Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The United States Stays Cautious to North Korea

Recently, North Korea came to the United States asking for 240,000 tonnes of food aid and in exchange the country said it would suspend its uranium enrichment and nuclear/long-range missile tests. In a foreign ministry statement released Wednesday, North Korea said they were “aimed at building confidence for the improvement of relations” between the two countries. North Korea was also willing to allow UN inspectors to monitor the country’s reactor to make sure compliance was met. The White House spokesman Jay Carney saw North Korea’s plea as a first step into denuclearisation of the country. Although the United States is open to talks with North Korea and see this as an opportunity, there is still much speculation that North Korea might have more then one uranium enrichment facility. A similar food aid agreement has been reached before in 2005 when North Korea was again facing an extreme food shortage. In order to receive food North Korea had to stop the nuclear program. However, this agreement was short-lived when North Korea broke the deal in 2009. Looking forwards, bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table is definitely seen as progress and with a new leader there is an opportunity for change. It will be interesting to compare how China and the United States will react to North Korea’s plea and if these talks will provide the United States with a new strategic relationship when looking at a possible future containment strategy of China.

To read more:

-Kathleen Fultz

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Diplomats Warn Syria of Consequences for Violent Crackdown

Only a day after the new referendum on the new Consitution with continuous violence, Syria is under a lot of international pressure from many governments to immediately ceasefire and that leaders would not escape punishment for their actions. The United Nations top human rights offcial, Navi Pillay, addressed the Human Rights Council saying that Syria should head to the International Criminal Court for all of the horrible violence happening. Even Hillary Clinton went before Congress on Tuesday and said that there is an argument to be made that President al-Assad should be punished under the definition of crimes against humanity. So far, President al-Assad has disregarded any calls to step down from his presidency. Journalists in the neighborhood of Hom are being captured and some locations of these journalists are unknown. Some countries are calling the New Constitution a joke but some are calling it a step towards reform.

Jessica Connor

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shining Path Leader Charged in Peru

The leader of the Shining Path rebel group, known as Comrade Artemio, has been charged with both drug trafficking and terrorism on Monday. According to the article, he was captured February 12th in a remote jungle region of Peru, after a run in with troops, where he was badly wounded. He has since been treated for his injuries. He has been transferred to a maximum security prison, to await the expected four month time period for his trial. He could face life in prison if he is found guilty of these crimes. The prosecutor stated that over 200 people would be called on to present evidence in the trial. The leaders real name is Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala. The Shining Path is a Maoist rebel group, that in the 1980s and early 1990s that tried to overthrow the Peruvian government through a "People's War," which lead to the death of 70,000 Peruvians during the war between the government and the Shining Path. Currently, the group has lessened in size and is typically involved in drug trafficking.

Kathleen Tite

Attempt to kill Putin foiled

Russian and Ukrainian security forces foiled a plot to kill Putin. Channel One, a Russian media group, reported that two men were arrested and belonged to a group seeking an Islamist states in the North Caucasus. Opposition members are skeptical about the plot due to the election being 6 days away. They argue that it was a political stunt to gain support and sympathy for Putin. One opposition leader is quoted as saying, "assassination attempts are the favorite tactic of dictators." Putin's spokesman dismissed the allegations, calling them inappropriate.

DJ Willey

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Iran Building Bomb?

According to a United Nations nuclear agent, Iran has rapidly increased the amount of high-grade enriched uranium being produced; this comes after a report released by the IAEA stated amounts of uranium metal big enough to produce a nuclear missile have gone missing. These two reports add fuel to the already engulfing fire, producing fear in the world that the Iranian nuclear program has more to it than just nuclear energy.

Lucas Habeeb

Nigeria unrest: Suicide bomb targets church in Jos

This latest suicide bomb by car is just one of the many that have happened in the city of Jos. Christians and Muslims are at war with each other, however it seems that the majority of violence has been brought forth by the Muslims.

This latest bombing has sparked a riot by Christian youth. This is very troubling. It seems that these two faiths cannot seem to open any kind of dialogue. The President, Goodluck Johnathan has condemned the violence and as asked for peace. In a statement to the press the President said,

"Those who seek to divide us by fear and terror will not succeed,"

"The indiscriminate bombing of Christians and Muslims is a threat to all peace-loving Nigerians."

The driver apparently drove the car through the church gates killing one woman and then detonated the bomb killing a father and his children. It has been reported that 38 people have been taken to the hospital for treatment.

Post by Rima Gungor

Chinese gain voice through President Obama's Google+ page

Chinese users, blocked from the social networking site Google+ until the 20th of this month, have begun spamming President Obama's page. I strongly urge everyone check the site out, it is a surreal and baffling example of the power of the internet.

The comments range in nature from political appeals to jokes about "occupying" the website. Some have questioned the Chinese government, and some have asked for the release of dissidents.

Internet usage is restricted in China, so these users are enjoying a platform from which they can say anything, serious or playful. One wonders why the firewall has been lifted from Google+. If intentional, it begs if there will be more access and ultimately more freedom in China.

By Bob Hartzer

Russians speak out for making a human chain

In protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, thousands of Russians gathered in Moscow's Garden Ring on Sunday, February 26. They wore white ribbons to symbolize their desire for democracy, as well as forming a human chain. The protest arose out of the people's desire to express that they were tired of electoral fraud. The protest had not received a permit to take place, so the throngs of people stayed fairly loose to avoid trouble. It was arranged "flash mob style" through a Facebook page. Vladimir Putin seems poised to do well in the upcoming March 4 election.

Cody Follis

Afghan airport hit by suicide car bombing

Six people or more have been killed in a suicide car bomb attack at a Jalalabad airport in Afghanistan. Several others were injured when the bomb exploded at the entrance to the airport. The Afghan Taliban have already claimed responsibility for the attack. This attack is in the wake of mass spread violence after an the accidental burning of holy Muslim books at a US military base. The information gathered so far says all causalities were Afghan civilians.

Nicole LeDonne

North Korea warning as US and S Korea begin joint drill

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the military to launch a “powerful retaliatory strike” if provoked by the South. Mr. Kim’s statement was issued during a visit to military units on the country’s southern coast that faces a string of islands manned by South Korean marines, one day before the United States and South Korea are scheduled to begin a massive joint military exercise. Washington and Seoul say their annual war games are meant to deter North Korean aggression while Pyongyang insists that this provokes the nesscessity for its nuclear program. Kim Jong-un has been thought to embrace more collaborative and open manner than his father, but this move of his has put us to question again.

Yen Do

Violent Uproar in Afghanistan Casts Shadow on U.S. Pullout

American offcials made it clear that they are still committed to the war after the killing of two American military officers over the weekend. Not only are they still committed because of that but also the days of anti-American protests going on. Based on this article it sounds as though the high officials of the Obama administration and the Pentagon officials are very unsure about how to pullout troops from Afghanistan and if it is the right move. They are worried about the training and mentoring of the police forces in Afghanistan and if there has been enough. They do not know if there has been enough because many of them are still unreliable officers in Afghanistan. The attacks by the police forces on American military and NATO forces has only reinforced the government's beliefs that they are not ready to pullout. An official was stated as saying that the unrest might "complicate but was unlikely to" actually alter the overall plan of pulling out troops.

