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January 1, 2009
World faces economic and political challenges in 2009

The lighting of the torch marked the new year in Edinburgh, Scotland, where residents celebrated Hogmanay.

As world citizens ring in the new year, bloggers around the globe are making predictions for 2009.

The world is bracing for a difficult economic year as the global financial crisis continues.

China faces particular pressure with exports plummeting. Estimates suggest the country’s expected growth rate may drop to 7.5 percent this year.

Kent Ewing writes an editorial at the Asia Times claiming that while 2008 brough the country Olympic glory, 2009 may bring both real and metaphorical fireworks, with economic stress as well as historic anniversaries.

The “Vishal Mishra” blog discusses India‘s economic future, suggesting that another relief package is in store.

The “Latin America Foreign Policy” blog suggests that Latin America may weather the financial storm — but that drug violence in Mexico may become the center of attention in the coming year.

Despite the bleak economic outlook, there are significant political landmarks ahead.

The Czech Republic takes France’s place as president of the European Union this year. The “Nosemonkey’s EUtopia” blog writes that Czech leadership could shake things up.

The EU has designated 2009 the European year of “creativity and innovation.”

Eric Margolis of the “Huffington Post” writes about several prospective 2009 hotspots, including Ukraine, which he says could potentially fall to Russia due to political squabbling.

Several important elections are also scheduled for 2009, according to the “Coffe House” blog, including presidential elections in Afghanistan and parliamentary elections in India. The “Foreign Policy Blog” discusses how the election will impact Afghanistan, and makes predictions regarding future U.S. policy in Central Asia.

The Czech Republic assumes the presidency of the European Union this year.

Israel prepares for parliamentary polls in February, even as violence continues in Gaza. Blogger “Jason Ditz” writes that the conflict in Gaza is driving the elections, as certain parties have gained in the polls.

Countries around the world are also looking ahead to the climate conference in Denmark, scheduled for March 2009. The Economist’s “World in 2009” blog writes that the Copenhagen conference will be crucial, and that if countries do not agree on a deal it could potentially mean giving up on a unified fight against global warming.

2009 may prove an important year for Iraq, as well. The U.S. will take steps towards ending its combat role in the country, handing over control of the Green Zone to the Iraqi government on Thursday. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to occur before the end of the year.

The “D-Day” blog writes that while Iraq may be taking more steps towards autonomy, the battle still has a long — and bloody — way to go.

The “United Nations Dispatch” blog writes that among the U.N.’s top concerns in 2009 is the war-torn region of eastern Congo. The blogger hopes for more diplomatic and judicial efforts to resolve the conflict in the coming year.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user laurencea and Vlastula under a Creative Commons license.

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