What Happened in the World This Week
5) France held the first round of its presidential elections today. As expected, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy will move on to the run-off. But, Marine Le Pen shocked everyone by taking home 20% of the vote.
4) The Summit of the Americas was overshadowed by the secret service sex scandal. The usually professional secret service dismissed three agents after a dispute between an agent and a prostitute over pay caused a scene in a Bogota hotel. The Summit itself was a disappointment. The group failed to issue a joint declaration because the countries couldn’t agree on whether Cuba should be invited, on Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands, and on whether to decriminalize drugs.
3) In Egypt, election officials in charge of overseeing the first presidential elections since the revolution disqualified ten candidates from running, including three front-runners: the ex-spy Mubarek minister Omar Suleiman, Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater, and Islamist Hazem Abu Ismail. The election commission is run by a former Mubarek judge and conspiracy theories are multiplying as to the motives of the disqualifications.
2) Iran met the U.S. and four other countries in Turkey to discuss its nuclear program. Although no deal was made, the group agreed to speak again in Iraq in May. The economic sanctions on Iran are clearly starting to take their toll.
1) Afghanistan continues to fall apart. This week, insurgents carried out co-coordinated attacks across the country at heavily fortified embassies and military bases. At the same time, Australia announced that it would start pulling troops this year.
Top Stories – Why Earth Day 2012 Should Be Renamed Gulf Day (Ben Goldfarb) – Sunday may be Earth Day, but I’ve been focused on another, sadder milestone: Friday, April 20, marked two years since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon.
Does HBO's Girls Discriminate Against Asians, Too? (Vicky Wong) – Much has been made about the lack of Black actors being represented in in HBO's new series Girls. But where are the Asians?
Wyclef Jean Puts His Activism on Display With New Trayvon Martin Song(Lumumba Seegars) – Wyclef Jean reminds us that Trayvon Martin's death was no isolated incident.
How Cocaine is Saving the Rainforest (Jack Fischl) – Cocaine and livestock plagues, rather than conservation, are saving a rare virgin rainforest and preventing complete connection of the Pan-American Highway.
What We’re Reading – How New York lost the apparel business (Bloomberg); Vast Wal-Mart bribery scandal in Mexico (NYT); The crisis of Big Science (NYRB); White gloves not needed (NYT).