Iraq's cabinet said on October 21 it would demand changes in the proposed security agreement between the United States and Iraq, raising doubts that the document would quickly be approved. The United Nations Security Council resolution that authorizes American troop operations in Iraq expires on December 31, and unless an agreement can be reached by then, or the Security Council votes to extend the existing resolution, American troops would be required to cease operations in Iraq on that date.
On October 16, the Swiss government — despite previous assurances that its banking system was largely immune from the worldwide banking crisis — issued a long-term loan of up to $54 billion to its largest bank, UBS AG. Agence France Presse reported that to secure its loan, the Swiss government will take a temporary stake of 9.3 percent in the bank.
During a two-day European Union summit held in Brussels from October 15-16, French President Nicolas Sarkozy (whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency) stressed that the EU would maintain its stringent goals to reduce carbon emissions, despite economic objections from some EU member nations. Following the prevailing opinion held by much of the world, the EU’s leaders have based their continent-wide regulations on the theory that periodic variations in global temperatures are the result of man-made causes, such as emissions of C02 gasses.
Mbhazima Shilowa, the former premier (equivalent to a U.S. governor) of South Africa’s wealthy Gauteng province, announced in a press conference on October 14 that he had resigned from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and would join a breakaway group headed by former Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota.
In recent days, as many as 15 Christians have been slain in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, prompting the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to dispatch 1,000 police to the violence-plagued city. The prime minister’s office said in a statement that units of the Iraqi army and police were being sent to the Mosul area “to provide protection for members of this community” and that the forces would “target the terrorist groups” responsible for the attacks. Police reported that two car bombs blew up in Mosul on October 12, killing seven Iraqis.
One day after the United States announced on October 11 that it was removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the North Koreans announced that they would resume disabling the communist nation’s principal plutonium processing plant at its Yongbyon compound and allow international monitors back to the site.
“Life in Zimbabwe: Wait for Useless Money,” a report in the New York Times for October 2,
is a firsthand look at the effects on any society whose government has recklessly inflated its currency, thereby destroying its value. Even the next-to-worthless Zimbabwean currency is in short supply, since the nation’s central bank governor, instead of supplying banks, has been sending agents with suitcases filled with Zimbabwean currency into the streets to buy U.S. dollars and South African rand on the back market.
According to a confidential statement made by diplomats associated with the International Atomic Energy Agency on October 9, the North Korean government has barred UN monitoring of its Yongbyon nuclear complex. The diplomats made anonymous statements to both Reuters news service and the Associated Press, citing confidentiality.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna announced on September 24 that North Korea had barred United Nations inspectors from a reprocessing plant at its nuclear reactor plant in Yongbyon. The plant converts spent nuclear fuel rods into weapons-grade plutonium. By its decision, North Korea has reneged on an agreement reached in February 2007.
The ongoing chaos in the world’s financial markets shows no sign of abating, and governments, financiers, and their kept economists are now openly talking of a reprise of the Great Depression, unless something is done quickly.