This week's news update follows the one year anniversary of bin Laden's death, the Secret Service scandal, and UNSC's resolution on the Sudan conflict.
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, Playboy.com style.
To start off this week’s Americas news update, we’d like to bring you a very important message from our founder regarding the recent controversy involving the US Secret Service agents who hired prostitutes while attending the recent Summit of the Americas in Colombia last month. To set the record straight regarding our purported interest in the matter:
Playboy has expressed no interest in photos of the Columbian hooker involved in the Secret Service scandal.
— Hugh Hefner (@hughhefner) May 2, 2012
US President Barack Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan this week on the anniversary of last year’s Pakistani raid that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a move that can be seen as both a sign of goodwill in terms of ending the major US involvement in the country as well as a US election-minded photo op. We can only say that this visit can only be positive for public opinion polls at the moment; as for the benefit to Afghanistan, it’s still unclear what repercussions await when the US fully withdraws from the country.
The tumultuous Russian-American defense relationship reached yet another tipping point this week as the former began hosting an international conference on missile defense in Moscow. The conference, which is a result of the cancellation of the Russia-NATO Summit that was due to take place in Chicago later this month, focuses upon regional missile defense between Central Europe (NATO) and Eurasian Nations (former Soviet states). The Chicago conference fell through when it was decided that discussions between Washington and Moscow over the United States’ planned missile defense sites in Central Europe and Turkey had hit a brick wall and were likely to undermine talks.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of monarch states reiterated a call similar to NATO’s article 5, which states an “all for one, and one for all” approach to regional conflict. Saudi Arabia condemned Iran’s interference in Bahrain yesterday and its occupation of a Saudi-Iranian disputed island in the Gulf. While the US may be increasingly unlikely to take action against Iran in recent weeks, it’s much less clear if the Gulf States are willing to provoke the sleeping giant. Combined, the GCC does hold substantial regional power, but lacks the supposed nuclear capabilities that Iran is reported to have.
In Egypt, the ruling military-based government is considering the long-awaited handover of power to the to-be-determined incoming government if the new presidential candidate is chosen within the first election round on May 24. This proposal is seen as an attempt to both appease protestors and end the continued violence that began with the so-called Arab Spring and led to the highly publicized Cairo demonstrations.
A struggle for the government of Mali is underway at the moment, with soldiers loyal to the former government attempting to take control of certain transport routes in order to bring in troops from the regional West African coalition (ECOWAS). While cops are not expressly rare in this area, success rates tend to vary based on external state support.
The AP have reported that a massacre occurred in Nigeria over the weekend as gunmen shot and killed 5 churchgoers at a Church of Christ in Maiduguri. This brings the total number of victims killed over the weekend to 21, which includes coordinated attacks that claimed 16 lives near Kano.
Earlier today, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to end the fighting between new neighbors Sudan and South Sudan. After being called for by the African Union (AU) in recent weeks, the resolution is seen as a “roadmap to peace” for the region and outlines a method to split the oil revenues that have sparked a war between the formerly unified countries, which did not clarify a system when South Sudan declared independence last year. The nations have three months to negotiate or face UN sanctions; it will be interesting to see if both countries are able to accept and follow the plan.
In an interesting turn for Russian-Japanese relations, Russian state news reported earlier today that energy giant Gazprom is in talks to build an underwater pipeline between East Russia and the Japanese archipelago. Despite the fact that both nations still routinely exercise sovereignty claims over a number of islands, this development could be the start of a powerful and mutually beneficial energy relationship.
Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from house arrest early last week, left his refuge at the US Embassy in Beijing yesterday after being warned by Chinese authorities that prolonging his time out of custody would have repercussions on a reunion with his family. While there are conflicting reports between the US government and the international press as to whether Chen has asked for asylum outside the country for him and his family, we believe the US will be hesitant to fulfill such a request as it would increase strain on American-Chinese ties.
The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its cash rate earlier this week, citing economic issues that were still not recovering as well as they hoped for the current year. In addition to this, Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government has slashed defense spending by $4 billion AUD as part of cost-cutting measures.
In Galactic news, NASA has become bored with its usual press releases and has opted for new interstellar hooks such as “Black Hole Caught Red-Handed in a Stellar Homicide.” You can enjoy the rest of their hilarious shenanigans by clicking here.
In Creature Feature news, three men who snuck into SeaWorld on the Gold Coast last month and “borrowed” a penguin after swimming with the dolphins have admitted to tomfoolery and apologized for their drunken charades. Check out their video below: