Monday, January 31, 2011

Hundreds of Russians protest Putin

500 people protested for the removal of Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin. Police detained a number of protesters and were sent to various jails in the area. Boris Nemtov, Putins number one critic who was arrested after a similar protest has remained steadfast, comparing Putin to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. Nemtov has called Putin on his corruption as he gains personal wealth at the expense of the Russian citizens.

Brandon Borkovec

Indonesian Sex Tape Scandal

In Bandung, Indonesia, one of their famous pop stars was sentenced to three and a half years in prison with a fine of $28,000. He was jailed due to multiple online sex videos of him and celebrities. Muslims are proud to see this step taken in conserving the morality for Islam. But not all are as happy, others saw this as a too leniant of a sentence and decided to storm the court after the sentencing. Nazril Irham, his pop star name is Ariel, was quickly put in an armored car. Uniformed group offering protection to Irham, Pancasila Youth clashed with protesters who stormed the court. The two women included in some of these videos were famous Indonesian actress, Luna Maya, and then Cut Tari, a television presenter. Irham's lawyer, O.C. Kaligis, stated they only enforced the pornography law to take away the attention on the corrupt government.
Jessica Connor

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charter flights to carry thousands of Americans out of Egypt

In the news today, Thousands of Americans are trying to come home safely from Egypt. Charter flights will be going out on Monday. Since internet and cell phone services has been cut off in Egypt, its really hard to get any information. Even harder for relatives trying to get in touch with their families in Egypt. The State Department are looking for into the "safe haven" locations in Europe. Citizens are safe but are trapped. Public transportation aren't safe to take and also you cannot fly.

Yasmeen Kiswani

Oman uncovers 'spy network', UAE denies any links

The authorities in Oman says they have uncovered a network of spies working for the United Arab Emirates, according to the state news agency.
The alleged agents for the UAE are said to have spied on the Omani government and military.
The UAE government denies any knowledge of - or link with - such a network, according to its news agency.
The neighbouring countries are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and normally enjoy good relations.
Government sources in Oman say the ring was discovered some months ago and that a number of Omani nationals have been arrested.
The spies may have been interested in the issue of the succession of Omar's Sultan Qaboos, according to a security official quoted by the Agence France-Presse news agency.
The Sultan is 70 years old and does not have children.
But others suggested the alleged spy ring could be more related to regional politics.
"One possibility is that the UAE wants to know more about Iran-Oman relations because of Tehran and Muscat's long ties in security and military cooperation," Theodore Karasik, from the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told Reuters news agency.
Oman has close relations with Iran, partly because the two countries are joint gatekeepers of the Strait of Hormuz, the route for 40% of the world's oil tanker traffic.
But the sultanate also has strong military and diplomatic ties with the West.
The UAE is a staunch ally of the United States.
UAE authorities received the news with "shock and surprise" according to the Wam news agency.
"The UAE expresses its full willingness to cooperate with ... Oman in any investigations that it carries out in full transparency to uncover (those) who try to mar relations between the two countries," said a foreign ministry statement.
By Annie Hung

Thousands in Pakistan rally against American

Devout Islamics rallied on Sunday against the arrested American official charged with shooting two Pakistanis. Over 15,000 Islamics were at the town of Lahore, in the North Eastern part of Pakistan. The controversy comes because the U.S embassy claims that they have immunity from the action of the U.S official but the Pakistanis insist that the matter must be taken to the courts. Because of the influence that these Islamic people have in Pakistan, American officials believe that it will be hard to free the detained American. American officials claim that the "not named" official acted in self defense when he shot the two Pakistanis on Thursday. The Islamic group that protested on Sunday is believed to be behind the 2008 bombings on Moonbi, India.

-John McWard

Burma's New Parliament

Burma has recently taken the first steps towards democracy by beginning their first of many sessions to form a new government. More than a thousand deputies will come together for the session that will create the electoral college which will nominate the President and Vice-President. Western governments and Burma democracy criticize over the new parliament since fifty years of military control rained over Burma and does not seem the military will give up its control since government military members still hold important election seats. Posted by : Ana Rivera

Japan Hugs it out

Japanese men are not historically touchy-feely. However, the market for effection displaying tools has grown considerably over the past few years and Japanese women are demanding more expressions of love. A 'hugging mat' has been developed that gives instructions on how to hug and even how to cuddle. Getting more physical seems to be Japans next step to becoming more westernized and has received mixed reviews along the way. Some applaud, while others are blaming it for 'worshiping the west'. Either way, theres nothing wrong with starting to embrace each other a little more in the world today where nothing should be taken for granted.

Brandon VanLoon

Over 99% of Southern Sudan votes for secession.

Over 99% of southern Sudan voted to succeed from the northern half. The election was held in early January, and was part of a 2005 agreement that ended a decade long war between the north and south, in which over 2 million people lost their lives. The head of the voting bureau in the south, Chan Reec Madut, said that voter turn out in the southern 10 states was also around 99%. In contrast, the north voted to succeed by 58%, with around 60% of eligible voters voting.

Jacob McCarty

Afghan Bank's Corruption Could Lead to $900 Million in Losses

Kabul Bank in Kabul, Afghanistan is the nation's largest bank and right now one of it's poorest. The entire country of Afghanistan is on edge waiting to find out the total losses on the bank which are believed to be in the area of $900 million. If these numbers turn out to be accurate would most likely cause the bank to shut down and bring the entire Afghan economy along with it. The government right now is pumping money into the bank to keep it open which is causing even further strain on the already less than well off nation. The main concern even if Kabul Bank doesn't shut down is the threat of people taking their money elsewhere. A run on solvent banks and a lack of confidence in donors could cripple the economy.
The cause for these financial losses are unclear as of now but it is believed the money went into the pockets of a select few Afghans with political ties. The current knowledge of where the money exactly went is none. They have no idea where the money is which is going to show how poorly run the bank is. It was shown in WikiLeaks that the fraud scheme was known by the government but they were more focused on stopping the funding of terrorists than focusing on how the banks were being run. It is clear that the section of the bank that most of the money left from is the loan department with over $800 Million currently out in loans, many of which they don't expect to get back.

Spencer Darrow

Iran hangs Dutch-Iranian Women

A woman who is Dutch and Iranian was put to death by hanging for smuggling drugs into Iran. The Netherlands are not speaking with Iran right now and believe the hanging was a barbic act and the punishment did not fit the crime. She was also given 70 lashes and had to pay a fine for her crimes. She was not able to see the Dutch consular and Dutch officials were not allowed at her trial ,because Iran did not recognize her citizenship as a Dutch.

Brian Campbell

Mexican elections

Over the next year there are set to be 6 major elections for governors. The elections are huge as ever since the last election in 2006 drug/gang violence has had a dramatic upswing. If fact just the other day 14 people were found killed with their heads chopped off. The first day of voting went smoothly as there was no major violence which is great news. The people of Mexico are just as upset as those in the U.S. because the crime is around them everyday. If somehow these elections can go smoothly and not have any major increase in violence; then maybe Mexico can start to become a stable country once again.
James Lambert

North Korea's Kim Jong-il 'opposed succession'

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il appears to be preparing his youngest son to be the countries new leader. Last year, his 27-year-old son became a four-star general and was given senior posts in the ruling Workers' party. Kim Jong-il never wanted to have a hereditary succession for the country but he feels there is no better option to stabilize the regime. After all, hereditary succession does not fall in line with socialism. Furthermore, his oldest son, Kim Jong-nam, was not chosen to be the new leader due to his flamboyant lifestyle. Kim Jong-nam had also lived abroad for many years in his life. Also, he did mention that what the North desires most is to normalize ties with the U.S. and have peace on their peninsula.

- Peter Zafiropoulos

Russia 'identifies' Domodedovo airport bomber suspect

Russian Officials say they have identified the suicide bomber who attacked Russia's busiest airport last week. In the blast over 180 people were injured and 12 of the 35 people who died still haven't been identified. The attack was aimed at foreign citizens and the arrival hall where the bomb went off was full of travelers due to the fact that a large number of international flights had just landed.

