Nov 1 Germany becomes the first European country to allow parents to register babies with characteristics of both sexes as neither male nor female. Parents can now leave the gender question blank on birth certificates. Germany's move is described by BBC News as "removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns." As many as one in two thousand people are born with characteristics of both sexes
Nov 4 According to Pew Research, 16 percent of US adults use Twitter, 84 percent do not, and 8 percent use it as their news source.
Nov 5 In the Democratic Republic of the Congo the rebellion that began in April 2012 ends with a victory by government forces, with help from UN forces. The rebels are Tutsi, an ethnic minority in DR Congo said to have close ties with the Tutsi of neighboring Rwanda. They started their rebellion claiming they were unhappy with the pay and conditions in the Congolese army, but others claim that the mutiny began when the government came under pressure to arrest and turn over their leader, Bosco Ntaganda, to the International Court Court (ICC). In the face of military defeat, rebel leadership announces they are adopting a "purely political means" to achieve their goals, and they urge their fighters to disarm and demobilise.
Nov 6 In Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) – the world's largest producer of cocoa – a court has sentenced fifteen former top officials known as "cocoa barons" to 20 years each in prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the cocoa and coffee industry during the rule of former President Laurent Gbagbo.
Nov 6 Voters in Houston Texas reject a referendum that would have authorized up to $217 million in bonds to turn the Houston Astrodome into a giant convention and event center. The great Astrodome is now likely headed for demolition.The Astrodome opened in 1965. Newer stadiums have retractable domes," and since Houston opened one such stadium in 2002 the Astrodome hasn't turned a profit.
Nov 8 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) suspends voting rights for the US and Israel because neither country has paid its dues to the UN organization. That has been their protest against UNESCO having given membership to the "State of Palestine" in October 2011.
Nov 9 The US Navy christens a $15.5 billion aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, said to be the most technologically advanced ship ever built.
Nov 12 Norway opens Africa's largest solar energy plant in Kalkbult, South Africa.
Nov 12 In Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, police and garment workers clash when hundreds of workers marched towards the prime minister's home. They demand better pay and working conditions. One of the demonstrators, a woman, is shot dead. BBC News reports that the protesting workers are from a factory that makes "clothes for Gap, H&M and other international brands." BBC News adds that "Strikes and violent demonstrations at garment factories in Cambodia have quadrupled over the past year."
Nov 12 US stock exchanges announce a plan to improve technical functioning of their markets, a response to a computer software bug that in August caused high-profile glitches and halted trading on the Nasdaq exchange.
Nov 13 With most Obamacare provisions scheduled to begin in 2014, internet access in signing up for Obamacare has been reported as faulty and has been elevated by Congressional Republicans into a scandal. Also publicized is Obamacare forcing people to pay more for health insurance than they did for their previous plan. They are complaining that they were supposed to be able to keep their previous plan if they wished. These were plans that were relatively inexpensive because, according to Obamacare, they were substandard. Obamacare wants the holders of these plans to pay for plans that cover more, this so they will subsidize the insurance of those who have not been able to afford healthcare insurance or are taking money from the healthcare sysem through illness. A Washington Post and ABC News poll indicates that 39 percent of voters are now likely to vote against a candidate who supports Obamacare, against 23 percent who say they would be likely to support such a candidate. Democrats are showing nervousness about next years congressional elections.
Nov 13 A four-day meeting of China's top Communist Party members discusses reforms for the next decade. The reforms include a bigger role in the economy for the free market. A CNN Money article describes State-owned enterprises in China as having "long enjoyed preferential treatment in key industries including finance, oil and infrastructure... but some of the state-backed businesses are now bloated, inefficient and heavy with debt." Included in the reforms that are announced is farmers having more rights over their land.
Nov 15 In China another reform in announced. (See above.) China's government is to relax its family planning policy of restricting most couples to having only a single child. Previously, rural families were allowed a second child if the first child was a girl or was disabled, and ethnic minorities were exempt. The new policy adds that a family is permitted two children if one parent is an only child. A Pew Research Center report in 2008 described 76 percent of China's population as supporting this policy.
Nov 15 Burma releases 69 more political prisoners, creating optimism that its persecution of peaceful activists is drawing to a close.
