The Global Report: May 31, 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart

This week's crazy international news includes falling sheep, the 'Geuro', and the condemnation of Syria

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.

Protests have continued to overtake North and South America this week, with the government of Peru declaring a state of emergency on Tuesday following deadly anti-mining protests and Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec seeking to end a monthlong student protest over rising tuition. While Peruvian citizens are understandably focusing on a controversial expansion of a major copper mine, we don’t think annoying taxpayers will delight them into accepting a tax hike at your expense.

The Euro financial crisis of never-ending chaos continued this week with German Deutsche Bank research leader Thomas Mayer stating the best-case scenario at the moment would be for Greece to adopt a “Geuro,” a parallel euro currency. By doing this, Greece would stay in the Eurozone but would allow its currency to devalue while stimulating the economy. Greece would still be on the hook for its debt repayments in regular Euros, but would at least have a chance to fend off insolvency. While this option is attractive, we highly doubt anything will become solid until after the Greek leadership elections slated for June 17th, where it is likely that the fate of the country will be decided.

However big a Greek default might seem, the European Union’s focus has now shifted to the economic crisis in Spain. While the country has strived to meet its repayment obligations, staggering woes in many of its major banks have pushed one of Europe’s largest economies to the brink. As a bailout similar to Greece, Portugal or Ireland would likely be impossible due to its size, the European Commission – the executive branch of the European Union — has been pushing for a pan-Euro monetary government to be formed, which would oversee and manage the region’s banks. While this move would limit sovereign banking, it would allow the larger union to effectively absorb bailout costs across its breadth.

A massacre in the Houla area of Syria last Friday has left approximately 100 citizens including women and children dead – the reported work of either Syrian soldiers or friendly militia. The international community has reacted strongly to these casualties, an apparent failure of the monthlong peace plan hatched by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Sunday, the 15-member body, including usually reluctant Russia and China, unanimously condemned the massacre after hearing reports from UN observers on the ground that victims had been hit by heavy artillery as well as at point-blank gun range. In a further tensing of relations, several Western nations, including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Australia and Italy, have moved this week to expel Syrian diplomats from their countries until further notice.

While it’s important to note that this has the warning signs of another Libya intervention written all over it, Russia has made it clear that a military commissioned by the UN will be swiftly vetoed. We can imagine the remaining Western nations will pay close attention to the next steps by the Syrian government but will hold off on using an alternative NATO response (therefore bypassing Russia) unless absolutely necessary.

A rift between Somalia and Kenya was growing late yesterday as conflicting reports stated the latter’s forces have captured the rebel hometown of Afmadow in south Somalia. The high levels of corruption, particularly in Somalia, over the past few years have been a negative force for transparency in the region. We would expect the African Union (AU) to be investigating these claims shortly.

On a positive note, Sudan announced earlier this week that it will withdraw its troops from the disputed area of Khartoum in South Sudan. We hope that mediation from Ethiopia and further talks will continue to build favorable diplomatic relations between these two nations in the near future.

A series of major terrorist attacks have been thwarted in Baku, Azerbaijan as the Central Asian state concludes its hosting duties of the highly popular European singing contest Eurovision. The attacks, which would have targeted competition venues, entertainment areas and major hotels, are the latest upset in the Caspian country. It is reported that a similar plan to assassinate the Azerbaijani president last month was also foiled. Approximately 40 people have been arrested and numerous weapons seized in connection with the attacks.

Creature Feature news once again returns to Australia this week as motorists were subjected to a plethora of falling sheep smashing into cars from above last night. The approximately 400 sheep had been onboard a transport truck when it crashed and rolled over an overpass, sending the future dinner guests flying onto unknowing diners, I mean drivers, below.


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