Century 21 1 Decade 8th yr
Century 21 2008- AD

Jan 1
  Cyprus and Malta change their currency to the euro.

Jan 1  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."

Jan 1  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.

Jan 2  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 vehicles."

Jan 3  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."

Jan 7  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.

Jan 8  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.

Jan 9  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."

Jan 12  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 .

Jan 12  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."

Jan 12  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.
Jan 13  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.

Jan 13  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."

Jan 14  In Mexico, another narcocorrido singer, Jorge Antonio Sepulveda, 20, is assassinated.

Jan 15  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.

Jan 22  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.

Jan 22  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.

Jan 22  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.

Jan 22  In the United States, is busy trying to keep up with the inaccuracies stated in political campaigns. Today 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."

Jan 24  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.

Jan 24  In Mexico City, busses for women-only offer women welcomed relief from male harassment.

Jan 26  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."

Jan 26  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.

Jan 29  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.

Jan 30  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.

Jan 30  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."

February 2008

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 a wife."

Feb 1  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.

Feb 3  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.

Feb 4  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.

Feb 6  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.

Feb 7  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."

Feb 11  Norway's Police Security Service (PST) reports that Russian spying in Norway has reached levels as high as during the Cold War.

Feb 11  In the US, four are arrested, accused of passing secret defense information to China.

Feb 12  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.

Feb 13  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 Lebanese people."

Feb 14  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.

Feb 15  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.

Feb 15  Data from the United Nations suggest that 75 percent of crop varieties in the world have become extinct in the last one hundred years.

Feb 17  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.
 Morley Safer interviews Danes
Morley 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.

Feb 18  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.

Feb 20  Spain opens a high-speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona - transport that reach a speed of 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour.

Feb 24  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."

Feb 25  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.

Feb 26  A vault deep in an arctic mountain, for every variety of seed specie, opens in Norway. The seed collection is organized by Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Feb 28  Cuba signs two human rights agreements at the United Nations, committing it to freedom of expression and association and the right to travel abroad.

Feb 28  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.

Feb 29  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.

March 2008

Mar 1  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.

Mar 2  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 "historic."
 President-elect Dmitri Medvedev
President-elect Dmitri Medvedev

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.

Mar 3  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."

Mar 4  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.

Mar 5  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."

Mar 7  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.

Mar 8  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?

Mar 8  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 unqualified support.

Mar 8  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 York 22.

Mar 8  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.

Frederick Kagan sees 

progress in Iraqi reconciliation

Mar 24  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 dubious.
Nir Rosen, not so optimistic
Nir Rosen, not so optimistic

Mar 11  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 share.

Mar 16  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 their ministers.

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.

Mar 17  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."

Mar 18  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.

Mar 19  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 have demonstrators.

Mar 19  Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria announce that they will recognize the independence of Kosovo.

Mar 19  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."

Mar 20  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 citizens.
 In Lhasa, Tibetans attack a Han Chinese.
In 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

Mar 21  In Afghanistan, Rafi Naabzada wins a sensational pop music contest. The contest has been criticized by clerics because of the inclusion of female contenstants.

Mar 22  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.

Mar 24  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 dubious.

Mar 25  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 question.
Senator McCain

Mar 26  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."
Michael Kinsley.
Michael Kinsley.

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.”

Mar 30  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.

April 2008

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.

Apr 4  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.

Apr 6  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.

Apr 8  Senator Obama asks questions of General Petraeus at Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Apr 9  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.

Apr 10  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.

Apr 10  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."

Apr 11  Pakistan's new government introduces a bill that lifts controls on the media imposed by Pervez Musharraf under his state of emergency.
 President Mugabe
President Mugabe

Apr 14  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.

Apr 15  Yusuf Juma, a poet and critic of Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, is sentenced to five years of forced labor.

Apr 16  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.

Apr 18  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 troubles.

Apr 22  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.
President-elect Lugo
President-elect Lugo

Apr 22  In Paraguay, a former bishop, Fernando Lugo, has won the presidency, ending 61 years of conservative Colorado Party rule. Many Paraguayans are ecstatic.

Apr 22  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.

Apr 24  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.

Apr 25  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 exploitation.

Apr 25  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 the shipment.

