Saturday, October 31, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine

5 major drug companies in the U.S are increasing their output of the H1N1 vaccine. 26 million vaccines were sent out and an expected 10 million more this week. The latest count shows 114 children have been killed by the virus. Officials stated that the U.S. has first priority, then they will donate H1N1 vaccine to other foriegn nations.




by,
Jesse Kugler

Zelaya Could Be Returned to Presidency in Honduras

An agreement was reached late Thursday between President Jose Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti, who is the ruling president at the moment. The agreement would form a reconciliation government. Both the nation's congress and their supreme court would have to approve Zelaya returning to power. The new reconciliation government would only last until a new president is elected into power in November and takes office in January. Zelaya isn't guaranteed to be put back into power according to the pact, but analysts believe that congress will sign the agreement. The United States has played a large role in coming to this agreement. Other countries and leaders have tried to negotiate between the two sides before and failed. The United States is the first to get the Zelaya and Micheletti to come to any agreement. Extra pressure has been put on the Honduran government since a military-backed coup removed Zelaya from office four months ago. Economic sanctions were placed on the country by the United States and other countries. Honduras is beginning to feel the effects in their economy. Large numbers of Hondurans have crossed into Mexico to look for jobs. Beyond the economic motivations for an agreement, there was also a political side. It is important that the elections held on November 29 are seen as legitimate by the Honduran people. Under Micheletti's rule, the election would be considered illegitimate by not only the Hondurans, but also the United States and other nations. Most analysts believe the reason Zelaya accepted the agreement was because he had no other choice. He was running out of time, money, and people to support him. The pact does not give anyone amnesty for the actions taken against Zelaya. It is likely he will try to prosecute Micheletti, although analysts say it is not in his best interest to file any charges. Within the pact two commissions are formed. One is a truth commission to investigate how Zelaya was removed from power. The other is a verification commission to make sure that the agreement is followed. Finally the pact asks for a plea to the international community to remove the sanctions placed against Honduras. The most important thing is that the agreement allows for the election of a new president to be legitimate. Hopefully it will help Honduras to move on and start over.

By Kelly Martin

Friday, October 30, 2009

Re-arming in Côte d'Ivoire

The UN has released a report accusing both rebel groups in the north of Côte d'Ivoire as well as the government in the south of re-arming. This new threat occurs just one month before the election. Neighboring Burkina Faso has been accused of funneling weapons to both sides of the conflict, and supported the rebel groups in the 2002 civil war, yet has also been a staunch supporter of the UN backed peace agreement between the Ivoirian rebels and the government.

By Caleb B. Ray

Source: BBC NEWS

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Canadian Coyotes Kill

According to CNN, on Tuesday afternoon a 19-year old Canadian singer, Taylor Mitchell, was attacked by coyotes at the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Canada. This comes as a shock considering she was attacked on a well traveled path and coyotes are shy by nature. This is the first outright attack from coyotes ever in the park history.
What makes this event so strange is the strange behavior of the coyotes. There are more and more animal attacks on humans each year and it is speculated that global warming is behind it. It can also be argued that the reason animals, like the coyotes that attacked Taylor Mitchell, are acting out violently is do to their shrinking habitats. Not only due animals get territorial but with people get closer to animals, the animals are getting used to humans and are no longer afraid to approach. Normally this wouldn't be a bad thing until some ignorant person decides the animals need food and feeds them, which in turn causes the animals to see humans as a food source.
Attacks, like the one on Taylor Mitchell, will only get worse and more frequent unless something is done.

By: Andi Whipkey

Helping Iran "Save Face"-

Iran, as in many times in the past, has been very uncooperative in the past in regards to its nuclear program. Recently however, we have seen an increase in the cooperation in the Iranian leadership.
The IAEA has not specified what Iran's exact position was in the negotiation, however, the proposal does touch on Iran's handling of Uranium. The proposal suggests that medical treatment and research could be assisted in Iran by using low enriched uranium.

In the words of Ahmadinejad, the "west" is finally starting to cooperate with Iran, thus allowing the proposal to be a "victory" for them.

What is likely occuring is that during negotiations, Iranian ooffcials have been addament in maintaining a strong face, and western negotiators have allowed Iran to frame potential outcomes as "victories" for Iran, rather than forcing them to admitt they are "conceeding" to the west. This allows Iran to save face, and not appear as if it is in a weak bargaining position.

GREG Voegtle

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/10/29/iran.nuclear.ahmadinejad/index.html

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Russia warned about HIV epidemic

Russia has been urged by Robin Gorna, head of the International AIDS Society, that it needs to crack down on preventing the spread of HIV. According to a BBC News article, Russia has more than 2 million intravenous drug users and that at least 1 million Russians are now infected with HIV. However, Russia isn't doing as much as it could to prevent this epidemic. International experts have been urging Russia to authorize the use of methadone as an alternative to injecting heroin. Methadone is a synthetic opioid taken orally and so promoting its use instead would cut down on needle use, however Russia insists that it will not legalize the substance. Russia also refuses to fund needle exchange programs that would cut down on the number of infected needles. On top of everything, Russia is now a middle-income country and is declining financial aid from abroad.

By: Kimberly Severns

Venezuela finds 11th body in massacre

The body of the last of 11 men captured and killed by mysterious culprits in Venezuela was found Wednesday. An article from the Chicago Tribune states that most of the men captured were Colombians living on the Venezuelan side of the border. A twelfth man was also captured, however he managed to escape by pretending to be dead, and is now recovering in a hospital in the Venezuelan capital. He claims that the men who captured him and the others were "leftist guerrillas" who thought that he and the others were paramilitaries. Theories of who the killers are range from drug traffickers to paramilitaries to members of Colombian guerrilla groups, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has hinted that the killers might be Colombian spies. In any case, this incident has served to worsen relations between the two countries that have been deteriorating for the past two years over things like Colombia's decision to allow the U.S. to relocate its anti-drug efforts to Colombia. Chavez feels that this is going to facilitate an invasion of Venezuela.

By: Kimberly Severns

U.S. set to pay Taliban members to switch sides

"You can rent an Afghan but you can't buy him." This old saying implies just that. So with Obama signing a $680 billion defense appropriations bill to aid with military operations in assistance with the Taliban, we are attempting to purchase an Afghan. This is a temporary fix and does not seem to be a realistic way to diminish the ongoing problem. While it is beneficial because it separates the Taliban members from their leaders, which weakens the group, it will only last us so long. However, this short term plan is the only plan implemented that shows some effects. There is no simple long term plan which will eliminate the hatred and violence, hence there being no world peace. Plus with this program we are putting trust into an untrustworthy group so it really is a short term plan and cannot be trusted to alleviate all Taliban problems for the U.S. but it is a start.

By: Lindsay Weidling

Global Warming Opens New Artic Shipping Lane

For years mariners have wished that they could find a shipping lane that was a short cut between Europe and Asia across the Arctic Ocean. Well their wishes have just come true! In late September two German freighters where able to make the passage from Vladivostok, in the east, to Rotterdam, in the west, along the once impassable Arctic route. This trip was not only a success because it was the first successful trip along the Northeastern Passage, but also because it created other benefits too. The journey through the new route saved 10 days and $300,000 per ship. If this new route becomes viable then it means that ships will not have to take the 11,000 nautical mile voyage through the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean Sea. This decreased traffic could have negative impacts on countries along this route, such as Egypt, who gets a lot of money from the Suez Canal. Even though this new passage would hurt some countries, it would help others as well. Russia has the most to gain from the opening of this new route. If this new route does open Russia will see a huge economic opportunity when nit comes to northern development in Russia. Another benefit that Russia and other countries that surround the Arctic ocean will receive comes in the form of new natural resources. A US Geological Survey estimates that 25% of the world's untapped oil and 30% of untapped natural gas lie under the arctic ocean. These countries will be able to get to these natural resources and this new shipping route because the Arctic ocean's ice cape is receding at alarming rates. This year saw the third lowest amount of Arctic sea ice on record, after the record was set in 2007. This shows that polar ice caps are melting at unprecedented rates, and because of this new economic opportunities are opening up. However, not everyone is saying that this is such a great thing. Many people around the world think that the melting of polar ice caps is a bad thing no matter what economic opportunities open up. Russia feels pretty confident that the newly discovered Northeast Passage is much more preferable than Northwest passage. Russia says that there are two things that make the Northeast passage better. First, the Northwest passage runs through a maze of islands north of Canada, while the North east passage is clear water the entire time. Another drawback of the Northwest Passage is also in disputed territory because many areas that the passage goes through are being claimed by both Canada and the US. On the other hand the Northeast Passage is in undisputed Russian territory, which makes it a more secure and stable route. This new discovering is really exciting, but the new route has yet to be thoroughly tested to see if it is viable. This means that this issues of a northern passage from Europe to Asia still might just be a dream for mariners all around the world.

