Sunday, November 23, 2008

Zimbabwe denies bar on Annan team

By: Stephanie Gesselle

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter, and Greca Machel claim they were denied in their attempts to asses the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. Aid groups have said that the area is facing a major humanitarian crisis and that nearly half of the population are in need of adequate food aid. The three individuals are members of a group called the Elders whose aim has been to tackle world conflicts. Mr. Annon told press that, "We had to cancel our visit because the government made it very clear that they will not cooperate." They reported that they had been denied visas which were necessary to gain access to the region. Carter declared that he had never been denied a visa anywhere previously. Government officials in Zimbabwe claim that they had never denied the visas but had advised the group to reschedule their trip. A Zimbabwean official said that the reason for the request of reschedule was due to Annon's group having never had any contact with the Zimbabwean government prior to the request. Officials have claimed that the aid based trip was biased. However, the three said the sole aim of the trip had been to help people in Zimbabwe, and that they had no intention of becoming involved in any political negotiations. Sources in the area have called the incident " a clear snub to the leaders".

Two Presidents Say They Encountered Gunfire

By: Stephanie Gesselle

Russia has denied claims made that both president Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and Lech Kaczynski of Poland said they were met with machine-gun fire when they visited a Russian checkpoint boundary on Sunday. According to sources both men were shot at while visiting a checkpoint in South Ossetia. The South Ossetian and Russian authorities denied any shooting had taken place, and said the two presidents intentionally provoked their forces. Grigory Karasin, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, told the Interfax news agency that Mr. Saakashvili’s account of shooting was “one more instance of wishful thinking on the part of Georgia”. The secretary of Georgia's security counsel said publicly that Russia “endangered the life of our head of state and the president of a country that is part of the E.U. and NATO.” Fighting in South Ossetia and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia, broke out between Georgia and Russia in August. Russia withdrew their forces recently as part of a cease-fire and this is said to be the most violent violation of the cease-fire since.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pirates release tanker hijacked in September

by: Stephanie Gesselle

Somali pirates have finally released the Greek owned ship which they hijacked in September. The ship's 19 crew members and $100 million worth of crude oil were all safely released after a ransom was paid to the hijackers. Ctesiphon Koukoulas told sources Saturday, that "Our primary concern is the safety of the ship and its crew. ... They released it when ransom was paid". He woudl not specify the amount for fear that it may complicate recovery of other crews and ships held in the pirated area. Although ships running through the area have been cautioned on which routes to take and areas to stay clear of , there is never certainty that they are safe from attack. The best they can do is "pray" that they make it through successfully.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister declared recently that their government will under no circumstances negotiate with the pirates and that it was up to the ship owners to manage the pirates. Immediately after, a radical Islamic group in Somalia declared that Muslim ships should not be siesed and that they would fight the pirates holding the Saudi ships.NATO has four warships, on duty off coastline of Somalia, which is an impoverished nation caught up in an Islamic insurgency that has had no functioning government since 1991. The NATO ships were dispatched to the region under a U.N. mandate to escort vessels chartered by the World Food Program to Somali ports, and to conduct patrols designed to deter pirates from attacking merchant ships transiting the Gulf of Aden. Next month the European Union will be sending in ships to replace those designated by NATO to help secure and patrol the area.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cholera outbreak

Hina Latif:

Due to the water and sanitation issue in Zimbabwe Cholera has spread to over 6,000 people in Africa, and it has been reported to have killed at least 300. Many hospitals have shut down and are in lack of water supply, due to broken sewers and waste that has not been cleaned up. The World Health Organization has said, "The outbreak is likely to continue as the water and sanitation situation is worsening, with severe shortages of potable water, sewage and waste disposal problems reported in most of the populated areas,". As of November 18, 2008, the death toll, according to the WHO, is 294, of 6,072 that it hit. According to Dr Malvern Nyamutora, vice-chairman of the Junior Doctors' Association "Cholera is treatable, just fluids and tetracycline [an anti-biotic] is enough, but if you get people dying of this diarrhoea - that explains the state of the health crisis,". due to the high volume of patients coming to the nearest hositals they are going to the hositals to die becuase they have no one to take care of them, and they are being turned away by the health clinics.

Warrents Arise for Darfur Rebels

Lexi Chase
(good thing I waited till the last minute to finish my blogging!)

Warrents were announced by The International Criminal Court for the rebels involved in the Darfur saga. In this particular case, the cheif prosecuter named Luis Moreno-Ocampo is petitioning that a group of rebels-- whose names have not been publically distributed-- have committed a serious war crime under the court's statute. In September of 2007 this rebel group attacked a community of peacekeepers, killing 12 and wounding an additional 8. According to Moreno-Ocampo, this was "the bloodiest assult on peacekeepers since the Darfur conflict began in 2003." The courts are now actively pursuing these groups, insisting that their actions cannot go unpunished. The peacekeepers have since joined with the United Nations in an effort to help stop the fighting at Darfur. There have been an estimated 200,000 people killed and another 2.5 million displaced since the fighting began.

Vladimir is Seen by Some as Acting Quite Sneakily...

Lexi Chase

It is expected that the Russian bill, which will extend the presidential reign from four to six years, will be easily passed. According to the New York Times article entitled "Russian Presidential Term Approved," the lower house in Russia approved this proposal by 392 to 57 on its third and final examination round. Given the overwhelming popularity of this bill-- and not to mention the suspected returning president's-- it seems that the upper house will pass this bill with great ease. While seemingly uncontrovercial, given his likability among the Russian civilians, there are some growing suspicians that Vladimir Putin may be the beneficiary of this six-year-presidency. The current Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, proposed this bill, and many believe it is because he is planning to step down early in order to allow Putin to be re-appointed as president. However, Putin still insists that this change was not tailored with him in mind ;)

Libya Making Changes and a Proposal.

Lexi Chase

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, revealed surprising news in an interview with The Associated Press. Apparently, Libya wants to invest a portion of their $100 Billion sovreign wealth fund in US businesses, in addition to sending thousands of their students to study here. Gadhafi (junior) also revealed that Libya will be making a transition into a "constitutional democracy," in order to further their modernization efforts. A constitution will be instituted to ensure a democratic election in September of 2009, which incidentally is the 40 year anniversary of the beginning of his father's one-man rule. Under this new governing system, Gadhafi (junior) also anticipates Libya to follow the US model of federal government-- "with strong regional and local governments."

The younger Gadhafi believes that investing some of its $100 Billion into the US is a good idea because of the success the US economy has had, which in turn provides Libya will great opportunity. He also states that he is not remotely fearful of the state of the current economy, but rather sees it as "the right time to invest." Gadhafi also expresses his thankfulness that Libya was not hit by the giant tsunami, and that this is a perfect time to do something beneficial. All in all, it looks like this is a new chapter in US-Libya relations.

One Down... Many More To Go.

Lexi Chase

A patrolling Indian navy frigate took out one of the pirates' "Mother Ships" off the coast of Oman. The Mother Ship, used by the pirates to transport crew members and smaller ships (speed boats) out to deep sea, was recognized by the frigate, who ordered an immediate search. As expected, the pirate crew threatened to blow up the Indian naval ship, and began to retaliate via open fire. The Indian frigate, which is a "400-foot war machine," was armed with cruise missiles, surface-to-air-missiles, and six-barreled 30mm machine guns. Navy officials did not report how long the fighting took place, but in the end, the pirate's Mother Ship was sunk. The Mother Ship underwent a series of explosions, which are assumed to be a result of the Indian navy's shots interacting with the pirate's on-board ammunition. The pirate's death rate is thus far inconclusive.

Al-Qaida's No.2 Leader Warns Obama that he is facing a Jihadi

Lexi Chase

Ayman al-Zawahri, Al-Qaida's #2 leader, posted a video which conveyed some threatening messages for the president-elect. Not only did he continually hurl racial-historical slurs, but more importantly, referenced a future of hate and hostility from Al-Qaida, the Ummah (the Islamic world), and Afghanistan. Al-Zawahri makes it clear that Obama can be sure that he will be "facing a Jihada (holy war) awakening."

