Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 3rd – 9th February 2007

Politics this week: 3rd – 9th February 2007

Politics this week

Feb 8th 2007
From The Economist print edition


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose job it is to try to assess what is happening to the atmosphere, published its fourth scientific report on February 2nd. It concluded, in terms somewhat stronger than the third report, that things are indeed getting hotter, and that mankind is, indeed, to blame. What to do about it will be addressed in other reports to be published later this year. See article

The European Commission said carmakers should be forced to increase the fuel efficiency of new cars by 20% within five years. Car companies said the target was an arbitrary figure and would lead to job losses in the EU as production moved elsewhere. See article

Russian prosecutors charged Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former boss of the Yukos oil company and a critic of President Vladimir Putin, with laundering over $20 billion. Mr Khodorkovsky, who is already serving an eight-year prison term for fraud, said the new charges were designed to prevent his early release.

Italy’s foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, denounced as “unfortunate outside interference” a letter to an Italian newspaper from the ambassadors of America, Australia, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Romania. The envoys had called on Italy to give greater support to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. See article

Two French Muslim groups sued a satirical magazine for defaming the Prophet Muhammad by reprinting cartoons first published last year in Denmark. Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s centre-right presidential candidate, gave his support to the magazine.

Some 160,000 turkeys were gassed at a farm in Suffolk to stop Britain’s worst outbreak of bird flu from spreading. See article

Flooding in Jakarta killed dozens of people and forced 340,000 to flee their homes. Indonesia is already struggling with an outbreak of dengue fever and is still grappling with bird flu, which has killed five people since the beginning of the year.

Thailand’s military-backed government sacked the national police chief, ostensibly for failing to catch those who planted bombs in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve. Separately, the government decided to reopen Bangkok’s old airport, Don Muang, while it fixes the many faults found at the $4 billion Suvarnabhumi airport, opened only five months ago.

Vietnam’s government unveiled plans for a $33 billion rail link between the capital, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

The design for a 40km (25-mile) atom smasher that will cost $8.2 billion was unveiled at a meeting in Beijing. Physicists want to discern one overarching set of laws that govern the universe and say the machine will help them make the discovery. The International Linear Collider, as it is known, will not start up until 2019 at the earliest and could be built in America, Japan or Switzerland.

George Bush sent his budget to Congress. The $2.9 trillion request asks for more funding for the military and reduces spending on health care and other domestic programmes over five years. It also forecasts reduced federal deficits that eventually reach a surplus in 2012. Sceptics wondered how this could be twinned with Mr Bush’s request to extend his tax cuts. See article

Rudy Giuliani confirmed he was entering the presidential race. Although he did not make a formal declaration, the former mayor of New York filed the usual campaign papers and told a TV interviewer that “I’m in this to win”. See article

The Senate was embroiled in debate on Mr Bush’s policy on Iraq. Several resolutions ranging from support to outright condemnation of Mr Bush’s plans have been produced and the parties are negotiating over which can proceed. See article

An explosion killed 32 miners at a rudimentary coal mine in north-eastern Colombia. Days later, a second blast at another mine in the centre of the country killed eight.


In Bolivia, more than 20,000 miners marched through the capital, La Paz, in protest at plans by Evo Morales, the country’s socialist president, for a sharp rise in taxes on mining. The government backtracked, saying the tax rise would apply to large privately owned mines and not to small mining co-operatives.

Opponents accused Argentina’s government of fiddling the country’s in
flation figure after a senior statistician was sacked and her replacement changed the methodology of the consumer-price index. The government said inflation in January was 1.1%; economists said it was 1.5-2%.
See article

More than a dozen gunmen attacked two state law-enforcement offices in the Mexican resort of Acapulco, killing seven people while videotaping the assaults. President Felipe Calderón sent some 8,000 troops to the area last month to crack down on drug-trafficking and organised crime.

The killing in Iraq continued unabated, with at least 130 people, mostly Shias, dying in a single suicide-bombing in a Baghdad market. A “surge” of extra American troops into Baghdad was set to begin in an effort to quell the sectarian violence.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah party, and his Islamist rivals from Hamas, represented by their leader-in-exile Khaled Meshal, started talks in Mecca to end weeks of factional fighting in the Palestinian territories.

Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, ordered a band of Muslim Brothers, including the group’s number three, to be tried in a military court. Lawyers said that 165 members of the Brotherhood, the country’s most popular opposition group, have been detained since December.

In Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, sporadic night-time mortars and rockets were launched at the presidential palace, hotels and the port, presumably by remnants of the Islamist fighters, most of whom were routed a month ago by Ethiopian troops. An African Union peacekeeping force has yet to be assembled. See article


At the end of an eight-country tour of Africa, China’s president, Hu Jintao, said he would try to cut his country’s $3 billion trade surplus with the continent.

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