By:William Miller
Source: Christian Science Monitor

U.S. Drone Attacks

The UN has warned the U.S. that it may be violating international law by using unmanned drones to attack suspected terrorists in Pakistan Afghanistan. They state that the U.S. violates international law by using these drones to commit arbitrary executions, and they demand the U.S. to explain the reason why they should be allowed to continue. In defense, the U.S. has stated that such laws do not go into effect while there is an armed conflict happening.

The UN is just being wary that the U.S. is not carrying out executions that it otherwise couldn't without a war.

Since August of last year over 600 people have been killed by the drone attacks and in recent months.

Monday, October 26, 2009

German Limits on War Facing Afghan Reality

Rising Taliban insurgency in northern Afghanistan has forced German troops to become engaged. The German Army is involved in bloody ground combat for the first time since WWII. Concerns are rising over whether Americans will soon be fighting one war while their allies are fighting another. The issue at hand is now exactly how long will German troops remain in the area. After WWII, Germany agreed to avoid any type of military power usage except in the case of self-defense. Their are now oppositions to German troops in Afghanistan. German politicians are closed-lipped about the entire situation. They are portraying the situation as a peacekeeping and reconstruction effort. "The Germans may not have gone to war, but now the war has come to them."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/world/27germany.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

By: Taylar Proctor

Israel rules out questioning troops about Gaza offensive

The Israeli government has ruled out the possiblity that they would establish an indendent investigative body for interviewing Israeli military personnel about alleged war crimes. The prime minister shared that he has confidence in the Israeli government to carry out its own investigation. The U.N. report calls for both the Israelis and Hamas to independently investigate the alleged war crimes. The U.N. Human Rights Council approved a resolution supporting it, however Israel has rejected the resolution.

By Kyle Reilly

Castro's Sister collaborated with the C.I.A.

In an interview with Univision-Noticias on Sunday, Juanita Castro came clear that she had worked with the C.I.A., the arch enemy of Fidel Castro for three years. Initially, Ms. Castro supportred the new regime her brothers Raul and Fidel put in place after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. All of this came to a sudden halt when they started to move the nation in the direction of Communism and ignore human rights. She actually helped harbor those being persecuted by her brothers by hiding them in her Havana home. The C.I.A. heard word of her disdain for the regime and approached her about working for them, and she provided them with valuable information for three years until she was exiled to Miami in 1964. She has not spoken to Raul or Fidel in nearly forty years and does not intend to anytime soon. She will soon be releasing a tell all about the relationship and dealings of her and her brothers.

By: Travis James

Source: New York Times

Karadzic boycotts own trial.

Gina Fazio

BBC News reports that Radovan Karadzic today did not show up for his trial with the International Criminal Tribunal for war crimes related to the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

Currently he is defending himself against 11 charges including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. However the judge said that if Mr. Karadzic continues this "obstructive behavior" council will be forced upon him to proceed with the trial. Karadzic has refused to appear in court because he wants the trial to be delayed for a longer period of time.

The trial is said to include 1.2 million pages of evidence against Mr. Karadzic, numerous crime scenes and hundreds of witnesses. Mr Karadzic does not believe he has had enough time to prepare a proper defense against such resources. Though in all truth, is a defense even if postponed really possible against such insumountable evidence of the crimes?

If convicted Karadzic faces lifetime inprisonment.

Baghdad Bomb Fatalities Pass 150!





The moment a bomb hit Baghdad - Iraqi officials have raised their death toll to 155 and approximately another 500 people were wounded from the Sunday's suicide terrorism, who loaded two vehicles between a busy junction and two ministries. Army spokesman Maj Gen Qassim Atta said the lorry was loaded with a tonne of explosives and the car was carrying 700kg (1,500lb) of explosive material.American troops have been called for help on the investigation along with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Iraqi Prime Minister blames this incident on Al-Qaeda and supporters of it's former president Saddam Hussein. Overall, violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq compared to a year ago, although sporadic attacks still continue in several parts of the country. "These bombings serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women and children, and they only reveal the hateful and destructive agenda of those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that they deserve." President Barack Obama

Suicide bombing facts:

Aug 2007: More than 500 killed in attacks on villages near Sinjar
Jul 2007: 150 killed in truck bombing in Tuz Khurmato
Apr 2007: 191 killed in car bombings in Baghdad
Mar 2007: 152 killed in truck bombing in Tal Afar
Feb 2007: 135 killed in truck bombing in Baghdad
Nov 2006: 202 killed in multiple blasts in Baghdad
Mar 2004: 171 killed in bombings in Baghdad and Karbala

By Vesna Tanasic
Article Source: BBCNews
Picture Source: CBSNews

14 Americans killed in 2 Afghan helicopter crashes

This Monday was the heaviest single-day loss of life since June 28, 2005, when 19 U.S. troops died. Afghanistan is known to be the world's largest producer of opium, the raw ingredient in heroin. The DEA, (Drug Enforcement Agency) has started operations there back in 2005 to keep things under control. However Monday they lost control when 14 Americans were killed by Talibans involved in drug-trafficing. We all hope to see a change in the next election coming up in the next two weeks. There hae already been problems between the U.N. and the Afghans on how to conduct the balloting. Lodin said the commission hopes to open all 23,960 polling stations from the first round. The U.N. wants to open only 16,000 stations to cut down on the number of "ghost polling stations" that never opened but were used to stuff ballot boxes. This election's outcome will likely foreshadow lots about the future of this conflict.

By Carla Lutz

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nigeria Asked To Make Arrest

Amnesty International, a human rights group, is asking Nigerian officals to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity, regarding a campaign of violence in western Sudan. The African Union Summit will be held in Nigeria on Thursday and if Omar al-Bashir attends the Nigerian athorities have been asked to arrest him. Things could get pretty interesting at the African Union Summit because the Nigerian President has extened an invitation to Omar al-Bashir to come attend another international event.

By Andi Whipkey

Israel Pushes to change law of war

The prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, recently ordered his government to start up plans for a world wide compaign in order to lobby for changes in the international law in regards to war. This order came after a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss Israel's responce to the UN's report that condemned Israeli action in the Gaza War. There was also a special group formed specifically to deal with possible legal actions against Israeli officials and war crime trials abroad. According to the Israeli government, international law should be amended in order to fight global terrorism. Israel's defense minister also agrees and says that the amendment of international law would be of interest to anyone wanting to fight terroism and that the government wanted to give the Israeli militar"full backing to have the freedom of action"

By: Aminat Odunewu

Sweden Focuses on Cutting Food Emissions

A burger chain in Sweden, called Max, puts the emissions data of its various food products on its menu to inform diners how climate friendly their food is. This is just one of the ways that Sweden is attempting to raise awareness to the climate unfriendly emissions produced by the food industry "in order to combat global warming". Some food packaging also includes labels that declare the kilogram of CO2 output per kilogram of product. Aside from this, Sweden is also encouraging its farmers to switch from using imported feed, like soy from the Amazon, to locally produced protein feed.

According to research, about 25% of the emissions produced by people in industrialized countries stems from the food industry. Cattle raising is one of the largest contributors to this particular problem.

Read more here.

