The Monday World News Bulletin includes items on the Crimea referendum to join Russia, the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, and the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday. The top story is the referendum in the Crimea conducted yesterday.
The Top Story
Crimean officials report that 95 percent of voters in the region have voted for the Crimea to leave Ukraine and become a part of Russia. Crimean voters were presented with two options. The first was to join Russia, as the vast majority of voters supported. The second was to pursue more regional autonomy, essentially becoming an independent territory within Ukraine. Upwards of 60 percent of all Crimeans consider themselves to be Russian, and support for the referendum in the region was high. Supporters rallied in the regional capital of Simferopol, waving Russian flags and chanting that they were going “home.”
The reaction from the international community was far less positive. Both the United States and the European Union have denounced the referendum, stating that it violated the Ukrainian constitution and territorial sovereignty. Russia replied that it was respecting the outcome of the referendum in accordance with Article I of the United Nations charter emphasizing the importance of self-determination. The U.S. and EU have both threatened economic sanctions and other actions against Russia in response, but no concrete course of action has been announced by either actor as yet. The next item in the Monday World News Bulletin involves the next round of talks regarding Iran and their nuclear program.
The Developing Story
The next round of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program are scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Vienna. It is the next stage of a preliminary agreement made in November of 2013. Iran is lowering expectations ahead of the talks, releasing statements that this round of talks will be “tougher and more serious” and that no specific breakthroughs will be made. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Javid Zarif made a statement on Iranian state television saying that, “We do not expect to come to an agreement.” Authorities in the U.S. and Europe remain suspicious of the Iranian program and that Iran is still concealing efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Iranian negotiators in Vienna will be under significant pressure to not make any further concessions at the talks. The Iranian parliament recently stated that they were against any further restrictions on the new heavy water reactor being constructed at Arak. This could be a key point in the upcoming talks as Western negotiators are highly concerned that this reactor could become a source of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Thus far is it believed that Iran has only been attempting to develop uranium based nuclear devices. Iran denies that it is developing any kind of nuclear weapons and that its program is only for peaceful electrical generation. The final item in the Monday World News Bulletin pertains to today’s St. Patrick’s Day observance.
The Offbeat Story
Today marks St. Patrick’s Day for those in Ireland and in other places around the world, especially in the United States. It is typically associated with the consumption of large amounts of beer, green or otherwise, and dishes such as corned beef and cabbage. Its meaning has changed significantly over time however, as is common with many holidays observed around the world.
St. Patrick himself was not even Irish at all. Most scholars agree that he was born in Wales and studied at a monastery in Gaul, which is modern day France. He spent several years as a slave in Ireland in his youth and he was compelled to return there after finishing his religious education. He accomplished little in terms of converting the populace during his 30 years of work in Ireland and he died mostly forgotten.
March 17th is recognized as the day of St. Patrick’s death and that is why it is commemorated as his feast day. He has never formally been declared a saint by the Catholic Church, but he is still referred to as such today. The modern observance of St. Patrick’s Day has little to do with the actual man. It essentially came into being in the U.S. as a way for Irish-American immigrants to celebrate and recognize their heritage. Even in Ireland itself, it was only a minor religious holiday until interest grew in the 1970’s. In fact prior to 1970, St. Patrick’s Day was a “dry” holiday in Ireland, meaning no alcohol at all. That would be somewhat hard to “swallow” for people celebrating the holiday today.
That is the Monday World News Bulletin with a look at the Crimea, Iran, and St. Patrick’s Day.
By Christopher V. Spencer