- Europe-wide forecasts predict that significant numbers of Eurosceptics will make it into the European Parliament (EP) after voters go to the polls later this month. Some predictions have this motley crew taking up to 30% of seats. The overall EP campaign in the Czech Republic has an anti-EU tone. Even the pro-Brussels Social Democrats are structuring their message as a rejection of the Europe-wide push for austerity. Mr Klaus’s former party, the Civic Democrats, are circulating a petition amongst political leaders to swear off adopting the euro currency.Czech voters will give their opinion on No to Brussels-National Democracy and 28 other parties on May 23rd and 24th.
- THOSE diagnosed with chikungunya fever may not care to know that its name, an East African word, means “that which bends up”, a reference to the contorted posture of sufferers.The pain, felt mostly in the joints, makes chikungunya similar to dengue fever. Although dengue is more lethal, some say chikungunya hurts more and lasts longer.The disease, which is spread by mosquitoes and is common in Africa and Asia, has now come to the Caribbean. It was first detected in December on St Martin, and has since spread to 13 other jurisdictions. Caribbean health officials count 3,612 confirmed or probable cases; many thousands more are suspected. The Caribbean has long been susceptible because of its large number of mosquitoes and foreign tourists.
- The Chinese government sees a new pattern of terrorism emerging in China. Uighur terrorists were also blamed for an attack on March 1st at a railway station in the south-western city of Kunming, again involving knives, that left 29 people dead and dozens injured. That was by far the bloodiest incident attributed to Uighur terrorism outside Xinjiang itself.President Xi Jinping left Xinjiang on the same day that the attack took place, and combating terrorism was the main focus of his trip, his first to Xinjiang since he came to power in 2012. It included a visit to Kashgar, a hotbed of anti-government sentiment among Uighurs, and the nearest city to China’s borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- Like Miami, Panama wants to be Latin America’s business hub. Its canal is becoming the backbone of a transoceanic logistics network. Its airline, Copa, connects much of Latin America. Its offshore-banking sector sucks in Latin American money, some of it because Miami’s money-laundering regulations have become too strict.Yet Panama remains rough enough around the edges that in the past five years Ricardo Martinelli, its supermarket-magnate-turned-president, has found plenty to splurge on. Public investment, including a $5.2 billion expansion of the canal, has been a whopping $19 billion.Mr Varela, whom no opinion poll had tipped to win, took 39% of the vote compared with 31% for José Domingo Arias, Mr Martinelli’s protégé.Mr Martinelli remains head of the party with the biggest bloc of 30 seats. Urban planning has not kept pace. In the tallest buildings, electricity and water are rationed. When it rains, the streets around them overflow because the drainage system cannot cope.
- The referendum for the self-rule of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Eastern Ukraine was a fake, a product of an extraordinary information war, just like the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.Today’s referendum was illegal under Ukrainian law; polling stations had no electoral registers (people not on the out-of-date lists simply added their names in handwriting, some voted twice) and the people who organised it were imposters, backed by the same masked men with guns who have occupied government buildings.The biggest irony of this bogus referendum is that those who support Ukrainian sovereignty —allegedly nearly 70% of people in the region— do not recognise the referendum and so did not vote. Many in Donetsk simply left town in fear of the violence.The result of the referendum has no legal status, but it could be used in political games played by Ukrainian oligarchs who control the region.