Apr 29  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."

Apr 30  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.

Apr 30  Russia accuses Georgia of planning to invade Abkhazia. Georgia proclaims that any additional Russian troops in Abkhazia will be considered aggressors. .

May 2008

May 2  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.

May 2  Another exceptionally powerful wind disaster has occurred, this time a cyclone that has hit Burma.

May 3  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."

May 3  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 players.

May 4  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.

May 7  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.

May 7  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."

May 8  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.

May 11  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 rice growing.

May 12  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 quake.

May 13  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 of Hamas.

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.

May 15  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 many unclear.

May 15  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.

May 16  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.

May 16  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.

May 17  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 of Gypsies.

May 19  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.

May 21  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 frameworks."

May 21  In Kenya, a gang goes from home to home killing ten accused of witchcraft.

May 21  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."

May 22  Presidential candidate John McCain breaks with Pastor John Hagee over remarks about God and Hitler. (Opinion: Hagee, McCain and History Methodology.)

May 23  An 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.

May 23  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.

May 25  The US lands a spacecraft on Mars, its scientific instruments intact.

May 25  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."

May 26  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 company Statoil.

May 26  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 malnutrition."

May 28  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.

May 28  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 his palace.

May 29  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.

May 30  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."

May 30  Per capita health care expenditure in France is about half what it is in the United States. 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, "snacking is a $30 billion industry that has increased 33% since 1988."

June 2008

Jun 2  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.

Jun 2  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 been helped.

Jun 2  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.

Jun 2  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 and
suddenly acquire the appearance of respectability."

Jun 3  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."

Jun 3  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 bubble.

Jun 4  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.

Jun 4  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 immediate action.

Jun 6  China offers counseling and reverse sterilization by medical teams free to parents who lost their only child in last month's earthquake.

Jun 8  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."

Jun 8  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 its infrastructure."

Jun 10  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."

Jun 11  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.

Jun 13  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.

Jun 13  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.

Jun 15  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. 

Jun 17  National 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.

Jun 18  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 his income.

Jun 18  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.

Jun 18  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 ..."

Jun 19  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?"

Jun 19  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 plan.

Jun 19  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.

McCain on the side of drilling and ObamaMcCain on the side of drilling and Obama
Jun 20  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

Jun 21  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.

Jun 22  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.

Jun 23  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.

Jun 23  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.

Jun 24  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.

Jun 24  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.

Jun 25  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.”

Jun 25  Tibet reopens to tourism, the first two from Sweden.

Jun 25  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.

Jun 26  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."

Jun 27  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.”

Jun 29  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").

Jun 30  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.

Jun 30  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.)

July 2008

Jul 1  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.

Jul 2  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."

Jul 2  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.

Jul 3  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.

Jul 4  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.

Jul 4  Airline flights begin that connect Taiwan with five major cities in mainland China - a mark of improving relations.

Jul 7  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
Prime Minister Maliki

Jul 7  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.

Jul 9  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.

Jul 9  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.

Jul 9  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 stability.

Jul 10  Hurting from the high price of oil, airline executives call for limits on oil speculation.

Jul 10  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."

Jul 10  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.

Jul 11  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.

Jul 14  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."

Jul 15  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.
 Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah

Jul 16  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.

Procession for Tsar Nicholas
Procession for Tsar Nicholas

Jul 17  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 Orthodox Church.

Jul 17  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."

Jul 18  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).

Jul 19  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."

Jul 19  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."
Obama McCainObama McCain
Jul 22  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 happening."

Jul 23  The third annual film festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, opens. It is to screem 70 movies, 44 of them Saudi productions.

Jul 24  National unity talks begin in Zimbabwe.

Jul 24  Farmers in Norway demonstrated against possible cuts in Norway’s high protective tariffs.

Jul 25  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.

Jul 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.

Jul 30  Norwegian farmers cheer the collapse of World Trade Organization talks. Norwegian industrial and fishing interests are not cheering.

Jul 31  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.

August 2008

Radovan Karadzic, psychiatrist, poet
Radovan Karadzic, psychiatrist, poet,
 politician, on trial in The Hague

Aug 1  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 1990s."

Aug 1  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.

