While the Chinese government is busying itself with further cracking down on censorship of the Internet, television, and the printed word, human rights groups report that political dissidents — anyone who criticizes the present regime or reports the truth of what goes on in China (journalists, lawyers, etc.) — are being detained and questioned until after the Tiananmen Square anniversary on Thursday.
According to a May 29 AP release, North Korea has test-fired another short-range missile. “South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the latest test launch was a surface-to-air missile designed to defend against aircraft or other missile attacks. It said the missile was believed to be a modified version of the Russian SA-5.” Also reported was the fact that anonymous U.S. officials in Washington “said there are indications of increased activity at a site used to fire long-range missiles,” possibly indicating there will be a test firing from that location in the near future.
One day after Russia said it was going to step up its military surveillance around North Korea in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test explosion and short-range missile tests, U.S. and South Korean forces also increased their level of watchfulness. CNN reported on May 28 that this puts U.S. and South Korean forces at their second-highest “Watchcon” alert level, a level that was last used when North Korea exploded a nuclear test device in 2006.
The Russian parliament and media refer to him merely as a “Russian businessman.” But to much of the rest of the world, Viktor Bout is known as the “Merchant of Death,” the most notorious member of the dark fraternity of global weapons traffickers who arm terrorist organizations, as well as the tyrannical regimes and brutal warlords and militias responsible for horrendous genocidal slaughters over the past two decades.
“European Union regulators may get the power to overrule national banking authorities under plans to tighten banking supervision that are aimed at avoiding a repeat of mistakes that led to the credit crisis,” the New York Times noted on May 27 in “European Union Looks to Tighten Banking Supervision.” The proposals “call for new European supervisors to have the right to step in and settle disputes if national regulators cannot agree on the oversight of multinational financial institutions.”
North Korea’s belligerence has now extended to restarting its main nuclear reactor, declaring itself no longer bound by the 1953 Korean War armistice, and threatening to attack South Korea if it participates in U.S. efforts to inspect North Korean ships that may be carrying missiles.
“One day after its nuclear test drew angry and widespread condemnation, North Korea continued to defy the international community on Tuesday by test-firing two more short-range missiles, a South Korean government official said,” the New York Times reported on May 26. The BBC pointed out on the same day that South Korea’s Yonhap news agency “said the test involved one ground-to-ship missile and one ground-to-air missile.”
IRNA, Iran's state-controlled news agency, quoted a statement made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on May 20 that his country has test-fired the new Sejil-2 missile, which has a range sufficient to reach Israel, southeastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The launch came at a time of increased tensions between Iran and eastern nations suspicious of the Islamic state's nuclear-enrichment program and its potential to produce nuclear weapons.
The highly secretive Bilderberg Group held its 2009 annual meeting from May 14 to 17 at a luxury resort in Athens, Greece. As always, there was very little publicity and so we have a lot of speculation and few actual specifics.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denied a speculative report appearing in the New York Times for May 19 that Zalmay Khalilzad, who was former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in the administration of President George W. Bush, might assume an important unelected position inside the Afghan government. The Times report, which cited senior American and Afghan officials, said that Ambassador Khalilzad has been talking with President Karzai for several weeks about taking on a position that the two described as "the chief executive officer of Afghanistan."