In the after math of this attack on Russia the president has fired several officials in charge of safety for the country. This event is very similar to another terrorist attack in March when two female suicide bombers killed 40 people and injured 80 more when they attacked a busy Moscow train station.

Nicole LeDonne

Egyptian Reform Leader Calls for Mubarak to Resign

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laurete as well as Egypt's leading advocate for democracy, called for the current President, Hosni Mubarak, to resign from his position. Many members of foreign nations are coming forward, calling for a more peaceful resolution to the protests, currently on its sixth day. The citizens are refusing to listen to Mubarak's attempt at reform and are calling for his immediate removal from office. The Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed group wanting to form an Islamist state, has said that they would support ElBaradei to head the reformation movement. It'll be interesting to see how the protests play out over the next couple of days, as more protests have started to spring up in other parts of the Middle East.

Jim Michalik

Explsion at Domodedovo Airportin in Moscow, Russia

On Jan. 24, 2011, a suicide bomber strode into the arrivals hall at Domodedovo Airport, Moscow’s busiest airport, and set off an enormous explosion, leaving bodies strewn in a smoke-filled terminal while bystanders scrambled to get the wounded out on baggage carts.Russian authorities said at least 35 people were killed and 168 injured in the attack.
Federal investigators identified the bomber as a 20-year-old native of the volatile Caucasus region, where Islamist insurgents have been battling for years for a breakaway state.But the country's top investigative body stopped short of naming him, fearing that it would compromise ongoing attempts to identify and arrest the masterminds of the Domodedovo Airport attack on Jan. 24. The blast also wounded 180 people. The victims were mainly Russians, but also included one person each from Britain, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.The violence stemming from the predominantly Muslim Caucasus region originates from two bloody separatist wars in Chechnya in the past 15 years. Federal forces wiped out the large-scale resistance, driving the insurgency into the mountains and into neighboring provinces. The rebels seek an independent Caucasus emirate that adheres to Shariah law.

Kazuya Usui

International Herald Tribune
Moscow Airport Explosion (2011)

Russia Identifies Airport Bomber as Caucasus Man

Piracy in the Arabian Sea

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has grown since Africa’s government collapsed in 1991. South Korean commandos captured five Somali pirates who attacked a cargo ship and its members in the Arabian Sea. The South Korean commandos rescued all of the ship’s members and killed eight Somali pirates. The five Somali pirates were taken to South Korea to be tried for piracy. All of the crewmembers survived without injury except for the Captain who was shot in the stomach and sent for surgery in South Korea. There is a struggle to involve Africa in trying pirate suspects and many of the captured pirates are released. Further investigation is being conducted to determine if the captured pirates are connected with past hijackings of South Korean ships.;_ylt=Ahk6NBXcChifo2JgzlksWRpvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJjanUyMDhzBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMTMwL3BpcmFjeQRwb3MDMTgEc2VjA3luX2FydGljbGVfc3VtbWFyeV9saXN0BHNsawM1c29tYWxpc2Jyb3U-

By: Taryn Vaughan

Ivorian election crisis seeing split support

Concern was addressed during the AU summit over countries keeping a united stance to end the Ivorian crisis. Mr. Ban said at the summit, “ We must preserve our unified position, act together, and stand firm against Mr Gbagbo's attempt to hang onto power through the use of force." However, there are split opinions forming over supporting Mr. Ouattara as the president-elect while Mr. Gbagbo still has control of the countries military. Although the UN has already recognized Mr. Ouattara as the current president, countries are allowing Mr. Gbagbo to call for a recount in vote because there is a reluctance towards violence and supporting Mr. Ouattara with other countries’ military backing.

To read more:

Kathleen Fultz

Egypt cracks down on mass protests as Mubarak dissolves government

President Hosni Mubarak said early Saturday that he asked the country's government to resign after thousands of angry Egyptians defied a government curfew and faced stinging police tear gas as they marched for change. Recently, in Cairo,m Eygpt protestors arose to express a legitimate demand for more democracy, need for a greater social safety net, and the improvement of living standards, fighting poverty and rampant corruption, according to Mubarak. This past Saturday, President Hosni Mubarak gave a speech asking the government to resign today and he will commission a new government to take over the next day. In the article, it talks about how the anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets in Egypt since Tuesday to demand an end to Mubarak's rule. The protests come weeks after similar disturbances sparked a revolution in Tunisia, forcing then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country. It seems like both Egypt and Tunisia have seen dramatic rises in the cost of living in past years and accusations of corruption among the ruling.

By Delaina Flagg

Afghan infants fed pure opium

In northern Afghanistan, a women feeds her four-year-old son, Omaidullah a lump of pure opium. The mother claims if she don't give him opium he doesn't sleep. In addition she states it also allow her to work. The mother, Aziza comes from a poor family of carpet weavers in Balkh province. She has no education, no idea of the health risks involved or that opium is addictive. Aziza states in the article that in their country "We give the children opium whenever they get sick." With no real medical care in these parts and the high cost of medicine, all the families out here look to opium.n n The practice of giving children opium goes back generations and on. The adults take opium to work longer hours and ease their pain. "People use opium as drugs or medicine. If a child cries, they give him opium, if they can't sleep, they use opium, if an infant coughs, they give them opium." The mother clear says in the this article that we are poor and we don't have anything to eat. That is why we have to work and use drugs to keep our kids quiet."

By Delaina Flagg

Iran hangs Dutch-Iranian woman for drug smuggling

The Netherlands have renounced ties with Iran after they hung a Dutch-Iranian woman on Saturday. The Dutch believe this crime to be cruel and unusual punishment and have plans in the works to take measures against Iran.

Although Iran claims that Zahra Bahrami was executed because her smuggling of cocaine added to the list of her offenses, the Dutch think otherwise. Iran claims that Bahrami was charged with security offenses in the 2009 presidential campaign in the same country. Bahrami's lawyer was shocked to learn that she had been hung. The lawyer had no clue that she was going to be executed.

The accusations placed on Bahrami stated that she had been caught smuggling cocaine into the country more than once, and in a raid of her house, cocaine and opium were found. The sentence she was formally given included 70 lashes and a $1,400 fine.

The Dutch were denied access to her trial because she was not recognized as a dual citizen in both Iran and the Netherlands. The Dutch are seeking answers to her execution and believe that for the safety of all citizens, Dutch-Iranian citizens travelling to Iran should not go.

By: Brianne Thomas

German train crashes and kills 10 people

At least 10 people are reported to have died in a train crash in eastern Germany. A local passenger train and a goods train collided head-on in the state of Saxony-Anhalt late on Saturday, near the city of Magdeburg. The passenger train, the HarzElbeExpress, was travelling on a single track section between Magdeburg and Halberstadt. The cause of the crash, which left 33 injured, is unclear.

By Jamie Alt

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Haiti Sets Date for Second Round of Voting

In early December it was announced that former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, had won the presidential election in Haiti even though she lacked a majority of votes for a victory. This placed her in a runoff with a protege of President Rene Preval, Jude Celestin. However, third-place candidate and popular musician, Michael Martelly, argued that he received more votes than Celestin, which was confirmed by the Organization of American States. Thus Martinelly also gained a spot in the runoff.
The political crisis in Haiti will not be resolved until spring as the country's election panel revesled a timetable for a runoff and subsequent vote tally. Moreover, the Provisional Electoral Council has stated that it will reveal the results of the presidential vote on Wednesday, along with a runoff on March 20. The final results will thus be revealed on April 16.
The efforts to resolve the political turmoil arose as the toll in the national outbreak of chlorea reached over 4,000. As of January 24th more than 200,000 have been infected and 4,030 have died.
By Aleksandra Ruseva

Emotional protests, rampant lawlessness pervasive around Egypt

(CNN) -- By day, tens of thousands turned out in cities across Egypt -- demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, calling for major economic and political reforms and, in multiple spots, bloodily clashing with police forces.

By night, with the security forces seemingly disappeared, some had stepped back to mourn those killed, treat their wounds or gather strength. Other citizens, meanwhile, gathered whatever weapons they could find as they banded together with friends, family and neighbors to protect their communities from roving bands of looters.

