Saturday, April 30, 2011

Attack Said to Kill Son but Spare Qaddafi

The spokesperson of the Libyan government announced that the airstrikes launched by NATO killed one of Col. Qaddfi's sons and three grandsons. But Qaddfi and his wife who at the time of attack were at the house of the son claimed killed and escaped unhurt. The son whose name is Seif al-Arab Muammar el-Qaddafi, 29 is believed not directly involved with the regime. On Saturday, Gaddfi's offer for ceasefire and negotiation was rejected by NATO. Read more at:

Submitted By: Namgyel Dorji

Friday, April 29, 2011

China's population increases as human rights issues remain unresolved

Based on the latest 2010 census reports, the population of China has risen from 1.27 billion to 1.339 billion in the last decade, a total increase of 73 million people or 5.7%.  This increase is actually right on track with projections of a 2010 population of 1.34 billion and was a smaller increase than the previous decade.  Demographically, China is also changing.  People under the age of 14 now make up only 17% of the population, which is down 6%.  This means that as the workforce is aging and there will be less young people to take over the jobs.  There has also been a great shift from rural to urban life.  Urban populations now consist of half of the total population, having increased by 13%, and the amount of migrant laborers, rural Chinese that migrate to cities to work in factories, has risen by 81%.  Family size has shrunk from 3.4 people per family to 3.1 - evidence that the one-child policy has been effective at controlling population growth.  China is also becoming more educated, with a 3% increase in literacy rates - now only 4% of the Chinese population cannot read - and 9% of the population has received university-level education - more than doubling in the last decade.  The most surprising statistic has been the gender ratio.  In recent years, there had been fears that the male population would far outnumber the female population due to the one-child policy and the favoring of male children.  However, as of 2010, the Chinese population is 51% male and 49% female.  Since the first Chinese census 60 years ago, the population has more than doubled.  All of these changes present challenges to China, both economically, with an aging population and a migrant laborer population of over 200 million searching for work, as well as politically, as uniting 1.34 billion people in a "harmonious society" has led to human rights violations and crackdowns on Christians, lawyers and artists.
The US recently met with Chinese officials in Beijing to present their grievances on China's internal human rights practices.  US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner led the talks, condemning the way the Chinese government has handled recent Jasmine-style revolutions and asking where disappeared activists are.  Posner was unsatisfied with the Chinese response, as they simply opposed foreign interference in their domestic politics and presented the US as "aggressive" and as a Western pressure in state-run media.  The US claims it is not pressuring the Chinese government, but merely asking questions that many Chinese citizens have been asking themselves.  Posner ultimately sees the current refusal to cooperate on this issue as a "serious backslide" considering that in January President Hu Jintao told President Obama that China still had a lot to do in terms of human rights.  Next month, Chinese and the US officials will meet in Washington for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue and again in June for a dialogue between legal experts.

Mark Zajac

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Illicit Trade Of Cuban Cigars

The Congress of Cuba recently approved a reform that would encourage state-owned enterprises to become more autonomous. On the flip side of the reform, these same enterprises would then be subjected to numerous thorough audits. The reform led to officials discovering corruption in the country's cigar industry. The cigars' commercial vice-president, Mr. Garcia, was incarcerated after he was accused of selling genuine Cuban cigars in the black market at a fraction of the original cost in exchange for generous bribes. These less expensive cigars pose a threat to online cigar retailers in several countries. Since Cuba established policies to only sell cigars to one distributor per region, the effect of the illicit trade of genuine cuban cigars hurt the distributors involved, such as the British company Imperial Tobacco which inherited a 50% stake in Habanos when it bought Altadis, a Franco-Spanish firm, in 2008. Companies like this rely on the new reform to ensure that the monopoly of Cuban cigars is restored.

-Gilberto Perez

U.S. is still on top

Recently the IMF came out with a stat that China will surpass the U.S. by 2016 in its economic power and capabilities. However, the statistic that was chosen is not even close to the truth because it is merely one of the multitude of factors. When looking at GDP, China's is merely 1/3 the size of the U.S.

Greg Voegtle

Tornadoes spread devastation in the South

On Wednesday, a terrifying barrage of tornadoes swept through the South, including Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, and Kentucky, leaving 285 dead and more than 800 injured. Alabama was hit the hardest, accounting for more than half of the death toll. Search and rescue teams are still digging through debris for survivors. The storms razed neighborhoods and entire towns, resulting in nearly 1,700 people in Red Cross shelters on Wednesday night. The storms also left more than a million people in Alabama without power, as dozens of major power lines were knocked down. The full extent of the damage has yet to be determined, but it is undoubtedly catastrophic. According to one survivor, “Everything’s gone. Their cars are gone. Everything. These people ain’t got nothing.” President Obama will be in Alabama tomorrow afternoon and the federal government has pledged its assistance to this dire tragedy.

Megan Borows

Withholding Aid as a Human Rights Violation

After visiting North Korea to discuss ways to lower tensions on the Korean Peninsula, former President Jimmy Carter excoriated the United States for withholding humanitarian aid from North Korea. He maintained that given the country's impoverished state, refusing North Korean citizens assistance could be categorized as a human rights violation.

Carter traveled with three other members of Elders, which is a group of world leaders established by Nelson Mandala. The group that traveled to North Korea consisted of Carter, Harlem Brundtland of Norway, Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, and Mary Robinson of Ireland. Robinson and Brundtland provided more details on the seriousness of the crisis in North Korea: a lack of food supplies, severe flooding, disease, a lack of running water in hospitals, a shortage of important medicines, and malnourishment in children to the point of brain damage.

Although the group was supposed to meet with Kim Jong-il, but that didn't end up happneing. Instead, they met with Kim Yong-nam, who is the head of the North Korean People's Assembly, who read them a letter from Kim Jong-il. The letter said that he is ready to negotiate with South Korea, the U.S., or any other countries that made up the six-party talks that ended in 2009 when North Korea withdrew.

-Gracie Hollister

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Japans Economy Taking Hard Hit

There are a few factors contributing to the fall of Industrial Output in Japan. This past March factory output in Japan hit an all time high at 15.3%. in 2009 Japan's factory output fell 8.6% due to world economical crisis. One reason why this is happening is of course because of the earthquake and Tsunami which left Japan devastated. The shortage of supplies to produce products in another reason why the output in Japan is failing. Due to the damage of nuclear plants and electricty production is also falling short. Analysts say they cannot foresee when production will return to normal. Automobile production is amongst the largest industry seeing these effects. This is important because as a global market other countries are going to start seeing shortages on technology items we rely on Japan to import.

Katie Kruse

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Italy and France Want Tighter Controls on Migration

Italian and French government officials are hoping for changes to the Schengen Agreement, which permits free passage across Western Europe because both countries are facing huge numbers of North African refugees flooding their countries. Since 1985 European Union has dismantled border controls for it citizens and the citizens of other countries to pass freely. Though it is unlikely that the European Union would revise the Schengen Agreement, the request itself reflects the anti-immigration views of the current parties in control of the governments there. Because European citizens are able to move from country to country once in Europe, North African immigrants can move easily between European countries. The request for changes to Schengen have become a means of relieving tension between the two countries, since France is championing the fight in Libya leading to large numbers of Libyans to immigrate legally or illegally to Italy. France has also been reluctant to admit Tunisian immigrants from Italy, and Italy has issued travel papers to encourage Tunisians to move to France.

by Margaret Nunne

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thousands line up for last glimpse of Indian guru

Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian religious leader, was laid to rest on Monday. He was easily recognizable by all, with a halo of frizzy dark hair and orange robes; the color of holiness in India. Thousands of mourners paid respects on Monday, remembering his generosity and selfless, who continuously helped others with the billions of dollars that had been donated to his charity. Hundreds of volunteers helped guide the mourners passed the glass coffin surrounded by flower garlands. Sai Baba had some critics, saying his fake magic conjured up Rolex watches and jewelry and possibly sexually abusing followers. The critics did not stop the mourners from lining up to say their goodbyes. The Dalai Lama said he was saddened by Sai Baba's passing: "I would like to convey my condolences and prayers to all the followers, devotees and admirers of the late spiritual leader." Prior to his death Sai Baba had been hospitalized for nearly a month. Read more

Posted by Christine Steinbeiss

Syria instablilty

Not only have the eruptions in Egypt been a concern for African and Middle Eastern stability, but also the events in Syria. In Syria the regiem consists of a elite minority whose policies have created much disent among the population. Their relationship with Hezbollah and Iran creates much concern over the the power balance in the middle east. Their relationship to funneling recruits into Iraq, and being used as an ideal recruiting ground for other terroirst groups in the region is what makes the result of the turmoil in Syria so substantial.

