Kibaki, and the Kikuyo are killing Kuo. As of today more than 800 have
been killed. People have been pulled from cars and stoned to death, or
burned to death in their cars. Homes and busses have been torched.
In Syria, which has hundreds of political prisoners, a prominent
dissident, Riad Seif, is said to have been detained for having attended
a pro-democracy meeting. He is said to be have been charged with having
harmed the image of Syria. Seif is under a slow death sentence,
forbidden from leaving Syria for treatment of prostrate cancer.
Foreign Policy magazine writes of Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, as
having a "vast system of patronage," and it writes of the head of the
Electoral Commission of Kenya, Samuel Kivuitu, as having recently
admitted that "he was pressured by the president’s office to announce
results before he could verify their authenticity."
Feb 1 Saudi authorities believe they have a more
than 70 percent success rate in their program re-educating imprisoned
young men away from what had been their violent and "deviant" form of
Islam. Those who have successfully completed this "de-radicalization"
program, according to a BBC report by Frank Gardner, "can be offered
government help in starting a business, securing a job, a car, or even
Former NATO commander and Marine Corps Commandant General James Jones
testified yesterday before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
"Make no mistake," he said, "NATO is not winning in Afghanistan."
Canada announces that its soldiers will not stay in Afghanistan unless
NATO deploys more troops in southern Afghanistan, and Germany rejects a
US plea to send more troops there.
Norway is leading the United States in per capita GDP, and it's judged
by a United Nations index as the best place to live in the world
(despite its cold winters and high tax rate). Meanwhile, Norwegians are
concerned about the lack of knowledge of history among its high school
students. Sixty-five percent are said not to know who Pol Pot was.
Sixty-four percent do not know what the Gulag means. More than 25
percent of students polled could not identify Mao Zedong, and 75
percent had never heard of the "Great Leap Forward" attempted in China
under Mao's leadership.
Serbia's President Boris Tadic was challenged in yesterday's election
by Tomislav Nikolic, described by the BBC as a pro-Moscow candidate.
Tadic is looking forward to Serbia's membership in the European Union.
The elections were orderly and ended with cordiality.
In the bellwether state of New Jersey, Republican candidates running
for their party's nomination for president together garnered 554,894
votes. Democratic Party candidates garnered 1,104,101 votes - almost
twice as many. (With 99 percent of the precincts reporting.) For
Missouri, another bellwether state, it was 820,453 to 584,618 in favor
of the Democrats. The Republican Party, the party of President Bush, is
in trouble regarding elections coming in November.
The Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, approaches the
realization that al Qaeda has been pursuing a losing political-military
strategy - as we have seen recently in hostility toward al Qaeda in
Iraq. McConnell tells Congress that "Most victims of al Qaeda attacks
are Muslims." He adds that "In the last year to 18 months, al-Qaida has
had difficulty in fundraising and sustaining themselves."
Norway's Police Security Service (PST) reports that Russian spying in
Norway has reached levels as high as during the Cold War.
In the US, four are arrested, accused of passing secret defense
information to China.
In the Philippines, 16 women and four of their husbands, described as
economically poor, are going to court to force a decision whether local
government officials can ban family planning services.
The international criminal and killer of numerous innocent civilians,
Mughniyeh, has been assassinated. He was on Europe's terrorist list and
the US most wanted list until replaced by bin Laden in 2001. Hezbollah
identifies him as one of their senior commanders and "a great jihadist
leader " - while it denies that it is a terrorist organization. The
Syrian government describes the assassination "a cowardly, terrorist
act" and expresses "condolences to the martyr family and to the
In the US the end-of-winter worry about honey bees is approaching. The
Varroa mite, considered responsible for destroying bees, is reported to
be developing resistance to chemicals that have been applied to kill
the mites. It's an evolutionary process: those few mites that are
resistant survive and mulitiply while the non-resistent mites die.
New York's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, trashes the stimulus
package signed into law by President Bush on the 13th. He joins those
who want sacrifice for the future rather than party now and deficit
spending. Bloomberg, a Republican, praises candidate Obama's plan for a
National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to stimulate the economy by
rebuilding highways, bridges, airports and other public projects.
Data from the United Nations suggest that 75 percent of crop varieties
in the world have become extinct in the last one hundred years.
Kosovo's parliament declares Kosovo an independent and sovereign state.
The United States, Britain, France and other European Union states are
in support of the will of the majority in Kosovo. Serbs are opposed.
Russia is expressing its opposition in the UN Security Council.
Safer interviews Danes about happiness.
Feb 17 In
the US, the television program "Sixty Minutes " has a piece describing
the Danes as the "happiest" people. The Danes pay taxes that are 50
percent of their income. Humor, perhaps: although lower taxes serve
individualism, lower taxes do not necessarily serve happiness.
In appearing for a news conference with the former president, George
H.W. Bush, candidate McCain faults those who have not supported the
surge. He says that had the US followed their advice, al Qaeda would
have won in Iraq. Some who question McCain's judgment do not credit al
Queda's tactics as effective and suspect that without US troops al
Qaeda would have become no more popular in Iraq than they are now.
Feb 19 In parliamentary elections, voters in
Pakistan reject religious fervor, leaving Islamic parties with little
support. The political party that had been led by the late Benazir
Bhutto and the party of the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif,
together gain more than 50 percent of the vote. The party of President
Musharraf wins only 13 percent of the vote.
Spain opens a high-speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona -
transport that reach a speed of 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour.
Hillary Clinton suggests that her rival for the Democratic Party
nomination for president, Barrack Obama, is too sweetness oriented
rather than ready for tough confrontation. Speaking to a crowd at Rhode
Island College she says: "Now, I could stand up here and say, 'Let's
just get everybody together. Let's get unified,' The skies will open,
the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone
will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect."
It is widely reported that an increasing demand for energy in nations
with a growing middle class, as in China, raises the price of energy
and the price of food. Also demand for bio-fuels are cutting into the
availability of food. The UN reports today of these developments
creating an inability to maintain current food aid levels.
A vault deep in an arctic mountain, for every variety of seed specie,
opens in Norway. The seed collection is organized by Global Crop
Cuba signs two human rights agreements at the United Nations,
committing it to freedom of expression and association and the right to
In Kenya, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, overcomes bickering
by creating a power sharing agreement between President Kibaki and
opposition leader, Raila Odinga. Remaining to be accomplished is
reconciliation among Kenyan citizens.
In the US, election campaigns are challenging thought processes. An
hispanic woman in Texas, supporting Hillary Clinton, complains that
blacks have not been adequately supporting her community, as if Barack
Obama represents blacks in general. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton asked
people not to vote for her because she is a woman, but in the debate on
the 26th she reversed herself and made such an appeal. We will not hear
Obama asking for votes because he is black, and largely the public is
gauging Obama as an individual. People in the US are displaying some
fair-mindedness. A gallop poll from a year ago states that 5 percent
would not vote for a black, 11 percent not for a woman, 42 percent
would not vote for someone over 72, 43 percent not for a homosexual and
53 percent would not vote for an atheist. We'll probably see some new
figures on this subject soon.
Responding to a recent statement by presidential candidate Barack
Obama, a few (other than Senator John McCain) describe Obama's Iraq and
al-Qaeda policy as little different from that of President Bush. The
difference of course is that Obama sees benefit in a more rapid
withdrawal from Iraq. He recognizes that Iraqis have been turning
against al-Qaeda, and he is more ready than President Bush to leave
al-Qaeda-in-Iraq fade as a consequence of Iraqi opposition. After US
troops are withdrawn, if al-Qaeda somehow builds to a danger that they
were, for example, in Afghanistan, posing a threat to the United
States, Obama says he would advocate striking militarily.
President Ahmadinejad of Iran visits Iraq. He tells his hosts that a
"united, powerful and developed Iraq" is in the region's (and Iran's)
interest. Iraq's President Talabani (a Kurd) describes the visit as
Mar 2 In
Russia, Dmitry Medvedev is elected to replace Vladimir Putin as
president. He is to take office on May 7, and Putin is expected to
become prime minister.
Hamas supporters have acquired sophisticated rocketry that the Israeli
blockade has been trying to prevent them from obtaining - a blockade
recently breached. The Hamas supporters have been firing these rockets
into Israel, killing people - an act of war. Israel claims the right to
defend itself militarily. UN Secretary General Ki-Moon calls Israel's
response "disproportionate and excessive." While the solution to the
violence lies in part at least in the heads of the people in Gaza,
there is denial that Israel's military attack is a response to
aggression from Hamas, and blame is cast elsewhere in the complaint
that "the international voice is silent."
In four states today - Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont -- people
go to the polls to choose between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Clinton supporters are repeating the claim that she has more experience
than Obama. In politics an experience-judgment rivalry is like the
experience-talent rivalry in music. No one is going to replace a
talented young soloist with a mediocre violinist because the mediocre
violinist has been playing for forty years.
Senator Clinton has won in the popular vote in Ohio 54 to 44 percent,
in Texas 51 to 47 persent. In Ohio, white voters without college
degrees backed Clinton 3 to 1. According to the Washington Post, "More
than two in 10 non-college-educated white voters said race was an
important factor in their decision, compared with one in 10 among
whites with college degrees." Among non-college educated white voters
there were also those who opposed Obama because they thought he was or
might be a Muslim. Today, Senator Clinton e-mailed her supporters
saying "It's a pretty incredible feeling, isn't it?" and "Let's build
on this remarkable momentum." Obama's e-mail to his supporters spoke of
his maintaining a "substantial lead in delegates" and complained of
"stunts and the tactics that ask us to fear instead of hope."
The BBC reports that an estimated one in three persons in the world is
infected with tuberculosis, predominantly among the poor in the
"developing" world. The disease is spread by coughing or sneezing, and
some strains of tuberculosis are drug resistant.
In celebrating her victory in Ohio, Hillary Clinton said "as Ohio goes
so goes the nation." She is repeating it and so too are some pundits to
the point that it is now common blah-blah. If it is a hard rule that
one must win Ohio to win the general election as they are saying, why
was Al Gore able to win the popular vote in the presidential election
of 2000 without winning Ohio? Can it not be said that Gore lost in the
electoral vote count by only a few hundred votes in Florida because of
mistakes in Florida, or because of the Supreme Court's ruling, rather
than because he did not carry Ohio?
War has been averted as Colombia's right-of-center president, Alvaro
Aribe, apologizes to Ecuador's President Correa and Venezuela's
President Hugo Chavez. Aribe has promised never again to attack a
"brother country." Chavez denies Aribe's accusation that he has given
money and weapons to Colombian rebels. "I will never do it," Chavez
said, "because I want peace." Aribe was under pressure from leftist
regimes and from more centrist Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The United
States was the only country in the Americas that offered Colombia
A Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, describes crime in Oslo as four times
greater than New York City. Oslo police blame the increase on an influx
of East Europeans. Crime elsewhere in Norway is reported as declining.
The paper reports that for 2007, Oslo had 90 reported crimes per 1,000
persons, Stockholm (Sweden) had 79, Copenhagen (Denmark) 50, and New
Gary Hart, a well-known Democrat, complains in an online "Huffington
Post" that there are rules in politics, and one of them is to not
provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy
your party's nominee. He asks whether Hillary Clinton's primary loyalty
is to the Democratic Party and the nation or to her own ambition.
progress in Iraqi reconciliation
Frederick Kagan describes satellite dishes in small villages across
Iraq and Iraqis watching CNN, some favoring Clinton, some Obama and
some McCain. He describes talk about mistakes of the past regarding
Iraq as useless. The question, he says, is where do we go from here.
Political progress is being made, he adds. He cannot be absolutely
certain that progress by the Iraqis will continue. But he claims that
as long as there is progress, it is in our interest to stay the course
- with a measured and cautious reduction of forces when appropriate. On
a panel with two from the Brookings Institute, Michael O'Hanlon and
Kenneth Pollack, he agrees that the Obama and Clinton strategies are
Rosen, not so optimistic
A PBS News Hour debate on THE SURGE summarized: Old Sunni combatants
still believe they are at war with the Shia, that the government is
Shia and that the government's militia is their main enemy. Sunni
fighters feel defeated by US forces and worry that if Americans
withdraw soon they, the Sunnis, will be slaughtered by the Shia
majority. The US military presence has succeeded in reducing the
violence in Iraq. Iraqis in general, aside from the Kurds, still
dislike foreign troops on their soil and in this sense the US is an
occupation force. In the sense that the US is in Iraq by power of the
UN Security Council the US is not an occupation force. One of the
debaters, Nir Rosen, sees the US presence as postponing a showdown
between the Shia and Sunni. The other debater, Frederick Kagan, is more
optimistic and sees progress in reconciliation.