"There's no army, no one to prevent (theft and chaos). They disappeared," said one man from a Cairo suburb on Saturday night, who united with friends, cousins and neighbors to protect their property.

Closer to the capital's center, as well as in Alexandria and Suez, the main events earlier Saturday were turn-outs by tens of thousands of demonstrators. For the fifth straight day, they held up signs and shouted for an end to Mubarak's 30-year reign, unsatisfied with his newly shuffled government.

Cairo neighborhoods brace for violence Looting, violence in Cairo

"What's happened to our president?" said one woman in Cairo, wearing a black veil. "We don't want him (because) he's responsible for all this."

But her anger was tempered by satisfaction that people had turned out, in such large numbers, to express their views after decades of silence and suppression.

"I am happy," she said. "I feel yes, we can change."

In Alexandria, protests have gained strength during the course of the week. Throngs chanted Saturday, "We want him out, we want him gone, Mubarak has to go."

One demonstrator told CNN's Nic Robertson that Mubarak, after an early Saturday speech signaling his intent to reorganize his government but stay in power, was trying to challenge demonstrators. He said his decision to implement a curfew, which extended from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., was irrelevant and suggested that the opposition is only getting stronger and bolder.

"He cannot order us, he's not the president anymore," the man said. "He wants to calm us down by saying he will stay. That is not calming us down."

There were also tears Saturday, the result of mounting casualties from sporadic confrontations between demonstrators and police.

At one point, a man's body, apparently killed in a clash near the Interior Ministry, was carried through the streets, wrapped in an Egyptian flag.

Also in Cairo, a mosque was turned into a makeshift clinic. There, a handful of men came in with wounds from what appeared to be rubber pellets fired by police, they told CNN,
And at least 31 people were killed in Alexandria, Egypt, hospital authorities told CNN.
Besides civic discontent and violence, general lawlessness was also pervasive -- especially in areas outside the city centers, which were largely free of any police or military presence.
Looters, some sporting swords and riding motorcycles, had infiltrated numerous public and private buildings. While there were reports of a large gun battle Saturday night, they largely went unbothered by security forces, though not as often by residents.

Fires could be seen in several Cairo neighborhoods, set by people paying no heed to the government-imposed curfew. People also continued to roam the streets, in what was in some ways one of the quietest nights since the protests began earlier this week.
An increasing number of residents, fearful given the apparent absence of any official security apparatus, had taken matters into their own hands. They worked together to set up barricades around some streets. Many -- including the wife of CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman -- handed out clubs, kitchen knives and whatever other implements they could find to trustworthy men and teenagers who could help ward off looters.

Numerous police stations had been burned and ransacked. But private businesses also were hit, including several shops in an upscale Cairo neighborhood.

Residents said they were worried about possible anarchy and prisoners escaping from jails.

Others told CNN they worry that the chaos is President Hosni Mubarak's strategy -- that all the crime could turn people against the protesters, and build favor for the government security forces to restore order.

Shereif Abdelbaki, a resident of Cairo, said he saw people burning cars and taking parts from a junkyard. He said the police had withdrawn or were otherwise occupied, while the Army was downtown, leaving community members to work together or fend for themselves to protect property.

"We have all become vigilantes," he said. "Basically, it's like the Wild West. Where is the security?"


William B. Robinson

Yemen: Tens of Thousands Call on President to Leave

The protests in Egypt and the popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted its long time leader can be seen to have had a domino effect in the region. Demonstrations in Sanaa, the Capital city of Yemen, have escalated. Tens of thousands of Yemenis are calling on Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for 30 years, to step down. Yemeni opposition members and youth activists gathered, chanting anti-government slogans calling for economic reforms and an end to corruption. Yemenis complain of mounting poverty among a growing young population and frustration with a lack of political freedoms. A separatist movement can be seen in the south and and an uprising of Shia Houthi rebels in the north causing security issues to plague the country. There are fears that Yemen is becoming a leading hub for Islamist militant groups, including al-Qaeda.

Dennie Whitlow

Protests in Jordan

Riots and protests continue to sprout up in the Middle East. On Friday, Islamists, leftists and union members marched in downtown Amman, Jordan, demanding more significant economic and political reforms to help struggling citizens. About 3,000 people gathered in Amman for the protest. This is the third straight week the protesters gathered in front of the Al Husseini Mosque to decry government policies they blame for rising prices, low wages, and unemployment. They also pressed for Prime Minister Samir Rifai to step down.

The government has tried to ease citizens' concerns by reducing taxes on fuel derivatives and subsidizing basic commodities. They also gave pay raises to civil servants, military personnel and retirees, but the protesters believed that isn't enough. Besides being upset with their own government, they chanted regarding the Egyptian struggles as well.

-Kristine Zizis

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pakistani man arrested in Spain over ties to terror group

Spanish police arrested Pakistani Malik Imtanan Sarwar in Barcelona who had links to a Thai passport forgery ring that supplied forged documents to al Qaeda terrorists.  10 other men were arrested in December in both Spain and Thailand on similar charges.  Sarwar worked to secure funds for the plot and to steal Spanish passports, which he then sent to Thailand where they were forged.  The ringleader, a Pakistani man living in Thailand, gave the thieves specific details about the type of passports to be stolen, such as the nationalities and ages of the passport holders.  The overall goal of the ring was to allow al Qaeda members to more easily pass European and Western borders.

Mark Zajac

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UK Foreign Secretary to visit Syria

The UK's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, will go to Syria this week. Tops on the agenda are said to be the Middle East peace Process, Iran's Nuclear Program, and the political atmosphere in Lebanon. This comes amongst the situation in Tunisia and recent escalation of conflict in Egypt. No word on if the Foreign Secretary will comment on the situation in Tunisia. The foreign secretay in the UK is similar to the Secretary of State in the United States, so among talking to Syria's President and Foreign Minister, he will also be promoting British interests in Business and civil rights. This will be the first time a Foreign Secretary from the UK has visited Syria since David Miliband visited Damascus in 2008. The secretary did give a statement over violence in Egypt, somewhat echoing themes from President Obama's State of the Union speech yesterday, asking authorities and protesters to show restraint and shy away from violence, and asks the Egyptian Government to "listen to the concerns of those demonstrating and respect rights of freedom of assembly and expression".
Information from BBC News
By: Zach Howell

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

13 Killed in Pakistan Suicide Bombing

Suicide bombings targeting the minority in Pakistan, the Shiites, killed 16 people today. These attacks reflect the violence that often breaks out between the two groups. "Shakir Ullah Shakir, a spokesman for the Fedayeen-e-Islam, said his group targeted the Lahore procession and labeled the Shiites enemies of Islam." The group is said to be related to the Pakistani Taliban.

By: Jasmina Vukovic

Saudi to develop solar and nuclear power

In the news today, Saudi Arabia will be burning most of their oil production domestically in less than 20 years. Authorities are planning to develop an alternative energy mix that would include atomic and solar sources. In order to develop an energy mix, authorities are also planning to cute reliance on fossil fuel. Last April, there were plans that were announced about building a renewable energy city.

Yasmeen Kiswani

Etiquette classes for Chinese students

Chinese schoolchildren are now required to take classes in "civilized manners". The curriculum includes lessons in any subjects such as table manners to proper conversational etiquette and speech delivering. Each class is tailored to the abilities of the students' age. The government is requiring such behavioral classes to promote ethics within the nation and enhance China's reputation abroad. The nation is aware of the affect citizen behavior has on the image of the nation as a whole and is taking measures to improve that image. The tactic was especially relevant throughout the Beijing Olympics where citizens were encouraged to forgo bad behaviors such as spitting and littering.
Meghan Steinbeiss

Monday, January 24, 2011

European crisis erodes support for governments.

All throughout Europe citizens are becoming fed up with governmental handling of the financial crisis that many members of the EU are facing. From Ireland to Greece citizens are opposing governments increasing taxes and decreasing pensions to pay for multi-billion dollar bailouts for struggling countries. Major political changes are expected in all countries as financial problems continue to pile up across Europe and with elections coming up in many of the countries, agendas on how to deal with these problems expect to be a hot button issue. Bulgaria is still in flux as they search for a stable government after 7 months.

