Thursday, April 29, 2010

Burka Ban Passed in Belgian Lower House

Though only approximately 30 women our of nearly half a million Muslims wear this specific Islamic veil in Belgium, the lower house of parliament recently passed a law against wearing these veils. No one in the lower house voted against this policy to outlaw the wearing of this full facial covering in all buildings or grounds, basically anywhere in view of the public eye. The law now has to go to the Senate and will possibly become law in June or July. This would be the first law of its kind in Europe. Some arguments have claimed that these veils "oppress women" and the removal of these veils will allow police to more easily identify these women. Those who break the law face a possible seven day jail sentence or a fine of 15 to 25 euros. The Muslim community has responded by claiming that this law will "trap" the women in their own homes.

Shauntal J Van Dreel

The race between the U.S and the China

It has only been a year since the U.S in 2008 agreed to build nuclear plants in India to help ease it's power shortage. Today, China who announced that it is going to build two civilian nulcear reactors in Pakistan in order to help Pakistan with power crisis. The decision comes amid tension regarding the safety of nuclear materials in Pakistan and fear that it might fall in the hands of militant groups. During the nulcear submit hosted by the U.S, the Chinese President acknowledge the concerns about the danger of atomic weapon proliferation but he also supported it's use for civilian purpose. India and Pakistan are viewed as rival countries and China and the U.S supporting these two countries explains how the world politics play. Read more at

Submitted By; Namgyel Dorji

Let Us Go Back To School

It has been three months since the earthquake hit Haiti and there are still thousands and thousands of displaced residents propping up tents where ever they can. Many of the people have gravitated towards schools which is causing problems. The students want to start school again, but because of the many people camping outside and around the schools, it is getting difficult. The tensions are rising between the schools and the displaced people and students are putting on protests to restart the schools again.

"Tensions are rising. Students blocked traffic the other day as part of a demonstration demanding a resumption of classes. Someone set fire this month to a tent and slashed two giant drinking-water receptacles."

And the tensions are not just because the school wishes for the people to be moved, the people are crying out for their government to work for them and how come they haven't found new livable places for them?

"There's a tension between the right of [displaced quake victims] to be in a safe and secure place and the right of private property and the need to get the country back to normalcy," said Elio Tamburi, acting chief of the human rights office of the U.N. authority here, known by its French acronym, Minustah."

Submitted by Tieren Dokes,0,7594099.story

East Jerusalem Construction Continues, Despite Reports of Freeze

Though it had been reported in some news outlets earlier in the week, Jersualem mayor Nir Barkat took a firm stance against halting Israeli construction in east Jerusalem. Reports had been coming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had put a freeze on Jewish construction in the disputed land. Mayor Barkat, who has been in Washington this week, was quick to deny these reports. He admitted that there had been a slowdown in construction after criticism from the US about the disputed construction, but that construction has resumed at its usual pace. Barkat, who has long-term plans for the growth of his city, had some strong words regarding the US as well. In response to the criticism given by the Obama administration, Barkat said, "Israelis felt slapped in the face. It takes some time for to recover from such an attack from a friend like the U.S. administration."

Submitted by: Mary Naset

Attacks Continue on Chinese School Children

Tragedy strikes China again as another attack on school age children occurred on the morning of April 29th. An unemployed man stabbed 28 kindergarten children, their two teachers, and a security officer, critically injuring at least 5 children. Sadly, this is not the first time it has happened. Unfortunately, this is the second stabbing of children in two days and the third in the month. Only a day before this stabbing, another occurred where fifteen 4th and 5th graders were also stabbed, though thankfully none of them seriously hurt. The very first attack was on March 23 were eight elementary school children were killed while waiting with their parents for school to begin. All three attacks were in different areas and by different men. Authorities are claiming that each gentleman have mental illnesses, though some in the media is doubting that claim. Mental problems are still not talked about and research had to be done in England, before research found that around 91% of people suffer from mental illness but never get treatment. Others have stated that it have to do with income inequality since all the children attacked when to developed, urban, and relativity wealthy area.

Submitted by: Albie Braun

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

US increases estimates for oil leaking into Gulf

The US Coast Guard has said five times as much oil as previously thought is leaking from a well beneath where a rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico last week. 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day have been gushing into the sea 50 miles off Louisiana's coast. They attempted to save some environmentally fragile wetlands nearby so they "control burned" the surface oil east of the Mississippi river delta. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering all aspects of the situation before formulating a plan of action. Mississippi's Governor is teaming up with the federal government to contain and resolve the issue before it reaches the mouth of the river delta. When that happens the entire river will become contaminated and the organisms living in that ecosystem will be affected; not to mention all the wetlands in the area. Louisiana is home to over 40% of the nation's wetlands. Also, their water sources will be contaminated, causing problems on a large scale level. The US Coast Guard and British oil company BP are working together to gather up as much of the oil as they can and transport it to a 5 mile "burn zone" inside the slick, where BP will commence controlled burns as long as the weather stays favorable. BP is engaged in several possible solutions, but none of which are either operational at this point or intended for such a large scale operation.

Submitted by: Nate Heberlein

US Approval of Renewable Energy Blows in Controversy

The US government has approved the first off shore wind farm just off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This project was approved by US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and state governor Deval Patrick argues that it would be beneficial with the increase of renewable energy. The 130 wind-powered turbines are projected to produce enough power for about three-quarters of Cape Cod power which is be supplied to about 225,000 residents. This project has blown in controversy such as, residents implying that the project would spoil the views of the seascape and Native American residents who currently live in Massachusetts expressed that the project would disrupt their prayer ceremony. Native Americans argued that the 130 wind-powered turbines would get in the way of the sunrise which is viewed as an essential part of their prayer ceremony.

