January 12th, 2008 06:49 EST
World Chronicle: January 11
NDJAMENA, Chad. The European Union informed on Friday that it was ready to start its peacekeeping mission, which is to be deployed to Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). At a special meeting of EU representatives in Brussels, the countries of Belgium, France, and Poland announced that they would provide the soldiers with military equipment. Although the EU forces were to have arrived in Chad and the CAR at the beginning of the year, there were questions as to whether peacekeepers would have enough vehicles to implement their mandate to protect hundreds of thousands of refugees from the war-shattered Sudan province of Darfur. According to sources quoted by the Agence France Press, France pledged to send three helicopters, whereas Poland would provide two. Both countries will also contribute to the mission by sending their soldiers: of 3,500 troops that are to comprise the EU mission, over 2,000 will be French nationals.
LAGOS, Nigeria. The political situation in the volatile Nigerian region of Niger Delta is deteriorating, as rebels claimed to have destroyed a foreign ship on Friday. In an e-mail sent to journalists, the rebel group responsible for the attack said that it had detonated a bomb on a ship anchored at Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria. According to the Associated Press, the explosion caused huge fires on the ship and nearby buildings and was heard miles away. The local police reported that two people were injured.
Nigeria is one of the leading oil producers. Despite rising prices of crude oil, however, most Nigerians still struggle for a decent living since most of the dividends go directly to the country's capital, Abuja. Umaru Yar'Adua, who was elected the president last year, promised to reverse the course, but the Nigerian government is still considered one of Africa's most corrupted and impotent.
WASHINGTON, DC. After lackluster performances in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Rudy Giuliani's campaign budget seems a little overstretched. The Associated Press informed on Friday that the top Republican presidential hopeful's aids are “forgoing their January paychecks.” Although staffers claimed that the move was voluntary, quoted the AP, some pundits underscore that Giuliani's team is facing a strenuous period as their candidate has lost the media attention and financial sponsors have turned to Mike Huckabee and John McCain – the victors from the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, respectively.
The latest opinion polls show that John McCain replaced Rudy Giuliani as the leading candidate of the Republican Party. What is more, according to some surveys, if Americans were to choose between John McCain and Hillary Clinton, they would choose the former.
TAIPEI, Taiwan. One day before parliamentary elections in Taiwan, the two main parties are canvassing the island, trying to make people vote for their candidates. The latest pinion polls show that the country's oldest political force, Kuomintang (KMT), is bound to defeat the incumbent president's Democratic Progressive Party. As the KMT opts for closer ties with China, its victory may mean a breakthrough in mutual relations between Beijing and its rebelled province, as the Chinese government officially calls Taiwan. However, for the majority of voters, it will not be foreign affairs but economy to decide what names they will check on Saturday. The Agence France press quotes one Kuomintang official as saying today: “Taiwan's economy and social order are getting worse. It is time for new blood and a different party to take over.”
The island of Taiwan seceded from China in 1949, when the pro-American Kuomintang fled from the mainland after the communist took control over most of the country. Since then, the government in Beijing has been warning that it would cut off political and economic ties with any country, which would want to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
MADRID, Spain. If you don't know the lyrics of the Spanish anthem, you are not alone. The anthem of the former colonial power, with a history almost as long as the one of the continent, consists of a melody, but not words. The reasons are typical for a country with several national minorities squeezed in a small territory: Spaniards, Basques, and Catalans. All have lobbied for the lyrics in their own languages, presenting their own histories. Not surprisingly, hardly anyone was pleased with the lyrics that won a contest organized by the Spanish Olympic Committee. Released on Friday, they caused an immediate public uproar. Their author, Paulino Cubero (a 52-year-old unemployed individual, calling himself “a loser”), claims that he “wanted to write an anthem for normal people,” but according to some politicians, the lyrics “stink.”
JERUSALEM, Israel. Seldom do people see their leaders crying, let alone those who portray themselves as emotionless commanders-in-chief, like U.S. President George W. Bush. But on Friday, even he could not help dropping some tears when visiting one of Jerusalem's most monumental places, the Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem. According to its chairman, Bush had “tears well up in his eyes” twice while putting flowers at the memorial commemorating millions of Jews who were annihilated during the Second World War. The same source also claimed that the American president expressed his belief that the U.S. “should have bombed” the Auschwitz concentration camp as both Jewish and Polish emissaries kept informing Washington and other allies about the genocide.