Thursday, April 30, 2009

8 Year Old Saudi Girl Divorces Husband

Justin Moriarty

I came across this article today that said an 8 year old Saudi Arabian girl divorced her 50 year old husband. This reminded me of the class discussion we had this week about women's (or in this case girl's) rights. The girl's father received $13,000 after he forced the girl into marriage with this middle-aged man. It is quite disturbing that in 2009 we have to read about stories such as this one. Obviously this would never happen in this country because there are laws against it and it is sad that females in the Middle East are subjected to this kind of treatment. I believe that women should receive far better treatment in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East regardless of these so called cultural ways of life.

Attack on Dutch royal family

by Nial Maloney

Earlier today, a man was charged with trying to attack the Dutch royal family. A man was driving his car and crashed it near a bus carrying Queen Beatrix and her family. 4 people were killed in the accident and 13 people were injured, including the driver of the car, who is in the hospital right now. The crash happened during the celebration of Queen's day, an annual holiday in the Netherlands.

It was like a typical parade where the crowds were behind barriers, but many reporters and police were in the streets. The black hatchback zoomed by the bus and careened into a wall. The car was even damaged before the crash, but reports are unclear on as to why the car was damaged already.

The bus was an open-top bus, so the Queen and her family saw the crash but quickly sat down after the crash took place. The people that were killed and injured were all innocent bystanders who the car careened into. I am not sure if the man is in custody, all they know is that he is badly injured and in the hospital.

Civil Lunacy?

by: megan smith
In Nigeria, it has become common practice to jail mentally handicapped individuals, affectionately labeled as 'civil lunatics' . In most cases, these individuals are brought to court and jailed indefinitely by policemen, and even family members for either committing a minor crime, or no crime at all. "Civil lunatics are people that the society doesn't want to be roaming around causing problems." states one prison controller. A prison environment is obviously not a beneficial one for mentally handicapped individuals, and the state realizes that in order to thrive and get better, these people need a hospital environment...yet nothing is being done. At the current time, those few people who are concerned about these individuals are begging church communities and individuals to come and take these 'civil lunatics' in and show them love. Whether this plea for help will actually cause results, and get these people out of such terrible environments, only time will tell.

6 dead in Somali parliament mortar attack

By: Liz Hasseld

On Saturday, there was an attack at Somali's parliament. Six people were killed and fifteen injured. Unfortunately, casualties included three school children and a solider. The rounds ended up striking a nearby school. No particular group has been claimed as the attackers. No parliament members were injured from the Mortar rounds.

A day before the attack, the Somali prime minister called for the U.N. arms embargo to be lifted. With this request the government would have the ability to fight back against the pirates and militant Islamic groups. Currently, all these groups have the same weapons. The government claims if they have the availability to more advanced weapons they will better be able to control the situation in their country.

I am not sure if the embargo being lifted will aid the government. With more weapons the situation isn't going to get better.

Credit card holder bill of rights closer to becoming law

by: Justin Lynch

It seems like most of the provisions in this bill will be good for students, including a 90-day notice (doubled from 45) when people are going to get an interest rate hike and banning credit cards for those younger than 18. There are arguments that this bill will restrict credit even more in a tight credit market, but this bill won't go into effect for at least a year, when most economists say the recession will be over. There needs to be some more regulation to help out the average American that holds $10,679 in credit card debt.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How About We Rename Swine Flu

By: Brionna Givens
Minister Yakov Litzman, an Israeli health official, wants the name Swine flu changed to "Mexican" flu because the term swine is offensive to the Muslim and Jewish culture. In both cultures pigs are seen as dirty and therefore they are unable to consume any products with pork in it. But scientist state that there is nothing that makes swine flu "Mexican" and if the swine flu is renamed to Mexican flu it will most likely cause an uproar in Hispanic communities. I don't think the name will be changed any time soon or in the future. This flu originated in pigs and is now being transmitted to humans. Mexicans themselves did not create this flu, so swine should and will be the appropriate name to call this flu since pigs created it.

North Korea Throws a Tantrum

By: Val Palac

If the U.N. doesn't apologize for condemning the rocket launch by North Korea on April 5th, then they will fire an intercontinental ballistic missile or carry out another nuclear test. Why are they threatening the U.N. if all they're trying to do is launch a peaceful communications satellite into space?

Robert Wood from the State Department said something along the lines of- North Korea can either continue isolating itself in the corner, or it can try being a big kid and come down to the kitchen table and negotiate.

The threat is another sign that North Korea is not taking part in the six-party talks between South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US, which are about an international nuclear disarmament.

It's believed that North Korea has produced enough plutonium to create six to eight nuclear bombs. However, they don't yet have the technology to minimize a bomb to be put onto a missile.


Patrick Whelan

The Economist
publications has published an article entitled A Green Figleaf which addresses a victory for environmentalist in the United States. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) on April 17, 2009 came out and stated that there are six greenhouse gases that are harmful and dangerous to human health. The head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, came out and declared that a ruling by the Supreme Court in 2007 that greenhouse gases found to be toxic should be regulated. This decision by the EPA comes at a critical moment when Congress is about to vote to control or not control emissions of gases that are realist into the atmosphere. This is a critical moment not only for the U.S. but also for the world.

In December, the world will come together in Copenhagen to decide what to do when the Kyoto Protocol runs out. Even though the Obama Administration strongly supports legislation to cap carbon emissions, however the Congress is struggling to support the measure. Many Republicans and a few conservative Democrats from Coal industry states are opposed to capping emissions.
The Economist believes that going to Copenhagen conference without national legislation by the United States would be embarrassing. Nations around the globe already have legislation and programs in place when the Kyoto Protocol runs out. China stimulus package in this tough economic time is doubling their spending on green technology, which is far more than United States. The European Commission has agreed on a 20-20-20 plan which includes reducing emissions by 20 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2020.

The decision to regulate these harmful gases should not be difficult to push through the Congress seeing that there is a Democratic majority but apparently the United States Congress no matter which party is in the majority is the United States Congress. Local, state, and city governments have taken great strides to curb the amount of emissions they release. It is time for the U.S. to catch up with the rest of the world and commit to a plan on reducing harmful emissions, even if its a small plan, it will still be a step in the right direction.

2008 Olympic Athletes Test Positive for Doping

by James Hoffman

Six athletes that competed in the Beijing Olympics have been confirmed to testing positive for CERA, an illegal blood boosting hormone., according to the International Olympic Commitee (OIC). None of the athletes have been revealed by name, but the Italian Olympic Commitee has confirmed that one of their competitors was one of the six. Both Britain and China have claimed they have not been contacted by the OIC, which is usual precedure under these circumstances.
The chariman of the OIC, Arne Ljungqvist, stated the purpose of the delayed testing is to "send a clear message that cheaters can never assume that they have avoided detection." The tests were performed on athletes in endurance events (cycling, rowing, swimming, and athletics). The athletes were the top five of each respective event, plus two other competitors of the event.

Mexican Child Dies From Swine Flu in Texas

By: Blayne Sim

The first U.S. citizen to die of the swine flu happened this morning in Texas. The victim was a 23-month old boy. He and his family had just returned from a trip to Mexico City, but no one else from the trip had any symptoms. Officials stated that they expect more severe cases of the flu to take hold in the U.S. Until this case, no one had died from the disease. It is not a surprise that the first American death took place in Texas. This is the closest state to Mexico, where almost 200 people have already died. The virus is also spreading across the country. It is creeping closer to more and more people. The first suspected case in Illinois was reported this morning as well. As a precautionary, one Chicago elementary school closed it's doors. An epidemic like this can have a major impact on globalization. Some European countries are already suggesting their citizens don't travel to the U.S. It is very important for this to be brought under control before the virus gets out of hand.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Amanpour: Obama's 100 days of Foreign Affairs

By Mei Kin Chew

With all the talks and media coverage on how President Obama shook hands with the Venezuelan President, bow to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and how First Lady hugged the Queen, one would think that body language has played an essential part in Obama's foreign language policies. Indeed, these customs and non-verbal languages were important, not insomuch that it means more than what a gesture do in the most basic terms; a form of respect.