Brandon Borkovec

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Austraillia: Flooding costs to be enormous

The flooding has affected over 3.1 million people throughout Australia and is stated as the nations most detrimental natural disaster in the last 50 years compared. Its too soon to determine the total cost that the flooding has caused but Australia will for sure be in massive debt since the loss of their coal exports will be shut down for numerous months; maybe even years. Also effected by the flooding is the great barrier reef. The commonwealth government on Queensland has stated they will invest billions of dollars to get its self back on its feet.

John McWard

Afghan Women Set Fire to Themselves

Recently in Afghanistan, the trend of women setting themselves on fire to escape abusive or unhappy marriages has been gaining popularity. This trend has been increasing particularly in Herat, a large city in Afghanistan. While the next largest city has six beds for burn victims, Herat has nine times that many, all of which are usually full with overflow. The popularity of self-immolation has grown so much that these incidents have doubled in the past year. Many of the women who live through their experiences end up back with their husbands because they don't have anywhere else to go. Herat's first female chief prosecutor is trying to change long held traditions of women suffering silently from abuse at their husbands hand by trying to make them accountable through the law. Although this is a huge step, self- immolation is still on the rise.

Courtney Darnell

Art Exhibit Banned in Zimbabwe

Owen Moseko's artwork is banned from view in an exhibit in Zimbabwe. The reason why is because it dipicts insulting images to President Robert Mugabe. The "atrocities" depicted in the artwork were committed in the beginning of the President's reign 30 years ago. The horrible atrocity was called the Gukurahundi. This was the death and torture of thousands of civilians in the Matabeleland region in Zimbabwe. The art exhibit was placed in the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo. The exhibit has stirred up more problems than expecting by bringing up the past events in the area. Such as when the North Korean soccer team was invited there, and emotions of when the Fifth Brigade arrived there to slaughter more than 10,000 civilians. The North Korean team never came due to the large outcry of the people.
All of the paintings are jailed and covered. The exhibit in the gallery is chained with a sign that says no entry. The case is now in the Supreme Court's hand and the artist is being charged with insulting the President and communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state. These charges could give him up to 20 years in prison.
Jessica Connor

Palestinian peace papers leaked

Much controversy has raised after Palestinian peace documents involving the ongoing dispute over Jerusalem as the Israeli or Palestinian capital. Al-Jazeera TV released leaked papers and accused Palestinian negotiators of allowing Israeli to illegally continue building Jewish settlements into Palestinian land. These papers include communications between Palestinian, Israeli and US leaders over this dispute and are believed to have been leaked from the Palestinian side. To clear themselves, the Palestinian side is willing to give great concessions but the Israeli government may not acknowledge their concessions. Frustration and protest from the Palestinian people have resulted from the Israeli growing settlements and will likely increase more after these documents have been leaked. Negotiations over this matter have been suspended for months.
Posted by. Ana Rivera

Protests in Thailand continue

The "Red Shirt" protesters in Thailand are demonstrating against the current Thai government. This group known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship are demonstrating in hopes that the government will release 19 of the group's leaders and many other demonstrators that were imprisoned last year for speaking out against the government. After the army crackdown on protestors, violence ensued. About 90 people were killed and private property was damaged, causing many businesses to lose a great deal of money during the violent protests. The movement is growing with much of its base coming from the lower and middle class workers that want the former government to be reinstated that was ousted in 2006.
Alex Damske

Teen detained in Kuwait back in the US

Mohamed, a Muslim-American teenager states that he was prevented from boarding a US flight and was placed on the "no fly list" in Kuwait. He also claims that he was kidnapped by Kuwaiti authorities and tortured while waiting to come back to the US. He is now suing the US government by claiming that as a naturalized citizen, he had every right to be in the states, and that the government has not provided any reason for why he was put on the "no fly list". Moreover, "According to the lawsuit, Mohamed says he was approached at the airport by two men who handcuffed and blindfolded him. They drove him to another location in an SUV. Mohamed claims he was beaten, tortured and interrogated over the next week. The lawsuit describes him being whipped, threatened with electrocution and questioned by captors who had private information about his family in the United States ."

By: Jasmina Vukovic

Afgan civilians continue to get caught in the crossfire

This article was mainly about how a roadside bomb killed 20 Afghans. On the bus all except 1 was either a women or a child. In America we wonder why many Afghan's would be upset that the U.S. is in there to help. But as the article reports, last year alone over 2,043 civilians were caught in the crossfire by either Taliban or by military operations. By all means what we are doing is for the good of the country. But if i were in an ordinary Afghan's shoes I think i would be quite upset with the number of innocent dieing.

James Lambert

Belgian citizens demand gov't

Belgian citizens organized a march through Facebook demanding a government be established and country unity. So far, the country has experienced seven months on political impasse with a caretaker government since the June 2010 elections. The New Flemish Alliance (NVA) party during the voting spoke out about their desire to pursue independence for Flanders. Right now there has been no agreement on a government, which has led to a 224 day deadlock. The country has seen a language divider through the country with Flemish speakers to the north and French speakers to the south. An organizer of the march, Thomas Decreus, explains that their objective was to show the country politicians that there can be collaboration across the language barrier. Other campaigns to put pressure on the politicians to form a government continue to take place.

To read the article:

-Kathleen Fultz

Bolivia hopes for buzz with coca campaign

In today's news, CNN reports Bolivia is urging countries to back a campaign to have coca removed from a United Nations list of banned drugs. It is said that coca is widely used in the Andes as a mild stimulant and herbal medicine. Also, some supporters state the leaves, which contain small amounts of cocaine, have several health and social benefits and dismiss claims it is dangerous. Nevertheless, the Bolivian President Evo Morales stated in the article that coca in its raw state is not an addictive drug and emphasizes that it has had a legitimate medical purpose for hundreds of years. In an attempt to win over the non supporters, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca is urging leaders not to block its campaign. However, if there are no objections raised by January 31, the change will take place automatically. According to sources, Bolivia is currently the world's third biggest coca producer after Colombia and Peru, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, so if its campaign to legalize coca leaves is successful the country has much to gain.

BY Delaina Flagg

Bolivia hopes for buzz with coca campaign

In today's news, CNN reports Bolivia is urging countries to back a campaign to have coca removed from a United Nations list of banned drugs. It is said that coca is widely used in the Andes as a mild stimulant and herbal medicine. Also, some supporters state the leaves, which contain small amounts of cocaine, have several health and social benefits and dismiss claims it is dangerous. Nevertheless, the Bolivian President Evo Morales stated in the article that coca in its raw state is not an addictive drug and emphasizes that it has had a legitimate medical purpose for hundreds of years. In an attempt to win over the non supporters, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca is urging leaders not to block its campaign. However, if there are no objections raised by January 31, the change will take place automatically. According to sources, Bolivia is currently the world's third biggest coca producer after Colombia and Peru, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, so if its campaign to legalize coca leaves is successful the country has much to gain.

Boat with 5 Americans found in Philippines

A search ship and spotter plane found a sailboat that had 5 Americans on board. These 5 had been lost at sea in the Philippines after leaving Guam and were expected to reach the central Cebu island on January 18th. U.S. authorities were informed and are working with the Philippine officials to provide help to the Americans. They were reported in good health. This problem has not been rare in recent times. The coast guard had rescued 260 out of 277 people aboard nearly a dozen boats that had sank or overturned last week alone. Rough waters have been a major problem lately, but U.S. officials were able to work with the Philippine officials to make sure the international relations staid positive regarding this issue.

By: Peter Zafiropoulos

China's New Leader?

While the media focuses on President Hu Jintao of China during his recent trip to the U.S. the Chinese government is focusing on grooming a successor for him. Word is that a few years ago President Jintao designed a succession plan to prepare for his resignation from office. The man he picked to succeed him is former provincial leader, Xi Jinping, who is currently the vice president. Some are saying that Xi will be coming into power as soon as next year.
The main issues Xi holds dearly are maintaining the Communist Party and economic growth. Xi seems to be quite familiar with the economic system as of late, he is responsible for some of the booming economies in eastern China. Xi is also willing to experiment with forms of the economic structure to see what will suit China best. This just further sets China in the U.S.'s cross hairs seeing as China is now the second biggest economy in the world now and just continues to grow. Two shining examples of Xi's economic savvy are his urging for state bank investment in Geely, the car company that just bought Volvo, and in Alibaba, an e-commerce giant and Yahoo's China partner. It's clear that given Xi's past China is in for a bright and prosperous future.