Mar 14 Four
days ago Bear Stearns stock closed at $62 per share. Stock market guru
Jim Cramer said "No! No! No! Bearn Stearns is not in trouble ...Don't
move your money from Bear." Today Bear Stearns stock closes at $30 per
Commentators not inclined to support Barrack Obama's candidacy for
president have been trying to tie him to a couple of black ministers,
Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. Some see Obama as having an
advantage in being black - the affirmative action candidate - and some
claim that whites are voting for him out of guilt. It insults those who
have been supporting Obama and damages Obama's efforts as a "unifier"
and his desire to be judged for what he is other than black. Obama has
"strongly denounced" statements made by Wright, but Wright was his
minister for twenty years, and Obama has hurt himself politically by
having ignored Wright's wildest opinions - a response of some people to
Mar 25 To
save Bear Stearns from bankruptcy, Secretary of the Treasury Hank
Paulson has convinced JP Morgan Chase bank to buy Bear Stearns stock.
Paulson promised $30 billion to guarantee the solvency of Bear Stearns,
without which Chase would not have been interested. Chase offers to buy
Bear Stearns at $4 per share. Paulson makes the price $2 per share to
reduce reward to Bear Stearns. People at Bear Stearns are in shock. The
Dow has been moving sideways above 12,000 as stock market "experts,"
advisors and players are not making a connection between the health of
the economy and the meltdown at Bear Stearns.
Hillary Clinton delivers a major speech describing her comprehensive
strategy regarding Iraq. She lists corruption, Iraqi money in foreign
bank accounts that should be helping reconstruction, and various Iraqi
government failures. Her strategy includes the possibility of pin-point
strikes against al-Qaeda after withdrawal. She describes many more
years in Iraq as "a defeat."
Barack Obama delivers a speech considered by some to be historic. It
describes black and white frustrations and repeats his disagreement
with statements by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. He describes his
relationship with Wright as family. Obama had been an organizer in the
black and white communities and had not pontificated or made himself
righteous about attitudes among people. He asks his listeners for
tolerance, but many do not accept Obama's tolerance for the Reverend
Wright because of Wright's "hateful" speech and distortions. They
complain that Obama does not share their righteous indignation and
believe he should have stomped out of Wright's church.
A week of protests in Tibet have left people dead and soldiers in
control of city streets. China's government has denied journalists
access to Tibet, suppressed photos, and has blamed the rioting and
violence on the Dalai Lama, in exile in Northern India. The Dalai Lama
has been advocating greater autonomy for Tibet but not independence as
Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria announce that they will recognize the
independence of Kosovo.
The US enters its sixth year of combat in Iraq. President Bush speaks
of "our enemies in Iraq" and of "a major strategic victory in the
broader war on terror."
Vice President Cheney has met with Iraqi Vice President Adel Mehdi.
Mehdi drops his resistance to provincial elections. These elections
might correct distortions that deny a fair share of power to Sunni
Lhasa, Tibetans attack a Han Chinese.
Mar 21 China has blamed the death of 13
"innocent" people on rioters in Lhasa. In Lhasa, Tibetan young men in
the spirit of ethnic cleansing have indeed attacked Han Chinese -
Chinese shops and people in the street. The Tibetan government in exile
blames China for violence and claims that at least 99 people have died,
including 80 in Lhasa.Another murdered jo
In Afghanistan, Rafi Naabzada wins a sensational pop music contest. The
contest has been criticized by clerics because of the inclusion of
Genetic analysis of blood samples from across Latin America suggest
that most Latin Americans are the product of a match between a European
male and a native or African woman.
Frederick Kagan describes satellite dishes in small villages across
Iraq and Iraqis watching CNN, some favoring Clinton, some Obama and
some McCain. He describes talk about mistakes of the past regarding
Iraq as useless. The question, he says, is where do we go from here.
Political progress is being made, he adds. He cannot be absolutely
certain that progress by the Iraqis will continue. But he claims that
as long as there is progress, it is in our interest to stay the course
- with a measured and cautious reduction of forces when appropriate. On
a panel with two from the Brookings Institute, Michael O'Hanlon and
Kenneth Pollack, he agrees that the Obama and Clinton strategies are
In a 6-3 decision, the more conservative US Supreme Court Justices
reject the authority of the U.N. International Court of Justice (World
Court) in any of the United States - in this case Texas. Writing the
dissenting view, Justice Breyer described the US as having signed and
ratified appropriate treaties and as having agreed to be bound by the
World Court's judgment. President Bush had claimed that it was in the
US interest to recognize the World Court's authority in the case under
Senator McCain delivers his foreign policy address. In addition to
repeating positions he has often expressed, he says, "We need to listen
to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies."
Mar 28 Columnist Michael Kinsley is pessimistic
about the benefits of the government stimulating the economy by giving
people money with which to buy more stuff (recorded here as possible
prophesy). He points out that economic recovery by stimulus borrowing
is supposed to follow years of budget surpluses, not years of deficit
spending. He says that "If we are going into [more] deficit spending we
should be repairing our bridges and infrastructures.”
China has described rioting in Llasa as having killed 18 civilians, one
police officer and as having injured 382 civilians and 241 police
officers. According to official statistics, 908 stores were smashed,
looted or torched and 120 homes were burned. The families of those
killed are to be compensated by cash from the government - 200,000 yuan
($28,170). The government has declared that measures will to be taken
to help people repair their homes and shops or to build new ones.
Apr 2 A Gallup poll asks Europeans whether they
approve or disapprove of "the job performance of the leadership of the
USA." The approval rating is 22 percent. In Spain it is 6 percent.
Belgian and German approval are 8 percent. France is 9 percent.
Sub-Saharan Africa gives US leadership a 63 percent approval rating.
Iraqi's Prime Minister Maliki, a Shia, attemps to assert power over
Shia militias in the port city of Basra. He declares it a fight to the
end. The fighting spreads across southern Iraq and to Baghdad. Maliki
has to call on the British and Americans for help. After a few days of
warfare his fight ends in an truce with the leader of the Mahdi army,
Muqtada al-Sadr. The fighting has killed an estimated 200 or 600
depending on the source.
In Jerusalem a judge has ruled that restaurants and cafes can sell
leavened bread during Passover. This outrages orthodox Jews. They
believe that religious law should be the law of the state of Israel for
everyone, be he religious or not.
Senator Obama asks questions of General Petraeus at Foreign Relations
People around the world are rioting because of food prices or
availability: in Egypt, Mexico, Haiti, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco,
Senegal, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Mauritania. In South Korea there is panic
buying. In the Philippines, officials are raiding warehouses looking
for unscrupulous traders hoarding rice. The rising price of oil has
made food production more expensive. Nations are cutting back on their
exports of food in order to have enough for their own people. Egypt's
reduction of rice exports is hurting Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
On April 3, world rice prices rose as much as 30 percent.
Demonstrators have been using violence against the passage of the
Olympic flame through Europe and the United States. The subject of the
demonstrations has been Tibet. Supporters of China describe Tibet as
having been a part of China at least since the early 1700s, a few
decades before Xinjiang became a part of China and before there was a
United States - and before the US took Indian lands east of the
Mississippi. China describes itself as multi-ethnic. Its supporters
cite CIA support for the Dalai Lama and meddling in a Tibet separatist
movement during the Cold War. They do not see China disintegrating
ethnically as did Yugoslavia.
An Iraqi carpenter, Allah Sadiq, 49, in Baghdad's Karrada district, was
interviewed about the testimony of General Petraeus this week to the US
Congress. An article in today's Washington Post quotes him. "The
Americans have hundreds of meetings and testimonies like this, and what
has it done for the Iraqi people? Nothing... We just want all the
foreigners to leave and stop causing disasters for our country."
Pakistan's new government introduces a bill that lifts controls on the
media imposed by Pervez Musharraf under his state of emergency.
Zimbabwe's High Court rules against those demanding that results of the
presidential election, held more than two weeks ago, be released.
Opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have won
more than 50 percent of the vote. President Robert Mugabe is looking
forward to a runoff election, legally necessary if Tsvangirai has won
less than 50 percent. Forces loyal to Mugabe are intimidating voters
with beatings and the destruction of homes.
Yusuf Juma, a poet and critic of Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov,
is sentenced to five years of forced labor.
In Nepal, a Communist Party described as Maoist has won an overwhelming
victory in parliamentary elections. The Maoists promise to deliver
Nepal from various traditions: caste, gender discrimination, the dowry
system and the monarchy. Their promise not to hamper private enterprise
has won them some backing from entrepreneurs.
It is independence day in Zimbabwe. Speaking to his nation, President
Mugabe shows the mettle of another of recent history's revolutionists
and blames imperialism, the British and traitors for his nation's
Last week in Oaxaca Province, Mexico, two radio broadcasters, Felicitas
Martinez Sanchez, 21, and Teresa Bautista Merino, 24, were assassinated
while returning from an assignment. At least 20 spent AK-47 cartridges
were found at the scene.
In Paraguay, a former bishop, Fernando Lugo, has won the presidency,
ending 61 years of conservative Colorado Party rule. Many Paraguayans
Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, a Sunni from Egypt now in hiding in
Pakistan, denounces Iran for describing Israel as behind the 2001 9/11
attacks in the United States. Zawahiri complains that Iran (under Shia
rule) is trying to deprive al-Qaeda credit for the attacks.
Prostitutes have flocked to Norway from around the world, because in
Oslo they can make more money. They are aggressive, creating a new
debate in Norway over whether to make prostitution illegal.
Mexico's state owned oil company, Pemex, is losing money. It is running
out of oil and would benefit from deeper drilling. Foreign drillers
have the technology and expertise to do this, but Mexico's Constitution
forbids Pemex from joint ventures with private and foreign companies.
Mexico is in political fervor with leftists opposed to foreign
Port workers in South Africa defy their government's apparent
indifference to events in Zimbabwe. The port workers refuse to unload
weaponry from a Chinese ship. Church groups in South Africa join the
protest, complaining that the weaponry, destined for Zimbabwe, would be
used against the Zimbabwe people. Chinese authorities agree to withdraw
Republican presidential candidate, John McCain offers a "market-based"
health plan. McCain describes the plans of his rival Democrat
candidates, Clinton and Obama, as riddled with "inefficiency,
irrationality and uncontrolled costs." An Obama spokesman, Hari Sevugan
responds: "John McCain is recycling the same failed policies that
didn't work when George Bush first proposed them and won't work now."
On Larry King Live on CNN, Michael Moore, maker of the film Sicko,
expresses his dislike for McCain's health plan. Moore says that profit
should be out of the health care system as it is out of police and fire
departments. The higher costs in a free market system, with profits for
corporations, he describes as equivalent to a tax. Moore says health
care would be less expensive if it were covered by a real tax.
Russia accuses Georgia of planning to invade Abkhazia. Georgia
proclaims that any additional Russian troops in Abkhazia will be
considered aggressors. .
Pakistanis are complaining of no electricity for long periods of time.
They are complaining about their utility bills and about food prices
that have affected their eating habits. There is concern that the
judges whom Musharraf dismissed have not yet been restored. There is
widespread disappointment with the new government. One Pakistani who
was interviewed said that life is becoming unlivable. People are
talking about emigrating.
Another exceptionally powerful wind disaster has occurred, this time a
cyclone that has hit Burma.
An article in the May issue of Vanity Fair reports: "Monsanto already
dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now
it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the
corporation’s tactics --ruthless legal battles against small farmers -
is its decades-long history of toxic contamination."
In Cuba, a law against owning a home computer has been lifted. In
recent weeks, thousands of Cubans have been spending their savings on
other previously banned goods, such as mobile telephones and DVD
In describing troublesome trends that distinguish the 21st century from
the 20th, General Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central
Intelligence Agency, puts exploding populations at the top of his list.
In Lebanon, rifle and grenade fire has broken out between opponents and
supporters of the Western and Saudi backed government. Opponents are
largely Hezbollah supporters. Driving the opponents are protests
against rising feul and food prices. The armed rising followed the
pro-Western Siniora government deciding to strip Hezbollah of its
private underground telecommunications system, which was crucial to
Hezbollah during the war with Israel in 2006.
In an English court of law, the People's Mujahedin of Iran (Mujahedin
e-Kalq) has won removal from England's list of terrorist organizations.
The organization is listed as a terrorist group by the European Union
and the United States.
May 8 In the
US, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh proclaims that Barrack Obama
will "lose big." Limbaugh describes himself as always right, and today
he says that Obama "has shown he cannot get the votes Democrats need to
win - blue-collar, working class people. He can get effete snobs, he
can get wealthy academics, he can get the young, and he can get the
black vote, but Democrats do not win with that."
The government of Burma states that 22,000 have died as a result of the
cyclone that struck on May 2. Estimates by other observors are that the
dead will rise to more than 100,000. (Hurricane Katrina, which hit New
Orleans in 2005, killed 1,836.) The cyclone has damaged much of Burma's
rice growing region, putting more pressure on the food supply.
Rice production in Uganda has increased as a result of tariffs on
imported rice. Rice prices in Uganda have improved, unlike elsewhere in
the world. Ugandan importers have moved their investments into Ugandan
China's worst earthquake in 32 years strikes in Sichuan Province (central China).
