Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All the World's Estranged II

Obama pledged this week to extend economic sanctions on Zimbabwe by one year following a similar  extension by the EU despite the south African nation's inflation topping 321 million percent. That bears repeating. 321 million percent. The sanctions, including an arms embargo by the EU ,were imposed in response to human rights abuses by President Mugabe and his government, as well as suspected election fraud . A coalition government is present, partly Mugabe's  ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Tsvangira's MDC, and although British Foreign Secretary David Milliband has expressed interest in cooperating with the MDC party, the sanctions are likely to stay in place, as international leaders struggle to differentiate Mugabe's abusive influence from that of the new coalition government. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara goes so far as to call the sanctions illegal

Ministers, assistant ministers, MPs and others allegedly associated with the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya are to be named during a continuing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The list if left unsealed, will reveal those alleged to have planned and even financed the violence that occurred after President Mwai Kibaki emerged victorious in a heated competition between Kibaki's (Party of National Unity) PNU and RailA Odinga's (Orange Democratic Movement) ODM in which tribalism was a dividing factor.

China has joined the list of nations clamoring to claim some access to Arctic waters, in response to retreating Arctic sea ice. A report by the Stockholm International Peace Institute inds the Acting Programme Director Linda Jakobson relaying that, "To date China has adopted a wait-and-see approach to Arctic developments, wary that active overtures would cause alarm in other countries due to China's size and status as a rising global power". The report, titled China Prepares For an Ice-Free Arctic can be found here.

Inspire Antarctic Expedition, a program by the 2041 organization will be taking an Antarctic expedition between March 5-18 with group of corporate leaders, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and others in tow. Ok, perhaps that sentence will make less sense upon the extrapolation that 2041 is an organization dedicated to preserving the continent Antarctica, especially with the impending expiration in 2012 of the Kyoto Protocol  for the Environment program. In 2041 specifically, the Protocol for Environmental Protection is open for amendment, hence the name of the program. Upon visiting the sponsors page, one discovers Coca Cola and BP among others. I am puzzled as to why the polar explorer and environmentalist who founded 2041 believes an oil company,a socially irresponsible corporation and a team of corporate leaders will take genuine interest in preserving the fondly described "last wilderness in the world".

Iranian authorities have banned several newspapers including the reformist daily paper Etemad, for unspecified violations. Weekly paper Irandokht which is also in opposition of the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was banned due to "not meeting the conditions in the press law on practical commitment to the constitution" 
Indonesia's Vice President and Finance Minister were the subject of an impeachment debate  
on Tuesday March 2 amid criticism of the $700 million bailout of private Bank Century.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposal of a federal takeover of the nations state-run hospital system has been challenged by some, being viewed as a diversion tactic to distract critics of his home insulation program and other controversial programs. {Search queries for the definition and purpose of the program only yield statements of the programs closing as of Feb,19 2010 in addition to criticisms.}
Drought policies in Australia are under amendment as Agriculture minister Tony Burke claims that "Government support and assistance is conditional upon how much debt you are in. If, for whatever reason, you've made some really hard decisions during the good times and are not in debt, your reward for that is to get no government assistance."

French president Nicolas Sarkozy admitted last week that France had made "grave errors' in its judgment on Rwanda's 1994 genocide, although refrained from an official apology. Several days later, Rwandan authorities have commended the arrest by French police of Agathe Habyarimana , the widow of former president Juvenal Habyarimana whose death is said to have triggered the genocide. French police have not declared the national interest in arresting the widow, and although it is assumed they would extradite her, French officials deny an official request of extradition while Rwandan officials confirm it. After the 2006 accusation by a Paris judge that the current government is responsible for Habyarimana's assassination in 1994, relations between the two nations soured, leaving one to wonder why the French police bothered with an arrest if there is no intention  to honor extradition requests.

In response to the use of fake Irish passports in the assassination of a Hamas leader attributed to Israeli agency Mossad, as  well as "a wholesale disregard for international law", the Irish town council of Carrickmacross has torn from its guest book, the signature of Israel's ambassador to Ireland. I seriosuly doubt the effectiveness of this measure, although I am almost certain more public displays of Israeli disapproval will follow from the other nations whose passports were faked.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro are the most vocal national proponents of an organization to represent political consensus in the Americas. The organization is to be called the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and is expected to consolidate the international interests of those states, especially as a separation from North American interest.
A Spanish judge presiding over the plotted assassination case of Colombian president Alvaro Uribe claims there is evidence linking Venezuelan government official Arturo Cubillas Fontan to Colmbian guerilla organization FARC and Basque separatist group ETA.

A trick is a trick and that is it. Or is it? Pennsylvania State University professor and climatologist Michael Mann has been cleared after an investigation of emails between himself and a climatologist at the British University of East Anglia. Emails hacked from the Climate Research Institute at the UEA showed a graph publicly used by Mann to profess global warming as having being created using a "trick". The word trick raised suspicions surrounding the accuracy of the data, however, Mann has been cleared after describing the 'trick' as a statistical method of displaying various ranges of data. So when is a trick really a trick?

A prominent advocate of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 ,a standards-based educational program enacted by George Bush II has recalled her advocacy of the program, joining myriad critics of the controversial program. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch has authored a book titled The Death and Life of the Great American School System in which she disapproves of  the emphasis of standardized testing and other measures which detract from the real subject, which is successfully educating students.NPR's Steven Inskeep interviews her here

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