Spencer Darrow

Jordan Nightclubs

In downtown Jordan there are two night clubs named "Mecca" and "Medina". Those two cities are known to be the two most holy Islamic cities in the world. To most Islam is seen as a very conservative religion and the nightclub scene is not something that Islam would be considered to connect with Islam. Some people in Jordan are upset because the names are considered offensive to some, there are also complaints of noise and inappropriate behavior in the streets near the clubs. The engineer union in Jordan is expected to stage protests Tuesday, and in Jordan the engineer union is pretty important. It seems like these two night clubs are going to have a hard time staying around with the type of negative attention it is gathering in Jordan.

Brett Kelleher

Bin Laden message warns France to pull out of Afghanistan

Recently, Osama Bin Laden allegedly released a new recorded message, warning France to remove themselves from the Middle East. He says that their alliance with the United States will only harm them. French President Sarkozy goes on to say that they will not yield on their interaction in Afghanistan. The article continues on, saying that the message is merely a motivational tool for Al Qaeda, saying that he is still out there.

Jim Michalik

Russian Arms Dealer Pleads Not Guilty

Viktor Bout is being put on trial in the U.S. for providing weapons to rebel troops in Columbia, Africa, and the Middle East. Bout was a soviet air force officer, but has since acquired the nickname"merchant of death", although his lawyer claims he is only a businessman. He is suspected to have sold weapons to organizations including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the opposing factions in Angola's civil war, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, and many others. Interestingly enough, the premise for his trial in the U.S. is based on the fact that he attempted to sell millions of dollars of weapons to DEA agents, thinking they were agents of a Colombian narcotic/terrorist group. Bout's lawyer is not only giving a defense of "not guilty", but she is also fighting his prosecution by the U.S. government, because none of his alleged crimes took place in the U.S.. The penalty he will face if he is convicted will be 25 years in prison.

Claire Van der Vort

Portugal’s Cavaco Silva Is Re-Elected, Exit Polls Say

(Updates with new polls, quote, starting in second paragraph.)

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a former premier and economist, won election to a second term as the country struggles to avoid following Greece and Ireland in requesting a bailout, three exit polls indicated.

Cavaco Silva, backed by the opposition Social Democratic party, grabbed more than the 50 percent of the vote needed to win outright and avoid a runoff, according to the polls. Manuel Alegre, a candidate supported by the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Jose Socrates, took second, the polls showed.

Cavaco Silva, 71, won between 52 percent and 58 percent of the vote, according to a poll by the Catholic University for the RTP television channel in Lisbon. He got between 51.4 percent and 55.4 percent in an Intercampus poll for TVI television, and between 51.6 percent and 56 percent in a poll by Eurosondagem for the SIC television channel.

Alegre won between 18 percent and 21 percent of the vote, RTP said. He garnered between 17.1 percent and 20.9 percent, according to the SIC poll, and between 17.2 percent and 21.2 percent in the TVI poll.

The election comes as Socrates carries out the deepest budget cuts in three decades to convince investors the nation can narrow its budget gap further and tame debt. Cavaco Silva, also a former finance minister, has backed those efforts that so far have failed to rein in borrowing costs and ease concern the country may become the third country in the euro region to request a European Union-led bailout.

‘Exceptional Times’

“We are living in exceptional times that are the result of complex financial problems,” Miguel Morgado, a professor at Catholic University’s Political Studies Institute in Lisbon, said before the vote. “It’s natural to seek a head of state that feels comfortable with these issues.”

The yield on Portugal’s 10-year bond was at 6.88 percent as of Jan. 21, 371 basis points more than comparable German debt and more than three times the level of a year ago.

While largely ceremonial, the post of president can influence the political debate by speaking out on government policies and has the power to dissolve parliament in certain cases, which Cavaco Silva’s predecessor did in 2004.


William B. Robinson

Protestors killed in clash with police in Albania

An escalation of some of the worst politically fueled tension in Albania resulted in at least three protestors being shot in the head with a clash with the police. Around 250,000 people gathered outside Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office to implore him to resign amid allegations of corruption and fraud related to the June 2009 election. The struggles left 23 demonstrators hurt, 3 in critical conditions with head injuries, along with 17 police officers also injured. Afterwards, Albania's current president, Bamir Topi, issued a statement urging all political parties to resume talks soon and not to reopen old wounds -- referring to a 1997 at-times violent crisis that also targeted Berisha, who was then the nation's president. The European Union, which has been considering adding Albania as a member, urgently appealed to "all political forces to engage in a constructive dialogue and to mobilize the countries' energies" to resolve political stalemate. Berisha directly blamed the casualties on his chief political rival, Socialist Party leader Edi Rama, whom he accused of scheming to have demonstrators take over the prime minister's office, parliament and key ministries.

-Kristine Zizis

Irish PM steps down

Irish PM Brian Cowen has said he is stepping down as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party but will continue to run the government until the general election on March 11. In a week of political crises, Mr Cowen first survived a party leadership vote but was forced to call the election after a bungled cabinet reshuffle. Cowen faced immediate criticism for his plan to stay on as PM. It is the first time since 1994 a politician has been prime minister, or Taoiseach, while not leading the main party of government. Cowen has seen his ratings plummet amid Ireland's economic crisis. The country was given a bail-out package by the European Union and International Monetary Fund last year.

Jamie Alt

Al Qaeda-linked group attacked Church in Egypt, authorities say

The Palestinian Islamic Army has been connected to the deadly New Year's Eve killings in Egypt in a Christian Church. This Al Qaeda linked group has been charged with the deaths of almost 24 people. Nothing was said as to whether arrests had been made in connection with this finding. Sketches of a man supposedly linked to the killing were released earlier in Egypt. His identity is still trying to be confirmed. Forensic technology was used to recreate the likeness of the killer.
Muslims came out in support of the Coptic Christians on Christmas after the bombings. The Coptics' Christmas is celebrated on January 7th. This bombing was also one of the deadliest killings on Christians in Muslim Egypt in some time.
This highly Muslim area is also populated by Coptic Christians. Unlike Christians, Coptic Christians base their faith on the teachings of the apostle Mark. This split in the Christian church happened back in the 5th century. Only 9 percent of Egypt's 80 million residents are Coptic Christians.

Numerous people have been charged with attacks on the Coptic Christians in the past few years. The Coptic Christians are a group that has been highly targeted in Egypt.

By: Brianne Thomas

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Algerians defy ban to protest government

A group of 250 protesters took to the streets in the Algerian capital of Algiers in an attempt to bring about change in the government.  As all anti-government protests were made illegal in 2001, police forces responded to the protest leaving 11 people injured and 9 arrested.  The protesters, members of the opposition party Rally for Culture & Democracy (RCD), seek to restore freedoms and to lift the state of emergency, which has been in place for nearly 20 years and allows the government to put an end to any disturbance of public order.  Rising food prices and the political upheaval in neighboring Tunisia are thought to have contributed to the recent demonstrations.

Mark Zajac

South Koreans pull off daring rescue of pirated ship

A South Korean navy destroyer and Lynx helicopters fired warning shots at a the freighter Samho Jewelry, which was hijacked by Somali pirates on Saturday. The freighter was transporting chemicals from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka when it was taken over. They responded by firing their AK-47's and rocket-propelled granades. In the end, 21 sailors were resqued, with 8 pirates dead and five others captured. The South Koreans began their secret resque mission earlier this week by following the freighter in the Arabian Sea for several days. They decided to attempt the operation when intelligence hinted at the fact that "mother ship" was leaving a Somali port.

The captain of the ship, who was shot in the stomach, was the only crew member that suffered injuries. Moreover, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak recognized the courageous resque through a nationally televised address. He also mentioned that the US military was involved in the operation by performing a medical evacuation.

