International Briefs

Indypendent Staff Feb 27, 2009


Protests over the economic crisis continue to escalate across the globe. In Britain, police are preparing for a “summer of rage” as concern grows of rioting unemployed workers and foreclosed homeowners. In Ireland, up to 120,000 people took part in a union-led demonstration Feb. 21 to protest the government’s handling of the crisis. On Feb. 20, Latvia’s Prime Minister resigned following Latvia’s largest protests since the fall of the Soviet Union. Mass protests have also occurred in the neighboring Baltic states, Estonia and Lithuania. Workers in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe have engaged in a month-long general strike because current wages are not enough to stave off rising living costs, high unemployment and poverty.


Three former Latin American presidents have declared the U.S. “war on drugs” a failure and claim it is threatening the future of Colombia, Mexico and other nations. “Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven’t worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries,” wrote former Brazilian president Henrique Cardoso, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Feb. 23. The former leaders are urging the United States and other nations to increase youth public education campaigns about drugs, to treat addicts as patients instead of criminals and to consider decriminalizing marijuana possession.


The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has agreed to allow U.S. and NATO forces to send military supplies through the country en route to Afghanistan. The deal was reached after Kyrgyzstan evicted the United States from a key military base, shutting down a key supply route. The Obama administration is renewing military ties with Uzbekistan, despite the nation’s abysmal human rights record. On Feb. 25, the U.S. Department of State admitted in a new report that Uzbekistan was an authoritarian state where human rights activists and journalists were frequently jailed, tortured and forced into psychiatric treatment. Last July, Uzbek police reportedly poured boiling water on the back of one human rights activist in an attempt to elicit a confession.


A leading climate scientist is warning the effects of global warming are accelerating at a much faster pace than previously projected. “We are basically looking now at a future climate that’s beyond anything we’ve considered seriously in climate model simulations,” said Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. Field said the 2007 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had seriously underestimated the increase in global warming because it failed to consider the widespread adoption of coal-powered energy in countries like China and India. On Feb. 25, Field testified before Congress and warned global warming could turn the southwest United States into a wasteland. “With severe drought from California to Oklahoma, a broad swath of the south-west is basically robbed of having a sustainable lifestyle,” Field said.

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