According to al-Zawahri's statements, Obama will not change any of the American policies that are supposedly aimed at oppressing the Muslim population. He has interpreted Obama's professions to support Israel as an insult to Islam and the Muslims, which is why he posted an 11-minute 23-second video to persuade the Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent the kind of change which will benefit them.

This video was posted sometime after the November 5th US airstrike in Afghanistan, as al-Zawahri makes reference to it. Al-Zawahri mocked Obama's plan to deploy troops to Afghanistan, saying they will most certainly resist. He states, "Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them."

Another First For Women

From Becky Bonarek: Two women* are competing for the top spot in the Partie Socialiste, or the closest thing to the American Democratic Party. The actual title of the is Première secrétaire, which would be the equivalent to the Chairman of the Democratic/Republican National Committee. The two women on the final ballot are Martine Aubry -- who constructed the French's current 35-hour work week -- and Ségolène Royal -- a former presidential candidate who challenged Nicholas Sarkozy in the last election.

Both are very strong, very popular women in the country right now, especially within a party that is going through massive changes in response to the recent election of Barack Obama in the United States. Royal was the first woman to be considered a frontrunner in a French presidential election, so many pundits consider her a frontrunner in this final vote. She was known for wanting to distance France and the European community in general from the Bush administration, but after Obama's election, she and the rest of the Partie Socialiste aligned behind the new American administration. Aubry, the mayor of Lille in the north near the border with Belgium, is vastly popular in the party for how she deals with issues of social unrest.

Whoever the French elect will determine future relations with the country. The Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, the party most like the American Republican party, has for the past few years sympathized with the United States while the Partie Socialiste has distanced itself. This election could help set the tone for the Obama administration before it actually takes power.

True Life: Somalian Pirates

From Brianna Howell

Throughout this term, we were able to constantly rely on those crazy Somalian Pirates for a blog post and current classroom discussion. We foucused on all the things these pirates have stolen, all the ships that have been hijacked and all the destruction they have caused. The Christian Science Monitor takes these stories a bit farther and begins to ask questions like, "why?" and "who?" I think it is time for us to learn a little more about these modern day pirates.

These pirates are mainly fighters for various warlords who have been fighting for control over the government since 1991. A combination of survival needs and entrepreneurial opportunity creates a motive for these modern day fighters to begin pirating. Initially, the pirates were working with Somalian Fishermen; they bought boats and weapons with the proceeds from every ship that was captured. Since then, things have escalated because of the rise in the cost of food and now it is every man for himself. The pirates are now raking in millions of dollars in ransom payments. There are speculations that these pirates have links to Al-Qaeda and corrupt government officials throughout Africa. But honestly, there is no reason for anyone to make such affiliations. These pirates are just doing what they can to provide for their families and bank accounts and doing it the best that they can.

Mayor calls for "Ugly Ducklings" and Wins Sexism Award

By: Reid Hulett

Lets just say that Mayor John Malony did not make himself any new girlfriends when he made this controversial statement to a Queensland, Australia news reporter--"with five blokes to every girl, may I suggest that beauty-disadvantaged women should proceed to Mount Isa." Needless to say, the comment infuriated women and was a hot news topic for the next several months.

The statement won him the town's "annual sexism award," an award chosen after assessing the amount of boos each contestant receives after their statements are heard at an all-women gathering. He beat out a man who reportedly sniffed a women's chair after she had been sitting in it, and later snapped her bra-strap after she had made an on-air report. Upon receiving the award, Malony stated that the women in the audience were merely blaming him for their bad looks.

Australia has long been a place where women are mistreated and put to shame, often times for little or no reason at all. This is the most recent example, and further goes to show how women's roles in this society are still a little behind the women of the western world. I know one thing for sure, I wouldn't want any little ray of sunshine of mine living in such a cruel and cold-hearted place :(

Ex-child soldiers launch network to help kids

By: Brett Hulett

Fitting for what we have focused on these past couple of weeks in class, Ishmael Beah, along with two other former child soldiers, have made a new advocacy network with the hope that it will allow other survived child soldiers to become educated and thrive the same way they have. Beah states that the key to rehabilitation for child soldiers is education and with this new program, he hopes to let young children know that there are options other than merely killing the opposition.

The United Nations has backed this newest network with the same objectives as Beah--show children that their lives are not neccesarily over if they are ever able to escape war. If they use their minds, opportunities will present themselves.

This newest network is also another display of the power of resilience many former child soldiers show. The UN reports that 13 countries currently recruit the use of child soldiers, and all suffer equally brutal conditions--many are beaten, maimed, raped and murdered. And in cases when children attempt to escape, they are often murdered to prevent them from joining humanitarian groups such as these. Leaders of this latest group say the key is education, and this is what this group will hopefully provide.

Chilean workforce ends strike

Justin Zipser

A strike of the government workforce of Chile has officially ended today after getting word that the Chilean government would enact a 10 percent wage increase, reports. The strike had been going on since this past Monday. Those on strike, who numbered near 500,000, were looking for a 14.5 percent wage increase, but the government supposedly only wanted to raise it by 6.5. Government officials offered a 9.5 percent increase yesterday, which was rejected. With growing pressure to secede to the strikers demands, both parties agreed on the 10 percent increase today, which would go into affect December 10th.

The strike had practically paralyzed most of Chile's major cities because garbage was not picked up, and hospitals couldn't properly operate (the article cites that ~3,000 surgeries were postponed). While the measure to increase the wage has not been voted yet in Chile's lower house of government, it is widely expected to be passed when it is voted on later today.

Women now used for Palestinian security

From: Becca Smith

Palestine announced that they are now using women for house raids in order to bring a 'softer touch' to the process. Before women joined the security force, raids were a scary thing, with men often kicking down the door if it was not answered immediately. Using women shows an example of Palestine applying difference feminism because Palestine is recognizing that women are capable of doing the job but they are seen as potentially more successful at conflict resolution than men, allowing them to possibly be more effective at raiding.

One positive factor of using women for security is it strengthens relationships between security forces and the local civilians. This is especially true "in conservative Muslim countries where the sudden arrival of strange men in the home-where women aren't covered in their outdoorwear- is considered deeply shameful." Now once police raid homes, the women officers the females aside and search them considerately in a separate room and the male officers do the same for the men. General Samaeeh el-Safy even believes that customs and morals are preserved by using women. Even though calling the raids 'softer' promotes stereotypes of women being gentler, the article says that the most important change is that the raids are respecting human rights now more than ever before.

CIA: Too Good at Keeping Secrets?

From Becky Bonarek: The C.I.A. is supposed to be good at keeping secrets, but not from its own government. An internal investigation revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency withheld vital information from Congress, the Justice Department, and even the White House about a Peruvian plane crash in 2001. The C.I.A., in conjunction with the Peruvian Air Force, shot down a plane that they said didn't respond to a call to land for inspection for possession of narcotics. Inside the plane was an American missionary family, two of whom died: the mother and her seven-month-old child. They also said it was an isolated incident, one mistake in a program that works flawlessly-- in fact, the report found the C.I.A. responsible for 10 other planes downed in a similar manner. The Justice Department is currently investigating whether withholding this information is tanamount to obstruction of justice, something the United States' War on Drugs does not need right now.