Aleksandra Ruseva

No Progress as Iran Nuclear Talks End

Two days of talks between Iran and six world powers (United Nations Permanent members of Security Council plus Germany) ended in failure this Saturday. Iran refused to engage on any concrete proposals to build confidence that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. Iran insists its nuclear program is only for civilian energy, but most of the rest of the world believes that the program has military purpose. Iran is under four sets of Security Council sanctions for refusing to cease enrichment and other activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons. Also, Iran has regularly kept its enrichment activities secret from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The talks in Istanbul are scheduled to continue on Saturday. They are the second round of talks between Iran and the six after negotiations resumed last month in Geneva, breaking a 14-month hiatus.

Kazuya Usui

US downplays Taiwan before Hu visit

The US will try to keep Taiwan as far down the agenda as possible during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) three-day state visit to Washington this week.
During a lengthy White House briefing on the visit, US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon detailed the main topics to be covered during all of Hu’s talks with US President Barack Obama and never once mentioned Taiwan.
China experts agree that US arms sales to Taiwan are of enormous importance to Beijing and conclude that Washington has -decided to play the issue down and leave it up to the other side to introduce it.
Obama has met Hu eight times in the last two years and it is believed that Hu raised Taiwan on each of these occasions.
Hu will arrive in Washington tomorrow evening and will have dinner that night in the private White House residence with Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donilon. The Chinese president will be accompanied by two senior aides.
Both sides have agreed that the topic of conversation that night will be the overall relationship.
Donilon said they would talk about the tone of the relationship, its purpose, areas of cooperation and whether the right mechanisms for dealing with problems are in place.
They will also discuss how they see the relationship developing over the next 10, 15 and 20 years.

By Annie Hung

Southern Sudan Vote Unanimous

Southern Sudanese have voted unanimously to become their own independent nation. 83% of the vote in the south of Sudan has been counted and of that percent 98.6% has voted for the southern half of Sudan to become its own nation. It has been determined that enough people have voted for the results to be valid. The official results will be announced on February 14 and if no major events happen to set back the split between the North and South of Sudan then the South should become its own independent nation in July of 2011.

Brian Campbell

Friday, January 21, 2011

Obama Warned Hu to pressure North Korea:

President Obama cautioned Chinese President, Hu Jintao, about acting to keep North Korea under control or else U.S. forces in Asia might have to be redeployed. Obama claims that Washington has been persuaded due to various factors that Pyongyang had become a danger to the United States along with Pyongyang’s allies in Asia. North Korea was the main topic of concern between Obama and Hu during the oval office talks that occurred on Wednesday. The warning was apparently given over a phone call the past month and brought up again at a dinner on Tuesday. These discussions between the two Presidents resulted in North Korea offering to engage in military dialogue with South Korea to alleviate some of the current friction. The interaction between the two Koreas would be the first time the two communicated since last November when North Korea launched an artillery attack on the South Korean Island. Obama mentioned to Hu that the U.S. might have to make some changes such as intensifying its military exercises in Northeast Asia due to the aggressive behavior of the North. We talked a little in class how one state that feels threatened will in a sense “show off” to whom they feel threatened in an attempt to pressure that state to back away from engaging in conflict.

By: Taryn Vaughan

Facebook growing in Asia

As Americans, we have watched in horror as our parents, uncles and aunts, even our grandparents join facebook. Half of the U.S. population is on facebook. Now, facebook is exploding in Asia. As the Asian middle class rises, the price of internet access continues to fall. The boom can be contributed to Asians infatuation with online games, many join facebook just to have access to online games such as 'farmville' that facebook provides. Asians also are flocking to join facebook due to its easy access via the use of mobile devices. Despite the rapid increase of facebook users in Asia, its most cruical market, China, still has facebook banned. Why? People don't have freedom of speech in China? Yet they still have their own social network site that is actually allowed in China, called RenRen. Seriously? Just because facebook comes from a western civilization you block it? Get with the times Communists! No offense, its just silly.

Brandon VanLoon

Chilean Natural Gas Price Crisis Averted

The chilean government had wanted to take away subsidies that kept natural gas prices down in the southern most part of Chile, called Magallanes, thus increasing prices by 17%. Magallanes is the southern most province of Chile which means it is the part of Chile closest to Antartica. So roads become Icy, temperatures become very cold, and in result citizens use more natural gas to keep there houses warm. This part of Chile depends on having low natural gas prices so that they can keep living in that part of Chile. This part of Chile has the highest amount of tourism do to the Torres del Paine National Park. The minister of mining and energy, Laurance Golborne, was sent to negotiate a settelement to the dispute, because there had been riots about the rising gas prices. He was able to knock the increase down to just 3%, with an increase in subsidies for costs of living for those living in poverty. The riots stranded 3,000 tourists at the National Park and shut down many trade routes in and out of the area, thus creating concern for Argetina, whose Tierra del Fuego province borders the Magallanes region.

Zach Howell

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nigerian Flashpoint City Jos: Army 'Shoot-to-kill' Orders

Jos is at the epicenter of tension between Hausa Muslims and Berom Christians as the country remains divided. Its position has proven to be a breeding ground for heightened political and religious unrest over the last decade as it sits on the fault line between Nigeria's north and south. As a result, Nigeria's army has stated its soldiers have been given orders to 'shoot-to-kill' to maintain order in the city of Jos. Military spokesman Capt. Charles Ekeocha has publicly warned community leaders within Jos that the military would fire on anyone committing acts of violence in order to protect civilians.

Dennie Whitlow

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Iran: Sanctions Won't Stop Nuclear Drive

Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that Tehran is making progress on its nuclear program. On the eve of a meeting of world powers in Turkey the Iranian President and other officials have made it very clear that they will not discuss their state's right to the enrichment of uranium. Which is where the western nations are skeptical of Iran's talks of nuclear power instead seeing it as a guise for developing warheads. Iran held tours of its enriching facilities as a gesture to be more transparent towards its nuclear program, but no world powers were present and the U.S, Britan, France, and Germany were not even invited.

Brandon Borkovec

Emergency Operation to Fight Hunger in Yemen

In Yemen, the people suffer from food, fuel, and and financial crisis which leaves many people in poverty and unable to afford basic food needs. There are alarmingly high numbers of people who are suffering of hunger and high levels of malnutrition. Over 7 million people in Yemen are suffering from malnutrition mostly due to the high prices of food. The World Food Programme has started a two year program in order to help these starving people. The cost of this operation is 77 million dollars which would help deliver rations of food to impoverished families. Another way the WFP seek to help the people of Yemen is reintroducing agricultural assets. As of late the cost of the project is far outweighing the funds they have available. The WFP only has 10 million, which is 67 million dollars short in order to help feed over 1.8 million Yemenis.

Japanese Scientists Plan to Clone Woolly Mammoths

Japanese scientist have recently release plans to clone the ancient woolly mammoth, for an exhibit in a safari park in Siberia. The plan is to extra viable sperm DNA from the remains of woolly mammoths buried in Siberia. Scientist then plan to inject the sperm into a female elephant, hoping to eventually create an animal that is 88% mammoth.

Other scientists however, claim that it is extremely unlikely to find viable DNA to use for cloning. And that even if they did find usable DNA and clone a mammoth that it would be unethical because the environment for woolly mammoths does not exist another. If created they would just be raised as an exhibit.

Never the less, Japanese scientists are determined, and have trips to Siberia planned to excavate remains. The project is being called The Mammoth Creation Project.

By: Kaitlyn Gordon

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rising price of property in China

The prices for homes in China have risen 6.4% from the previous year. Measures have been taken in attempt to slow the housing market. The first of these measures is a property tax. It was confirmed by the mayor of Shanghai that the tax will be introduced sometime this year. Other cities are also planning to implement similar property taxes. The second measure requires buyers to have a minimum of 30% cash component when purchasing property. This is an increase from previous requirements. Despite these measures, both property prices and purchases still remain to increase.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Venezuela's Chavez says may return decree powers early

On Saturday, President Hugo Chavez said that he might be willing to return is his decree powers early by May. In December, in order to pass laws by decree for 18 months, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has granted power. Chavez says that in 5 months, they will carry out the laws that they need to confront the emergency. Talking about the major flood that left thousands of people homeless.