Posted by: Jessica Bilstein

UN team 'sees Iran nuclear site"

Four IAEA inspectors visited a uranium enrichment plant near Qom, Iran, this afternoon. The inspectors will be in Iran for about 3 days, and are expected to visit the site again before departing. While there, the blueprints of the facility were to be compared to the actual layout of the plant. Iran claims that the size and abilities of the plant reaches only so far as could be used for peaceful purposes - weapon making would not be possible in this particular plant, they say. Others are not so sure. They assert that Iran had plenty of time - weeks, in fact - to remove any potentially-incriminating materials from the plant. In a deal being worked out between Iran, the United States, France, and Russia, uranium would be enriched at this plant, sent to Russia for further enrichment, and then sent on to France for refinement. Iran would be able to keep only what uranium is needed for peaceful, i.e. medical purposes. Whether the deal will actually make it through, and whether everyone will follow through with their promises in it, has yet to be determined.

By Hannah Zimmerman

N korean and US envoys meet in NY

According to the article " N korean and US envoys meet in NY" from BBC, a diplomat from North Korea, Ri Gun, visit the U.S., which rarely happen, and talked about nuclear issue in North Korea with 5 nations; South Korea, The U.S., Japan, China and Russia. During his visit to the U.S., American ambassador,Sung Kim, were able to talk in New York with him who was invited by US private organisations. They discuss North Korean recurrent missile launch tests and nuclear tests. Both North Korea and the U.S. agreed with return to negotiation; however, North Korea stated that they wanted to talked with only the U.S. before six-nation's conference, and on the other hand, the U.S. wanted them to talk about this issue with six nation.

by Yuri Iwasaki

U.N Officials arrive in Iran to inspect new nuclear facility

Early this Sunday morning, International officials arrived in Tehran, Iran to inspect a new nuclear facility .  THE IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) will also visit to make sure that the site is being used for peaceful purposes said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of IAEA.  The visit will last for three days but it will not be the end of the inspection because officials needs more time to asses the situation and to sign onto a deal that could to eventually end the international showdown over its nuclear activities. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was informed by Iran that they were "considering the proposal in depth and in a favorable light, but it needs until the middle of next week to provide a response."  Officials from Iran, France, Russia and the US met with the IAEA in Vienna this week to iron out the details of the the deal that was decided upon in early October.  So far, France, Russia and the US have approved their arrangement. However when the second facility near Qom was found, the international community was shocked and feared that Iran is after all still in the pursuit for nuclear weapons regardless of what Iranian officials claim.

By: Ivana Miljic 

Afghan Protest Over Alleged Burnt Koran

Following allegations that foreign troops burnt a copy of the Koran in the Wardak province of Afghanistan, protests have been breaking out throughout Kabul, the Afghani capital. In the latest protest, hundreds of Kabul University students took to the streets, chanting "Death to America," to burn an effigy of Barack Obama. The US-led NATO force accused of the burning has denied the claims, finding them to be groundless. The local authorities have so far supported the troops, saying that while a burnt Koran was found, it was most likely the work of drug addicts. The police forces there have been wary of Taliban rumors they believe to be spread in order to incite anti-American protest in the capital. There were some clashes between the police and the protesters, the security forces finally firing into the air to scatter the crowd.

By: Megan Shoemate

Wealthy Germans demand to pay higher taxes

A group of rich Germans are petitioning the government to have wealthy citizens pay higher taxes. They have argued that if the wealthiest people paid a 5% wealth tax for two years Germany could raise 100 billion euros. This money could then be used to fund economic and social programs that, according to the petitioners, would aid Germany's economic recovery. They have made it clear that they do not believe donating money would be enough and that is why they are calling for a change in the whole approach.

So far the petition has 44 signatures and they plan to present it to Chancellor Angela Merkel when ready. One signatory, Peter Vollmer, told AFP news agency that he supported the petition because he had inherited "a lot of money I do not need". The group also held a demonstration on Wednesday in which demonstrators tossed fake bank-notes into the air, but its turnout was, as far as the organizers were concerned, less than satisfactory. Vollmer commented that it was "really strange that so few came".


By Anna Mandrell

Police Arrest 18 at Jerusalem Holy Site

Israeli police stormed the Jerusalem compound known as Temple Mount to the Jewish community and Haram Al-Sherif to the Muslims twice on Sunday. The police came to the site after reports of rocks being thrown at security forces by Muslim youth. Muslim leaders, on the other hand, say that nothing was done to bring about the raids; they were simply praying. Palestinians think that it's just a way for the Israelis to prove their occupation and control over the area. The first time the police stormed the area, they deployed tear gas on the Palestinians and arrested twelve people. The disturbances continued, and the police came back to the site again. This time they used stun grenades to break up the rioters. Negotiations between the police and Palestinians lasted for three hours, which also included phone calls to the capitals of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, before the Palestinians agreed to leave the area. After a total of five hours, eighteen people had been arrested, about 25 Palestinians were injured, and nine Israeli police officers were injured. The standoff continues to show the tense relations between the Palestinians and Israelis in the area.

By Kelly Martin

Birth Control Bill Has Enemies in Philippines

A new public health and service bill is being examined through the Filipino Congress, urging them to make means of birth control affordable and access easier .According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization in the U.S., 54 percent of the 3.4 million pregnancies in the Philippines in 2008 were unintended with 92 percent resulting from not using birth control. The issue is reliant on the fact that 70 percent of the population is too poor to afford it, and when distribution shifted from central government to local authorities, many communities stopped carrying it. This bill was brought to light in the interest of national welfare on the basis of the growing population rate, which is growing more than 2 percent annually of the 92 million. But, due to the influencial Roman Catholic beliefs, this bill would support abortion by providing abortion-inducing drugs. Many churches and religious organizations are boycotting the bill and making it difficult to pass.

By: Paul Yuccas

Afghanistan drug trail spanning the world

Matt Boguslawski

Afghanistan enters the headlines in a different note than usual, now for drugs. Afghanistan is the number one supplier of opium in the world. In most cases opium is made into the infamous heroin. Just as in Vietnam, great wealth is being made from opium and much of it is what is supporting the Taliban. Not only is it devastating the young and vulnerable of Afghanistan, but the strand is being found all over the world. In recent years the lucrative business has only grown rather than shrunk. Not much is being done to stop the production of illegal opium in Afghanistan, even with the knowledge being in the hands of western forces.

Firefighters extinguish Puerto Rico blaze

A fire started at a fuel storage facility in Puerto Rico and finally after three days was put out. This fire caused many residents to have to leave their homes. The initial explosion shook the groung with the force of a 2.8 magnitude earthquake. Once firefighters eventually calmed the flames they estimated that seventeen tanks were lost or damaged in the fire. FBI agents found graffiti near the facility and are treating the incident as a crime scene. The loss is said to add up to 6.4 million dollars. The Puerto Rican governor said that the main concern was to deal with the air and water pollution caused by the fire. The oil loss will should not be an issue according to the governor.

By: Joe Longawa

Deadly bombings worst Iraq attack in two years

More than 130 were killed in a twin car bomb explosion in Iraq, with over 500 wounded. This is the most devestating terrorrist attack in Iraq in over 2 years. No one has yet taken responsibility for the attack, but there are strong suspicions that the bombings were hoping to deter the free elections coming up later this year. While doubt for the security levels in Iraq have come up since the attack, the Iraqi government have stated the strongest response to the attack will simply be to have the elections on schedule.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/10/25/iraq.violence/index.html

Nick Cramer

Saving The Coral

A recent meeting in Denmark produced a very bleak conclusion: coral reefs will not survive global warming and climate change, even if regulations on greenhouse gases are put into place. Scientists proposed that they take samples of the coral and freeze it in liquid nitrogen, so that they may one day reintroduce them into the ocean. More than 500 million people depend on the benefits of the coral reefs, so it is imperative that actions are taken now to preserve the coral. Scientists say that this is a rather 'last ditch effort', considering the incredible biodiversity of the reefs. Unfortunately, it seems to be their only immediate option. However, they have acknowledged the need to look at this issue in more detail, and they have planned to perhaps start reconstructing reefs as they harvest these samples.