"Change Is in the Air"

From Fiorella Bafundo

Owing to the high costs of oil, the Airlines of almost every country of the world have experimented a great change and losses, worst than after the episode of 9/11. Because of the pressure of oil prices, most people prefer flying trough low-cost airlines, which seem to be the ones with better profits nowadays. Anyway, for all the airlines fuel costs now represent almost 36% of global airlines’ expenses, 14% more than five years ago.
What economists anticipate is that for this holiday season “thanks to high fuel costs, 60 million seats will disappear over the same period last year—20 million of them inside the United States—and 275 airports around the world will close all together.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

U.S. contractor charged with murder of Afghan

Justin Zipser

A contractor of the U.S. military was charged today with the death of an Afgan civilian in Afghanistan reports. Don Ayala, of Louisiana, is being charged with second degree murder in a U.S. District Court in Virginia for his actions after helping to restrain the Afghan man and then shooting him in the head.

According to the article, the Afghan man, Abdul Salam, was apprehended by multiple men (including Ayala) after he apparently threw a lit container of flammable liquid at the head of a fellow contractor, badly burning the man. After ten minutes of being held down, Ayala shot Salam in the head, killing him instantly. One would have to assume that inherent tensions were present between the men solely because of their respective nationalities, which makes the incident very saddening.

3,000 U.N. Troops go to Congo

Justin Bjornson
Thursday 3,000 troops were sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo to make an already huge peacekeeping effort even bigger. The U.N's reason for sending the troops was because of the growing concern with the humanitarian issue already going on. While they believe these troops are necessary the project of peacekeeping is expected to end by the end of the year.

This is great news that someone other than the U.S. is finally stepping in and helping people in need of aid. The U.N. is making a great move by sending additional troops to the Congo because the people are being brutally murdered and are in dire need of help. The only problem that I see with the situation is the fact that the U.N. is expecting to pull out of the Congo by the end of the year. While it is great they are going to help if they do not finish the job nothing will be accomplished. If they pull out by the end of the year and rebel forces are still at large killing innocent people the country will go back to as it was before the U.N. aid came. The U.N. needs to plan on keeping troops in the Congo for the long haul until the job is done, to ensure the safety of the innocent people in the Congo.

The UN takes even more action in the Congo

Amanda Dominguez

The UN sent an additional 3,000 troops to the Congo today in hopes of continuing the aid in the already torn country. There has been push from groups like Human Rights Watch and the UN Secratery General for more presance in this area of the world. The increase of human rights violations has raised concern and criticizum from various human rights groups.

According to this CNN aricle, there have been an estimated 4 million deaths sinces the start of the war in 1997 and 1,200 die per day due to epademics and war-related deaths. These numbers alone should be of concern to all, not just those who have choosen to do this for a living. The fact that little has been done by developed states is sickening. People should not be deprived of basic rights because we are too lazy to do anything about it. Good thing the UN has some power otherwise Africa would be screwed.

Sudan rebels wanted over peacekeepers' deaths

By: Stephanie Gesselle

Today, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court requested warrants for the arrests of several rebel leaders who are suspected to be responsible for several attacks on peacekeepers last year. According to sources, the attacks occured in the Darfur region of Sudan. These warrants are the first ever to be requested in response to an attack on peacekeepers. The ICC has proclaimed these attacks "war crimes" and noted that they will not go unpunished. The attacks took place last September and killed 12 peacekeepers and injured several others. The rebel soldiers stormed a peacekeeping base in Haskanita. This has been reported to be the deadliest attack on peacekeepers since their initial involvement in early 2004. It is still unclear what the Judge will decide on terms of the warrant requests for the three men. Currently Sudan does not recognize the ICC as an authority so this may be an issue in determination. Human Rights groups have praised the action of the ICC prosecutors efforts, claiming that "Civilians rely on peacekeepers for protection, and any hope for restoring security for civilians in Darfur depends on peacekeepers being able to do their job," said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. "These warrant requests send a strong message that such crimes will not be tolerated." Hopefully, the arrests of these rebel leaders will help force this message and deter some of the rebel activity.

Innocent Inmates Released from Guantanamo Bay

From Kurpalo
Five prisoners have been released from the Guantanamo Bay on Thursday. These innocent Algerian men were kept there for over seven years unlawfully. This was an important mark in history and a point proven to the Bush Administration which showed that indeed there were innocent detainees held in Guantanamo Bay and also that they have a right to habeas corpus. It is true that Barack Obama has decided to go ahead and close this prison. The six men kept in Guantanamo Bay had been living in Bosnia in 2001, right before being arrested. Only one of the men was connected to the Al Qaeda and therefore he is still imprisoned currently in Cuba. The other five men were planning to go to Afghanistan to fight the United States. Bush accused them of planning on bombing the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Last month seventeen inmates were ordered release by a district judge in Washington D.C.

Reading this article was definitely eye-opening. I understood that this was going on but the idea that there are people held in this prison for years and years for no wrong doing is hard to imagine. However, when I stumbled across the information that they were possibly planning to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo... I became less sympathetic :D

Angola promises troops as Congo peace fades

By Stephanie Gesselle

The Angolan government announced that they will be sending in troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to sources, the Congolese soldiers have raped women, destroyed villages, and caused other chaos in the region. Georges Chicoty, Angola's deputy foreign minister, reported that the forces would be sent in and overseen by the European Union and The Southern African Development Community. This is the first major involvement from Angolan forces since the 1998-2003 conflict in the Congo. This prior conflict drew in forces from other governments such as that of Rwanda and Uganda.

The fighting is spurred by lingering tensions over the 1994 slaughter of ethnic Tutsis by majority Hutus in neighboring Rwanda. This devastating conflict left millions of fatalities. Rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda declared a unilateral ceasefire on October 29, but this has failed. Monday and Tuesday, brought about looting and conflict, including increased violence in the capitol city of Goma. Both the government and rebel soldiers have been accused of violating this ceasefire in various instances and have left several hundred more citizens dead and injured. The Congolese soldiers reportedly looted the village late Monday where they proceeded to rape several women and destroy th village. Since then the U.N. Children's Fund has sent over 29 tons of aid to Goma. in addition the U.N. has since been sending in large amounts of fresh water, food, and medical equipment to the area.

Pakistan protests suspected U.S. missile strike

From Justin Zipser

Another U.S.-suspected missile strike on Pakistani soil has led the Pakistan foreign ministry to file a protest to the U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson on Thursday, reports. The latest strike, and third in November alone, hit the Bannu region of Pakistan, which is further into Pakistani territory than the previous two attacks. The strike, which targeted a home that U.S. intelligence says has become a "haven for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters battling U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan," killed five and injured seven. The U.S. has not achknowledged any involvement with the strikes.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned the attacks and called them a violation of his nation's sovereignity. Furthermore, the strikes are costing lives, which is making the Pakistani public a bit weary of their country's support of the U.S. in their efforts against al Qaeda. If these attacks continue, especially without achknowledging involvement, the U.S.'s relations with foreign leaders would certainly take yet another tumble.

Saddam's Victims' Remains Flown Home

By: Reid Hulett

The remains of Saddam Hussein's victims were flown home on Wednesday in a moving ceremony that had thousands of witnesses. The bodies that were being transported were found in a mass grave outside of Najaf around three months ago, and were finally sent home so they could be remembered by their families. The bodies of the slain kurds were set in coffins, and were wrapped in Iraqi flags at the Najaf airport.

The mass grave found in Najaf was one of 45 mass graves created to hide the victims of Saddam Hussein's violence. Tens of thousands of kurds were murdered--men, women, and children alike. After this latest ceremony, bystanders had this to say--"150 cases means that Saddam's regime should be charged for the death of 150 more people." Obviously, this sentiment is shared by the rest of the world.

Japan Fails Missle-Intercept Test

By: Brett Hulett

On Wednesday, Japan attempted to intercept a missile fired from a battleship in the pacific ocean--its attempts failed, but experts are unsure as to what caused the mishap. This was Japan's second attempt to intercept a missile, the first attempt being a successful one that occurred last year. United States military officials have stated that the failed attempt is a non-issue because the involved have a great track record of successfully completing these tests. They claim that one mistake is not a significant one.

