The UN's Durban Review Conference on racism got off to a rocky start in Geneva on April 20, as about 40 delegates from 30 countries walked out during a speech delivered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Even before the Ahmadinejad talk, the conference was sparsely attended owing to a boycott by eight Western nations (including the United States) that anticipated that the event would become a forum for anti-Israeli rhetoric.
Though the United States was still the focus of plenty of the usual criticism, observers noted that it was toned down at this year's meeting of the Summit of the Americas. Reporters commented that Barack Obama was the “star” of the gathering. The three-day summit began Friday, April 17 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The resistance put up by the American crew of the Maersk Alabama and the dramatic Easter Sunday rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, of Underhill, Vermont, who had been held by Somali pirates since April 8, may cause pirates to think twice about targeting Americans. But some Somali pirates are threatening retaliation for the U.S. military action that resulted in three pirates being killed and one taken captive.
A familiar accusation leveled at U.S. government officials came from a surprising source: Mexican President Felipe Calderon. “It is impossible to pass tons of drugs or cocaine to U.S. without some grade of complicity of some American authorities,” he said in a March 30 interview with the BBC before leaving for an official visit to London. “We need to act on both sides of the border.”
Sooner or later it was bound to happen. Over the past several years, American ships and crews had evaded the rising tide of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. But on April 8, pirates off the coast of Somalia seized a U.S.-flagged container ship, the Maersk Alabama, with a crew of 20 Americans. However, the American seamen were unwilling to join the crews of 18 other ships who are being held for ransom by the Somali pirates. In what is believed to be an unprecedented action in the Somali pirates’ sphere of operations, the unarmed crew fought back and overpowered their attackers.