And with that said, a silver lining for the American President's hardwork is that global polls with regards to sentiments as an aftermath of President Obama's overseas visit has received favorable results; the world is STARTING to LIKE US again!

President Obama's address to the world on his movement towards a more 'friendly' and 'approachable' foreign policy even during his inaugaration has awed and shocked many, in a good way and although he has not created history in cracking down the Islamic militants, he has proven his grounds. It will be a long way, or maybe President Obama will somehow find his way to do so, before the United States will be spared from worldwide critics for all that the country as a whole had done or not do to the world; good or bad. However, the measures and actions that have been taken by the 44th president have surely set a lighter tone on this well flawed reputation of a superpower.

Fear still lingers

by Sarah Richardson

trying to find something to write about besides swine flu, Somalian pirates, and Michelle Obama's popularity has been quite a task...

Nevertheless, I managed to find something. A low flying plane, later identified as Air Force One caused a scare in New York. Apparently President Obama was not aware and was furious when he found out. The bumbling Press Secretary does not help the administration either.

As of today an official apology has been released, but no one has been fired. Nevertheless it is an embarrassment for the administration that suggests that President Obama is not in full control of his administration. Not a good look as he approaches his 100th day.

Ahmadinejad uses "Yes we can"...lolz.

by: Justin Lynch

With Ahmadinejad seeking re-election June 12th, his campaign put out a video that features him standing in front of a board with the slogan "We can" written in Farsi. Apparently it's aimed at students because Iran's president used to be a college's like Obama and Ahmadinejad are the same person, minus the whole Holocaust and gay-people denying.

Messianic Obama

by Jessica Goerke

One of the arguments made in class on Monday about Obama not having a cult of personality was that there were no monuments erected to him. Yet...

On his 100th day in office, a painting called "The Truth" will be unveiled in New York City's Union Square. The artist of the painting Michael D'Antuono stated, "More than a presidential portrait, 'The Truth' is a politically, religiously and socially-charged statement on our nation's current political climate and deep partisan divide that is sure to create a dialogue."

Another artist, Matthew J. Clark, parading around a sculpture in January of Obama riding a donkey and waving palm fronds.

So, is there a cult of personality surrounding Barrack Obama? Although a good percentage of people are likening him to Jesus, they are still the minority. And none of these are being implemented from Obama himself.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Way to be GOP!

by: Justin Lynch

I'm an independent, so I like to take objective looks at both parties. Right now the Republican Party is a joke. There is no strategy at the national or state levels, no sense in what they're doing now, and are in serious danger of losing even more seats of power (although they just suffered defeats in New York and soon coming to Minnesota.)

So what has the GOP done in this time of heightened tensions about swine flu?

1. Stripped flu pandemic preparedness funding from stimulus package (to be fair, this happened before the swine flu started, just after worldwide scares of SARS and bird flu.)

2. Continue to block the nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, a vital office that directly deals with the doctors and hospitals on the frontlines.

They'll be back in the majority soon!

-Update 4-28-09-

Moderate Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter bolted the party he's been a member of for 42 years for the Democrats, seeing as he would probably lose the 2010 primary in a party that has grown more conservative. The Dems are one seat closer to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a development that would leave the GOP even more irrelevant.

And...the Senate confirmed Kathleen Sebelius, probably specifically because of this blog post.

Swine flu update!!

by Bri Roozen

As of fifteen minutes ago, the WHO (World Health Organization) just raised the pandemic level of swine flu.  The pandemic, which had previously been marked as a three on the scale of threat to four... out of six.  Since this morning alone, twenty new cases of the flu have been found around the United States, including the first infiltrating Chicago.  Cases have also been confirmed in both Spain and now London.  As the death toll in Mexico rises, with already over 2,000 in hospitals, nations are scrambling to put a defensive plan into action.  This certainly puts a damper on my parent's vacation plans, as their trip to Mexico flys out in a week and a half.  

One must wonder where we will be in two weeks time if this epidemic continues to spread at such a rapid rate, WHO has called the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern".  It certainly concerns me.  As Mexico toys with shutting down its public transportation systems, the World Bank is lending money to help fight the spread of the disease.  Nonetheless, it is traveling far faster than anyone expected, largely due to globalization.  There's a bad side to everything.

Madagascar Constitutional Court Stormed

By: Val Palac
Today, the court in Madagascar was raided. Heavily-armed forces stormed the building in order to round up remnants of those who were remaining loyal to the former president Marc Ravalomanana. Military forces removed Ravalomanana from office in March after the young Andry Rajoelina won military backing and came to power with energy and confidence.
Lately, there have been protests within the past few weeks by supporters of Ravalomanana demanding the courts to reverse their decision to recognize Rajoelina. Today, many of the same military cars used to bring Rajoelina to power were used to raid the court and arrest its head of security. After the raid, journalists were allowed in and shown weapons. Many are saying this was not only a plan to round up supporters of the former president but to intimidate the judiciary.
One article from the AFP, quoted an anonymous source saying it is not the military inflicting terror upon protestors but the militia men associated with High Transition Authority (HAT) which is an interim administration formed by Andry Rajoelina. The men rounded up in today's raid were suspected of trying to dismantle HAT.
Marc Ravalomanana was never able to fully gain the military's support which is supposed to remain neutral. One question to ask is whether it is the military supporting and following Rajoelina's lead, or is it Rajoelina's HAT in control of the military? Also, Ravalomanana has said he will return after he was exiled in March. Will he?

Guantanamo Bay and Canada

By Fiorella Bafundo

The government of Canada is asking for the release of a Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, from the prison in Cuba Guantanamo Bay and his return to the country. Khadr was imprisoned in 2002 after being captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 years old because “he was accused of killing an American soldier with a hand grenade during a battle in which he was seriously wounded.” The Canadian government says that under the Canadian Constitution the rights of the detainee have been violated and his lawyer, William C. Kuebler, said that “the combination of the Obama administration’s decision to shut Guantánamo and the Canadian court decision should be the end of the matter.” Otherwise “it would be just ridiculous.”
In addition to not being brought to trial, Mr. Khadr said that during his imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay he has been abused by American officers. All in all, he constitutes “the last Western citizen held by the United States at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba.”

Afghanistan is 'crucible of terror'

Rachel Polster

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to Afghanistan and warned that a 'crucible of terrorism' existed in the border region with Pakistan because of the Taliban. Brown talked with the Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul and also visited British troops. He said that the UK's 8,300 troops would be raised to 9,000 during the Afghan elections in August. He declared that the region between Afghanistan and Pakistan was a breeding ground for terrorism and in order to make the UK more secure they need to tackle the extremism. There have been 52 British deaths in Afghanistan in 2008 which is the worst year since the original deployment in 2001.

Swine flu sparks global concern

Matt Boguslawski

Mexico and the United States re in the midst of what could become a very serious epidemic. The European Health Union made a statement that all travels to Mexico and the United States should be canceled. The center of this epidemic is in Mexico where as many as 103 people have already perished with another 1,614 cases of the flu reported through out the country. The US and Canada have already began to show beginning stages with 20 confirmed with the flu in the States and the first reported case in Canada on Sunday. This flu is one that is seen in pigs year round, but this strain is unique in that it is a mix of human and animal versions of the strain. This makes fighting this sickness even tougher due to the mix of flu strains. Mexican government has began handing out filter masks in Mexico City, but not nearly enough. Countries all over the world have began a prevention and research process into the flu to prevent it from spreading to their country.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iran Preparing Response to Nuclear Talks Offer

By Adham Nemeh

This article is talking about how the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised to prepare for response to the president Obama administration of talking to the Iran direct about their nuclear program. Also it mentioned how the United States rejected the Iranian proposal, because “it ignored the West’s demand that Iran suspend its enrichment of uranium as a precondition for talks”. I believe this is a good step from Obama administration to talk directly to Iran, because this is the only way they can avoid war. Talking to Iran directly would also be more effective to solve this problem since it is not forcing them to stop it. I believe Iran would stop their nuclear program if they get a good deal from the United States. This is why negotiation in this situation would be a lot more effective.

Iraq Death Penalty For Being LGBT -- Take Action!