Greg Voegtle

Syrian leaders take further action against protesters

After Syria lifted an emergency law last week, officials told protesters there was no reason to rally any longer. Since then, however, there have been reports of a number of crackdowns and arrests, clearly indicating that not all the protesters have gone home. Protesters began calling for reform, and even the removal of current President Bashar al-Assad, in Deraa a month ago, and the government of Syria has now taken action against that city, rolling in troops supported by tanks. The troops numbered around 5,000 and there were 7 tanks, according to witnesses. The electricity has also been cut, so activists cannot easily communicate with one another. There have been witness accounts that these troops have fired on the city and surrounding suburbs, with between 5-25 people reportedly having been killed. The Security Council is in the process of drafting a statement condemning these violent actions, but that is the extent of UN action so far, though some, including UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay have spoken out against this newest movement. Foreign journalists are not allowed into the country to report on these events, so much of the information is second hand and cannot be fully verified. Without objective eyes and ears, it is hard to say whether these accounts are being blown out of proportion by the activists or if things are actually much worse than we've found out so far.

-Abbey Smith

Northern Ireland is strengthening Security

A few weeks back, a car bomb killed a police officer in Northern Ireland. Now the police of Northern Ireland have strengthened security and found three sets of bombmaking equipment. There have been other signs of potential violence occurring. They are predicting something might happened to the Queen during her three day visit and they think the republicans could be the cause of this mayhem.

Richard (RJ) McNichols

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Azerbaijan cracks down hard on protests

Apparently the revolution bug is infectious. However, Azerbaijan has squashed them as soon as they happen.  Troops shut down demonstrations before they even happened. Protestors were carried off for speaking. However, some feel that the start of revolutions all over the Arab world are not surprising:

"Rasul Jafarov, a lawyer with the human rights organisation "Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety", says the revolutions in the Arab world are now inspiring people here to take to the streets.

"For the past five years the situation was very bad when it comes to guaranteeing human rights and freedoms," he said.

"People just waited and waited and waited. But because of events in the Arab world, people here now understand that they should go and ask the government to meet their demands. Now people realise they have a real chance of changing something."

This explains the current trend. See article below.

posted by Rima Gungor

Hundreds escape by tunnel from Kandahar Prison

In this alarming article on the BBC, the author reports the 500 Taliban inmates escaped via tunnel from Kandahar's prison in Afghanistan. However, the Kandahar provincial governor stated that the escapees were caught but refused to give exact numbers. This is a bit worry-some and  brings into question how prisons are being run and whether security is taken seriously.

post by Rima Gungor

Classified Files Offer New Information on

Thailand and Cambodia Clash Again in Border Dispute

Friday began a long range artillery firing between Thailand and Cambodian troops, continuing to sunday. Only 10 people have been killed while thousands of residents on either side of the boarder were evacuated. Like children caught in a fight on the playground both countries accused the other for starting it. Two ancient Hindu temples located near Preah Vihear continues to be the focus of tension between both countries since 2008 when the U.N. acknowledged it as a World Heritage site of Cambodia. Obviously, Thailand also claims ownership of the area, stirring up dissension between. It is unclear how long the feud will last but the U.N. has stepped in to be the voice of reason calling an effective cease-fire so they could begin a peaceful resolution.

Ana Foster

China, Japan, South Korea in Talks for Trilateral Trade Pact

China, Japan, and South Korea's trade ministers met in Tokyo to come to an agreement on free-flowing trades and investments. They all agreed that in order to sustain and increase economic growth for all three countries, some sort of compromise needs to be made. They have watched as the United States economy fell and they are trying to prevent such a tragedy in their borders. They have set up a Joint Study Committee (JST) and have already begun examining options for this type of market. China and South Korea are among Japan's largest trading partners and after the tragic situation, Japan really needs to recover their economy in order to grow. China and South Korea both understand that their support is vital in order to get Japan back on its feet. Not only that, but their support will also prompt production to China and South Korea more quickly.

Jen Crawford
(To read more on Japan's economic downfall,

Chinese Authorities Block Easter in Beijing

This article talked about how hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers kept people from entering the Shouwang Church. Sources say that the congregation had spent months on preparing for a Easter service, but the police said that they were stationed at the church for "security purposes." The police even had the senior pastor of the church under house arrest, as well as several other members from the congregation. The Shouwang Church is one of the largest illegal "houses" (or unofficial churches) in the country, with more usually hundreds of people gathering to worship. One independent pastor said that this kind of reaction from the government towards believers in faith will only have the opposite impact of what they are looking for. He was quoted saying, "Worshippers are not a threat to stability, not a threat to society, and not a threat to China's harmonious society." Over the past month, the article said that over 200 churchgoers have been arrested. The actual number of practicing Christians in China is not very clear, but there have been speculations of 15 million all the way up to 130 million.

Beijing Easter Services Blocked

So much for a happy easter. Worshippers, who have spent several months preparing for Easter services at a church in northwestern Beijing, were detained immediately on arrival. The Shouwang Church, who hold the one of the largest Christian gatherings in the country, have had a history of struggles. In November, the church congregation was forcibly removed from their previous place of worship by local authorities. As originally planned, the church had planned to defy the mandates of the Communist government by having the services. Unofficially, it has been reported that there are about 130 million Chinese citizens who actively practice Christianity.

-Tharryn Wright

Nigeria election violence 'left more than 500 dead'

Nigerian civil rights groups say that over 500 people died during the recent elections when a Christian candidate Goodluck Jonathan defeated a northern Muslim candidate. Muslim activist became violent when the results became clear and started burning churches and staging riots. Of course, soon Muslims became targets of retaliation attacks. Thousands have fled their homes.

Experts think these riots can be more attributed to economic and social differences rather than religious ones.

Renee Hessing

Sri Lankan War Crimes

The UN has compiled a report on a compilation of alleged war crimes that were committed during the countries civil war. In addition to the concern that the public release of this document might hurt the post-war ethnic reconciliation efforts, Sri Lanka's external affairs minister in of the opinion that the UN went beyond its mandate by compiling the report in the first place. Apparently, in the initial UN mandate, the committee was only meant to be an advisory body to Ban Ki-moon, instead an investigation took place resulting in this now controversial report. Other arguments against the release of this report include the potential creditability damage it may cause to the UN as it did indeed overstep its limits. The Sri Lankan president has gone so far as to ask supporters to protest against the war crimes investigation on May 1st.

megan smith

Growth slows when GDP reaches certain point - China's getting close

Emerging markets such as China, India, and Brazil are rapidly growing right now, but as the author states, "Gaining ground on the leaders is far easier than overtaking them."

Naturally the initial growth rate of an emerging economy is going to be far higher than that of a leading economy. Those who are trying to catch up tend to take the path that the leaders have already blazed for them. Borrowing technology and increased productivity from shifting workers from agriculture to manufacturing boost savings and investment. This allows emerging economies to narrow the gap in a rather short amount of time.