Source: BBC

By: Grace Heimerl

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Guinea junta leader not stepping out of 2010 elections just yet

The international concern for Guinea is growing: some fear that civil war will break out among the military and the opposition like in the massacre in late September. Most recently, the junta leader Comara did not issue his written pledge to the African Union (AU) to not run in the elections. Instead, Comara wants to leave it up to international mediation. By: Natalie Cummins

Nuclear inspectors head to Iran

A follow up on the newest nuclear site near Qom will take place tomorrow. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (hereinafter referred to as IAEA) are set to inspect the new site. The prior leader of the IAEA said that allowing this inspection is making grounds towards cooperation versus confrontation. Although, they say their work is peaceful; we can't lose anything by inspecting it and knowing as much as we can about what is going on in their new site. The results of the site shall be revealed within the next month.

By: Lindsay Weidling

Friday, October 23, 2009

American Teenager Provides Opportunity for Her Rwandan Counterparts

14 year old Jessica Markowitz, a Seattle, WA high school student, has raised more than $40,000 to to support the education of 22 Rwandan girls. Markowitz founded the IMPUWE charity, which means "compassion" in Kinyarwanda, also stands for "inspire and motivate powerful, undiscovered women with education," and is opening five more chapters throughout Seattle high schools. Markowitz will be awarded a $15,000 prize by UNICEF, which she intends to funnel into her charity.

By Caleb B. Ray
Source: The Huffington Post

Viktor Bout

Vikor Bout is a Russian arms dealer and transporter who has been connected with multiple countries and organizations including the U.S. The movie Lord of War is said to be loosely based on Bout. Bout was arrested in 2008 in Thailand by and American led sting operation for trying to smuggle rockets into colombia. Thailand officials are refusing to release Bout to the U.S. Bout's homeland is also trying to get him back. U.S. officials attribute Bout as a catalyst in violent conflicts from Afganistan to Rwanda and Sierra Leone.




by Jesse Kugler
Source:http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/viktor_bout/index.html

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Opium in Afghanistan

The problems in Afghanistan are more than just ensuring we have a sound strategic military strategy in place for the safety of our troops and their civilians. The U.S. and foreign nations must also take into account what allows the Taliban to be powerful financially. Afghanistan is the largest supplier of illegal opium in the world. Despite past efforts to disrupt the drug trade, heroin is now 10 times cheaper than in the past, thus making it a financially easy habit for Afghan civilians. This is counter productive to our efforts in Afghanistan because an addicted population will be forced to remain loyal to those who can give them their fix, the Taliban, to prevent withdraw. However, good news is on the horizon, for strategy has changed from playing "cops and robbers" to a more sophisticated game of finding the Taliban's money trail, thus finding a way to have a bigger impact on slowing down the drug trade.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/21/afghanistan.england.drug/index.html

Greg Voegtle

From Okinawa to Guam

An estimated 8,000+ U.S. Marines are in the process of being relocated from the U.S. Base in Okinawa to a base located in Guam. The agreement was first put on the table in 2006 when Japan and the U.S. agreed to relocate U.S. Marines from Air Station Futenma to another location within Okinawa near Nago. Due to the Liberal Democratic Party, the agreement was then made to be outside of the (Okinawa) prefecture. That area outside of the prefecture was then switched to being Guam. U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has been in Tokyo since this past Wednesday trying to confirm the realignment agreements. He's even had the opportunity to meet with Japanese Defense Minister, Toshimi Kitazawa. The meeting hasn't made alot of progress towards relocation in either Guam or another base in Okinawa. Gates believes that without the (Futenma) agreement, relocation to Guam will be impossible. With even more confusion and delay adding to the madness, Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima believes that the original plan to move the base further north in Okinawa is plausible if the base can be established 50 meters further from the coastline that it was in the original plan. And so the Madness insues. For more information please check out Jun Hongo's article for the Japan Times Online @ http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091022a3.html#

By: Ricky Brown

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Uganda Touts Capture of Top Rwanda Genocide Suspect

One of the four most wanted men for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Idelphonse Nizeyimana, was handed over to officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Tuesday by Uganda. Mr. Nizeyimana has been on the run from international justice for the past nine years. He is believed to have been hiding with Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the last nine years. Uganda officials were able to track him down in Uganda's capital after he crossed the Congo - Uganda border with a fake ID. Many African nations are celebrating such a rare arrest, but the rest of the international community has yet to respond. Nizeyimana is believed to have order the execution of the Tutsi Queen of Rwanda, and also has been accused of be responsible for thousands of deaths in the south, where he earned the name "Butcher of Butare." The ICTR has accused Mr. Nizeyimana of five different counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. This is good news for Africa because it shows that the continent is serious when it says that it wants to track down those who commit genocide and punish them under international laws. Hopefully this is one step closer to a future where Africa is a developed peaceful part of the world.

By: William Miller
Source: Christian Science Monitor

Feds: Mass. man planned terror attacks on US malls

Federal forces arrested a 27-year-old Massachusetts man, Tarek Mehanna, today who was trying to start a holy war by attacking shoppers in U.S. malls, American troops in Iraq man, and kill two prominent U.S. politicians. Him and two other men expressed their desire to participate in "violent jihad against American interests" and talked about "their desire to die on the battlefield," and "kill, kidnap, maim or injure" people in foreign countries and their politicans, authorities said. Their alarming plans for the future also involved targeting U.S. troops in Iraq.




Source!
By Carla Lutz

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Arming Mali

The U.S. has prepared to give Mali millions of dollars worth of equipment to help fight Al-Qaeda. Nearly 5 million dollars will be spent on truck, communication devices, and clothing to get the Mali army better prepared. A few years ago there were many Al-Qaeda attacks in Algeria along its northern coast, but recently attacks have started popping up closer to Mali and even in its borders. The country is facing the Northern regime of Al-Qaeda, and although not much has happened lately, Mali is ready to go to war if the need arises.

By: Justas Jakubonis

Vatican Extends Unprecedented Welcome

Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the rumors that the Catholic Church would open its doors to Anglicans angry over new church doctrines. In recent years, there has been much argument over the shifting policies of the Church. These issues include gay marriage, ordained women, and an openly gay bishop. The situation is so serious that many have suggested another schism will strike the faith and throw it into disarray. The Vatican, recognizing Anglican roots in Catholicism, invited those unhappy with church law to be baptized "once again" in the Catholic faith. This gesture of the church has received many mixed reviews, notably in Europe where Anglican is the predominant religion. Some accuse the Catholic Church of "Anglican Fishing", but in a statement by Cardinal William Levada, "the church is simply trying to provide a gateway for those who feel shunned by their faith". Others, such as Conservative Party lawmaker Ann Widdecombe, consider this a great opportunity. she explains that at least the Vatican realizes the need for an outlet, unlike the last Anglican schism of 1992 when Catholicism was flooded and the church turned many away. The issue is so large that many denominations of the Anglican religion have threatened a complete schism and adopt the laws of the Vatican.

By: Travis James

Monday, October 19, 2009

New natural gas find in Australia: Chevron

Chevron, an energy company in Australia has found oil in a drilling project off the shore of Australia. Monday announced a newnatural gas discovery off Western Australia that will help support the massive Gorgon liquefied natural gas. Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil are all contributing to the development of this ,"Gorgon" oil mine, spending 39.25 billion dollars on Australia's largest-ever resource development. The Gorgon project, expected to begin production in 2014, is going to be an important source of energy for Asia's burgeoning economies. Asian countries have already invested 45 billion dollars in it.


By Carla Lutz
source

Somali Pirates Seize Chinese Ship

Somali pirates are at it again, but not against Americans. This time the Chinese are the victims of their hostage tactics. Monday pirates seized a Chinese cargoship, De Xin Hai, with 25 people aboard. The attacks happen early Monday morning, 700 miles east off the lawless Somali coastline. This is the first successful attack on a Chinese vessel since the country deployed three naval warships to the region. The pirates used more sophisticated equipment and a "mother-ship" for this attack, which enabled them to attack hundreds of miles off the coast. The current attack has increased the Chinese hostage number to 146 individuals. Currently, the Somali pirates have a multi-million dollar ransom set.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/19/world/AP-Piracy.html?_r=1&ref=africa

By: Taylar Proctor

"Genocide" an "Unfortunate" Word: US offers Sudan incentives

By Gina Fazio

According to BBC News, President Obama has offered Sudan incentives for working to "improve the situation on the ground and to advance peace" in Sudan.

