May 2009

May 1  In Brazil, following the country's Supreme Court ruling, enforcement begins in expelling non-indigenous people from the Raposa Serra do Sol reservation. Non-indigenous rice farmers and farm workers who had intruded onto the reservation complain. The government claims they will be properly compensated.

May 1  Palestinians can get permission from Jewish authorities to build a home only in a zone that comprises about 13 percent of East Jerusalem. About 28 percent of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been built without a permit. These are homes to around 60,000 Palestinians. The UN asks Israel to forego plans to demolish these houses.

May 3  An article in the New York Times by Sabrina Tavernise reports that a lack of funding for public elementary school education results in parents sending their boys to madrasas. In these schools there is "no instruction beyond memorizing the Koran." Madrasas in southern Punjab have become "an urgent concern in the face of Pakistan’s expanding insurgency."

May 5  Time magazine reports of the Australian government's plan to spend $31 billion to build a broadband network of fiber-optics connections that will make Australia more advanced in highspeed internet access than South Korea, where 44 percent of residences have fiber-optic computer connections. The US has only 5 percent. Fiber-optic connections download at around 100 megabytes per second, about 100 times faster than that now available to the average Australian.

May 8  From the Heritage Foundation comes a pessimistic assessment: "[T]he debt-based Obama economic stimulus plan is about to become a major drag on the recovery, just as expected... There are two critical consequences to the economy stabilizing. The first is that the massive liquidity injected into credit markets by the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world transforms from economic medicine to inflationary heroin...The second dangerous consequence is that President Obama is on course to double the national debt in just four years."

May 11  In Sri Lanka, artillery bombardment by government forces against Tamil rebels leaves what one doctor says is as many as 1,000 civilian dead. The U.N. calls it a bloodbath.

May 12  In Pakistan's Swat Valley government soldiers are fighting the Taleban. Thousands have been fleeing the fighting. Some among Pakistan's poor and more religious associate the army with the US, which is aiding the army with weapons and supplies. Nationalist fervor has been aroused. Some Muslims are demonstrating with signs against the Taleban and against the United States.

May 12  China is being described as turning more toward economic development within rather than relying as much as it has on exports.

Dr. Manhohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Pervez Musharaff

Pervez Musharraf

May 15  The United States is moving slightly away from an economy for the sake of consumerism – described derisively as a Coca-Cola economy – and toward more public sector activity: infrastructure investment and other government spending. This requires higher taxes for some people. The Republican Party continues to find this unacceptable and can be heard to speak of reckless spending, socialism and skyrocketing deficits. But their complaints have not been winning adherents. The Pew Research Center has reported that the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years and that only 23 percent of those polled identify themselves as Republicans. In 1920 the US public sector was 8 percent of GDP. In recent times it has been 35 percent, compared to from 42 to 59 percent of GDP in the European Union.

May 16  India's Congress Party triumphs in parliamentary elections, ensuring that the eminent economist Dr. Manmohan Singh will continue as prime minister. His administration has focused on reducing the fiscal deficit, providing debt-relief to farmers, extending social programs and advancing pro-industry economic and tax policies. The Congress Party of Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi and her sons have moved from the left more toward the center. India withstands the present-day global financial crisis because, in part, seventy percent of its banks are in the public sector (nationalized), and its banks are heavily regulated. The Congress Party's conservative rival, the BJP, campaigned on less taxation and is described as not having "clicked" with younger voters.

May 17  Former president and army chief of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, tells Americans that they should should have more confidence in the integrity of Pakistan's army and intelligence service, the ISI.

May 17  The politics that dominates the media on this day in the United States is as follows. Leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has been attacked verbally by some Republicans. Defensiveness is often unattractive, and Pelosi has defended herself not well it seems to some. She has accused the CIA of having misled her and Congress. The head of the CIA, a Democrat, has defended the image of the agency, perhaps motivated in part to maintain morale at the agency. Some look upon all this as trival and petty stuff at a time when serious work needs to be done by Congress. Newt Gincrich, a perennial spokesperson for himself and the Republican Party, is reported as calling Pelosi "trivial," "vicious," and "dispicable." And he says, "I think she has lied to the House, and I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal."

