Saturday, May 2, 2009

World Ups and Downs, 4/27-5/5

World Ups and Downs, a view of the global movers and shakers for the past week. For a further explanation, see the original post...

moving UP
Sri Lanka
Though there remain many humanitarian concerns, the fact of the matter is that one of the most lethal an durable terrorist organizations in the world, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, are about to be stamped out. This group more or less invented the modern approach of suicide bombing, and has inflicted thousands of casualties on Sri Lanka. Without doubt, Sinhalese discrimination against Tamils is a deep current in Sri Lanka, but the reckless violence of the "Tamil Tigers" means they won't be missed.

IndiaThat a country as disparate, disorganized, and complex as India can hold a federal democratic election is to be lauded. Though the choices are often not inspiring (at least 1/3 of the candidates have an arrest record), they are substantial. The great question, of course, is the fortunes of Mayawati Kumari, self appointed defender of the Dalit ("untouchable") caste who may upset the typical two party system of Congress v the BJP.

moving DOWN
The only thing worse than a failed state is a failed state with nuclear weapons. That the Taliban, a project of the Pakistani Military's secret service, is turning on its creators is simple justice. However, with no real unifying figure to lead the urban educated class, the prospect of a descent into chaos is strong in Pakistan.

Early indications are that H1N1, the "swine flu", may become a widespread but ultimately low-danger virus. The only American death at this point is a Mexican child brought to the US for treatment, and the death rate is tailing off in Mexico. Even "patient zero" managed to survive. However, the unholy scare of this pandemic brought the Mexican economy to an abrupt halt, and it may be some time before trade and tourism recover.


The shorter story is that Egypt has ordered the slaughter of its entire population of pigs in reactions to the swine flu, an unfortunately named virus that affects humans, and does not affect the quality or safety of pork. Of course, there's much more to that -- the fact that the pigs are raised and eaten by Egypt's small Christian population (pork if forbidden in Islam) means that this is essentially cover for a government attack on the small yet historical Christian community of Egypt. This indicates a sop to the ever-present radical Islamism that the Cairo government does its level best to keep tolerable.

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