Sunday, May 17, 2009

World Ups and Downs, 5/11-5/17

A short pause in our platform programming to return to a hopefully weekly feature, World Ups and Downs. This is a view of the global movers and shakers for the past week, seeing which foreign countries managed to worsen or better the lives of their people. For a further explanation, see the original post...

moving UP
The government of India not only pulled off the logistical challenge of the world's largest election, but its people voted for sanity. The Marxists were slapped down, and a strong blow was landed against the bigoted BJP. Congress Party, in many ways the best of bad options, headed for a surprisingly comfortable victory. While the idea of a political dynasty on its fourth generation of adoration fits poorly with democratic principles, at least the voters of India spoke loudly in favor of a smart and sane approach to domestic and foreign policy.
Given American problems, it's easy to forget how precipitous the world economy makes life in other countries. In Zambia, for instance, the solvency of the society is linked closely to the price of copper. With fortuitous momentum swings in the market, and an IMF loan, Zambia may keep things together. Though press and activist freedom is far from where it needs to be, Zambia is rated "partly free" by Freedom House, and has a strong and improving record on electoral democracy.
moving DOWN
If things are getting so bad that an activist records a video in the event he is murdered, things are really bad. So is the case of Rodrigo Marzano. On the verge of preparing incendiary documents on government embezzlement and fraud when he was killed. Guatemala has shifted into full-on crisis mode in response, and the likely victims will be the people of Guatemala.

A sad case of a nation without the money to provide food, but plenty of funds to provide weaponry, as it sees fit. Largely Muslim Eritrea seems willing to carry on its rivalry with largely Christian Ethiopia (a country of which it was once part), in this case with a proxy contest in the failed state of Somalia. They don't seem to picky of the consequences, as long as they can perceive themselves as having "won".

United Kingdom

New Labor will likely end up as the New Opposition as scandal continues to beleaguer the government. The scandal has it all -- unapologetic privilege, $730 massage chairs bought with public funds, a widening net of links, and a media outlet chasing the story for all its worth. About the only person smiling is David Cameron.

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