May 19  Another attempt at separation has failed – no matter the history of abuse or oppression. Separation was advocated by Blacks in the US who felt oppressed, but that separatist movement dissipated. Kurdish separatists have been making trouble for Turkey, and to this day they have failed. Some Tibetans launched a try at ethnic separatism and ethnic cleansing recently, without success. The Tamil separatists had grievances, but their choice of warfare has proven a failure. Their leader, Prabhakaran, is dead. Their army is crushed and Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war ended, except in the minds of some Tamil diaspora.

May 19  On the News Hour, Pamela Constable of the Washington Post describes a family patriarch having told her of Taliban fighters coming to his village in Pakistan and the Taliban telling the villagers that they were bringing justice, peace, religious order and fairness. The patriarch told Constable that these Taliban talked in a very persuasive way and were received well by the villagers. Just two days later the villagers saw Taliban fighters grab the local policeman and start chopping off his head. And the whole village, the patriarch told Constable, was just horror-struck. They managed to save the man's life and get him away and hide him, but he said, "All of us from that moment on looked at each other and said, 'Who are these people? Why have they come here? Are they really Muslims? And what do they really want with us?"

May 20  California voters have rejected tax raising issues on Tuesday's ballot, leaving the state to face a $21.3 billion budget gap. For the legislature to raise taxes requires a two-thirds vote, which has not been attainable. How worthy the spending of the few dollars not paid in additional taxes will be decided by the public. Legislators and the governor are left with choices as to what deep cuts to make in services, a drama that will now unfold.

May 24  The BBC reports that Lebanese banks "are posting record deposits and bankers say this is the best year in Lebanon's financial history." Lebanon's banks were well regulated and missed the international banking crisis. They were limited in the amount of debt they could carry, they had to have at least 30 percent of their assets in cash, and they were not allowed to speculate in risky packages of bundled up debts.

Siv Jensen

Norway's Siv Jensen, Progess Party Leader

May 24  In the US it is the Memorial Day weekend. People are remembering the country's war dead. Andy Rooney of Sixty Minutes, a World War II Army veteran, lost friends in that war and says that soldiers did not give their lives, they had their lives taken away. He objects, as I do, to frequent use of the word sacrifice for what is not sacrifice. Indeed people in the US do not go off to war planning or hoping to die. They want to survive, and their military superiors want them to survive. Sacrifice is something suicide bombers do. Service to their country, Rooney would agree, is more appropriate than the word "sacrifice."

May 25  North Korea conducts an underground nuclear weapons test. Its leadership senses US hostility and fears US aggression, and it claims its right to self-defense.

May 26  Norway's right wing Progess Party has become the only political party in Norway to support euthanasia (mercy killing), or Kevorkianism.

May 27  In Pakistan, the Taliban has been using the US military's drone attacks against Taliban and al Qaeda leadership to extend their recruitment. The growth of the Taliban is splitting families and communities and is extensive enough to make the drone attacks counter productive. A few dead leaders are easily replaced. Today another bombing occurs in the city of Lahore, against a police station, killing 23. The Taliban is described as behind the Lahore attack and as responding to the government's offensive against them in Swat Valley.

May 28  Germany and Japan lead the world in the production of solar power and the installation of solar technology. Germany motivates homeowners and businesses by offering "top dollar" for producing energy. Interest in the German approach has spread to the United States, especially in Hawaii, where the cost of electricity consumption is unusually high.

May 29  A Swede comments on attacks by youths against Iraqi refugees in his country. He blames the economic hard times and complains that crime is presumed to have been committed by foreigners. He describes as racism the view that Swedes "are special, harmonious and good clean living Ayran people." He writes that they ignore the widespread alcohol abuse, pill popping, the suicide levels, the jealousies, two-facedness, materialism to the extreme, abuse within marriage and relationships in general and a dillusionment about "about how great the country is."

May 30  Pakistan’s military claims victory over the Taliban in the most populous city in the Swat Valley, Mingora. The military estimates that ten percent of enemy combatants were from outside the Swat Valley.

May 31  Niall Ferguson, hotshot Harvard professor of History and Business bad mouths liberal Princeton economist Paul Krugman. Ferguson warns that there has been an explosion of government debt that will impact the bond market and drive up interest rates. Signs of recovery he describes as little weed sprouts, and talk of recovery he describes as "wishful non-thinking."

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