Ten months ago, scientists warned that the region was ripe for a major
Many see nothing wrong with guilt by association or don't recognize it.
A version of it is employed by presidential candidate John McCain,
McCain saying that Barack Obama is the favored presidential candidate
May 13 New
figures from the CIA's World Factbook show Iraq leading India, Mongolia
and Russia, among others, in "life expectancy at birth." Iraq's is
69.62 years. Russia: 65.94. Japan leads the world at 82.07. The US is
listed 47th, at 78.14.
Californians and others who see marriage as an absolute are upset at
what they see as a creative interpretation by the California Supreme
Court. That court rules unconstitutional a ban on marriage between same
sex couples. One upset Californian describes marriage as something that
has existed since the "dawn of time." When people went from merely
coupling to institutionalized declarations and definitions remains for
Lizabeth Diaz reports that businesses in the border town of Tijuana,
Mexico, are collapsing, that business people daily are facing "threats
of extortion," that investments in industry are being scared away and
that downtown Tijuana is virtually deserted. Rival gangs are warring
for control of the city.
In a speech, President Bush compares negotiating with terrorists with
the British and French having appeased Hitler in 1938. Confusion and
upset follow from a failure to differentiate between negotiating and
appeasing. One can talk or negotiate without giving the other side
anything in particular or everything as the British and French did at
Munich regarding Czechoslovakia. In fact, one can negotiate and give
the other side nothing.
Liberals point out that President Bush has negotiated with North Korea
and Libya, that Israel has negotiated with the PLO, Syria and Egypt and
that the British negotiated with the IRA.
The European Union is "cracking down" on illegal immigration, trying to
stop voyages of Africans reaching Europe by boat. Italy's newly elected
conservative government has conducted a week-long raid that has rounded
up nearly 400 suspected illegal immigrants. Italians are expressing
hostility toward Romanians, who can legally migrate where they want
within the EU. In Naples, people have set fire to the makeshift homes
A Gallup survey estimates that in the US tolerance for divorce has
risen to 70 percent, up from 67 percent in 2006. Those believing that
divorce is morally wrong has declined to 22 percent.
Speaking in London, the chairman of the China Banking Regulatory
Commission, LIU Mingkang, says that "accountability and responsibility
for managing risks are, and must remain, with individual financial
institutions and investors." He adds that, "This needs to be firmly
backed up by strengthened national regulatory and supervisory
In Kenya, a gang goes from home to home killing ten accused of
Talks in Qatar result in Lebanon's Hezbollah (Party of God) having veto
power in a new Lebanese cabinet of national unity. The use of arms or
violence will be forbidden in settling political differences. IIn the
US the Bush administration considers Hezbollah a terrorist
organization, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice approves of the
talks, saying, "We view this agreement as a positive step toward
resolving the current crisis."
Presidential candidate John McCain breaks with Pastor John Hagee over
remarks about God and Hitler. (Opinion: Hagee, McCain and History
article by Syed Rashid Husain in the Saudi newspaper Arab News
describes a claim that "60 percent of today's crude oil price is pure
speculation... driven by large trader banks and hedge funds." The
accusation is that people trying to make money on a continuing rise in
the price of oil prices are doing to oil what speculators did to the
price of gold in 1979-80 and to the price of homes a few years ago.
Decrease in supply, increase in demand and decline in the dollar do not
add up proportional to the rise in the price of crude oil over the past
few years. Today's price is more that $131 per barrel and reached a
high of $135. In 2002 it was at $20. It began this year at around $100
- a more than 30 percent rise in five months.
China's People's Daily describes The Wall Street Journal Asia Edition
(US), the Globe and Mail (Canada), the Guardian (U.K.) and other
foreign news agencies as having lauded earthquake relief efforts in
China. China has fully mobilized in response to its earthquake
disasters, and, unlike Burma in response to its Cyclone disaster, China
encourages efforts from individual citizens. And, in many ways,
individuals have volunteered support for quake victims.
The US lands a spacecraft on Mars, its scientific instruments intact.
In Lebanon, General Michel Suleiman wins a virtually uncontested
election for president, agreed to in Qatar last week as part of
resolving Lebanon's recent crisis. Jim Muir reports for the BBC that
"Never before has an election here produced such an eruption of
jubilation among the people, across the spectrum of sect and politics."
For gasoline, Norwegians are paying what amounts to almost 11 US
dollars per gallon. Some of this is a gasoline tax. Norwegians have
launched an organized protest against Shell Oil and the Norwegian oil
According to a recently published statement by the World Health
Organization, "42 percent of children under five years of age in
South-East Asia and 43 percent in Africa suffer from chronic
In China, 67,183 are confirmed dead from the earthquake and 20,790 are
still missing. Problems with insurance companies regarding damages will
not be extensive. China's citizens can buy private insurance, but many
look instead to government to fix things. Regarding state control, for
those who lost a child in the quake China lifts its one-child policy.
In Nepal, the newly-elected parliament declares their country
independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and an inclusive
democratic republic. Nepal's 240 year-old monarchy is abolished. A
three-day holiday is declared. King Gyanendra is given 15 days to leave
More than 100 countries, including Britain, have approved a ban on
cluster bombs. Not joining the agreement is Russia, China, Israel,
India, Pakistan and the United States.
Mexico's conservative government announces its plan to give poorer
citizens 120 pesos ($11.55) a month to help them cope with rising food
prices. Mexico also gives free public transportation to the poor.
One-third of Mexico's population is said to be below the "poverty-line."
Per capita health care expenditure in France is about half what it is
in the United States. WebMd.com reports that just 8% of the French
qualify as obese compared to 33% of Americans. Snacking is blamed,
which a lot of French find "distasteful." In the US, according to
WebMd.com, "snacking is a $30 billion industry that has increased 33%
In China the government steps up its drive to discourage smoking.
Twenty-six percent of the population smokes, and smoking-related
diseases kill about one million people every year. The government's
Center for Disease Control and Prevention blames advertising for an
increase in tobacco addiction.
It has been one month since the cyclone struck Burma, and foreign aid
agencies complain that as many as 250,000 cyclone victims have not yet
In Norway, car traffic deaths have increased 50 percent so far this
year. An organization dedicated to improving road safety, Trygg
Trafikk, attributes the increase to speed by reckless young men.
John McCain denounces an unconditional summit meeting with Iran's
president. He says: "Such a spectacle would harm Iranian moderates and
dissidents, as the radicals and hardliners strengthen their position
suddenly acquire the appearance of respectability."
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responds to the
accusation of Iran building a nuclear bomb. He says "No wise nation
would be interested in making a nuclear weapon today. They are against
rational thought." In his speech he criticizes President Bush and his
advisors: "Sometimes they threaten, sometimes they order
assassinations... and sometimes they ask for help - it's like mad
people staggering to and fro."
George Soros, the billionaire investor who seems to know markets, tells
the US Senate Commerce Committee that oil prices "have a strong
foundation in reality" (supply and demand). He also says he believes
that the doubling in the price of oil over the last year is due partly
to investment institutions, such as pension funds, pumping money into
indexes that track the cost of crude. He worries about an oil price
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a Sunni, is holding a three-day
conference in Mecca. He speaks of the tolerant nature of Islam.
Attending the conference, and sitting next to the king, is the former
president of Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a Shia, who asks that
Muslims emphasize what they have in common.
In California, developers are unable to satisfy state law requiring
long-term water supplies. And water shortages are impacting farming,
which will contribute to rising food prices. California's governor,
Arnold Schwarzenegger, proclaims a statewide drought and orders
China offers counseling and reverse sterilization by medical teams free
to parents who lost their only child in last month's earthquake.
President Hugo Chavez urges Colombia's rebels, FARC, to end their
four-decade struggle. "The guerrilla war is history," he said. "At this
moment in Latin America, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place."
Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki meets President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of
Iran, who pledges to help Iraq's security. Maliki is quoted as saying,
"Iraq is looking forward to Iranian companies taking part in developing
Jeffrey Stinson writes in USA Today that "Germany's economy is showing
gains while the United States' has hit the skids and most of the rest
of Europe sputters."
Cuba announces its plan for wage differentiation, overturning what has
been in place in Cuba since 1959. It is hoped that it will improve
production and services.
Hamas admits that it lied in blaming yesterday's deaths in Gaza on an
Israeli air strike. It admits that the massive explosion was an
accident by militants preparing to attack Israel.
Libya's Colonel Gaddafi calls Barack Obama "our Kenyan brother" but
criticizes his pro-Israeli position on Jerusalem. Gaddafi complains
that opportunism might be making Obama "more white than white people"
rather than holding to solidarity with African and Arab nations.
President Mugabe vows not to surrender his country to his enemies for
mere Xs on a ballot. Elections have been scheduled for June 27 and
supporters of the opposition party are being beaten and jailed. But the
UN still hopes for supervision that will produce a fair election.
Jun 15 A crisis at Lehman Brothers bank
freezes money markets around the world.
Geographic reports that neuroscientists at the Karolinska Institute in
Stockholm have found brain formations that differ for homosexuals and
heterosexuals. This suggests a genetic connection for homosexuality but
not necessarily for all homosexuality.
Danes define as poor anyone who earns less than the equivalent of 2,320
US dollars (11,194 Danish kroner) per month. Responding to a poll, the
Danes agree that one's income is below an acceptable level if he cannot
afford a mobile phone, a yearly holiday abroad and a dinner out every
month, and they agree that Danes must have money for internet access, a
monthly visit to a movie and putting a child into organized sports.
Denmark has an estimated 2007 per capita GDP of $37,400 compared to
$45,800 for the US. And the average Dane is taxed around 50 percent of
The unusually heavy rains that have also caused recent flooding in
southern China have, according to Reuters News, killed at least 171
persons while 52 are missing.
Regarding the heavy rains and worst flooding in a decade in the
Midwest, the New Orleans and Dutch examples of preparedness and
infrastructure again appear. Erik Loehr, professor of civil engineering
at the University of Missouri, says, "... for the most part we know how
to design levees to withstand the floods. It's a matter of getting the
financing to be able to support that construction ..."
Three opinions in the US contrary to the Dutch spirit on
flooding (1) "Water stops for no one. If it is going to smash
levees, there isn't anything you can do about it." (2) "I have a great
idea to cut down on the need for levees. Stop building in the middle of
swamp and flood plains." (3) "Aren't you sick of working for the IRS?"
In a close vote, Sweden's parliament approves a plan to scan
international calls, faxes and e-mails for the sake of national
security. It is described as Europe's most far-reaching eavesdropping
China announces that it is raising fuel prices in order to reduce
demand and lower consumption. The announcement helps send oil prices on
the world market downward $4.75 a barrel to $131. Recently, Taiwan,
Malaysia and Indonesia also announced plans to pass higher gasoline
prices to its citizens, and India has announced that it will cease
diesel subsidies to all commercial establishments.
Latin Americans respond with anger to a new European Union law designed
to discourage more illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants could be
imprisoned for 18 months before being deported. Hugo Chavez, Rafael
Correa, Evo Morales and the retired Fidel Castro are among the upset.Another murdered jo
A recent Gallop Poll (May 19-21) recorded 57 percent of US citizens
supporting drilling for oil in off-shore and wilderness areas and 41
percent opposed. Proponents believe that drilling will increase supply,
enabling people to burn more home-produced oil at a cheaper price. Some
opponents deny this could happen within the coming ten years and repeat
that for the sake of the environment we are supposed to burn less of
it. The presidential candidates have been arguing the issue, with
McCain on the side of drilling and Obama opposed.
At the oil summit held in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah speaks of his
willingness to pump more oil, but he joins his oil minister in
asserting that supply is not the problem. The king has seen the price
of oil rise despite his move to put more oil on the market. He again
blames soaring oil prices on speculators. He criticizes high fuel taxes
and speaks of increased consumption by developing economies. And he
speaks against blaming OPEC.
The European Union officially lifts sanctions on Cuba, a move that has
been championed by Spain, which normalized relations with Cuba last
year. The sanctions were created in 2003 in response to Cuba's
government moving against dissidents.
In the US, flood experts remind us of a government program in the
Mississippi Valley to create more wetlands out of flooded farmlands, to
give floodwaters a place to drain. Higher levees move more water
downstream and create more pressure on existing levees, and it is said
that levees cannot be built high enough to escape this cycle. But not
enough farmers are willing to leave any of their land as wetland.
Palestinian militants fire at least two rockets from the Gaza Strip
into Israel, violating the truce that began six days ago agreed to by
Israel and Hamas.
Frontline reports on pastoral communities with a history of living with
drought now being overwhelmed by drought worse than the past. The
pastoralists of Turkana, in Northwestern Kenya, are being kept alive by
food aid. Turkana men are leaving the way of life that had worked for
them and are joining others in growing dysfunctional slums.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry has announces that in the last six
months security forces have arrest 701 persons suspected of plotting to
carry out terrorist attacks on oil facilities and other vital
installations. According to the Arab News, the minister described among
the arrested Saudis and foreigners who "were trying to regroup and
strengthen the Al-Qaeda terror network in Saudi Arabia." The minister
said among those arrested "181 have been released as there was no
evidence to prove their connection with terrorist groups.”