By Latoyia Kimbrough

According to an article found on the care to make a difference website recently Iraqi authorities have convicted over 100 prisoners because they are LGBT and are planning to execute them in batches of 20. This has not yet been confirmed but supporters are warning this may just be the tip of a horrific iceberg. Being gay is illegal in Iraq but it seems that LGBT Iraqis have suffered even more because many in the Middle East perceive homosexuality to be a mainly Western trait that came along with the invasion of Iraq. This is a trait that many religious leaders in the area are passionate in warning against and pursuing the eradication of. But this is not an issue solely confined to Iraqi LGBTs anymore. Men who adopt a Western style of dress and appearance, with shaved faces and short hair, are being labeled as homosexuals. Also in the more affluent areas of Iraq where coffee shops and other more Western style businesses have opened are being branded as gay hotspots. According to Ali Hili, a member of the IRAQI-LGBT many of their members are being held and since 2005, 17 members were killed. He also told of a steady increase in death sentences since august of 2004 and exposed that in 2006, 65 people were put to death, in 2007 approximately 199 people given the death penalty and in 2008 at least 285 people were given the sentence at the same time as 34 others were known to have actually been executed. Mr. Hili stated that Iraqi authorities have also refused to disclose the identities of those being detained on crimes of homosexuality or convicted thereof, raising serious doubts as to whether those trials even met with international standards of a fair trial. Mr. Hili is calling out to the UK Government and all other Governments that will listen to help stop these terrible events from occurring. They have started a petition which can be found on the website.

U.S. prepares for possible swine flu epidemic as global cases rise

Joe Kain
View article here

The U.S. is preparing for an epidemic of swine flu. Twenty cases have been confirmed so far. The U.S. has declared a public health emergency but at the same time stresses that people should nt panic. Canada has 20 cases of swine flew reported while Mexico has reported 84 deaths and 374 people hospitalized. Russia has banned meat imports from Mexico and the Southern United States. According to the CDC, symptoms of swine flu may include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Lebanon Arrests 3 on Charges of Spying for Israel

By. Adnan Shaukat

In an on going intelligence war between Lebanon and Israel (Click Here), the Lebanese authorities have arrested 3 people charged with spying for Israel. Over the past year 9 people have been arrested and been charged with treason, and will be executed. Hezbollah a Shia "Freedom Fighter Group" based in Lebanon and hold's seats in the parliament have also arrested Israeli spies, using there vast intelligence network.

Some of the suspects that have been arrested includes a auto-dealer, who sold Hezbollah cars fitted with tracking and audio devices, that allowed Israeli forces to make terrorist strikes on Lebanese territory and violating sovereignty. Another arrest came from the Lebanese military in the past decade involves a retired military general who regularly traveled to Europe to meet Israeli officials, and set up a maid business that brought women in from Israel. to expand the spy network. Last year, Hezbollah captured Ali al-Jarrah, a Lebanese man who was later charged with spying for Israel for 25 years. Lebanese prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Jarrah.

U.S. Plans Informal Meetings with Cuba

By Grant Howard
The Obama administration is planning informal meetings between Cuban diplomats and the State Department. The reason why these meetings are being held informally is that, if President Obama tried to improve relations with Cuba without using caution, that would create a lot of protests in the U.S. if these efforts were unsuccessful. In the past, Cuba has halted progress towards improving relations with the U.S. So, needless to say, President Obama's plan to improve relations with Cuba will be a slow, cautious process.

China and Taiwan Sign Investment Deal

China and Taiwan have agreed to Chinese firms invest in companies across the Taiwan Strait, a significant change of past conditions. In the latest sign of improved relations between the two entities, a joint statement announced their pledge to “realize the normalization of cross-strait economic ties”. In President Ma Ying-jeou’s first year, two other similar deals have been signed. Prior to Taiwan’s new government, Taiwanese firms have invested a great deal into the mainland but Chinese companies needed to seek permission from the Taiwanese government to do the same in Taiwan. The increased cooperation between the countries is, in part, due to the “rare and historic opportunity” they faced and pledged to “encourage and promote mainland businesses to… invest in Taiwan”. Taiwan’s economy slid into a recession last year and this action is carried out in hopes of helping both sides survive the economic crisis.

By Nathan Rutz

Iraqi Raid

By Beth Lessard

U.S. Troops are being accused by Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, for violating the security agreement between the two countries. A raid in Wasit province Sunday left two people dead. The U.S. troops raided a house in the city of Kut and arrested six suspected members of the "special groups." The security agreement between Iraq and the U.S. stated that the United States Military cannot carry out raids without Iraqi permission and warrants. The Prime Minister says that U.S. troops violated it by raiding without the consent of himself. Troops approached the residence of the suspect and he came out with a weapon and the troops engaged the man, killing him. A woman who had moved into the line of fire was also killed in the shooting. The U.S. troops are arguing that there was a warrant issued for the arrest of the targeted individual. The Prime Minister issued the arrests of two Iraqi commanders in Kut who allowed the U.S. military to carry out the raid.

Containment Efforts of New Flu Strain

by: Caroline Cristman

In response to the growing concern over the new flu strain attacking Mexico and the United States, the country has declared the situation a health crisis. In order to remedy the seemingly impending disaster, millions of reserved flu vaccinations have been released in case of necessity. The worrisome disease has already claimed over one hundred lives with fear of a much higher mortality rate.

Clinton urges 'free' Lebanon vote

By Katherine Brady

Hillary Clinton traveled to the Lebanese capital of Beirut where the US secretary of state has called on Lebanon to hold an open and free election in June. "The parliamentary election will see a Western-backed coalition compete for support against an alliance led by Hezbollah, the Shia Muslim armed political group backed by Syria and Iran."

Sacking Generals in Russia, the new Military Purge?

According to the BBC the Russian President Medvedev has decided to replace the senior officer in charge of the Russian Inelligence Agency: The Main Directorate of Intelligence (GRU), which has more intelligence agents in other countries than the actual Russian intelligence and "spy" agency the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). The 63 year old general Valentin Korbalenkov has been replaced with general Alexander Shlyakthurov. No reasons for the replacement were given by the Russian President or the Government.

Mr. Medvedev for some time has been pushing for a reform of the Russian military. The reform was supposed to cut down the amount of troops from 1.3 million to about 1.00. Most of the troops that are supposed to be dismissed though are within the officer cadre, with many generals included.

General Korbalenkov has been one of the biggest opponents of the military reform. The general replacing him has been known to be more compliant with the government.

The reform can be seen as very similar to the Stalinist military purge in the 1930 and 1940's. Is this Medvedev's new way to get the military in line and under control of the government with Mr. Putin in charge, or Mr. Medvedev himself? Only time will tell.


Rwandan Government closed the BBC Radio Service

By Fiorella Bafundo

Last Saturday the Rwandan government suspended the BBC radio service “saying it threatened the country’s national reconciliation.” After the Rwandan Genocide happened in 1994, where many people were killed due to ethnic divisions between Tutsis and Hutus, the government has implemented serious but “vague” laws regarding the labeling of people and division. Consequently, last Saturday they considered that the radio had an “unacceptable speech” about the Genocide and considered that it was necessary to close it, because “The divisive and disparaging nature of these programs — as they stand today — is no longer acceptable, in light of the hard-earned peaceful coexistence of the people of Rwanda over the last 15 years.” That was what the minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement for public.

As Economic Turmoil Mounts, So Do Deadly Attacks on Hungary’s Gypsies

By Jeremy Shaub

It seems when you are a Gypsy in Hungary that is just enough to get you killed now. Over the past year at least 7 Gypsies have been killed in Hungary and 30 plus Molotov cocktail attacks against Roma homes. But lately the focus has been on the latest three attacks because of the stealth and accuracy of the kills could have been done by police officers or military officials. But one of the most recent attacks a 4 year old boy and his father were gunned down after their house was set on fire. This violence is spreading a fear among the people and Roma people are actually afraid to identify themselves in surveys. But these attacks are scaring the Roma people to do anything right now. And with the death of the child it seems that “It proved to us it doesn’t matter whether we are good people or bad people. It only matters that we are Gypsy."

