As Iraq flexes its muscle following the departure of U.S. troops, and as Iran continues to challenge the “international community” relative to its nuclear program, the civil unrest in yet another Middle Eastern country is reaching critical mass and threatens a call for more “Western intervention” in the region.
Gun fights south of Tripoli between rebel militias and forces still loyal to the late Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi left several dead and dozens wounded over the weekend, according to news reports. And it is not over yet.
U.S. credit ratings giant Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered its rating on the credit-worthiness of nine European nations January 13. "It's not the cut in the rating that is historic," BNP Paribas economist Dominique Barbet told the Wall Street Journal. "It's the depth of the euro crisis that is historic."
The government of Greece is catching flack over its decision to add some questionable categories to its list of recognized disabilities. As reported by the Associated Press, disability groups in the country were especially outraged over the government’s decision to add pedophiles to its list of those the state recognizes as disabled individuals. Among the other “disabled” categories added to the list were exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, and sadomasochists.
In November 2010,The New American reported that United Nations peacekeepers had introduced a deadly strain of cholera to victims of earthquakes and related disasters in Haiti, even while the UN was denying the accusation. A massive earthquake occurred almost exactly two years ago, on January 10, 2010.
Iranian officials are accusing the U.S. and Israeli governments of assassinating another senior nuclear scientist in Tehran, using a car-bomb terrorist attack as part of the expanding covert war against Iran. American authorities denied the allegations and condemned the violence, but a spokesman for the Israeli military left room for speculation.
An economic meltdown such as that which Greece is enduring produces some consequences that are not as obvious as others. As one example, over-the-counter medicines in Greek pharmacies are becoming scarce. Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class part of metropolitan Athens, often has to spend hours each day pleading with drug manufacturers to supply the store with life-saving drugs, such as Clexane (a blood-thinner) and Flixotide (an asthma inhaler).
One of the unintended consequences of the ongoing and accelerating crisis in the eurozone is that ordinary citizens are taking their money out of the banks and burying it. Lack of both confidence in the stability of the European economy and credible solutions to the crisis have led to the exit of currency from banks in Greece, Italy, and other European countries.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a television audience January 8 that while Iran may be laying the groundwork for nuclear weapons, it is not yet far enough in the process to build any yet. Appearing on a pre-recorded segment of the CBS program Face the Nation, “Panetta cautioned against a unilateral strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying the action could trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the region,” reported the Associated Press.
In the clearest indication yet, a high French government official confirmed last week that an FTT — Financial Transaction Tax — will be implemented by the European Union by the end of 2012, a year earlier than planned. Jean Leonetti (left), France’s Minister for European Affairs, said on television that “This is on the program for the next European summit [on January 30]. [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy and [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel have decided on this and it will be put in place before the end of 2012.”
The announcement from the German Economy Ministry over the weekend confirmed that the long-awaited European recession has officially begun: German factory orders dropped to the lowest level in three years, down nearly five percent in the past month. The ministry also revealed that orders from outside the EU dropped by 10.3 percent.