Submitted by: Sherry Klinger

Wind Over Water

The world has an obvious obsession with finding new and better sources of energy to power our daily lives. Some of these energy ideas include geothermal energy, hydroelectric energy, and wind energy, but a new idea is becoming a reality in Massachusetts. A recent project has been approved off the coast of Cape Cod which would include putting 130 wind generated turbines about 5 miles from the coast, yes that means in the water. The wind farm would cover nearly 24 square miles and the tallest point would reach 440 feet above the sea. The new farm is estimated to produce about 75 percent of the energy needed to power Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard. It would obviously also boost the economy by constructing hundreds of jobs. The project could start in nearly less than a year, but some people are opposed to the new source of energy, saying that it could take away from certain picturesque views and could be a possible flying hazard. The groups are trying to take the project to court, but many people feel the court will over rule the argument and the project will move forward soon.
Submitted by: Katherine Conrad

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Somali pirates extend their reach

In a recent Time article, it was mentioned that the Somali pirates, who near this time last year, were making headlines with their capture of the U.S. tanker Maersk Alabama, have been widening their reach throughout the ocean. On April 18, the pirates captured three Thai fishing boats in the Indian Ocean, quite some distance away from their home base. This seems to be a response to tightened security near Somalia, and some are guessing that the pirates' aim is to scatter throughout the seas to make it more difficult for foreign navies to take action against them. As one shocking figure states, it would take 700-800 ships in the area to neutralize the pirates' capabilities. Although commerce and trade by sea does not seem to be greatly impacted at the moment, with this development, that may change.

By: Anna Moric

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oil Wealth and Health Concerns in Qatar

Qatar (a small country in the Persian Gulf) has the second highest per capita gross domestic product and the third largest proven reserves of natural gas. They also have significant numbers of obesity, diabetes, and genetic disorders, due to the privileges that come from the oil wealth, and the social traditions (like marrying within the family). These financial privileges from oil, has allowed the people of Qatar to aquire servants, fast food, and air conditioning. Many other oil rich countries are experiencing similar problems, but nothing close to what is happening in Qatar. Even with their wealth, they are focusing more on treating the issues, not preventing them, especially because these issues are linked back to their tradition and life style. For example, it is a social tradition to marry a cousin, even though it leads to birth defects, and it is customary to eat where ever you go, and is considered rude to turn down food. Also, many social gatherings are defined by eating, and again, you can't refuse the food. So, people continue to eat, and to gain weight. Some efforts have been made in the direction of prevention, by trying to persuade people to walk more, but due to the extremely high temperatures in Qatar, it has not really caught on. Although the privileges of oil has had some benefits in Qatar, it is causing some serious problems that must be dealt with.

Submitted by: Kathleen Tite

Europe Chooses Chile

Europe has chosen the location for building a new observatory containing the biggest telescope in the world. That site is Cerro Armazones, a 3,000m high mountain in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The site was chosen because it has an average of 320 clear nights a year, which is one of the few places. The telescope has been named the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope). It will be five times the size of any of today's telescopes, about 42m in diameter. The ESO, who is planning the project says it will start at the end of this year if they get the go-ahead, and then it should be ready for use by 2018. The estimated cost of the project is billions of euros. The telescope, when finished, will be able to examine rocky planets outside of solar system, black holes, and "dark matter" in the universe. This telescope is a part of Europe's plan for research facilities. Europe is currently trying to complete its science goals in the next 20 years.

Submitted By: Nora Beswick

90,000 Protest U.S. Base on Okinawa

Last Sunday more than 90 thousand Okinawans protested the U.S. Military base on their island. To add to the rising tension Yukio Hatoyama the prime minister of Japan is not following through with his campaign promise to get the base off the island. He as an issue with this because of a deal made with Washington in 2006 to move the base to a different and less populated part of the island. They want to move more than half of the 25,000 troops on the base to this region but the Okinawans want the base moved completely. Mr. Hatoyama is trying to make a deal that will make his people happy as long as one that appeals to Washington.

Submitted By Zach Mowen

Deceased Leader's Twin Runs for Office in Poland

After the devastating plane crash in April that killed a majority of Poland's prominent government officials, the country has moved up the fall election to June. The brother of Lech Kaczynski has declared his candidacy for prime minister. Jaroslaw Kaczynski claims he will follow the plans of his brother and complete them in his place. The rival party, the Civic Platform, is taking this opportunity to push for their candidate who, most believed, would have won the election in the fall. Seeing as his rival is the current acting president, Kaczynski may very well meet defeat in the election.

Submitted by: Mallory Neumann

Israel halts construction on disputed land

The Israeli government has put to halt construction on Jewish construction in the Eastern section of Jerusalem. This move maybe a reactionary to the United States putting pressure on Israel to halt the construction in the disputed territory. However, Israel claims that the halt in construction was nothing more than a blip in the bureaucratic process. The United States sought a halt to construction by the Israeli government because Palestinian leaders pulled out of United States led peace talks between Israel and Palestine because of the construction going on in the Eastern section.

Shawn Lawton

US Economy Deficits

This article discusses the US economy and the deficits. Bergsten believes that the mentions that the US needs to start developing a sustainable economy for the long haul. It's already well known that our deficits are a dangerous fact that at any point the foreign investors we utilize could decide to stop funding us which would cause the value of the dollar to go way down and the interest rates and inflation to be way up. He basically says that we need to get over the idea of the US being the center of everything and that we need to adapt to a global economy, one that will be less focused on the dollar. He even states that we should be seriously considering an international monetary system.

I think the US does need to start focusing on lowering our deficits and put more emphasis on savings! But, I don' t know how I feel about an international monetary system. Something about everyone's finances being so intertwined makes me uneasy, I feel we should still have a seperation that would protect us from a global crisis.

Jobs the Chinese don't want coming to America

As this funny Daily Show piece shows, globalization is leading to better working conditions and a demand in countries like China for high-tech jobs where ten years ago they would be fine with any jobs. While labor is still much cheaper there, with shipping costs and other expenses, for some industries it makes more economic sense to manufacture things here in America. The quote "they don't want to do the crappy jobs" from a Chinese entrepreneur pretty much sums up the video haha.

