Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent — Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that the U.K. must keep its Trident nuclear program in the face of the growing threat from North Korea and Iran. Writing in the Daily Telegraph ahead of a trip to Scotland, where the submarine-based missile system is stationed, he will address nationalists seeking independence in a referendum next year who want to abandon nuclear-equipped submarines. Cameron said that the global nuclear threat has increased since a previous British government embarked on its deterrent program over six decades ago, calling the North Korean regime “highly unpredictable and aggressive.”
Central African Republic– Leaders in Africa have refused to recognize rebel leader Michel Djotodia’s self-appointment as president of Central African Republic, notes Reuters. Instead, regional leaders have called for the creation of a new transitional body that would write a new constitution and guide the country to elections within 18 months. On March 24, Djotodia led thousands of rebels to the capital Bangui and ousted President François Bozizé, who had been in office since 2003. The rebellion in the mineral-rich but chronically unstable former French colony has been condemned by African and Western leaders.
Cocaine in Colombia — The Economist reports that cocaine production has dropped in Colombia thanks to stronger law enforcement from the local government and falling demand from the U.S. U.N. data shows that Colombia produced 74% of the world’s coca leaves in 2000 but it grew about 42% of the global supply in 2011. As cocaine production slows in Colombia, the industry has been moving back to Peru, where production has increased by 40% since 2000, and the trafficking business has been taken on by Mexican cartels. Drug-policy experts call this phenomenon the “balloon effect: pushing down on drug production in one region causes it to bulge somewhere else,” notes the weekly.
Japanese Growth — The Bank of Japan (BOJ) is expected to announced a new billion-dollar plan to boost the local economy after ending its two-day policy meeting, according to the BBC. BOJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda is likely to increase and accelerate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans for big government spending and central bank asset-buying. The aim of the plan is to tackle inflation and slow growth in the world’s third largest economy.
Russian Activist on Trial — The Russian opposition leader, and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, is to stand trial in a “fabricated” case observers have likened to a Soviet show trial, reports the Independent. Navalny is accused of stealing a consignment of timber worth around $497,000 while he was acting as an adviser to the town of Kirov’s governor in 2009. He has repeatedly denied the claims, writes the Independent. Navalny has uncovered numerous financial scandals involving Russian officials. In February, a senior lawmaker from Putin’s United Russia party resigned after Navalny revealed he owned nearly $1.5 million of property in the U.S. – assets that did not match his modest official salary.
Thailand Constitution – Thai parliamentarians have taken the first step to changing parts of the country’s military-backed constitution, approving three bills that would establish a fully elected Senate and make it harder for the courts to disband political parties, reports Bloomberg. But Thailand’s highest court agreed to hear a case that may block the amendments, heralding the latest round in a political battle between allies of exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and royalists who backed the 2006 coup that saw him ousted.