Foreign Affairs News Round Up 7/1/13

The Egyptian Central Bank has reported that its foreign reserves are plummeting. In the last month they went from 4.5 billion to just 1.5 billion. The news will come as a blow to investors and the business community who had hoped that the election of President Morsi would bring some much needed stability to the most populous Arab state. Egypt had previously received 3.5 billion a year from the US, which helped keep Mubarak and his National Democratic Party in power. It is still not clear of the US plans to continue this aid, or if the World Bank are willing to plug the gap in Egypt’s finances.

Canada is not famed for bold actions, but has this week done away with an entire unit of currency. 35 billion pennies will be removed from circulation and melted down, with transactions being rounded up to down to the nearest C$ 0.05.

Book lovers and history buffs were pleased to discover that the extent of the damage to Mali’s historic manuscripts was less than first feared. Radical Islamists had burned dozens of manuscripts during their reign of puritanical terror in Timbuktu. However local Malian’s had gone to great length,s risking their lives in the process, to hide smuggle the manuscripts out of the city.

Somalia did its level bet to ensure it stays a contender for the heady title of World’s Worst Country To Live In. A court has sentenced a woman to a year in prison for accusing state officials of rape. No charges have been brought against the accused, and the journalist who covered her story has received a lengthier sentence.

Ever conscious of the growing gap between rich and poor, ‘communist’ China has announced a raft of new taxes aimed primarily at state-owned firms and property developers. Wages are also set to increase under the plans. The move is seen a part of a shift in emphasis, away from reliance on exports as a motor for growth, and towards developing domestic consumption.

The government of Argentina has been forced to nationalise some supermarkets after prices rose 25 percent. The government of President Kirchiner has limped from one financial crisis to another during its second term, after splurging cash on dubious projects during her first administration. Argentina has also faced the humiliation of having one warship impounded in an African port by foreign creditors, and seeing another warship capsize while in home waters. Two naval chiefs have been sacked.

And finally…

President Ahmadinejad of Iran, usually known for his aversion to shaving and neck ties, made a bold and rather odd statement this week. He first expressed his desire to become Iran’s astronaut, despite there being no plans for a manned Iranian space program. Iran is locked in a battle of wills against Western Powers over its uranium enrichment program, which it states is for energy, but is widely acknowledged to be part of a nuclear weapons program.


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