Jessica Connor

Israel inks $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan, bringing sophisticated military technology close to Iran

Israeli defense officials have confirmed a $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan, a country located just north of Iran. This deal is an agreement to send "sophisticated" Israeli defense technology to Azerbaijan, such as drones and anti-aircraft and missile defense systems. Increased tensions in the Middle East with the Jewish state have led to Israel going on the offense. Israel has made no secret that Iran attaining nuclear weapon technology will be a serious security threat, and it will not be acceptable. Israel has also said that it is considering attacking Iran first in order to destroy its nuclear technology. Azerbaijan seems to be a rising ally of Israel. Recently Azerbaijan has stopped a few attacks on the Israeli embassy. Iran has also accused Azerbaijan of aiding Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, in gathering information on Iran and helping Israel assassinate Iran's nuclear scientists. Securing relations with Azerbaijan could prove to be a very good strategic and security move for Israel, should tensions with Iran increase even more.

by Rachel Foy

U.S. may lead the World Bank

After the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, stepped down from his position in June 2011, the World Bank finally started the nomination process to select a new president. The selection process is open to candidates from   any 187 member countries. However, in his speech on Saturday, February 25, Robert Zoellick said that the world's largest economy should lead international bodies, therefore he believes that a U.S. candidate will be a good match for the position of the World Bank president. So far, United States did not have top positions at the UN, WTO or the IMF. Currently, two leading candidates for the position are both from the United States: Hillary Clinton and Lawrence Summers.
Robert Zoellick also outlines the main challenges that the new president of the World Bank will have to deal with including economic crises in Europe and oil prices.

Oksana Vernygora

Hamas breaks with Damascus

The terrorist organization, Hamas, has come out in favor the protestors against the government. This is the first time that they have spoken out against the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. This is an interesting development, considering that Hamas is being back the Syrian government. Many countries have pressured Hamas into changing their stance after roughly 6,000 Syrians have been killed due to the increasing violence between the government and citizens. Many in the Hamas leadership have left Damascus and are currently in talks with foreign nations to move their headquarters elsewhere.

Jim Michalik

Health workers linked to CIA's Osama bin Laden assassination plot are sacked

A recent addition to the story of Dr. Shakil Afridi (the Pakistani doctor who helped locate Osama Bin Laden inside of his compound through a false vaccination program) involves the recent firing of 17 health-care workers who were involved in some manner with the false vaccination program. 17 or these workers include 15 women who were health-care employees in the region that the compound was located. These 17 workers are thought to have been completely in dark as to the aim of the vaccination program, meaning that they were used by Afridi to get more information. This entire scandal has led to increased tensions between the US and Pakistan, and has increased panic among Pakistani people that vaccinations are a tool of the American government.

By: Kaitlyn Gordon

G-20 meeting focuses on Euro firewall fund

The voice of world toward Europe is rising. The issue of the European sovereign debt crisis is dominating the topic of the G20 meeting. The United States, China, Japan, and even a member country of European Union, Germany are reluctant to fund-raise to the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent fund constructed by Europe, or the International Monetary Fund. Germany, especially, concerns that additional money might ease pressure on the more indebted countries in the euro zone, such as Spain and Italy, to pull back from commitments to undertake structural changes that will be painful for not only governments but also their own citizens. At the same time, any additional contribution by Germany would need public support at home.

Although the European debt crisis is the biggest topic in Mexico G20 meetings, the topic of the sanctions against Iran would be also discussed to gain support on them as the EU and the US expected. The EU will cut off Iranian oil imports beginning in July in order to put economic pressure on Iranian nuclear program.

Sophia Park

Colombian Rebel Group Vowed to Free Hostages

A left-wing rebel group in Colombia called FARC announced that they will release 10 Colombian security force hostages and will abandon kidnapping for ransom. Most of the hostages have been held for over ten years. The group announced that it will abandon kidnappings just after the completion of an 110 hour radio marathon, held by relatives of the hostages, demanding the release of the hostages. FARC said that the kidnappings were to help finance their cause and stated, "Much has been said about the kidnapping of civilians for financial goals, which we, the Farc carry out to finance our struggle". The Colombian government approves of the release of the captives but is saying that this alone is not enough to gain peace talks. The government is calling for FARC to also stop their attacks, stop recruiting minors, and to stop trafficking drugs before peace talks can begin.

by Matthew Draper

Egypt Opens Trial, Strains Ties with U.S.

Egypt has opened a trial to prosecute 16 Americans for using foreign funds to incite unrest. As a result, the U.S. has threatened to cut off $1.5 billion of aid is it is not resolved. Some have claimed that they are just trying to silence critics of the military's handling of the countries transition to democracy. The U.S. does not want to push the ruling military to hard because it is likely the best way to get the country to transition to democracy, but U.S. officials are urging Egypt to stop the trials. Egyptian officials say the trial has nothing to do with their government.

Tristan Hunter

Can Karzia Calm Down Afghan Protestors?

The protests in Afghanistan over the burning of Qurans have escalated into violence. It has now been six days of protest and although some have been peaceful, there have been several reports of violence and hostility against US forces. Already, NATO members have decided to pull out troops in response to the protests, with the desire to protect troops after two American soldiers were killed. Protestors have also thrown grenades at the base, wounding at least seven U.S. military personal. Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a Kunduz police spokesman, also reported, "Sixteen police were injured in the attack at the police chief's office. Protestors used grenades, pistols, knives, sticks, and stones". Amidst the violence and distress of the people, Afghanistan's President Karzai has been the moderate voice calling for the public to stay calm and stop these violent protests. When addressing the public Karzai understood the protestors frustration over the incident but warned that the violence could disrupt the country's peace. In the article President Karzai stated, "While the emotions of our people over the burned Qurans are legitimate and valuable,' Karzia said in a televised address, 'remaining calm would help stop enemies of our peace and stability' from taking advantage of the situation and harming people and property". This moderate voice might be just what both parties need to bring back stability and stop the violence. In fact, with Karzia's statement in mind about being aware of Afghanistan's enemies, Afghan and a coalition of forces had captured Taliban leaders in several provinces. This is a good sign for Afghanistan, demonstrating that they are able to maintain protection and security even in times of protest.

To read more:

-Kathleen Fultz

Syria Votes on New Constitution Referendum Amid Unrest

Although violence continues to arise throughout the country, the Syrian government has decided to hold a referendum on a new constitution, which calls for a multi-party parliamentary election within the next three months. This system will replace the previous monopoly of power by the Baath Party and will make Syria “a beacon of democracy in the region.” The government thus set up more than 13,000 polling stations for 14.6 million voters. The stations were open for 12 hours; however, some voting hours were extended by three hours due to the fact that there was an incredible amount of voter turnout. Current President Assad also voted in order to show his support of the new constitution. Opposition forces are boycotting the vote and are demanding for President Bashar al-Assad to stand down. According to Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, Syria will quite likely engage in civil war.