Japan has invested a great deal of money into its missile defense systems in recent years, hoping to ward off any possible threats posed by North Korea. The main supporters of this increase in defense has been the United States, and they say they will continue to support their allies with whatever they may need. U.S. officials claim they will provide further testing and will investigate this incident in order to prevent it from happening on future tests.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Aids Awareness

From: Brianna Howell

According to a recent report by Chile's Public Health System, over 1800 Chilean's have left hospitals while they have been carrying the HIV Virus without being informed that they were carriers. According to the Health Minister, not even half of those infected were attempted to be contacted. Supposedly, this is a result of a lack of communication between the National AIDS Commission and the Health Ministry. Already 2 people have died from complications from AIDS because they were never aware that they had the HIV Virus. Cecilia Sepúlveda, the dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Chile estimates that 40,000 Chileans are currently carrying the AIDS virus unknowingly. The government is currently making an "intense effort" towards contacting these patients to let them know that they are carriers of the virus.

Al-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama's US


Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda deputy accused US President-elect Barack Obama of betraying his Muslim roots. Zawahiri claims that Mr Obama was not an "honourable black American" like Malcolm X, but an "abeed al-beit" - a word that translates as house slave. Barack Obama has made the stamping out of al-Qaeda his top priority. On Sunday, he said capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden was "critical" to US security.

"You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews"

Zawahiri, an Egyptian by birth, is often referred to as Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man and the chief ideologue of al-Qaeda. He claims that "America, the criminal, trespassing crusader, continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it in order for it to come to its senses," he said. He also states that Barack Obama, born to a muslim father, is betraying his father and the Islamic world.

Rwandan aide extradited to France


Senior Rwandan presidential aide, Kabuye, was extradited to France for the questioning over the killing of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. On April 6, 1994 Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed due to his plane being shot down.
Rwandan presidential aide Rose Kabuye in Nairobi, Kenya (7/11/2008)

The Hutu's accused the RPF while the RPF accused the Hutu extremists because this was a reason to carrying out their genocidal plans. Some 800,000 people were killed in 100 days before the Hutu government was forced out.She is one of nine officials accused of involvement in the shooting down of Juvenal Habyarimana's plane in 1994, which triggered the country's genocide. She has denied any involvement and her arrests has led to protests in Rwanda. On Wednesday there was a organized demonstration in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. "People of Rwanda have come together once again to appeal to the international community to join us in denouncing this political manipulation of international justice by certain western countries," said one protester. Kabuye has great influence and popularity in Rwanda. Many feel that this arrest is illegal and flawed and Kabuye herself has stated that it is "based on politically motivated information".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Violence Over Voting/Kashmir

Katie Crawford
On November 17, Indian police officers had to fight off Muslim separatist groups while people tried to get to polling places. The Indian controlled Kashmir is set to be voting for a new government for the upcoming New Year that will set restrictions on roads and improve water supply. The only problem is that the separatist groups do not like that very much. Kashmir is a divided state between Pakistan and India, even though it is Indian controlled. Police officers had to fight off these separatist groups with batons leaving some fatally wounded. The reason for these protests that end so violently is the fear of a stronger Indian government controlling a Muslim majority state. These protests have long been going on for eighteen years and have resulted in at least 43,000 people dead. Despite all of the violence there were long voting lines all day. It seemed intriguing to me that even in a bloody mess that people are willing to vote with the rights that they have been given. I thought that despite violence at the polls this was a good message to all people that if you are given the opportunity to vote, vote.

Cease Fire Ends in Congo

From Seper:

One day after the UN backed cease fire was approved by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, fighting has resumed between government and rebel forces. It is not clear who started these new attacks but thousands of refugees have been attempting to seek safety in various United Nations' bases across the country. According to former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo stated that the rebel leader, Laurent Nkunda would be supporting the cease fire proposed by the United Nations. Both the United Nations and the government in the Congo have been unable to release information regarding the number of casualties, but rebel armies had attacked multiple villages on Sunday, many near to refugee camps.

Chile's public workforce on strike over labor dispute

From Justin Zipser

About 450,000 public workers of Chile went on strike yet again on Monday in a move that has further crippled the country's economic and cultural landscape, reports. The strike, which also occurred over two days during last week, has been in effect due to a wage dispute between the public workers and Chile's government. The workers are seeking a 14.5 percent wage increase, while the government is looking more in the ballpark of about 6.5 percent. The disparity between the desired amounts is obviously a cause for concern, and no end date for the strike has been set as of yet. Most of Chile's major cities were scenes for demonstrations for the striking workers.

The strike has affected the aforementioned cities because without the workforce, "garbage is piling up on streets, tax and fee collection has stopped and public health and education are practically paralyzed. Even weddings and autopsies are not being performed." However, several different forces of the Chile government are stepping in to make sure that imports and exports are not affected by the strike, including the armed forces, port and maritime authorities, and agricultural/livestock services.

The government, however, is taking precautions to make sure that the strike does not totally cripple the country. As far as the tax and fee collection goes, they have set up some emergency contacts via the internet or telephone for such services to be serviceable, albeit in a semi-functioning fashion. Also, there is some hope within the government that the strike is close to ending. President Michelle Bachelet met with her treasury minister early Monday, and according to officials, negotiators have made a new offer to the striking workforce in hopes of getting these people back to work. Chile is an important facet to southern South America by virtue of its high GDP-per-capita, development, and freedom-- getting the workforce back on track should obviously be of the utmost importance for government officials, and hopefully both sides get something they want from the inevitable ultimatum.

Analysts, EU Leaders Urge New Approach To Russia

By Grant Swanson

Since President-Elect Obama’s successful victory, many
world leaders have decided to offer him their advice. One surprising leader to offer a positive outlook was Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev wishes to meet with President-Elect Obama to discuss the current mistrust between the two Countries. A small scale ‘cold war’ has begun to develop between the two powers. Arms productions have begun to increase as both sides attempt to flex their muscles. Medvedev believes that President-Elect Obama may be the key to resolving this conflict. EU members agree, thinking that Obama will develop a new approach to international relations with Russia. For instance, EU members worry about Bush’s proposal to have the Ukraine and Georgia become NATO members. This is because it will irritate and confuse Russia. These same EU members are hopeful Obama will not push for such actions. The EU also believes that the US needs to rethink their interactions with Russia…moving away from trying to assimilate Russia into the Western world. The EU claims that Putin has made it clear this will never happen. Menvedev’s own speech alluded to this when he refused to back down from Georgia and also expressed anger at NATO expansion. But, as stated before, both the EU and the Russian President Menvedev believe Obama will be able to address these concerns. I hope, for President-Elect Obama’s sake, that they are right.

Pirates Seize Supertanker Loaded with Crude

By Reid Hulett

On Saturday, Somali pirates managed to seize yet another ship. This time, it was a Saudi supertanker that was loaded with crude oil, and it was seized hundreds of miles out into the Indian Ocean. This shows the pirates' expanding reach. This is the largest vessel that has been seized along with more than 30 other smaller vessels thus far.

The ship had a 25-member crew which included citizens of Croatia, Britain, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia. It is unsure whether or not there was armed security on board, but the pirates would have had to demonstrate their skills in seizing this ship due to the size. At 1, 080 feet, the pirates would have scaled about 33 feet from the water to the deck. In past attempts, the pirates often used ropes and ladders to climb the sides of the ship. As is likely the case here, crew members on large ships often don't spot the pirates until it's too late. The pirates are usually well-equipped with automatic weapons, RPG's, and various grenades. So, these pirates more often than not have the capabilities of overpowering crew members on board the ships trying to be hijacked.

The Sirius Star, the supertanker seized on Saturday, could have been carrying up to $100 million worth of crude oil. However, due to the lack of refineries and the ability to sell the oil, the oil is worthless to the pirates. So, it is likely they are going to make a ransom for the ship, if they haven't already. It is also discussed in the article how difficult it is becoming to defend ships in this area, especially now that the pirates are going farther and farther off coast. Something has to be done quick though, the world is losing too many valuable ships and the pirates are becoming more rich with everyone they seize, which just makes them stronger.