By: Justin Lynch

Battling "The Narrative"

When we think of religious extremists, the image is one of a poor, uneducated person. However, as this 60 Minutes piece shows, the middle-income to wealthy and well-educated (in Britain, the place with the most suspected al-Qaeda members in the West) are being led to believe "The Narrative," a story spread by extremists that America is battling Islam all over the world. The man in this story was a former extremist that spread The Narrative in England and then Pakistan, Denmark, and Egypt. After being imprisoned and talking to former extremists in prison that had changed their ways, when he was released he started a path to speak to young mostly skeptical Muslims both in Britain and other countries by founding a think tank supported by the British government.

By: Justin Lynch

Are your jeans polluting?

The Pearl River Delta in China, is known for the textile factories that line it's banks. After viewing satellite images of the river and seeing the extreme difference in water color from the section that houses the textile factories compared to the other sections of the river, CNN correspondent Emily Chang investigated. Many of the factories here produce denim and dye other clothing products and are dumping their industrial waste into the river. Even the river banks are littered with scraps of the pants most of us feel most comfortable in. One factory owner told Emily that some of the toxic dye mixture from his plant is treated, and reused later but that some of it doesn't and he doesn't know where it goes. But if he simply walked to the back of his factory, he would see the pipes leading from his plant, to the river. None of the pipes leading to the river from any of the factories are labeled and studies have shown that the river's water quality is quite low. Many cancer causing materials have been found there, in the river. According to many scientists and various studies if the water quality in China does not improve there will be a massive water crisis. Chinese officials have vowed to try to regulate and require companies to improve waste treatment. However, they believe it will be difficult to keep tabs on all of the factories.

Submitted by: Emily Schaub

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Political Strife in Havana

Six women known as the "Ladies in White," stood silent for quite some time as on-lookers shouted out insults and pro-revolution. Apparently the women are demanding freedom for their husbands and sons.

Upon leaving church, they were forcefully ushered to a nearby park by pro-government supporters. Despite the longevity of the demonstration by the "Ladies in White," the women responded by sstaying on their feet the and silently staring at them.

The "Ladies in white" don't seem to be receiving the response that they may strive for, albeit Cuba is receiving some negative attention from abroad because of the intimidation factor and the violence used against these women.

Submitted By: Brian C. Gaddis

Protest in Japan over U.S. air base

In Okinawa, Japan, 90,000 plus people protested on Sunday about the relocation of a U.S. air base on their land. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised to reduce the amount of the U.S. military on the island but his attempts have been unsuccessful thus far as all propositions have been rejected by the U.S. However, there is talk of a new plan but official information is unknown. So far speculations have been that they will move part of the base to a smaller, less populated part of northern Okinawa as well as a smaller island to the north of Okinawa. Another idea is that the air base will be moved to an artificial island off the coast.

Submitted by: Rachael Petro

South Africa Takes On AIDS With Full Force

With a long history of an AIDS crisis full of denial and ignorance, South Africa has finally decided to take on this epidemic with full force. In the past month of April the government has enabled over 500 hospitals and clinics to prescribe AIDS medications. The government has trained many nurses to be able to dispense this medicine in order to increase the possibility of the treatment of AIDS patients. The goal is to eventually have all 4,333 public clinics dispensing AIDS medications, and to do this, thousands of more nurses must be trained in this area. President Jacob Zuma has a goal of having 15 million people of the country's nearly 49 million people tested for HIV/AIDS by June of 2011. The South African Finance Ministry said they expect that the larger access to drugs will put nearly a million more people on AIDS treatment in the next few years, almost doubling the current case load. The US has always been a large contributor to this effort, and this year is no different with a large donation of $620 million. With this donation, along with many others, the budget is close to $1 billion for this year’s AIDS efforts, which make many scientists and doctors optimistic about the outcome of testing and treating AIDS in South Africa.

Submitted by: Katherine Conrad

Bangkok braces for unrest after peace plan rejected

Sunday the Thai government rejected an offered peace overture brought forth by the anti-government protesters. These anti-government supporters "feared an imminent crackdown," and they had threated to bring more violence after the offer to rescind the protests. Unfortunately, this turmoil in the land not only brings violence, but it also negatively affects the economy. Tourism to the Southeast Asia area has declined and retailers have closed their doors. The 'Red Shirts' in this area, contain great power in numbers, and it has caused law officials and police forces to retreat. In all this problem is said not be solved in the 30 days demanded by the protesters, and the offer of peace clearly had other motives in mind.
Posted By: Shane Dare

Iraqi Insurgent Group Acknowledges Killing of Two Leaders

About a week ago, Vice President Biden announced that two Al Qaeda leaders had been killed in a raid and now leaders of the insurgent group, the Islamic State of Iraq-- an umbrella organization over several extremist groups, acknowledged their deaths. As of now, there has been now announcement on their replacements. A total of 404 Al Qaeda members have been captured since January, so there are many vacant positions not only within leadership but also within middle to upper ranked officials. The group issued a statement which made it clear that these deaths weren't even bumps in the road and the war is not over.

Submitted by: Inge Moran


A clash break out between Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan is the cause of death of 55 Darfuri tribe members and 88 injuries. No one can say exactly who caused the clash to occur but Southern Sudan is accusing the Northern government of attacking them. A spokesperson for the Rezeigat tribe mentioned that while the tribe was looking for pastures near Southern Sudan boundary the fighting sprang into action. A spokesman for Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) said that northern government (SAF) attacked almost 120 Sothern Soldiers. A spokesman for the Northern government says that they are not involved in the attack.