Mexican Swine Flu

By: Andrew Horton

81 people have died in Mexico since the outbreak of Swine Flu; 20 are confirmed to have been killed by it and 61 are suspected to have died from it. This flu has also spread beyond Mexico to Texas, California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Canada. The fear is that this could become a pandemic. The WHO has stated, in an attempt to allay fears, that the world is better prepared to deal with this as a result of stockpiling of anti-viral drugs for bird flu.

Obama Admin Looking to Open the Lines with Cuba

Steve Stack

In an article from the NY Times, the Obama administration is looking to change US policy towards Cuba from the stance it has had for the last 47 years. Obama is looking to tread a thin line while continuing to appeal to our Latin American neighbors and remaking the American image. So far the process has been kept rather quiet to keep opposition down but also because of the possibility that it just might not work out. According to Fidel Castro, Obama misinterpreted what current Cuban President, Raul Castro, has said about everything being up for discussion. It will be a tricky path filled with a great deal of contention both from both sides. But if Obama is able to open the lines with Cuba and the two countries' leaders can come to terms it could create a great deal of success for all parties involved. I think it is a great move and a smart one for the image and success of Obama and the US all together to move past the old policies of embargo to get what America wants.

Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home

Posted by Justin Bresolin

In the light of the global economic crisis, Japan has instituted the controversial policy of providing payment to foreign immigrant labor to leave the recession-wracked Japan and not return. Laborers will be paid approximate thousands of dollars to return to their native country, and rescind their work visas, unable to apply for one again. Currently this deal is limited to the Nation's Latin American, predominantly Brazilian workers, individuals who emigrated to the country to work via a special visa for those of proven Japanese descent. At the time of the article's writing, approximately 100 workers have agreed to the offer.

Critics have expressed strong opposition to the program, arguing it to be inhumane and short-sighted. Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the independent Japan Immigration Policy Institute, argues that the program is "cold-hearted," and that Japan is "kicking itself in the foot." Critics argue that Japan, with its increasing population shortage, will not have the labor pool sufficient enough to be able to overcome their current economic crisis without the aid of foreign labor, as such immigrants are typically relegated to blue-collar, industrial positions.

Many countries have adapted specific policies to overcome their economic problems, and Japan is not the only country to institute a plan such as this. However, this program seems to serve as a dangerous example of how lack of appropriate foresight can result in a further exacerbated crisis down the road.

Russia, U.S. hold Nuclear Talks

By Jeff Gimm

Recently, representitives of the United States and Russia met in Rome to discuss both countries nuclear weapons stockpile. President Obama has made it one of his goals to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. Both Obama and Russian President Medvedev agreed to the talks at the G20 Confrence the first talks since 1991. Both parties want to lower their nuclear stockpiles and want to take the moral high ground in this matter when dealing with states such as Iran and North Korea.
This matter is of particular importance when dealing with Russia. Since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the security of the Russian arsenal is highly questionable. This is disturbing because of unstable states that may buy and/or steal a nuclear weapon.

Attacks on Christians in Iraq Leave 3 dead

By: Kelsey Gierzynski

Sunday evening there were two attacks on Christian families in the city Kirkuk in Iraq. This attack killed three people and injured two others. The first of the two attacks was the murder of a mother and her daughter in thier home. The second attack was when gunmen stormed into a house and shot a father and his two sons. One of the sons died right away the father and the other son were just injured in the attack. Many of the one million Christians that live in Iraq have fled the country.

relationship with Venezuela

Sunny Singh

i believe this is an awesome first step, although a lot of people thinks Hugo Chavez basically spit on the United State to define our realationship and President Obama shakes his hand is shocking to alot of us and the world communities. however the past does not have to reflect the future, relationship between people do change and a nation is like a big group of people do change. what comes to my mind it this situation is which countrie is willing to take the very first step. In this case a firsthand shakes is a good sign. We have learn to be polite and civil, our past have shown us after Cold War, WW1 and WW2 we can get along with our enemies from the past. we have help Japan rebuild their country after we dropped the atomic bomb that ended the War. A healty relationship always lead to financial gain and Venezuela has plenty fo natural resources like oil in which they have been supplying to Russia not the United State

The Longest Thaw

David Sibley

Turkey and Armenia have been historically at odds with one another since the days of Sultan Abdul Hamid, whose reign saw the first of the Armenian Massacres in the 1890's. In the 1990's the border with Armenia was closed in support for its ally Azerbaijan. The two nations have had tense relations since. Turkey has just released, on the eve of the anniversary of the massacres, a statement saying that a road map to improving relations had been found. However, reconciliation may be difficult to reach, as the the two nations may have a hard time amongst their own respective people. Furthermore a discussion may be planned for opening the border, though Turkey may be less open to that goal considering the alliance with Azerbaijan, whom still has very tense relations with Armenia that does not seem likely to thaw any time soon. This dialogue also should not come as much of a shock, as Turkey is doing whatever it can to gain entrance to the E.U. without alienating its own national culture and history.

Cruise ship fends off pirate attack with gunfire

Posted by Alli Lewis

I didn't think this ordeal with the pirates would spread and get so large, but it appears they're back yet again. This time an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people had to fight off pirates off the coast of Somalia. Fire was opened at the cruise ship and they fired right back, eventually chasing off the pirates successfully. During the exchange, none of the passengers or crew members of the liner were injured.

Of course this is not the first attack of its kind--in December, pirates opened fire on a U.S.-operated ship full of tourists where they were lucky enough to outrun the attackers and once more in early April when a tourist yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates.

Nature Versus Narco

Andrea Hehn

This article discusses some of the environmental consequences involved with illegal drug production and trade. People don't usually consider the environmental effects of drug use as these effects are often over-shadowed by the loss of human life, but it's still an important issue to consider. Some ways the environment is affected include: land being cleared for growing various drug plants, chemicals used in the manufacture of meth leaking into and harming ecosystems, biologists/ecologists facing encounters with drug traffickers are discouraged from their research/conservation efforts, and people interested in ecotourism (an important part of the economy in some countries) are less likely to travel to places where drug trafficking occurs.

United States Declares Public Health Emergency as Disease Spreads

By: Peter Fribert

The United States government declared a public health emergency today as the number of identified cases of swine flu in the nation rose to 20. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the declaration is part of a "standard operating procedure" that will make additional government resources available to fight off the rapidly spreading virus. No one has reported any deaths in the United States from the swine flu.

The United States is not the only country that has reported cases of the swine flu. The World Health Organization, WHO, advised all countries to be on the lookout for "unusual" outbreaks of the flu, after an emergency meeting Saturday as the seriousness of the outbreak became clear. By today, 81 deaths in Mexico had been deemed "likely linked" to the swine flu. Testings have confirmed 20 cases, said Dr. Jose A. Cordova Villalobos, Mexico's health secretary. Canada confirmed its first cases of the swine flu on Sunday, with reports of four people said to have the virus in the eastern province of Nova Scotia, health officials said. In New Zealand, officials said 22 students and three teachers back from a three-week-long language trip to Mexico may have been infected with the swine flu virus. Many countries, such as Israel and Japan will be conducting tests on how the flu virus is rapidly spreading.

Wall Street Bounces Back.

Patrick Larson

As we previously discussed in class, this article details the facts that we are, in fact, coming out of our depression. Wall Street has come around, and the banks are beginning to profit again in the stock market. This signals a major turnaround from the past year in which all banks made payroll cuts and suffered a significant overall loss. Bank employees are now receiving compensation to the adjustment in salary. This is all good news as to the economic situation giving us hope that things are turning around for good.

Sri Lankan Rebels Declare a Cease-Fire

By Katie Pfefferle

Sri Lankan rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire Sunday, April 26, hoping the Sri Lankan government would also hold its fire. The rebels, known as the Tamil Tigers halted their fight in order to allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn area. The area is currently suffering a humanitarian crisis as an estimated 50,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone, sustaining large casualties without access to food, clean water or medical supplies. The Tamil Tigers claim the number of trapped civilians is really closer to 150,000. The U.N. has urged Sri Lankan leaders to let aid and workers into the war zone. Moreover, the U.N. claims more than 6,500 civilians have been killed in the past three months.

