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August 2011 - International Issues

The US credit rating was downgraded to AA+ from AAA by Standard and Poor’s on 5 August 2011. This can increase the cost of borrowing for the US and setting off more panic selling in stock markets. This is the first time that Standard and Poor issued a negative outlook on the US government since it started rating the credit-worthiness of railroad bonds in 1860. The rating may be cut to AA within two years if spending reductions are lower than agreed to, interest rates increase or new fiscal pressures result in higher government debt. 

Lobsang Sangay was sworn in as the new Prime Minister (Kalon Tripa) of the Tibetan government-in-exile at the central courtyard of Tsuglagkhang, the main temple in Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh). Sangay will have a five-year tenure. Sangay took over as the political head of the Tibet from Dalai Lama who on 10 March 2011 announced his decision to step down as political head of Tibetan government in exile. However, he (Dalai Lama) continues to be the spiritual head of Tibetan government in-exile.

The U.S Senate on 2 August, passed legislation that heads off an unprecedented US financial default and begins the process of curbing the country's spiraling debt. Both the Senate and House of Representatives, which voted on 1, August, easily adopted the plan that raises the current $14.3 trillion cap on US borrowing, which expires at midnight. In tandem with increasing the borrowing limit, legislators approved more than $2 trillion of budget cuts over the upcoming decade. The administration had said that without the new borrowing authority, the government could not pay all its bills. Administration officials say a default would ensue that would severely damage the global economy. 

The opposition group in Yemen elected an umbrella council to take over power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in Riyadh. The umbrella council consists of 143 members and it is named National Council for the Forces of the Peaceful Revolution. The National Council will lead the forces of the revolution, determined to remain there until Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure. The council groups the parliamentary parties of the Common Forum, which comprises the influential Islamist party Al-Islah (reform), with the young protesters at the forefront of anti-regime protests since January 2011.

U.S President Barack Obama and the leaders of several major European countries have called for the resignation of the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. It is the first explicit call from the US and its allies for President Assad to step down although Washington previously said Syria would be better off without him. The United States has also ordered the freeze of all Syrian Government assets in the US and a ban on oil imports from Syria. Mr. Assad has come under mounting international pressure to end his violent crackdown on demonstrators.

In Libya, rebels overran Muammar Gaddafi's fortified Bab al-Azizya headquarters in Tripoli, marking a symbolic end to his 42-year rule. The defenders had fled, and there was no immediate word on the whereabouts of Gaddafi or his family. They have taken Bab al-Azizya completely. Meanwhile, members of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi say they plan to fly to the capital to start work on forming a new government.

North Korea agreed to go ahead with international talks on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. North Korea expressed its readiness to impose a moratorium on tests of weapons of mass destruction and resume the stalled six-party talks on its nuclear programme. The six-party talks, suspended in 2008 were announced on 22 July 2011 in Bali, Indonesia, during the ASEAN security forum. ASEAN security forum is only regular international occasion, in which both Koreas participate. The six-party talks were initiated in 2003, after North Korea declared its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The following six nations are part of the six-party talks:Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea),Republic of Korea (South Korea),People's Republic of China, United States of America, Russia, Japan.

Hurricane Irene, a tropical storm warning extends all the way to the south coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The National Hurricane Center says Irene will be moving over cooler waters but is still expected to stay a hurricane until landfall again near Long Island, New York. The storm has knocked out power to at least 1.8 million customers from North Carolina to New Jersey.



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