After this burst of wealth and prosperity it becomes more difficult for emerging economies to continue this growth rate because the amount of loanable ideas becomes depleted. Now these countries must become innovators thus making improvements more difficult and causing growth rates to slow.

A research study shows that when an emerging country's per-head GDP reaches approximately $16,740 their growth rate tends to fall nearly 3% the following year. In accordance with this study China could hit this "middle income trap" by 2015 due to their aging population, low value of consumption, and a relatively undervalued currency. Governmental reforms may help fend off this trend, but only time will tell if China's growth rate will take a blow.

By Tommy Walker

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yemeni President to Resign

Today, Saturday President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has agreed to deal proposed by Gulf Cooperation Counsel to step down within 30 days and hand over the power he held onto for more than three decades to his deputy. In return for his agreement, Mr. Saleh would be given immunity from prosecution. The opposition movement accusing Mr. Saleh's regime for poverty and corruption started protesting two months ago. The protests met with violence over the past two months when Mr. Saleh tried to ease the unrest in the country without any luck. The President also pledged that he won't run for re-election after his term ends in 2013 or that his son would succeed him, but both the options failed. Follow at:

Submitted By: Namgyel Dorji

Friday, April 22, 2011

US-China Human Rights Talks

Next week, the Chinese and American governments will hold two days of talks on human rights in Beijing.  The discussions will focus particularly on human rights within China, such as freedom of speech and religion as well as minority rights.  These talks come at a time when China has been cracking down on dissidents, like artist Ai Weiwei, for expressing their anti-government views.  The US is particularly troubled by "forced disappearances" and "extralegal detentions" of Chinese citizens.

Mark Zajac

Toyota Making Drastic Production Cuts after Japan Quake and Tsunami

The aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that pounded Japan about a month ago, now is leaving its mark on other countries around the work. Toyota announced on Wednesday that drastic production cuts would be taking place in North America and China. Toyota is having great difficulty supplying parts for the automobiles. Previously, Toyota announced they would suspend production on Mondays and Fridays between April 15 and April 25, but now that will be extended through June 3. During that period, production also will run at 50% on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays. In addition, Canadian production will be suspended for the week beginning May 23, and U.S. production for the week starting May 30. Toyota stated that no decisions have been made for production after June 3.

-Kristine Zizis

Security forces kill protesters in Syria

This morning in the outskirts of Damascus, as well as 20 other towns, security forces opened fire to disperse thousands of protesters, leaving 43 dead. So far, this is the bloodiest day of the five-week-old Syrian uprising. In the capital, hundreds of people were gathered after prayers at the al-Hassan Mosque, with many chanting, “The people want the fall of the government!” According to witnesses, security forces quickly dispersed these protesters with tear gas. Despite the widespread uprising, Syrian president Bashar al-Hassad has the loyalty of the military, who continue to break up protests across the country.

Megan Borows

100+ Bodies Found in Mass Graves

In the north-central state of Durango, twenty-six bodies were found in a mass grave in a lot owned by an auto shop in a residential area. The bodies were discovered as of late Wednesday evening, but so far none of the bodies have been identified due to the bodies already being heavily decomposed. Four other bodies were also found on April 11, 2011 and the same week so far 116 bodies had been found in multiple mass graves near the border of Texas. Fifty-nine bodies were found on April 6, 2011 just ninety miles south of Texas. Authorities have discovered that Martin Omar Estrada Luna is allegedly responsible for these mass graves as he is the leader of a drug cartel that has been operating in the area for years. Last week sixteen police officers of the area were arrested for allegedly protecting Luna and his operations. Seventy-two bodies were also found in the area last August. These bodies had been identified as immigrants from South American who were in route to claim the United States as their new home.

Summarized by: Heather Krizka

Click here to read more:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Economic Trouble in Venezuela

After Greece defaulted on its obligations in 2009, investors began to look at which European country was next. However, the next country that could face an economic crisis is Venezuela. Although Venezuela is one of the top oil producers, President Chavez's ravaging spending and misguided policies are crippling the the economy. Chavez cut petroleum output, its main export, from 3.3 million barrels per day in 1998 to 2.25 million barrels a day. A large percent of it is subsidized for national spending, leaving only a fraction left to export at full price. Moreover, a substantial amount of money has been borrow from China, which Venezuela is repaying in the form of oil shipments, cutting revenues even further. The president has also establish hostile policies towards businesses that have caused owners and investors to flee. This poor business decisions are placing financial pressure on the country and although the situation looks bad for Venezuela, there is a chance that the country will not go bankrupt. There is mention that President Chavez has a number of reserves stored in the Central Bank and in an unaudited fund. These assets along with the high oil prices will Venezuela from going into bankruptcy in the near future.

-Gilberto Perez

Women's Rights in Pakistan Take a Symbolic Blow

On Thursday, April 21, 2011, the Pakistani Supreme Court announced that it supports the acquittals of five of the six men who allegedly gang raped a young woman, Mukhtar Mai. Since 2002, when the rape took place, Mai has become a symbol of women's rights in Pakistan, and so human rights organizations and individuals of a similar mind are dismayed by the court's decision.

Mai was raped because the village council in Meerwala ordered it. The rape was a punishment for her brothers alleged illegal relations with a woman from the Mastoi tribe. In reality, he had not behaved in this way; rather, he was molested by a group of Mastoi men and this accusation was a cover up.

The legal battle has been a long one. At first, 14 men were charged, and 6, including the leader of the village council, were convicted and sentenced to death. Now all but one of those sentences has been reversed.

Mai decided to vocally condemn the rape, and in doing so she became a heroine of human rights and an encouragement to rape victims in Pakistan. According to the Human Rights Watch, although two of the Supreme Court's finest judges made this ruling, its decision was a disappointment to Mai and "a setback for...the broader struggle to end violence against women..."

-Gracie Hollister

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

South Africa's Internal Struggles

South Africa has long been seen as Africa's economic diamond in the ruff. It has just been added to the list of BRIC countries indicating a rising and prospering economy. Although there is a great deal of economic success in the nation of South Africa there remains a great deal of internal domestic issues that still haunt and will continue to unless dealt with. A vast majority of the populace in South Africa lives in extreme poverty. One of the biggest set backs that the nation faces has to do with the peoples general distrust for the governement and especially in regards to local government and their inability to deal with the heath, crime and poverty levels. There is always a great deal of scandal in the news with politicians, and this even goes as high up to the president. The forward moving and democratic ANC party does not seem to be providing the kind of initiatives which it has been running on since the end of the Apartheid, and with racial tensions still flaring in the country it is unlikely that a shift towards the Democratic Alliance.

Matt Boguslawski

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Britain Plans to send Military Advisors

Britain announced that it plans to send 10 military advisors to aid French troops already on the ground in Libya. The government made it clear they will not be aided the rebels with fighting but just helping organize their forces against Goddafi. Other important issues Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to aid French carry out in Libya include:
military structure
and humanitarian aid

Katie Kruse

Italy holds off on Nuclear

Italy's government decides to put their nuclear activity on hold due to Japan. According to Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani, Japan Fukushima plant had been leaking. In result, Italy is using alternative energy sources. Historically, nuclear power has been negatively viewed by the Italians, so this isn’t a surprise. Berlusconi wants to use nuclear power with the hopes of reducing the use of other countries’ resources, considering 86% of their energy is from outside countries.

Richard (RJ) McNichols

Violence in Nigeria

The extremely ethnically and regionally divided African nation of Nigeria is once again up in arms. Ethnic divides have been felt in this country since its creation and colonial times. With the reelection of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, serious riots and violence has erupted in the northern part of the country. It is estimated that over 100 people have been injured so far, and it has been reported that the violence has escalated to the use of guns. With representative and gubernatorial elections to come in the near future, there are many concerns if more violence will happen.