Britain rewards citizens for working out

From: Becca Smith

The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday that in order to combat the rising obesity levels, Britain is investing $45 million into a program that monitors exercising. Nine different cities, now known as 'health towns,' are implementing a program where citizens will carry an electronic tag. The tags will work like a Dominick's Fresh Values or Jewel Preferred Card. When a citizen of a health town goes to a public park to work out, they can swipe the tag at various access points to log the distance they have covered and it will calculate the calories burned. Points will also be awarded for healthy grocery shopping. The tag will accumulate points based on how much its owner exercises (and extra points are rewarded if a work out is done everyday). Users can redeem the points for clothes, shoes, and even a day at the pool.

CSM reported that the program started because Britain's "obesity levels are among the highest in Europe. Over the past decade the obesity rate has risen by 50 percent, and now nearly a quarter of British adults are considered obese." Even though people understand that obesity is an important issue, some people are skeptical that the government is getting involved with its citizens fitness. Fast food business owners are also upset because it could send them out of business.

ETA Leader Arrested

From Hollister:
In Madrid, Spain, French and Spanish authorities announced today that French police arrested one of the highest in command operational leaders of ETA, a Basque militant group. The French police arrested Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina in Cauterets, which is a town near the Spanish border.

Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina was detained with a woman who is believed to be another member of the ETA. Under the condition of anonymity, the woman revealed information to authorities. The woman says that Aspiazu is suspected of shooting Spanish policemen in France, and to have ordered the parking lot bombing and Madrid's Barajas International Airport in 2006.

Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina goes by the name "Txeroki" (pronounced cher-OH-kee). It is reported that this arrested has weakened the ETA dramatically. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero stated, "With this arrest, ETA has suffered a severe blow in its organization and capability. Today, ETA is weaker."

Cease Fire.... just kidding

From Brianna Howell:

Despite recent agreements to stop the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo between the rebels and the government, fighting broke out once again. This happened only one day after the Rebel leader, Laurent Nkunda, had agreed with the UN to cease-fire. The government troops were forced to evacuate their town in the Northeast Congo because of the clashes of the rebels. The Congolese are fleeing to the UN building in Congo for protection. They are not allowed inside the building, but they still feel safer there than in their homes. The UN estimates that an additional 250,000 people are displaced in addtion to the already displaced 800,000 in the area. CNN describes the root of the war: "Nkunda, a Tutsi, has repeatedly blamed the Congolese government for failing to protect Tutsis from attacks by Rwandan Hutus who fled over the border following the 1994 genocide that left hundreds of thousands of Tutsis dead.".... The irrationality by the rebels is so frustrating. Basically from the studying we have done on Africa and it's rebel war/child soldiers I have concluded that their theory is essentially 'two wrongs make a right'. Nkunda is basically fighting for revenge... I don't remember the exact quote from A Long Way Gone, but Ishmael says towards the end that he learned that revenge is never good. Until the rest of the Continent realizes this, I do not believe there is an end in sight for the rebel wars.

Taliban Rejects Peace Talks

By: Brett Hulett

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, has been attempting to reach out to the Taliban in recent weeks in order to establish some level of peace. However, Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban stated that this cannot happen until the United States and other Western nations leave the region. "The Taliban will pursue jihad against foreign forces and (Karzai's) government," he said, while speaking from an unknown location. But Karzai stated that the foreign troops are needed to help keep Afghanistan safe.

Karzai has been interested in involving the Taliban in the political mainstream for years, as long as they will condemn Al-Qaida and will accept Afghanistan's constitution. The Taliban do not believe these interests to be genuine though. With Karzai's election coming up in the next year, Taliban leaders believe it is simply a ploy to gain re-election. They feel that if he could not ask for these negotiations seven years ago (when the U.S. invaded for the first time), then what is the benefit of asking now? The United States however is following suit, and is hoping to negotiate certain terms with the Taliban as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Indonesia Earthquake

From Kurpalo
A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake striked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Monday. The country is positioned where three tectonic plates meet. It killed two people and left thousands homeless. One individual was killed by a collapsing wall. In 2004, Indonesia was the hardest hit country by earthquakes, killing 200,000 people. After all these instances they created a system that can detect an earthquake at sea in five minutes and see if it could cause a tsunami. This cost them over $130 million. The President even said that the country was "living on the edge." The economy is greatly suffering because of all the natural disasters constantly hitting the country.

Man has 86 wives

From Becca Smith:

Nigerian man, Mohammed Bello Masaba, of Bida, has more wives than candles on his birthday cake. He is 84 years old and currently has 86 wives, with some of his 150 children being older than his wives. Even though polygomy breaks Nigeria's federal and sharia laws, Bello Masaba avoided trouble with the law until he began to give interviews to the local media 'claiming he had special God-given powers and challenged accepted interpretation' of the Koran.

Bello Masaba reported to the Christian Science Monitor in prison that "If God permits me, I will marry more than 86 wives. A normal human being could not marry 86 – but I can only by the grace of God. I married 86 women and there is peace in the house – if there is peace, how can this be wrong?" However, Muslim doctrine states that no person can communicate with God or have more than four wives.

Bida is a highly religious city and after Bello Masaba gave his interview, the influential group known as Jamaatu Nasril Islam called for his death. The Emir (mayor) of Bina intervened in attempts to save his life. The Emir asked him to divorce 82 of the wives or to leave Bida. However, he would not do either and now is in prison.

It would seem logical that the wives would be happy to know that their husband was locked up, however, they are lobbying to get him out of prison because they are happy. Bello Masaba does not work and he will not explain where he gets money to support his massive family. All of his secrets have made the people of the town accuse him of witchcraft.

Chandrayaan 1, India goes to the moon

Hina Latif

( Pictures: On the far left is the picture of the probe, and the right is the picture the lunar surface of the Moon as the probe landed)

On Friday November 14,2008 India sent their probe to the moon. During the land of the probe it took measurements of the composition of the moon's atmosphere. Many in India see this mission accomplished as a sign of global power for the country of India. Over the next two years, Chandrayaan 1, map three-dimensional atlas of the Moon and also check for the presences of water-ice, along with the help of other instruments built by US, Germany, and Britain. The chairman of India's space programme Madhavan Nair, believes this mission is 95% accomplished, he is hoping to launch the second lunar mission in the year 2012. Mr. Nair is considering sending a satellite to Mars. With the probe to the moon's atmosphere, Mr. Nair says "We have now successfully put our national flag on the lunar surface".

Peace Talk in Africa

Justin Bjornson

On Sunday the leader of the major rebel group in the Congo agree to a cease fire in Africa. The rebel leader met with the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and sat down for a two hour meeting in Jomba. This is where the former president convinced the rebels to agree with the cease fire. The article estimated that 250,000 Africans had been displaced from their home from recent violence, and on top of the estimated 800,000 that were displaced from the past several years of violence.

This is great news for the people of Africa. This war has been going on for a long time and many of innocent people were being killed brutally. Children, Women, and elders were being killed by both rebels and the government forces. This article relates to a recent topic brought up in class about child soldiers. These children will now be able to live in peace not having to run from fear of being abducted and forced to kill. Many of the children in Africa have no family or home but the cease fire will help the rebuilding of Africa. Rebel's agreeing to this treaty is a huge step towards peace in Africa, but things are still on thin ice and the government needs to be careful not to ruin the peace. Peace talks should still continue between the two sides in order to ultimately make Africa a peaceful place to be forever.

2,000 with HIV in Chile were not notified

From: Becca Smith

The Washington Post reported on November 13th that nearly 2,000 people were carrying HIV and the health system did not inform the patients that they were infected. Two activist groups, Asosida and Vivo Positivo are quoted as saying that this is "the worst health crisis that the country has been through in the last several years" and that "the negligence had been a flagrant violation of human rights and of the right of life."

