August 2007

Maliki and Amadinajad

Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq and President Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Aug 1   The Kingdom of Jordan successfully completes public elections for council seats in the country's municipalities, positions previously held by persons appointed by the king.

Aug 1  In Minneapolis, Minnesota, an eight-lane bridge filled with bumper to bumper traffic collapses into the Mississippi River.

Aug 3  The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, reverses himself. In 2005 and early in 2007 he vetoed bills to raise gasoline taxes. Today he says he will consider a gas tax increase.

Aug 4  Some pundits in the US describe the nation as spending too much on consumption and too little on its infrastructure.

Aug 5  Eric Weiss in the Washington Post writes of engineers in the 1950s and '60s building bridges at a lower cost and with less steel while not realizing the amount of stress that many of these bridges would eventually need to endure.

Aug 7  In the US the Brookings Institute think tank reports that “On balance, Iraq at the end of July is showing significant signs of battlefield momentum in favor of US/coalition military forces, but there is nonetheless little good to report on the political front and only modest progress on the economic side of things.”

Aug 8  Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq meets again with Iranian officials amid declarations of friendship and help from Iran.

Aug 9  The global banking group BNP Pribas, headquartered in Paris and owner of several US banks, tells investors that two of its funds have collapsed. Other banks, worried about possible losses, are to fear lending, creating a rise in the cost of credit and a slow moving "credit crunch" that will be described as not severe at first but pushing the US economy into a recession by the end of the year. The BBC will describe "most analysts" as linking the credit crisis to the sub-prime mortgage business, in which banks give high-risk loans to people with poor credit histories.

Aug 12  Agence France-Presse reports that in the holy city of Medina, in Saudi Arabia, a Bangladeshi man dies of a heart attack (of fright says the article) after members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice detained him "for washing his car instead of praying."

Aug 14  On the Larry King show (CNN), a clip of Bill Maher shows him saying something like any country that lets me run my mouth the way I do in public deserves to be saved.

Aug 14  In an article for Reuters news service, Abigail Hauslohner descibes Sudanese in Cairo, Egypt, "living in gang-dominated neighborhoods" and feeling "forced to choose between one gang or another." She focuses on a 21-year old gang memeber, "Marc," who "loves rap music and has 'Los Angeles' scrawled in black ink across his forearm."

Aug 15  It is said that at least 250 were killed and 350 injured in yesterday's bombings in Yazidi villages near Mosul in Iraq. Yazidi are a religious minority among Kurds. This is the deadliest attack on a single area since since the war began in March 2003. The Bush administration claims that US forces and the Iraqi government will continue to "beat back" the "vicious and heartless murderers."

Aug 17  Russia's state media director has complained that BBC broadcasts in Russia are propaganda because the BBC is state owned. Pressure from the Russian government is ending FM broadcasts of BBC programs from within Russia. The BBC will still reach the Russians through the internet and shortwave frequences.

Aug 17  On a permanent basis, Russia is resuming the long-range bomber flights that was the practice of the Soviet Union. NATO has been shadowing the Russsian flights and it is reported that Russian and US pilots exchanged smiles near Guam in the Pacific. None of the bombers have violated US airspace.

Aug 21  In Kabwe, Zambia, the city's biggest employer, a textile factory, has closed, unable to compete with Chinese imports. Some complain of an old trading relationship: manufactured goods in, raw materials out.

Aug 22  President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya refuses to sign into law a bill that would allow courts to force reporters to reveal their sources.

Aug 22  On a panel on the News Hour (PBS television) Laith Kubba speaks of a "dysfunctional political system" in Iraq. Susanne Maloney of the Brookings Institute complains about the focus on Prime Minister Maliki and says, "it really demonstrates a paucity, I think, in the political debate here in Washington that, on this very important issue, we're now very much focused on the search for either a white knight or some opportunity for blame-laying."

Aug 25  In Liberia, officials are promoting morality and discipline among children at school by banning sloppy dress, exposure of underwear and unusual hair styles.

Aug 26  In eastern Shandong Province, officials are giving up hope of saving 181 miners trapped in a mine flooded during "unprecedented" rains.

Aug 27  McClatchy News reports that in Iraq sub-contractors for projects financed by the US are paying extortion money to get supplies moving across roads controlled by the insurgents. In other words, money from the US is helping to finance the insurgency.

Aug 29  An article for the BBC mentions that the Mediterranean Sea has "almost 2,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of seabed."

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