Govenor Salman Taseer, assassinated
under orders from Islamic clerics
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Jan 1 World population is 6.9 billion. The U.S. officially is around 310.5 million, 27.5 million more than ten years ago – a growth big enough for 27 more large cities. Growth rate for the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 3.17%; for Afghanistan, 2.47%; Iraq 2.45%; India 1.38%; the U.S. 0.97%; China 0.49%; South Korea 0.26%; Japan, minus 0.24%.
Jan 1 Christians and Muslims clash in Alexandria. A bomb kills at least 27 people at a Christian church. Angry Christians attack Muslims, enter a mosque and throw books into the street. President Mubarak calls on all Egyptians to unite against terrorism.
Jan 1 In Hungary a "National Media and Communications Authority" is empowered to impose heavy fines for coverage that it considers unbalanced or offensive to human dignity or common morals. Chacellor Merkel of Germany considers the new law offensive to the dignity of the European Union. The law is supported by the conservatives now in power and very popular in Hungary, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Jan 4 Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, is murdered by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, who is said to have been influenced by clerics. They issued a decree of death against the governor for opposing the sentence of hanging given to a Christian mother of five, Asia Noreen, convicted of blasphemy. The governor was murdered for supporting, according to the BBC, "a perfectly legal idea to amend a man-made law with the name of Islam appended to it."
Jan 4 Interviewed by Spitzer and Parker on CNN, Pakistan's politician and former cricket star, Imran Kahn, repeats his charge that U.S. bombing in Pakistan is inflaming opinion and is counter-productive. It's a war for hearts and minds he says, and the U.S. is losing that war. Khan is distraught over the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. "Pakistan," he complains, "is imploding."
Jan 5 In Tunisia, protests against unemployment and food prices have spread despite police repressions. A few have died. Muhammad Bouazi died yesterday after having set himself on fire a few days before. Just as Tunisian students were keen in observing student protests in other countries in the region, young people in these other countries now hunger for news about the protests in Bouazizi. Twitter spread interest in the revolt within Tunisia and among young people in the region.
Jan 5 Regarding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, a panel ordered by President Obama has, in the words of the BBC. "reviewed thousands of pages of documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, and in the autumn conducted a series of public hearings." The panel blames the disaster on cost-cutting decisions by the companies involved.
Jan 8 In Pakistan the assassin of Governor Taseer is celebrated by many as a hero. The U.S. educated Pakistani analyst Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi declares that "... the mindset that sustains militancy, that dilutes or prevents action against it – I think that has become fairly widespread. It has seeped into our educated classes, governmental institutions and the armed forces, where you can detect sympathy for militancy, and also to an extent for the Taliban."
Jan 8 In Tucson, Arizona, 22-year-old Jared Loughner kills six people and gravely wounds Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner was targeting Giffords for assassination. He is described as having used a Glock-19 pistol.
Jan 9 According to the BBC, as many as 50,000 people have staged a protest in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi against a proposed softening of strict blasphemy laws. Demonstrators held banners in support of the assassin of Governor Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri.
Jan 10 The BBC reports that when Mumtaz Qadri emptied two magazines of a sub-machine gun at the man he was assigned to guard, 13 other policemen-guards were standing by and none of them attempted to stop Qadri.
Jan 12 The talk of global weirding in reference to weather continues. Australia is having an unusually wet summer. Queensland is having its worst floods in more than 50 years. The loss of crops is expected to produce a spike upward in food prices around the world, and damaged coal mining is expected to result in higher oil prices, especially in Asia. This comes in the wake of Pakistan having what is described as its worst flooding in history and Britain having its coldest winter in 1,000 years. Russia has also been experiencing weather extremes.
Jan 13 Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, are denied the right to picket the funeral for the nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, one of six people killed Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. As the Westboro people see it, bad things happen because God is angry about sin – a common idea in ancient times and the reason Jehovah is supposed to have destroyed the world the first time. Westboro church members see sin as having caused the Tucson murders and the deaths of U.S. servicemen, and the sin they have been protesting against is homosexuality. They apparently chose Christina's funeral for the sake of visibility.