In a later statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US was still focused on addressing the effects of "genocide" in Sudan, a term the Sudanese government has said is "unfortunate".

Senior presidential advisor Ghazi Salaheddin said that the use of the word "genocide to describe Darfur was "unfortunate" and "does not reflect the realities in Darfur."

Since 2003, the UN estimates that 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur.

However he did comment that the US's new proposal for diplomacy in Sudan has many good points and is not as radical as plans they have seen in the past.

Yet the US has stressed that it does not plan to deal directly with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Aghan Election Crisis

The recent questions regarding the validity of the Afghanistan election are starting to boil. The president-Karzi, has been under the microscope recently for his past elction claims of winning 55 percent of the vote. John Kerry and some other members of congress feel it would be irresponsible to commit troops if we don't know what type of government we are dealing with. John Kerry, and avid oopenent of the troop increases, claims the increasingly unpopular war must be done in a way that is consistant with the U.S.'s long term goals.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/afghanistanunrestvoteustroops

Greg

New Medical Marijuana Policy Issued

Barack Obama has issued a new policy saying that prosecutors should stop arresting people who use medical marijuana. However, the federal government can still prosecute people for this illegal activity there are state laws that need to be followed, and state prosecutors will stop wasting their time with medical marijuana cases. Overall, marijuana should be legalized because we spend tons of money each year imprisoning people for minor marijuana charges. The Obama administration has said to make changes and this seems to be the first talk of changes since in office. It appears that the administration is starting to delve into issues that have been placed on the back burner. Whether or not the legalization of marijuana across the United States will ever transpire is questionable but I think it is important that the president realizes the waste of money and time it is to prosecute those using marijuana for medicinal purposes.

By: Lindsay Weidling

Rio fortifies streets after deadly shootout

Matt Boguslawski

I bet you the President of the Olympic Committee is kicking himself right now for not having Chicago host the Olympics. In Rio de Janeiro, a seriuous confrontation between drug gangs and the authorities left 14 dead. Over 2000 police officers were deployed to try and control and contain the fighting. Among this fighting a helicopter was even brought down to gun fire. Rio representatives said that they have had a history of fighting, but that this sort of chaos will not be a factor in the 2016 games.

Guinea Placed Under Arms Embargo

Members of ECOWAS, Economic Community of West African States, have decided to place a weapons embargo on Guinea's military government. This decision was made during a special summit in Nigeria on Saturday. The chairman of ECOWAS, Umaru Yar'adua, has been asked to gain support from the African Union, European Union and the United Nations in order to condemn the attacks that Camara's troops carried out on an opposition rally. The attack killed 157 civillians and 1200 more were injured. Amnesty International also claims that women were raped and sexually abused by Camara's troops and the African Union has asked for him to resign. The case is currently being looked at by the International Court of Justice.

By. Aminat Odunewu

Turmoil in pakistan

Pakistan is on the offensive and defensive after previous Taliban attacks in its state. Police headquarters and various goverment buildins were attacked last week. To add to the pressure of the pakistan military, the U.S. is putting much pressure on the pakistani goverment to finish off extremists in their region to prevent growth and power on the Taliban , in attempt to protect our troops in Afghanistan.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_pakistan

Greg

U.S. in Somalia, A New Strategy

The United State's lack of involvement in Somalia, as a result of the events of Black Hawk Down, has been reaching out again. Last month American helicopters targeted Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who had been a known Al Qaeda suspect. Al Qaeda presence in Somalia has brought about new concerns, not only related to jihad becoming more widespread, but also to how this could look for the counterterroism efforts of the United States. The military strategy has shifted from previously used airstrikes which resulted in civilian casualties, and the U.S. is now working towards much more focused attacks.

Source

By: Allison Zamora

Afghan Rivals Asked to Respect Election Results

Both the United States and France have taken a similar stance on the election in Afghanistan. The election held on August 20 still has undecided results. The accusations of vote fraud keep coming in throughout the country. One of President Obama's top advisers said that the two competitors, President Hamid Karzai and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, need to find a way to make the Afghan people respect the results. The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that there are two roads that can be taken. The first is to have a runoff election between the two candidates. The other is a negotiation between the two candidates. Either way the people have to end up with a credible government. France's Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner made a similar statement in Kabul on Sunday as well. Originally it was thought that Karzai held about 54 percent of the votes. However, the U.N.-backed Complaints Commission could be able to discard enough votes to put Karzai under the 50 percent mark, which would force a runoff election. Kouchner thinks that if a runoff election is held, Karzai would likely be the winner. The issue at hand is that decisions need to be made quickly. It hasn't been said when the election results will be official, but there is a tentative runoff election date of November 1. Winter weather and security are becoming Kouchner's biggest concerns to making sure that the election is as legitimate as possible.

By Kelly Martin

Holdout to EU Treaty Shows Signs of Capitulating

Despite enormous pressure from the rest of Europe, Czech President Klaus is refusing to simply give in regarding the Lisbon Treaty. He believes that this treaty, if signed, will simply allow France and Germany to have free reign of Europe. President Klaus did say that the treaty would be passed as much as he wished otherwise. Others in the EU simply believe that Klaus is simply a narcissist who wants to bring attention to himself and his country. Whatever the case, the process is looking to be a long and arduous process.

By Nick Cramer

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125590035788492877.html

Talks For Deal On Iranian Uranium

Leaders from Iran, Russia, France, and the US met today to work out an arrangement concerning Iran's controversial nuclear program. The original plan was to send uranium from Iran to France and Russia to be treated. This would ensure that Iran gets the uranium they need for their program, and it would ease Western concerns about nuclear weapons. However, there are still details to resolve, including any idea if Iran is truly willing to give up control of their supply of uranium. Abolfazl Zohrehvand, an aide to Iran's leading nuclear negotiator, said that "only enrichment over 5% would be done outside Iran". He also stressed the importance of keeping the technology and techniques of enrichment, and keeping their research facilities.

Source: BBC

By: Grace Heimerl

Irish, Uganda aid workers freed in Darfur

After being held for more than 3 months, two foreign aid workers, Hilda Kawuki of Uganda and Sharon Commis from Ireland, were freed in Darfur. GOAL confirmed that both women were unharmed and healthy. They will be flown to Khartoum, Sudan's capital later on Sunday before returning to their homes. Additionally, they will be interviewed by the national securty of the Sudanese government in Kutum, the town from which they were kidnapped. They were released after Ireland's foreign minister met with Sudanese officials in September to confront the government with the kidnapping of Sharon Commis. Darfur has a very violent past toward foreign aid workers in recent months. After being indicted by the ICC (International Criminal Court), Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, has ordered the expulsion of aid groups earlier this year.

By: Ivana Miljic

Software Pirates in China beat Microsoft to the Punch

A week before the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system was to go on sale in China, pirates already had bootlegged copies of it at their shops, for a fraction of the price. This is just another infraction in China's long history of piracy, forgery, and bootlegging. Not only this, but it is just more proof of how hard it is for computer software corporations to sell their merchandise in the country, which just happens to be second largest PC using country in the world. The reason piracy rates are so high is suggested to be price. The software simply isn't affordable, and so consumers find other ways to acquire it. Because of this, software companies have been drastically reducing the prices of their merchandise, but it is still remarkably higher than the price of boot-legged goods.

The Chinese government is also cracking down on the pirating of intellectual property rights, as well as material goods like iPhones and Gucci bags. Recently, 4 people were jailed for selling a boot-legged copy of the Microsoft program, in what is considered the "nation's biggest piracy bust." Pirating is a sore-spot in international trade, and China is trying to take a firmer approach to stopping it, however it is a long term problem that can only be dealt with over time.

Read more here.

