The financial crisis which has been pulling eurozone nations such as Greece and Portugal into a downward spiral of high interest rates on government debt and inability to repay loans has rippled throughout many medium-sized European nations as well. Belgium and Spain are facing growing problems that may require a bailout from the European economic community. The European Union's rationale for bailing out member nations has been that it was to maintain the stability of the single currency, the euro, and to keep free trade within the community.
Six years ago the Romanian Institute for Marketing and Polling reported that 64% of the people felt that their nation was moving in the right direction, toward free-market democracy. Yet last September another survey showed that 49% of Romanians, almost half, felt that life was better for them under communism.
According to the Indian Express, India sought a UN ban on the Pakistani group Jamatud Dawa (JD) after evidence showed that it is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group operating in Asia. LeT is suspected of being behind the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India which left 165 dead and scores wounded.
According to Borderland Beat (BB) Jan. 5, Mexican drug cartels have formed elaborate and strategic alliances with Middle Eastern drug traffickers, and those supply chains are also being used for arms trade and money laundering. BB obtained the report from El Universal, a major Mexican newspaper, and added that Mexican groups are also making inroads into European Union markets.
Internet whistleblower website WikiLeaks plans to release information on tax evasion by the rich and famous after obtaining two disks of information from former Cayman Islands branch chief of Swiss banking firm Julius Baer Bank & Trust Company Ltd. The Cayman Islands is a well-known haven for investments because the Caribbean island nation has no income, capital gains, profit, or estate taxes in addition to highly secretive banking laws.
On Jan. 16, the news syndicate Breitbart reported that the U.S. embassy in Geneva has been conducting illegal surveillance on Swiss territory. In 2006 and 2007 U.S. missions in Geneva and Bern had requested protection of their buildings through surveillance programs, but the requests were denied.
Condemned by U.S. officials as dangerous and by Republican leader Sarah Palin as "anti-American," Wikileaks has facilitated the destruction of Tunisia's tyrannical state with the whistleblower website's release of classified information about rampant corruption in the north African government. The 23-year reign of corrupt President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ended January 15, when Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia.
In defiance of all logic, the eurozone weathered a week of harrowing instability this past week, with Portugal, Spain, and Italy managing to persuade the bond markets that their sovereign debt is still worth the risk. Portugal was the primary focus of concern in this latest iteration of European economic upheaval, with speculation rife that the Iberian nation would be forced to accept an international bailout along the lines of what Greece and Ireland have already received. The Portuguese government spent the week leading up to last Wednesday’s successful auction of government bonds denying that Portugal needed outside assistance to solve its debt problem, and Wednesday’s results appeared to vindicate those claims.
Banks in China allow American customers to buy and to hold Chinese yuan. A state-owned Chinese bank in New York has begun to offer its customers accounts denominated in yuan, a move calculated to expand the global reach of their currency. Daniel Hui, a foreign exchange analyst for the HSBC Bank in Hong Kong, explains that the Chinese government is “trying to expand the scope of people who can hold renminbi [yuan] and that increases demand.” Most economists believe it will take years before the yuan is an international currency on the same level as the dollar, the euro, or the yen.
The referendum taking place this week in the Southern Sudan on whether the region should remain part of Sudan or become its own independent state has enjoyed a high voter turnout, according to official reports, despite criticism from international communist groups and the Russian and Chinese governments. The region includes Darfur, known to be a hotbed of genocidal activity against the native African population, much of which is Christian, by the majority Sudanese Arab Janjaweed militias. The region has for decades been the scene of policies akin to religious and racially-motivated "ethnic cleansing."