Aug 1  Japanese worry about dwindling schools of tuna. They temporarily suspend tuna fishing and plan for periodic suspensions.

Aug 3  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 2004.

Aug 4  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.

Aug 6  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.
President Abdallahi
President Abdallahi

Aug 6  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.

Aug 7  USA Today and others report that scientists confirm the link between global warming and more powerful rainstorms.

Aug 8 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 again."

 John McCain
Candidate McCain

Aug 8  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.

Aug 9  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.

Robert Kagan, foreign policy advisor to McCain
Robert Kagan, foreign
policy advisor to McCain

Aug 11  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."
Prime Minister Putin
Prime Minister Putin

Aug 11  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 protected.”

Aug 13  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.

Aug 13  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.

Aug 14  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.

Aug 14  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 ..."

Aug 15  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.”

Aug 18  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.

Aug 18  The government of Hugo Chavez announces the nationalization of the cement industry in Venezuela owned by the Mexican cement giant Cemex.

Aug 19  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 direction.

Aug 19  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 for Georgia?

 Dmitri Rogozin
Dmitri Rogozin

Aug 19  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.”

Aug 20  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.

Aug 22  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
Bernard Lewis

Aug 23  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 that."

Aug 25  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.

Aug 25  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.

Aug 26  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."
Nominee Obama

Aug 27  The Democratic Party nominates Barack Obama as their candidate for US President.

Aug 28  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.

Aug 28  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.

Aug 29  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.
Magomed Yevloyev
Magomed Yevloyev

Aug 31  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.

September 2008

Sep 1  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 central government.

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 
Gwen Ifill. Smiling, she
says she has a thick skin.

Sep 2  Iraq agrees on a plan that gives oil production rights to a Chinese petroleum corporation.
 John McCain
Candidate McCain

Sep 3  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."

Sep 3  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 "News Hour."
Sep 3  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
President Sarkozy

Sep 4  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.

Sep 4  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.
 Muammar al-Gaddafi, 2003
Muammar al-Gaddafi, 2003
Sep 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."

Sep 5  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.

Sep 5  The credit crisis continues. The Dow is at 11,221, down from 14,000 eleven months ago.

Sep 6  In Pakistan, parliament and provincial assemblies elect Benazir Bhutto's widower, Ali Zardari, as successor to President Musharraf. Insecurity and fear of instability persist.

Sep 6  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.

Sep 7  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 Arab News.

Sep 7  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 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.

Sep 8  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.

Sep 9  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.

Sep 10  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.
General Petraeus - no promise
General Petraeus - no promise of "victory"

Sep 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."


Prime Minister Putin

Sep 11  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.

Sep 12  Saudi Arabia's most senior jurist proclaims it permissible for the state to execute owners of television stations that broadcast debauchery.

Sep 14  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.

Sep 17  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.

Sep 17  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 annexation".

Sep 19  Much analysis is being made about the economic crisis, and people are being told not to panic.

Sep 20  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 trading.
President Bush
President Bush

Sep 20  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 regulations."

Sep 21  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.

Sep 22  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.

Sep 22  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.

Sep 23  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 facts."

Sep 24  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.

Sep 25  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 "nationalization."

Sep 25  Another sign of cultural diffusion: Japan's new prime minister, Taro Aso, is a Roman Catholic. 

Sep 25  China launches its third manned mission into space, to include its first spacewalk.

Sep 25  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."
President Hugo Chavez
President Hugo Chavez

Sep 26  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
Georgia's President Saakashvili

Sep 27  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
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 fails.

Sep 29  The US House of Representatives fails to pass the financial rescue plan. US stocks plunge between 7 and 9 percent. A credit freeze continues.

Sep 29  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.

Sep 29  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.

October 2008

Oct 1  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."

Oct 2  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 Wall.

Oct 2  India's government bans smoking in public buildings and elsewhere in public. Many are ignoring the ruling.

Oct 2  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."

Oct 2  According to, "An Obama-Biden TV ad once again twists McCain's position on Social Security."

Oct 3  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.

Oct 5  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. (, "Sixty Minutes, Shadow Markets")

Oct 5  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.

Oct 6  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.

Oct 6  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.

Oct 6  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.

Oct 7  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.

