Poland: No home for U.S. missiles

Local media reported last week that the U.S. government likely will relocate long-range interceptor missiles planned for Poland to the Balkans, the Middle East, or placement upon naval vessels. The change affects radar installations intended for the Czech Republic. The UPI report cited as one news source the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a U.S. lobbying group.

The move is seen as part of Obama administration efforts to rectify U.S.-Russian relations marred by Kremlin suspicions that missiles in Eastern Europe would serve NATO objectives of eastward expansion rather than, as advertised, defense against “rogue states” such as Iran.

Washington’s aim is to “achieve a new agreement with Russia on the reduction of strategic [nuclear] weapons,” according to euobserver.com.


Mexico: Poverty skyrockets

World Bank data indicate that 4.2 million Mexicans have fallen into poverty so far this year. Latin America and Caribbean totals for the newly poor are 8.3 million people, 3.6 million of them living in extreme poverty. Mexico’s poor now number 54.8 million, 51 percent of the population.

Increased dependence on imported grains and meat contributed to the trend, reported La Jornada, especially as food costs rise worldwide.

Noting rising car sales and employment, the Wall Street Journal took heart from a second-quarter GDP contraction of only 4.4 percent rather than the first quarter 5.8 percent drop. “These numbers are much better than expected,” it claimed, citing Moody’s Economy.com: “Mexico will possibly be leaving recession by the end of the third quarter.”


Kenya: AFRICOM on the move

Visiting regional ally Kenya last week, AFRICOM head General William Ward indicated that U.S. aircraft would be patrolling over Seychelles territorial waters near Madagascar, also that unmanned aircraft would eventually be used. Without specifying objectives, an AFRICOM spokesperson announced the imminent dispatch of U.S. military “experts” to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For Ward, radical Islam’s arrival in Somalia “makes East Africa a central focus of the U.S. military on the continent.” These activities of AFRICOM, the continent-wide joint U.S. military command activated last year, represent “the Pentagon’s first direct military intervention in Africa,” according to globalresearch.com.

U.S. military personnel had earlier joined British counterparts in training Rwandan soldiers, some of them prone to incursions inside mineral-rich eastern Congo.


Israel: Settlement expands on Arab lands

Jerusalem’s municipal government will be building 150 housing units in Arab East Jerusalem with the result that 750 new settlers will probably join 2,000 others living there now. The purpose, according to Imemc.org last week, is to deny access to the West Bank for East Jerusalem Arabs by ringing Jerusalem with settlements. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on Israel’s right to expand settlements provided a closing note to his meeting last week in London with U.S. envoy George Mitchell.

Haaretz correspondent Uri Blau last month reported that American Friends of Ateret Cohanim raised $2.1 million in 2007, mostly for purchases of East Jerusalem land suitable for Jewish settlement. Its U.S. tax-exempt status derives from the group’s token support for an Israeli school.

India: Communist Party responds to food emergency

Drought-caused food shortages presently threaten 700 million people. Food prices are up 10 percent. According to the BBC, Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar described the situation as “grim” for “providing drinking water, livelihood and food, particularly for the small and marginal farmers and landless laborers.”

On Aug. 26 the Communist Party of India (Marxist) held a “National Convention on the Right to Food and Against Price Rise.” General Secretary Prakash Karat called for a “people’s movement,” national food self-sufficiency, and blanket application of the Public Distribution System rather than targeted allocations. He dismissed proposed Congress Party food security legislation as “retrograde.” Quoted by The Hindu, he declared, “Every citizen should have the right to food.”


Cuba: New Mexico governor returns

Joined by nine state officials and businesspersons, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson spent last week in Havana promoting exports of his state’s beef, corn, wheat, potatoes and apples. Since 2001, Cuba’s food importing company Alimport has bought $4.4 billion worth of U.S. food.

Richardson conferred with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Parliament president Ricardo Alarcon, and Pedro Alvarez, Cuban chamber of commerce president and head of Alimport.

As emissary in 1996 for then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, Richardson, a fluent Spanish speaker, talked at length with former Cuban President Fidel Castro, raising speculation now as to a future role in inter-government mediation.

Richardson called for an end to the U.S. travel ban, the Associated Press reported.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (atwhit@roadrunner.com)



W. T. Whitney Jr.
W. T. Whitney Jr.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.