RED FLAG ON MOUNT EVEREST
Former Maoist rebels swept Nepal’s parliamentary elections on April 10. According to early results, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had won 120 out of 240 seats in Nepal’s parliament, far outdistancing their nearest rivals. They are also expected to win a similar percentage of seats remaining to be allotted. The Maoists have promised to write a new constitution that would abolish Nepal’s 240-year-old Hindu monarchy and enact wide-ranging economic reforms. They have also vowed to plant a giant red flag atop Nepal’s Mt. Everest that will be large enough to be seen from outer space.
“BISHOP OF THE POOR” ELECTED PRESIDENT IN PARAGUAY
Former Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo was elected president of Paraguay April 20, ending 61 years of single-party rule. The incumbent Colorado Party’s candidate Blanco Ovelar conceded defeat peacefully before all electoral districts had reported. The Colorado party’s repressive reign was marked by the 35-year military dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, a staunch U.S. ally. Lugo, 56, cobbled together an eclectic opposition alliance of trade unionists, poor farmers and indigenous communities by blaming Paraguay’s economic struggles on government corruption, and demanding economic justice from Paraguay’s stronger neighbors, Argentina and Brazil.
ECUADOR PREZ PURGES CIA-CONNECTED SECURITY FORCES
Ecuador’s left-leaning president Rafael Correa sacked top officials in his nation’s military and its intelligence agencies in April following revelations that they had known in advance of a March 1 attack by Colombia on a rebel encampment inside Ecuador that left 25 dead. Calling Ecuador’s intelligence agencies “totally infiltrated and subjugated to the CIA”, Correa also appointed his personal secretary, Javier Ponce, as Defense Minister. In his previous career as a poet and newspaper editorial writer, Ponce was a strong critic of Ecuador’s armed forces.
CANADIAN LOGGING THREATENS MASSIVE RELEASE OF CARBON
Canada’s logging practices threaten to transform the country’s northern forests into a major source of carbon in the atmosphere, Greenpeace Canada warns in a recent report, “Turning Up the Heat.” The document, authored by a Greenpeace campaigner and University of Toronto researchers, describes how logging fragments a forest, leaving it less able to recover from threats like fires, insect outbreaks
and other climate change impacts. If logging is left unchecked, Greenpeace warns that large-scale fires could suddenly release much of the stored carbon in Canada’s massive northern forests, resulting in a disastrous spike in emissions that it calls a “carbon bomb.”
Drought in Australia, plus soaring worldwide commodity prices, are driving up the cost of hops and barley — the two key ingredients in producing beer. Overall beer prices climbed 3.7 percent in March, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights trade newsletter, following price hikes of 4 percent in January and 4.4 percent in February. Small micro-brewers have been forced to pass on much higher price increases.
Photo: Fernando Lugo, Paraguay’s new president.