Matt Boguslawski

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thousands Occupy Central Square in Syrian City

In New Clocktower Square in the Syrian city of Homs, over 10,000 people collected in protest during funeral processions for some of the 14 people reportedly killed a day earlier. The procession began peacefully with traditional prayers but clapping and chanting against Mr. Assad began to overpower. Security forces joined the crowd but had no effect on dispersing the large mass of people. The crowd was protesting the recent chain of violence over the weekend, the worst of it in Homs and Talbesa. As many as 20 people are believed to have died in Homs over the weekend. Security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters with live ammunition and tear gas. In Talbesa, two died when security forces did the same on a funeral procession, killing two and leaving at least 15 wounded. "The protests on Sunday reflected not only a rejection of Mr. Assad’s reforms, which also included a pledge to tackle unemployment and corruption and a law to permit political parties, but a desire to move beyond a political life dominated by the Assad family." Read more

Posted by Christine Steinbeiss

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Belarus Faltering

Recent days has seen the increase of people waiting at the currency exchange in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Some had been waiting for as long as three days, hoping to exchange the Belarus ruble to euros and dollars. Prices are rising in Belarus, and unfortunately, the ruble is losing value quickly. A mysterious subway bombing last week killing thirteen and wounding more than two hundred has produced a sense of forboding over Minsk, and may have shaken long time dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko's hold on the country. In a flashback to the year 1991, right before the fall of the Soviet Union, lines have formed outside currency exchanges, imported foods have begun disappearing from store shelves, and memories are surfacing of the shame and privation of shock therapy. Under normal circumstances, people in Belarus prefer foreign currencies for major transactions. Western governments have imposed sanctions on Mr. Lukashenko after obvious fraud in the last major election. Belarus must depend on hand outs to stay afloat, but recently Russia and the European Union have stopped giving aid. Belarus has lost about $2 billion in reserve money because Mr. Lukashenko used it in the election campaign, giving bonuses to state employees. Many wonder if Belarus will be the next country to fall to the Middle Eastern protest contagion. Margaret Nunne

Beijing Church Works to Get House of Worship

In China, a well to do Christian congregation called Shouwang or Lighthouse, has raised from its one thousand members four million dollars to fund a house of worship for themselves. Yet the atheist Communist Chinese government claims the church is illegal, because it is not state controlled. The attention Shouwang receives is due to its congregation, well educated elite looking for a nonpolitical outlet for their faith. After legally buying the space where they worship, the congregation has been evicted several times from the space by the state. The church decided that they would pray openly in the outdoors before moving underground once more. All church leaders and many parishoners have since been rounded up, arrested and held indefinitely. The crackdown on dissent within China has included the arrest of artists like Ai Wei Wei, bloggers, human rights lawyers, and even people who have not spoken out but are somehow related to dissenters. This is all in response to the recent waves of protests in the Middle East, leading to the downfall of dictators and long term presidents. Experts estimate that China has a population of about 60 million Protestant practicing Christians in the country. by Margaret Nunne

Syrian Protestors Defy President

The Syrian people have rejected attempts by the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a day after his televised address by pouring into the streets in growing numbers across Syria. Bashar's response? Repressive and deadly violence by shooting live ammunition into a funeral procession and taking wounded protestors from their hospital beds. Mr. Assad has also worked to prevent outside reporters from observing and reporting on the protests, fearing that it'll lend more international as well as domestic support. Recently WikiLeaks has released information that the United States has been funding Syrian opposition groups since 2005. This funding was a common complaint among long time Arab leaders, including former Egyptian President Mubarak. by Margaret Nunne

Strained Pakistan-American Alliance

With the occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. needs allies in the Middle East and the relationship that the United States has with Pakistan tends to be beneficial. The current allegiance between the two countries started right after September 11 when the President of the U.S., Bush, and a high ranking general of Pakistan, Musharraf. The two men agreed that in order to catch Al Qaeda would be through joint effort, however, the current ruling leaders of the two countries do not see eye-to-eye on the current situation in Afghanistan.

The article makes is seem like the only thing the two countries could agree on was the fact that Al Qaeda needed to be brought to justice and that the country needs to be stable. Everything else is a debatable topic. From the size of the military to Taliban-Afghan government reconciliation to the centralization of the government, if America wants one side, Pakistan wishes for the other. Pakistan claims that the U.S. no longer includes their government in decisions concerning the occupation, while the U.S. points out instances where shared information was leaked. As frustrations rise, Pakistan has been visiting Afghanistan on its own accord without the U.S. effectively leaving America out of any negotiations. This may not work in particular favor to Pakistan, since Afghanistan has never held high regard for the country any ways, but the U.S. still seems interested in keeping an allegiance with Pakistan.

by Albie Braun

Raul Castro Seeks 10-Year Term Limits

In a speech at the start of a congress of Cuba's Communist Party, Raul Castro said he wants top government positions to be limited to two five-year terms and has promised to rejuvenate the government. He said that the limit would apply to "the current president of the Council of the State and his ministers." There were also plans to reduce the role of the government in the economy and promote private business. Education and healthcare would still be free but subsidies of basic goods would be removed and social spending would be "rationalized."

Derald Willey

Possible Deportation For Retired General

General Eugenio Vides Casanova is the former general of El Salvador and a once trusted ally of the United States. He has been retired for quite a few years now and currently resides in Orlando, Florida. He is accused of being responsible for the killings of four American churchwomen's families which occured in 1980. A Florida jury acquitted him of the charges from this murder case, but he is now also being accused of interrogating and physically torturing Juan Romagoza Arce in 1980 who had been captured by the national guard. Romagoza is expected to testify against Vides along with others. If Vides is found guilty, he will be facing deportation from the United States which will deem him as the first human rights officer that has had immigration charges brought upon him. Summarized by: Heather Krizka Follow this link to read more:

Drug Related Violence Escalates in Central America

After the United States Coast Guard shut down the Caribbean cocaine route two decades ago, trade shifted to Mexico. As a result, violence related to drug cartels rose sharply in many parts of Mexico. However, it is the high demand of drugs in the United States that finances these drug operations and arms the drug cartels. Consequently the Mexican government sent out effective aggressive assaults against these cartels, to the point where some of the organized crime moved to the smaller Central American countries south of Mexico. But unlike Mexico, countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have weak governments and fragile infrastructure, and are unable to fight back against the drug mafias. The lack of action from the governments have earned the reputation of being the most violent places on earth, even more deadly than conventional war zones. If the small Central American countries wish to succeed in the war against organized crime, they will need to reform prisons, police, and courts; strengthen infrastructure to collect more taxes, and provide more legal opportunities for young men. For this changes to take place, Central America will require the help of the United States, not only because they have the means of helping but also because their bad drug policies and consumer demand contributed to the growth of the drug cartels.

-Gilberto Perez

Soaring Inflation in China

As the growing economy of China continues to feed the beast of inflation. If China is unable to tame this issue they will face serious issues with in social stability while the cost of living is rapidly rising. In March food prices spiked an increase of 5.4%. In response to this rise, the government has implemented more subsidies to agricultural farmers to curb the food prices. Out side of China there are other dangers that may arise in a threat to their reputation for low-cost workshop. Another step China has taken to slow down the economy is ordering its biggest banks to put more cash in the reserves. However, analysts feel that more will need to be done to control inflation from spiraling out of control. Ana Foster

Japan's Nuclear Crisis Still Continues

Owners of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant stated today, that it could take six to nine more months to subside the already damaged nuclear reactors. It will take about three months alone just to reduce the levels of plant radioactivity and for cooling systems in the reactors to return to normal. From that point, it will take another three to six months for the reactors to fully shut down and for the new shells to be built around their destroyed housings. Thousands of nearby residents have already been forced to leave their homes, but a primitive timetable is currently being developed to determine when the residents will be able to return home. The struggle initially began on March 11, when 45 foot tidal waves from the tsunami destroyed the plant. The tsunami was the aftermath of the record setting Japanese earthquake.