However, the government has refused the cease-fire and instead plans to proceed with its offensive and push to force the rebels to surrender. The Sri Lankan government claims it has sent food and aid into the area and also accuses the Tamil Tigers as using civilians as human shields. Indeed, the Sri Lankan rebel forces, which have been fighting to create an independent Tamil state in the North and East, have been known to commit atrocities against civilians. They are also currently considered a terrorist organization by 32 countries. Moreover, the Tigers have carried out more suicide bombings than Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda combined.

The government has been fighting a civil war against the Tamil Tigers for a quarter of a century. Recently though the government has intensified its fight with success. It seems the Tigers are on the verge of defeat. Some have even begun to surrender themselves. Moreover, the people of Sri Lanka are supporting their government. Recently, “the President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition won a sweeping victory in an election seen as a referendum on its fight against rebels.”

This issue is a tricky one. In my opinion, on the one hand it is evident that the civilians trapped in the war zone need aid. However, on the other hand, if the government allows for a cease-fire it may give the rebels time to regroup. In the interest of defeating the Tigers once and for all, which the government seems near to doing, it seems necessary to continue the offensive while the enemy is weakened.

Pakistan Government Fights off Militants

Justin Moriarty

There has been news out of Pakistan that the government has made a move fighting back against militants in the country. Violence broke out about 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad and reports indicate that government officials have killed "scores" of militants. The U.S. desperately needs to find allies in the Middle East to combat these terrorist organizations and this seems to take a step in the right direction.

CNN 'twitterer' completes London Marathon

By: Michelle Cole

This article talks about how a man ran the London marathon while Twittering his status along the way. He originally thought it would be much harder to type on his cell phone and run, but he said that it wasn't so bad because he was used to text messaging. He actually said that it helped his race time because it distracted him from the daunting amount of miles he had to run, and gave him something interesting to do while running. The only mistake he made with it was he ran through a cold shower while using his phone, but he said there was no damage to the phone. While I think this is an interesting article, I don't really think it was such a good idea because it might lead people to think that they can text and do other activities, such as driving. Also, what if there had been a big roadblock in his path that he would not have been able to see because he was "twittering"? Overall an interesting article, but not something I would suggest trying.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Turkey might re-open the border

By: Brionna Givens

This economic crisis is causing many residents of Kars, which is in eastern Turkey, to be open to the idea of re-opening the border with Armenia. The border closure was set forth by Turkey in 1993 and has effected both Turkeys and Armenia’s economic status. But many believe that the Kars are more effected by the border closer because they exported their cattle which is the main source of their wealth, across the border to their northern neighbors. But since the border closure they have not been able to trade which not only hurt their economy but is also linked to a drop in their population. Reports state that Turkey and Armenia have been talking concerning this issue of re-opening the border but the issues of the Armenia genocide and the Turks not recognizing it as a genocide seems to continue to get in they way. If the borders were re-opened it is said that this action would significantly boost Turkey’s and Armenia’s economy.

It's way too early to start thinking about this but...

Obama only leads Huckabee by seven points.

The Greatest Democratic Show on Earth

by Megan Smith

In many ways, India is beginning to be seen as able to make anything the United States does bigger and better. From Bollywood to the most recent presidential election, all eyes are on India during this time. In just a short while the next leader of India will be chosen. Still utilizing ancient voting papers, and registering at folding tables under tents in the rural areas, this election is sure to be huge. Approximately four million civil servants are needed to make each election a success, with an average turn out rate around 60 percent. With this years polling revealing the wealthier Indian population being sufficiently less interested in the election than their poor, rural counterparts, the international community needs to be ready for possible major changes within India's system

Mexico May Isolate Those Infected With Swine Disease

By: Erica McCauley

President of Mexico, Felipe Caldéron, said Saturday that he and his government are able to potentially isolate those who are infected with the H1N1 swine flu. The government also has the ability to close public events, and search homes of those infected to prevent more spread of the dangerous flu. Around the capital of Mexico, 68 people have already died, and plenty more are infected. Caldéron and his government have the authority to invoke new rules and laws if this flu continues. The virus has been detected in pigs, and somehow was transmitted to humans. It is a mix of flu strands from the North American and Eurasian swine flus, North American bird flu and North American human flu. Eight cases have been found in Southwestern America.

Because of this wretched flu, Mexico has advised citizens from avoiding any sort of public events, shaking hand with each other, and over seven million kids have been held from classes. This disease has been found to target kids from the age of three to healthy adults no older than sixty. The WHO is even considering raising the global pandemic to 4, which constitutes that the disease spreads from human to human.

Hillary Clinton Goes to Baghdad

By: Danny Dierdorff
In a report from CNN Secretary of State Clinton made a surprise visit to Baghdad, even after the recent attacks that killed around 160 people. Clinton is convinced that the attacks doesn't take away from the the strides Iraq has made in security. This visit isn't that important because for the last few years we have heard the same thing over and over. Plus I feel that this is a tactic to show that they don't need America in Iraq anymore. I am starting to agree that the Iraqis are making strides but I don't know if saying when we are going to leave is the right idea. Obviously the war has lost support by the American people and it is time for the soldiers to come home but these visit are more for publicity than anything else. Like this article says the string of bombings raises eyebrows about the timetable set forth by the Obama administration.

World Health Organization: Swine flu could spread globally

Aundrea Entrekin

I found this article concerning swine flu. This is important because normally Swine flu is not Transmittable from human to human contact and now His. Also because this current version isa mutant strain that doesn't react well to medications. This has potential to kill a substantial amount of people if this does become a pandemic!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Is waterboarding still effective after 183 times?

by: Justin Lynch

We talked in class Friday about the massive amounts of time that KSM and Abu Zubaydah were waterboarded (183 for KSM, a mere 83 for AZ.) The issue of whether terrorists are trained to withstand torture was brought up, but the question needs to be asked: is waterboarding someone that many times (in one month no less) still effective? Brian Palmer from Slate looked it up and the answer is apparently yes, even experienced "torture-takers" still experience pain from these techniques.

Deals Help China Expand Sway in Latin America

By: Micah Bacheller

This article takes a look at China gaining more influence in the South American region. China is quickly realizing that it can get a hold of many South American countries through loans, especially in the current recession. Over the past 8 to 10 years, especially under Bush's administration, not much attention was given to South America, not much financial aid in that matter either. The South American countries that were once looking at the USA as their leader, now began looking elsewhere for help. China saw the need, and began lending money to countries like Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador. Mainly, China wants to lock in natural resources (gas and oil) for the years to come.

South America, which historically has been influenced by the USA, is now losing the ties with USA and starting to follow China. This means that the USA is losing its grip on South American countries, consequently, losing much of its power. This new chain of lending to South America supports the theory that the USA is losing power and that China is on the rise.

Venezuela to give island to New Jersey

By: Micah Bacheller

Petty's Island will be given back to the state of New Jersey. The island is located on the Delaware river, between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. CITGO is the owner of this island, and it is used mainly as a fuel storage facility. CITGO belongs to the Venezuelan government, and Chavez announced on earth day that he would be donate the island back to New Jersey.
New Jersey likes the idea, because the island represents more than a mere storage place. There are some families of bald eagles living on the island, as well as other important waterfowl. The island will be transformed to a hiking and biking area. In essence, the island will be given back to nature and to the people. The timeline is that by 2020 it will be completed.
It is interesting to question the reason why Chavez would give this island back to the US. He is a very leftist president, has had quarrels with the US for many years, yet he is donating an island on earth day. Very fishy....

As Nations Try to Contain Flu, N.Y. Cases Are Confirmed

By Mike Woodard
The swine flu has been confirmed. It has been confirmed in New York and Mexico and has possibly already traveled to New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Spain. It is believed that the outbreak started south of us in Mexico, "where 81 people have died and some 1,300 have been infected." (Healy) Countries are taking such actions of stopping pork imports with Mexico and checking air travelers for disease. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed 8 cases of swine flu in the New York and 11 cases in California, Kansas, and Texas. At a news conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that these cases were real, but were mild. Luckily, there have been no deaths in the United States associated with swine flu yet. China is not taking and chances and is urging people not to travel to Mexico. People arriving with fever or respiratory symptoms are immediately being detained and tested. Hong Kong is possibly the most prepared city for an epidemic like the swine flu. They already have 1400 beds made for a possible outbreak of sars and have been prepared for an outbreak.

