The Playboy.com Global Report: April 5, 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart

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This weeks top international news: space launch drama, Eurasian Union, & Caspian pipeline.


American officials confirmed late last week that a Canadian intelligence official who was detained for giving information to Russia in January, had access to top-secret files from the Five Eyes: an alliance group comprised of the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, & New Zealand. This development will most likely hurt the Canadian-American relationship in terms of intelligence sharing for the future, which will be a setback considering the security protocols in place since 2001.

In what should be yet another upset to the Ukrainian-Russian relationship, Ukraine announced yesterday that it was interested in participating in the proposed Trans-Caspian Pipeline project that would deliver gas from Central Asia to Central Europe. If carried out, the pipeline would bypass both Russia and Iran and deny both these oil-rich nations the chance to levy taxes, and use the pipeline for political reasons. This is a very tactical move for Ukraine to make, especially as Russia attempts to lure it into the new Eurasian Union.

Portugal declared on Finnish TV yesterday that the EU should be ready to provide additional aid to the country in the near future. Portugal received $101.8B (78bn euro) in loans from the EU last May. While shelling out more money is the last thing the EU wants to do at the moment, last week’s decision to increase its bailout fund to 940bn probably came at a good time.

The UN peacekeeping team is due to arrive in Syria today, as government troops begin to withdraw from around the country. As Kofi Annan’s six-part peace process comes into effect, we would expect more international delegations are expected to be asked to help oversee the transition to peace. While things may seem to be on the right track with this crisis, a number of unanswered questions remain, most notably the US’ calls for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step down. We anticipate this will come to a head sooner than later, and will require the US convincing Russia to side with them on this issue for change to take place.

For the top news from Africa, Asia, and Oceania, click below.

Radical Islamist group Shabab set off a bomb during an official ceremony in Somalia’s capital yesterday, killing four and injuring 10. Despite almost 10,000 African Union soldiers attempting to keep the peace, the capital city of Mogadishu has been in a state of chaos due to 21 years of civil war.

Senegal announced yesterday that a Grammy-winner Youssou N’dour has been named minister for culture and tourism. An unusual move on the country’s part, but it will be useful in promoting visibility for the small West African nation.

The ITAR-TASS Russian News Agency reported earlier today that Central Asian nation Kyrgyzstan, has asked to join the Common Economic Space, part of Russia’s upcoming Eurasian Union initiative set to launch in 2015. Kyrgyzstan’s involvement is not completely surprising, considering its President Almazbek Atambayev once voted to preserve the Soviet Union years ago. From here on, we can most likely expect other Central Asian nations to follow suit over the next year.

With North Korea still not backing down from its planned satellite (aka. missile launch) between April 12 and 16, Japan, South Korea, and the US have gone into preparation mode by activating missile defense shields in case the target needs to be shot out of the sky. However, the big question posed by some experts right now is what flight path the missile may take. Since aiming north would have the country facing the wrath of China and Russia, and going over Japan caused a political firestorm last time in 2009, the most likely option to launch would be southwest over the Philippines. While probably the safest opinion in terms of not getting fired back on if the missile did hit land, we’d stake that the Philippine government isn’t too pleased about it nonetheless.

Authorities in New South Wales, Australia are figuring out that it may be less costly to let traffic offenders off the hook then to chase them down. In figures released in tomorrow’s Sydney Morning Herald, police pursuits in the past seven years have resulted in 388 injuries and 15 deaths. The sad truth of the matter is that 61 per cent of these chases were due to traffic violations, which make these deaths a high price to pay for occasionally running a red.

In creature feature news, a shark, though to be a great white, killed a man last Saturday off Stratham Beach in southwestern Australia. The news of the fourth deadly shark attack since last September has restarted calls for a cull of sharks found close to shore.


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