María Soledad Barría had been forced to resign several weeks prior after the public realized that a hosptial in Iquique had not notified patients that they were carrying the disease and two people died from AIDS. The new health minister, Álvaro Erazo, said that 'there was no evidence' that anyone made attempts to notify the patients. Erazo explained that this happened because of communication problems between the National AIDS Commission and the Health Ministry. He also said that every attempt would be made to find all those affected with the disease to inform them. Unfortunately, due to the nature of STDs, Cecilia Sepúlveda, the dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Chile, estimated "that about 40,000 people in Chile do not know that they are infected" with the disease.

United States Troops Set to Stay in Iraq til 2011

From Seper:

On Sunday, November 16, the Iraqi Cabinet approved an agreement with the United States allowing military presence through 2011. The United Nations had an agreement with the United States enabling the military to stay in Iraq only until December 31, 2008. According to this new agreement between the US and Iraq, the military can legally stay in Iraq beginning on January 1, 2009 all the way through 2011. The pact still has to go through Parliament, but many believe that with the 28-1 approval from the Cabinet, it will be approved. Still, the pact has received much negative attention from Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr who has openly expressed his disapproval of the pact and has been quoted as saying, "I repeat my demand to the occupier to leave our land without keeping bases or signing agreements...If they keep bases, then I would support honorable resistance." However, many officials in Iraq support this new agreement because there has been no other alternatives given to the issue of what to do once the United Nations agreement expires at the end of the year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More countries make spreading HIV a crime

Thomas Andre: More countries are beginning to prosecute people for the spread of HIV. Right now, there are 58 countries that criminalize the spread of it, while 33 others are considering legislation. As the article mentions, and i would have to agree, that if these laws are misapplied, it could lead to forced checks for this deadly disease. This could then lead to people not telling medical authorities about their condition and many more cases go untreated and it could spread even faster. These laws are not relegated to a certain part of the world. They are all over. The US itself has 32 states that prosecute people for the transmission of HIV. I only agree with this type of law if it goes after people who deliberately spread this in order to cause harm to others. But then again, this would also cover the malicious spread other incurable diseases as well. This is a very touchy matter with no clear resolution.

Dalai Lama to Open Six-Day Debate on Tibet's Future

From Jislaine Medina: Starting this Monday, exiled Tibetans from around the world will gather in the hill town of Dharmsala, India for a six-day meeting to debate Tibet's future. Among those in attendance will be the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile himself for forty-nine years. The reason for calling this meeting of the minds is that many feel the struggle for Tibet has been ineffective. According to Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, "We have failed to bring any positive change inside Tibet. The majority of Tibetans are increasingly frustrated and want more forceful change."

The ways to bring about this change follow two approaches. On the one hand, the Dalai Lama preaches the "Middle Way," a Buddhist perspective that rejects demands for total independence and supports Tibet having limited autonomy. On the other hand, groups such as the Tibetan Youth Congress have risen up, demanding tougher policies towards Beijing and active strides towards independence from China.

In what may be interpreted as a changing of the tides, the Dalai Lama said in a speech last month that, after decades of staying on the Middle Way, "there hasn't been any positive response. As far as I'm concerned I have given up." One could not blame him at this point. Negotiations with China for several years have ended in stalemates; Beijing derides the Dalai Lama as a "'splittist,' saying he really wants a Tibetan nation." If negotiations are out of the question, what more can Tibet do? What about using force to take back Tibet? The Tibetans number roughly 6 million versus China's 1.3 billion citizens and the world's largest army, effectively taking force out of the question.

What are Tibet's options at this point? All eyes are on the Dalai Lama for answers. Although he has expressed a severely understated frustration from years of exile and talks that have resulted in little change, millions of people--both within and without Tibet--still look to him for the next step. Until Monday, however, this 73-year-old spiritual leader and global icon will remain silent for fear of any statements being misinterpreted as support for any particular policy.

As disheartening as it is to hear the Dalai Lama say the words "I have given up," I think opening the floor to anyone and anything is the first step towards change. These are decisions that will affect not only Tibetans within and without but also the entire world. How will Tibet's decision-makers handle this seemingly hopeless struggle? Everyone has something to learn from this conference and what comes of it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hey Canada...What's Going On?

By: Seper

Canadian officials reported that they found a severed foot in a New Balance shoe along the Fraser River. Interestingly enough, its the sixth severed foot to be found within the past 15 months along an area located between Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Of the five previously found feet, two of them, discovered separately, belonged to the same unidentified female. The left foot found on Tuesday appears to be the counterpart to a New Balance shoe containing a right foot found on May 22, 2008. All of the shoes discovered do not have any markings of trauma or tool marks and authorities believe that the feet all disconnected from their bodies naturally. So who's going around British Columbia with no feet? Apparently, the feet may belong to victims of a plane crash and authorities are still looking into missing persons leads.

China? Seriously? Again?

From Becky Bonarek: Scandal after scandal involving Chinese merchandise, and they still can't seem to regulate their consumable products. First it was milk, then eggs, now it's fish food. Hong Kong has found more melamine, "a chemical used to make plastic and fertilizer," in fish food imported from China. November is the third month that Chinese exports have been in the news, despite that government's attempts at containing the scandals. They have sent food inspectors all over the country, but the tainted food is still making its way to export countries. While officials say fish who may have consumed tainted food are safe for human consumption, they also claim that rogue food and feed dealers spiked the supplies, so take that assurance as you will. And if you think this melamine scandal isn't affecting the United States, just wait: remember the giant pet food recall last year? The food was tainted with melamine from... wait for it... China. No countries that trade with China are immune quite yet.

Russian, British Ships Repel Somali Pirates

By Reid Hulett

On Tuesday, Somali pirates attempted to hijack yet another ship passing through the waters by Somalia. The pirates tried to hijack a Danish cargo ship, but their attempt was foiled due to help from British and Russian ships. The Russian Navy spokesman, Capt. Igor Dygalo, said that both them and the British navy sent up a helicopter to prevent this hijack from being successful. He said that the pirates were firing on the vessel with automatic weapons and made several attempts to seize it, all of which failed. Russia started to send ships out to help after the pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter that had three Russians aboard back in September.

Last Wednesday, the pirates were successful in seizing the Karagol, a Turkish tanker bound for India. The vessel was hijacked 16 miles off the coast of Yemen, and was carrying 4,500 tons of chemicals and 14 Turkish personnel. The number of naval attacks off Somalia is now 84. 33 ships have been successfully hijacked, and 12 of them are still in their hands.

Attack on Nigerian oil

Justin Bjornson
Nigeria's major militant called for a cease fire late Sunday in the southern Nigerian oil region. The cease fire comes after three straight years of hostility, which have costs Nigerian oil companies the production of a million barrels of oil per day. The only reason for the militants stop in hostility is because of the recent criticisms from elders and politicians from the region. The actions of the recent military operation was the cause of the recent surge in attacks and the militants recently declared war on the military which was called off Sunday by the militants. The Nigerian government says because of the actions of these militants production of oil has dropped 40 percent. This is a major reason that crude oil prices were higher than ever in the international market. The reason the militant started these attacks three years ago was because they wanted the money from the oil companies to be given to the southern region, which is where the oil is actually pumped. Attacks from the militants on the Nigerian military have increase recently and could mean the possibly start of larger attacks which could be even worse for the petroleum market, considering that Nigeria has the largest oil industry in Africa.
This article shows the reason that oil prices while not fall anytime soon. In my opinion knowing that the gases prices are where they are at and the economy in America in the state that it is in, I believe the U.S. should consider stepping in to help the African government control these rebels. Not only would stop the rebels help save African lives it would help with the ridiculous gas prices around the world. While many people say that losing life for oil isn't worth it and that it is immoral, there are many people in the U.S. without jobs and without a way to pay for gas to get to a job. The fall in gas prices could help many struggling Americans immensely and could possibly turn around the terrible economy in the U.S. Many liberals in the U.S. would say there are many other places in the world to send American aid and money to help, but Americans have to weigh their options, lose American lives to save others or lose lives over the reestablishment of the American economy. The discussion in class about the dropping of the nuclear bomb fits perfectly to this issue, options have to be weighed and the decision should be made on where you will gain the most.