Submitted by: Sherry Klinger

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Eleven Missing in Oil Rig Fire

On Tuesday night, April 20, 2010 there was an oil rig explosion off the Gulf Coast, 52 miles Southeast of Venice, Louisiana. The cause of this explosion is still unknown and officials are still investigating. When the explosion occurred there were 126 workers on board, and after the blast only 115 were accounted for. Rescuers have suspended the search for the eleven missing, the do not believe there are any remaining survivors. The workers names have not been released out of respect to the victims' families. The explosion caused a 1x5 mile oil slick off of the coast, and officials are still looking at it closely, trying to clean up as much as they can.
By: Becca Sage

North Korean Heir?

A man standing next to Kim Jong-il in a photograph that was released last month in a North Korean newspaper has spurred interest.  There is a high possibility that the man is Kim Jong-un, Kim's third son.  If it is Kim Jong-un, it could be viewed as a push to build a cult of personality around Kim Jong-un to prepare him to take control after Kim Jong-il because of Kim's declining health.

Analysts also say that if Kim died too soon there could be a scramble for power and could possibly lead to collapse.

Submitted by: Derald Willey

Iran's new missiles

Since January, the US has been suspicious about Iran developing a long-range ballistic missile that could strike targets in Israel, Turkey and much of the Gulf. According to US sources, Iran's long-range missile program is advancing steadily. US spy satellites monitored engine tests for the ballistic missiles, picking up the heat generated by the rockets. The U.S. military official documented that Iran has been doing several Missile exercises in the past, but this time as the Revolutionary Guard Corps thrashed out about it publicly beforehand, this case got so much attention. On Sunday, Iran said it launched five new kinds of missiles that are made within the country for the improvement of coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missile programs. The missiles are now in the last step of the military scheme so called “Great Prophet 5” in the Persian Gulf. Once all together fired, the missiles could thump at a micro spot at the same time. The program also included high-speed boats that could instigate a war anytime. Deputy Chief of the Revolutionary Guard, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami told Iran people and Iranian media that all the experiments done so far were only for showing off the nation’s strength and for national determination for defense, independence and territorial veracity. Now the US is observing the trace of Iran’s missile development more and more and the chances are that Islamic republic will still be on tougher and tougher sanctions. Iran is also being isolated according to the US policy.

Submitted by David Gum Awng

US Base in Okinawa Japan Rallied Against

Some 90,000 Okinawans assembled to rally against the relocation of the US base in Okinawa. An agreement was made in 2006 that the Futenma United States Marine air station would be moved away from the center to a more coastal area. The US is hoping to move to Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa. Okinawans are not happy with this and want the base gone from their island. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama promised in his campaign that he would come up with a solution where there would be less Americans present on the island. However, he is having difficulties appeasing both Okinawans and the United States.

Protesters wore yellow to represent "giving a yellow card" to Mr. Hatoyama, whose approval ratings have dropped below 30 percent possibly due to the mishandling of relationship with the US. Mr. Hatoyama has not spoke of exactly what his intent will be now, but a there are a couple ideas floating around. There is talk of the base being moved to a smaller island nearby or creating an artificial island.

By Jenae Harner

Secularism in Lebanon

Just recently, several activists and people of the Lebanese population marched and protested in Beirut in hope to bring about some change in the current Lebanese government.  Many of the protestors want a secular government because the current one not only functions through religion(s), but has caused a divide in the nation because of the different religions that are practiced there.  Protest groups are pushing for secular reform, but it's very difficult because the separation of church and state "comes second to being a Muslim or Christian..."  There's a composite of 18 groups in Lebanon's system, but the civil rights and liberties of the followers of these groups are decided only by their authoritarian religious figures.  They're the only ones that can address even the basic things like marraige, divorce, birth, adoption, etc.  These things however, differ drastically for the different groups, and also cause a lot of divide in the government and the rights of the people, and not to mention violence among different groups. Protestors, however,  believe that secularism may help ease some of the tenion that's been going on for years.

Submitted by: Hanna Khan

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lawful or Unlawful? New Immigration Law Passed in AZ

Arizona just passed a bill allowing police officers to question and detain suspected illegal immigrants even if they are not believed to have committed a crime. Patricia Espinoza, Mexico's foreign minister, did not have a very high opinion of the new policy. She said that "criminalization is not the path to solving the phenomenon of illegal immigration." Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer on the other hand said that "It protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone in our state lawfully and it does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of all in Arizona remain solid." President Obama would beg to differ and said the law was "misguided" undermining American values. Obama believes that immigration policies need to be reformed at the national level. There is concern about what this new law could do to the relationships between police officers and their communities. Could this lead to racial profiling?

Submitted By: Erin Burneson

Over a sorcerer’s head.

Two years ago, Ali Hussain Subat of Lebanon was imprisoned Saudi Arabia and sentenced to death with the conviction of sorcery. Mr. Sibat appeared in a Lebanese TV show called “The Hidden,” where he earned $700 a month to answer callers’ questions, offer advices, cast spells or recite incantation. In 2008, he travelled to Saudi to perform a minor pilgrimage then was arrested by a technically non-arresting-authority but tremendously-powered religious police of the conservative kingdom. He then was jailed after agreeing to give a woman a potion so that her husband would divorce his second wife. Mr. Sibat confessed and recently, was told to be escorted several times to a public square for his beheading. No matter the fact that the execution for the father of four children is being postponed because of the outcry from international human rights groups and Lebanese government, this case has spoken up not only the common belief in magic and sorcery “but also a legal system that critics say operates in secret and functions with little oversight, due process or even written laws.” While fraud is not punishable to death, Mr. Sihat’s confession which is unable to prove, especially, when that person is in prison, actually is in this country. Despite the unclear outrage after all, looking at his despaired wife and children, we, if not most of the people in Saudi Arabia, also hear this: “Two years of torture. They are killing an innocent man, and they are slowly killing a whole family.”

Read more at:

Submitted by Yen Do.