Nov 18 This years Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) ranks Denmark as doing the most to combat climate change. Denmark is ranked 4th, with no country considered as deserving a ranking in the top three. Sweden is ranked 5th, Portugal 6th, Switzerland 7th and Germany 8th. The US is ranked 43rd but ahead of Japan, 47th, and China, 54th. The Index is created in Germany and describes itself as "an instrument designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics."
Nov 18 Libya’s government sends its military into the capital, Tripoli, to drive out militiamen. The troops are welcomed by people in the city angry about the numerous armed groups rampaging in their city. Similar anger exists elsewhere in the country. The militias are reported as sometimes fighting each other – leftover from the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011. Some of the militias are described as nothing more than criminal gangs similar to those that arose in Somalia. The United States announces an agreement to help Libya by training as many as 8,000 soldiers.
Nov 22 As government forces In Syria continue to make gains, seven separate groups fighting the Assad regime announce their "gradual merger" into an Islamic Front. The Front, they say, will be an "independent political, military and social formation" and will create an Islamic state.
Nov 23 Egypt's government expels ambassador from Turkey after Turkey's prime minister, Erdogen, says Egypt should free ousted President Morsi. Erdogen's remarks are described by Egypt as provocative. Morsi is in prison waiting trial for inciting murder and violence.
Nov 24 In Geneva, an interim agreement between Iran and six nations – the US, UK, Russia, China, France, Germany – is established. Iran is to receive a reduction in sanctions while sanctions against its oil and banking sectors stay fully in place. Iranians in general appear to support the settlement while opponents of talks with "satanic America" are subdued. The pundit Fareed Zakaria of CNN speaks in favor of talks and against the effectiveness of sanctions, pointing out that when the Bush administration rejected Iran's offer to talk in 2003 Iran had 164 centrifuges and today it has 19,000 – growth that occurred while sanctions against Iran were in place. The Obama administration is hoping that the negotiations put an and to Iran's nuclear military capability.
Nov 27 In Thailand, massive protests enter a fourth day, against the government of Thailand's first prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. She is accused of being controlled by her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in exile. The brother was ousted from power in a 2006 military coup. Affluent urbanites disliked his reforms and higher taxes. The protests are being led by former opposition Democrat Party leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, who lost to Ms Shinawatra (Thailand's first woman prime minister) in 2012. The protesters have been described as wanting a government closer to an absolutistic monarchy.
Nov 28 The US public supports the Geneva agreement 44 percent to 22 percent according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey. If the agreement fails, 49 percent want an increase in sanctions against Iran, 31 percent want further diplomacy, and 20 percent want military action.
Nov 28 In Thailand's parliament, a delighted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, according to Reuters News, "easily" wins against a no-confidence move against her government. Protests continue in the street but have diminished at least a little. The passionate protesters are shouting "Kill the Thaksin regime."
Nov 29 In Thailand, protests against Yingluck Shinawatra's government continue, demonstrating a lack of respect for democracy and favor for street action over politics by elections – common these days. Shinawatra announces she will not use force against protesters occupying government ministries. She speaks of protecting democracy and suggests she will call for new parliamentary elections but that elections need more calm than now exists.
Nov 29 Conflict between Putin's Russia and the European Union continues. Under pressure from Russia, according to BBC News Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has abruptly frozen plans to sign the trade and reform deal with the EU. The EU is upset. Meanwhile Ukraine is divided between the Roman Catholic west and the Eastern Orthodox east, the former more inclined to the EU, the latter to Russia. Russia is reported as building a trading bloc, and Ukraine buys its oil from Russia. Ukraine's prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, remains in prison and on the fourth day of a hunger strike in solidarity with the protesters. The EU is looking to shared values, including human rights, the rule of law and the pace of democratic reform by countries that join it. President Viktor Yankovych has told the EU not to further involve itself in the Yulia Tymoshenko affair.
Nov 29 According to the Times of Israel, Israeli officials have denounced President Obama "for presiding over failed negotiations with Iran." The officials add that "sanctions pressure on Tehran is collapsing and the Islamic Republic has been granted the right to enrich uranium. The entire wall of sanctions, painstakingly constructed over years, is already crumbling."
Nov 30 According to Argentinian police, raids on brothels in and around the capital, Buenos Aires, have rescued nearly 100 women forced into prostitution.
Copyright © 2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.