The big stories in the United States this week were the landfall of hurricane Ike and the impact of the failure of Lehman Brothers investment bank. Here are other important stories that you might have missed during the past week:
1. On Wednesday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, announced it would cut production by 520,000 barrels per day in an attempt to keep oil prices above $100 per barrel. The move was quickly criticized by the International Energy Agency and the White House. The cut, OPEC’s first since December 2006, comes as oil prices have fallen to just over $100 per barrel, a decrease of more than 30% from peak prices several months ago.
2. On Saturday night, a series of bomb blasts tore through New Delhi. The five explosions killed 25 and wounded more than 90. An additional four explosive devices were found before they detonated. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, police believe that the bombings may be linked to one of India’s banned Muslim groups, such as the Students Islamic Movement or the Indian Mujahideen.
3. The longstanding political impasse in Zimbabwe appeared to be diffused last week when the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Popular Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reached a power-sharing deal. The details of the deal have not yet been released, but both sides view the new government of national unity as a victory. Despite the agreement, concerns over the country’s political stability and economic collapse remain. Inflation in Zimbabwe is currently estimated to be more than 10 million percent.
4. On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that the Chinese government had used its foreign exchange reserve funds to pressure Costa Rica to sever ties with Taiwan and establish relations with Beijing. If confirmed, the move would mark the most dramatic use of China’s $1.8 trillion forex reserves as a tool of Chinese foreign policy.
5. In an interview with Charlie Gibson last week, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin declared on Thursday that the United States would be obligated to go to war with Russia if Georgia were a member of Nato. McCain has advocated a more aggressive stance towards Russia over the past several months, but Palin’s announcement was the first time the idea of direct confrontation between the two Cold War rivals has been specifically mentioned.