Pak hints at Gilani-Manmohan meeting in Bhutan

In what is called a surpise move, Pakistani Foreign Office hinted that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would have a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week in Thimphu, Bhutan where 16th SAARC is scheduled to be held. This indication comes after Indian Foreign Secretary's earlier statement that no such meeting between the two has been set. But, Pakistan said that it already proposed couple of times for a meangingful engagement between two nations but India hasn't responded to any. Meanwhile, the Pakistani President urged India for a proper response towards a peaceful dialogue saying that only extremists are benefiting because of this failure of engagement. SAARC is an economic and political organization consisting of eight member states. Read more at:

Submitted by; Namgyel Dorji

Let's Make a Deal!

Earlier this week, Russia and the Ukraine made an under-the-table deal to allow Russia to keep a naval fleet in the Ukraine's waters for another 25 years to the tune of about 4 Billion dollars that will be instantly accessible to the economy of the Ukraine (an extremely significant amount). Ukraine's new vice-prime minister for the economy was unhappy with the "under the table" nature of this deal, but for him, the ends justified the means. This deal also gets the Ukraine further in its mission to become an Associate member of the EU. But the implications of this deal run rampant. In 2008, the port that Russia is renting became a huge strategic piece in the invasion of Georgia- a Pro-Western territory. Effectively, for $4 billion dollars and $40 billion in energy cuts the Ukraine has sold the port to Russia for the next 42 years. Although it hasn't passed yet, the measure is expected to make it out.

David DePino

Friday, April 23, 2010

Belgium Will Be The First

We have heard a lot in the past couple of weeks about possible legislation banning the traditional Muslim veil in France. Earlier this month, a French Muslim woman was fined for wearing the veil while driving. Police stated that the veil "restricted her vision and could have caused an accident." Earlier this week, France's president demanded that parliament consider legislation to ban wearing the veil in public. But what about Belgium?
Belgium is now well on its way to becoming the first country in Europe to ban the full-face veils worn by some Muslim women. These bans are currently in place in several Belgian cities, but the new ban would be nation-wide. Belgian parliament is currently debating legislation against wearing clothing that obscures a person's identity, which includes the Muslim burka and niqab veils. The ban is also receiving cross-party support, which suggests a good chance that it will be passed into law. Some supporters view the need for this law as one of security, others see the veils as a sign of the oppression of women. Others even argue cultural reasons, saying that the veils prevent good interpersonal communication because one's facial expression cannot be seen. However, critics of the ban question whether there is even need for the law, considering that less than one hundred women even wear the veils. They also state the freedom of choice, and protecting these women's rights, although both sides of the argument claim to be trying to protect women's rights in this case. The vice-president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium Isabelle Praile calls the ban "an attack on democracy," and worries about the precedent that this ban will present to the rest of Europe. As we see from today's international news, Belgium may be leading the way, but several other countries are following close behind.

Submitted By: Nora Beswick

Suspected Somalis pirates are set to appear in US court

Eleven Somalis pirates are going to appear in a Virgina court on Friday April 23, on the charges of piracy, attack to plunder a vessel, assult and use of a firarm. Five of the eleven men were captured by US navy vessels on March 31. The other six were found on the water near the small state of Djibouti on April 10. Kenya said they are going to stop piracy because it is an international issue but they are forced to bare the burden alone. Since piracy is increaseing some believe that there should be international courts.

Jessica Branch

Wave of Bombings in Baghdad

In Baghdad Friday, at least six bombings occurred in response to the recent killings of three senior al-Qaeda leaders by security forces. A majority of the bombings occurred near Shia mosques during Friday prayer. Officials say that the bombings particularly targeted prayers in areas with a certain majority. Eyewitnesses claim to have already counted at least 25 bodies dead. Security officials have increased the security in Sadr City, but worry what the response will be as a result of these bombings. Seven people also died in a series of bombings in a western town in the Anbar province, where police officers and a judge were targeted.

by:Shauntal J Van Dreel

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rwandan Presidential Hopeful Arrested!

Presidential hopeful Victoire Ingabire was arrested on Wednesday and taken to court promptly. She is being charged with terrorist collaboration, genocide ideology and ethnic division. She is set to run opposite current president Paul Kagame as the United Democratic Forces candidate. She was in exile until January and claims she has been harassed since her return to Rwanda. Other members of the opposing party are facing threats and being harassed. Ingabire though is a known ethnic Hutu, which in 1994 killed 800,000 people (mostly Tutsi's) in 100 days after an election. There has been some apprehension and worry that after the elections there will be a repeat of 1994. Rumors have also flown around that it is President Kagame that has set this arrest up to get a leg up on the competition. Thursday the court was set to decide whether or not Ingabire have a bail set or not. Members of her party also attempted to convince officials to release her saying her arrest was illegal. The court has been quoted saying that her involvement in politics doesn't put her above the law. Many commentators on the CNN article appear to be against Ingabire's arrest, claiming Kagame has "hatred in his heart" and saying that Ingabire is only being arrested for being strong opposition.

According to a later search, the court released Ingabire on bail but does not allow her to leave the capital without the courts permission.

Submitted by: Emily Schaub

Grenade Attack in Thailand Kills at Least Three...

On Thursday night several grenades exploded in Bangkok Thailand. The recent turmoil between the current government and the Red Shirts have caused a lot of violence in the city. The grenades went off close to the are where the red shirts are camping out which has caused many to blame them for the attacks. However, the Red shirts deny involvement in the attacks. The incidents left at least three dead and many more wounded. The Abhist Democrat party that is currently in control may be booted on the charges of mishandling funds. If they are found guilty, the officials will be removed from office and banned from participating in politics for five years. This event could return the control of the state to the Red shirts.

Submitted by: Mallory Neumann

Indonesia keeps blasphemy law

The blasphemy law in Indonesia is a law that only allows for certain religions to be practiced. Indonesia only recognizes Catholic and Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Human rights groups have been trying to fight this law since it was passed in 1967. They say that it threatens religious freedom in the most populous Muslim nation. But on Monday, Indonesia's constitutional court decided in favor of the law, not even allowing for new religions and sects to be added to the list. According to the US Commission of International Religious Freedom, reports say that the blasphemy laws often cause tension between religious communities. It is also said that in the laws current form, it can be used by fundamentalist Muslim groups to discriminate against religious groups they dislike.

