The Global Report: April 19, 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart

We decipher the top international news this week including missile wars, explosions in Iraq, and the Summit of the Americas

Welcome to the Global Report: our weekly column of the most important issues happening across the planet. From politics to war, monarchies to dictatorships, and everything in-between, we’ve got it covered. It’s world news, style.

In what Cuba is calling a “rebellion” of sorts, several Western Hemisphere leaders at the 6th Summit of the Americas in Colombia last weekend stated that the regional group should not meet again until the exclusion of Cuba has ended. The US, along with long-time ally Canada opposed calls for the US to lift its cold-war era embargo on the country as the Castro brothers have still not accepted democracy and a respectable level of basic human rights. This diplomatic confrontation left the conclusion of the summit without a sound resolution on how to proceed, and may set the stage for some international drama closer to the 2015 Summit due to take place in Panama.

In related news, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton let loose drinking and dancing while down in South America, this is even better than texts from Hillary last week! With this recent popularity, we’re definitely calling a 2016 run at the White House now.

WikiLeaks founder and sworn enemy of the US, Julian Assange launched his new television show on Russian airwaves Tuesday as he continues his house-arrest in the UK. Assange, who is being held as courts debate whether he is to be extradited to Sweden as part of a European-wide arrest warrant for sexual assault allegations brought upon him in 2010. The show, which is centered on the theme of ‘the world tomorrow,’ launched with yet another highly wanted individual as guest, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah who spoke from a secret location in Lebanon. A bold move for Assange, but could become a quite popular alternative forum with other controversial interview subjects.

Our favorite royal behind, belonging to Pippa Middleton, was embroiled in controversy last weekend in France as the driver of the car she was riding in brandished a gun towards the trailing paparazzi. While official sources are stating the gun was a toy, we hope the future Queen’s sister keeps herself in better company in the future. Long live Pippa Middleton…and her fine British tush.

A number of explosions hit the Iraqi capital of Baghdad earlier today, with reports indicating at least 31 dead and over 50 injured. This violence follows the recent trend in the city of several months of low death tolls followed by a more dramatic attack. No attribution for the explosions has been released by the government at the present moment.

Sudan and South Sudan continued their conflict over the Heglig oil region this week with neither side responding to international pressure to stand down. While South Sudan has made assurances to the African union that it will withdraw once a cease fire is agreed to, additional attacks from Sudan have prompted the country to stand its ground. To reiterate our words from last week, this confrontation will not come to a close without a UN resolution over the oil fields; as whichever state controls the primary energy source, will also control the economic value of it.

International condemnation of North Korea’s failed satellite launch aka. long-range missile test last week, may have more dire consequences than previously thought. While the test blatantly showed that the country lacked the power to deliver a weapons payload outside its immediate vicinity, the resulting humiliation seems to have struck a nerve with fledgling leader Kim Jong-Un. In retaliation for renewed sanctions, including dismissing the deal Pyongyang recently made with Washington to swap food aid for abandoning nuclear material enrichment, North Korea has declared the US and allies to be acting in a hostile manner, and will reportedly attempt a third nuclear test. While previous tests in 2006 and 2009 used relatively small nuclear yields, several analysts expect that a third test may use a more enriched form of uranium which could produce substantially higher power.

In anticipation of increased tensions, South Korea announced today that it will deploy its new mid-range cruise missile as a deterrence measure. The missile, which reportedly has the ability to hit a target within 2 meters anywhere in North Korea, can carry a maximum payload of a 450-kilogram warhead. With this in mind, we believe that neighbor China will most likely have some strong words for Jong-Un to deter any escalation of conflict in the region.

In more missile news, India successfully tested its nuclear-capable Agni-V missile earlier today is what could be seen as the next step of military modernization for the country. Hot on the heels of North Korea’s failed long-range launch last week, we wouldn’t be surprised to see criticism of this test work its way on to the international stage over the next day or two…most likely fueled by neighbor and rival Pakistan.

The creatures of Down Under have been relatively quiet this week (thankfully), so check back next week for more news!


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