Stunned Mubaraks Adjust

February 11 2011 will be remembered in the history of Egypt as a new day of democracy. This is the day when Hosni Mubarak after being in power for 30 years resigned following popular protests and demonstrations in the nation which caught international attention. Egyptians rejoiced and celebrated of their new freedom. The once powerful political elites are now put behind the bar for corruptions charges as well as for their role in trying to repress peaceful demonstrators during the uprising. Among those in prison are two of former President's two sons; Gamal & Alaa Mubarak labeled as prisoners No. 1 & 2, the former Prime Minister, and Speaker of the Parliament. They are all located in a prison called Tora Farm and still in the state of disbelief what has happened. According to the prison officials, they all cooperate and do everything as they are asked without any objections. The former President is also detained but in the hospital citing medical reasons. Although Egyptians seem very happy with the outcome of their stand as "one voice" and in obtaining what they long wished for which is democracy but still many don't know what to expect of the ambiguous future ahead of them. Read more at

Submitted By: Namgyel Dorji

US House passes $6.2 trillion dollar spending cut plan

The House of Representatives has passed a $6.2 trillion dollar bill to spending cut starting October 1 to go over the next decade. Introduced by Republican Paul Ryan, the plan would cut healthcare for the elderly and social programs for the poor. The bill passed in a 235-193 vote. It is not expected for this proposal to make it past the Democrat-led senate. The bill also would cut taxes for the wealthy, expected by the house to 'boost economic growth' - right. So the wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poorer? Good call. Obama has vowed to block major elements of Ryan's bill, however he said that compromise with Republicans for the spending cut was necessary to avoid any more economic crises.

Fleeing refugees cause turmoil in normally peaceful EU

Thousands of people from Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya--all countries that are currently experiencing severe political upheaval--are fleeing to Europe, mostly through Italy's conveniently located borders. Italy has for the most part been obliging, accepting in thousands of these fleeing refugees and giving them proper travel papers to continue their journey. However, countries to the north, particularly France, are not as accepting of this recent influx. In the latest move to deter Italy's pandering, France has blocked trains from Italy. This action is in direct violation of the EU's Schengen passport-free travel zone. Normally the European Union acts much like the United States, where anyone in the country--in this case continent--can travel freely across borders once they have been originally accepted inside. The most travelers encounter when crossing borders between states within the European Union is a sign informing them they have crossed into a new country. It will be interesting to see how this situation will play out and if it will develop into harsher border control between countries in the future.

-Abbey Smith

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Uniformed Suicide Bomber Kills 9 at Afghan Military Base

Earlier today at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman Province, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber detonated explosives killing five foreign soldiers. Four Afghan military servicemen also died. The blast wounded eight more Afghan soldiers and four interpreters. The bomber was reported wearing a Afghan National Army uniform. According to Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahed, the bomber, Abdul Ghani, "joined the Afghan National Army a month ago in order to kill the invaders." The Laghman Province base is controlled by the Afghan National Security Forces. There was no further information available from the ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, at that time.

-Kristine Zizis

Friday, April 15, 2011

BRICS Leaders Meet at Third Summit in China

This past week, the leaders of the five BRICS nations met in Sanya, China for their annual summit to discuss their role as the world shifts.  This marked the first year that South Africa took part in the summit, changing the acronym from BRIC to BRICS.  The five leaders, Hu Jintao of China, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Manmohan Singh of India, and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, spoke out largely against the NATO airstrikes on Libya.  They call for a peaceful resolution and an end to the force being used by Western powers.  Brazil, Russia, India and China all abstained from the UN vote this March regarding the authorization of a no-fly-zone over Libya.  In addition, the BRICS nations call for more representation in such international organizations as the UN and World Bank in order to make these institutions "more representative and effective."  These emerging states, which represent 40% of the world's population and 20% of its GDP, ultimately wish to use their collective political power to contribute to global governance.  Despite their unity, however, issues such as the valuation of currency, which has been a hot topic between Brazil and China, were largely ignored.  

Mark Zajac

Italian Activist Captured in Gaza

An Italian pro-Palestinian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, was found dead Friday morning. According to his autopsy, he was strangled with a plastic cord. His assailants were members of a radical Islamic organization inspired by Al Queda who admitted to kidnapping him the day before.The group had threatened to execute Vittorio Arrigoni, a well-known supporter of the International Solidarity Movement, unless the authorities released their imprisoned leader, Hisham Saidani, who was arrested in March. The kidnappers released a video to the public showing Arrigoni tied up and blindfolded and set a 30-hour deadline that expired at 5 p.m. on Friday. The hostage was reportedly killed approximately 24 hours before the deadline.

Megan Borows

Political Infighting in Japan

Triggered by the government's response to the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated much of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, which is the country's largest opposition party, called for current Prime Minister Naoto Kan to step down from his office. Until now, the opposing parties have attempted to work in concert in order to respond effectively to the crisis. However, due to Kan's inability to help the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and criticisms that Kan has only confused matters in the government, their political truce has come to an abrupt halt.

Prime Minister Kan was already in political trouble before the disaster. He accepted donations from a foreigner, which is a violation of local laws. He argues he didn't know the donor was a foreigner, but the mistake was made and his reputation suffered for it. Although his ratings went up after the disaster, they are starting to decline once again.

Officials from the Liberal Democratic Party, such as Nobuteru Ishihara and Sadakazu Tanigaki insist that keeping Kan in office is detrimental to the Japanese people. "Can a government that has lost political support really handle a national crisis?" Ishihara asks dubiously. Kan's simple argument in response is that his priority is to save lives and that the team he built is doing everything in its power to do just that.

Will this political infighting be a distraction from the real problem at hand? If the parties become too involved in pointing out each others' flaws, they could very well start to ignore the fact that the country needs to be reconstructed.

-Gracie Hollister

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Body of Italian Activist Found in Gaza

An Italian pro-Palestinian who was working as a journalist and writer in Gaza was kidnapped on thursday by a group of radical Islamists. The groups reason for taking Vittorio Arrigoni hostage was to get the government to release a number of their own group members who had been arrested. They threatened to execute Arrigoni if the government did not abide by their rules and release members of the Salafist group. They released a video in which Arrigoni is shown with a blindfold and blood around his face. The group claimed, "the Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption" and it described Italy as "the infidel state".

Another article was release today stating the body of Arrigoni was found in Gaza.

Katie Kruse


Two communist nations, two headlines about detaining Christian worshipers. Currently in North Korea an American was detained for getting caught being a missionary. North Korea currently does not allow any form of religion within its borders. Because of this, the man obtained for engaging in missionary activities has been charged with a 'crime against the nation.' Because the United States does not have a diplomatic team in North Korea currently, the diplomatic staff of Sweden had been charged with being in contact with the detained man. Ironically, the US is asking for the release of the man based on humanitarian grounds. This plea is laughable when looking at current US/North Korea relations, not to mention the vast humanitarian atrocities being committed by the North Korean government. On that note, China is also cracking down on the Church in a much more serious and determined way than before. Traditionally, Christian Churches are allowed to congregate within China as long as they are approved by the state and stay under a certain number of members. Because of this the number of illegal house churches has skyrocketed in the recent past. Because of the exploding numbers of worshipers, estimated to be around 60 million, the State has taken action to stop the spread. Most recently an entire congregation was arrested for praying outdoors--a move that in the past would have been a sure death sentence. This is a sign of not only the emboldened spirits of the Church within China, but also a sign of the eagerness of the people of China for change. It is clear they desire more than their current 'freedoms' allow. I, for one would not be surprised if stories such as this continue to emerge onto the international stage.

megan smith

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kenyans Rally

In reaction to the massive violence that erupted after the elections of 2007, it has been discovered that this violence was a result of the actions of Prime Minister Kenyatta and Parliament member Ruto. The violence that they started against the opposition party progressed to nation wide killings and rape and other methods of sustained violence. The purpose of the rally on Monday was for a calling for these men to tried at the Hague in The Netherlands. The International Court will be hearing the arguments for the case in September in order to decide whether or not a trial will happen. This violence left a serious lasting implications in Kenya as many were effected by the utter terror and violence. Surprisingly enough, Mr. Kenyatta is the son of Jomo Kenyatta which is seen as the father of modern day Kenya.