Submitted by: Madelyn Higdon

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Recriminations Over Flight Chaos

Airlines and passengers are pushing for compensation over the travel chaos due to the extreme amounts of volcanic ash from Iceland. There has been much arguing about the closure of large parts or European airspace. This has been in affect for almost a week now and the situation does not seem to be getting any better. Airlines want compensation from the government because they are losing business over this whole mess. Passengers are furious because many of them are now stranded in various parts of the world (and will continue to be) until the ban on flights is lifted. Some argue that this whole thing could have been avoided if they actually looked at the facts instead of banning all flights based on a "hunch." It was poor decision making by the government from the beginning. Also, there was a push for the original reimbursement policies to be modified to be more realistic in this case. It is not realistic to honor their policy of providing accommodations for every person who is affected by the ban. The airlines want to compensate the passengers for the cost of the ticket, and nothing else. To counter the argument that the international safety regulators had been too cautious, the European Volcanological Society remarked, "This was not an over-reaction. We... do not know enough about these clouds and what can happen to planes flying into them." They believe that there were very few options beyond the flight ban. This was the best course of action to ensure the safety of the passengers and flight crew.

Submitted by: Nate Heberlein

German troops rebelling through patch

German troops are wearing patches on their uniforms that protest the country's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. With the words "I fight for Merkel"-Germany's chancellor- on their arms, they want the chancellor to define their mission since they are unable to engage the Taliban directly on the ground and are serving with deep public resentment against the war in Germany-around 80% oppose involvement in Afghanistan. Chancellor Merkel is expected to make a statement to parliament tomorrow explaining Germany's purpose in Afghanistan and why they should stay there.

By: Justin Lynch

American and traveling to India? Be cautious!!!

The U.S State department has issued a warning in regards to a possible terror attacks in India and urged Americans to be cautious. The U.S Embassy in New Delhi has listed names of some places where tourists including Americans used to flock in and a possible place for the attack. Americans are advised to look for unattended packages and to exit immediately if see one. The details are not provided although the spokeperson for the State Department mentioned it as "a prudent warning". The terror attack in November 2008 has killed more than 160 people including Americans. Read more at

Submitted By; Namgyel Dorji

Niqab Ban Unconstitutional?

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is pushing for a full ban on Niqab - or traditional Muslim scarves worn by women to cover everything but their eyes, however he also wants to ban the wearing of the burqa. "The full veil “hurts the dignity of women and is unacceptable in French society,” Mr. Chatel quoted Mr. Sarkozy as telling the cabinet. " But the courts say that unless is has some security benefit, they will have to claim the bill unconstitutional since it is based on a personal view. "The council said it would be clearer legally to simply issue an order that women would have to uncover their faces for identity checks as required. A law had to be based on the protection of public order, the council said, not on the grounds of personal dignity. "

I fully agree and I had read the article back in 2004 where France had banned any religious affiliation in schools, while here - even stated in the article - it singles out Muslims. This bill is highly unconstitutional and even though I could see where the the threat may lie, Sarkozy is taking it much to far. Not all Muslims are a terror threat.

Submitted by Tieren Dokes

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blasphemy! Indonesia limits freedom!

On Monday, April 19, 2010 Indonesia's constitutional court vetoed change to the blasphemy law. Enabling any other religion except Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam to be practiced in Indonesia. Human Right groups, religious minorities, democracy advocates, and moderate Muslims want President Yudhoyono to take this law "off the books". Not removing the law could threaten the rights of minorities by causing tensions in the world's most populous Muslim nation. The law is vague, and supported by religious conservatives allowing authorities to interpret and enforce it how they choose, leading to violence or a maximum punishment of five years.
For the article

Submitted by: Jessica Seggman

Monday, April 19, 2010

Israeli Concern Over Syria Causes US Intervention

The Obama administration has called in the ranking Syrian diplomat in Washington to voice their concerns over accusations made that Syria is transferring arms to Hezbollah. Syria has been accused by Israeli president Shimon Peres of sending long-range Scud missiles to members of Hezbollah, a radical Islam group, in Lebanon. While Syria has denied the accusation, the US State Department has stated that they met with the senior diplomat, Zouheir Jabbour, to “review Syria’s provocative behavior concerning the potential transfer of arms to Hezbollah.” While long-range missiles in Lebanon don't pose an immediate threat to the United States, they have the ability to strike Israeli cities and the United States believes that this transfer would "have a destabilizing effect on the region, and would pose an immediate threat to both the security of Israel and the sovereignty of Lebanon.”

Submitted by: Mary Naset

S. Korean President Vows Action Over Sinking of Warship

The Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship mysteriously sank on March 26th, and President Lee Myung- bak is promising the find out the cause, and to deal with it "resolutely." Investigators are saying that it was mostly likely an external explosion that caused the sinking of the ship in the Yellow sea (near North Korean Border). Out of the 108 men in the crew, 58 were rescued, 38 bodies have been recovered, and 8 remain missing. They are raising parts of the boat in order to investigate, and to try to find the missing sailors (they think they were trapped in the stern of the boat). They are trying not the blame N. Korea, but S. Korean defense minister called this a national security threat, and that it was most likely a sea mine or torpedo that caused the sinking. The media has been speculating, and N. Korea feels that S. Korea is spreading false rumors. If N. Korea found to be responsible, S. Korea will take the case to the U.N. security council.

Submitted by: Kathleen Tite

Prominent al Qaeda leaders killed

It was reported on Monday that two of al Qaeda's leaders, Abu Ayyub al-Masri (military leader of al Qaeda in Iraq) and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (leader of the Islamic State of Iraq) were killed in an operation led by the Iraqi security forces, dealing a damaging blow to the terrorist organization. The news was delivered by Vice President Joe Biden, who appeared at the daily White House briefing to give his report. Mentioned in the report was the growth and improvement of the Iraqi forces, as they were able to carry out this operation based on information they had gathered themselves. We can only wait and see what joint U.S.-Iraqi operations will bring us in the future.

