There were many important and interesting stories this week. WTO talks have resumed, the economic slowdown in the United States appears to be spreading to Europe and Japan, and Russia continues to reassert its position on the world stage. But for now, here are five stories from the previous week you might have missed.
1. Republican presidential candidate John McCain launched an attackon rival Barack Obama yesterday. Obama cancelled a scheduled visit with wounded American troops in Germany after the Pentagon raised concerns about the potential political use of soldiers. In a new television ad, McCain claimed that Obama would rather woo foreign leaders than visit US soldiers. Obama countered that he refused to allow American soldiers to be used as pawns in a game of political back and forth. The visit was supposed to be part of Obama’s international tour last week, when he visited leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The tour, which included a speech drawing more than 200,000 Berliners, was heralded as a success by the Financial Times editorials staff.
2. Former Bosnian Serbian leader Radovan Karazic was arrested in Belgrade on Tuesday. Karazic was the leader of Serbian forces responsible for Srebrenica massacre, where 8,000 people were murdered. Karazic was wanted by the International Court of Justice and has been charged with crimes against humanity and genocide. He had going by the name Dragan Dabic and earning a living as naturalist and alternative medicine guru since 1995.
3. On Wednesday the Israeli Defense Ministry preliminarily approved plans to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The proposal must still be approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Under international law, the settlements are illegal, but more than 450,000 Israelis live in such settlements. According to Palestinian officials, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are the most fundamental obstacle to peace in the region.
4. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has proposed to expand his cheap oil initiative, known as Petrocaribe, to more countries in Central America. Chavez developed the plan as a way to curry the favor of countries in the region, hoping to sway allies in struggle against the United States government. The plan allows countries to purchase oil from Venezuela at a reduced price and to finance purchases over low interest rates over 25 years. High oil prices have increased participation in the plan, and now, even center-right governments in Central America are singing up.
5. Tens of thousands of workers have taken to the streets in Johannesburg, South Africa. Workers from across the country are participating in a nation-wide strike called by the country’s largest federation of local unions, COSATU. Workers are protesting declining standards of living due to economic slowdown and a proposed 27.5 percent increase in the price of electricity.