Last year is on record as the bloodiest year yet in Mexico’s war against organised crime, with drug-related deaths jumps to a record high. More than 15,000 people lost their lives in Mexico’s drug war last year. And it has already been a violent start to 2011, with the cartels blamed for more murders.
Despite emergency meetings this week, the Lebanese government has effectively collapsed following the resignations of 11 government ministers from Hezbollah and its Lebanese allies. The row that led to resignations is over a UN investigation into the murder in 2005 of Rafik Hariri, father of the current Lebanese prime minister. Last minute meetings with Saudi Arabia and Syria to resolve the deadlock also failed.
Two Thai detainees charged with espionage have left a Cambodian court after three hours of questioning. The two are members of a group called the People’s Alliance for Democracy, known as “yellow shirts.” They are among seven Thais charged in December with illegal entry and encroachment on Cambodia’s border military zone.
China has confirmed that it has conducted a successful flight test of a new stealth fighter jet. The news was announced while U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is on an official visit to the China. Chinese President Hu Jintao stated the tests were pre-planned and the timing was a coincidence.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a, Yemen, comments on the fight against terrorism being a top priority of the U.S., and of Yemen. Clinton’s trip marks the first time in 20 years that a U.S. secretary of state has visited Yemen.
Bangladesh police fired tear gas and water cannons to break up violent protests by investors earlier this week, as stock prices went into a freefall and authorities halted trading on the country’s stock market for a second day. The country’s stock exchange has been down more than 25 percent since December.
As federal deficits rise, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking to cut spending by close to $100 billion in the next five years, a sign that even the Pentagon’s massive budget is subject to government-wide belt tightening. Gates discusses the new budgetary measures, his China trip and “don’t ask, don’t tell” with Jim Lehrer. A transcript of the interview can be found here.
The United Nations hopes to send between 1,000 and 2,000 more peacekeepers to Ivory Coast in the next few days as at least seven more people were killed in ethnic clashes, UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said on Wednesday. The clashes have occurred as President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to resign after a disputed election in the country.
The Greek government has announced plans to build a fence along part of its border with Turkey to try to stop illegal immigrants from crossing into the country. Authorities are struggling to cope with the more than 100,000 migrants who crossed into Greece illegally last year alone.
Stephen W. Bosworth, the U.S. Special Representativefor North Korea Policy, offers a statement to reporters at Incheon Airport in South Korea, before meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. The full text of Mr. Bosworth’s remarks upon his arrival in South Korea on Jan. 4, 2011, can be read here.
The New Year’s day bombing of a church in Alexandria, Egypt, has prompted frustration among many in the country’s Coptic Christian community and lead to several nights of angry street protests. The bombing was the worst in a decade and its aftermath is still being felt, with MENA, the official Egyptian news agency, reporting on Tuesday that the death toll had risen to 23.
The U.S. military is expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014. But thousands of U.S. Marines will still deploy there within the next year to support the war. To prepare them, the Defense Department has introduced culture training programs at several military bases around the United States.
Former Marxist rebel Dilma Rousseff has been inaugurated President of Brazil. Rousseff had served as energy minister and chief of staff for outgoing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva before being elected the first female to lead the Latin American powerhouse.