Aleksandra Ruseva

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Britain Exploring Somalian Oil Drilling Rights

It is reported that Britain is secretly attempting to obtain oil drilling rights in Somalia. In exchange for the rights, Britain will provide humanitarian and security aid to a nation that has been the victim of poverty and corruption for the past two decades. Standing in the way are al-Qaida backed terrorists who refuse to allow any Western influence obtain the oil. All of this is now coming after the Canadian Oil company Africa Oil began drilling in the Puntland region of Somalia after nearly two decades of inactivity in the region. Puntland is a dangerous location as it is home to al Shabaab, however, the group is reported as weaking as they continue their fight with African Union troops. Africa Oil reports that it will begin to extract the oil from the region within twenty to thirty days.,

By:Tyler Lundquist

NATO Withdraws from Afghanistan

NATO closed up shop in Kabul, Afghanistan for an indefinite amount of time due to the killings of two senior officers in the Interior Ministry building. The two officers were believed to be an American Colonel and Major in the Army. The attacks come just five days after the United States soldiers burned copies of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, but it is unknown at this time if the attack was related to the burning of the Korans. The attacker would have needed top clearance to get at the two men who were killed.

Erik Brown

Friday, February 24, 2012

Islamic State of Iraq

The Islamic State of Iraq has taken responsibility for the recent attacks in Iraq. They say that the country is on the verge of being taken over by the Shiite's and urge the Sunni's to take action and join ranks with the jihadis' in repelling this take over. It is interesting to look at how Iraq has functioned after the pullout of American troops in 2011. The way in which leaders used to act together is no more, as we can see in the very clear divide amongst the different cultural groups. It is my fear that all the work that NATO, and the United States did to bring stability to the area will be worth nothing. The country's Sunni vice president has had a warrant issued for his arrest in using death squads, which he denies totally. This is what American leaders hoped would be avoided post occupation, and we will see how these actions inside Iraq will pan out.

-Dan Vogrin

Iran boosting enrichment efforts, international inspectors say

Iran's nuclear program continues to be a thorn in the International "side" because of further uranium-235 enrichment. The IAEA reported that Iranian officials didn't allow them to visit a potentially very important military installation in Parchin. It is said that Iran has the capability to enrich uranium up to 20% now, 3-5% is needed for nuclear power plant use, and they are saying it is for use on citizens with cancer who are seeking treatment. Analysts say that 20% is a big number because once the capability of enriching to 20% is shown, typically the path to enriching to 90%, enrichment level needed for nuclear weapons, is much easier. Iranian officials claimed that the IAEA inspectors left a day early and did not block them from visiting Parchin.

Jordan Tassio

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Al-Shabab loses Baidoa

Ethiopian and Somali troops took the city of Baidoa from al-Shabab.  According to BBC's Mohamed Dhore, Baidoa is the most important al-Shabab base after Kismayo.  Al-Shabab confirmed that they left the city but also said that they would start a guerrilla war because of this. Baidoa is said to be a big loss, it is the main road that connects Mogadishu to Kenya, Ethiopia, and the southwestern parts of the country.  There is also an airport which is how al-Shabab is thought to bring weapons in.

The Security Council passed a resolution that would increase African Union troops in Somalia from 12,000 to 17,731.  It also gave further authorization for the troops to attack al-Shabab and substantially increased funding.

DJ Willey

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Warning for foreign reporters in China

The Foreign Correspondents Club in China has issued a warning to its members regarding recent attacks on foreign reporters. Three employees of a European media company were attacked last week following the coverage of a land rights protest in a village in the Zhejiang province of China. These attacks included both French and Dutch correspondents who were approached by aggressive groups of men. These men appeared to be plain-clothes policemen. The Chinese authorities have responding by stating that all foreign correspondents are free to report in China and that these groups of men are simply aggressive villagers. Other correspondents have also reported harassment while covering unrest in China.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Iran warns of pre-emptive action in nuclear dispute

Iran darkened its tone on Tuesday by citing that it would use pre-emptive action if its national interests were threatened and by laying down new conditions for oil sales. Iran has already cut off sales to Britain and France, and has warned that they may cut off other (more dependent upon Iranian oil) EU countries. Their statement of pre-emptive attack is thought to be a statement to Israel because of speculation that Israel may be contemplating a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran continues to maintain that its nuclear program is peaceful, yet they have had two IEAE visits in three weeks. The IEAE cites that the visits are purely negotiation based, not inspection based. The agency wants Iran's cooperation, not alienation.

Back to the issue of oil, Iran's oil minister stated that continued "hostile" actions from the EU countries will be dealt with by cutting off oil supply, which could cripple the already weak EU economy. The EU buys 18% of its oil from Iran, this percentage especially important to Italy, Greece, and Spain. Iran could also be very hurt by cutting off its oil supply to other countries, but it is hard to know what outcome Iran really wants. This article compares Iranian relations with other countries to a poker game, each player "maneuver[ing] for advantage with no way of knowing their opponent's ultimate intentions". The situation is ever intensifying.
Jill Laumbacher

Monday, February 20, 2012

Promises of a Russian Military Build- Up by Putin

On Monday, two weeks before the Russian election, Putin laid out his plans to both strengthen and modernize Russia's military over the next decade. This will be done in response to a "threatening" world as well as the power of the US. He claims that in order for Russia to feel secure and for them to hold some leverage over other countries, they must spend $775 billion by 2022 on the military. On top of the build-up, he claims that Russia's response to the missile defense shield of the US will be "effective and asymmetrical" (as quoted in the article). He laid out his plan in an article, which is one of several laying out his platform.

Kathleen Tite

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Syrian Officials Killed Over Bloody Weekend

Over the weekend, a Syrian state prosecutor and a state judge were gunned down in their car, along with at least fourteen other people. The government is once again blaming "terrorists," claiming they are attempting to overthrow the Syrian regime. This comes in the midst of an incredibly dangerous time in Syria; there have been an incredible amount of deaths in the past year, and unfortunately it does not seem to be stopping any time soon. How will the Arab League respond to all of the civil unrest? If no action is taken in the near future, will other countries intervene? The next few months in the Middle East, and in particular, Syria, look to be filled with more killings unless some sort of action is taken.

Lucas Habeeb

Fighting in Russian Caucasus results in 24 dead

Four days of fighting near the border between Chechnya and Dagestan broke out between Muslim insurgents and police. 17 police were killed while the deaths of at least 7 insurgents were confirmed. Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev reported that the government personnel were ambushed. The fighting is stated to be the result of frustration over questionable police tactics, as well as lingering sentiment from 2 wars against Chechen rebels in 1994-95 and 1999. The area's security has been faulty since those times, but this is the greatest death toll in months.

Cody Follis

US military chief cautions against Israeli attack on Iran

US military chief, Martin Dempsey, gave a strong public warning to Israel in regards to military action against Iran. General opinion appears to be that warnis from both the US and Britain have not had much of an impact on Israel's upcoming decision, but we are still in talks to try to dissuade them from pushing forward with military action, which many believe would only further destabilize the situation.

Kaitlyn Gordon

Yemen's next president committed to destroying al Qaeda, US deputy national security adviser says

Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi met with US deputy national security adviser John Brennan in Sanaa, Yemen on Saturday, said he was "very encouraged by [Hadi's] comments" on al Qaeda. "He is committed, as well, to destroy al Qaeda, and I consider him a good and strong counterpart," Brennan explained. Yemenis will hold presidential elections on Tuesday. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is supposed to officially hand power over to Hadi. Protesters have demonstrated for over a year now against Saleh's 33 years of presidency. Because the protests weakened the central government, al Qaeda were able to build up and strengthen their power during that time. However, Saleh has been accused of letting Islamist militants become of tool against his opponents, despite Yemen being an ally of the US on the War on Terror.