Illegal Immigration

Justin Bjornson
Illegal immigration is one of the biggest issues in this year’s presidential election. Many people believe that the borders need to be tightened up and illegal immigrants should not be able to get into the country as easy as they are now. A recent article from USA Today talks about what the U.S. border control is doing about this immigration problem. The article talks about many ways the U.S. has beefed up the border control but the simplest upgrade is simply the fact of an increase in officers. There are now 17,000 officers nationwide compared to 12,000 two years ago. Along with the upgrade in border control officers there have been more purchases of boats to decrease the amount of illegal drugs being smuggled into the country. Last year alone there were only 10 boats caught for drug or human trafficking into the country. This year with two months left in the fiscal year 22 boats have been seized.I personally am extremely excited to hear that border control is finally stepping up and beginning to enforce immigration laws. While I believe that illegal immigrant are vital to the structure of our economy, I don't believe that any more illegal immigrants should just be allowed into the country.
There is nothing the government can do about the estimated 20 million illegal immigrants in the country already, but they can stop the over population and the ongoing problem of drug trafficking by illegal aliens. A main source of the countries drug problem is the smuggling of drugs by illegal aliens. In my opinion the the government should do about the immigration problem is simple, block the border with a fence or whatever will work. Keep increasing the number of border control officers there are and increase the number of boats are provided to the officers. The illegal aliens already in the country should all be given a back round check, the ones that have stayed out of jail and are productive the U.S. society should be given citizenship upon learning English and other skills. The illegal aliens that have been arrested should be deported and with the new blockade of the border the problem of illegal immigrants will disappear.

Rebels Provide Warning for Congo's Government Troops

By: Brett Hulett

The latest newsworthy occurrence out of the Congo is perhaps the most frightening of them all. Just outside of Goma, rebel troops established a roadblock against the opposition--a roadblock made out of human bodies. The slain bodies of two government troops were thrown across a narrow, dirt road, apparently to scare off any government troops in the region. This road happens to be the main road into the rebel-controlled area of Congo and it shows that the brutal violence in Congo is nowhere near its end. One of the bodies has a bullet hole in its forehead, a clear indication for government troops to stay away. But the roadblock not only sent a message to the troops in the area, but also to any unfortunate civilians. Residents of the Congo say they are more fearful than ever of the increased violence and they just want to see it all end. However, there seems to be no clear end to the violence, a series of events that began in 1994 as a result to the genocide in Rwanda.

Asked about the incident, rebel troops stated that the army attacked, and that they merely responded. Up to this point, the rebel troops in Congo have proven to be far more disciplined on the battlefield, and many believe incidents like this will only continue to feed their confidence in the fight for their cause.

Former Taiwan President Imprisoned--- I have been waiting for it, and finally

From Vicky Fan:

As a Taiwanese, our former president- Chen Shui Bian entered prison on Tuesday was the biggest news so far in Taiwan history. I was going to wait see what’s would happened in the couple days, and I saw someone post the news already. Then I have to DEFINITELY write something about it.
People can read the article online- “Court order detention of Taiwan ex-president”, and I have been watched Taiwan news channel since Monday about this news. Main reason is our former president- Chen’s entire “family” and “governors” that worked for him were extremely corrupted. Two- three years ago, there were rumors about the corruption, but he was the president, so the legislation system couldn’t take any actions. The original case found out back 2-3 years ago was Chen’s wife used President special expenses to buy a Tiffany diamond ring.

In May, we elected our new president, Ma Ying-jeou, which is opposite party of Chen, and that’s when all the investigation of Chen’s corruption started again. Later on, we found out Chen and his wife has bank accounts all over the world in Switzerland, Japan, the United States, Singapore, and the Cayman Islands. The money sent to different people’s accounts and then transfer back to their accounts (includes his son and daughter’s account). This is a very OBVIOUS money laundering case, and the entire family was denying and lying about it ALL THE TIME.

So far, the prosecutors have collected numerous solid evident about Chen’s corruption. They have detained our former head of “CIA” officer, Chen’s personal accountant, Chen’s personal secretary, Chen’s brother in-law, and other head officers of private corporations which helped Chen’s corruption- total of 9 people in the jail. Besides people’s testimony, and there are so many evident that prosecutors have found- paper documents, receipts, name lists…etc.

In the past 4 months, Chen was claiming the money in his/ his family bank account which he has “stolen” was the funding for Taiwan’s independency. The rumor has claimed that the total amount might excess over half billion US dollar, but so far, AT LEAST $21 million has found. I feel shame on Chen. He was a great lawyer in the past, and now he is the biggest liar in Taiwan’s history. He had a lot of press conferences and lied about his corruption. During the press conferences, he always accused about the other party tried to make the rumor about his corruption until now he still says himself is innocent. The phoniest part was Chen would despite all the evident prosecutors have shown in front of him, and he still claim this is a political persecution, and Ma (our current president) is partnering up with China to “kill” him. Also he still made speech while he has hand cuffs on- “Long Live Taiwan, political persecution.” This is just a JOKE to me, and Chen eliminated basic human morality. I am still waiting the day that he truly apologizes to entire Taiwan about what he has done.

Former Taiwan President Behind Bars

from Guajardo: The former President of Taiwan is being accused of money laundering and corruption. He served a total of two terms. In his second term, he and his family were investigated for embezzling millions of dollars. Mr. Chen alleges that his successor and the nationalist party have made this a politically motivated attack and that his prosecutors want to win favor from Beijing. During his time in office, he was known to strongly support being independent from the mainland of China, while Mr. Ma, a presidential candidate, is pushing closer ties with the mainland.

Sudan's President is calling for a Cease-Fire

Soch Mel

Under massive international pressure, the President of Sudan is calling for unconditional cease-fire in the region of Darfur. This region has been in an ongoing civil war since 2003 where militias began to revolt against the government. The President has meet with many tribal leaders in Darfur for a few months now, one of the conditions of of this meeting is the unconditional cease-fire. Many members of Sudan's military has been in cooperation with the militias in Darfur looting, plundering, and murdering hundreds of thousands of people.

Even though this has taken far too long, it is a good thing that the leader of Sudan has realized that something must be done to end this. However, many people in Darfur, I think, will have a high mistrust of the government and little optimism. A cease-fire is the first step; after words massive international humanitarian aid needs to be conducted assessing the damage and storing the lives of the survivors. But what will happen to the militias that have been attacking in Darfur, what will happen to them? One thing for sure is that they must be put on trial for the crimes they committed against innocent people. I'm also wary of what the President of Sudan is saying, why it took so long for him to decide to call a cease-fire, what exactly was the government doing, etc. I can only pray for the best.

Two Afghani Schoolgirls Blinded

Soch Mel

In the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, a group of school girls were attacked by two men. The men are thought to be Taliban insurgent because of the nature of this incident. The two men rode up on a motorbike, took out some sort of water pistol, and sprayed battery acid over the girls. At least four were injured with severe burns. Two of the girls became blind and remain hospitalized while two others were released and were not blinded.

The government has condemned this attack at nothing more but brutal violence against women. During the Taliban Regime girls were forbidden to attend school. There are still men out there in Afghanistan who don't want, don't think that girls should have the right to be educated. It is also not to hard to spot Afghani school girls as they would wear their black slacks, white top, the black hajab, and black coat.

