What’s New November 2006

This page lists changes to this site for November 2006.

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Iran has had a turbulent history in just its recent past. From a democracy in the 1950s, Iran seems to have moved backwards, from an authoritarian regime (backed by Britain and the US) that overthrew the democratic one, to a religious fundamentalist regime toppling the authoritarian one and taking an anti-US stance. The US ended its support for Iran and instead supported Iraq in a brutal war through the 1980s against Iran where over 1 million people died. More recently, Iran was described as being part of an “axis of evil” by US President George Bush, as part of his “war on terror.” The US has also accused Iran of pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, while Iran says it is only pursuing peaceful development. This new section looks into these and related issues.

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This new article provides an overview of the issue of indigenous peoples around the world (estimated to be around 370 million) and their struggle for rights and social justice.

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The majority of the world’s countries at the United Nations General Assembly voted for the idea of an Arms Trade Treaty. Only the United States voted against it, while many other countries that were against the idea abstained. Such a treaty does not look to ban all arms trade, but hopes to close various loopholes and other weaknesses in existing codes of conduct to ensure arms do not make their way to human rights violators. Many arms sold by leading exporters, such as the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and others have often been found in conflict zones.

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Condemned by the rest of the world, North Korea recently conducted a nuclear test. While there are fears of a regional arms race, there are mixed messages of a second test, and concerns that attempts at dialog are being thwarted or resisted by some nations who prefer a more aggressive approach with the totalitarian regime.

With the new US National Space Policy, a prominent principle was to support the peaceful use of space. Yet a few weeks later, when the General Assembly voted on such a resolution, the US was the only country to vote against it. Another key principle in the US National Space Policy was that “legal arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing, and operations or other activities in space for U.S. national interests.”

Reporters Sans Frontiers (Reporters Without Borders) issued a worldwide press freedom index for 2006. As expected, democracies ranked the best, with totalitarian regimes at the bottom. As with their previous index, major countries like USA, France, UK, Spain, and Italy ranked quite low, some slipping to even lower rankings this year, while some poor countries ranked very high.

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