SERE and now: America's torture school

by: Justin Lynch

This is an essay from a former soldier that went through the program America uses to toughen up its Armed Forces, SERE. I think the experiences speak for themselves.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Jersey's New Gift

From Brianna Howell

CNN Reports, The US (New Jersey) will be receiving a new gift in upcoming years from an unlikely source: Hugo Chavez. Venezuela will be donating a 300-acre island, Petty's Island, in the Delaware River to New Jersey. This plan was announced on Wednesday as part of an Earth Day Celebration however the exchange is not expected to happen until 2020. The island is currently owned by the Venezuelan based oil-company, Citgo, and has been used as a sort-of pit-stop location between routes. Because of how this land has been used and disregarded, Citgo has agreed to donate $2 Million to New Jersey's Natural Lands Trust--an organization established to preserve and manage the island. This island is inhabited with many rare animals including two bald eagles, and various types of endangered herons and underwater creatures. Once the island exchange is complete, the Petty's Island will be mainly designated for natural activities like hiking and biking.

Rice approved waterboarding

Amanda Dominguez

In light of the recent memos about the Bush administrations "interrogation techniques" , it has recently come out that Condoleezza Rice had approved of these techniques as early as 2002 against Al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah. When asked about it later, the Senate report stated that the officials "reaffirmed that the CIA programme was lawful and reflected administration policy". According to the CIA memos, Zubaydah was waterborded 83 times and confessed 183 that the mastermind of the attacks on September 11 was Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Funny, you would think after the first confessions that waterboarding would no longer be needed in this case, but surely that would just be too easy for the administration. Obama has yet to say whether he will prosecute those in charge of the torture techniques saying that he will leave it up to the Attorney General.

BBC news

Bombings Kill Nearly 90 in Iraq

Rachel Polster

Suicide bombers were responsible for the deaths of at least 55 people in Diyala province and 28 people in Baghdad. This made Thursday the deadliest day of the year in Iraq. The suicide bombers targeted Iranian pilgrams at a restaurant. The pilgrams were stopping at the restaurant while visiting Shiite shrines. In the Baghdad attack, a group of National Police were attacked who were distributing aid to displaced families. The levels of violence have been going up and down within the last couple of months, but these attacks may force US and Iraqi troops to change positions. General Raymond Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq said that these attacks are serious, but the number of incidents hasnt gone up and he is pleased with security progress. He believes there is no trend of increased violence.

China: a Potential Threat to U.S Power?

Madeline Moton

In recent news, Chinese President Hu Jintao addressed growing concern from U.S and other powerful countries that the Chinese military and navy were developing too rapidly for their comfort. The President said that the country is only interested in becoming a major sea power and it would never threaten other nations to seek regional dominance. He also said that China's military and navy is only a forced used to maintain peace and advance common development. In order to subsude the tension between it and other countries, China openly displayed its vessels, including the nuclear carriers.

As many people would say, this bring concern to most and for good reason. China is a country simialr to North Korea (to a small degree) that has been on the rocks with its international relationships and warfare. There is a postitve aspect to this news development which is the fact that China was poen and willing to discuss the situation. That shows other countries that maybe the acts of China are not as conniving and malitious as initially suspected.

The only thing that comes to mind as striking is the fact that this is automatically concieved as a negative development from the United States point of view. Is this such an issue because the U.S does not want to lose its position in international status as the most military powerful country and does not want its position compromised? The condition of a unipolar international system probably would not work effectively if it was shared between China and the U.S mainly because one of the only things keeping their relationship peaceful and war-free is trade. So, that fact that China is developing its military so all can know is a positive concept, but the fact that it can be a fierce competetion with the U.S is a negative concern.

Maybe we should pay attention to Pakistan...

by Bri Roozen

One has to wonder why America's eyes are only trained to see Iraq and Afghanistan as then big Middle Eastern terrorist regimes, when Pakistan has had political unrest for just as many years.  Well, our attention is finally shifted this week as the Taliban claimed a district just sixty miles outside of the capital.  Although the Pakistani government has sent a few envoys of troops to stop the threat, it doesn't seem as though the Taliban are quite ready to be kicked out.  "We came here only to preach Islam" Taliban commander Mowlana Mohammed Khalil was seen saying in a video.  Of course, all those surrounding him were holding automatic and semi-automatic weapons.  All I can say is that, if Christians took the same method, I would probably still be attending church.  

Although the Pakistani government is positive about beating out the insurgents no problem, Hillary Clinton remains more skeptical, warning the world that the possibility of Pakistan falling into terrorist hands remains more than possible.  Let's see where the war on terror will go from here.

Colombian Indigenous Population Displaced

By Fiorella Bafundo

As the “war” in Colombian between the FARC and paramilitary operations continues aimed to stop the trafficking of drugs and unify all the Colombian land under the government authority, hundreds of Colombian Indians are being displaced from their villages. Soldiers persecuting rebels and trying to get to their camps and also rebels escaping from them in order to continue their economic activity (the production of drugs, especially cocaine which is exported almost entirely to the United States), have created a situation where the most affected people are the Indigenous communities which are struggling to stay in their villages but because of the violence have had to move.
“In Chocó, the Embera fleeing during the first three months of this year almost equaled the 2,400 displaced in all of 2008,” said a peace commissioner. All the problems are increased as the government of Colombia does not show clear actions to help these communities, and also, as rich land owners are involved due to their opposition to the land reforms the government has been trying to foster. A lot of refugees are worried about their destiny and hope that this conflict and the current situation won’t last for months nor years.

Book on Kenya corruption spirited into country

By: Liz Hasseld

In Kenya a book has made booksellers discussing the corruption inside Kenya's government. The book by Michela Wrong reveals the corruption of top officials in Kenya. Some booksellers are reluctant to stock the book for fear of being sued by the government. Even so, the book's unavailability has not kept Kenyans from reading it.

The book is being circulated from a stolen PDF file. The book is also being bought in other countries then copied and brought back to Kenya. The publisher of the book also released an e-book version and now Kenyans are able to download it from the Internet.

"It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower," tells the story of John Githongo, The Kenyan government hired him 2003 to investigate 'anti-gaft' behind the scenes in Kenya. His investigations revealed detailed plots involving top Kenyan politicians. Githongo fled Africa and a year later released a report detailing government corruption.

The fact that the publisher released an e-version of the book is a huge step! Now that Kenyans have this information about their country, maybe the public will push the government to change. The fear of the government must first be overcame but this book marks a start of new thinkers in Africa.

Suck it teabaggers: Obama still popular

by: Justin Lynch

Obama is still in his "honeymoon" phase with the American people, even as the economy continues to be in a deep recession and with small crowds across the country protesting against useful programs that would put Americans to work while adding only 4% to the taxes of the richest 2% of American taxpayers. As the article points out, the number of Americans that say the country is on the right track is at 48% as opposed to 40% that say we are not, the first time since January 2004 that has happened. Nearly 2/3 of Americans approve of Obama's performance as President.

Even with continued bad economic news, pirate attacks, and the teabagger protests that were covered extensively across the country, Obama is still popular because he seems to be optimistic and (get this!) is competently handling the nation's business to the best of his ability...something that for the last eight years people were not used to in Washington.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

IMF: World Economy Will Not Recover Until 2010

By: Stephanie Gesselle

It was announced today by the IMF that the recent recession which is the largest we have had since World War II is not predicted to improve until after 2010. This prediction of 2010 is slightly longer than previously predicted by the IMF. The agency, which represents 185 countries, says now that global unemployment levels will predicatively rise through 2010 before receding. Even this recovery will come slowly at only 1.9% which is much slower than past recoveries Things will get worse before they get batter. In 2009 the economic decline is predicted at nearly -1.3. Developed economies such as North America and Western Europe are expected to contract 3.8 percent in total. Other countries like Japan, Russia, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil are also estimated to decline economically in 2009 before they begin to recover. A member of the IMF states, "Thus, financial conditions in the mature markets are projected to improve only slowly, as insolvency concerns are diminished by greater clarity over losses on bad assets and injections of public capital, and counter-party risks and market volatility are reduced." Overall, we can expect another year of recession before hopes of any improvement in 2010.