There has been some discrepancy about how involved the US is in Yemen. Brennan asserted, "We provide to the Yemeni units that fight al Qaeda advice, assistance, and equipment." Yemen has denied the direct involvement of the US, however there is evidence that the US has been using drones against the Yemeni people.

Rachel Foy

44 Dead in Monterrey Prison Gang Fight

Members of two rival cartels, the Zetas and Gulf cartels, battled with stones and improvised weapons earlier today at a prison in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey. An investigation is already begun seeking to substantiate alleged collusion of the guards in unlocking doors for the prisoners.

Overcrowded is a word commonly used to describe Mexican prisons, as is violent. This prison was designed to hold 1,500 inmates, but houses over 3,000. Drug cartels competing over routes and business in America have been known to fight it out in prisons, but this latest episode is the largest in recent memory.

American drug and gun policy and a steady demand for drugs in America are at the root of the violence in Mexico, and likely conditions will continue to deteriorate in Mexico until those policies are addressed.

Bob Hartzer

German parties agree on Joachim Gauck as new president

Joachim Gauck, a pastor and former East German rights activist, has been proposed by the opposition Social Democrats and Greens after former president Wulff resigned over corruption allegations. Mr Gauck who was opposed Mrs Merkel for presidency in 2010, is now backed by her. "Let's not forget that we have churchmen like Gauck to thank for the success of East Germany's peaceful revolution," she said at a news conference in the Chancellery after a meeting with representatives from her centre-right government and the opposition. "This man can provide an important impetus for the challenges of our time and the future," she added. Mr Gauck is well known for his work as a dissident in East Germany and for running the archives on the Stasi secret police after the Berlin Wall came down, exposing its crimes. In Germany, the president's role is largely ceremonial but influential in terms of a moral authority he plays for the nation.

Yen Do

S. Korea begins military drills despite North's threats.

South Korea plans to hold military drills on islands whose control is currently being disputed with North Korea. North Korea has said that they will respond to any attacks that occur to their territory, forcing South Korea to be wary when they do conduct the attacks. The drills are occurring in an area where four South Koreans were killed by North Korean military drills a few years ago. As of now, North Korea has not conducted any attacks to prevent the testing, but has said that they will die to defend their territory.

Jim Michalik

China and Japan agreed to support euro zone countries.

After the meeting, Chinese vice premier and finance minister and Japanese finance minister have reached an agreement to jointly support the International Monetary Fund and European countries. As the IMF is currently seeking to collect $600 billion to improve situation with debt crisis in Europe, Japan and China expect the IMF ask world’s leading economies for some funding. In this situation, China and Japan are ready to provide some “sizable” amount of money; however, they also expect European countries to be more active in fighting off the crisis. China and Japan also realize the necessity of establishing “flexible” yuan as the currency of their trade with each other instead of currently used dollar. This would significantly facilitate trade between two countries as well as lower currency risks and settlement costs.

Oksana Vernygora 

Iran halts oil sales to UK and France

Halting oil sales is seen as retaliation for tightening sanctions from the EU. The move is largely symbolic, however, since the UK and France don't rely on Iranian oil imports. The European Commission also said that it a 120 day stock of oil should Iran stop oil exports. European oil byers were making large cuts in oil imports from Iran before sanctions were put in place according to industry analysts. Greece is the most exposed should Iran stop exports.

DJ Willey

Shipments of Oil to Britain and France Suspended

Iran has suspended the shipments of oil to Britain and France in an early response of the European Union's to cut off oil imports from Iran and freeze central bank assets. This is seen as a symbolic act by Iran because Britain and France do not rely that heavily on oil from Iran. It is seen as an act against the fact that these two strong nations are trying to stop Iranian nuclear activities and to bring pressure to bear on Syria. This suspension of oil is also seen as a tactic to divide the European Union into countries that need Iranian oil and those that do not. Neither country has commented on the suspension yet and it is clear that Iran must start looking for new customers to buy their oil.

Jessica Connor

Iran 'may boost nuclear program'

A diplomat based in Vienna is reported as saying that Iran may increase their nuclear program. This comes after it the report that Iran appears to be installing thousands of new centrifuges that could speed up their production of enriched uranium which is used in the creation of nuclear power as well as nuclear weapons. Inspectors from the IAEA are due to visit the Iranian capital this week after they were previously denied access to some nuclear sites inside the country. In my opinion the various tensions between Iran and much of the West serve as a catalyst for trying to obtain these weapons capabilities.

by Matthew Draper

Thousands Protest Labor Reforms in Spain

As many as half a million people across Spain marched in protest of a labor reforms that they fear will abolish worker's rights. The intention of the reform is to enable companies to recover from the recent economic crisis and to create jobs, which is important because Spain has an extremely high unemployment rate of 23%. Although it has been said that the reform will create more jobs, no one has explained how and they have already taken away rights from workers. Many believe a general strike is inevitable to restore worker's rights.

Tristan Hunter

U.S., Britain Continue Talks with Israel

Earlier today both the U.S. and Britain spoke out against possible Israeli attacks on Iran. This news comes as tensions continue to rise in the region due to Irans supposed building of a of nuclear bomb. Both the U.S. and Britain are asking that Israel wait a bit longer for the sanctions imposed by the European Union to take full effect. As of now, the sanctions are too premature to have had any real effect. Israel has been happy to accept the sanctions, but still has yet to rule out military force if the sanctions prove to be weak.This all comes in the wake of Iran announcing that it will cut oil distribution to France and Britain, a major blow to the efforts of the European Union. As a side note, the European Union makes up about eighteen percent of Iran's oil exports.

By: Tyler Lundquist

15 killed in suicide blast targeting Baghdad police academy

A suicide car bomber blew up his car in front of a Baghdad police academy resulting in the deaths of at least 15 people. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks but it is widely believed to be related to Al Qaeda. The academy is the only one in the city and is within the heavily guarded ministry compound. The bomber was able to get so close because the academy has a separate entrance. The bomber was near the entrance and waited for a group of recruits to walk out of the door and then drove up and exploded the car outside the entrance.

Jordan Tassio

William Hague Says the Eurozone Was Built With No Exists

On Monday Eurozone finance ministers will be ready to discuss a 130 bn euro bailout package for Greece. According to Foreign Secretary William Hague Greece will face numerous problems if it abandons the euro and begins to distribute its old currency once again, which in fact is not readily available at this point of time. Moreover, shadow chancellor Ed Balls is criticizing the steps Germany is taking to support the eurozone arguing the fact that if Greece does stay with the euro it will certainly experience slow growth and high unemployment rates for quite some time. Germany and the European Central Bank are not able to take on the obligations that a single currency brings as well. Nevertheless, Mr. Hague believes that more fiscal and political integration is needed in order to make the euro work.

