by Charles Lemos, Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 12:12:26 PM EDT
News from around the globe impacting our world.
Unrest in Syria Growing. Al Jazeera reports continuing and widening unrest across Syria. Gunfire erupted overnight in the Syrian city of Homs where thousands of anti-government protesters had gathered in the main square, a day after activists said at least 25 people were killed there. Homs has been cordoned off by Syrian state security. Gunfire erupted overnight in the Syrian city of Homs where thousands of anti-government protesters had gathered in the main square, a day after activists said at least 25 people were killed there.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the newly appointed Cabinet in Syria has lifted the country's state of emergency laws, which have been in effect since 1963. The official Sana news agency says the government has also approved abolishing the state security court, which handled the trials of political prisoners, and a new law allowing the right to peaceful protests. The bill requires the signature of president Assad to take effect but that is expected to be a formality.
Saudi Oil Did Not Compensate for Libyan Loss. The OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report and IEA Oil Market Report both came out last week. The Oil Drum finds that in March Libyan production plummeted but that Saudi Arabia made no significant move to compensate for the shortfall. Combined with uncertainty in Nigeria in advance of election and speculative forces, oil prices rose.
Saudi Arms Deals in the Works? The Asia Times reports that despite the coolness in US-Saudi relations over the unrest in Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is looking to expand its recent $60 billion USD deal to buy additional weaponry from the US.
Death Toll Rises in Uganda. Opposition protests continue amidst a widening crackdown by government forces. Army and police units yesterday used tear gas, bullets and truncheons to break up protests against rising food and fuel prices around the country, leaving at least one person dead in Kampala, and bringing the death toll to four in three days. President Yoweri Museveni, a darling of the US Christian Right, ordered social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Several opposition leaders have been arrested and bloodied for leading a "walk to work" campaign. All Africa has more on this developing story.
Violence in the Islamic North in Nigeria. Violence erupted in the largely Muslim northern part of the country as the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south was declared the winner of the presidential election in this critical but cleft oil producing West African nation. More from All Africa.
by Charles Lemos, Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 09:53:02 AM EDT
News from around the globe impacting our world.
Japan Nuclear Crisis to Last Nine Months. The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it expects to bring the plant to "cold shutdown" by the end of the year. The story from the BBC.
The Ongoing Brutal Crackdown in Bahrain. Arrests and troop movements signal another government crackdown on protests in the Gulf state. Both The Guardian and Al Jazeera have coverage.
Cuba to Introduce Wide Reforms. Speaking at the start he first congress of Cuba's ruling Communist Party in 14 years, Cuban President Raúl Castro is calling for wide political and economic reforms. Castro said top political positions should be limited to two five-year terms, and promised "systematic rejuvenation" of the government. In terms of economic reforms, free education and healthcare would still be guaranteed, but mass subsidies of basic goods would be removed and social spending would be "rationalized". More from the BBC.
Early Returns in Nigeria Favor Incumbent. Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent president leads in Christian south while his main rival, Muhammu Buhari, is ahead in Muslim north as counting is under way. Full coverage from All Africa
World Bank President Warns of Crisis. Robert Zoellick, the President of the World Bank, is warning that the world is "one shock away from a full-blown crisis." In particular, Zoellick is worried that rising food prices pose the main threat to poor nations who risk "losing a generation". The story from the BBC.
A Hong Kong Bubble? The Asia Sentinel looks at the real estate market in Hong Kong. Hong Kong likes to lay the blame for its escalating property prices on the influx of mainland money, particularly into high-end apartments. However the latest evidence from the HK Monetary Authority suggests that Hong Kong is doing much to help the process along. Meanwhile the territory's lending institutions are helping mainland firms avoid the rather modest efforts that China has been making to rein in credit growth.