Pirates as Heroes

Sherri Siegele

A proud and hard working 25 year old Somali pirate, Dahir, was interviewed by the BBC over the phone. He says that pirates are viewed as heroes by his people. It’s understandable; Somalia’s livelihood was stolen from them so they’re stealing it back. Fishing is a way of life in Somalia but illegal fishing by foreigners and contaminated waters have taken it away. I hadn’t thought about how piracy has become a social and economic fabric of Somalia. He says that coastal towns view piracy as legal and thus support it and, that pirates are spending their money in Somalia so it’s helping the economy. For example, Dahir started this practice in 2007 and he now owns two luxury cars and has started his own business in his hometown. He feels that one more “job” will give him what he wants. Then he plans to get married and presumably continue with his hometown business and raise a family.

He suggests that if Somali's government brought back the fishing industry that piracy would end. It’s a sweet and naïve view; People of Somalia have gotten a taste of wealth that fishing could never bring and they will want more regardless. Aside from that, even if Somalia had an effective government there’s not much they could do about global water pollution and the effect it’s having on fishing.

Bollywood Exploitation

by Sarah Richardson

Slumdog Millionaire star, Rubina Ali is no millionaire in real life. She's actually spent all nine years of her young life in the very slum where much of the movie is filmed. A British undercover team is praised for exposing her father's plan to sell her for nearly 200,000 pounds. He says that the production crew took all the profits for themselves and the family was not properly compensated. I'd agree that that is probably true; however, SELLING your own child?

The thing I love about online articles is they usually have an area below where other readers can respond to the article. The responses to this article are particularly disturbing at times, but it's interesting to see what people have to say about it.

Obama wants more National Service

by Nial Maloney

Obama has tripled the size of Americorps programs and called upon Americans to volunteer their time to improve their communities. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Obama believes that the world needs our service right now! Everybody needs to volunteer because it teaches them valuable skills and it feels great to be helping out the country. In my opinion, Americorp will help people find jobs and many unemployed people can get jobs through Americorp.

After the ceremony at the Seed School with Edward M. Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, and Bill Clinton, Mr Obama and Mr Clinton traveled to a muddy marsh to plant trees for the community. The plan emulates John F. Kennedy's plan to call for national service.

"Just change your name"

By Fiorella Bafundo

In an article of the New York Times, Sharon Lafraniere talks about an issue in China with the choosing of names for the Chinese population after a new kind of identity card more technologically advanced wants to be implemented by the Chinese government as a way to increase security. The problem that has came up has to do with the fact that as in China 100 last names cover almost 85% of the 1.3 billion people, the lack of individuality has encourage Chinese parents to create new names mixing the ones that already exist or even adding characters from English. The problem is that with this new technology the Chinese government wants to implement, only 32,252 of the 55,000 Chinese characters can be read by the computers, leaving outside the program those who have “rare”, original names such as a girl whose name is Ma Cheng. The argument is that they should change those names because “The computer cannot even recognize them and people cannot read them. This has become an obstacle in communication.”
Ma Cheng “argues that the government’s technology should adapt, not her.” And as she has been having some problems when she went to renew her old ID, she now has a temporary one for three months and thinks she will be going to take it every three months because she considers it is “a small sacrifice for keeping her name.”


Patrick Whelan

There are many throughout the world, especially in the United States, who still believe biofuels are the best answer to alternative energy to reduce the need for fossil fuels and fight global warming. It appears to be an all around win for farmers, government, business, and the environment. However, The Economist is reporting that biofuels produce nitrous oxide which is a greater contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide. The purpose of biofuels is to reduce the amount of surplus of carbon dioxide. When biofuels grow as crops such as sugar cane, corn, oilseed rape and wheat, they take in carbon dioxide. Scientist and others believed that when these crops are used as fuel in cars and trucks there should be no effect on the gas that is burning unlike a car or truck that uses gasoline.

A team of scientist working for the International Council for Science (ICSU) have concluded that scientist for years have ignored the effect of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is not a common gas in the earths atmosphere but when it is realist from cars who use biofuels it is more potent than carbon dioxide and it according to the Economist "Hangs around longer." The reason this horrible gas called nitrous oxide exists in crops is that is is made by bacteria that live in soil and water. In current times, farmers welcome the nitrogen rich fertilizer that is used to increase crop growth. The Economist reports, "The nitrogen cycle is changing faster and more profoundly than the carbon cycle."

The real problem is that governments throughout the world subsidize and actively promoting biofuels as appropriate ways to combat global warming and expand their economies. Western nations such as Australia, France, Germany, Poland, and Spain are expanding their use of biofuels with the U.S. leading the way wanting to increase its production of biofuels to up to one hundred and thirty-six billion litres by 2022. Governments need to take into account the economic and ecological consequences that come with using biofuels. Besides producing biofuels that produce nitrous oxide, biofuels use a lot of water in its production and the growing corn for fuel use only raises the price of feed for diary and pig farmers. Governments need to focus on raising fuel efficiency standards and increasing the possibility of an electric car with great range.

Happy Earth day

Taliban's Invasion

By: Almas Khan

The Taliban has taken over a small town known as the Burner district near Islamabad, Pakistan. The Taliban has taken over this town to enforce Islamic laws, according to Moulana Mohammad Khalil. The Taliban set up rallies in Swat Valley demanding Islamic laws all across Pakistan. They have their men with guns patrolling around the town. Mian Iftikhar said that they have already violated the peace agreement and he would not allow the Taliban to form a government there. Talibans consider democracy and Pakisatan's judicial system as un islamic. The Pakistani govenrment seems passive and not aggressive with the Taliban. The thing that the US government fears the most is that Pakistan is a country with nuclear weapons and if the Taliban take control over the country there is a huge threat to USA.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

South Africa Head for the Polls

By Mei Kin Chew

A new wave of excitement is sweeping across the entire South Africa. It is going to be an extremely competitive general election, perhaps haven't been seen since 1994.

Some of the concerns include that the new voters were young and did not experience or witness the events that took place that led to the almost universal suffrage at South Africa at present day.
A split between a previous party that only had a single competitor made this election even more interesting as the new party battles for votes with the two older parties. With a new generation of voters and new parties and ideologies involved, the election will definitely change the political scene in South Africa.

Political commentator call it the "cultural revolution". But, is it that easy? Is there something more to it that we, as the outsider might have missed out on? The cultural revolution might have happened since early 2000 and this election might just set a stronger platform for that purpose.

Chavez Who?

by: Justin Lynch

At last weekend's Summit of the Americas, pictures of President Obama and Hugo Chavez shaking hands and smiling were world news, showing that Venezuela's tyrant could put aside his fierce anti-Americanism for at least enough to garner a news cycle. What wasn't reported was the fierce anti-American speech by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. Ortega's speech at the summit went over by its alloted time by 40 minutes in a vain attempt to get on the world stage and fill the void left momentarily by the "friendly" Chavez.

The article also goes on to point out that some Latin American countries held a summit the weekend before the Summit of the Americas to get their talking points straight and coordinate a strategy; so Chavez and Ortega probably planned this whole thing out. These ridiculous head games show why Venezuela and Nicaragua will probably be on a second or third tier of world powers for a long time to come.

No Go for Blago

by Jessica Goerke

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich faces 25 to 30 years in prison for trying to sell the Illinois Senate seat but that is not stopping him from trying to pilfer even more money. This time he has been offered $123,000 to appear on the new reality t.v. show titled "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here." In his defense he states, "I have to do it for my kids. I have to support my family."

Unfortunately for him, though, Judge James Zagel isn't buying it. He denied Rod's request to join the show in Costa Rica. Judge Zagel has reservations against Blagojevich's attitude about the whole situation. He stated, "I do not have confidence that things will not go astray if I modify bond conditions."

