Obama seems to be aiming for the stars in his cabinet appointments, looking past race, gender and ethnicity and instead choosing people representing the best and brightest in their respective fields. Although the President Elect is not looking to fulfill quotas, there is still an expectation of diversity within his picks. However, some supporters are upset with what they perceive as a diss of Bill Richardson. Obama initially seemed to be seriously considering Richardson for the post of Secretary of State, but it soon became clear that the job was Hillary Clinton's to lose. [Politico.com]
In a televised address on Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run again. Chavez came into power in Venezuela through democratically held elections back in 2000. His current term will end in 2012, but Chavez has indicated that he would like the opportunity to run again and ideally still be in power in the year 2021, which marks the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's independence from Spain. The constitution of Venezuela currently limits the president to two terms. Chavez lost a similar attempt to amend the constitution last year, when Venezuelans voted against a referendum that would have allowed candidates to run for a third term. [CNN.com]
In a recent article for The Nation, actor Sean Penn, earning rave reviews for his performance as Harvey Milk in the eponymous film biopic, asked Cuban president Raul Castro if he would like to meet with President-elect Barack Obama. Fidel's brother says such a meeting would have to be on "neutral ground", but publicly agreed to a meeting and suggested the American military base at Guantanamo Bay for the location. Raul Castro even said he would give Obama a parting gift, suggesting Cubans could send Obama "home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay." [NY Post]
For the first time in four years, deforestation rates in the Amazon rainforest increased in 2008. In response, the Brazilian government called for a plan the would utilize international funding. The new Amazon fund encourages foreign nations to contribute financially to the conservation of the vast Amazon region. Norway has already pledged approximately 130 million euros to the fund and a crackdown on illegal settlements by the Brazilian government and increased policing in the Amazon region came earlier this year. "The biggest Brazilian contribution to the fight against climate change is to bring deforestation to an end in the Amazon," said Sergio Leitao, Greenpeace director of public politics in Brazil. [BBC.com]
Amidst reports that the government of Argentina has suspended all trade with Iran, estimated to total almost 1 billion dollars, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner denied the allegations. Tensions between the countries arose surrounding an investigation into a 1994 bomb attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Although no one has been convicted of the attack, the government of Argentina has asked for the extradition of 5 Iranian officials. Argentine police believe the attack was carried out by the Islamic movement, Hezbollah, with the backing of the Iranian government in power in '94.