The Global Report: March 29, 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart brings you the latest international news coverage from across the planet.

The most recent mention of America’s planned Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Shield in Europe was overheard on a tape Monday between US and Russian Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev. In the exchange, Obama informed Medvedev that he needed President-elect Putin to give him “space” to maneuver on the highly-politicized topic until after this November’s election. Not only does this signify Obama believes he will win against the TBD Republican candidate, but that Putin is undoubtedly in charge at the Kremlin, despite Medvedev currently holding the Presidency. We’re just waiting to see what aspects of this dilemma will appear in the next Republican debate.

Pope Benedict delivered Mass and met with President and former-President Raul and Fidel Castro in Cuba yesterday, as part of his tour of the region. In his address, the head of the Catholic church spoke to end Cuba’s isolation, allow religious teaching in school, yet managed to publically criticize the communist regime without actually mentioning the Castros’ through calls for “Authentic Freedom.” An interesting point on his part, but we doubt it will invoke much of a citizen uprising. We imagine private talks with the revolutionary leaders may be more effective.

Several European media outlets reported early Wednesday that the UK, France, as well as the US, could attempt to lower global fuel prices in the coming weeks with the strategic release of certain oil stocks to alleviate pressure on the system. Hummer owners of the world rejoice! Well…whoever still owns one.

Topping UK news this week was her majesty Queen Elizabeth II who wedding crashed for the first time. The 85 year old monarch and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, dropped in unannounced to a commoners wedding as a surprise while on her Diamond Jubilee tour. Who says you can’t have fun at any age?

Click below for the latest news from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, & Oceania.

The Arab League summit kicked off today as multiple bomb explosions rocked the city of Baghdad, Iraq. Despite targets being hit near the Iranian Embassy and the city’s secure “green zone” where the summit is taking place, no victims have been reported at this time. Of the 22 leaders of the Middle East forum, only ten managed to attend which speaks to the on-going turmoil in the region. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon did manage a meeting with those present, and focused primarily on pushing the group to publically support Kofi Annan’s Syrian peace plan.

A total of 18 people were arrested in Afghanistan on Tuesday as part of a possible mass suicide attack on governmental employees. The arrested, reportedly soldiers in the Afghan National Army, intended to blow up commuter buses or potentially hit the Defense Ministry. With rumors the soldiers had inside informants within the ministries, it’s going to be a rocky road to the ISAF’s withdrawal from the country in 2014. If things continue in this manner, 2015 in Afghanistan could be similar to the civil war conditions that occurred after the Soviet occupation in 1988.

Syrian President Bashar Assad accepted Kofi Annan’s six-point, UN-backed peace plan yesterday in a noticeable step to end turmoil and violence in the country. The plan, which focuses on a gun cease-fire and renewed diplomatic talks, is the first step of Syria’s hopeful democratization. However, the US released a statement shortly after affirming Assad still must leave office if the plan is to be successful. The United Nations has estimated 9,000 people have died in the conflict so far.

South Africa took part in the Annual BRIC(S) summit for the first time today. The bloc of the world’s fastest growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China met in New Delhi to decide upon a non-Western response to a number of current issues. Among the resolutions was advocating for increased dialogue to solve the Syrian crisis, as well as voicing their concerns that the conflict with Iran must not escalate to war. The addition of an African nation adds further geopolitical weight to the bloc’s influence which already holds titles for the two largest countries by population, largest by total area, and four in the top 12 global nominal Gross Domestic Products (GDPs).

The 2012 Nuclear Security Summit took place in South Korea earlier this week with aims of reducing the global levels of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium. While the previously mentioned dialogue between the US and Russia may have overshadowed news stemming from the event on its first day, the second saw Medvedev take a crack at Romney, stating the republican contender’s outdated view of Russia “smells of Hollywood”—I guess we know who he’s rooting for. Work actually accomplished included an agreement to minimize the availability of Highly-Enriched Uranium to avoid the material being obtained by rogue states and terrorists. A tough objective, but a necessary one at that.

Once again this week North Korea proves itself to be unreliable as it refuses to back down on its planned space rocket launch (aka. testing long-range ballistic missiles). In response, the US has decided to suspend its promised food aid to the country until it decides to cooperate on the matter. It’s truly amazing that while the world nuclear powers (and like-minded allies) are sitting just south of the country in Seoul; North Korea is acting as if it’s the child not invited to a party. Not the smoothest move for fledgling leader Kim Jong-um.

In this week’s Australian creature feature news, research released last Friday points to the extinction of large megafauna (aka extremely large land species) on the continent 45,000 years ago was due to another invasion: humans. Yes, due to our earlier plundering, we managed to drive the 6,000-pound rhinoceros wombat to the history books. No wonder the animal world wants their island back.


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