In many ways this is tragic but also not that surprising knowing the nature of what Afghanistan is like. Recent insurgent activity in Afghanistan has been steadily on the rise in particular violent acts against the local populous. Certainly the methods that the Taliban uses are inhuman and far too extreme. The best hope would be that despite this that the girls will still go on to school and get an education. It will not be easy to change the male-dominated cultural outlook of the region, but by no means should the people still live in fear.

Iran Test New Missile

By: Seper

The New York Times reported that on Wednesday, November 12th, Iran announced that they had tested a new surface-to-surface missile that has the potential to hit a target 1,200 miles from the launch site. A distance that is well within the range of Israel. If Iran is working on nuclear energy as an alternative source for fuel, I cannot see why the country would want to be testing this missile at all. Interestingly enough, the information given to the Times was provided by Iran's government run television station. Video was distributed showing Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, Iran's Defense Minister, praying before launching the missile. Of course, Iranian officials are claiming that these new missiles will be used as deterrents against countries who the nation feels are threatening their peace, however, Iran has yet to announce which countries they were referring. If Iran feels that the missile is going to be used as a deterrent, perhaps they should tell specific countries that they feel worry about a nuclear war. Maybe getting everything out on the table- before testing devastating nuclear weapons would make the world a better place...
By Fiorella Bafundo

On Tuesday November 11th, a lot of ceremonies were held in Europe (France, England) and in the United States to remember the 90th anniversary of the end of the World War I. “At 1100 GMT, a two-minute silence was observed, marking the time - at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - when the Armistice Treaty came into effect to end the war.”

In United States actual President G.W. Bush gave a speech in New York, and the President-elect Barack Obama honored the American troops that participated in Chicago's Soldier Field.

In England three surviving British veterans attended the ceremony, while in France, in Verdun where two of the most powerful troops clashed during the War: French and German, neither German nor French veteran attended, because according to the BBC's Europe correspondent, Jonny Dymond, no one survived. Since the World War I finished, Verdun has been a symbol of the Franco- German Armistice.

Bolivia asks US to extradite.

From Alejandra Diaz:

Bolivian officials have presented the United States a formal extradition request for former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who ordered a militar repression against protests in 2003 and over 60 people died as a consequence of this military action. Sanchez de Lozada is living since then in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Consuelo Ponce has said that the 2,700-page request charging the exiled leader with "genocide" was delivered Monday.

U.S. government offices, closed Tuesday for Veterans Day, so they could not immediately confirm they had received the document.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Africa, ‘Energy From Dirt’

Ellie Bittourna: Almost 75% of the people in Africa live without electricity. Many companies are using Africa as a testing place for new sources of energy so that we can stop the continuation of wasting natural resources and fossil fuels. Some examples of natural energy is using solar energy or wind energy. A group in Massachusetts is testing out a fuel that would come from the bacteria in soil and waste. The bacteria found in garbage and manure is actually meant to produce energy. It breaks down the waste and produces the energy to make the batteries. Since a lot of Africa is made up of dirt, it is easy for them to make fuel from it. Lebone Solutions recieved $200,000 dollars from the World Bank to continue working on these types of experiments with new types of energy. Lebone Solutions is hoping that by the end of making the fuel from dirt, each household will be able to get a battery-operated source of electricity built into their house at a rate of $15 dollars. Hopefully, in the near future these people will be able to have homes with electricity running through them. As for now, many of their focuses lie mainly on basic necessities like food or cellphones.

Ancient Egypt Unburied

From Hollister:
After excavating a site for two years, Egypt's chief archaeologist has announced the discovery of a 4,300-year-old pyramid in Saqqara. The pyramid is the 118th found so far in Egypt. The archaeologist stated that this new find was only made two months ago when the workers were certain that the 16-foot-tall structure uncovered from the sand was a pyramid.

Experts say that the history of the pyramid is known. The pyramid is said to be that of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of King Teti who founded the 6th Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom. It is five metres tall now, but is believed to have been 15 metres tall originally.

Supply Convoy Hijacked

From Hollister:
Monday morning, a convoy of trucks was traveling through a mountain pass in Pakistan to deliver military vehicles and other supplies to US led forces in Afghanistan. As the convoy was going through this mountain pass, dozens of masked gunmen blocked the way and hijacked the convoy.

The militants caused the security forces to retreat. The militants then took the trucks and the drivers.

Attacks on supply-bringing ferries in the mountain passes are not uncommon, however, this one in particular was more serious. As many as 60 masked men were involved. Reuters interviewed the official, Bakhtiar Mohmand, who said "About 60 masked gunmen popped up on the road and took away the trucks with their drivers. Not a single shot was fired anywhere."

Although the government vows to catch these militants, civilians have little hope in their efforts.

"The government is a silent spectator. They attack our trucks, loot them and kill our drivers in broad daylight, even near security checkposts, but they can't do anything," stated Eshtiar Mohmand, the owner of a trucking company.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Haitian School Collapses

By Reid Hulett

This past Friday, during a children's party being held in a school in Haiti, the concrete building collapsed with a majority of the people still inside. As of today, the death toll was 94 people with at least 15o more receiving injuries. The last known survivors were pulled from the wreckage early Saturday morning, so they are not expecting to find anymore. Just today however, four more bodies were pulled from the wreckage. The U.S. and France has been helping to search new areas for more survivors using sonar, but so far have had no luck. There would have many more deaths except that the party being held there required a 50 cent donation to get in. Many of the families that had children going there could not afford that, therefore they could not enter the school.

The schools owner and builder, Fortune Augustin, turned himself in to authorities Saturday. He is being charged with involuntary manslaughter. The case is still being investigated, but he faces up to life in prison. Augustin faces these charges because there have been previous complaints concerning the safety of the building and nothing has ever been done to solve the problem. The President, Rene Prevail, said that there is a code in place already concerning safety checks on buildings. But, he said people do not follow them, and in order to get people to follow the regulations they "need political stability." So, it is apparent that the political instability in Haiti is not only causing problems within the government, but it is also endangering citizens now. Something needs to be done in order to establish a stable government, and fast.

Blueprints for Auschwitz camp found in Germany

Thomas Andre: Recently discovered in a German flat, were the blueprints for the major expansion of the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, dated 1941. This sheds more evidence against the claims by some that the Holocaust did not actually happen, that it is just a fabrication. It shows detailed drawings for gas chambers, crematoriums, and what were called "corpse cellars." The date of the plans showed that the Nazi's were planning on the systematic extermination of the Jewish people before the "Final Solution" decision was made at the end of 1941 and beginning of 1942. To those that doubt the existence of this horrible part of our recent past, let this just be another piece of evidence that shows that history should never be forgotten, lest it be repeated.

BYAH! Dean to step down as DNC Chairman

From Justin Zipser

Howard Dean, who rose to fame during his run for President in 2004, will not seek reelection for his role as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee after serving just one four-year term, the Washington Post reports.

With the office of the chairman being vacant when Dean leaves early next year, the short list of those in line to succeed him is already shaping up: Claire McCaskill (Junior Senator from Missouri), Tim Kaine (Governor of Virginia), Kathleen Sebelius (Governor of Kansas), Bill Richardson (Governor of New Mexico), Donna Brazille (whom you may remember from CNN's election coverage over the months), and Alice Germond (current Secretary of the DNC). Dean's departure will leave the door open for an Obama-loyalist, adding to the credibility of these names being involved.

Dean's time as Chairman was mostly seen as a mixed bag. While he sometimes clashed heads with other Democratic figureheads, he is credited by some as being the reason for the Democrats' reemergence as a political party because of his work as Chairman (led by his "50-state strategy," which involved putting party offices, staff, and/or organizations in all fifty states of the U.S.).

Most of us will primarily remember Dean for his infamous "Scream" back in 2004 after finishing third in the Iowa Caucuses, but his time as DNC Chairman should not be overlooked, especially as he leaves the position with his party in a resurgence.