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North Korea’s (DPRK) continues to defy the United Nations with repeated nuclear tests, such as its fifth on 9 September, and several missile
Syrian government forces with Iranian and Russian support keep attacking Aleppo, a major center of civilian population and are delaying the
transit of aid convoys.
Instability and strife are continuing in Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
Noticed and Noted
After the election
The United States
failed to choose its first woman head of state and elected the Republican Party candidate, a newcomer to government, inexperienced and not very familiar with
international affairs. The US now joins the Philippines and Turkey with controversial leaders. Ironically, the next government whose president-elect campaigned
on a platform of ‘Making America Great Again’ will be facing less respect and influence. If a fraction of alarming predictions come true, efforts to lower
global warming will be set back, alliances and treaties will be weakened, and ill-advised involvement in conflicts abroad may again divert attention from dire
domestic needs. China and Russia are apt to benefit from the change in the White House.
The American election scene – open but not level*
Every four years, commentators and readers alike belabor that the presidential election is not only limited but dominated by two political parties. But
when it comes to covering others, readers are lucky to find the names of the groups and their candidates. At the state level, some parties are able to win seats
and the contributions of their representatives are reported. Nationally, once in a while a movement advanced and financed by a well-known personality catches
the interest of major media and is covered to the end. Others may be lampooned for an instance for lacking knowledge of world developments but continuous
exposure that Democrats and Republicans are receiving to inform voters stays absent, is considered unimportant. There is a need for other viewpoints, say the
media but in the same breath these “intruders” are seen as spoilers. Just ask Al Gore and Ralph Nader.
*According to Wikipedia there are currently almost 70 political parties in the US. Besides the two major ones,
another three operate nationally, and 30 consider themselves national movements. In addition, 32 parties are limited to states or local regions.
(No. 555, September 2016)
In the United States, both major political
parties have nominated their candidates for president and vice president at their national conventions in July:
Ms. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton and Senator from Virginia Timothy Michael "Tim" Kaine, Democratic Party; and
Donald John Trump Sr.
and Indiana Governor Michael Richard “Mike” Pence, Republican Party.
They are waging their election campaigns which will end with national voting on 8 November.
Because of growing unease among Republican voters with their choice, there is talk about their turning to a third party but this has not become visible.
China has no historic rights in the South China Sea. In a long expected finding on China’s claims, released on 12 July, the panel of five judges of the Court for Arbitration at
The Hague found the Chinese position without legal basis and contrary to United Nations convention, reported Reuters. Specifically, the tribunal rejected claims to economic rights within the ‘nine-dash line’ and found that Chinese
law enforcement patrols had risked colliding with Philippine fishing vessels in parts of the sea and caused irreparable damage to coral reefs with construction
work. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it neither accepts nor recognizes the award which is null and void and has no binding force, noted
Xinhua. Cambodia and a number of African states over which China has some economic leverage also supported China’s
position that any resolution of claims in the South China Sea should be settled bilaterally without the interference of outsiders, such as the United States of
Efforts by the Turkish president to gain total control of government and nation, prosecution of critics, and creeping religious influence by the governing party in a secular state were among reasons
for part of the Turkey’s military to launch an unsuccessful coup d’état on 15 July. Most of the action centered on capital and Istanbul but failed when the
president was able to convince a television station that he was alive and to gain public support and because only some of the military leaders supported the
(No. 553, July 2016)
European Union (EU)
United Kingdom votes to leave the Union
The United Kingdom conducted a popular referendum on the European
Union (EU) and the UK on 23 June in which 71.8 percent of eligible voters took part. BBC called it the highest
turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election between Conservative John Mayor and Neil Kinnock of the Labour party.
The referendum of “Should the
United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” resulted in support of leaving by 17.4 million or 51.9 percent of
votes cast against staying in the EU by 16.1 million or 48.1 percent. In England and Wales, support for leaving
was highest while Northern Ireland Scotland voted for staying:
England: 53.4 percent for leaving, 46.6 percent for staying;
Wales: 52.5 percent for leaving, 47.5 percent for staying;
Northern Ireland: 55.8 percent for staying, 44.2 percent for
Scotland: 62 percent for staying, 38 percent for leaving.
The referendum was vigorously pushed by Prime Minister David Cameron and approved by the
House of Commons on 28 May 2015 and the House of Lords on 14 December 2015 under the European Union Referendum
Act 2015. After referendum results were announced, the prime minister announced his resignation.
The European Union is reacting by favoring a quick separation. In
Scotland, support for independence and hope of staying in the EU is growing, and even in England a drive for petitioning Parliament to reconsider leaving
quickly gathered strength within a few days of the referendum. To be formally enacted, the UK must invoke Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty of 2009. Since
the referendum was advisory and not mandatory, it is not legally binding. If early elections should be called, a different government could take the
unlikely decision not to pursue the course approved by a majority of voters.
40 more countries needed to ratify Paris climate accord
Befitting celebration of Earth Day, leaders of 175 countries, including 60 heads of state and
government, signed the Paris Climate Agreement at the United Nations in New York on 22 April.
Main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to
drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-
industrial levels. Governments of 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the 21st
session of the Conference of Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change in Le Bourget, Paris, from 30 November until 12 December 2015.
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