While the mainstream media were obsessing over a missing pretty girl, a found runaway bride, one more vapid Hollywood romance, and the trial of a disturbing and disturbed singer, some other unusual things have happened around this globe. I thought, for a change, I'd list a few events that should make this summer a warm one for a few people:
(1) Elections were held in Ethiopia, followed by accusations of widespread fraud, leading to violence against protesters. In turn, the UK informed the Ethiopian government that it intends to freeze its planned 20 million punds sterling aid increase, in light of that violence, and also asked that Red Cross workers be allowed access to detainees. Rumor is that they are treated somewhat worse than our detainees -- although according to Senator Durbin's initial description of policies at Gitmo, I don't see how that is possible.
(2) Microsoft, in order to increase its international sales, ceded to the Chinese government's demands and built programming censorship into its Chinese-language MSN portals. They have blocked the use of words such as "democracy" and "human rights", which raise the screen prompt that the user may have attempted to post "pornography". Bloggers have begun the backlash, by finding ways around the barrier, and by letting Microsoft -- and the FEC, back stateside -- know how they feel about any such form of censorship. Some of their words to Microsoft may actually be unfit for publication in a family paper, though. Should they censor themselves? Not this time.
(3) Kuwait has its first woman cabinet minister. Maasouma al-Mubarak was sworn into office on Monday, the 20th of June. You know those wacky Arabs -- never ready for modern concepts like freedom and equality.... Still, there were some protests, but none became violent. European Muslims could learn from the Kuwaitis. But I won't hold my breath.
(4) Some weeks ago, President Bush asked that "the trade in human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive in our time." Last week, Indian police set free over 500 children who had been kept in small houses and used as slaves, making purses and jewelry. It's a start, anyway.
(5) Also last week, President Bush welcomed five African leaders to the White House. Their common ground? They were all democratically elected within the last twelve months.
(6) Iran held elections, too, amid much controversy. Over 5,000 candidates were denied entry on the ballots, for their "extremism", because they supported democratic reforms. While there were large, strong protests over the elections from within Iran, voter turnout among Iranians living in the US was unsurprisingly low.
(7) A connection has finally, formally been made from Saddam to al Qaeda's #2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri and terrorist Musab al-Zarqawi. Former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi spoke to pan-Arab daily al-Haya, informing them that Saddam had hosted a 1999 conference at which both terrorists were in close attendance. As well, documents only recently gleaned from Iraq support earlier such claims by Stephen Haynes in his book, The Connection, that Saddam was directly linked to al Qaeda, financially and with other support. That's right. There was a connection, and it is documented and verifiable.
(8) Iraqi Kurdistan has inaugurated its first president, Mazoud Barzani, who promptly spoke these words: "On behalf of the Kurdish people I wish to thank the American President George W. Bush, the American administration, the American people and their military who helped in overthrowing the cruelest dictatorship and to liberate us. We will never forget this brave decision, and we reassure them that we will be together in confronting terrorism and in building a federal democratic Iraq. I would also like to thank British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the British people, their military, and all members of the coalition and multi-national forces." Imagine! An Iraqi thanking Bush for invading his country! What next?
(9) In Venezuela, President-by-fooling-Jimmy-Carter Hugo Chavez is attempting a land redistribution in the style of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, of the Bolsheviks, and of China's Cultural Revolution -- kicking out the wealthy (successful) farmers and conservationists so as to give the land to "the people" (peasants and city dwellers with no real experience in farming). So, farmers of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and the rest of the grain belt will have a place to charitably ship their surplus, in a couple of years.
(10) My parents celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary today. I realize that the world media won't have much interest in this news, but, it seems to me, theirs is a relationship to which one might aspire. They certainly have a disturbing amount of sizzle, considering their age and considering the children they've produced. I'm too young, yet, to learn how Mom and Dad keep that steam rising.
And that's what's hot off the presses this week. I hope it hasn't raised the temperature too much -- my air conditioner is broken, and I can't afford a new one this year.
Post Scriptum: Some of you may discover that I have linked more than once to Gateway Pundit. Yep. I like what he has to offer for news and comment, and will recommend that you bookmark him and visit his site frequently. He often has international and regional news that nobody else seems to know about.
Update. Saturday evening: Publius Pundit has more on the Iranian elections, or rather, their run-off elections,here.