ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 4 – 11 March

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 5 to Sunday, 11 March from Foresight News

By Nicole Hunt

Former Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde is back in front of the Landsdomur court in Reykjavik on Monday. Haarde is charged with negligence over the country’s banking collapse in October 2008, though charges that he neglected his duties and that he failed to conduct a proper risk analysis have already been dropped. The Landsdomur was set up over 100 years ago to try parliamentarians, but had never been used until Haarde was charged.

Despite reportedly being denied permission from city authorities, Muscovites are likely to take to the streets in protest following Sunday’s presidential election. While former President/current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to be returned comfortably to the top post for a third term, the thousands of people who have protested in recent months are unlikely to disappear quietly.

The long-awaited Deepwater Horizon trial is scheduled to begin in New Orleans, having been delayed from 27 February at the last minute to allow more time for negotiations. Judge Carl Barbier has been tasked with trying to ascertain which companies should share the responsibility, and therefore cost, for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, which devastated the Gulf of Mexico coast. The trial is expected to be divided into three phases, and is likely to last the rest of the year, if not longer.

Tuesday is, of course, not just your regular everyday ordinary Tuesday – it’s Super Tuesday (in the US, at least). Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virgina all hold their Republican primary contests, bringing us just shy of the halfway point; only 27 more primaries to go!

In election news that will attract considerably less international attention but is being closely watched domestically, results from elections in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarkhand are due to be released on Tuesday. Although a general election isn’t due until 2014, the results will be viewed as an indicator of party support.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey are testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. The hearing is focused on Syria, which is notable both because of the current situation in the country and because the Armed Services Committee doesn’t usually meet to discuss countries the US military isn’t actively involved in – let alone with senior military figures.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies launches its annual Military Balance report in London, assessing the military capabilities and defence economics of 170 countries, as well as general defence expenditure trends. Last year, the report looked at when China’s military might become a threat to US power in the Pacific.

And heads up to the Apple fanboys out there (though any dedicated follower should know already): Apple is due to launch the iPad 3 in San Fransisco.

On Thursday, Continental Airlines’ appeal hearing opens in a Versailles court. The airline is challenging a December 2010 judgement which found it responsible for the 25 July, 2000 crash of a Concorde airliner after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle airport, which killed 109 people on board and four on the ground. Continental was fined €200,000, while its mechanic John Taylor was given a 15-month suspended sentence; three French employers of Aeorspatiale, Taylor’s supervisor Stanley Ford, and France’s aviation authority were cleared of responsibility.

Foreign Secretary William Hague appears before Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee’s annual hearing on developments in UK foreign policy. Expect questions on Syria and Iran, as well as discussions on the EU following the signing of the EU fiscal stability treaty.

Thursday is also International Women’s Day.

The UN’s Commission of Inquiry into Libya, which was established in February 2011 to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law in the country then led by Muammar Gaddafi, is due to present its final report to the Human Rights Council on Friday. While the report will focus on Gaddafi-era abuses, it follows recent allegations that pro-Gaddafi prisoners have been tortured at the hands of liberating militias.

Greece’s provisional fourth quarter GDP figures are released on the same day that the Finance Ministry launches a €200bn debt swap for private bondholders as part of a new rescue package. Bondholder responses to the debt swap will be closely watched; the offer closes on 12 March.

The week rounds out with two elections on an otherwise fairly quiet and sombre weekend. 

Slovakians elect 150 members to their National Council on Saturday, with the current opposition parties hoping to capitalise on public resistance to Slovakia’s involvement in EU debt bailouts. Prime Minister Iveta Radicova’s coalition government was brought down in October over changes to the European Financial Stability Facility, which Slovakians felt put them on the hook for bailing out larger and wealthier countries.  

On Sunday, El Salvador holds a vote to elect 84 members to the Congress, with municipal elections also taking place across the country. Polling shows that the conservative Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) are leading the race, ahead of the leftist Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) party, led by President Mauricio Funes.

Sunday also marks the first anniversary of the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake off of Japan’s Honshu coast, causing a 10m tsunami that wiped out whole towns and triggered a nuclear crisis at the country’s Fukushima power plant. Over 15,000 people are known to have died, while over 3,200 are still missing one year on.