The Global Report: March 22, 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart scopes the top international news of the week.

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.

The US is racing against a deadline to name a Presidential nominee to head the World Bank. Multiple names floating around include Susan Rice (US Ambassador to the UN), and Lawrence Summer (former adviser to President Barak Obama). The choice will mark an important step for Obama due to the influence this monetary body commands on the global level. Rice has had a tough stance within the UN, though rumors of her eying the soon-to-be vacant Secretary of State position, post-Clinton, could keep her off the ballot.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit the length of Mexico on Tuesday cutting off power and damaging homes and infrastructure.  While about a dozen injuries have been reported, there have been no confirmed deaths.

Poland released a report yesterday claiming its shale gas reserves are 85 percent less than the US Dept. of Energy estimate from last year. Shale gas, a form of natural gas derived from unconventional rock-clay formations, is expected to be a major supply of energy in the future. It’s somewhat surprising that Poland would contradict a US study in this area, as Poland has the most to lose from America extracting companies and potential money from European nations wishing to switch their supply from Russian oil.

Alleged racially motivated shootings at a Jewish School in France have been the latest controversy to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s path to the national elections next month. The attack, which killed three boys and a rabbi, are being reported as France’s deadliest anti-Semitic violence to take place in 30 years. The gunman, who jumped to his death after a police raid this morning, is also reported to have killed three soldiers. We imagine this will make a strong impact upon the upcoming campaign platforms, especially from opposition leaders looking to steal votes away from the incumbent.

Former UN Secretary General and UN-Arab League envoy on theSyrianCrisis, Kofi Annan, spoke with the UN Security Council last Friday urging a resolution between the 15-member states to take action and end the bloodshed in the country. Twice previously,ChinaandRussiahave utilized their Permanent Member vetoes, effectively killing any diplomatic response.

In Syria proper, gun violence reached record heights in the capital Damascus, with both government and rebel forces trading blows. Last week the use of car bombs killed at least 27 people. The Red Cross has been urging daily peace treaties in order to treat the wounded. We expect the latest UN Security council peace resolution, spearheaded by France, to make in-roads with Russia; but it may still hit a blockade when it comes to China who for the most part declines to intervene in other country’s affairs.

Eritrea lodged a complaint and request for intervention to the UN on Friday, stating that neighboring Ethiopia attacked three military bases within the East African country’s borders.  The two impoverished countries, whose war in 1998 caused casualties in the tens of thousands, are militarily mismatched with Ethiopia having noticeable advantage, as well as an arguably biased ally in theUS.

Friday’s anti-Sudan protests in Washington took a Hollywood-spin when actor George Clooney was arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy. The protests are in response to the Sudanese government withholding vital food aid to violence-torn regions bordering South Sudan.

The new Eurasian Economic Community (aka the Eurasian Union), a customs union comprised of former Soviet states, met on Monday in Moscow as it attempted to lure additional members. Spearheaded by Russia, the union contains oil heavyweight Kazakhstan among others. The announcement of such a group last year caused analysts to question Russia’s motives in terms of finding new ways to control its spheres of influence. While the idea is clearly based off of the European Union, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this morph into a militarized security agreement once the structural framework is put in place.

Bo Xilai, one of China’s fast rising political stars and an assumed frontrunner for this fall’s presidential elections, has been dropped by the ruling communist party over visiting a US consulate in Chengdu. The visit, which was maintained as a ‘scheduled visit,’ caused some citizens and politicians to believe he was defecting.  We anticipate this development will throw the election into pseudo-chaos, with several high-ranking or ambitious officials attempting to fill Xilai’s shoes.

In other regional news, North Korea is attempting to launch a space missile, which is being called out by opponents as a guise for an ICBM, long-range missile test. Such action would violate the country’s recent pact for aid with the US, as well as a UN Security Council resolution forbidding the country from doing so. If this keeps up, we’re going to have to add a new section to the Global Report solely to follow this country’s weekly decision to be progressive or not.

George Tupou V, the King of Tonga died in Hong Kong on Sunday at age 63. The King, who was best known for changing the South Pacific country from a Monarchy to a Democracy, will be succeed by his brother, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka.

In Australian creature feature news, a man was bitten by a shark while surfing on Tuesday afternoon off of the Gold Coast. The man is alive and recovering after surgery to his leg and ankle.


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