Matt Boguslawski

The EU's Financial Dilemma

Ireland went through a debt crisis recently and now Portugal recently applied for bailout.

They are predicting if Spain were to ever apply for bailout, it would be dramatically bigger than Portugal. However, there are other countries in deep in debt within the European Union. They report if Italy were to apply for a bailout, the EU would not be able to handle it. The Financial Times reports, Berlusconi does not help Italy's economic state with his legal trouble and mockery. Germany is extremely concerned with sharing the EU with Italy.

Richard (RJ) McNichols

Monday, April 11, 2011

2 US forces mistakenly killed by drone attack in Afghanistan

Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith and Navy Corpsman Benjamin Rast were killed, on accident, by a Hellfire missile fired from a U.S. Air Force Predator in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The two were were part of a Marine unit moving to south Afghanistan to reinforce other U.S. Marines under attack from enemy forces. The Marines who called for the reinforcement were watching a video of the battlefield and mistook the two soldiers for enemies when a number of "hot spots," or infrared images were moving in their direction. The U.S. military is investigating the incident and have informed the families of both service members the possibility this was a friendly fire incident. Read more.

Posted by Christine Steinbeiss

Sunday, April 10, 2011

4 Ways We're Still Fighting the Civil War

This article came up because this week the US is "celebrating" it's 150th anniversery of the Civile War. There have been some scholars that say there are some wierd parrallels between the Civil War and issues today; specifically four areas that correlate directly. These four areas are: the disappearance of the political center; the amount of power that the federal government should have; unleashing the dogs of war; and the president as dictator. The article talked about connections between Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama; the Civil War and the War on Terror; the rise of the Tea Party and what the South Stood for; and ignorance from both sides in the Civil War and the War in Iraq and Libya. Rachel Matteson

India's Worsening Sex Ratio

February’s national census shows that the infant sex ratio in India is steadily getting worse and can be compared to that of China, who has one of the worst ratios in the world because of its child bearing laws. Though the census numbers may be somewhat skewed the overall trend shows that the sex ratio has been worsening for decades. Much of this issue is the byproduct of dowries in India.

Though illegal, it is a thriving industry motored by increased competition for scarce women. Many actions have become of this terrible trend in India including: a relatively high female abortion rate, many families are selling their daughters to a dalal, or broker, who will then ship the girls to potential suitors in other areas, and it encourages female trafficking, abuse, and sometimes death.

One would reason that a shortage of women would increase the value of women in India, but we have yet to see that occur. Rather we see an Indian economy that is emerging and thus dowries are becoming increasingly expensive and leaking into areas where dowries were typically absent. Unfortunately, the trend shows that economic success lies in areas where the son preference is highest. This is causing other, more neutral areas, to adopt the idea more readily.

These trends may be increasing at a decreasing rate of late, but for women in India this is a terrible situation that has yet to see a reliable decline. It will be interesting to see how this trend reacts as the country increasingly becomes more urbanized in its attempt to become more Americanized, for lack of better term.

By Tommy Walker

7 People Killed in a Dutch Mall Shooting

Dutch officials say that this past Saturday a man, identified only as 24 year old Tristan V., opened fire in a mall. Using an automatic rifle, he shot and killed 7 people leaving 16 wounded (3 in critical condition) before turning the gun on himself. Police had searched his home that he shared with his father and confiscated computers and other equipment taken in for evidence. When searching his mother's house the police found a note left by him claiming to have placed explosives in several commercial areas in Alphen, these areas were evacuated immediately and as of 11pm Saturday night not explosives were found. Officials say that after reading the note there is no clear motive for the shootings.

Jen Crawford

UN and French attack Gbabgo heavy weapons in Ivory Coast

UN chief Ban Ki-moon ordered UN and French helicopters to silence heavy weapons used by Gbabgo and also damaged the presidential residence. Ban said that UN headquarters in Ivory Coast, Ouattara's base, and two civilian districts were hit by machine gun, sniper, and RPG fire in recent days which led him to authorize all necessary means to suppress the use of the heavy weapons by Gbabgo's troops. A spokesman for Gbabgo said that "UN and French helicopters continue to fire at President Gbabgo's residence which has been partially destroyed."

Derald Willey

Tokyo Bids for 2020 Olympics

After the devastating effects of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake to hit Japan, the governor of Tokyo has expressed the importance of getting back on track economically. He has specifically stated that by hosting the 2020 (although nine years off) it could boost the economy back up and help Japan. Tokyo lost to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 games. Other countries to express interest in hosting the 2020 games are among Rome, Berlin, Busan, Cape Town, Doha, and Istanbul. A final decision regarding the games will be made in September 2013.

Read More:

Katie Kruse

China tells U.S. to stop preaching on Human Rights

After reading the article on activist, Al weiwei, the U.S. expressed concern for his recent arrest, because of the tightening control the government has had over the internet and several other things. Chinese government has criticized the U.S., stating that "the U.S. should be more concerned about our human rights issues and stop interfering in other countries internal affairs." China who is known for stepping up the practices of forced disappearances, house arrest, and black jails, is stating that they would be happy to discuss human rights in terms of equality and mutual respect, but have made it clear that they want the U.S. to step back on preaching on human rights.

to read more:

Katie Kruse

Bomb Diffused in Northern Ireland

Authorities in Newry, Northern Ireland helped diffuse a homemade bomb yesterday afternoon. The five-hundred pound bomb was found in an abandoned van located in the city along a main roadway, one of which leads to Dublin (which is 67 miles away). Authorities say that "insurgent" republicans were to blame for the failed attack. These insurgent republicans are those who oppose Northern Ireland's social alignment with Britain. They would rather have Northern Ireland associated with Ireland, and do not agree with a peace deal that was set to end these differences. The dissident republicans were also said to have been responsible for the death of a police officer on April 2nd, who was killed by a hidden bomb. If action had not been taken immediately, the bomb could have taken the innocent lives of hundreds.

-Tharryn Wright

China Responds Strongly To US Human Rights Report

China is tired of the US butting in on their human rights affairs. After the US State Department released its 35th annual report on human rights, Chinese leaders suggest the US focus on its own struggles and stop using human rights as an excuse to meddle in the affairs of other countries. Within the report, the recent Chinese crackdown on dissidents in the form of restricting internet access and detaining activists.

Hilary Clinton became involved, asking for the release of imprisoned activists and intellectuals, jailed for exercising their "internationally-recognized right to free expression." Clinton continued, pointing out that respecting human rights encourages economic growth and a prosperous society.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Budget Deal Averts U.S Govt. Shut Down

On Friday, millions of Americans particularly federal employees breath in a sigh of relief as the lawmakers in Washington reached a short-term deal not to shut federal government down. The deal which was signed into law by the President Obama will allow government to remain open for business until next Friday. There are still six more months in the current fiscal year and both sides of the government are in the process of reaching at another deal which would avoid shut down until the end of this fiscal period. Should the government shut down in case of deal failure between the two parties, millions of federal employees would not have payday resulting in interruption in many public services. The two parties argued over the how much the spending cut should be. Although government shut down is not uncommon, but it also means disruption in services essential to many Americans. Follow more at:

Submitted By: Namgyel Dorji

Army crackdown in Cairo's Tahrir Square

After a huge protest on Friday, violence occurred overnight in Egypt as the army tried to clear protesters out of Tahrir Sqaure in Cairo. The protesters were calling for ex-President Hosni Mubarak and his family to be tried for corruption as well as the resignation of interim leader, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi. Approximately 300 troops moved in to camp to break up the demonstration, beating, clubbing, and even firing shots at protesters. Medical sources have so far revealed that 71 people are hurt, and at least 2 are dead. Three vehicles were set on fire during the unrest, two of which belonged to the military. The military finally withdrew and protesters once again filled the square this morning, which is covered in glass and debris from the clashes.

