In defiance of all logic, the eurozone weathered a week of harrowing instability this past week, with Portugal, Spain, and Italy managing to persuade the bond markets that their sovereign debt is still worth the risk. Portugal was the primary focus of concern in this latest iteration of European economic upheaval, with speculation rife that the Iberian nation would be forced to accept an international bailout along the lines of what Greece and Ireland have already received. The Portuguese government spent the week leading up to last Wednesday’s successful auction of government bonds denying that Portugal needed outside assistance to solve its debt problem, and Wednesday’s results appeared to vindicate those claims.
Banks in China allow American customers to buy and to hold Chinese yuan. A state-owned Chinese bank in New York has begun to offer its customers accounts denominated in yuan, a move calculated to expand the global reach of their currency. Daniel Hui, a foreign exchange analyst for the HSBC Bank in Hong Kong, explains that the Chinese government is “trying to expand the scope of people who can hold renminbi [yuan] and that increases demand.” Most economists believe it will take years before the yuan is an international currency on the same level as the dollar, the euro, or the yen.
The referendum taking place this week in the Southern Sudan on whether the region should remain part of Sudan or become its own independent state has enjoyed a high voter turnout, according to official reports, despite criticism from international communist groups and the Russian and Chinese governments. The region includes Darfur, known to be a hotbed of genocidal activity against the native African population, much of which is Christian, by the majority Sudanese Arab Janjaweed militias. The region has for decades been the scene of policies akin to religious and racially-motivated "ethnic cleansing."
In the aftermath of a Christmas season filled with anti-Christian violence in Nigeria, Iraq, and Egypt, Christian leaders around the world have called for prayers for those undergoing persecution, and have also called upon the governments that have thus far proven impotent to stop such attacks to step up to their responsibility to protect their citizens.
History is set to be made in Southern Sudan as its people are widely expected to vote for independence from the North in a referendum that is now ongoing. But tensions are intensifying along the proposed border, which runs through some of the most fertile land in the country.
Even as the European Union is bankrupting itself with bailouts, the EU’s top Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Wednesday that the €440 billion ($570 billion) bailout fund for struggling European nations should not only be increased but given more powers. According to Rehn, the eurozone governments are currently considering the proposal to increase the size of the funds.
The European Union announced today that they would be reinstating a travel ban against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and 40 of his close associates, following his crackdown on political opponents in the country’s elections, which were held on December 19, 2010.
When Governor Salman Taseer was murdered by his own bodyguard, “moderate Muslim” scholars in Pakistan greeted the assassination with cries of adulation. As was reported previously for The New American, a statement issued by the 500 scholars upheld the murder of the governor of Punjab as an example of Islamic justice in action; since Taseer sought to defend a Christian woman who had been unjustly sentenced to death for “blasphemy” against Islam, it was — they believed — only right that he be murdered as well. In the words of their statement: “The supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy.”
In a November 16, 2010 speech, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy warned that the eurozone economic crisis threatened the very existence of the EU. “We’re in a survival crisis,” Van Rompuy said. “We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union.”