Tibet reopens to tourism, the first two from Sweden.
Malaysian authorities estimate there are 130,000 illegal immigrants in
the province of Sabah - on the island of Borneo. Many of them are
Filipino or Indonesian. The Malaysian government announces that it will
begin deportations, including those illegals who have lived in Sabah
since the 1970s.
In response to North Korea beginning to disable its Yongbyon nuclear
facility, President Bush lifts some trade sanctions and acts to remove
the country from a list of states that sponsor terrorism. Bush
describes North Korea's move as one step and tells reporters that
"Multilateral diplomacy is the best way to peacefully solve the nuclear
issue with North Korea."
Some people who want to prohibit people from having guns in their home
point to statistics about the frequent misuse of such guns. Those who
favor guns in the home think that misuse by some should not be a reason
to deny everybody freedom to possess a gun. They point to studies that
show home break-ins are less frequent where guns are allowed. They are
praising yesterday's landmark Supreme Court decision declaring that
Washington DC's ban on guns violates “the right of law-abiding
responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”
In Wengan county in China's southern province of Guizhou, people
demonstrate that they are not intimidated. Believing that the son of an
official raped and killed a girl and that a cover-up is taking place,
"about 10,000 people" are described as having "totally burned down the
county Party office building, and burned other offices in the county
government" and also "burned about 20 vehicles police cars, including
police cars." (The BBC quoting an "official").
In Norway a man is sentenced to four years in prison for violating a
law against forced marriages and for kidnapping his daughter and taking
her back to Iraq.
India's government complains that carbon emissions per person in India
is a fraction of that in rich nations and that the people of India have
a right to economic and social progress. But it vows to shift from
fossil to non-fossils fuels in the interest of combating climate
change. (India is estimated to increase its population this year by 13
million. This will help keep its per capital carbon emissions down.)
In Zimbabwe, reports of action by apparently intimidated opponents of
President Mugabe have not reached the world press, and "African
leaders" talk about Mugabe's recent fraudulent election. In Mongolia,
people riot in response to what they believe are fraudulent elections
in their country. In the capital, Ulan Bator, they set fire to the
ruling party's headquarters. Another group attacks a police station and
fails in an attempt to confiscate weapons. The melee leaves five dead.
Thousands defy a 10 pm curfew, refuse to disperse and protest through
the night. Police use tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and
declare a four-day emergency.
An editor for Zimbabwe's official daily newspaper, the Herald, writes:
"...let's face it, foreigners with hidden agendas are trying
strenuously to magnify the differences between the ruling and
opposition parties in Zimbabwe..." He states that "Now is the time for
leaders of opposition and ruling parties to wave the olive branch
across the narrow divide to flag off a meeting between them to find a
homegrown solution of their political conflicts."
In Chad, another movement for the "true Islamic faith" meets a set
back. Government troops kill its leader, Ahmat Israel Bichara, and
"more than sixty" of his followers.
Attempts at a rational debate in the US includes former NATO commander
and scholar Wesley Clark on June 29 praising John McCain for his
military service but also saying: "Well, I don't think riding in a
fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be
president." A storm of words has followed this truism. Some charge
Clark with trying to demean McCain's military service record. It
remains unclear whether this is their disconnect or that they are
arguing that any honorable military combat experience does indeed
necessarily make one qualified to be president.
In China, an extensive government investigation has been conducted on
the death of the girl over whom a reported ten thousand people rioted
on June 29 in Guizhou Province. The conclusion is that the girl, Li
Shufen, died from drowning, that she had had no sexual intercourse
before her death and that the last the three people who had contact
with her had no connections to officials. The rioting appears to have
been in response to rumor: that Li Shufen had been raped and killed by
the son of a local official.
Airline flights begin that connect Taiwan with five major cities in
mainland China - a mark of improving relations.
Mongolia's capital, Ulan Bator, has been calm since the one-day of
rioting a week ago. There is no more government declared emergency.
International observers have described the elections as fair, but the
opposition party is asking for a partial recount. It is reported that
of the 8,000 who protested a week ago many were young unemployed men.
Prime Minister Maliki
While visiting the United Arab Emirates, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki speaks of establishing full sovereignty for Iraq and a
timetable for a withdrawal of US troops. To help Iraq's reconstruction,
the United Arab Emirates has cancelled Iraq's $7 billion debt.
Russia threatens to react "with military-technical means" against a
planned US anti-missile shield near its borders. The US has signed an
agreement with the Czechs for the shield's creation and an agreement
with Poland is pending.
Figures for life expectancy at birth in the year 2008 for the average
person in nations across the world have been posted by the CIA. They
show most of the world having made gains in the past year. For the
average person in the entire world the figure is 66.12 years, up from
65.82 years in 2007. That's a 3.6-month gain. The Japanese lead among
the major nationalities at 82.07 years. Swaziland is at the bottom at
31.99 years. Iraq is around average, at 69.62 years, up from 67.46 in
2005. The few countries that have declined are Gabon, Gambia, Jamaica,
Zambia and Panama.
In the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson writes about new labor laws in
China the benefit workers but that some US businessmen are less than
enthusiastic about. He describes Canon, the printer-maker, and Hanes of
underwear fame as building factories in Hanoi, where factory workers
make about a quarter of what Chinese factory workers earn. He writes of
capitalists increasing investments in Vietnam rather than Thailand,
where wages are equivalent, because communist Vietnam offers greater
Hurting from the high price of oil, airline executives call for limits
on oil speculation.
Iran's ruling elite continues to talk of diplomacy, but they also want
to discourage anyone who might attack their country to take seriously
its military power. They have launched a number of missiles. In
response, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he favors
diplomatic pressure and sanctions against Iran's nuclear program but
that Israel is "not afraid to take action."
According to offshoot faction from Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,
Hamas arrests three Palestinians who fired rockets into Israel. Last
month, Hamas and Israel agreed to a cease-fire.
In Nepal, agriculture provides the livelihood of 76 percent of the
people, but plots are small and provide food for only around two
months. Births in Nepal have been more than three times deaths. Food
prices have risen at least 50 percent in a year. The UN believes that
2.5 million Nepalis need immediate food assistance.
Jul 12 In the US there has been a decades-old
claim that "regulation is the problem and deregulation is the
solution." Today we are hearing that "we are in a worldwide crisis now
because of excessive deregulation." A somewhat conservative political
analyst, Dick Morris, adds his voice to this point of view, complaining
that bankers who are able to escape regulation by running to Britain
are responsible for some of recent rise in oil prices - easily
remedied, he says, by a small measure of regulation. Of course there
are those who reduce the rise in oil prices to its present level to an
oversimplification: purely supply and demand.
Deforestation currently accounts for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas
emissions. A major report coming out of Britain by the Rights and
Resources Initiative speaks of a new demand from land to grow food and
fuel crops. The report's co-author says, "Arguably, we are on the verge
of a last great global land grab."
In the US are those who want a president who never changes his mind.
They call it flip-flopping, and there are those on the another side
looking for a president who can absorb a ton of complex information
fast and change his mind if appropriate.
Arabia's King Abdullah
Kings Juan Carlos of Spain and Abdullah of Saudi Arabia open a
conference which brings together Muslims (Sunni and Shia ), Christians,
Jews and Muslims. King Abdullah calls for tolerance and reconciliation.
Al Qaeda denounces the gathering.
for Tsar Nicholas
Thousands gather to mourn and commemorate the death of Tsar Nicholas II
and his family, killed ninety years ago while being held captive by the
Communists. The Romanov family has been canonized as saints by the
On Public Television's "Nightly Business Report," Barack Obama's
economic policy director, Jason Furman, regarding oil says, "It is hard
to explain how supply and demand have changed so much in the last six
months to give us the prices we have today, and the problem is that top
McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm inserted a provision in a bill in
2000 which basically took the regulators off the beat."
In Cuba, state owned farming has been a disappointment. To improve food
production, the Cuban government is set to give more farm land to
private enterprise. Farmers doing well will be able to increase their
holdings by as many as 99 acres (40 hectares).
The interfaith conference of several hundred delegates, launched by
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, ends. It stands counter to the idea of a
"Clash of Civilizations." Former prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair,
describes the conference as a "strong signal, from the top, that the
true faith of Islam is about peaceful co-existence."
Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki speaks with candidate Barack Obama. And
Maliki says, "Whoever is thinking about the shorter term [for
withdrawal] is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of US
troops would cause problems... As soon as possible, as far as we're
concerned... Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in
Iraq today are being more realistic."
Candidate McCain complains about candidate Obama: "He said he still
doesn't agree that the surge has succeeded now that everybody knows
that it has succeeded." Candidate Obama says of the surge: "There is no
doubt that the extraordinary work of our US forces has contributed to a
lessening of the violence, just as making sure that the Sadr militia
stood down or the fact that the Sunni tribes decided to flip and work
with us instead of with al-Qaeda - something that we hadn't anticipated
The third annual film festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, opens. It is to
screem 70 movies, 44 of them Saudi productions.
National unity talks begin in Zimbabwe.
Farmers in Norway demonstrated against possible cuts in Norway’s high
Legislation to increase regulation on energy futures speculation fails
in the US Senate. Republicans oppose the bill because it did not
include lifting prohibitions against offshore drilling for oil and
shale oil development.
29 Seven-year-old World Trade Organization talks
collapse - talks begun at Qatar's capital, Doha, in 2001. The talks are
about more than agriculture but broke down regarding agriculture. The
United States wanted access to markets in India and China for their
agricultural produducts, and India and China wanted to protect their
farmers with tariffs higher than is pleasing to the United States.
Norwegian farmers cheer the collapse of World Trade Organization talks.
Norwegian industrial and fishing interests are not cheering.
People who believe they are wise in their knowledge of supply and
demand believe that Democrats are stupid for not supporting increased
oil drilling as a solution for the high cost of energy. People opposed
to the oil drilling proposed by President Bush and presidential
candidate John McCain say that it would be ten years before new oil
would be produced by new drilling and that between now and then
adequate alternatives to more oil producing should be created. They add
that the greater amount of oil consumption that would accompany a
greater oil supply would be harmful to the environment.
Karadzic, psychiatrist, poet,
politician, on trial in The Hague
An e-mail to the BBC: "I am from Serbia and I am glad to see this
criminal [Radovan Karadzic] sent to The Hague. The protests here showed
that the support for the war criminals comes from the worst corners of
Serbian society... Patriots are not those who burn other people's
houses. I am proud of Serbian history but not what Serbs did in the
Conservatives, most of whom we can presume voted for President Bush,
are attacking candidate Obama for lacking in political accomplishment.
The conservative columnist David Brooks is among them. Intellect is not
an issue they are addressing, with some success, as many voters see
intellect as mere pretense. A McCain ad dismisses whatever
qualifications Obama has in intellect by associating him with
celebrities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
Japanese worry about dwindling schools of tuna. They temporarily
suspend tuna fishing and plan for periodic suspensions.
On Meet the Press, Senator John Kerry says of Wesley Clark's comment
about John McCain getting shot down not being a qualification for
president: "I think it was entirely inappropriate. I have nothing but
enormous respect for John McCain's service." Clark had prefaced his
remark with the same praise for McCain. Some people believe that
Kerry's military service did not make him qualified to be president and
that he overplayed his military service when he ran for president in
British counter-intelligence officials speak of al Qaeda overcoming its
disorganization of recent years. They speak of it being based in the
Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and describe it as successfully
recruiting, training, possessing organizational communications channels
and building dispersed cells.
In Iraq, Kurds want a referendum in Kirkuk on whether it will be
governed by the Kurd's regional government. Kirkuk is historically
Kurdish. Arabs and Turkmen live there and these ethnicities don't want
to give the oil-rich region back to the Kurds. The conflict threatens
the provincial elections for later this year that are seen as necessary
for political reconciliation.
In the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, President Sidi Ould Cheikh
Abdallahi is overthrown by a military coup. He was elected in March
2007 in the country's only multi-candidate election for the presidency
since the country's independence from France in 1960. Abdallahi had
just moved to replace senior army officers.
USA Today and others report that scientists confirm the link between
global warming and more powerful rainstorms.
FactCheck.org has criticized both Obama and McCain. Today its lead
"Recent Postings" article headlines "More Tax Deceptions" and says
"McCain misrepresents Obama's tax proposals again. And again, and
In Burma, the military arrest people demonstrating on the 20th
anniversary of the crushing of democracy in their country. A Buddhist
monk complains to ABC News about a lack of support from the
international community. ABC News protects his identity.