Megan Borows

International Community Pushes for a Power Shift in Yemen

Although his people have been protesting against his rule for months, only within the last few days has the international community, particularly the U.S., drawn support from Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh responded to his people's protesting with a combination of conciliatory offers and violence. As a result, the international community has begun to formally denounce their support of his presidency. The Gulf Corporation Council (G.C.C.), made up of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Quatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, has joined the European Union in calling for a power shift in Yemen. Even the U.S., which has long backed Saleh because of his aid in fighting Al-Qaeda, has come to the conclusion that he is not likely to implement reforms, and has somewhat discreetly removed support from Saleh.

Members of the G.C.C. were hopeful that change would occur after Saleh responded positively to an invitation to a discussion of a transfer of power; however, Saleh more recently lashed out at the G.C.C., saying that the international community should "respect the feelings of the Yemeni people."

A youth protest leader, Adel al-Surabi, grants Saleh this statement on its face, but disagrees with everything else Saleh has done. He says, “No one can speak in the name of the people...We cannot speak in the names of the martyrs’ families and the people who have suffered for 33 years. We still have the right to prosecute him and to ask for compensation for his crimes.”

Will Saleh actually listen to and respect his people, as he himself explicitly told the international community to do? Will the international community continue to speak out against him? This issue will be very interesting to pay attention to as it unfolds further.

-Gracie Hollister

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mexico's Politics

Mexico's presidential elections are coming up in July of 2011. The current president's, Felipe Calderón, opposing party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is already planning their campaign strategy. Rather than focusing on fighting organized crime by sending aggressive assaults on drug cartels as Calderon has done, the PRI wants to shift the attention to improving the economy and reducing poverty. Mexico suffered one of the worst recessions in the American continent, placing millions of Mexican's below the poverty level. The PRI beliefs that by focusing on the economy, they can lighten both the country's poverty issue and the problems inflicted by the drug cartels. If Mexico's economy continues to grow, more people will be pulled out of poverty and more young men will have jobs therefore discouraging them from joining drug cartels.

-Gilberto Perez

Shanghai Disney Resort breaks ground

Not all the news has to be depressing.  After finally receiving approval from the Chinese government, Disney broke ground today on a theme park and resort in Shanghai, China, which is expected to be the largest foreign investment of all time in mainland China, in total reaching almost $4 billion!  Disney is incredibly excited to expand its global brand, but more importantly to enter the Chinese market, the largest and fastest-growing market in the world.  Disney also hopes this will allow them to further penetrate the Chinese market, bringing all the joys of Disney to China, including film distribution, merchandising and a 24-hour cable network.  Once Disney Shanghai opens in 5 years, it will be "both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese," including a Magic Kingdom-style theme park (with the largest version of the famed Cinderella castle), two hotels, large entertainment, dining and retail venues, as well as a lake and recreational areas.  The mayor of Shanghai praises this investment, claiming it will raise Shanghai's international profile and increase tourism.   Disney Shanghai obviously serves as an economic milestone for foreign investment in China, but also a cultural milestone, as the country further embraces outside influence.  Perhaps little by little China will become "the happiest place on earth." :)

Mark Zajac

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mass Graves In Mexico

It is hard to forget the brutish aftermath of Mexico's ongoing drug war. Yet another mass grave has been uncovered in northern Mexico with at least 59 bodies. It is thought that these are a portion of the 72 migrants who were massacred by a drug gang known as Zetas this past summer. The victims were comprised of illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil. This ongoing war has reported taken the lives of more than 34,000 innocent civilians since the Mexican government established progressive legislation to aggressively combat the extensive amounts of drugs being processed through Mexico. However the end of this bloody conflict has no immediate in sight.

megan smith

Brazilian School Massacre

Tragedy broke out on Thursday in a Brazilian public school when a former student opened fire and killed 11 students. The government said the gunman was Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 23, a former student at the school. He was allowed to enter the school by saying he was there to obtain transcripts. The situation could have turned even more violent if it weren't for Third Sgt. Marcio Alexandre Alves. He and a colleague raced to the school after they were approached by a student a few blocks from the school and asked for help. Alves found the gunman on the 2nd floor of the school and prevented him from reaching the 3rd floor, where more students and faculty were. Unfortunately, the gunman turned on himself and shot himself in the head. In total, 11 students were killed, 13 were injured, and 4 of those are in critical condition. The Brazilian school, Municipal School Tasso da Silveira, is currently closed as a crime scene, and will remain so until further notice.

-Kristine Zizis

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Power Plant Plugs Receptor

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Tokyo, Japan believe that they have been able to plug one of the reactors stopping the leakage of radioactive iodine into the Pacific Ocean. The leakage was at one point 7.5 million times the legal limit, but in the turn of 24 hours it drastically dropped down to 280,000 times above the legal limit. A spokesperson for the nuclear plant stated that there is relief that there was success in plugging the receptor, but there is a fear that containing this radioactive water will only lead to leakage somewhere else. The workers at the nuclear plant are concerned that there is a chance of having a possible hydrogen explosion due to overheating because the tsunami that followed after the earthquake had knocked out the cooling systems for the receptors. Also if they do not find a way to manage the liquid radioactive waste, then it will continue recycling itself by dumping into the ocean which has been upsetting fishermen from neighboring countries. Although they are working to contain this issue, because there are still significant amounts of radioactive material being found, it is indicating that there may also be other leaks with other issues to handle.

Heather Krizka

To read more click here: Seawater radiation levels drop off crippled nuclear plant

Contested leaders face off through forces

Laurent Gbagbo is the current leader of the Ivory Coast; however, according to election officials and the United Nations, he lost the last election in November. That hasn't hindered his desire to rule. His rival, and true leader of the country, is Alassane Ouattara. Forces backing Ouattara recently attacked Gbagbo's residence in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan, in an attempt to seize him. They were faced off by Gbagbo's own forces, and the fighting continued for two days before the guns and bombs fell away in order to conduct talks. According to Ouattara's spokesman, his forces were under strict instructions not to harm Gbagbo, only to take him into custody. Ouattara demands that Gbagbo concede his defeat and recognize the legitimately elected leader of the country. French troops, along with the UN, are trying to maintain security in Abidjan, but they were not involved in the seige against Gbagbo's residence. The situation in the city has caused citizens to remain in their homes and only proceed outside with great caution. The international Criminal Court is currently investigating human rights abuses that may have occurred during this crisis. -Abbey Smith

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bodies in 2009 Air France crash found at sea

A chunk of wreckage and bodies from the the Air France flight that crashed just off Brazil in 2009 have been found, Monday. The flight was en route from Rio to Paris when in crashed killing all 228 passengers on board. So far there is no known cause of the accident, and flight recorders have not yet been found. There may have been icing up on the planes speed sensors caused by the storm the plane was flying into. Families will be notified of the details possibly of body identification later on in the week. Until then, details will be limited to respect the families of those who were lost in the accident. Read more.

Posted by Christine Steinbeiss

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Peru is a typical case of the developing country experiencing rapid growth. At an average of 7% a year, Peru's economy is one of the fastest growing ones in Latin America. However, despite their massive growth, the growing economy has not been backed up by government support. Money has been inefficiently allocated into infrastructure as opposed to needed social programs by Peru's current President, Alan Garcia.