By: Anna Moric

India has more mobile phones than toilets

Perhaps showing the rapid growth of globalization compared to real world necessities, a report released by the United Nations University, a UN thinktank, shows that while India's 1.2 billion people have 563 million cell phones, only about 366 million had access to a toilet. As the article notes, poor sanitation is a major contributor to waterborne diseases, which in the past five years have killed an estimated 4.5 million children under the age of five worldwide.

By: Justin Lynch

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Bangkok Clashes"

Already a mounting situation for almost two years now, protesters in the "Bangkok clashes" have committed to stand their ground in this most recent battle, even in the face of At least 521 people, including 64 soldiers and police that have been wounded in & around Bangkok's old quarter according to the NYtimes & it's source REUTERS.

Troops and riot police have banned together yet again, wielding rifles along a stretch of barbed wire fence in Bangkok’s financial district across the street from anti-government protesters. Clearly both parties, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva with his army & the 'Red Shirts' are headed to an impending doom that will yield more innocent victims in this latest stand off to oust Vejjajiva from office.

The 'Clashes' have no end in sight, which is not surprising at all, given that the protesters are a product of their environment, constitutional monarchy that lends itself to the present anarchy, which interestingly enough, is almost a repeat. This new violence comes a year after 10,000 former Prime Minister Shinawatra supporters brought traffic in Bangkok to its knees for several days, blockading major intersections.
These recent 'Clashes' are headed the same direction as the last revolt, where red shirts hijacked petrol tankers, torched dozens of public buses and hurled petrol bombs at troops until the army imposed order. Two people were killed and 123 wounded. However, in the latest protests, there are more than five times as many protesters involved, spread all across city. Let's hope that this country can move to a more diplomatic solution for "humans’ sake."

Submitted by: Brian Gaddis

(Original submitted on time)

Thai Army Makes Move

The Thai army had moved hundreds of soldiers into the business district in Bangkok in order to prevent the rebel "red-shirts" from disrupting the current area. The "red-shirts" are on the move in order to try and force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down from duty and leave his place in the government. Along with the army moving into Bangkok there has also been a "Yellow Threat" where people who support the politics that are currently in Thailand are threatening to have their own protests if the "red-shirts" are not thrown out soon.
Submitted by Katherine Conrad

Ugandan Rebels Hired to Hunt Boss

Rebels from The Lord’s Resistance Army have been enlisted to find their former boss, Joseph Kony. After turning themselves in, the former rebels are now acting as part of the Ugandan Army and searching in Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo where they think the last of the Lord’s Resistance Army is hiding, including Kony. The American government is supportive and is supplying the Ugandans with millions of dollars worth of military support. Although some U.S. officials are on the fence about it, the former L.R.A. men have proven themselves worthy and have caught more than half of Kony’s men in the past year and a half.

Submitted By: Rachael Petro

Indian Politician in a Cricket Scandal

Shashi Tharoor, a former junior minister of foreign affairs and past U.N. diplomat, submitted his resignation to the Indian National Congress Party after the governing party decided in an emergency meeting that he would no longer be able to hold his position. The opposition party made accusations against Tharoor claiming that he used his position of power to get his female friend, Sunada Pushkar, stakes in a cricket franchise that was worth $15 million. The cricket league commissioner, Lalit Modi, despite being investigated for tax crimes, brought the scandal to officials. News reports in India also claim that Tharoor was having an extramarital affair with Pushkar. Tharoor tried to run for U.N. secretary in 2006, was a favorite of the Congress Party's president, and was viewed as the hope for the middle class in India, gained mostly through the younger generation following him on Twitter. This development is simply another disappointment, not only to the Indians that believed in Tharoor, but everyone who believes in democracy, since this is yet another example of power corrupting.

Submitted by: Albie Braun

Clinton presses Israel do more to start peace talks

Hillary Clinton urged Israel to support Palestinian efforts in West Bank to strengthen institutions and urged Palestinians to promote peace and fight corruption.  The US has been promoting proximity talks which were knocked off course when Israel approved plan to build 1,600 new homes in an East Jerusalem settlement; however these settlements are illegal under international law. The US, EU, UN, and Russia want Israel to halt the settlement building and focus on reaching a peace deal within two years.

Submitted by: Derald Willey

Charges Dropped For Ampatuan Brothers

In the accusation of partaking in political violence and murders, two of the three Ampatuan brothers of the Philippines have had their charges dropped. The Ampatuans are a powerful political family in Maguindanao province, where their father is governor. He is also facing charges. Zaldy and Akmand Ampatuan have had their cases dismissed unlike their brother and main suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. who is still facing multiple murder charges. Prosecutors claimed the act could not have been done alone, but there was not enough evidence provided. Zaldy and Akmand both have alibis.

Supposedly on November, 23, Andal Ampatuan Jr. led police officers and members of the government militia to stop opposition supporters, lead them to a hill, and then proceed to shoot and kill them. 57 were killed and then buried using a government backhoe.

Prosecutors did not find enough evidence to suggest that Zaldy and Akmad were involved. One witness and some of his family have been killed. Ms. Pearson of the Human Rights Watch stated, "The government has failed to adequately protect witnesses and their families, which means crucial witnesses are scared to testify."

by Jenae Harner

China lends Venezuela $20 billion

Over the weekend the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez that China had agreed to lend them $20 billion. This cooperation is likely due the the fact that China wants to increase relations with Venezuela in order to secure oil supplies there. This announcement follows other financial agreements that Venezuela has made with China in order to help their economy. In exchange for China's help, Venezuela has raised their oil exports to China, and have also bought military weapons from them. Mr Chavez stated that all the oil that China needs for their growth and consolidation as a power can be found in Venezuela. Even though America is still the top buyer of oil from Venezuela, the rise in the amount of oil being sold to China just shows how much of a world power they are.