In the second day of all-out war between Russia and Georgia, Russian
jets bomb several towns, including Gori in central Georgia. The
conflict centers on South Ossetia, which has claimed independence but
is claimed by Georgia. Russia has been supporting the de facto
government in South Ossetia, and a lot of Russians live there. Georgia
initiated military action that killed Russian "peacekeepers" and
civilians in South Ossetia. Russia wants Georgian forces to withdraw to
the positions they held outside South Ossetia before yesterday.
policy advisor to McCain
Robert Kagan is of the famous family of scholars whose views the Bush
administration generally shares, and he is a foreign policy advisor to
John McCain. In a Washington Post article titled "Putin Makes His Move"
he writes of the war still going on between Russia and Georgia. He
writes: "It is a war that Moscow has been attempting to provoke for
some time," and he describes Putin as involved in a big geopolitical
power play not unlike the old Soviet Union. "Russia's attack on
sovereign Georgian territory" he adds, "marked the official return of
history." "The next president," he concludes, "had better be ready."
Vladimir Putin complains about the inability of "Russia's western
partners" to adequately assess what has happened in South Ossetia.
Quoted by Russia Today, he says, “I’m amazed by their skills at seeing
black as white, of portraying aggressors as victims and of blaming the
real victims for the consequences of the conflict. Putin complains
about a double standard, saying, “As we all know, Saddam Hussein was
hanged for burning down several Shiite villages. But now suddenly the
situation is different. The Georgian leaders who in a matter of hours
wiped out ten Ossetian villages, who ran over children and the elderly
with tanks, who burned civilians alive, those people have to be
Many are finding fault with Georgian President Saakashvili regarding
the war that just ended. Mikail Gorbachev, who has been critical and no
friend of Vladimir Putin, finds fault with Saakashvili. So too do Anne
Gearan, Fred Kaplin and Dimitri Simes, founding president of the Nixon
Center in Washington. Simes says "This is not black-and-white. There
are no good guys in this situation," and he speaks of "considerable
responsibility" by the Bush administration.
In Saudi Arabia the Arab News reports a man using the Interior Ministry
anti-terrorist hotline telephone number, 990, to seek "help and
guidance before his thoughts turned into violent actions." The report
adds: "The man has reportedly been referred to religious scholars and
therapists and his family has been brought into the rehabilitation
process." People have been responding to the anti-terrorist program by
reporting family members.
According to the BBC, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tells
reporters that any peace deal making reference to Georgian territorial
sovereignty would be taken by the Abkhazians and South Ossetians as "a
deep human insult." The US recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia as
ruled by Georgia. In Abkhazia de facto independence from Georgia was
declared in 1992. In South Ossetia de facto independence apparently
began with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the independence of
Georgia in 1991.
On the News Hour, guest scholar Anna Vassilieva says, "The conflict
between South Ossetians and Georgians is decades old. It's 80 years old
at least. South Ossetians never felt themselves to be Georgians or a
part of Georgia, and that feeling of resentment of Georgia was enforced
very strongly in 1991 and 1992, when both sides committed extraordinary
atrocities against each other in that war that brought - that Russian
peacekeepers brought to an end ..."
Presidential candidate John McCain assesses the Russia's military
movement into Georgia: “My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first
probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.
This is an act of aggression.”
Nepal's president swears in the Communist former guerrilla chief,
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, as prime minister. Prachanda was
elected prime minister last week.
The government of Hugo Chavez announces the nationalization of the
cement industry in Venezuela owned by the Mexican cement giant Cemex.
In Pakistan there has been dancing in the street with yesterday's
announcement by President Musharraf that he is resigning. One Pakistani
says "the entire nation is happy." Another worries about a lack of
The Bush administration and others are urging that Georgia and Ukraine
join NATO as a way of standing up to the Russians. Richard Cohen,
Washington Post columnist asks whether NATO membership for Georgia and
Ukraine will keep Russia in its place. And if it doesn't will we fight
Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, says, “NATO is still an
organization of the past. The best phrase to describe the [NATO]
alliance is ‘born in the Cold War’. Unfortunately, all NATO’s attempts
to find its role in the new world and maintain collective security in
partnership with Russia have failed.”
Russia cancels all military cooperation with NATO. The United States
and Poland sign an agreement to put a missile defense base into Poland
that is untested and will not be ready to operate for several years, to
defend Poland from an unlikely attack in years to come from North Korea
or Iran. The timing of the agreement, the Russians believe, is to
demonstrate against Russia's recent move into Georgia. The Russians see
the agreement as a threat although the missiles do not have a range
that can strike at Russia's missile defense system.
In Somalia, Islamists win control in the port city of Kismayu.
Elsewhere are rival militias, occupying Ethiopian troops, rival clans,
chaos, fighting, lawlessness, drought and people on the run. Mass
starvation is expected.
Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton
University, has told Foreign Policy magazine that Islam "can, and I
think will, develop their own brand of democracy, by which I mean
limited, civilized, responsible government. And there are signs of
The Beijing Olympics end. Muslims did not make much of a showing,
especially the sheltered half of their number: women. We didn't see any
Saudi women at volleyball. There were 340 "Arab" participants at the
game, thirty more than the British. The British won 47 medals. A man
from Bahrain won gold. Algerians won a silver and bronze. A Moroccan
finished second in the men's marathon, in record time. A Moroccan,
Afghani and Egyptian won a bronze. The country with the best showing
was Jamaica: one medal for every 254,939 in population. Iceland had a
medal for every 304,367, Cuba one for every 486,231, Mongolia 749,020,
Georgia 771,806, the Dutch won a medal for every 1.0 million in
population, Britain and Finland 1.3 million, Sweden 1.8, Germany 2.0,
South Korea 2.7, Israel 7.1 million, Kenya and the US one for every 7.6
million, China one for every 13.3 million. India won three medals: one
for every 383 million in population. Unfortunately in this calculation
gold equals bronze and the hoola hoop and splashing around in water
equals long distance running. Okay, grace is glorious, but special
congratulations from here go to Constantina Tomescu and Samuel Wansiru
for winning their marathon races.
An Iraqi Health Ministry official announces that in the last two months
some 650 doctors have returned to their jobs from abroad. The return is
attributed to improved personal safety in the country. Around 8,000
Iraqi doctors fled the country since 2003.
Arab News reports that in England a gang of youths beat to death a
16-year-old Qatari student studying English at a language school.
According to his roommate, who survived the terrorist attack, the gang
chanted racist abuse and "called me Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden."
The Democratic Party nominates Barack Obama as their candidate for US
Accused by Republicans of giving "feel good" speeches of soaring
oratory and turning people with empty words as would a rock star,
Barack Obama instead delivers an acceptance speech that is essentially
a pragmatic campaign speech. His supporters appear to like it because
he said "all the right things" and confronted his opponent, McCain.
Civilian deaths from air strikes results in Afghanistan's government
calling for an end to NATO's use of air strikes in their country.
Accusations are made that a recent air raid killed 90 civilians. The
United Nations joins the call. NATO forces operate in Afghanistan under
UN authorization. Airpower has been described as a cheaper way of
conducting war than using instead more ground forces with their more
precise and more discriminate use of weapons.
Russia is the largest export market for the US poultry industry. Russia
announces that it is banning imports from nineteen US poultry suppliers
because of their failure to provide test results measuring levels of
antibiotics and arsenic in their products.
Russia has been suffering from unrest among the Ingush people (in the
province of Ingushetria) as well as people in the neighboring province
of Chechnya. (Both provinces border with Geogia.) Russian police are
accused of murdering a popular website owner in Ingushetria, Magomed
Yevloyev, soon after having arrested him. Yevloyev was a critic of
Russian government policies.
The US military signs a paper that gives authority in Anbar province to
the Iraqi governor. On April 28, 2003, an incident involving US forces
in the province's major city, Fallujah, helped turn the province into a
center of anti-US insurgency, and this insurgency was joined by a rise
there of al-Qaeda. By 2006 insurgents in Anbar province were sick of
al-Qaeda. Alliances were made with US forces against al-Qaeda. Anbar is
the eleventh of eighteen provinces that has allied itself with Iraq's
Sep 2 In the
second day of the Republican National Convention, speakers praise
McCain, speak of their support for charity and the need to put "country
first." They cheer military service and heroism, chant "USA, USA." and
speak of God's guidance. They speak of restoring US prestige abroad.
One speaker, Fred Thompson, says of McCain, "Being a POW doesn't
qualify one to be president, but it does reveal character."
Gwen Ifill. Smiling, she
says she has a thick skin.
Iraq agrees on a plan that gives oil production rights to a Chinese
Candidate McCain has chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate. The
conservative columnist George F. Will opines that this is "applied
McCainism - a visceral judgment by one who is confidently righteous.
But the viscera are not the seat of wisdom."
Journalists see it as their duty to investigate the background of Sarah
Palin. At the Republican National Convention delegates cheer a speaker
denouncing journalists. Some turn and shake their fist at a recognized
journalist among the delegates: Gwen Ifill of the Public Broadcasting's
Journalists describe Sarah Palin as supportive of legislation that
would deny women the right to abort a fetus with Down's syndrome or
other chromosomal disorders. Palin's position is described as "right to
life." It is a part of what she describes as reform.
President Sarkozy of France is in Syria, meeting with President Bashar
al-Assad. Sarkozy has described re-engagement with Syria as risky but
says that dialogue is better than isolation.
Candidate McCain accepts the nomination of his political party with a
moving speech that proclaims "country-first" and coming change. He
associates country with community, but by country-first he is not
suggesting anyone give more in taxes for the sake of the community. By
country-first he is speaking against corruption and against legislation
that give federal money for projects congressional constituencies.
5 A US secretary of state visits Libya for the
first time since 1953. Libya's de facto leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi, has
become a most popular leader in Africa, winning praise from Nelson
Mandela and others. In Libya he is moving toward privatization and
individual responsibility and away from bureaucracy. He wants to give
oil money directly to people to spend on education. He wants society to
"reformulate itself in a new, free, and democratic way."
A "One Million Signatures" campaign for women's rights has been
underway in Iran since August 27, 2006. Four more women have been
sentenced to six months in jail for participating.
The credit crisis continues. The Dow is at 11,221, down from 14,000
eleven months ago.
In Pakistan, parliament and provincial assemblies elect Benazir
Bhutto's widower, Ali Zardari, as successor to President Musharraf.
Insecurity and fear of instability persist.
The BBC reports that Britain's Trade Union Congress complains that the
"super-rich" are better off than were the super-rich during the
Victorian era, that the distribution of wealth has grown worse despite
reforms. It is a development described as damaging to the economy, and
a call is made to increase taxes on Britain's most wealthy.
In Saudi Arabia it is announced that the Human Rights Commission is to
cooperate with the Saudi Lawyers’ Committee "to provide free legal
service to those unable to bear the cost of litigation" - to quote the
The US government announces plans to take over the home mortgage
institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is a "bailout" that could
be "one of the most expensive financial rescues in history, running to
tens of billions of dollars," according to an article by Robert Peston
at BBC.com. The article describes this as "an event of profound
significance for the global economy." Peston writes that banks outside
the United States, "including some of the world's most important
central banks," have a "direct and substantial financial exposure to
both Fannie and Freddie." Some believe that without the bailout the
economic collapse would have included the collapse of the US dollar.
Democracy in Hong Kong produces success for the "pro-democracy"
faction. It wins more than a third of the 60 seats in the island's
Legislative Council, enough to give it a veto over major legislation.
In Morocco, Mohammed Erraji, 29, is given a two-year prison sentence
and fined $630 for an internet article that criticizes his king,
Mohammed VI, for giving too much in donations and gifts.
For the past few days McCain has been ahead in a Gallup poll by five
percentage points. Obama leads regarding issues. McCain leads regarding
character. It's not very different from the year 2000 when candidate Al
Gore led in the polls regarding issues and Bush led on character.
11 Candidate McCain has been speaking in support
of "victory" in Iraq. In an interview with the BBC about Iraq, General
Petraeus is asked, "Do you think you will ever use the word 'victory?'"
Petraeus answers: "I don't know that I will." He adds, "This is not the
sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a
victory parade... it's not war with a simple slogan."
Petraeus - no promise of "victory"
Vladimir Putin says Russia had no choice but to intervene following
Georgian aggression. "An aggressor needs to punished," he said, adding
that Russian tanks could have ousted Saakashvili if they had wanted to.
He accuses the US of behaving like the Roman Empire by believing it can
pursue its interests and extend its influence to the Caucasus without
regard for Russia's point of view. He speaks of anti-Russian hysteria,
of Russia not interested in empire and of Russia's desire for all sides
to agree on new common rules of behavior based on international law.
Saudi Arabia's most senior jurist proclaims it permissible for the
state to execute owners of television stations that broadcast
People and members of parliament in Malaysia have been rebelling
against their prime minister, Ahmad Badawi,since 2003. They consider
him corrupt. Malaysia's traditional media is severely regulated, but
use of the internet is advanced. There is extensive blogging that
government has not controlled. Badawi's government now sees blogging as
a threat and has begun closing the websites of internet critics.