Yasmeen Kiswani

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dictator Returns to Haiti

On Sunday Jean-Claude Duvalier unexpectedly arrived in Haiti. The former dictator has been absent for the past 25 years after he was forced into exile by an uprising against him . There is a great deal of controversy about his presence- he has not yet commented on his reason for being in the country. Some believe he plans to speak about the earthquake and aftermath, while others suspect a political move. Duvalier's dictatorship was characterized by oppression and fear, continued from the rule of his father Francois Duvalier. However, there may be those in favor of his return because he may bring stability to the broken political and economic environment of Haiti. Although there have not yet been any violent reactions to his arrival, the general atmosphere is one of uncertainty and anxiety.

Claire Van der Vort

US retail sales rise but economic questions remain

After everything had been counted in the holiday shopping season it appeared that the US economy was on a comeback. Sales grew by over .6% in December making it one of the largest jumps since 1999. Also in this past year petrol went up 8.5% and core inflation was up only .1% in December. '
December was full of a mix of up and downs for the US economy. "December's gains were smaller than in the previous two months, as retailers began sales earlier and parts of the country were hit by bad weather which prevented shoppers visiting stores." While at the same time federal reserve production rose 0.8%, the biggest increase in five months.Us whole sale prices saw there biggest jump in a long time and over one million houses were repossessed in 2010.
Experts remained mixed on how positive the future is for the economy. Its a long road ahead. At years end the Dow Jones index showed little growth.

Nicole LeDonne

New Leader In Tunisia, New Freedoms for Citizens

Since Tunisia's former leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and his family have fled to Saudi Arabia amidst angry, anti-government protests, the parliament speaker Fouad Mebazaa has been sworn in as acting president. President Ben Ali held power for just over twenty years. Under Mebazaa's new reign, internet restrictions have been lifted and the speed of the internet has been increased. Mebazaa has spoken about "pursuing the best interests of the nation," and allowing increased access to the internet is an early sign of good faith. Although the internet has become more available, Tunisian citizen's are still functioning under a nationwide curfew.

Courtney Darnell

Gun battles, food shortages temper tunisia joy

While things are beginning to look up for the people of Tunisia the country still has a long way to go before it stabilizes. The Prime Minister is promising to establish a new government on monday but it is questionable whether that can halt the slide into anarchy for the freshly "liberated" country. With firefights breaking out between the newly appointed presidential guard and militias comprised of Ben Ali loyalists masquerading as civilians. There are shortages of milk, bread, and fish markets are selling three day old wares, most stores didn't open on Sunday. Citizens have organized into roving neighborhood watch groups armed with bats and golf clubs.
With the chaos in their government subsiding hopefully Tunisia can rally from these dier straits and provide and example for future countries wishing to discard authoritarian leaders.

Dylan Tate

ROBOTS seen as solution to Japans aging, and shrinking population

Ever seen the movie I Robot? or Surrogates?

The population of Japan is only getting smaller as the population gets older. According to the PRB (Population Reference Bureau) almost one fourth of Japans population was 65 years or older.

This number is expected to decline significantly, by 2055 the population is predicted to shrink from 127 million to 90 million people.

With the dwindling workforce, who will be able to take care of the elderly?

Introduce robots into the scene. Robots are seen as a potential solution to the population problem versus the politically sticky solution of allowing large numbers of foreign immigrants to fill much-needed health care positions and low-skill service-oriented roles.

In Japan, foreign workers only make up about 2% compared to the 15% in the U.S. Some reports suggest Japans government has a strong xenophobic attitude towards immigration.

It’s still unknown whether Japan will choose a long-term solution to its population issues by allowing more foreign workers or increased use of robots.

Brandon VanLoon

China Surpasses the United States in Energy Consumption

In 2010, China passed the United States in amount of energy consumed in a year. The U.S. has held that spot since the early 1900's. Using oil as a standard unit of measuring energy, The U.S. used the equivalent of 2,170 million barrels of oil last year compared to China's 2,252 barrels. This was due to the economic recession hitting the U.S. much harder than China, causing less industrial activity and Americans to use less energy. Also because China's energy use has been growning swiftly in recent years. This means that many energy companies will be looking to China to grow their businesses.

Alex Damske

Irish Prime Minister Will Not Step Down As Party Head

Brian Cowen, the Irish Prime Minister, announced that despite current pressure he will not resign as the leader of the Fianna Fail governing party. This news comes after news that a senior minister and his own backbenchers were leading the movement to oust him.
The apparent leader of this movement is the Foreign Minister, Micheal Martin, who is currently vying for Cowen's position after Cowen refused to leave. This all comes after the $113 billion bailout of the Irish economy and the subsequent drop in approval ratings of the Fianna Fail party and a drop in the approval ratings for Mr. Cowen.
The current belief is that Cowen cannot continue as the leader of this party and that he will eventually have to retire before the spring elections. The reasoning behind these beliefs is the current scandal Cowen is in after he was photographed playing golf with one of Ireland's top bankers who eventually had to be bailed out by the government after the downturn in the property market.

Spencer Darrow

Cameron and The NHS

The National Health System in Britain differs from our private health insurance system. Every citizen in Britain is covered by the NHS no matter how young or old you are the NHS serves everyone. There are many pros and cons with this type of system. The hospitals and doctors are outnumbered by the patients. Cameron the PM of Britain is seeking to reform and modernize the NHS in order to help serve the citizens in a more effective and helpful way. He states that every year they continue to not change anything, is another year that the health of patients lag behind the rest of Europe's.

Katie Kruse

Iran: US spy planes shot down outside air space

Iran says that two U.S. unmanned spy planes that were shot down earlier this month were actually outside Iranian airspace. Originally, Iran had said that the two planes were inside Iranian airspace, and that was the reason they were shot down. However, the U.S. 5th Fleet, stationed in the Gulf, had not reported the loss of any of its aircraft. Iran frequently holds drills along the Gulf, to ready itself in case of attack from U.S. or Israeli forces on its nuclear facilities.

Jacob McCarty

Child Sex Trafficking in the UK

Reporters say that child sex trafficking is a problem on the rise in the United Kingdom. Children as young as 10 years old are being sexually exploited. Over 1,000 children have been saved from this business. In just one year there was a 4% increase in the number of children groomed for trafficking. Although race is not the only factor, reporters claim that it is a strong contributing factor, for example, white black and asian children are main targets, and there have been recent arrests of nine asian men who were caught exploiting white girls at the age of 12.

Katie Kruse

In Tunisia, Clashes Continues as Power Shift a Second Time

In Tunisia, the swift change of government raised the question about what kind of government might emerge from riot which is still continuing. People at home and abroad worried that Tunisia could slide into chaos, laying the groundwork for a new strongman to emerge. Mr Ben Ali was viewed in the West as a reliable ally in the fight against the Islamic extremism flourishing in other parts of North Africa, and in Washington, national security experts said extremist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb could capitalize on the disorder to find a new foothold. But, it looks like there is no apparent leader or spokesman for the protest against joblessness and government corruption that forced Mr Ben Ali from power. Protesters immediately truned against the unconstitutional ascension of Mr. Ghannouchi, arguing that he was a crony of Mr. Ben Ali who came from the same hometown of Sousse. Also, exiled opposition leaders, many of whom have lived abroad for decades in France or Britain, prepared to returun in the hope of rekindling their movements.
It looks like whether Tunisia will be able to be stable or not depends on what kind of government will emerge, and whether they will be able to persuade their nations.

Kazuya Usui

South Korea Calls for UN Action on North Korean Uranium Enrichment Program

South Korea is asking for action to be taken by the UN to halt North Korea's continued development of their nuclear program. South Korea is being backed by the US and Japan, while North Korea is being supported by Russia and China. Talks between these six nations will be necessary, but the US is not willing to make any negotiations until it sees North Korea take actions that prove that it will cooperate in good faith. South Korea is also not willing to talk until North Korea admits to sinking a South Korean Warship last year that killed 46 sailors and shelling a South Korean island that killed 2 civilians and 2 marines. North Korea is trying to provoke hostility and is creating a direct threat to US security. The US feels that South Korea and North Korea must initiate talks with one another before progress can be made regarding the limitations on nuclear development and missile technology.