By Aleksandra Ruseva

US Senators, Afghan leaders discuss long-term partnership

5 US Senators (including John McCain) met with Afghan president Hamid Karzai to discuss the parameters of a long-term partnership amid the drawback of US troops out of Afghanistan. A key issue in the matter is American-led night raids to take out Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. McCain was unsympathetic to Karzai's demands to curb the night raids, which he says cause unnecessary civilian deaths. Another key issue is Karzai's demand that the US handover their detention facilities to Afghanistan. Without the US considering these issues, Karzai will not sign a partnership agreement. NATO forces and American troops are scheduled to leave by 2014, and McCain highlighted the necessity of forming a partnership agreement very soon. McCain is doubtful about any agreement with the Taliban, citing that Obama's announcement of military drawback has diminished the insurgency's willingness to negotiate.

Jill Laumbacher

Presidential Elections Delayed in Egypt

While Egypt awaits the trial of their ex-leader Mubarak, accused of ordering the killing of demonstrators and those that opposed him, Egyptians are eager to see a transition of power back to an elected president. Currently, the Egyptian military has retained power, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) has said it would step away from power once a president is nominated. However, the public fears that with the delay in elections and frustration with the Scaf that the military will retain considerable influence over the new government. Since Mubarak stepped down a year ago, the transition into a new governmental system has been slow. Some forward movement came from the parliamentary elections already held and the first session was earlier this February. The assembly is majority Islamist parties, such as the Islamic brotherhood.It will be interesting how the United States decides to approach the new parliament and future president of Egypt or if the United States continues to deal more with the Egyptian military.

To read more:

-Kathleen Fultz

Iran 'halts oil sales to France and Britain'

Iran's national oil ministry has halted the sale of oil to British and French companies. A spokesman cam out and stated Iran would be looking for new companies to sell to. These actions are in response to European Union states voting on banning the import of Iranian oil earlier this month. The EU vote was a new way to put pressure on the Iranian government to halt its production of enriched uranium, which maybe used for energy or for nuclear war heads.
Iran's new position on selling oil is not expected to have a major impact on either the British or French economy as only 3% of France's oil comes from Iran and the British imported even less. However some EU states namely Greece, Spain and Italy are relatively dependent on Iranian oil and will need to search elsewhere for supply. As a whole the EU buys around 20% of Iran's crude oil, which accounts for much of the governments revenue.

As the world demand for crude oil continues to rise Iran should have no problem finding other buyers for their product. With China already the largest singular country importer of Iranian crude oil and their demand on the rise the Iranian government is not losing sleep over the EU sanctions which will be in full effect by summer.

Nicole LeDonne

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sudan and South Sudan fail to end oil dispute

The talks between Sudan and South Sudan ended in a stalemate. Since the south seceded and became independent last July, the issues have included the demarcation of the border separating the nations, the status of citizens in each country, and "oil." South Sudan, who has most of the oil, but because of her landlocked geographic status, has to depend on the pipelines and facilities in the north to export it. Last month, South Sudan stopped its oil production in protest, accusing Sudan of stealing $815 million worth of oil and announcing that it would seek to construct alternative pipelines to Kenya and Djibouti. According to Mr. El-Affendi, Professor of the University of Westminster in London, “The southern leadership has unleashed powerful nationalist sentiments over the oil issue, which would be difficult to contain and would constrain the leadership’s ability to make concessions in the short term.” In addition, without a cease-fire in border and citizenship conflicts, it is hard to anchor one's hope on a new round of negotiations which has been set for the end of this month.

Sophia Park

Iran Upping Nuke Programs

Iran made some comments Saturday that they may "boost nuclear program" and appear ready to implement new centrifuges, necessary for enriching uranium. The IAEA are set to met with the Iranian government for inspections within the next week after being denied access to enrichment sites last month. Iran said these new centrifuges, which number in the thousands, would be able to enrich uranium faster than what was previously done. Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak said there are no plans to military intervene with Iran at this time.

Erik Brown

Friday, February 17, 2012

German President Wulff resigns

During a scandal that appeared to take place during his run as state premier the German President finds himself in a bit of a sticky situation. The argument over weather or not the President is to receive immunity for his alleged bribes is leaning toward the idea that he will not get immunity. The story came out last December on a German tabloid. It has since been the case that the former President has plead his case that he has done nothing legally wrong and the truth will show. However the agency investigating the issue says it has evidence in document form that explains he did except bribes. It will be interesting to see if the reason for his sudden departure will be because he was accepting bribes, or just because of the negative publicity he has been recieving. With all this said it really reflects poorly on German chancellor Merkel's backing of the last two presidential figures. Could this influence the way in which Germany is dealing with the Europe bailout on which their stance has been such a tough one?

Dan Vogrin

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Talian refuses to hold meetings with Afghan Government

As of recently the Taliban has held meetings and plans to hold meetings with the united states regarding peace efforts. Afghanistans president Karzai publicly announced that the Afghan government has also held talks with the Taliban and that the U.S. Afghanistan and Taliban have all been in on these talks. However, a Taliban spokesperson denounced this statement saying the Taliban has never and will never negotiate with Karzais government. The taliban also states that this was a propaganda move and to show who still holds power in Afghanistan which they say basically they have and that Karzai has little power. If Karzai believes these talks did in fact happen then there is a fake Taliban member and they are not willing to in fact work with him. This is important because the Taliban clearly thinks they have the power in Afghanistan but do the Afghani people think this? Do the Afghani people think Karzai has the power? It will be interesting to see if the Taliban will ever work with Afghanistan and if they will ever reach any agreements with the United States.

Katie Kruse

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

China placing limits on foreign television programs

The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television in China has banned the broadcasting of foreign television shows during prime time hours. In addition, foreign television shows are prohibited from running more than fifty episodes or comprising more than 25% of total programming. Channels are not allowed to show an abundance of foreign television shows from a single area and all programs must be pre-approved for content prior to airing. The regulators have stated that the purpose of these requirements is to improve the quality of imported television shows and to protect China from Western influence. Many see this as an attempt by the Communist Party to regain control of Chinese culture.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bombing of Israeli Embassy Van Results in Fingerpointing

On Monday, a bomb attached to a Israeli Embassy van exploded in New Dehli, injuring four. A similar bomb was found on a embassy car in Georgia, which was set off in a controlled explosion, in which no one was injured. These events lead to fingerpointing between Iran and Israel as to who was responsible. The Prime Minister of Israel, Bejamin Netanyahu, maintains that Iran is behind attacks, and calls then the largest exporter of terror. However, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry blames Israel for the attacks against their own embassy, as a way to ruin the relationship between Iran and the host countries. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, condemned the attacks in a written statement, and maintained that the US will assist any investigations regarding these events. Clearly, the situation is very tense, and appears as if it will only get worse.

Kathleen Tite

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Dual Citizenship"

The island of St. Kitts and Nevis has been in economic danger since the falling in the price of sugarcane, the islands main export for decades. To make up for losses, the island has now started to sell citizenship for a reasonable 250,000 dollars. What is the appeal? The island allows its citizens to travel visa free to over one hundred different nations including Canada and all of Europe. Citizens are also exempt from personal income taxes, and the island is perfect for serving as a safe haven for a desired quick move. To date, the process seems to appealing to many people. One man from Chicago has already filed for his dual citizenship as he feared the Occupy Movement would eventually turn into riots. This is however, not the only country trying this method out. Austria is now said to be in talks of offering citizenship for money as well. Important to note, however, is that the 250,000 dollars goes towards the sugar cane industry on the island. More specifically, to the retired workers.