Gilberto Perez

French in Control of Ivory Coast Airport

The Ivory Coast's primary airport, located in the city of Abidjan, was taken over by French forces along with the United Nations to allow planes to land and foreigners to evacuate, in response to fighting between rival presidents. Two hundred civilian employees were also forced to evacuate The United Nation's headquarters after it underwent an attack. Fighting between presidents Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo's troops continued on Sunday, after Gbagbo and his troops refused to acknowledge the results of the election, and therefore, leave office - since November, more than 1,300 people have died due to postelection violence.

Read More

Kaley Callaghan

Massacres at the Ivory Coast

Additional French peacekeepers were sent to the Ivory Coast this week as a battle has been erupting within the town of Abidjan. The battle seems to be between fighters who are loyal to President Alassane Ouattara and fighters who are loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who has been refusing to leave office. Gbagbo's fighters have not agreed with the French surveying the skies and attempting peace and therefore have been targeting international french journalists and preventing them from leaving their hotel where they have been staying. In the attempt to leave the hotel to get water, many french journalists have been targeted and killed by Gbagbo's forces along with the massacre of many civilians made by the forces of President Ouattara. The United Nations originally had a mandate of 7,500 troops surveying the situation, but the U.N. has now take about 200 of its troops out of the area in order to maintain their own safety. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out to Gbagbo ordering him to step down immediately as well as calling upon the forces of President Ouattara to respect the rules and guidelines of war and stop the massacres of innocent civilians immediately. The massacre occurred between Monday and Wednesday of this week and so far 320 bodies have been identified, but the total number of deaths is much higher.

To read more click here:

Heather Krizka

Police Open Fire on Protesters in Taiz, Yemen

The people of Taiz, Yemen, had a massive rally this past Friday against their president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In this protest, one person was shot and killed and many others injured. A doctor had stated that the police are using live rounds, tear gas, and truncheons to break up the protesters. These protests have kept Yemen in strife since February. The people are calling for the resignation of Saleh and it seems as though Saleh is ready to leave office. He stated that he is ready to discuss a "peaceful transition of power".
To replace Saleh, they would put the vice-president Abdu Rabi Hadi in office. They discussed a 'five-point plan' that would ease the transition and create more peace among the nation: 1- Saleh resigns and Habi is put in office, 2- Habi announces a restructuring of the security forces to make them accountable to the government, 3- an interim government is created based on national reconciliation, 4- new electoral commission is established, and 5- civil liberties are boosted and an investigation is launched against the killings of the protesters. Yemen is one of dozens of nations that have been hit with uprisings and resignations of their presidents, this five step plan reads to be a very smart and well-thought out plan, we'll just have to wait and see how (and if) it is actually carried out that way. Either way, it looks like Saleh is ready and willing to leave office which is what the people wanted.

Jen Crawford

Blast at Pakistan Shrine Kills Dozens

During an annual festival in Islamabad, Pakistan, three suicide bombers attempted to attack a Sufi shrine, Sakhi Sarwar, in Dera Ghazi Khan. Hundreds of worshipers were in attendance at the time of the explosion, leaving 42 people dead and over 100 wounded. Officials predict an increase in the death toll for several in critical condition. One of the bombers' explosive was faulty leaving him wounded and then arrested at the scene. Allegedly, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan took the blame for the attack in which was assumed to be another attempt to oppose the ideological divides within the school system of Sunni Islam. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani commented on the attack, “Such cowardly acts of terror clearly demonstrate that the culprits involved neither have any faith nor any belief in human values.”

Ana Foster

Mugabe's Zimbabwe

It seems as though President Robert Mugabe is tightening his reign of control and terror over his nation of Zimbabwe. He recently announced that an election will be taking place next year. With the 2008 "election" that was held he maintained power as he has for the last 30 years. With the 2008 elections came pressures from regional leaders for the implementation of Morgan Tsvangirai, the current Prime Minister that stands on the against Mugabe. These elections bring many fears that were associated with the elections of 2008 in which a great deal of violence was used against the citizens of Zimbabwe to vote for Mugabe. This is a power hungry man that has destroyed one of the most beautiful and economically powerful nations in Africa. His only hope to maintain in power is to intimidate and coerce the elections that will be taking place next year. The issue of Mugabe's Zimbabwe has until now been treated as one of being solely Zimbabwe's issue and it will be interesting to see how the international community will react in the upcoming elections as he looks to once again completely take over the nation. Matt Boguslawski

China Off the Rails?

After multiple corruption investigations and the replacement of the railways minister, China's high-speed railway system may be slowed down for a while. In the last 3 years China has expanded this grandoise $750 billion project by approximately 7, 650km with hopes of reaching 19,000km by 2014. The most recent comparable public-works project was the interstate highway system in the US costing approximately $400 billion to complete.

Plans had been running smoothly until recently when two top railway officials were dismissed for bribery and curruption. With corruption at the forefront in addition to the incredible speed of construction the new railway minister is concerned about the quality of work completed on the current tracks. Due to quality and safety concerns this may push future timetables back. To most citizens of China the high-speed trains have little affect on their daily lives. Though they can reach upwards of 350mph, the fares are so high that demand for bus rides are skyrocketing. In the midst of attempting to blaze a trail for future high-speed transportation and becoming a world leader in that industry, China may have taken a few steps back with these safety and price concerns. Is bigger really that much better?

Tommy Walker

An Uproar In Yemen

Security officers attacked protesters in Yemen yesterday, which ended with about 830 injuries and one fatality. This happened in the city of Taiz, which is near the famous Mocha port (by the Red Sea). The city is also the capital of the Taiz government. The protesting was in frustration over how President Ali Abdullah Saleh should hand over power after his reign ends. When Saleh steps down at the end of the year, he will eventually hand his former position to the current Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. Hadi's intentions differ from Saleh's, but the overall goal of the regime is to keep a fair balance in power over Yemen. Protesters who have agreed with Saleh's rule have grown substantially in the last few weeks, with the support peaking yesterday. Saleh held his position since 1978, and has been a U.S. ally in the Al-Qaeda disputes in that area and all around the Middle East. When Hadi's term ends, Saleh has also agreed not to run again, dashing all hopes of a 2nd reign as President.

-Tharryn Wright

Nigeria postpones elections again

Nigeria's parliamentary election will not be held until next Saturday. This is the second postponement of this election in two days. This postponement will further affect the presidential and state elections that were meant to follow the parliamentary elections. This initial reason for postponement was the lack of staff or papers at polling stations on the first intended election day. However, this basic lack of preparation seems to connote deeper issues about the voting procedures in Nigeria. The country is notorious for vote-rigging and violence during elections; thus, the people are wary of the government's official reason for the postponement and see it as a further opportunity for them to interfere in the elections. However, the government has tried to assure its people that postponing the election will only make them more free and fair.

Abbey Smith

The Future of Japan

Countless similarities have been drawn to the potential obstacles Japan will face in the near future and what Haiti went through only a few years ago. The unimaginable devastation, both in terms of loss of life as well as in general infrastructure is mind blowing. In this photojournalistic account, we can see first hand the grave state of both nations. However, there is a difference. Haiti is still in turmoil, and for many people the devastation left will be a reality for the remainder of their lives. The same will not be the case for Japan. Though Japan has far greater issues to deal with, such as radiation, there is a real chance, and real probability that eventually Japan will fully recover. The difference? Economics. Prior to the earthquake Japan had a thriving economy with a bright future. Because of that base, Japan will be able to overcome. Haiti, however, did not have that opportunity. After viewing these moving pictures, I for one, will be interested to see a comparison in another 10 years, another 15 years. Surely Japan will be on the up and up, Haiti, however, is sure to look the same. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of foreign aid, whether in terms of knowledge or monetary assistance, I think it is safe to say that the varying outcomes of these two remarkably similar situations is beyond disturbing and should produce a catalyst for reevaluating how the international body deals with natural disasters.

megan smith