By Peter Zafiropoulos

Irish PM says he will seek re-election

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has announced that he will be seeking relection to his post as Prime Minister. This move of his is said to be in the best interests of the country, not in the interests of himself.

This coming Tuesday, his party is taking a secret ballot confidence vote.

Earlier today, the Foreign Affairs Minister said he is going to be voting against Cowen in the next election. Michael Martin has also offered his resignation. The prime minister did not accept his offer, and Martin will continue to be the foreign affairs minister. Martin believes that Fianna Fail, the party of the Prime Minister should change their leader before the next election.

The election is scheduled to take place in the coming months.

Cowen is at the center of controversy after he led the country into an economic downturn. Ireland accepted a bailout from the EU after Cowen said that the country was not in trouble. The Fianna Fail party has said that the bailout is going to help restore the Irish economy.
Ireland has been cutting the budget to pay for the bailout. Taxes have been raised while benefits have been lowered.

Cowen said he looks forward to restoring the Irish economy and that he takes full responsiblity for causing such a crisis in the country.

By: Brianne Thomas

A tall Frappuccino in Mumbai? Maybe, soon

On Janaury 13, starbucks signed a deal with a coffee conglomerate in India, which has been known as a previously untapped market. There are estimates that the India cafe market is growing by as much as 40 percent a year. In addition, going back to 1995 the nation has doubled, according to the Coffee Board of Indiacoffee, due to consumption in the traditionally tea-drinking . According to the article this deal with Tata Coffee Limited, could be an outlet for other retailer outlets in India and the global sale of Indian arabica beans, roasted at Tata's facility in Coorg, India. The sale of a cup of coffee at an upscale cafe, can set you back 70 rupees ($1.50). They say a Starbucks coffee might be a little too grande for the citizens wallet, but according to sources about half of India's population are under 25 many of them have freshly acquired disposable income to spend in fashionable, Western-style places like malls and restaurants.

By Delaina Flagg

Close presidential election in Haiti, but is there corruption?

In Haiti there was a presidential election and there was no clear winner. The ruling party's candidate Celestin claimed to have won 2nd place by a very narrow margin. But after 3rd place candidate Martelly claimed fraud; the Organization of American States is recommending that Celestin step down from the runoff with 1st place vote earner Manigat.

This should be very interesting to see how this plays out. If Haiti has a corrupt president will the country ever recover from the earthquake? With so much money having not yet been spent; if the apparently corrupt current president "wins", will groups be willing to allow the money to be spent in the country? The world wants to help the people of Haiti but is the world ready to make the rich richer, and allow corruption to continue? This election could change the face of Haiti, but will it be of one of recovery and success? Or will it be one of corruption and brutality poor conditions for most of the citizens?

By James Lambert

Risk of disease grows as flooding deaths increase in Brazil

We all heard of the flooding that has happened in Brazil. Well according to the Brazilian government in this article, the death toll has continued to rise surpassing 600. Now, citizens are being warned of the risk of waterborne diseases, such as malaria, hepatitis, hookworm infection, and other disease. According to the article there have been several thousands of vaccines given against tetanus and diphtheria.

China's Hu Jintao: Currency system is 'product of past

Criticism has come from both the United States and China on the issue of currency. China is complaining about the US Federal Reserve's decision to inject $600bn into the economy. Which China is saying, "Weakens the dollar at the expense of other countries' exports". The US on the other hand, is shooting back accusations at China saying China is manipulating their currency to boost the country's exports. It seems countries trying to weaken their currency so to make their products more appealing (cheaper) for the consumers. By having a lower currency, countries are likely to see increased exports with other countries which leads to stronger international ties. Looking at what happens when a country's currency is high makes Japan a terrific example. As an effect of their currency being high there are few exports out of the country because people can buy products elsewhere. This dooms Japan to face an economic crisis by lowering the country's outside trade. So far the US dollar has been the dominate international currency but looking toward the future it seems that the yuan is making progress to move forward.
To view the article and Chinese President Hu Jinta's interview:

- Kathleen Fultz

47 Dead from Flooding in the Philippines; 1.5 million affected

The Philippines national disaster agency has comfirmed that 47 people have lost their lives due to the intensive flooding going on in the area. The monsoons have hit 25 provinces of the country and inturn triggered flooding and land slides. Total, about 1.5 million people have been affected by the monsoons and over 2000 houses have either been destroyed or damaged. For now there is a total of four people missing.

John McWard

47 Dead from Flooding in the Philippines; 1.5 Million Affected

For the past few weeks the Philippines has been dealing with heavy rainfall, flooding, and landslides, all triggered by an earlier monsoon. More than 1.5 million people in 25 provinces have been affected according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The region of Caraga holds the greatest number of affected people at 600,000.
Moreover, 47 deaths have been caused by drowning, landslides, and electrocution, and at least four people remain missing. 503 homes are now destroyed along with 1,914 others that received some damages.
A medical team and supplies are to land in Siruma, Camarines Sur, on Sunday to address the critical condition of 450 households dealing with diarrhea.

Aleksandra Ruseva

Chernobyl: Enviornmental dead zone or eco-haven?

CNN recently took a look at the nuclear site at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and what they found was rather surprising. What they discovered is that life is, in fact, starting to sprout forth from the desecrated ground in that some plants have adapted to the radioactive conditions. Animals, however, are still extremely affected by the adverse effects; the animals located near Chernobyl are slowly on the decline, even after 25 years. They have also discovered that cesium is still the most common element around the area.

by Jim Michalik

Iran Holds Tour of Nuclear Facility for International Envoys

Iran allowed a group of international envoys to visit one of its uranium enrichment facilities ahead of a new round of talks on its atomic program. No representatives from the major powers that are negotiating with Iran attended the tour.

Envoys from Syria, Algeria, Venezuela, Egypt, Oman and Cuba visited the site with Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, according to a report by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The European Union, Russia and China were invited to take part and declined. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Jan. 7 it’s the “role” of the IAEA to inspect nuclear sites in Iran.

Iran is under international sanctions for refusing to scale back its nuclear work, which the U.S. and allies say may be cover for weapons development. Iranian leaders deny the charge.

Iran resumed nuclear talks last month in Geneva with the so-called P5+1 nations -- United Nations Security Council permanent members China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. plus Germany -- after more than a year. The second round will take place in Istanbul on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22.

While Iran has agreed to pursue talks, it said it would “absolutely not” suspend the production of enriched uranium, a material that can fuel a reactor or, at higher concentrations, form the core of a bomb. The work is at the heart of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian officials say the tour is part of Iran’s “policy of transparency.”

The foreign representatives visited the country’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, central Tehran, IRNA said. The visit follows a tour yesterday of Iran’s Arak heavy water facility, the report said.

The Persian Gulf state arranged a similar trip for foreign envoys in Feb. 2007.

By: William B. Robinson

Rioting in Tunisia

The Tunisian Special Forces and members of the President’s security force battled on Sunday. The fighting occurred close to the Presidential palace and more gun battle occurred close to the capital a few days later. Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali , the President of Tunisia , was removed from his presidency after being president for 23 years. The security official of Ben Ali is being sent to court , charged with contributing to the violence and threatening of the National Security.

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi was recently appointed and has delivered a message of hope to the people of Tunisia. Apparently, the prime minister has assured the people of Tunisia that on Monday a new government would be revealed.

Speaker of the parliament Mebazza (interim President) requested that Ghannouchi form a government of national unity. The President election should happen within sixty days. There is also a dispute over when elections should be held and that two months is too fast according to two opposition parties.;_ylt=Aqoter5lFieEs512bEK8g1FvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJrMWVta2dxBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwMTE2L3VzX3R1bmlzaWFfcHJvdGVzdHMEY3BvcwMxBHBvcwMyBHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcnkEc2xrA3R1bmlzaWFmb3JjZQ-

By: Taryn Vaughan