Obama open to some interrogation prosecution

By Alli Lewis

In this article, it talks about President Obama's acceptance of an investigation into the interrogation tactics used. He says he could support a congressional investigation into the Bush-era terrorist detainee program if it were done on a bipartisan basis. In fact, he's open to prosecuting those involved if their behavior is deemed unfit. The president is getting heat from both liberals and conservatives--for not cracking down hard enough and for cracking down at all. White House press secretary Gibbs said that Obama is probably using the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a model for this investigation.

Business Goes on like "Normal"

Omar al-Bashir goes about business as usual today despite war crime charges made against him by the ICC.  Al-Bashir travelled to Ethiopia for a state visit.  Ethiopian officials claim the visit as a routine visit.  According to the article, al-Bashir also attented a meeting of the Arab League summit around April 4th of this year.  The U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, avoided Bashir at the Summit.

The warrant for al-Bashir's arrest is still standing, but as yet an arrest has obviously not been made.  Ethiopia's government disagrees with the ICC's decision and does not belong to the ICC at all.

Chenney "Disturbed" by Obama's Foreign Policies

by James Hoffman

During an interview with Fox News Reporter, Sean Hannity, our previous Vice President, Dick Chenney, has revealed that he "is concerned by the way we've been presented overseas." Chenney also said that he was "disturbed" that Obama has gone overseas to and apoligized for the United States' previous actions. "I don't think we've got to apoligize for," explains Chenney. He explains that America provides much leadership to the world and that it has for a long time. By Obama going overseas and attemping to initiate new relations, Chenney interprets this as an oppostune sign that other countries, friend or foe, will see this as signification of weakness. If our nation's leader is portrayed as weak, Chenney incoperates that with passive characteristics, shich is to say Obama may be giving the impression that he isn't willing to "aggressively fight for America's interests."

Coleman Keeps Promise, Files Appeal and Wastes More of Our Time

Coleman keeps promise, files appeal

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The self-described Sen.-elect Al Franken can keep the champagne on ice.

As promised, Minnesota Republican (and former senator) Norm Coleman is taking his case to the state's Supreme Court.

A lower state court ruled last week that Franken had won the election by 312 votes out of nearly 3 million cast in November.

"As promised, we are filing our notice of appeal today," Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg told reporters this afternoon. "We do believe that the district court got it wrong on the law."

The two sides have been duking out the election results for more than five months. Coleman's lawyers will argue in court that voters were denied equal protection and due process because different standards were applied in the counting of absentee ballots across the state.

No one is sure when the case will get started -- or when it will wrap up -- but one of Coleman's lawyers, Jim Langdon, ventured a guess that oral arguments could get underway within two weeks to two months. State statute requires the court to take the case up on an expedited schedule.

Ginsberg offered no clue about whether the Coleman campaign will file a federal lawsuit if things don't work out in their favor. "We're just thinking about the Minnesota Supreme Court for now," he said.

Update at 6:07 p.m. ET. Franken's response, via his attorney Marc Elias: "When it comes to disenfranchisement, no one holds a candle to the legal team put together by former senator Coleman." Elias argued that many of Coleman's claims involve ballots that the Coleman camp suggests should not have been counted, meaning fewer votes would be included, not more. "What we have now is the death throes of the Coleman legal fight." 

Judge for yourself. Here is a statement required by the court that accompanied Coleman's appeal.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Americas summit ends amid hopes for US-Cuba ties

Salma Bawazir
President Barack Obama and Latin American leaders in Trinidad and Tobago was to end among hopes that the United States and Cuba might be on their way to putting aside a half-century of opposition. President Raul Castro wanted historic talks on problems that was kept off limits by Havana. But while Obama worked for commend for expressing a desire to connect with Cuba and start a new beginning with it-and with the rest of Latin America members highlighted the fact that Castro had been not included from the gathering.

Punishment for some, but not all

Marissa Rankins

The memos have been released, but is it okay for us to not punish the people responsible? Especially after the United States has already punished some lower level soldiers. There is outrage over the fact that while they were punished for merely carrying out orders, the people responsible for giving these orders are left untouched. Officials argue that they just want to move ahead and not back. Well if these people are not going to be punished how do we repay the people who have been? It's unfair to punish some, but not all. I agree that justice has not been served, but on the other hand I do not disagree with punishing the soldiers. I just think that if the United States wasn't planning on punishing everyone involved then it shouldn't punish anyone at all. All that this is leading up to is an ugly battle. Soldiers are trying to appeal their dishonorable discharge from the military, which in my opinion, should stick. The problem with that is that they will fight to get everyone else involved in the same boat as they are and that is going to get messy. It will be interesting to see if a low level soldier has the strength and the power to fight this all the way.

Walkout at UN Conference After Iran President Calls Israel 'Racist'

By: Blayne Sim

At a recent U.N. conference, many countries representatives walked out after the Iranian president started to knock Israel, claiming the country was founded on the suffering of Jews after the second world war. This is not the first time he has bashed Israel. He has called for Israel to be wiped off the map in the past. These statements did not go over well. The middle east is where a large portion of the world's tension is located, especially Iran and Israel. These types of events accomplish nothing. All this did was bring another issue to the front of the world's attention. With the recent advancements the U.S. has made in communication with Iran, this will go a long way to pull them right back. Israel and the U.S. are strong allies, and this will not help the U.S./Iran relations whatsoever. This just brings forward another international conflict, adding on to the building tension that already exists in the middle east.

Elections in India Face Violent Resistance

Kurt Kamrath

Indian media sources are calling the first phase of nation wide elections on Thursday a success. Voter turnout is estimated at approximately 60% despite attacks by Maoist rebels aimed at deterring the democratic exercise. The rebels killed 17 in over a dozen attacks which also involved the abduction of voting officials. However, the violence was primarily directed towards security forces. The first round of voting occurred in areas where the rebels have the most influence to allow security officials to focus their attention. Regardless of the violence, there was increased participation among several demographics that have historically been politically apathetic in India. Participation in the elections is being seen as a vote of confidence in the country’s democratic institutions as opposed to allegiance to the rebels. The next three rounds of voting are set for the next three Thursdays with the final round of voting on the following Wednesday. There are 714 million eligible voters making this the world’s largest election.

Canadian Flight in Jamaica Taken Hostage

By Jenny Elgin

A flight from Canada making a stop in Jamaica was taken hostage last Monday by a man demanding to be taken to Cuba, where the plane was heading next. Authorities described the man as in his 20's and "mentally challenged".

The man fired a shot as he entered the boarding bridge, but luckily no one was hurt although passengers were very shaken up by the experience.

Would we still have these kinds of events occurring if other countries relaxed the embargo on Cuba and allowed easier travel to and from the country? Of course, this could also be the case of a man not in his right man & not really realizing what he was doing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obama concerned about hostage in Iranian prison.

Beth Lessard

On Sunday, President Obama called for the release of a U.S. journalist convicted of espionage in Iran. The hostage, Roxana Saberi, is a 31 year old female who is an Iranian-American who was interested in the in the country where she came from. Obama stated that "his administration will be in touch with the Iranian government." They will be in touch through Swiss intermediaries because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations. The case is going through the court system and the final decision is yet to be determined. Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison this past Saturday. Authorities say that she confessed to the charges. Saberi says that she is treated well in the prison and that the is fed well. Obama is so concerned with the well being of one person that he is willing to go through all this trouble just for the safety of one person.

Obama 'gravely concerned' about U.S. journalist in Iranian prison

By: Joe Kain
View Article Here

An American citizen and journalist by the name of Roxana Saberi was officially charged with espionage by the Iranian government as of April 9th. She was sentenced to eight years in prison as of Saturday. Her lawyer has twenty days to file an appeal. President Obama commented that he is "gravely concerned with her safety and well-being". He also stated that his administration will in touch with the Iranian government through Swiss intermediaries.

Well if relations between the U.S. and Iran couldn't get too much worse, there's this new problem. Hopefully, the case is sucessfully appealed and she gets aqcuited. If the appeals are unsucessful this could cause some problems for the future considering both countries will probably not budge on the issue.