Posted by: Jessica Bilstein

Pakistan Moves Further Into Taliban Territory

Pakistan's military moves further into South Waziristan striking Taliban targets by air. This military progress was brought upon after 6 major attacks on Pakistani security installations in the past 12 days. These mountainous terrain is prime conditions for Taliban militants but with the aid of new imaging systems for the F-16s the attacks are more precise. The United States provided the Pakistani army with this new technology but will not give a statement due to the anti-american sentiment in Pakistan. Both sides of this battle provided different accounts for death rates, which can't be truly confirmed, but is used as a mental tactic to keep up moral. Many Taliban forces are being called into the area to counter the military attacks which heightens the violence, but many civilians have fled the area to safer locations in the north.

by Paul Yuccas

North Korea gulags ' hold 150,000'

According to the article " North Korea gulags 'hold 150,000' from BBC news, there are about 154,000 political prisoners in their six prison. The prisoner are basically people who tried to free the country from dictatorship or the citizen who regarded as disrespectful for the government. They are forced to work more than 10 hours without being given enough foods, and medical care. North Korea claimed that this was not a violation of human rights. Lee Myung-bak, the president of South Korea, promised to take some actions against current South Korea's ignoring attitude towards North Korea's violation of human rights.

by Yuri Iwasaki

German brothels going green

In response to a decrease in business, a brothel in Berlin has begun offering a €5 discount to patrons who arrive via bicycle. The owner has pointed out that it is hard to find parking in the area anyway, and that it also benefits the environment. The brothel business has suffered due to the global financial crisis with patrons becoming more frugal. However, since offering the discount the brothel has reported that their business has started to return.

In order to receive the discount the patron must present the receptionist with a key from a bike padlock or some other proof of using a bicycle. The "green" discount does not apply to those who arrive on foot, however. The owner stated that, unfortunately, there is no way to verify that a patron has indeed walked to the establishment.


By Anna Mandrell

Iranian official blames deadly bombing on U.S. actions

A suicide bomber killed at least 29 people on Sunday in Iran. These people were on their way to a conference between Shiite and Sunni groups. The meeting was taking place in southeastern Iran. The terrorist group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran is blaiming the United States for funding groups in the area in which the bombing took place. The U.S. has said that any accusations about their involvement being the cause for this bombing is completely false. The U.S. along with various other nations have expressed that they comdemn all terrorist actions.

By: Joe Longawa

From underwater, Maldives sends warning on climate change

Yesterday, the president and cabinet of the Maldives held a meeting and signed a declaration calling for stricter worldwide environmental policies. The catch is, both the meeting and the signing took place under water. And article from CNN.com states that the meeting was held about 16 feet underwater with the president and cabinet in wetsuits in order to further the point - that if the world doesn't do something, the Maldives may soon be underwater. Maldives is an archipelago comprised of about 1,200 coral islands, most of which are but a few meters above sea level. The country is home to 396,000 people who are hoping that something will be done to save them at a UN climate summit in December. If not, the people of Maldives are working on last-resort plans to relocate to a nearby country, perhaps India or Australia.

By: Kimberly Severns

Saturday, October 17, 2009

UNHRC Endorses Gaza Report

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed a report which is examining war crimes committed by both Israeli forces and Hamas militants during last winter's Gaza war. The report is an attempt to make Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations into war crimes, but if both sides do not make attempts at doing so, the Security council and the ICC intervention has been threatened. The US has protested the current report, citing a potential to undermine Israeli/Palastinian peace talks. Israel is claiming that the report is one-sided against the Israeli government. The report is lead by Richard Goldstone, the former lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

By Caleb B. Ray

Source: The New York Times

Italy Denies Bribing the Taliban

The Italian government has recently come out to deny allegations that it bribed Taliban leaders in 2008 to maintain calm in an area of Afghanistan under Italian control. The report cited NATO and western intelligence that Italian forces had made secret payments to the Taliban, without informing the French troops who subsequently took over the region. Only a month later, in the largest NATO loss in several years, 10 French soldiers were killed in an ambush in the area, horrifying the French public and adding to the difficulty the United States faces in persuading NATO to not only sustain but increase troop involvement in Afghanistan. The report, which was released in a British newspaper, also stated that the US ambassador in Rome at the time made formal diplomatic protests to the Berlusconi government over payments to the Taliban. The embassy declined to comment on the allegations, while the government denied any such protest.

By: Megan Shoemate

Friday, October 16, 2009

Clinton On Afghanistan

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, shared her views on the current situations in Afghanistan Friday. A presidential election in Afghanistan is likely and according to Clinton the current president, Hamid Karzai, has the best chance of winning. Karzai is well known for corruption and vote fraud, not exactly making him a reliable person for the job. Clinton went on to say that Obama is accepting the fact the Karzai will most likely win an election and plans to put pressure on Karzai to clean up his act. The next presidential election in Afghanistan and the decision on sending more troops in Afghanistan will either help the U.S. win or loose this war. These next few weeks and months will be very crucial to the outcome.

By: Andi Whipkey

Conflict in Guinea Continues

After the massacre of opposition protesters at a stadium in Conakry, the conflict continues. The junta leader chief Camara still denies his involvement in the incident. However, the military is still becoming more brutal by killing locals for no legal reason, like the photos of a soldier stabbing a youth. The French government is going as far as advising all French nationals to get out of Guinea because they can no longer guarantee the safety of the civilians. The international community is starting to pick up on the severeness of these incidents in Guinea, and hopefully take serious action sooner or later before it becomes too late for democracy to develop.
By: Natalie Cummins

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pakistan Rocked by Fresh Attacks

More than 150 Pakistani people have died in militant attacks in the last 2 weeks, according to BBC World News. The most recent attacks occurred today, mostly in Lahore, Pakistan's 2nd largest city. The attacks are said to come ahead of an expected military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban. About 40 people are dead in the recent attacks, some killed by 2 car bombs, some in battles at police academies and a federal security building, a police commando training center, and police centers throughout Pakistan. The gunmen included several teenagers, and the dead include at least 2 children. The government has now transferred security in the capital to the shoulders of the paramilitary instead of the police. Attacks like this are not new to the Pakistani people, but that does not make the attacks any less powerful in their effect on the people, and it makes security and defense against the guerrilla groups an increased priority.

By Hannah Zimmerman

Afghan bomb strikes India embassy


A Taliban suicide bomber has attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing at least 17 people in a second attack on the building in little over a year. The embassy was the target without any doubts. Kabul has been has been attacked regularly in recent months, and the Indian embassy was bombed in July 2008, where dozens of people died.
India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the suicide bomber "came up to the outside wall of the embassy with a car loaded with explosives".An eyewitness, Habib Jan, told the BBC the victims were civilians."A [Toyota] Corolla car was parked in front of the Indian embassy. It was rush hour, about 10 minutes after I arrived at the office when we heard an explosion."There were lots of workers cleaning the street - most of them have been killed."


India has a strong relationship with Afghanistan, building and managing infrastructure projects in what analysts say is a concerted effort to minimise Pakistani influence in the country.Analysts say the strength of India's relationship with Kabul has made it a key target for the country's Taliban militants, who have historic links with Pakistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in an online statement that Thursday's attacker was an Afghan man who blew up his vehicle outside the embassy.The Afghan Interior Ministry said 17 people had died and 63 had been wounded in the latest attack. Fifteen of the dead were Afghan civilians and one was an Afghan police officer.