Finns Voting in Crucial Parliamentary Elections. Finns are voting today in elections that may have a deep impact on the sovereign debt crisis in Eurozone countries and for the future of the euro itself. Finland has a unicameral Parliament with 200 seats and all seats are being contested. These elections, against the backdrop of the ongoing Irish and Portuguese debt crises, have seen the rise of right wing populism in the Nordic country. The polls show that the True Finns party, led by Timo Soini, stand to gain close to 20 percent of the vote in Sunday's elections on an anti-Islam, anti-Europe platform. Der Spiegel has a preview of the Finnish elections and what's at stake in this one of the most pro-Europe countries in the EU. I'll have a wrap-up later once results are in.
by Charles Lemos, Fri Apr 15, 2011 at 05:14:06 AM EDT
News from the globe impacting our world.
World Bank Chief Warns of Global Food Inflation. World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Thursday warned of rising food inflation and high oil prices risks to world growth, as they threaten to push more people into poverty. "We are at a tipping point in terms of food prices," Zoellick said in a press conference at the opening of the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund here. Zoellick also cited high sovereign debts in advanced countries as another risk to the world's economic outlook. Zoellick urged the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging nations, which is gathering on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank meetings, to work on ways to limit food price volatility.
Chinese Inflation Rising. Data released Friday showed that Chinese consumer prices rose 5.4 percent over a year ago, driven by surging food costs. That's up from February's 4.9 percent increase and was a setback for communist leaders who have boosted interest rates four times since October and taken other steps to cool prices. Chinese inflation is now at a thirty-three month high. The country’s gross domestic product rose 9.7 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter, data released Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics show, down marginally from the 9.8 percent expansion reported in the fourth quarter of 2010. More reaction from the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Dr. Vikram Mansharamani of Yale University warns in the Asia Sentinel of a bubble economy developing in China.
From a macroeconomic perspective, most asset bubbles are associated with "easy" or cheap money that drives overinvestment and overconsumption. Evidence of such easy money can be found in Chinese commercial real estate, where both entire cities – like Kangbashi, in Inner Mongolia – as well as gigantic malls remain virtually empty. Time magazine profiled Kangbashi as a modern "ghost town," and foreign newspapers have referred to the South China Mall in Dongguan as the "mall of misfortune." Despite a 95-plus percent vacancy rate six years into its opening, the solution proposed by the mall's management is as disturbing as its existence: an expansion of approximately 200,000 square meters.
An Army Mutiny in Burkina Faso. Blaise Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, has reportedly fled Ouagadougou as a mutiny among his military bodyguards spread through barracks at the presidential compound and other army bases. Burkina Faso has recently been hit by unrest. On April 8, people took to the streets of Ouagadougou to protest soaring prices of basic foods. In March, students torched government buildings in several cities after a young man's death in custody. More from Al Jazeera.
Opposition Leader Shot in Uganda as Army Moves to Quell Protests. Days after arresting three prominent opposition leaders, Uganda’s opposition leader Kizza Besigye was shot in the arm as soldiers moved to quell riots over high living costs. It was the second day of a walk-to-work protest to symbolise the hardship encountered by Ugandans in paying for transport costs. Uganda People’s Defence Force soldiers took over from the police to crush the demonstration. More from All Africa.
GOP Invites Israeli PM to Speak. The Israeli daily Haaretz is reporting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give a Mideast peace policy speech in front of U.S. Congress in late May. The office of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner confirmed the report, saying Boehner's will invite Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress during a visit to Washington next month. When did Boehner become Secretary of State?
Irish Credit Downgrade. Moody's downgrades Irish sovereign debt rating two grades to Baa3 and warns of more austerity measures as euro value falls. The story in The Guardian.
Robert Fisk on The Arab Awakening. Noted journalist and Middle East expert Robert Fisk writes in The Independent on the roiling Arab protests of 2011. He notes that "the "Arab awakening" began not in Tunisia this year, but in Lebanon in 2005 when, appalled by the assassination of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese of all faiths gathered in central Beirut to demand the withdrawal of Syria's 20,000 soldiers in the country."