- The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, an arm of the nonprofit US Agency for International Development, issued a report today warning that after two consecutive seasons of significantly below-average rainfall, nations on the eastern Horn of Africa (primarily Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia) face what is described as a "food security emergency", with a regional malnutrition rate ranging around 25%.
- Want to avoid getting eaten by a shark? Listen to AC/DC while swimming. The vibrations from their songs appear to make Great White Sharks less aggressive and more inquisitive.
- In a White House meeting with Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, President Obama called on Bahrain to respect universal human rights and to hold accountable anyone who violates them.
- 47 doctors and nurses, arrested in March for treating people injured during Bahrain's brutal (and Asudi Arabian-supported) suppression of pro-democracy protests, have appeared in a military court to face charges of attempting to topple the monarchy.
- Airports closed by the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle volcano range have begun to reopen in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Santiago (Chile).
- Chinese central bankers are not amused by the possibility of a US technical default. "I really worry about the risks of a US debt default, which I think may lead to a decline in the dollar's value," said Li Daokui, an adviser to the People's Bank of China.
- China has settled a trade dispute with the United States by agreeing to stop subsidizing wind power companies that use domestic parts. The subsidies were grants to Chinese wind turbine manufacturers that used components manufactured in China.
- General Chen Bingde, head of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, has confirmed that China's first aircraft carrier is under construction.
- French TV and radio has been banned from using the names of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, because it violates "the provisions of Article 9 of the decree of 27 March 1992 forbidding covert advertising". They can still use the sites, and still refer their audiences to those sites. They just can't say their names.
- Debt restructuring is back on the table! Germany, in a letter to its EU partners, is demanding a "quantified and substantial" contribution from bondholders to support Greek economic relief. This would take the form of "a bond swap leading to a prolongation of the outstanding Greek sovereign bonds by seven years, at the same time giving Greece the necessary time to fully implement the necessary reforms and regain market confidence". Rating agencies have warned that, even if this is done voluntarily, they would classify this step as a default.
- Two wild elephants went on a rampage in Mysore, killing at least one person and leaving "a trail of destruction" before being captured.
- At least fourteen Libyan rebels were killed in an attempt to break out of Misrata, as loyalist forces bombarded the rebel offensive with Grad rockets.
- The government of Turkey has called on Syria to "change its attitude towards civilians and... take its attitude to a more tolerant level as soon as possible". They also stated that they would not turn away refugees fleeing Syria.
- France is calling for the adoption of a UN Security council resolution condemning Syria for its crackdown on (and by "crackdown on" we mean ""brutal murder of") protesters. The potential sticking blocks are Moscow (which sees no grounds for such an action) and Beijing (which feels that official sanction would not defuse tension), both of whom have veto power.
- Syrian and international human rights groups called on the prosecutor's office of the International Criminal Court to investigate the deaths of more than 1000 civilians in Syria. It turns out that there is a technical problem with this, though. Damascus is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome Statute that created the ICC, so the ICC has no jurisdiction unless the UN Security Council refers the case to them. Amnesty International has already asked the Security Council to do so, but any such action faces the threat of a Russian veto.
- With the US debt ceiling in the news, here's a little something else to consider: according to USA TODAY, the government has $61.6 trillion in unfunded obligations, most of which derives from retirement programs like Medicare and Social Security, which are not reported as actual debt until payment is required. That comes out to $527,000 per household.
- A growing number of Republicans are drinking the "technical default" kool-aid, acting under the belief that it would be a way to force the Obama administration to accept deep spending cuts. These include presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, Senator Jeff Sessions and Pat Toomey, and Representative Paul Ryan, all of whom are united in a belief that a technical default would not cause economic chaos both domestically and internationally. Bond investors do not agree, fearing that even a technical default could harm confidence in the US financial system and drive investors to other markets.
- In the Food Price Watch, the World Bank has observed with concern that international food prices have risen by 15% between October 2010 and January 2011, driving an estimated 44 million people into poverty and helping to aggravate unrest in the Middle East. They have called on the G20 to address the problem during this week's meeting.
 Technical default? As defined by Investopedia, a technical default is "a deficiency in a loan agreement that arises not from a failure to make payments as promised, but from a failure to uphold some other aspect of the loan terms. Technical default indicates that the borrower may be in financial trouble, and can trigger an in crease in a loan's interest rate, foreclosure, or other negative events."
 Yes, I'm aware that they actually drank Flavor Aid at Jonestown. Figures of speech are rarely factually accurate.