Sep 16 The
stock of Lehman Brothers has been falling. Lehman brothers has been an
international player and benefactor from selling what will become known
as toxic assets. One of its creditors, JP Morgan Chase, has been asking
for its money. Secretary of the Treasury Paulson has announced that it
will not rescue the company. Lehmen is forced to file for bankruptcy.
Global credit markets freeze.
In the US in last three days the Dow Jones Industrial Average has
dropped more than 7 percent to 10,602. A bubble is bursting in slow
motion. The coming months frighten investors and others. The price of
gold climbs 11.6 percent today to $870.90 an ounce. What is behind all
this? Greed on Wall Street says candidate McCain. Deregulation and lack
of oversight regarding financial institutions says candidate Obama.
Russia signs treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia that include
pledges of military support. To the BBC, Georgia's President
Saakashvili describes Russia's move as a "classic invasion and
Much analysis is being made about the economic crisis, and people are
being told not to panic.
In the United States, stocks have recovered from their plunge of a few
days ago, and stock markets have recovered or stabilized abroad, except
maybe in Russia, where stabilization has been enforced by shutting down
In the US some believe that taxpayers should not rescue financial
institutions. The Bush administration claims that it is trying to
prevent the collapse of the economy (all lending), skyrocketing
unemployment and a disastrous run on the dollar. At the same time,
President Bush does not want to leave financiers without
accountability: the possibility of failing and taking a loss in their
ventures. Bush says that "The Administration looks forward to working
with Congress on measures to bring greater long-term transparency and
reliability to the financial system. This includes the creation of new
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki agrees with his political party's
call for him to resign. A large part of the displeasure that many in
his party (the Africa Nation Congress) have toward him has been his
economic policies. Mbeki has been too oriented toward free enterprise
for them and they are complaining about unemployment and under
performance of the economy.
Rather than wait to strike at an enemies who have entered Afghanistan
from Pakistan, the US has been hitting at Taliban sanctuaries inside
Pakistan. It is the same issue that French forces faced during their
war in Algeria. The French government denied their military the right
to strike at Algerian rebel bases inside Tunisia or Morocco, adhering
to what was perceived as international law. Today Pakistan intelligence
claims that Pakistan's military fired warning shots at two American
helicopters, forcing them back to Afghanistan.
France announces that it is increasing its force of 2,600 in
Afghanistan with 100 more troops and more helicopters and drones. In
August, ten French soldiers died in Afghanistan.
Some people believe that understanding events involves collecting many
details, and some believe more in intuition and "gut feelings." Public
Broadcasting's News Hour is examining the decision styles of the
presidential candidates. Yesterday it quoted candidate McCain as saying
"As a politician I am intuitive, often impulsive." McCain added,
"Often, my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without
complaint." In this morning's Washington Post, conservative columnist
George Will again criticizes McCain and quotes a Wall Street
Journaleditorial describing McCain as "unpresidential" and as
responding to the financial crisis "without even looking around for
Government finance agencies in Singapore, China, South Korea and Kuwait
are buying U.S bank stocks. As government agencies they are giving
their citizens an equity interest in these US banks. A few people in
the United States want a similar equity interest for the taxpayer
rather than the bailout of businesses being merely a gift-rescue.
Many who are supporting bailout legislation agree that, in the words of
candidate Obama, "The American people should share in the upside as
Wall Street recovers." This sentiment includes candidate McCain, who
has changed his mind and is supporting the bailout as a dire necessity.
Some conservative congressmen who are opposed are calling the bailout
Another sign of cultural diffusion: Japan's new prime minister, Taro
Aso, is a Roman Catholic.
25 China launches its third manned mission into
space, to include its first spacewalk.
Media "talk-jocks" who attract audiences with other than civil
discourse are now calling each other names. Bill O'Reilly of Fox News
is feuding with Mark Levin on a difficult subject: economic policy.
O'Reilly observes that "most talk radio" is dominated by "idiots" and
"Ideologues." Mark Levin returns the compliment, saying of O'Reilly,
"What an idiot. What a buffoon."
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is in Russia and agrees to a new energy pact.
President Medvedev tells Chavez that, "Our co-operation is
multi-faceted... it includes economic and military ties."
Georgia's President Saakashvili turns away from conflict and
confrontation with Russia to focus on rebuilding Georgia's economy. He
says he wants to improve integration with the European Union rather
than push for NATO membership.
Sep 27 Pakistan's military claims that in the
last month it has killed "1,000 militants" in the tribal area of
Bajaur, which borders Afghanistan.
Nancy Pelosi, leader for the Democrats.
She interjected a partisan campaign
speech that kept some Republicans from
supporting the bill.
Sep 28 US congressional leaders act on
the administration's financial rescue request. Credit markets, frozen
for about a week, begin to thaw. Firms that accept bail-out money will
have to give warrants (non-voting stock shares) to the government - so
that taxpayers will benefit from the banks' recovery. The top
executives of banks that receive more than $3 million from the
government will have their pay limited, including a ban on "golden
parachutes" should their employment at the bank end. The government
(taxpayers) will be first in line for payment if a participating firm
The US House of Representatives fails to pass the financial rescue
plan. US stocks plunge between 7 and 9 percent. A credit freeze
Chinese dairy farmers have been paid low prices for their milk by
middlemen - despite the rise in demand for milk. Dairy farmers have
been adding water to their milk in order to make more money. To make up
for the lower nutrient content from the dilution of the milk, melamine,
a nitrogen compound has been added to the milk. Four people have died.
The government in Beijing wants accountability and more regulation and
cracks down. Police detain 22 people, 19 of whom are managers of
pastures, breeding farms and milk purchasing stations.
Ecuadorean voters approve a new constitution that President Correa
hails as a historic win. Articles of the new constitution are described
as offering more political power to women, the poor and Ecuador's large
indigenous community. New laws tighten controls of vital industries and
reduces monopolies. The new constitution allows the president to stand
for a second four-year term, it allows civil marriage for gays and
declares free health care to older citizens.
Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post writes that "A new order, in
which Wall Street plays a diminished role and Washington a larger one,
is aborning, but the process is painful and protracted." He describes
the old order as "Reagan-age institutions built on the premise that the
market can do no wrong and the government no right."
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany meets in Russia with President
Dmitry Medvedev. They want to strengthen economic ties between their
nations. Medvedev says that the era of US global economic dominance is
over and that the world needs a "more just" financial system. He adds
that a new Cold War will be as impossible as bringing back the Berlin
India's government bans smoking in public buildings and elsewhere in
public. Many are ignoring the ruling.
Regarding Iraq, General Petraeus says, that he might never
use the word "victory." In today's debate with Joe Biden,
vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin says "We've got to win in
Iraq." She lauds Petraeus as a general and "hero" and told Biden, "Your
plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our
troops need to hear today that's for sure."
According to Factcheck.org, "An Obama-Biden TV ad once again twists
McCain's position on Social Security."
Congress passes and President Bush signs into law a plan to "rescue"
the economy. Some call it a "bailout" of Wall Street, and some are
sorry that Congress and the president are not leaving the markets to
mend the economy. But there are reports of urgency because people can't
borrow money to make payroll, mortgage payments, buy cars and people
are losing their jobs.
Sixty Minutes explains the nation's economic crisis. It began with
Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, AIG and others selling repacked mortgages
as investment securities - investments that involved "hundreds and
hundreds of pages" of flawed legalese which few read. These sales
involved a credit default swap as a risk-saving device. Because it was
a swap and not insurance there was no requirement of adequate capital
reserves - a gimmick that avoided government regulation. Executives
making millions per year bet money that they did not have without fully
grasping what they were doing. (cbsnews.com, "Sixty Minutes, Shadow
The Los Angeles Times reports that in rural Brazil girls as young as
fifteen have been thrown into jail routinely with male prisoners, gang
raped and forced into sex in exchange for food, with prison police
being complicit or indifferent.
In a synod (assembly) of a couple of hundred cardinals from the US and
around the globe, Pope Benedict plans to examine what he describes as a
declining interest in the Bible. The assembly will be more than a
sociological seminar. Pope Benedict is opening the gathering by reading
the Book of Genesis. He will be followed by others in a marathon read.
It will be broadcast by Italian state television.
In recent decades Icelandic financiers have become big international
players in the world's financialization boom, and now, with an
international banking crisis, Prime Minister Geir Haarde announces that
there is a "very real danger ... that the Icelandic economy, in the
worst case, could be sucked with the banks into the whirlpool and the
result could have been national bankruptcy." Iceland's currency falls
about 30 percent to record lows against the euro as the country tries
to avert financial meltdown.
The dollar rises against the euro. In Argentina, stocks drop more than
9 percent, in Russia 20 percent before trading is suspended. Reuters
describes European stocks as posting "their worst day on record" and
describes this as the result of "fears that the credit crisis will not
be contained." US shares drop around 4 percent. Shares in China drop
5.23 percent. Gold remains at around $850 an ounce, down from a high of
$1,000 an ounce in March.
In recent days the McCain-Palin candidacy has tried to advance itself
by attacking Obama's character, using a guilt by association strategy.
To today this has failed. In a Gallop poll taken before the second
McCain-Obama debate, McCain has dropped to eleven percent behind Obama.
A new low.
In Malawi, the introduction of irrigation, crop diversification,
science and soil management is producing a new abundance of crops and
Iceland suspends stockmarket trading for two days and the government
takes over the country's largest bank - the third takeover in a week.
The government acquires new powers to create a bank to take over
domestic banking operations. Iceland had risen in per capita GDP above
that of Switzerland, and its economy was considered a success, but now
Icelanders are stunned. People have lost money, but a spirit of unity
and hope has spread among the population. Iceland's most famous rocker,
Bubbi Morthens, says Iceland is "experiencing a new dawn."
Factcheck.org: "In a TV ad, McCain says Obama 'lied' about his
association with William Ayers, a former bomb-setting, anti-war radical
from the 1960s and '70s. We find McCain's claim to be groundless. New
details have recently come to light, but nothing Obama said previously
has been shown to be false."
In China, local authorities announce the arrest of a suspect who
produced more than 600 tons of fake protein powder laced with melamine.
The powder had been added to milk.
Investment advisors in the US have been slow in coming to terms with
the fact that the economy is in the kind of dificulty that produces a
steeply declining stock market. This week people with stocks are
dismayed. The investing public has been described as like mushrooms:
left in the dark and fed manure. Stocks represented by the Dow Jones
Industrial Average end the week down 18.2 percent. And today, Asian and
European markets are hit by more panic selling. The Dow is down 40
percent from its high last year. Small investors, including people with
retirement accounts, are hurting.
On television, Sunday talk shows feature economists. The world has
gotten where it is now because of too much consumer spending relative
to how much is being produced and too much borrowing. A big bubble has
burst. China will suffer because consumption elsewhere is in decline,
but China has been doing well because it has been producing and selling
more than it has been consuming. The US has been doing the opposite and
paying for it by borrowing - credit and debt. In the US, people with
money to spend should spend less of it on non-vital things, and more
money should go to government in the form of taxes to pay for vital
government services and to pay down the debt.
Leaders in China's Communist Party announce an agreement on a reform
plan to create more individual responsibility and creativity in rural
land management and more government investing in rural education,
health, housing, pensions and employment - a plan it is hoped will
double per capita wages for rural people by 2020.
On Saturday in Washington, the G7 nations agreed on a five point
program to "unfreeze" credit markets. Yesterday, Sunday, European
leaders agreed to allow no big bank to fail. Today, Australia's stock
index rises more than 5.5 percent, Singapore and South Korea's 3
percent, and India's 7.68 percent. Stocks in Norway are up nearly 8
percent, in Britain up 8.3 percent. Stocks in Germany, France, and the
United States rise 11 percent.
President Bush announces that the federal government is to buy stakes
in a wide variety of US banks. The money is to come from the $700
billion bailout package that was signed into law a few days ago.
UCLA scientists find that searching the web stimulates centers in the
brain and may improve brain functions.
In Vietnam, a judge sentences journalist Nguyen Viet Chien to two years
in jail. A human rights group calls it "revenge" against a daring
journalist revealing state corruption.
15 Uganda bans female circumcision.
Ghana responds to higher prices of imported wheat by increasing its
harvesting of Cassava roots. Bread with cassava flour is said to taste
as good as wheat bread.
Candidate McCain as been stating that he is not George Bush. McCain is
accusing Candidate Obama of wanting to "share the wealth" and of being
dishonest for not being upfront regarding "socialism" like Europe's
"socialist" leaders. This is a response to Obama's stated plan to
increase taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year. McCain's
crowds roar their disapproval of wealth sharing and socialism.
On this Sunday in Cuba a Russian Orthodox cathedral opens. Raul Castro
is present and calls it "a monument to Russian-Cuban friendship."
Speaking of globalization, Jayati Ghosh, economics professor at Nehru
University, complains that while a minority in India benefited
materially from the nation's high economic growth, real wages for most
workers actually fell, hunger increased and nearly 200,000 farmers
A study released in Paris by the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD) claims that the economic growth of the past 20
years widened the gap between the rich and the middle class in some
countries, including the United States, Germany and Norway. The study
finds poverty rates lowest in the Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden.
