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April 2008

Apr 2  A Gallup poll asks Europeans whether they approve or disapprove of "the job performance of the leadership of the USA." The approval rating is 22 percent. In Spain it is 6 percent. Belgian and German approval are 8 percent. France is 9 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa gives US leadership a 63 percent approval rating.

Apr 4  Iraqi's Prime Minister Maliki, a Shia, attemps to assert power over Shia militias in the port city of Basra. He declares it a fight to the end. The fighting spreads across southern Iraq and to Baghdad. Maliki has to call on the British and Americans for help. After a few days of warfare his fight ends in an truce with the leader of the Mahdi army, Muqtada al-Sadr. The fighting has killed an estimated 200 or 600 depending on the source.

Apr 6  In Jerusalem a judge has ruled that restaurants and cafes can sell leavened bread during Passover. This outrages orthodox Jews. They believe that religious law should be the law of the state of Israel for everyone, be he religious or not.

Apr 8  Senator Obama asks questions of General Petraeus at Foreign Relations Committee hearing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yG83rSm6fY

Apr 9  People around the world are rioting because of food prices or availability: in Egypt, Mexico, Haiti, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Mauritania. In South Korea there is panic buying. In the Philippines, officials are raiding warehouses looking for unscrupulous traders hoarding rice. The rising price of oil has made food production more expensive. Nations are cutting back on their exports of food in order to have enough for their own people. Egypt's reduction of rice exports is hurting Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. On April 3, world rice prices rose as much as 30 percent.

Apr 10  Demonstrators have been using violence against the passage of the Olympic flame through Europe and the United States. The subject of the demonstrations has been Tibet. Supporters of China describe Tibet as having been a part of China at least since the early 1700s, a few decades before Xinjiang became a part of China and before there was a United States – and before the US took Indian lands east of the Mississippi. China describes itself as multi-ethnic. Its supporters cite CIA support for the Dalai Lama and meddling in a Tibet separatist movement during the Cold War. They do not see China disintegrating ethnically as did Yugoslavia.

Apr 10  An Iraqi carpenter, Allah Sadiq, 49, in Baghdad's Karrada district, was interviewed about the testimony of General Petraeus this week to the US Congress. An article in today's Washington Post quotes him. "The Americans have hundreds of meetings and testimonies like this, and what has it done for the Iraqi people? Nothing... We just want all the foreigners to leave and stop causing disasters for our country."

Robert Mugabe

President Mugabe

Apr 11  Pakistan's new government introduces a bill that lifts controls on the media imposed by Pervez Musharraf under his state of emergency.

Apr 14  Zimbabwe's High Court rules against those demanding that results of the presidential election, held more than two weeks ago, be released. Opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have won more than 50 percent of the vote. President Robert Mugabe is looking forward to a runoff election, legally necessary if Tsvangirai has won less than 50 percent. Forces loyal to Mugabe are intimidating voters with beatings and the destruction of homes.

Apr 15  Yusuf Juma, a poet and critic of Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, is sentenced to five years of forced labor.

Apr 16  In Nepal, a Communist Party described as Maoist has won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections. The Maoists promise to deliver Nepal from various traditions: caste, gender discrimination, the dowry system and the monarchy. Their promise not to hamper private enterprise has won them some backing from entrepreneurs.

Apr 18  It is independence day in Zimbabwe. Speaking to his nation, President Mugabe shows the mettle of another of recent history's revolutionists and blames imperialism, the British and traitors for his nation's troubles.

President-elect Lugo

President-elect Lugo

Apr 22  Last week in Oaxaca Province, Mexico, two radio broadcasters, Felicitas Martinez Sanchez, 21, and Teresa Bautista Merino, 24, were assassinated while returning from an assignment. At least 20 spent AK-47 cartridges were found at the scene.

Apr 22  In Paraguay, a former bishop, Fernando Lugo, has won the presidency, ending 61 years of conservative Colorado Party rule. Many Paraguayans are ecstatic.

Apr 22  Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, a Sunni from Egypt now in hiding in Pakistan, denounces Iran for describing Israel as behind the 2001 9/11 attacks in the United States. Zawahiri complains that Iran (under Shia rule) is trying to deprive al-Qaeda credit for the attacks.

Apr 24  Prostitutes have flocked to Norway from around the world, because in Oslo they can make more money. They are aggressive, creating a new debate in Norway over whether to make prostitution illegal.

Apr 25  Mexico's state owned oil company, Pemex, is losing money. It is running out of oil and would benefit from deeper drilling. Foreign drillers have the technology and expertise to do this, but Mexico's Constitution forbids Pemex from joint ventures with private and foreign companies. Mexico is in political fervor with leftists opposed to foreign exploitation.

Apr 25  Port workers in South Africa defy their government's apparent indifference to events in Zimbabwe. The port workers refuse to unload weaponry from a Chinese ship. Church groups in South Africa join the protest, complaining that the weaponry, destined for Zimbabwe, would be used against the Zimbabwe people. Chinese authorities agree to withdraw the shipment.

Apr 29  Republican presidential candidate, John McCain offers a "market-based" health plan. McCain describes the plans of his rival Democrat candidates, Clinton and Obama, as riddled with "inefficiency, irrationality and uncontrolled costs." An Obama spokesman, Hari Sevugan responds: "John McCain is recycling the same failed policies that didn't work when George Bush first proposed them and won't work now."

Apr 30  On Larry King Live on CNN, Michael Moore, maker of the film Sicko, expresses his dislike for McCain's health plan. Moore says that profit should be out of the health care system as it is out of police and fire departments. The higher costs in a free market system, with profits for corporations, he describes as equivalent to a tax. Moore says health care would be less expensive if it were covered by a real tax.

Apr 30  Russia accuses Georgia of planning to invade Abkhazia. Georgia proclaims that any additional Russian troops in Abkhazia will be considered aggressors. .

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