February 27th, 2008 11:24 EST
World Chronicle: February 27
HARARE, Zimbabwe. Police have an order to shoot if political protests become violent. Nation-owned newspapers published an alarming article where top government figures warn against Kenyan-like rallies during a presidential election which the country will hold on March 29. Zimbabwe is facing sky-rocketing inflation and mass unemployment that have been caused by President Mugabe's questionable policies. Although the country's opposition is more fractured than the one in Kenya, it has been recently rumored that it will select one candidate to run against the incumbent.
HAVANA, Cuba. Raul Castro, Cuba's newly appointed president, said after a meeting with the Vatican secretary of state that his government would continue a dialog began by his older brother and former head of state, Fidel. Although the opinions following Castro's first meeting with a foreign dignitary were mixed, for many people it was a clear sign of change. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone – nominated by Pope Benedict XVI as secretary of state – said that he asked Castro to release political prisoners and allow greater freedom of media. The Cardinal visited Havana exactly 10 years after Pope John Paul II made his first and only pilgrimage to this communist country. To commemorate this event, Cuba's Catholics sponsored and erected a monument of the late pope in Havana.
TOKYO, Japan. Addressing the recent rape scandal that involves an American soldier and a Japanese teenager, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her deepest sympathy and regret. Visiting Tokyo on her Asian tour, the secretary said that she hoped the incident would not impact good bilateral relations. Although she made the trip to Japan to discuss the developments in North Korea's nuclear disarmament, the rape case was at the center of the meeting. Early in February, a 38-year-old marine allegedly invited a 14-year-old Japanese student to his car and later raped her near his apartment. When the case came to light, the Japanese prime minister called the incident “unforgivable.”
ROME, Italy. Silvio Berlusconi – a controversial former prime minister and media tycoon – said Wednesday that if he won the early parliamentary election, he would clean up the ancient city of Naples. It would be an ambiguous statement, especially in a country torn by mafia, were it not for the fact that Naples is literally cluttered with trash. The city's garbage collectors have been on strike for many months and the result of which can be seen and smelled on each corner of Naples. The left-wing government even sent troops to the city, but even the military failed in bringing law and hygiene. According to the latest pinion poll, Berlusconi's liberal-conservative coalition is supported by some 44 percent of the voters, leading seven points over the Socialists.
ANKARA, Turkey. Washington wants Turkey to pull its troops out from northern Iraq. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in India – from where he left for Turkey – that he expected the government in Ankara to cooperate more closely with the Iraqis. The Secretary also hoped that since the US was providing the Turkish army with some vital information, it will inform of its moves in advance. In the five-day military operation, some 10,000 Turkish troops entered northern Iraq, responding to the recent flare-ups of Kurdish rebels who inhabit the borderland. According to the Turkish military, around 77 Kurds have been killed so far.
STAMFORD, Conn. William F. Buckley Jr., a man who for decades was the face of American conservatism, died at his home on Wednesday. He was 82 years old. This Yale-graduate Catholic politician and writer debuted in 1951, with a book denouncing the leftist movement among American universities. Four years later, Buckley founded National Weekly, a conservative magazine whose circulation now reaches 150,000. Throughout his life, he nurtured political and writing careers of many journalists and legislators, trying to promote conservatism. Despite being mainly associated with political writing, Buckley also produced several fiction novels.
U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
WASHINGTON, DC. If the election was held on Wednesday, John McCain would become the 44th president of the United States. A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times survey gives the Republican candidate a two-percent lead over Barack Obama and a six-percent lead over Hillary Clinton. On such topics as Iraq, war on terrorism, and economy, the Arizona senator is peerless, but trails behind Obama when it comes to reforming the ossified Washington structure.