Good Friday April 18, 2014
Ukraine continues to be the star of the international news day: At least 11 cities have seen “pro-Russian” militias, no including issues in Kyiv. Violence over the weekend led to the threat of a anti-terror campaign by the Ukraine government, followed by discussions on a referendum, West is still actively sparring with Russia and threatening more sanctions, NATO announced it will be protecting more of its Eastern European allies, today Putin had a press conference where he accused the West, particularly the US of problems with Ukraine, talks in Geneva today on the same subject
Protests continue in Venezuela, despite talks for peace. The government has rejected recent request for amnesty for jailed protestors from the opposition.
Syria opposition has accused the Assad regime of renewed chemical weapons attacks. Recently at the UN there was a review of torture photos, and today Jordanian warplanes shot at vehicles crossing the border form Syria (combat?). Elections soon!
In Nigeria, 100 school aged girl were taken captive by Boko Haram (the terrorist group that means “Western Education is Forbidden”) on Tuesday. Today the military said most girls were freed but recent reports from the families say this is untrue. This weekend a bus bombing killed 71 people there.
Brazil has sent troops into the city of Salvador, the host of this year’s world cup. The polic there have gone on strike causing an upsurge in violence. The games are only 2 months away, the city has all kinds of issues, and the police are asking for higher pay.
Pakistan’s Taliban has expressed that it wants to continue negotiations with the government but it will not renew the 40 day ceasefire it previously agreed to because the government has not responded to their demands.
Algeria is voting today. President Abdelaziz Bouteflicka, 77 and in ill-health, is running for re-election and expected to win. He has held the office since 1999 and abolished laws that limited his terms. 5 other candidates are running against him but low voter turnout is expected. President Bouteflicka won the last election with 90% of the vote.
In Libya, the ambassador from Jordan has been kidnapped and is being held in exchange for the release of a jailed Islamist militant. Kidnappings and widespread militia violence is becoming common in Libya and at the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni announced he will step down
Macedonia held presidential election this past Sunday. 25% of the population is ethnically Albanian and they boycotted the vote after the ruling party refused to run a joint candidate. Elections have proceeded to a run-off schedule for April 27th. The conservative incumbent President Ivanov is expected to go to the run-off with the Social Democrat candidate.
India is also still voting, 121 principalities got to the polls today, voting in different provinces will go on until mid May.
A deadly virus spreading through the middle east has been reported in Yemen. The MERS virus has also been spotted in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Tunisia. The MERS virus is related to SARS and was first found in the middle east in 2012. Yesterday, WHO confirmed 10 cases of the virus in the UAE after 1 death, the other 10 appear stable though multiple deaths in Saudi Arabia with similar symptoms are worrying.
Leaders from Israel and Palestine were scheduled to meet today to try and extend the deadline for peace negotiation which is currently set to end on April 27th—the only reason given by Israel was “on going incitement”. Israel has refused a schedule prisoner release after anger over the shooting of a policeman and the wounding of his wife and child on the eve of Passover. Palestine also signed 15 treaties that asserted statehood. The deadline for the talks could be pushed back by months.
Shortages in Cuba have become the norm, the newest one: Condoms. A single condom could cost $1.50 where the average salary is maybe $19 a week.