Jan 15 In Tunisia, intensified police crackdowns have made matters worse for President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. His 23-years of rule ends as he flies off to Saudi Arabia. Muhammad Bouazizi, age-26, who set himself afire and died, has become a martyr and a symbol among other young people across the region who are frustrated.
Jan 16 In Tunisia, as a new interim leader is sworn in, people take the opportunity to loot and vent hostility against authority in general. In residential areas men with clubs join together in the street intent on protecting their property. The police are associated with the old regime and are in hiding. New elections are promised for within three months.
Jan 17 Tunisia's ousted dictator, Ben Ali, is being described as having spouted phony reform rhetoric in public, having "defended women's rights, educated his middle class" and as having "prevented the radical Islamists from coming to power." These quoted words are by columnist Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post. She further describes Ben Ali as having "created fake opposition parties and a phony parliament, set up a draconian regime that controlled the Internet and beat up the occasional dissident to keep everybody else frightened." She describes events in Tunisia as a "revolt of the frustrated young against their corrupt elders." She hopes but is not sure that the government that emerges will bring Tunisians "greater liberty and prosperity."
Jan 17 The Associated Press writes that today protesters set themselves afire in Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania "in apparent copycat self-immolation attempts inspired by the act that helped trigger a popular uprising in Tunisia."
Jan 20 Economic figures for 2010 are published. In first place in per capita GDP is Qatar, which is doing well in banking as well as oil. Liechtenstein and Luxembourg are second and third, and fourth place is Bermuda, which counts for less because it is even less populous and its residents are benefitting from its successful financial services industry. Singapore has moved from 8th to 5th place past Norway, and Norway has increased its lead over the United States from 20% higher in 2009 to 27% higher in 2010. But in per capita GDP the U.S. is chugging along still ahead of Canada, Britain, Switzerland and most other European powers. (www.cia.gov)
Jan 24 A French cable company, Nexans, worldwide leader in the cable industry, has been awarded a contract by China's Huawei Marine Networks to lay a submarine fibre optic cable that connects Libya and Greece.
Jan 25 One week after a protester set himself afire in Egypt copying an event in Tunisia, massive protests erupt in Cairo, Alexandria and other crowded Egyptian cities. Three die on the first day. More is expected tomorrow. As a defensive move the government is blocking mobile phone and twitter communications. People are unhappy about economic conditions, what they speak of as corruption, and they focus their anger on President Mubarak, whom they see as an oppressor.
Jan 25 New economic figures have been published by the CIA Factbook. These latest figures show the United States as third largest oil producer, not far behind Russia and Saudi Arabia and as having nearly twice the production of the country in fourth place: Iran. But the U.S. leads in oil consumption. The latest figures (for the year 2009) show U.S. oil consumption at 18.69 million barrels per day compared to 13.68 million barrels by the more populous European Union and 8.2 million for third-place China. Russia and Saudi Arabia consume only around a fifth of what they produce. The U.S. consumes twice as much as it produces.
Jan 25 President Obama gives his State of the Union Message. He calls for advancing the economy, including energy efficiency, by government participation in investing. Some of his critics complain that "investing" is Obama's code word for "spending." All investing they believe should be done by private enterprise.
Jan 27 Another day of protests – following Friday prayers. The course of revolution unfolds: Mobs overwhelm the police and the police change into civilian clothes and flee. The army appears on the street. President Mubarak fires his cabinet and claims that he is staying on to the protect the nation's security. It is now up to the army to support him or to side with those in the street. Monarchs usually fall at this stage, and most observers think Mubark's day are in power are few. Tomorrow will be a telling day.
Jan 30 In Egypt there is looting. People accuse Mubarak of allowing criminals out of the prisons, and Mubarak as the defender or order is winning no support. The army is in the streets with the common soldiers celebrating with the people. People are in front of the homes to defend their home with the best weapons they can get their hands on – often clubs and knives. Few if anybody is expects the military to start clearing the streets with force. Meanwhile pundits on television are vague about the economic component behing the revolution, with Fareed Zakaria describing the revolution as a product of Egypt's economic success and rising expectations. Some others disagree. Best viewing is live stream, http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/
Copyright © 2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.