Why has Africa, a continent rich in human and natural resources, remained mired in poverty while the rest of the world has generally become more prosperous? As a December 21 New York Times report indicates, one of the biggest reasons is the lack of property rights. Poor Africans who have worked tracts of land for generations “are discovering that African governments typically own their land and have been leasing it, often at bargain prices, to private investors and foreign governments for decades to come,” according to the newspaper:
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's three-day visit to Pakistan in accompaniment with a huge business delegation, as well as subsequent statements and body language of the Pakistani politicians is a clear message of goodbye to the West.
It appears that efforts in the UK to crack down on those who speak out publicly against homosexuality are backfiring. In two different cases, street preachers taken into custody by police after publicly declaring their Christian belief that homosexual conduct is morally wrong have been awarded monetary settlements by the courts for wrongful arrest.
It is no secret that the government of China operates the most active abortion machine on the globe. Under its 30-year-old official “one-child” policy for Chinese families (a policy that has supposedly been “softened” in recent years to allow for two children in some cases), China is responsible for the slaughter of an estimated 13 million pre-born babies every year, with the average Chinese woman undergoing between three and four compulsory abortions each.
Researchers in Germany announced that they have used adult stem cell therapy to cure a man afflicted with both leukemia and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Writing about their research in the December issue of the medical journal Blood, doctors from the Charite-University of Medicine in Berlin explained that in 2007 the 44-year-old American patient, Timothy Brown, volunteered to receive the experimental adult stem cell therapy to treat his leukemia. At the same time, the researchers decided to perform a stem-cell transplant in an effort to fight his HIV. Not only was the stem cell donor a good blood match for the patient, wrote the researchers, but he also had what the doctors determined was a gene mutation that demonstrated a natural resistance to HIV.
Under the guise of supposed emergencies, outgoing “lame-duck” Venezuelan legislators voted overwhelmingly on December 17 to give socialist President Hugo Chavez dictatorial powers to rule by decree for the next year and a half in a bill being referred to as the “enabling law.”
Citizens of nations that once were wholly independent and who now are part of the nebulous “European Union” pine for times lost. Bernd Niesel, a 67-year-old retired serviceman in Germany, has a shrine — a museum, literally — to the Deutsche Mark, the currency of the Federal Republic of Germany developed with the keen, market-oriented mind of Ludwig Erhard, Minister of Economics and then Chancellor of post-war West Germany.
Another Russian espionage plot has been uncovered, this time in London, involving controversial British Liberal Democrat MP Michael Hancock and his parliamentary aide, Russian national Katia Zatuliveter, a suspected sleeper agent who is being deported on charges that she is a threat to British national security, according to the MI5 intelligence service.
The real meaning of economic bubbles and their aftermath is beginning to rear its ugly head in Greece, where civil unrest paralyzed the country during a violent general strike on Wednesday of this week. Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece’s two largest cities, were convulsed by violent protests featuring running street battles with police and mobs of terrified Christmas shoppers fleeing gangs of masked youths hurling improvised explosives.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion on December 16, saying it violates the right of a pregnant woman to receive quality medical care when her life may be at risk. The supra-national court seated in faraway Strasbourg, France, ruled that in 2005 a pregnant woman with cancer should have been able to terminate the life of her unborn baby in Ireland rather than having to travel to England for an abortion.
Despite prosecutors’ best efforts and Swedish charges of sex without a condom, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was released from British custody on bail Thursday to a crowd of cheering supporters chanting, "Exposing war crimes is no crime!" But now, he is concerned that U.S. authorities may be plotting a variety of new charges, possibly including espionage.