The Los Angeles Times-December 4, 2011
Attacks on nuclear scientists and sites suggest that the U.S. and Israel are trying to covertly stop Iran’s programs. On November 12, a big explosion ripped through an Iranian military base, where engineers were working on weapons that intended to be used against Israel. Most of the buildings collapsed, and 17 people were killed, including the founder of Iran’s ballistic missile program. Iran called the blast an accident, but many former U.S. intelligence officials and Iran experts think that the explosion-the most destructive of at least 24 unexplained blasts in the last two years-was part of a covert effort by the U.S., Israel, and allies to disable Iranian missile and nuclear programs. The intention of the CIA’s counter proliferation division is to slow Iran’s weapons of mass destruction program. Patrick Clawson, who directs the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that this is the 21rst century form of war-comprised of a campaign of assassinations, sabotage, and cyber war.
The Guardian-December 5, 2011
NAACP is petitioning the UN over what is sees as an effort to disenfranchise black and Latino voters ahead of the 2012 presidential elections. Evidence of what the group sees as a deliberate attempt to “block the vote” by the state legislatures will be presented to the UN High commissioner on human rights. Next March, the NAACP will send legal experts to Geneva to get the support of the UN human rights council. Fourteen southern and western states have passed a sum of 25 measures. These states have the fastest growing black populations (Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina) and Latino populations (South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee). In 2008, more than 2 million extra black and Hispanic voters each turned out over 2004, an increase of 15% for blacks and 28% for Hispanics. Moves that would have a disproportionate negative impact on blacks and Hispanics include: blocks on voter registration drives, blocks of voting with a criminal offence, blocks on early voting, and requirements of voters to have photo IDs on election day.
The New York Times-December 6, 2012
After nearly 90,000 people evacuated Futoba, Japan, the country is developing clean up plans so those who were displaced can return to their homes. This clean up effort, however, is experiencing criticism from Japanese citizens and from the international community. Japan hopes to be able to decontaminate the area to reflect Japan’s rebirth, but the logistics are not currently in place for such a large operation to be successful and reducing radiation in the area is no small feat. Domestic problems over the allocation of contaminated soil and the safety of clean up are just a few of the major issues surrounding the task that, in time, Japan hopes will be a major success.
Obama tells US officials to use overseas aid to promote gay rights
The Guardian-December 6, 2011
Obama made an unprecedented announcement telling US officials to take into account a country’s human rights violations against gay and lesbian individuals when allocating foreign aid. The President, along with other national leaders, have taken a stand against LGBT violence in light of a recent bill up for debate in Uganda making homosexuality a crime. It currently is unclear whether those countries funding will be cut if they persecute gays and lesbians, however Obama’s announcement increases pressure on these countries and their human right’s policies.
CNN.com-December 4, 2011
Egypt held it’s first election since the fall of long-term President Hosni Mubarak, with 104 candidates running for 52 seats for the lower house of parliament. In last week’s votes, moderate and more conservative Islamist parties were earning a majority of seats in the parliament, although this is expected to balance out. However other positions in parliament have yet to be determined, because no candidate won a majority, resulting in this week’s runoff. The process will continue, with presidential elections held in June. The new government faces the challenge of deciding how to handle Egypt’s relations with Israel.
The Detroit Free Press-December 6, 2011
Newly elected Troy mayor, Janice Daniels, is facing opposition for use of the homosexual slur “queers” on her facebook page. Students of the local high school organized a protest calling for Daniels’ resignation. Although apologizing to the protestors, Daniels contradicted this action by stating that queer “is just a word.” Daniels even defended her statement claiming that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman. The community outrage continued at a Troy City Council meeting last Monday, where 80 people signed up to speak.
The Guardian-December 6, 2011
The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, canceled a trip to the UK to deal with a suicide bombing that left 55 people dead and over 100 injured. On the most sacred day of the Shia calendar a suicide bomb was detonated in a group of pilgrims at a Kabul shrine Tuesday. The victims were members of an ethnic minority Shia group called the Hazara. This attack is unprecedented in the recent war of the country because the attacker seems to be a Pakistani terrorist organization focused on attacking ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
The Guardian-December 9, 2011
Friday British Prime Minister David Cameron decided to use his country’s veto to block a new EU treaty. This move has now left Britain completely outside of the circle of the rest of the EU, which voted to bypass Britain and establish a new treaty amongst them. Cameron justified isolating Britain economically by claiming the new treaty wouldn’t have been in Britain’s best interest. It appears though that this move was made because of pressure from right wing Tory party members in Britain. There is no idea as to what this will mean for Britain’s foreign policy in the future.
December 6, 2011 – The Los Angeles Times
New York governor and legislative leaders agreed on a plan to raise taxes on the wealthy and slightly lower taxes on the middle class. This deal creates the lowest tax rate for the middle class in 58 years and will bring in an additional $1.9 billion in revenues in 2012. “This job-creating economic plan defies the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this state once again,” said Governor Cuomo said in a statement.
CNN.com-December 27, 2011
Sunday’s national election in Russia resulted in loss of political power in the parliament for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. However, the party still holds the majority of the house despite the allegations of official corruption and economic issues. Demonstrators across many Russian cities rallied in a reaction to the unsatisfying results from the election. Are the Russian people having their “voices heard and their votes counted” or are their political leaders corrupting the election process?