Submitted by:
Madelyn Higdon

US Aid Cuts Hit Egypt's Democracy Groups

The Obama Administration plans to cut democracy promotion programs in Egypt starting this year. These programs are meant to help deter corruption within the government and to help ensure the accuracry of election results. This move is in stark contrast of the Bush Administration that in 2008 alone gave 45 million dollars in aid to Egypt to fund such programs. This move by the Obama administration comes right before the 2011 elections in Eygpt, and past elections have been accused being rigged.

By Shawn Lawton

In India, Wal-Mart Goes to the Farm

Two years ago the Wal-Mart corporation began a retail attempt in India. They began providing ideas for agricultural innovations to improve efficiency to small farmers that would eventually be able to sell their products to the large distributor. There are many in the country however that are against the presence of such a large corporation in their country, mainly because of the threat to all the small businesses. There is a ban in India however, on foreign-owned retail chains, so in order to operate Wal-Mart paired with an Indian conglomerate, both together are referenced as Bharti Wal-Mart. As of right now there is discussion about India changing the present restrictions on foreign-owned retail chain operation to aid in the rising prices of food. Some think however if this is lifted, the Wal-Mart will raise their low prices once they overpower all small businesses.

By: Becca Sage

Suicide bombers kill 41 at refugee camp in Pakistan

April 17th marked a day of dread when 41 people were killed and 62 were injured badly while attempting to distribute or receive food at a food distribution point in northwestern Pakistan. The two suicide bombers struck six minutes apart at a camp in the Kacha Pukka area of Kohat, a tribally administered region close to the Afghan border. They were dressed in burqas, the all-encompassing veil worn by conservative The reasoning be hind this is said to be due to the Pakistan military admitting to killing civilians in an air strike last Saturday in the northwest that supposedly targeted militants. Therefore these two men commuted suicide by becoming human bombs and detonating near as people as possible.

Zimbabwe and Mugabe Celebrate 30 years

Today marks 30 years of independence and as well as 30 years under President Mugabe. The nation which was once an "agricultural powerhouse and educational beacon" is now suffering from "a continuing political stalemate and an impoverished, stagnant economy." Few were actually celebrating Mugabe's years in office, considering many believe the economy's collapse will only end when Mugabe ends...and Mugabe has no intentions of leaving. While it is still an offense of publicly insult the president one man said, "Surely it is time for him to enjoy retirement." However, it appears as though he is already enjoying retirement because while over the last couple of years the economy has suffered from hyperinflation (being forced to shave zeros off of the local unit in order for it to be more manageable), Mugabe has been living the good life off of "profits on lands, business deals and speculative construction, and import and export contracts." Although wanted in International Criminal Court for political violence, vote-rigging and the massacre of 20,000 civilians who led an uprising against him, some say "nothing is going to change for a long time."

Submitted By: Erin Burneson

Russia Protects Its Children - In This Case, From Americans

As of Thursday, Russia announced that it would be halting all adoptions by Americans. The reasoning behind this sudden decision appears to be the disrupting case of a seven year old boy returned to Russia by himself by his adoptive mother from Tennessee. Pavlov A. Astakhov is the senoir government official of Russia who is responsible for tightening security on Russian adoptions, but he has stated that he does not wish for a permanent adoption band. His goal is to encourage adoptions within the country, and the further regulate adoptions that occur externally. He feels that Russian families wishing to adopt children are being overlooked because foreign adoptions are more profitable. However, 750,000 children in Russia are living in orphanages, and experts fear that without foreign adoptions, there will be no way to liberate them. Over 3,000 American families are in the process of adoption 3,500 Russian children now, but these cases will be held off until new adoption regulations are created and approved. In 2009, Russia was considered the third highest country of American foreign adoptions. But due to 14 Russian children's deaths in America since 1996, Russia feel that both families and the adoption agencies need to be examined more closely before further adoptions can continue. This coming week, American officials plan to meet in Moscow so new rules can be discussed, and hopefully, Russian adoptions by Americans will be able to continue.

Submitted By: Nora Beswick

Former Iranian President Can't Leave His Country

Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran was supposed to leave his native land in order to travel abroad to Japan and attend a "nuclear disarmament conference" but was soon exempt from it on the basis of him being prohibited to leave the country.  It's been reported that Khatami has been under scrutiny and strain from the Iranian government after chaotic elections took place last summer.  Khatami was part of the opposition in last year's election but the results were not in his favor and many people who supported the opposition protested after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election.  The protests that took place were sometimes so out of control that they even ended in bloodshed.  Ever since then, Khatami believes the current government has made "severe restrictions" on him and his party.

Submitted by: Hanna Khan

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dalai Lama seeks to visit quake-ravaged area of China

The 6.9 magnitude earthquake which rocked Tibetan region in China on Wednesday killed more than a thousand and injured many people. It destroyed around 15,000 homes and forced thousands to flee the area. Qinghai province where the quake occured is the region where the Dailai Lama was born. Thus, the Dailai Lama is seeking to visit the affected area saying he would like to be there in person to comfort to the victims. He also praised the Chinese authority for visiting the Tibetan region after the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the area. Read more at

Submitted By: Namgyel Dorji

Gates Says U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Drive

Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent a secret memo to the White House. The memo suggests that the US does not have a strong enough policy for Iran’s potentially bourgeoning nuclear program. The memo includes strategy if diplomacy with Iran fails to prevent a nuclear program. While it is not clear exactly what actions the US would take if Iran does develop a nuclear program, but it is certain that “there [is] a line Iran would not be permitted to cross.” Gates stresses that it is crucial that the US be prepared for whatever situation may arise. The Administration is also concerned with containing the influence of Iran in Persian Gulf states, as well as countering its missiles

Submitted By: Inge Moran