Provincial council elections in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces on January 31 strengthened Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, a militant Shia Islamic group, while also bringing many Sunnis who had boycotted the 2005 elections back into the political process. More than 14,400 candidates ran for 440 seats in the councils, which appoint the provincial governor and oversee finance and reconstruction. The three provinces of the Kurdish autonomous region and Kirkuk will hold elections in May.
Change is being implemented throughout the month of February in the latest South American country to lurch leftward. Voters in Bolivia approved a new constitution late last month that in the words of leftist President Evo Morales amounts to the nation “being re-founded.” About 60 percent of the electorate voted in favor of the document.
Like most members of the Baby Boomer generation who grew up watching movies about space exploration and following our nation's quest to put a man on the Moon, this writer entered the 21st century somewhat disappointed that space had not become quite as familiar a place as was depicted in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek.
President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, who arrived in Pakistan on February 9, met the next day with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani during a three-day visit. "I am here to listen and learn the ground realities of this critically important country," the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan quoted Holbrooke as saying upon his arrival in Pakistan.
Vice President Joseph Biden told attendees of the 45th annual Munich Security Conference that President Obama plans to have the United States continue its role as global cop under “strong partnerships.” Speaking for the new administration, Biden explained in his February 7 address that those partnerships include the NATO alliance (a United Nations regional affiliate). He urged that NATO take on a global role and "act in and out of area more effectively."