On the development of the financial crisis in the US, Alice Rivlin says
on the PBS News Hour that, "The financial structure was changing very,
very rapidly, new products, new institutions, and we didn't modernize
the regulatory system to keep up with that."
Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Fed, tells a congressional
committee that he had learned the economic philosophy he had been
adhering too was false. That was the philosophy of the late Ayn Rand.
Yaron Brook, a professor of finance and executive director of the Ayn
Rand institute, complains that "opponents of the free market are giddy
at Alan Greenspan's declaration that the financial crisis has esposed a
'flaw' in his 'free market ideology.'" Brook accuses Greenspan of
having "abandoned" a belief in free markets "long ago."
Syria accuses the US of a raid by troops in helicopters across the
border from Iraq. They describe the raid as having killed eight
civilians. The US has complained that Syria has not been doing enough
to control their border.
In South Waziristan (inside Pakistan) a missile strike by a US drone
aircraft is said to have killed a Taliban leader and, it is said,
twenty others whose bodies were dug from the rubble.
In Egypt a senior civil servant and his wife are under arrest, accused
of wife-swapping parties organized on the internet. Extra-marital sex
is illegal in Egypt.
The UN's largest peacekeeping force - 17,000 strong - is engaged in
fighting against rebels in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic
of Congo against the army led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda. His
forces control several major towns. Refugees are on the move, and
hunger prevails. Some are angry with the UN for not having protected
The target of the US the raid into Syria was Abu Ghadiyah, said to have
been an al-Qaeda coordinator. A "senior US official" says that Syria
was reluctant to move against Ghadiyah and that this "left us with no
choice but to take these matters into our hands." The Iraqi government
denounces the raid and speaks of its opposition to the US using its
territory as a launch-pad against its neighbors. Iran, friendly with
the Iraqi government, joins in condemning the attack. So too does
Russia, which is building closer ties with Syria.
West Africa's regional Court of Justice, located in Niger's capital,
Niamey, has ruled that Niger failed to protect Hadijatou Mani from
being sold into slavery at the age of 12 - for $500. The court has
ordered Niger's government to pay the woman, now 24, about $12,000 in
damages. With this money, Mani plans to buy a house and to send her
children to school "so they can have the education I was never allowed
as a slave." Yahoo News reports that Mani had been jailed for bigamy
after her former master opposed her marriage to another man, insisting
that she had automatically become his own wife when he freed her in
In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah launches the foundation for the
kingdom’s first women-only university, which is to have a capacity for
Cuba opens an embassy in Saudi Arabia. The United Nations General
Assembly approves its thirteenth annual resolution condemning the US
embargo against Cuba. Three nations side with the United States against
the resolution: Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius describes hedge fund managers
offering their services to an elite who could afford their "hefty
fees." He describes the managers as believing they had engineered
highly leveraged investments without risk. Ignatius writes that their
"make-believe world began to crash in August 2007," that suddenly there
was no market for the paper assets they had created out of pools of
mortgages, "because in a falling market, nobody knew what they were
This month the TED-spread (see October 9, 2007 has skyrocketed to
around 4.5 percent. It has dropped to 2.7 percent, still above the
normal 1 percent. The Dow was at 10,881 on October 1. It hit a low at
8378 on October 24 and has climbed to 9180.
Rival economic-political philosophies square off four days before the
US presidential elections. The Republicans, including John McCain, want
to reduce taxes for business people. This, they believe, would create
more jobs. Democrats accuse Republicans of "trickle down economics."
They believe that the economy would fare better with tax levels for
wealthy financiers and investors returned to what they were before the
presidency of George W. Bush. Democrats tend to be concerned about a
distribution of wealth that has long favored those with great wealth
and that has returned to the levels that existed before the Great
Depression. Obama says his economic plan will benefit working people
which, in turn, will benefit investors as, he says, it did during the
Clinton administration - a trickle up theory. And Obama plans to create
jobs by government spending for infrastructure and new sources of
energy. John McCain describes Obama's plans as "redistributing the
wealth" and as "tax and spend."
In the last day of the campaign, candidate Obama continues to associate
McCain's economic philosophy with that of President Bush. McCain
continues to describe himself as the wealth creator and Obama as the
wealth destroyer. Television interviews give evidence that McCain
calling Obama the wealth distributor creates fear among at least a few
people that Obama would take some of their meager but hard-earned
wealth and give to people who are not working. And Republican campaign
ads include Reverend Wright's "God damn America" clip that questions
Obama's judgment and patriotism and calls him "too radical and too
Nov 4 Obama wins the election and speaks of working
together with Republicans to solve the nation's problems. He
congratulates his supporters for producing change, and they chant one
of Obama's slogans: "Yes we can."
Abroad, Obama's success is greeted with widespread cheer. As reported
in the Washington Post, Saudi journalist Samir says it means "the US
has won the war on terror" and that "people here are starting to
believe in the US again." A new respect for the US Constitution and
democracy is expressed. Also, globetrotting Japanese blogger-journalist
from Tokyo, Joichi Ito, reports in the Washington Post that under Bush
the US looked stupid and that by electing Obama it "looks open,
diversity embracing, humble and intelligent." President Sarkozy of
France tells Obama, "At a time when we must face huge challenges
together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe
and beyond." But among some Palestinians and Israelis are doubts and
Afghan President Hamid Karzai complains again to the United States that
air strikes are counterproductive. He complains about civilian deaths
in a bombing on November 3 in Kandahar Province.
According to Gallup polling, McCain did well with regular church-goers
and non-Hispanic white males, McCAin winning both groups by 56 percent.
Obama did well among women, winning 56 percent of the female vote. He
won 64 percent of those with postgraduate degrees and 61 percent of
those 18 to 29 year-olds.
It is reported in the New York Times that in China "The three engines
of growth - exports, investment and consumption - have all slowed
down." From China, the China Daily reports that the Chinese government
is preparing a stimulus package that injects capital into long-term
infrastructure projects: the construction of railways, ports and energy
In Indonesia, three Islamic militants are executed by firing squad for
the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people. They have been
described as eager to be martyrs for their dream of a South East Asian
caliphate. A tiny minority of radicals have been gathering at the
various home villages of the three condemned men to pay their their
In New Zealand the right-of-center National Party takes advantage of
economically bad times and in elections defeats the Labour Party. Prime
Minister Helen Clark, in office for nine years, will step down.
The size of China's stimulus plan is revealed to be 586 billion dollars
and will include a tax cut.
Columnist Nicholas Kristoff writes of the US having elected "an Ivy
League-educated law professor who has favorite philosophers and poets."
Kristoff hopes that "someday soon our leaders no longer will have to
shuffle in shame when they’re caught with brains in their heads."
An article in The New York Times by Sarah Lyall describes Icelanders as
stunned by "the plummeting" of their currency and "the first wave of
layoffs." The shocking failure of Iceland's banks she describes as
having followed Icelandic bankers "roaming the world and aggressively
seizing business, pumping debt into a soufflé of a system." She quotes
an Icelander as saying of the banks, “they’re the ones who ruined our
Anita Snow for the Associated Press quotes the Cuban Communist leader
Armando Hart: "We have before us the immense challenge of how to face a
new chapter in the cultural struggle against the enemy." Hart was
referring to what might happen should Cuba's Communists no longer have
a hostile United States government to point to as a threat.
Nov 11 The
Iraqi government signs an agreement with the China National Petroleum
Corporation to extract oil. No US firms have signed such an agreement.
In early 2003 some in the US were claiming that the US was going to war
in Iraq because of interest in its oil.
In Somalia, radical Islamists in power in the port city Kismayo are
reported to have alienated people because of the death of a
thirteen-year-old girl, Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow. She had been raped by
soldiers and then charged with adultery by a court. She was buried up
to her neck. She pleaded for her life and was then stoned to death.
Uruguay's Senate and Lower House have voted to decriminalize abortion
in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, arguing that it will reduce the
number of women dying from illegal abortions and that it will advance
the rights of women. The Roman Catholic Church in Uruguay has warned
legislators who voted for the bill that they could face
In Dubai the boom in housing appears to be over, according to theWall
Street Journal. The end of easy credit has scared away buyers,
"especially local and international property speculators who have
helped fan years of price increases."
Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin says of President-elect Barack Obama, "If
he governs with the skill and grace and greatness of which he is
capable, we're going to be just fine." During the campaign she
complained of Obama having palled "around with terrorists who would
target their own country," and she accused him of having a "a left-wing
agenda packaged and prettied up to look mainstream.''
Peter Mansoor, a retired colonel who had been General Petraeus's
selected executive officer, tells Charlie Rose that while in Iraq in
2003 officers were having a hard time communicating to policymakers
that the war they were fighting was different from what the planners
imagined - contrary to the principle of at least giving a hearing to
the opinions of frontline commanders.Nov 15 A new group of
twenty nations (G20) meets for an economic summit in the US capital. It
is said to be the most important such meeting since Bretton
Woods in 1944. They agree to begin reshaping financial
institutions, to reform worldwide regulatory and accounting rules, and
they agree to each country submitting to regular reviews by the
International Monetary Fund.
Ayers, 60s activist
Nov 15 President Bush and some other
"conservatives" are unenthusiastic about the US economy coming under
global supervision. France's President Sarkozy speaks of difficulty in
persuading Bush to hold today's summit. After the conference, President
Bush speaks of positive results and assures the nation that he is a
"free market person."
On National Public Radio, Bill Ayers is interviewed by Terry Gross.
Candidate Palin called him a terrorist who targeted his own country.
Ayers tells Terry Gross that he has no regrets for having opposed the
war in Vietnam. He says that he and his fellow Weather Underground were
targeting only property while civilians were being targeted and
slaughtered in the war he was trying to stop. He says his tactics were
naive and that he believes in doubt: "When you act you have a
responsibility to doubt ... You act, you doubt; you act, you doubt.
Without doubt you become dogmatic and shrill and stupid. Without action
you become cynical and passive and a victim of history, and that should
18 Somali pirates are believed to have anchored
their seized Saudi oil tanker off the coast of Somalia. Somali pirates
have had been receiving ransom money from shipping companies and living
well, in big houses, with new cars and beautiful women.
For the BBC, Martin Plaut writes about an alliance between Islamist
hardliners, known as the Shabab, and Somali pirates. The Shabab hold
points "all along the Somali coast." They "have a degree of control
over several pirate groups and provide operating funds and specialist
weapons in return for a share of the ransoms being paid to free the
ships and crew."
Nov 21 The
French left-of-center party is described by one of their leaders,
Bertrand Delanoe, as "gravely ill." The center-right party is healthy
and in power. It supports a larger role for government in the economy
than has been supported by conservatives in the United States, and
President Sarkozy supports more regulation than has President Bush.
French people have not been buying on credit so much as people in the
United States because of government regulatory limits on borrowing.
Somali Islamists turn against Somali pirates, criticizing them for
having targeted ships from Islamic nations.
A major culprit in this year's economic meltdown is being publicized.
It is credit rating agencies in the United States. They were playing a
new game. According to the New York Times back on April 27, "Their
profits surged, Moody's in particular: it went public, saw its stock
increase sixfold and its earnings grow by 900 percent." Credit rating
agencies are private companies in the business of labeling risk. An AAA
rating is highly prized. It was in these agencies' interest to rate new
residential mortgage packages with ratings suitable for investors -
investments that proved faulty.
According to a US intelligence study, described by Scott Shane in The
New York Times, al-Qaeda's “unachievable strategic objectives,
inability to attract broad-based support and self-destructive actions”
are leading to the group's decay. “The appeal of terrorism is waning,”
said the report.
Swiss are angry with their country's largest bank, the Union Bank of
Switzerland, UBS, which is seeking a bailout by the Swiss government.
UBS lost money in the US sub-prime mortgage market.
In Sweden, Rolf Wolff, dean of the school of business at Gothenburg
University, has called on the government to nationalize Volvo and Saab
- to keep Sweden in the auto industry. The Swedish government is
waiting to see what happens with the US parent companies of Volvo and
Saab, Ford and GM, before deciding on financial support for the two
National Geographic reports that oceans are becoming acidic ten times
faster than previously predicted. The increasing acidity is described
as unbalancing ecosystems "and could trigger a dramatic shift in
coastal species and jeopardize shellfish stocks."
Oil rises from around $50.77 per barrel to $52.50. Russia is talking
about joining Opec, and Opec is talking about cutting production, which
helps them protect their supply levels, but it raises prices. The
decline in crude oil prices from more than $130 a barrel in May broke a
speculation bubble in oil, and an economic downturn has reduced demand.
Saudi Arabia wanted the decline in prices, but regarding prices some
people still demonize Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, an oil industry leader
in Dubai predicts oil to rise to $80 per barrel as early as 2010.
In South Korea a popular actress, Ok So-ri, is being prosecuted on a
50-year-old anti-adultery law which carries a maximum jail sentence of
two years. Her husband is seeking the maximum punishment. She claims
that her marriage is loveless. The law was created in the belief that
adultery damages the social order.
