A few national security partisans realize now there’s more to worry about than guns, bombs and rogue states. That would be ideas, and last week, a book. It’s a “really dangerous one that can put the White House at risk,” warned a not-very-serious David Brooks, the Mexican daily La Jornada’s Washington correspondent. He was referring to the book Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama during the recent Summit of the Americas.
With less than two months to go before the June presidential elections in Iran, labor unrest may yet be a factor determining the outcome. The news that Iranian workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company were forced once again to resort to industrial action this month will come as little surprise to those familiar with the pattern of labor relations in Iran.
The North and South Poles are at the center of the earth. The earth’s survival, that is. The two polar regions, the Arctic and Antarctic, are “actors and barometers” of rapid climate and environmental changes that the world is experiencing. That was the message last week of a joint meeting of the Arctic Council, involving eight countries as well as organizations of indigenous peoples, and the 47 Antarctic Treaty nations.
Momentum is building toward breaking down U.S.-imposed barriers against trade and travel with Cuba. The five-day visit to Cuba in early April of seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus provided a push.
Cyclone hits Myanmar. Earthquake rocks China. In each case, thousands of lives have been snuffed out by nature’s wrath. Given the combination of global warming and extreme poverty, we’re likely to see more extreme natural and human calamities. Here in the United States, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, and hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced.
The Chinese government’s response to a massive earthquake in Sichuan Province May 12 has been swift, according to a number of news sources. The government said that tremors and aftershocks were felt in 16 provinces, from Tibet to Beijing. Up to 15,000 people have been killed with many tens of thousands more still missing and injured, and over 500,000 houses have been destroyed.
While the rest of Latin America moves left, Mexican President Felipe Calderon is pushing hard in the other direction with a thinly disguised plan to privatize PEMEX, the huge state oil company that provides 40 percent of the Mexican government’s revenues.
The surprise results of Nepal’s elections are now giving way to the next, perhaps more challenging, step of piecing together a coalition to write a new constitution and move toward abolishing the monarchy. In the recent election, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won the most seats — 220 out of 601 — in the Constituent Assembly that is tasked with writing the constitution and deciding on the political framework for the Himalayan nation. Nepal has been ruled by a Hindu king for more than 200 years.
In a blow to the revolutionary Bolivian government of President Evo Morales, overwhelmingly elected in 2005 as the nation’s first indigenous president, a much anticipated autonomy referendum in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz department gained approval by an estimated 80 percent of voters on May 4.
Michael Moore has joined the ranks of victims of U.S. trade and travel restrictions against Cuba. His organization reported that the filmmaker received an inquiry from the U.S. Treasury Department about a trip Moore took to Cuba in March to film segments for his upcoming release “Sicko.”