By: Tyler Lundquist

Capriles cruises to victory in Venezuela's Primary Election

State Governor Henrique Capriles has garnered 62% of the vote in the primary elections for the Venezuelan Presidency and is set to run against Hugo Chavez. He's appealing to the voters across a wide range and is currently running as a follower of the left-center philosophy. Regardless of who won the primary, all the candidates have stated that they will support whoever wins the primary, meaning that Chavez is going to possibly have a tough race on his hands if the people can get behind Capriles. Constituents are saying that Chavez, who is running for his fourth term, says that he will fix the problems that have been around since his first term, and that if the candidates want to stand any chance of defeating him, they have to be united.
Jim Michalik

Risks of Afghan War Shift From Soldiers to Contractors

Parallel with Iraq, where contractor deaths exceeded military deaths since 2009, more civilian contractors working for American companies deaths than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year. There, American employers have no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not. As a result, most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted and even their survivors were left uncompensated. The bulk of the known contractor deaths are concentrated among a handful of major companies providing interpreters, drivers, security guards and other support personnel who are particularly vulnerable to attacks.

Sophia Park

Pakistan Prime Minister charged with contempt, faces jail

The Pakistani Prime Minister has been charged with contempt by the Supreme Court at the beginning of week in Asia. Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani has been accused of not conducting corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari who had been accused of laundering bribes through a Swiss bank account. The PM argues that the president "has the immunity as the head of State." Along with this, the president has said that the charges against him is politically motivated.

Mr Gilani will face being jailed and barred from office if convicted.

Yen Do

Pentagon draws up 'internal review' as US searches for way to stop Syria killing

As the oppression in Syria continues to escalate, the Obama administration has been going through an internal review in order to come up with contingency plans for how to best intervene in the situation to end the killings. With the recent China and Russia veto in the UN security council, there have been increasing calls for American intervention. While military action is being considered, Obama has made it clear that he has no intention for a Libya-like intervention. However, they are not taking any plans off the table yet.

Kaitlyn Gordon

Bali bombing suspect Umar Patek on trial in Indonesia

Assumed to be a victory for Indonesia's anti-terror forces, Umar Patek, the man behind the 2002 Bali bombing which killed 202 people is now facing trial. Patek is allegedly a member of Jemaah Islamiah (JI). This group has been linked to terrorist attacks and may be connected to al-Qaeda. In fact, Patek was found hiding in the same town as the al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden. After discovered, Patek was brought back to Indonesia. The JI and other terrorist groups in Indonesia have been carrying out attacks with the intention of making Indonesia an Islamic state. These attacks have been against foreigners, officials, and minority groups. The attack in which Patek is being tried for producing the bombs, ended up killing people from over 21 countries, including 38 from Indonesia. It will be interesting to see what Indonesia's next move will be, with attacks still occurring there soon might be a cry for international help... But will the world answer???

-Kathleen Fultz

Greek MPs pass austerity plan amid violent protests

After a lot of hard work Greece's parliament passed a package of austerity measures in complacence with the eurozone and the IMF demands. The package was passed 199 to 74 while parliament was voting mass protests were taking place outside the parliament building. Several buildings were set a blaze and the police had to use tear gas to put the crowd down. The public is outraged at the governments action and more violence is expected in the coming weeks. The austerity package includes huge cuts in public sector jobs as well as a large scale down of minimum wage and other conditions. This all came about when Greece was unable to pay back its loans and fear of a default could throw off the entire eurozone and increase financial instability across Europe.

Nicole LeDonne

New Governmnet in Romania

Violent protests that erupted in January in opposition to proposed health care reforms led Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc to step down this year to alleviate social unrest. Mr. Boc's Democratic Liberal party has also lost control of the Senate and fallen to 15 percent approval rating. Austerity measures conditional to the IMF bailout Romania needs are at the root of the turmoil, but Romania's GDP is growing supposedly by 1.5% this year. This would seemingly put Romania in a considerably better situation that (say) Greece. However, instability in the government and low approval ratings are sure to make any foreign investor nervous and are bad for domestic business too.

Boc might have saved the country from collapse by essentially turning the government over to the opposition party. The decision to privatize some sort of emergency medical system, which was unpopular enough to prompt fires in the streets and fighting with police, might have been better presented to the Romanian people, or possibly could have been implemented incrementally.

Bob Hartzer

Admiral of Special Forces Wants More Power

The Admiral that leads the Special Operations forces is wanting to move his forces faster and outside of normal deployment channels. Being the admiral that oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, William H. McRaven believes he deserves more of a say in what happens with his forces. The Special Operations forces usually are involved in American foreign policy but McRaven wants his forces to be deal with other areas as well. The plan is to involve the forces where there is more of a chance of war.
Jessica Connor

Seizure of 15 tons of meth by Mexican forces.

The Mexican Army seized 15 tons of methamphetamine during a raid on Tuesday, February 7. The raid took place at a hidden laboratory in a remote portion of the state of Jalisco. Also taken during the raid was 2.5 tons of caustic soda and other drug making supplies. This was the seventh raid in the area in the last year. This shows the ongoing attempts by the Mexican government to combat the presence of drug cartels in Mexico.

Cody Follis

Greek Parliament Passes Austerity Package

Greece's parliament finally passed the austerity measures that the European Union and the IMF required for Greece to receive the 130 billion bailout money. The package includes 15,000 public-sector job cuts, liberalization of labor laws, and lowering minimum wage by 20% among other things. This sparked demonstrations in Athens in which some estimates claim that the demonstration was around 80,000 people strong. Several buildings had caught fire as a result of violent protesters hurling flares. Hopefully the passing of the austerity package will prevent a financial collapse that will most likely spread to other parts of Europe and the world.

by Matthew Draper

Mexico Presidential Candidate

Last week Mexicos National Action Party announced their presidential candidate, who happens to be a women, and the first woman at that, to run for the mexican presidency. She won 55% of the vote compared to her opponent who only received 38% of the vote. What is different about mexican presidencies is that only party members vote in the primaries. Vasquez is not the front runner but she is only 20 points behind in national polls. Her accomplishments and credentials fo the job include minister of education and social development and is the head of her party in the lower house. If elected it will be a huge turning point for the country, mainly because she would be the first woman to be president in Mexico. I think this is particularly interesting because woman leaders are said to be more nurturing and using less action and more cooperation as their leadership styles and it would be interesting to see how a woman deals with the dug cartels, etc.

Katie Kruse

American Women Deported From Bahrain

Two American women were deported from Bahrain on February 11 on the grounds that they were aiding anti-government activists. They were arrested at a protest in Manana, Bahrain's capital, and ordered out of the country. They have been accused of violating the rules of their tourist visas by joining protests to report on them. The protests are created by Shiites that want greater political and security power, they demand that the monarchy gives up some of its power. In the unrest, at least 40 people have died.

Tristan Hunter

Al Qaeda Encouraging Muslims to Help Syrians

Over the weekend, Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, released a videotape of him calling on Muslims of all nations to assist the Syrian rebels in overturning the government. Syrian President Bashar al Assad has been cracking down on the civil uprisings that have been occurring, resulting in more than 6,000 deaths in less than a year. What is interesting is that Al Qaeda has been relatively out of the news as of late, especially with all of the unrest in the Middle East. A meeting is scheduled for today to address the unrest in Syria, along with the possibility of Muslims attempting to cross Syrian borders in order to help the rebellious natives.