This is thought to be the fourth bomb attack in Kabul since August.Until the summer, the Afghan capital was regarded as relatively secure, but that is changing, our correspondent says. Militants seem to be able to attack at will in what should be one of the most secure areas of the country, our correspondent adds. Edrees Kakar, an office worker and freelance journalist, who heard the latest explosion, told the BBC: "These bomb attacks are happening so frequently that people no longer feel safe.

by: Vesna Tanasic

Source: BBC News


Japan-Swiss Trade in works

Japan is in the works of inking a FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with Switzerland. This agreement will be Japan's first with a state in Europe. This is big news because Japan has had a similar agreement with states within the EU on the table that went through the floor. Though Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it is in Central Europe or "At the center of Europe". This agreement could lead to larger investments in the European market in the near future if all goes as planned with Switzerland. Though the enforcement was celebrated on Sept. 1, 2009, not much has happened within this FTA as of right now. Japan's Prime Minister Hatoyama, Yukio hopes that due to the location of Switzerland, the Japanese market within the state can branch out and not only have a connection, but also have great success with neighboring countries (Something that Japan hasn't done since it's alliance with Germany during WWII). For more information please check out Shinya Ajima's article for the Japan Times Online @ http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091015f2.html

By: Ricky Brown

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Latest Militant Attack Rocks Pakistan's Swat Valley

More than 40 people were killed in a suicide bombing aimed at a military convoy in Pakistan's Swat Valley. This was the fourth militant attack in four days in the Swat valley. The militant attacks and the militants themselves are becoming an increased threat to the authority of the Pakistani state. This is because the militants continue to fight against Pakistani rule in the valley. The Pakistani army declared four months ago that it was done with major operations in the Swat Valley, but continued Taliban attacks show that that statement was gravely wrong. Pakistan has tried to police the valley by using civilian militias, known as lashkars, but these militias have seen mixed result, which is evident by the recent string of attacks. Even though the army has been able to weaken the Taliban in urban areas, it is still quite strong in rural areas, in which the army has been really unsuccessful. Pakistani officials are worried that the violence could spread from the Swat Valley and destabilize other parts of the country. It is important to note that these attacks are either the last gasp of a dieing organization, or continued work from a still vibrant organization which is just buying its time. I think that the Taliban is not out yet, but it buying its time. Hopefully Pakistani officials will also realize this and take the correct steps to stop the Taliban.

By: William Miller
Source: Christan Science Monitor

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thinking of Afghanistan as Mexico

Democracy in America, an blog by writers from the Economist Newspaper, made a compelling case for drawing parallels between Afghanistan and Mexico. Two states filled with drug related violence, lawlessness, and an entirely unmanageable border. Criminal anarchy at its best. What separates the two cases is America's belief that it can carry out an effective counterinsurgency strategy in one (Afghanistan), but not the other (Mexico). The author notes that "for some reason we believe that American policy is capable of accomplishing things in Pakistan and Afghanistan that we would never dream it could do in Mexico." A very thoughtful comparison.

by William Muck

Monday, October 12, 2009

Britain’s Expense Scandal Hits Brown’s Wallet

Earlier this year, Britain's Parliament came under fire for its expense-account scandal. The scandal led to mockery and dissatisfaction of the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Britain's government has been hit again, but now at the hands of its Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is now reaching into his own pocketbook in order to pay back roughly $20,000 he currently owes the government. Over a 5 year period, Brown used $20,000 on gardening, cleaning, and maintenance of his London apartment and home in Scotland.
Just as the news and accusations were slowly diminishing over the expense-account scandal, Brown is now flooded with another public embarrassment. What Brown owes is merely pocket-change, but it still causes the public to again raise concerns. Already accused of bankrupting the British economy, this now publicized blunder has people question Gordon Brown's way of thinking.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/world/europe/13britain.html?ref=global-home

By: Taylar Proctor

Russia Playing Divide and Conquer in Eastern Europe with Capitalism

The former Soviet Union has finally embraced the Western ideals of Capitalism, however they will now use it to take a stranglehold on Europe. Gazprom, the Russian sponsored oil juggernaut, revealed its plans to build two new oil pipelines to Western Europe. They will be built underneath the Black Sea and Baltic Sea to bipass Eastern Europe. These former Soviet satellite nations claim that this is Russia's attempt to divide Eastern Europe from the West by controlling their ability to recieve oil. The industrial nations of the West, however, have not found any major problems with this new form of Russian expansion. They view this as mutually beneficial to Russia and the West, seeing it as a way to connect Russia to the rest of the World and by ensuring a steady stream of prime Russian gas to Western Europe. Nevertheless, the Eastern Bloc is still fearful of the Russians true intentions citing that the only thing that has changed in terms of Russian foreign policy is the use of natural gas rather than tanks.

By: Travis James

Malawian boy uses wind to power hope, electrify village

In Africa, William Kamkwamba's native Malawi experienced its worst drought in 7 years. Killing thousands and forcing many others to survive on one meal a day. Farmers like Williams father were out of money because of the parched soil. Unable to pay for school he spent time in a library where he became fasinated with windmills. His thought was if they could build it so could he. Many called him crazy for his behavior, which to many was unusual. But in 2002, in three months using spare parts from a junkyard he built a working windmill. He now has 5 windmills and many in the village come to him to charge their phones and listen to music. Many in the global community are recognizing him for his achievment, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

By Kyle Reilly

41 killed in Pakistan market bombing

41 people were killed and 45 people were wounded by a Taliban suicide bomber in a Pakistan market. The attack was targeting Pakistani troops. The Taliban also took responsibility for the 22 hour assault on a Pakistani military outpost. The Taliban announced that this is only the begining of a long series of attacks avenging the death of the taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a CIA missile strike in August. The raid on the Pakistani Army base was intended to capture officers in an attempt to bargain for captured Taliban insurgents. The Pakistani Army beleives they have pushed the Taliban insurgents into rural areas however these attacks show the Taliban's presence is still intact.



By, Jesse Kugler
AP News http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_PAKISTAN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2009-10-12-17-10-13

North Korea Rocket Testing

North Korea, after declaring that they were willing to join six-party talks about its nuclear program, has recently tested 5 new rockets. According to a source from South Korea the rockets had a range of about 75 miles. This event can put a further strain, on the already frail, diplomacy between North Korea and the rest of the world. North Korea has stated that they still are willing to have the six-party talks, it is believed they are willing due to the sanctions starting to take their effect. The talks will be about North Korea's nuclear program, since they will soon have a second way of creating nuclear weapons.

By: Justas Jakubonis

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Afghan Voter Fraud Confirmed

The United Nations officially confirmed suspicions of voter fraud in the election concerning Hamid Karzai, the current President of Afghanistan. Talks of a second round are underway, as emerging details indicate that the fraud was more rampant than what was previously believed. However there are still concerns should the recount lead to a runoff, such as a lower voter turnout due to decreasing security in the south as well as the approach of winter, that could result in little to no change to the current situation.

Source

By: Allison Zamora

Egypt, Demanding Artifacts’ Return, Cuts Ties With the Louvre

Egypt has cut ties with the Louvre museum in France because of stolen artifacts. Because of this decision, no archeological teams supported by the Louvre may dig in Egypt, and a lecture that was to be given by a former curator of the Louvre has been canceled. Louvre officials in France say that they are willing to return the artifacts as soon as a special committee approves of the decision.

The artifacts are archeological reliefs that were stolen from the walls of a tomb near Luxor, by thieves, says the head of the Egyptian antiquities department. However, the Louvre believed that the artifacts were acquired in good faith when they received them in 2000 and 2003. According to Egypt, there are four stolen artifacts, however, the Louvre believes there are five.

In Egypt, the recovering of stolen artifacts has become a priority of the antiquities department.

Read more here.

Posted by: Jessica Bilstein

Niqab makes women "closer to God"


By Gina Fazio

According to BBC, clerics in Egypt recently backed a ban of the conservative women's dress, the niqab, in classrooms and dormitories.

Female students in Cairo have been protesting this ban, one women asserting that she wears this complete head coverage because she feels: "more relaxed in [the niqab] this. Men aren't looking at me. I feel closer to God."

The niqab comes from a more extreme orthodox form of dress in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. It has been gaining popularity with women in Egypt who feel that western influences are gaining an unfavored foothold in their fashion. The Egyptian government feels that such extreme religion is not appropriate in it's secular institutions.

This covering up is no forced agenda of the Koran or some patriarchal law system. Actually the Koran says very little about the dress of women other than to "cover up" which is open to interpretation. It is in fact women who have been the driving force behind this inititative altohugh some sources say that the opression of women in countries such as this has driven them to believe that further opression is nessecary.

However stories like this and of women protesting the hijab ban in Turkey seem to be seaking louder than any government decision.