Oct 9  In Malawi, the introduction of irrigation, crop diversification, science and soil management is producing a new abundance of crops and new hope.

Oct 9  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."

Oct 10 "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."

Oct 10  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.

Oct 10  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.

Oct 12  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.

Oct 12  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.

Oct 13  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.

Oct 14  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.

Oct 14  UCLA scientists find that searching the web stimulates centers in the brain and may improve brain functions.

Oct 15  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.

Oct 15  Uganda bans female circumcision.

Oct 18  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.

Oct 18  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.

Oct 19  On this Sunday in Cuba a Russian Orthodox cathedral opens. Raul Castro is present and calls it "a monument to Russian-Cuban friendship."

Oct 20  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 committed suicide.

Oct 22  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.

Oct 23  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."

 Dr. Alan Greenspan
Dr. Alan Greenspan

Oct 23  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.
 Dr. Yaron Brook
Dr. Yaron Brook

Oct 24  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."

Oct 27  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.

Oct 27  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.

Oct 27  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.

 Alice Rivlin
Alice Rivlin

Oct 28  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 them.

Oct 28  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.

Oct 28  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 2005.

Oct 29  In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah launches the foundation for the kingdom’s first women-only university, which is to have a capacity for 40,000 students.

Oct 29  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.

Oct 30  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 worth."

Oct 30  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.

November 2008

Nov 1  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."

Nov 3  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 risky."
 President-elect Obama
President-elect Obama

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."

Nov 5  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 fears.

Nov 5  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.

Nov 6  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.

Nov 7  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 resources.

Nov 8  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 respects.

Nov 8  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.

Nov 9  The size of China's stimulus plan is revealed to be 586 billion dollars and will include a tax cut.

Nov 9  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."

Nov 9  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 reputation.”

Nov 9  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.

Nov 11  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.

Nov 12  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 ex-communication.

Nov 12  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."

Nov 13  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.''
 Col. Peter Mansoor
Col. Peter Mansoor

Nov 14  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.
 Professor Ayers, 60s activist
Professor 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."
Candidate Palin
Candidate Palin

Nov 18  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 never happen."

Nov 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.

Nov 19  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.

Nov 21  Somali Islamists turn against Somali pirates, criticizing them for having targeted ships from Islamic nations.

Nov 22  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.

Nov 23  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.

Nov 24  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.

Nov 24  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 companies.

Nov 25  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."

Nov 26  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.

Nov 26  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.

Nov 27  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 26.)

Nov 27  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 
India's Hemant Karkare, 53,
mourned with all the others.
Nov 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.

Nov 29  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.

Nov 30  It is reported (on, 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.

December 2008

Dec 1  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 activities.

Dec 1  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.

Dec 1  MacroHistory's chart  for the US federal government's gross national debt for December 1 shows it at 74 percent of GDP - a very rough estimate.

Dec 3  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.

Dec 3  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.

Dec 4  A report from Sweden describes a new study indicating that exposure to mobile phone radiation worsens the short-term memory of rats.

Dec 5  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.

Dec 6  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.

Dec 6  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.

Dec 7  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
Fareed Zakaria

Dec 8  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.

Dec 9  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 Peres.

Dec 10  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.
 Tom Friedman
Tom Friedman

Dec 10  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."

Dec 11  Pakistan puts the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, under house arrest. (See Dec 3.)

Dec 11  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.

Dec 12  In Zimbabwe, Mugabe's Information Minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, describes the cholera outbreak as a "genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British".

Dec 13  India's navy captures 23 pirates in Gulf of Aden.

Dec 14  Andrisson Manyere, an accredited freelance journalist, is abducted from his home in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Dec 15  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.

Dec 16  Oil prices fall, "by more than $100 a barrel since July," writes the New York Times.

Dec 16  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."

Dec 16  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.

Dec 17  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."

Dec 19  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 foreseen.

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.
Tuareg territory
Tuareg territory

Dec 20  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 and cities.

Dec 23  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.

Dec 23  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.
Dec 23  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.

Dec 24  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.

Dec 25  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 our children."

Dec 26  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.

Dec 26  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."

Dec 27  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.

Dec 29  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.

Dec 30  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.

Dec 30  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.

Dec 31  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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