Lucas Habeeb

Peruvian Extreme Leftist, Drug Dealer Finally Captured.

Peru has captured one of the leaders of what remains of the extreme left movement. "Comrade Artemio" was the leader of the "Shining Path" group and was seriously injured in a firefight in the remote reaches of the Peruvian jungles. Florindo Eleuterio Flores, better known as "Artemio" was also involved in drug trafficking, as "Peru is the world's top grower of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine". Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has fought against the group since he was in the military in the 1990's. The U.S. State Department had offered up to five million dollars ($5,000,000) for his capture or hints to his arrest for drug trafficking and terrorist attacks on Lima, the capital city of Peru.

The U.S. State Department page on "Artemio"

Article on the topic:

Erik Brown

Irans nuclear capabilities

Irans presdident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to announce what he calls "great nuclear achievements" in the coming days. This idea is very scary noting the stance that he has taken with the world. He claims that the west will no longer push Iran around and will continue what Iran is doing in accordance with its nuclear program. Mahmoud also argue that they will not be influenced by the wests finiancial embargos placed on their bank and country. It will be interesting to see what he announces Iran has done with there nuclear program in the days to follow, and what Iran plans to do with this nuclear capabilities.

Dan Vogrin

Saturday, February 11, 2012

US trade panel approves probes on imports that may lead to steep import duties.

On Friday, February 10th, US trade panel approved probes on imports from South Korea, Mexico, Vietnam, China, and Taiwan. According to the International Trade Commission, imports from these countries are harmful to American producers. American manufactures of washing machines accuse their Asian rivals in undercutting fair market prices on their products by significant amounts. American Wind Tower Trade Coalition faces the same problem and alleged that China and Vietnam sell their wind towers at prices 200 and 140 percent below those of American producers. Such investigations may lead to imposing duties on imports from China, Vietnam, Mexico, Taiwan, and South Korea. However, there is a fear that these duties may harm international trade cooperation as well as cooperation in the clean energy sector. 
Oksana Vernygora

Friday, February 10, 2012

Somalia's al-Shabab join Al-Qaeda

The leader of the Islamist militant group that controls much of Somalia released a video in which he pledges obedience to al-Qaeda. The al-Shabab is facing pressure from African Union troops, as well as Ethiopian and Kenyan forces, who are trying to push the islamists out of control. They have succeeded in taking back the capital of Mogadishu, but the al-Shabab still controls much of the southern and central areas of the failed country. The al-Shabab have recently begun losing support because of the poorly handled drought, which although over, has left a third of the population in need of immediate feeding. Analysts say that al-Qaeda is trying to gain back power and influence lost after bin Laden was killed. The UK government is holding a conference later this month to try to find solutions for Somalia's problems including piracy and extremism.

Jill Laumbacher

Syria Unrest: Aleppo Bomb Attacks ‘Kill 28’

Two bombs targeting security compounds in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, have killed 28 people and wounded another 235. Nevertheless, the nation is once again grieving considering the fact that one of the bombs went off near a park where several children were killed and “martyred”. According to state television programs the death toll includes both members of the security forces and civilians. “Armed terrorist gangs” are being blamed for the attacks; however, the rebel Free Syrian Army, who was operating in the region during that time, is claiming that it is not responsible for the bombing. Col Makil al-Kurdi, the FSA’s deputy leader, believes that it was the work of the regime attempting to suppress the operation of the FSA. The article also goes on to discuss previous attack in Aleppo due to terrorist bombing attacks.

Aleksandra Ruseva

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pakistan Supreme Court to hold a hearing for the ISI

A hearing that was scheduled to take place Thursday was postponed to Friday due to other hearings taking much of the day. The ISI was ordered to bring seven that it was accused of holding since 2010 and to explain why four other men died while detained. The lawyer for the ISI, who was present, did not bring the men however.

Rohaifa Bibi is taking on the ISI due to the death of her son, Abdul Saboor. Few people actually take on the ISI due to its reputation and no one from the agency has ever been put on trial. The involvement of the Supreme Court could change this. The Court ordered the ISI to explain why the 11 were arrested and why 4 of them died.

DJ Willey

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Iran parliament summons President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

It appears that Iranian President Ahmadinejad is in some hot water with the Iranian Parliament.

This is the first summons of an Iranian President since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The main reason behind this summons is the current state of the Iranian economy. Leading officials and clerics have questions for Ahmadinejad as to why the economy has deteriorated to the point that it has and also some of the reasoning behind his foreign and domestic policy decisions.

It is also no secret that there are mounting disagreements between Ahmadinejad and higher officials. According to the article,

"Although they focus on the economy - seeking explanations for perceived failures to enact legislation, tackle unemployment and pay subsidies - some delve into the rift between Mr Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which has been widening for some time."

This could mean a shake up in upcoming elections and could certainly weaken Ahmadinejad, though he cannot stand for a third term. May of the Presidents decisions have been questioned and/or reversed by the Iranian Parliament over the last year. It will be interesting to see which direction this trend will take.

Post by: Rima Gungor

Syria crisis: Gulf Arab states expel Syrian ambassadors

As we can see, the situation in Syria continues to deterioate.

The United States closed its embassy as of Monday and several European countries have recalled their ambassadors. This comes from the Syrian government's decision to push its assault on Homs and the Russian delegation's visit to Damascus earlier this week.

However, Russia has made an odd shift in its position in this issue just days after it vetoed the UN Resolution with China. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has called for a solution based on solutions presented by the Arab League.

"Mr Lavrov called for a solution to the crisis based on initiatives put forward by the Arab League on 2 November 2011 to end the violence, though he has given no indication that Russia supports the league's more recent call for Mr Assad to step down.

He said Damascus was ready for a larger Arab mission to monitor peace efforts, and would set a date for a constitutional referendum."

Lavrov also commented that the West's reaction to Russia's veto vote bordered on "hysteria."

Meanwhile the deathtoll is rising. The number has reached 7,000, however, no one can really confirm.

Post by: Rima Gungor

Citigroup to launch credit cards in China

The banking regulator of China approved a move by Citigroup, a U.S. based bank, to offer credit cards to Chinese individuals. This Chinese sect of Citigroup will be the first non-Asian bank to launch credit cards in China. The bank is hoping to capitalize on the recently booming consumer culture in China. Citibank branches are already operating in thirteen Chinese cities. The bank views this step as a big milestone in the business between Citigroup and China.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Monday, February 6, 2012

Queen Elizabeth Celebrates 60 years on the Throne

It has been sixty years on Monday that the Queen of England has held the throne. The celebration of this is called the Diamond Jubilee, which started on Monday and goes until June. It began with a 41- gun salute in Hyde Park in London, and then a 21- gun salute in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Queen is the oldest British monarch, but she is not the longest reigning one. Her great-great grandmother, Victoria was. Originally, Queen Elizabeth was not in line to get the throne. Her Uncle Edward advocated the throne to marry the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, which allowed Elizabeth's father to become the King, and her the Queen when he passed away in 1952, when she was 25 years old. The Queen has no political power, but is a powerful figurehead and the Head of State for the sixteen countries that were once part of the British Empire.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trial of Saidf Gadhafi looms near

Libya's interior minister has stated that the son of Moammar Gadhafi, Saif Gadhafi, could go on trial within the next few months. The trial comes after Saif's capture in November. Also of note are the military trials of those associated with Gadhafi's regime in Libya. It has been stated that even civilians that fought for the regime will be tried in military courts. All of these trials and other legal matters are happening concurrently with attempts on the part of the Libyan government to better unite the nation and build a security force of remnant militias and fighters from the revolt.

