Written by Jeannette Di Louie, Assistant Editor
A three-day weekend for all of you weary workers, but world politics didn’t stand still in respect for the American holiday. If anything, traditionally hostile countries like Iran and North Korea seemed to use it to mock the U.S. and her allies.Monday, May 25, 2009
- Iranian President Ahmadinejad said no to official talks along with even the notion that his country should give up its nuclear work. However, he claims, should he win the upcoming elections in Iran, he would like to debate President Obama at the United Nations.
- North Korea was even less accommodating, conducting further tests that had the larger world protesting hotly. First, it declared that it had successfully conducted an underground nuclear test, the results of which Russia confirmed. And then later on that day, the regime test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air missiles. Both actions had Washington up in arms, and President Obama declaring that “the United States will never waver from our determination to protect our people and the peace and security of the world.”
- The president tapped federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for vacating Justice David Souter’s Supreme Court position, making her the first Hispanic pick in the Country’s history. The administration hails her 17 years experience in the system as proof that she would excel in the role, but conservative objectors point out statements she’s made in the past that strongly imply she sees the position as one to make laws instead of uphold the law.
- And angry at global condemnation for Monday’s military action, North Korea test-fired one surface-to-air missile and another surface-to-ship missile off its eastern coast, both with an 80-mile range. It went on to fire a third short-range rocket later that day. In response, South Korea pledged to join U.S. forces in intercepting any ships in the region suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction, despite North Korea already declaring that as an act of war.
- North Korea reiterated that very fact the following day with a rally and declarations that it isn’t afraid of any sanctions the U.N. or U.S. may throw at it. In addition, there are reports that the obviously unhappy country has restarted its weapons-grade nuclear plant. And while many critics say the threat is all bluster with no real intention to back it up, North Korea declared in its official news agency: “Those who provoke [us] once will not be able to escape [our] unimaginable and merciless punishment.”
- The two Korean countries did have a standing truce set in place back in 1953, but with one decision from the North, that was severed, putting South Korean and U.S. troops on high alert. North Korea added to the fracas by accusing the U.S. of planning to attack it.
- Israel had some harsh declarations of its own - unspoken though they might be - for the U.S., as it ignored a stern request from its usual ally to stop construction of West Bank Jewish settlements. Considering that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was meeting with President Obama even as Israel flouted the request, it doesn’t bode well for the new administration’s abilities to control or ease tensions in the Middle East.
- Friday, investors woke up to the news that the U.S. economy had sunk by 5.7% in the first quarter, slightly worse than the 5.5% economists expected.
- On May 28, an explosion rocketed a packed mosque in Zahedan, Iran, killing 23 people and wounding another 125. On May 29, the accusations began. According to statements released by Jalal Sayah, a deputy provincial governor, “Three people involved with the terrorist incident were arrested. According to the information obtained they were hired by America and the agents of their arrogance.” This, despite Zahedan being a hotbed of drug-related violence and the past target of an Islamic militant group called Jundallah, which claims to fight for the rights of Sunni Muslims in the predominantly Shiite Iran.
Let’s hope that this weekend won’t involve the threats of war and natural disasters that the previous one did. But one way or the other, I’ll see you back here at Market Pulse on Monday.
Until then, have a wonderful weekend.
Jeannette Di Louie
Disclosure: No positions