In an announcement made to reporters in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on January 20, General David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command chief, stated that the United States has reached agreements with several Central Asian countries and Russia for opening new supply routes through their territories for the U.S. and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Iceland’s government has become the first state casualty to collapse from the economic crisis currently engulfing the globe. A new election is scheduled for May 9. Amid protests that have become increasingly violent, Prime Minister Geir Haarde resigned this week along with Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, the nation’s top economic minister. The International Monetary Fund is even coming to the rescue, something that while typical in “developing countries,” hasn’t happened to a Western European nation in over three decades. The economy is forecasted to shrink by 10 percent in 2009 according to the Icelandic Finance Ministry, possibly worse.
The world's attention remained focused on the Middle East during the week of January 25, as President Barack Obama met with his special envoy to the region, former Senator George J. Mitchell, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House on Monday. Obama also taped his first interview with an Arab television station, directed to the Islamic world, that day. The interview, taped in the White House map room, was broadcast on Tuesday on Al Arabiya, a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel in Dubai. As the interview was aired in the Muslim world, Mitchell arrived in Egypt to begin an eight-day foreign tour that will continue with Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, before moving on to France and the United Kingdom.
As the British pound continues downward relative to foreign currencies and the nation’s banks continue sucking up taxpayer money, nationalization seems to be on the horizon. Britain’s economy has been contracting at alarming levels, and the pound has gone down with it — down almost 30 percent against the U.S. dollar from last year to about 1.35.
When Tony Blair was still prime minister, a peaceful protest march surprised both media and government in England as it drew huge, sympathetic crowds of disenfranchised and disillusioned citizens. Most were there to express the sentiment displayed on their signs, the clearly felt loss of their basic right to self-defense as British citizens, owing to the country's restrictive gun-control laws, and in large part the loss of their unique English heritage, and along with it, the very culture of their people.