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July 2007

Jul 1  Sometime around now, a majority of people in the world live in urban areas. Urbanization has risen from 13 percent (220 million) in 1900 to 29 percent (732 million) in 1950 and 49 percent (3.2 billion) in 2005.

Jul 1  In England a smoking ban goes into effect everywhere indoors except in private residences. Advertising and promotion of tobacco products have been banned in Britain since 2002.

Jul 3  Life expectancy estimates for 2007 indicate that in most countries since 2005 the average citizen's life span has increased from 4 to 7 months.

Jul 4  The increase use of farm products for fuel will drive up food prices claims a report co-written by the Organization for Economic Development (OECD).

Jul 4  Since Hamas has taken over in Gaza, people there feel safer and are in the streets more. Hamas wants to demonstrate that it can deliver law and order and in Gaza it forces members of the Dughmush clan to release the British journalist, Alan Johnston, after 16 weeks of captivity.

Jul 9  Zimbabwe's economy is not working. Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate, reported by the BBC to be at 3,700% (per year). President Mugabe has imposed price controls. Business people are being arrested for violating those controls, and producers are not producing because they are being asked to do so for less money than the cost of production.

Jul 9  Hamas creates more order in Gaza. It rescues a lion stolen two years ago when she was a cub. Clan members were charging people to have their pictures taken with the animal, and they did not take care of her properly. Hamas has returned her to the Gaza Zoo, and the lion's brother recognized her instantly and is happy she is back.

Jul 10  In China, Zheng Xiaoyu is executed. He was convicted of taking bribes to approve medicines that killed an unknown number of people. It is considered unlikely that the US Congress will pass a law creating such punishment as a deterent for similar behavior by US Food and Drug Administration officials.

Jul 17  Bear Sterns tells investors that its hedge funds have become worthless, that May and June were devastating. That the funds are now almost worthless came as a surprise to many on Wall Street. In a New York Times article someone asks “How did you go from reporting very high returns to suddenly now saying the collateral is worth nothing?” Bear Stearns stock is at $134 per share, down 14 percent for the year.

Her Holiness Sajani Shakya

Sajani Shakya

Jul 18  It is being said that a cause of the conflict in Darfur is drought, desertification and competition for water resources. Today the BBC reports that a huge underground lake has been discovered in Darfur. According to University of Boston researchers, reports the BBC, "some 1,000 wells will be drilled in the region, with the agreement of Sudan's government."

Jul 19  The BBC reports that as life becomes increasingly hard many Algerians are turning to a "stricter form of Islam," while not supporting Islamist militants, whom they blame for having traumatized the population. Those militants, according to the BBC, this year have renamed themselves "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb."

Jul 19  In Nepal, Sajani Shakya, the ten-year-old worshipped by Nepalese Hindus and Buddhists as a goddess, has disturbed temple elders. But they decide not to take away her status. This is because after having returned from the United States she is willing to undergo a cleansing ceremony.

Jul 22  In the US, Sunday talk shows discuss an apparent contradiction regarding Iraq. Almost everybody, including generals, have said that the war there is to be settled politically. The Bush administration is hoping that military action will give the Malaki government more time, but expert analysts, including the head of the CIA, describe the Malaki government as hopelessly dysfunctional. The world will be watching.

Jul 22  In Turkey those who see the country's secularism as threatened appear to be a minority as Prime Minister Erdogan wins a stunning election victory. But moderation dominates, with the prime minister as well, although his wife wears a head scarf, which has created a stir. A more extreme Muslim political party receives less than 3 percent of the vote.

Jul 24  Jean-Marie Guehenno, United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, states that forces under Laurent Nkunda are the single most serious threat to stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nkunda is an ambitious breakaway general from the DRC army. He has been indicted for war crimes and is under investigation by the International Criminal Court. He reneged on a promise to abide by general elections in the DRC in November 2006.

Jul 27  Jon B. Alterman of CSIS has written that in Iraq "The trend lines are clear: the central government is less and less relevant to what happens in Iraq, and regional leaders—call them warlords, if you like—are grabbing the upper hand." ( CSIS, July 21, 2007)

Jul 28  Rather than vacation in violent Lebanon or religiously strict Saudi Arabia or Libya, more Middle East people are flocking to Cairo, Egypt, where they enjoy the food, well known movies, drink the locally brewed Stella beer and, some in Egypt complain, use Cairo as their sin city. (Reported in the Christian Science Monitor.)

Jul 30  Britain's Royal Society has published a study that concludes that on the Atlantic Ocean hurricanes doubled in frequency in the last century as a result of warmer water surfaces and climate change. (Reported by the BBC.)

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