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October 2007

Oct 1  In Zimbabwe bakeries are running out of bread. Because of mismanagement this year's wheat harvest is described as one-third the country's requirement, and there is not enough cash to pay for food importation.

Oct 1  Burma's foreign minister, Nyan Win, defends Burma's dictatorship, saying "neo-colonialism has raised its ugly head by trying to spread disinformation about human rights abuses in Burma." He describes as "political opportunists" those he says have tried to turn protests by a small group into a showdown.

Oct 2  In Ghana timber brings foreign exchange. It brings money to those who cut and sell it illegally, and timber is used domestically for fuel. At the present rate of cutting there will be no timber in ten years.

Oct 2  A new Washington Post – ABC News poll describes 52 percent of the US public as favoring Bush's pace for withdrawal or an even less hasty withdrawal. In July, 60 percent favored decreasing troop numbers in Iraq. Today 43 percent want a quicker exit. But the poll shows distrust for the Republicans. Regarding key issues, including Iraq, the approval rating for Democrats is 15 percent higher than for Republicans. Seventy percent want funding for Iraq and Afghanistan cut, and President Bush's approval rating remains at a low point: 33 percent.

Oct 3 Portugal becomes the 105th country to ratify the treaty that has created UN's International Criminal Court – created to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Those not members of the treaty include Russia, China, India and most Muslim nations. The Bush administration remains hostile to the treaty.

Oct 7  General Musharraf wins a landslide victory and is re-elected president. In Pakistan voting for the presidency is limited to its two houses of parliament. Pakistan's judiciary is soon to decide whether the election was legal.

Oct 7  The BBC reports that descendants of the German General Lothar von Trotha have traveled to Namibia and have apologized and expressed their deep shame. In 1904 General von Trotha gave the order that resulted in the extermination of nearly 90 percent of the Herero people.

Oct 7  Weijun Chen writes for the BBC that "60 percent of China's college graduates choose government as their ideal career."

Oct 9  In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches a high of a little over 14,000. A sign of credit trouble is being ignored. This indicator involves US treasury bills. The difference between interest rates on interbank loans on the one hand and short-term government debt (treasury-bills) on the other has in recent years been running at about 0.5 percent and as high as 1.0 percent. From the middle of this year, 2007, the TED-spread has reached higher than 2.0 percent. Wikipedia describes that TED-spread as "an indicator of perceived credit risk in the general economy."

Oct 10  From Kazakhstan, a Russian spacecraft takes off from Kazakstan with Malaysia's first man into space aboard: Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. Malaysians are joyous. The ship heads for the International Space Station, and one of the three aboard is the first woman astronaut commander of the space station, Peggy Whitson.

Oct 10  India, according to an article by the BBC, has been been reluctant to criticize Burma's generals because of its strategic interests in the area. Since the mid-1990s India has been competing with China's growing influence in Burma. "Now it is building roads and railways in western Burma and its companies are trying to gain access to rich deposits of oil and natural gas."

Oct 13  Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached an all-time high at 14,097. Investment advisors consider themselves contrarians but many are inviting the public to join the party. Today in the New York Times, David Kelly, an economist at Putnam Investments is quoted as saying, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The American economy is basically strong enough right now to weather the housing downtrend. The Federal Reserve doesn’t need to do anything else.”

Oct 13  It is believed that male and female partnership in reproduction has helped give species survivability. The BBC reports that many "asexual organisms have died out because they cannot adapt to changes in the natural world." The report describes an exception: a tiny sexless species known as a bdelloid rotifer. It has survived millions of years because it makes separate proteins from two different copies of a key gene.

Oct 17  After years of authoritarian rule, the return of democracy is celebrated in Togo. Parliamentary elections have concludedin in which all opposition parties participated.

Oct 17  US influence in Iraq shows signs of decline as Iraq's government awards contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build power plants in Baghdad.

Oct 18  In Baghdad, two months of negotiating results in a 12-point agreement between local Sunni and Shiite leaders to end sectarian violence. Participants in the agreement hope that it will keep military operations out of their neighborhoods. The US military favors the agreement.

Oct 18  Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), returns from eight years in exile and is greeted by great crowds. She is greeted also by two explosions that kill more than one hundred and wound more than 200. President Musharraf calls the attack a "conspiracy against democracy." Benazir Bhutto was unhurt be this and by the rifle fire.

Oct 18  President Putin holds his annual three-hour TV call-in show, enjoying his popularity for helping Russia achieve stability and growing prosperity. He believes that the US has been overbearing as a self-appointed world policeman. He describes threats to Iran as "harmful."

Oct 21  Vice President Cheney says the Iranian regime "needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences.”

Oct 21  The anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP) gains seven seats in Switzerland's 200-seat parliamentary body, the National Council. The SVP now leads with 62 seats. The Social Democrats are second with 43, having lost nine seats.

Oct 24  China's space program lauches a moon probe, viewed by a happy and proud crowd. Some in the US are not so happy. Chinese officials say they are not interested in initiating an arms race in space, but their ability to turn space into a battlefield is recognized. In January a ground-launched missile destroyed a defunct weather satellite.

Alisher Saipov.

Another murdered journalist,
Alisher Saipov, 26

Oct 25  France's President Sarkozy reveals plans for new taxes that target pollution and the possibility of taxing imports from countries that are not respecting Kyoto Protocal.

Oct 25  Rebel groups in Chad sign an immediate ceasefire and prisoner exchange aggreement with the government. The accord is brokered by Libya's Muslim leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

Oct 26  Joe Klein in Time Magazine writes of Amar Al-Hakim, the Shia cleric and militia leader, feasting and praying with cheerful Sunni leaders and saying "We are all Iraqis, and we must reconcile."

Oct 27  Kyrgyz authorities seize the computer of Alisher Saipov, the 26-year-old journalist shot dead in Kyrgyzstan outside his office on October 24th. Saipov wrote about torture in the prisons of neighboring Uzbekistan and about repression of dissent and the plight of the Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan.

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