Cody Follis

N. Korea Opens Door to Talks with S. Korea

North Korea has said it is open to immediate talks with South Korea in an effort to improve its relations with the international community. A US diplomat has stated that America is ready to negotiate the nuclear standoff with North Korea if the country will improve it relations with South Korea. However, North Korea has several preconditions. North Korea has a long list of "wrongs" committed by South Korea that they have demanded an apology for. Also, North Korea is also demanding that South Korea discontinue its military drills, stating "It does not make sense to sit face to face with (an) enemy carrying a dagger by the belt and talk about peace." South Korea is very willing to work with North Korea, but without all of the preconditions. South Korea is not taking North Korea very seriously with all of the preconditions and demands. Knowing this, North Korea is attempting to make South Korea look like the uncooperative country, saying that they are being the difficult ones. However, the international community definitely knows better.

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has released a document of one thousand pages on his rule of Cuba. I thought it was interesting noting the relevance to our class time discussion. The documents stem from the beginning in of the revolution in Cuba, to the last days as the dictator before he handed the dictatorship to his brother Raul. It should be very interesting getting his perspective and why he allowed what happened to occur! A significant third party's perspective is a very interesting thought.

-Dan Vogrin

Shootout at Sotuh Sudan Peace Meeting

Earlier today at least thirty-seven people were killed at what was supposed to be a peaceful resolution over a cattle dispute in South Sudan. During the meeting, four pickup turcks bearing armed men appeared and started firing upon the Mayendit County commisioners compound. The men are all to be from either SPLA or SSPS. One of the wounded was a U.N. officer, who is now in stable condition. This meeting is in response to a string of cattleraids, where one village will raid another for its cattle and kill defenssless civilians; mainly woman and children.

By:Tyler Lundquist

China cut off internet in area of Tibetan unrest

China has cut off mobile phone and internet access in areas of Tibet that have seen protesters shot dead in the past few months. Officials claim that officers only opened fire in defense, after attempts at dispersing rioters with high pressured water guns and rubber bullets failed. Tibetan exiles however, are claiming that shots were fired on peaceful protesters. Internet access has been cut off in these areas due to the belief that external influences contributed to the protests. This is not the first time that China has done this, as they shut down access after riots in North Eastern Xinjiang in 2009 left over 200 dead.

By: Kaitlyn Gordon

Greece Agrees to Harsh New Spending Cuts as Lenders Ratchet Up the Pressure

During tough talks this weekend the Greek government agreed to sharp cut backs but failed to avoid default on massive loans. The three main branches of government agreed to cut spending by 1.5 of the GDP. As a part of this agreement lenders will reduce the debt by almost 70%. Between the three parties there is still a large divide over how the new system should be run that could possibly jeopardize the whole deal.
On an international level the heat was turned up by leaders in the IMF, the European Commission and European Central bank in order to get the slow moving Greek government moving. There conditions are that Greece remove over 15o,000 jobs from the private sector and cut supplemental pensions and introduce private-sector wage cuts in order to receive bailout money that Greece needs to avoid default in March.
Tense political talks continue as elections draw closer in Greece. With much of the country upset with current leadership due to the large cut backs required of international monetary aid. The Euro zone is preparing for a large overhaul in the Greek government this spring.

Nicole LeDonne

19 Americans Facing Trial in Egypt

The thirty year alliance between the United States and Egypt has been shaken a problem over foreign funding in Egypt. Egypt's government said that they are putting 19 Americans and 24 others on trial for the foreign funding of nonprofit organization. There is already so much tension in Egypt with their people protesting in the streets, the country needs much foreign aid, and Islamist Parliament members are in negotiation with military leaders to set the country for a long time. This is a problem if these 19 Americans face trial because America was going to give $1.55 billion in aid to Egypt. If this trial happens to these Americans then the aid might not happen, but it would ruin an alliance that has lasted a while. So what will the United States choose? To ruin an alliance or let Egypt try American citizens?

Jessica Connor

U.S. and Israel: Trying to gauge each other on Iran

According to reports, Israeli and U.S officials have met to talk about what the U.S response would be if Israel made a preemptive attack on Iran. These attacks could take place as early as this Spring. U.S officials believe that Iran would retaliate across possibly the whole region. The U.S wants Israel to wait some more time in order for the sanctions against Iran to be fully in effect. Israel has also made it seem, at least to U.S officials, that they would be willing to strike Iran without letting the U.S know ahead of time.

Jordan Tassio

Munich Security Conference to Reassure Europe on Defense

The US Defense Secretary Panetta and Secretary of State Clinton participated in Munich Security Conference. It was the first time that the two American secretaries appeared jointly which was to designed to assure the purpose of the US to put emphasis on the relationship between Europe. The anxiety of Europe began from the defense cuts and the withdrawal of two American combat brigades. In the address of Ms. Clinton, especially, the US tried to convince Europe that the fundamental partership between the US and Europe continues, in spite of the US' focus more toward the Asia-Pacific region. However, many European officers said that "the changing American focus marked a major strategic shift," which begun with the Libyan war, where the US and Europe failed to understand each other's position. Now, the US has about 80,000 military personnel at 28 military bases in Europe. During the Cold War, the US had kept large troops in Europe to protect the region from the Red Army. For the recent decades, however, as the military focus of the US has moved, many of the forces also moved to another areas as needed such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

Sophia Park

Obama Says He Deserves a Second Term

In a pre-Super Bowl interview, President Barack Obama said that he needs another term to allow the economy to fully recover, noting that he has created numerous jobs in the past two years. He stated that, although we've made progress, we need to "return to old-fashioned American values" and stay on course to keep our economy strong. Concerning Irna's nuclear development, he stated that they are going to try to resolve the issue diplomatically and that the top priority is the security of the U.S. and Israel. He declined to predict the winners of the superbowl, however.

Tristan Hunter

Anti-government protesters pack the center of Moscow

On Saturday, a third massive anti-government protest occurred in Moscow since the beginning of December. These demonstrations were set off by Parliamentary elections on December 4th, which were widely criticized as being fraudulent. These elections brought to light some of Russia's major frustrations over teacher salaries, health care and corruption. It is nearly certain that Vladamir Putin (whose extremely centralized style has angered many Russians) will once again win the presidential election coming up next month. The protest movement against Putin has not developed into a coherent political force, and lacks a leader strong enough to challenge Putin. But the message of the people is clear: Putin can't continue to rule the same way he has in the past. Urban, middle-class voters are anxious to see a more competitive political system, and Putin's rule seems to be an anachronism of Russia's past. It is interesting to note that the same day as the anti-government rally, the government set up a series of pro-government rallies for the media to focus on. Police stated that approx. 138,000 people showed up to support the government, but journalists say that estimate is exaggerated, and that several people interviewed refused to comment on the reason they showed up.

Jill Laumbacher