EU Seeks to Strengthen and Expand Itself

After Poland's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on Saturday, only the Czech Republic remains to approve the EU's newest legislation. The Lisbon Treaty will provide the EU's President and Foreign Policy directors with long term positions and more power along with speeding up decision-making and voting procedures. The leaders of the EU are optimistic that the last signing will occur very soon and for the opportunities the Union has in the future. In a statement by Italy's charismatic Prime Minister Silvio Burlusconni, "The ratification of this treaty will ensure Europe's strength and efficiency, thus enticing more nations to join from the Balkans and Eastern Europe."


By: Travis James
Source: New York Times

UN chief acknowledges fraud in Afghan vote

The Obama administration and our international partners had hoped the first presidential vote run by the new democracy would be a kick off point for a young government. Instead, fraud and corruption (ballot-box stuffing) have ruined Karzai's reputation and the dishonesty threaten to undermine the credibility of the U.N. which helped organize the election. On Sunday,a top U.N. official in Afghanistan acknowledged "widespread fraud" in the presidential election, but still rejected that he covered up cheating to smooth the path to victory for President Hamid Karzai. When questioned, Karzai said that "confusion" over election results had been "created by Western elements in our country." He did not explain anything else. The election results are very important because once the results become clear, President Barack Obama is expected to decide whether to accept a recommendation by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for up to 40,000 more troops.

By Carla Lutz
Source

Isreal out of NATO even because of Gaza, Turkish officials say

The Turkish government excluded Israel from participating in a planned NATO military exercise. Why? Guess is because of the criticism that Turkey gave to Israel for the Gaza offensive about a year ago. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, "We hope that the situation in Gaza will be improved, that the situation will be back to the diplomatic track. And that will create a new atmosphere in Turkish-Israeli relations as well. But in the existing situation, of course, we are criticizing this approach, [the] Israeli approach." Although the countries always were allies in the Middle East and enjoyed close military and economic relations for more than a decade, tensions started after Turkey gave Israel great grieve over the Gaza situation in December and January. After finding out that Israel was given the boot, both the United States and Italy decided not to participate in the exercise but hope it is post-poned instead of cancelled.

By: Ivana Miljic


Flank Shake - How Mitterand's Sex Scandal Hurt President Sarkozy

An article from Newsweek details the current drama in the French government involving a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's hand-picked government, cultural minister Frédéric Mitterrand. For the past couple of years, Sarkozy has squashed political opposition by practicing ouverture, a strategy by which he appoints members of opposing political parties from the left to the right to important government jobs. Because Sarkozy ensures that everyone has someone from their party in the government, opposition has little ground on which to complain. This strategy had worked wonders for Sarkozy until just recently, when the controversial contents of an autobiographical novel written by Mitterrand was brought to light. This novel, written from the perspective of Mitterrand, depicts the French cultural minister having relations in Thailand years ago with what Mitterrand calls "boys," however Mitterrand claims publicly that he only had relations with men his own age. In any case, debate is ongoing as to what to make of Mitterrand's conflicting statements and is finally giving Sarkozy's opposition something to talk about.

By: Kimberly Severns

Easy Money Creates Rise in Kenya Kidnappings

Nairobi, Kenya has been known as a city full of violent crimes, and kidnapping has become a more eminent threat to children and Western women. Over 100 Nairobi residents have been kidnapped this year and it's on the rise as more people have been exchanging money with the assailants. Security experts say paying the ransom turns kidnapping into a business, which creates incentives for these criminals. This progression has been seen in Mexico City, Baghdad, and Bogota with heavy artillery and strategic abductions. Kenyan security companies say this spike in kidnappings may be because of the better enforcement of stopping home invasions, which had been a large problem in past years. The Kenyan police are cracking down on this type of crime, which has been said to mean shooting suspects on sight, but these kidnappings are being performed where people have less control.

By Paul Yuccas

Israeli settlers burn fields after illegal outpost dismantled

Matt Boguslawski

The Israeli and Palestinian conflict has been in the spotlight for some time now. Especially now with Israelis expanding farther and farther into Palestinian territory. President Obama has openly called out Israel for their actions and condemns them for their actions and to no avail. In recent news Israelis have set fire to Palestinian olive groves and fields due to the fact that an outpost in the West Bank was dismantled. Efforts to restart Israeli Palestinian peace talks led by the United States are failing

Australian variety show sparks controversy

Australian variety show, "Hey Hey It's Saturday", sparked controversy Wednesday when a group of singers parodying the Jackson Five performed in blackface. They received a warm welcome by the audience but were given a score of zero by American guest judge Harry Connick, Jr., who stated that if the skit had been performed in the United States it would have been pulled off the air. He went on to say that he would not have appeared on the show had he known about the skit.

The show's host, Daryl Somers, apologized to Connick at the end of the show, saying, "I know that to your countrymen, that's an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize to you."

The reaction to the performance by the public was mixed. In online communities some Australians expressed embarrassment that such a racist skit was aired, while others found it to be funny and thought those upset over it were being too politically correct.


By Anna Mandrell

Czech Republic Last Country Needed to Ratify EU Treaty

On Saturday, the president of Poland signed the Lisbon Treaty which will change some of the workings of the European Union (EU). After the signing, the Czech Republic becomes the only country not to have ratified the treaty. The purpose of the treaty is to create a president and foreign minister for the EU, and give the opportunity for rotating representatives from countries within the EU to be a part of the EU's executive branch called the EU Commission. For the treaty to go into effect, every member country must ratify it.

As of right now, the Czech Republic has sent the treaty to be reviewed by a Czech court to determine if it follows along with their constitution. Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus has some concerns with the treaty. His signature is also required for the treaty to be ratified. He is especially concerned with the part of the treaty called the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which has to do with human rights, such as property. He is afraid that the Luxembourg Court of Justice of the EU would have the power to overturn laws that the Czech Republic has already decided since they will be able to determine if the member countries are acting in accordance with the charter. He would like to propose an exemption from the charter like Poland and the United Kingdom have already gotten. The Czech Republic's Prime Minister Jan Fischer is upset that the president didn't speak with the government first before voicing his opinions. He believes that the Czech Republic is well on its way to ratifying the treaty in spite of the president's concerns.

By Kelly Martin

Obama to gay group: 'Still laws to change, hearts to open'

Obama addressed the largest gay rights policy in Washington Saturday telling them he is their biggest ally in the fight to change gay rights. He is in favor of allowing gays to have the same rights as married couples. "Obama called for the repeal of the ban on gays in the military -- the "don't ask, don't tell" policy." While those listening remain hopeful they are also growing impatient. While there are other pressing issues; this one, too, affects many peoples lives and needs to be taken care of.

By: Lindsay Weidling

Iran Announces Execution of 3 Protestors

In the first protest cases to be made public, Tehran has announced its plans to execute three protesters who participated in the massive demonstrations following the June 12th presidential election. In a statement, the Iranian government said that the men belonged to what the government considers “terrorist organizations” and it was confirmed that two of the men belonged to an organization that seeks to restore the monarchy. The sentences sparked immediate outcry from human rights groups worldwide. ISNA, Iran’s semi-official news agency, also reported the sentencing of 18 other prisoners, though no other details were given, raising even more concern over the fate of the estimated 400 journalists, government officials and academics who remain imprisoned in Iran today. Allegations of torture run rampant and Iran’s refusal to release any information about the detainees has caused angry backlashes and raised deep concerns over their safety and health.

By: Megan Shoemate

Hillary Clinton Encourages Devolution, Discourages Disruption of the Peace

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that a deal on policing is "within reach" in Northern Ireland. These comments came in response to the paramilitary Irish National Liberation Army pledging to cease the violence they have been inflicting. Sinn Fein and the DUP have been arguing that devolution in Ireland should have happened far sooner, while the British government has been cautious about devolving power, "saying it will only assent to devolution with an adequate financial package in place and broad community confidence". Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Gordon Brown have been discussing how to effectively devolve the power from London to the government in Northern Ireland, and make basic day-to-day governing possible for the region. Mrs. Clinton is especially adamant about following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, an agreement that basically guarantees a guided and stable devolution of Northern Ireland, until the conclusion of these talks. Ultimately, the goal is to limit violence and keep the region peaceful as the power is exchanged.

Sources: BBC and Northern Ireland Office


By: Grace Heimerl