In Britain, six weeks ago the government announced up to 50 billion
pounds (87 billion dollars) in cash to troubled banks in order for the
banks to keep credit flowing. The banks are unwilling or afraid of
lending even to worthy borrowers. In want of credit, small businesses
are shutting down and the economic crisis grows. (PBS NewsHour November
In Iraq's 275-member of parliament, of the 198 who are present 149 vote
in favor of US troops pulling back from Iraqi streets by mid-2009 and
leaving entirely by the end of 2011. Iraq's government hails the vote
as a prelude to full sovereignty for their country. Those opposed want
the US to leave sooner.
India's Hemant Karkare, 53,
mourned with all the others.
28 In Nigeria the mostly Christian-backed
governing party, the People's Democratic Party, is declared to have won
the state elections in Plateau State. With claims that the elections
had been rigged, Muslims from the Hausa community attack Christians,
and Christians fight back. Mosques and churches are set afire. The
rampaging kills at least 238 people.
The attack in Mumbai that began on the 26th ends with at least 195 dead
and 295 injured. Among the dead is the anti-terrorist squad chief
Hemant Karkare, who led the charge against the attackers. Just as the
9/11 attack in New York City was a follow up on a previous attack, the
latest attack in Mumbai may be a follow up on a terrorist assault in
Mumbai in 2006 that killed nearly 200. That assault was by a group
calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. Just as the 9/11 attack was
against buildings with symbolic significance, so too were the attacks
in Mumbai - at the Taj Mahal Hotel, near the Taj Mahal, in India's
great financial center. And an attack was made against a Jewish center,
where attackers murdered six hostages before they were annihilated.
It is reported (on Huffingtonpost.com, Nov 29) that Rupert Murdoch,
owner of Fox News and other media, "absolutely despises Bill O’Reilly,"
his evening commentator, and that Fox News chief, Roger Ailes, also
despises O'Reilly. It is suggested that O'Reilly continues with Fox
News because he continues to produce viewers.
The recent attacks in Mumbai are believed by experts to have been the
work of ten soldiers belonging to the much greater army of
Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous), another group with origins in
the war against the Russians in Afghanistan. Their objective is
political: to end Indian rule in Kashmir, and it includes restoration
of Islamic rule in parts of South Asia, Russia and China. They are
responsible for the 2006 attack in Mumbai that killed 211. They planned
to kill 5,000 in their latest attack in Mumbai, targeting US and
British tourists and Jews. They have participated publicly in charity
drives, and they collect funds internationally designated for terrorist
In Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, around forty soldiers disgusted at
having to wait hours in line at a bank go on a rampage and are joined
by civilians, and they loot shops. Police look on in amusement before
the rampage is finally quelled. Zimbabwe is suffering a cholera
epidemic. People are wondering whether the military support, which
makes Mugabe's power possible, is beginning to crumble.
MacroHistory's chart for the US federal government's gross
national debt for December 1 shows it at 74 percent of GDP - a very
India's military has been seeking permission to attack the
Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) complex near Lahore in
Pakistan, not far from India's border. India's government is requesting
Pakistan's government to take strong action, including handing to them
20 militants and the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
The complex, known as the Markaz-e-Taiba (Holy Center), has mosques
and, it is said, madrassas with more than 3000 students.
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) calls off its protests and
its shutting down airports after a court bans Prime Minister Somchai
Wongsawat from politics. PAD drew its support from the middle and upper
classes. They were opposed by less educated and rural elements who
accepted the government's description of events.
A report from Sweden describes a new study indicating that exposure to
mobile phone radiation worsens the short-term memory of rats.
The expected decline or demise of Somali piracy is unfolding. Seventeen
days ago an Indian ship sank a Somali pirate boat. Today a Danish
warship, the HDMS Absalon, part of a NATO task force, destroys a
boatload of "suspected" Somali pirates and takes seven of them prisoner.
Some are saying that one of the mistakes that contributed to the Great
Depression was the federal government doing too little during the
Hoover presidency after the stock market crash. Talk abounds today
about not knowing what government action will work. Not expected is
government spending that compares with what ended the depression at the
beginning of World War II. But President-elect Obama announces his plan
to spend on building infrastructure on a scale not seen in the US since
the building of the highway system in the 1950s.
Dutch authorities announce details of their plan to close half of
Amsterdam's brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in an effort to
drive organised crime from the city center.
The BBC reports that Thailand's PAD movement, which closed down
airports recently, had the kind of support that assured its success:
support from the army and entrepreneurs, including, it is believed, two
banks, and support of the queen and therefore the monarchy. The
opposition Democratic Party now says it has enough parliamentary
support to form a government.
Fareed Zakaria in a Washington Post article describes Pakistan's army
as the real power in that country, with President Asif Ali Zardari
changing to timidity in the face of the army's response to the attack
against Mumbai. "Whether the Pakistani military was involved in the
Mumbai attacks," Zakaria writes, "remains unclear." He writes of the
attackers having been trained by men with titles such as colonel and
major and as using communications channels in their operation that are
known intelligence services (ISI) channels. A former head of Pakistan's
intelligence, General Hamid Gul, told Zakaria in an interview that
aired yesterday that Zionists and US "neo-cons" had been the force
behind the 9/11 attacks.
Public opinion in Egypt remains hardline. Newspapers and politicians
are pressuring their nation's top Muslim cleric, Sheikh Tantawi, to
resign. Their grievance: at an interfaith conference in New York in
November Shekikh Tantawi shook the hand of Israel's President, Shimon
In Greece, a policeman having killed a 15-year-old, Alexandros
Grigoropoulos, has left the country in rebellion against its
government. Today there is a general strike. In Zimbabwe the economy
has collapsed and with dysfunction has come a cholera outbreak with
death numbers climbing toward 800. But rather than Zimbabwe being in
rebellion and its people defying military authority, they are passively
starving or fleeing to a neighboring country.
The columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes of a new "business model"
applied to creating mobility that was invented recently in Silicon
Valley. He reports that it is being acquired in Denmark and Israel, and
no doubt soon elsewhere and that it will make a bailout of Detroit
automakers similar to "pouring billions of dollars into improving
typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet."
Pakistan puts the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed,
under house arrest. (See Dec 3.)
Zimbabwe's "President" Mugabe says "I am happy to say our doctors have
been assisted by others, and WHO (World Health Organization] and they
have now arrested cholera." He adds that there is no more reason to
invade Zimbabwe than to invade Britain for its mad cow disease.
In Zimbabwe, Mugabe's Information Minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
describes the cholera outbreak as a "genocidal onslaught on the people
of Zimbabwe by the British".
India's navy captures 23 pirates in Gulf of Aden.
Andrisson Manyere, an accredited freelance journalist, is abducted from
his home in Harare, Zimbabwe.
In Thailand, a vote in parliament, 235 to 198, makes opposition leader,
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the new prime minister - the fifth in a little more
than two years. Abhisit is leader of the Democrat Party, a
right-of-center and pro-monarchy party. Abhisit speaks against
corruption, favors measures described as populist and has been an
opponent of military rule, including the military coup in 2006.
16 Oil prices fall, "by more than $100 a barrel
since July," writes the New York Times.
Last month some Republicans were talking about future appeals to the
electorate by adhering to principles and maintaining integrity. Today a
fellow Republican, Newt Gingrich, complains about a Republican National
Committee (RNC) web ad that falsely associates President-elect Obama
with the embattled governor of Illinois, Blagojevich. Gingrich accuses
the RNC of "engaging in the sort of negative, attack politics that the
voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles." Meanwhile, a
Gallup poll indicates that 25 percent of Americans assume that Obama's
staff is "Illegally tied to Blagojevich."
Somali pirates capture two more ships, one an Indonesian tugboat
contracted to a French oil company and the other a Turkish cargo ship.
Meanwhile the UN Security Council unanimously approves a resolution
allowing countries to pursue Somali pirates on land as well as at sea.
In South Korea, the popular 40-year-old actress Ok So-ri receives a
suspended prison sentence of eight months for adultery. The man
associated with Ms Ok, a well-known singer, receives a six-month
suspended term. The BBC reports that, "according to a survey carried
out last year, nearly 68% of South Korean men and 12% of women confess
to having sex outside marriage."
The economic crisis brings attention to a book with philosophical
pretentions that has impressed celebrity writers such as David Brooks
and Fareed Zakaria. The book is Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly
Improbable. It is a takeoff on the commonly acknowledged induction
fallacy but, some believe, overdone and with distortions. Recent
remarks supporting the book suggest that today's economic crisis was a
random event incapable of being foreseen rather than the result of bad
policy and of mismanagement with consequences that should have been
Dec 19 Japan's government forecasts zero GDP
growth for 2009. Hopes are that its strong fiscal stimulus measures
will keep the GDP from declining into negative territory.
In Mali, Tuaregs attack an army base. They signed a peace agreement
with the Mali government in July, but they say they want more
negotiations, more resources directed their way and more autonomy. The
Tuaregs are largely camel riding pastoral people whose territory was
divided in the 1960s with the creation of independent nations. What had
been their territory is now part of Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya and
Burkina Faso. Their total population is estimated at 5.2 million.
Desertification and prohibitions on nomadism have been an aggravation.
Some have been forced to abandon herding and are seeking jobs in towns
In Uganda, two women who were arrested in 2005 for lesbianism are
awarded $7,000 in damages. The presiding judge describes their rights
as having been infringed upon.
Pope Benedict XVI says, "Rain forests deserve, yes, our protection but
the human being... does not deserve it less." He speaks of protecting
"the nature of man against its manipulation... The Church speaks of the
human being as man and woman, and asks that this order is respected."
Transsexuals are offended.
Guinea's president, Lansana Conte, dies. The army maintains order and
promises the creation of a consultative council of civilian and
military chiefs. Lasana Conte was not a popular ruler - despite having
won three elections. He was dependent on military support.
In Guinea, an army officer, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, is declared
president of an interim administration that will rule for two years.
Looking happy and kind as he convoys through the streets, thousands
cheer him. But government officials look for help from the
international community, complaining that they still have power that is
being usurped illegally.
At army barracks in Guinea, Captain Camara meets with government
officials and tells them that he will not be one of the candidates for
president in December 2010. He tells the government officials, "You can
go back to business. Let us just avoid armed conflict, which would drag
our country into fratricidal war." Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare
agrees and tells Camara, "We are at your complete disposal." Camara
describes his purpose as restoring order to the country and ridding the
country of corruption. Local radio reports Camara as saying that
already "people who are starting to show up with bags of money to try
to corrupt us ... They've tried to give money to our wives and cars to
In China two Chinese men appear in court in handcuffs, their heads
bowed. They were executives of the Sanlu Group, a company owned partly
by New Zealanders. It sold milk with the chemical Melamine. It was a
disastrous tactic. The company stopped production on September 12 and
has filed for bankruptcy. Four other executives are also charged and
will be appear at court in coming days.
In China it is announced that the Central Commission of Discipline
Inspection (CCDI) has for the year ending in November disciplined
nearly 5,000 officials above the county-chief level - officials
involved in "corruption, bribery, acting against [the] public interest
and other breaches of discipline or the law."
The cease fire between Hamas and Israel, agreed to in June, expired a
few days ago. It was not renewed, and rocket attacks on Israel launched
from Gaza have continued. Israeli F-16 bombers strike key targets
across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 225 people according to local
medics. Israel is claiming its right to self-defense. Hamas vows
revenge attacks and fires Qassam rockets into Israel.
Israel continues its military operations in Gaza. Their strategy is to
eliminate Hamas as a political force in Gaza in order to stop attacks
from there into Israel. Some Israelis have concluded that striking
militarily merely to teach Hamas a lesson is futile and therefore dumb.
In Egypt and elsewhere, anti-Israeli demonstrators work at their
analysis and accuse Israel of terrorism.
Members of the Lord's Resistance Army have fled from Uganda into the
Democratic Republic of Congo. There, according to the BBC, since
Christmas they have killed more than 400 people, and they are trying to
advance their reputation for righteousness by cutting off lips as a
warning not to speak ill of the Lord's army.
Hamas announces that it will continue firing rockets "until Israel ends
its aggression." In the dark of night a Hamas rocket-firing crew with a
pickup truck exposes itself to Israeli high tech spotting devices.
Boom! The crew is obliterated. And the Israelis know that the number of
crews that Hamas can field is limited.
In a televised speech from an undisclosed location in Gaza, Hamas
leader Ismail Haniyeh announces that "Victory is near, God willing, and
it is closer than people think." Regarding a truce, he speaks as one
might when heading for a military victory. He offers the Israelis no
assurances regarding their security. He says that first "Zionist
aggression must end without any conditions."
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The Poisonous Plants
Video package is a
2 disc. 2-hour collection exzaming the
Poisonous compounds in and from plants
Poisonous Plants Video package is
sold separately or as part of a