Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Argentina's Presidential Race

The presidential elections in Argentina are coming up this year in October and the current president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has yet to announce whether she will be running for re-election or not. Given her 25 point increase in approval rating, most Argentinians are assuming that President Fernandez will not just run for office, but that she will also win the election. Her increased approval ratings are mainly a consequence of the strong economy and the wave of sympathy that she has received as a result of, Néstor Kirchner, her husband's death. Mr. Kirchner was also her predecessor which makes the people more sympathetic towards the widowed current president. Nevertheless, there are those critics who claim that her indecision is a political tactic dubbed as a "clamour operation", which would allow her to maintain her high approval ratings for as long as possible. According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Argentina’s GDP expanded by 8.4% last year, which is yet another incentive for Ms. Fernandez to run. In addition, she does not face strong opposition from any particular groups. Several potential candidates for the presidency have dropped out, leaving only a few who currently poll in the single digits.

-Gilberto Perez

Zimbabwe's Dollar and Sweets

I'm including this article in our NCC post because we had just talked about it in class. Zimbabwe gives out sweets in the place of coin change because their smallest denomination is a U.S. dollar bill. My question is, if they do not have a smaller denomination than $1, why do they even have a concept for coin change? And if people are so unhappy with being shortchanged or having to pay extra for the reason of not receiving sweets, why do they not begin a coin denomination? It seems so unnecessary to have a coin concept, with no coins to put into rotation.

Jen Crawford

Egyptian general admits to performing 'virginity checks' on protesting women

This is the first admission coming from Egyptian generals to any accusations, all others have denied performing 'virginity checks' after being accused. An Amnesty International report, published a few weeks after protests earlier in spring, claimed that women protestors were arrested, beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges, and forced to allow virginity checks. The article claims that these 'checks' were done to keep their good name; they were done so that women couldn't later claim that (while camping) they had been raped by the Egyptian authorities. A general -who remained anonymous- claims that these checks were performed so they could prove these women were not virgins to begin with, and "none of them were".

I found this article to be so harmful and abrasive to these women. This is what we try to figure out when we deal with human rights; these women were beaten until they submitted to these tests that only harmed these women. One of the captured and tested women came forward and stated that, "they wanted to teach us a lesson... They wanted us to feel that we have no dignity." It's pathetic what happens to people when they feel they have no rights. They're taken advantage of daily. For a country that is pushing and fighting for democracy, they are still behind years in practice of human rights.

Jen Crawford

UN seeks probe after torture-killing of Syrian boy

The U.N. is talking with Syria about possible violent acts against children during the commotion throughout the state. An online video surfaced that showed a 13-year-old boy, who had been arrested at a protest on April 29, and said to had been tortured, mutilated and killed before his body was returned to his family. "The video shows his battered, discolored face. His skin is scrawled with cuts, gashes, deep burns and bullet wounds that would probably have injured but not killed, The New York Times reported. According to an unidentifed narrator, his jaw and kneecaps are shattered, and his penis chopped off."Human rights activities are saying that 1,000 civilians have been killed and 10,000 arrested in a government crackdown. Read more

Posted by Christine Steinbeiss

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saudi prince calls for lower oil prices

Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said today that he wants oil prices to drop so that they United States and Europe don't accelerate efforts to wean themselves off his country's supply. In an interview broadcast today on "CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS," the grandson of the founding king of modern Saudi Arabia said the oil price should be somewhere between $70 and $80 a barrel, rather than the current level of over $100 a barrel.A major investor in the United States, the prince said the country remains a desired investment target because of stability. Talal also said Saudi Arabia needs to "enact some new laws whereby the participation of the people has to be done, one way or another."


-Tharryn Wright

Boundless Loyalty to Mao Zedong in China, but liberals are fighting back

On May 23rd a petition containing 10,000 people's names was delivered to a police station in Beijing. This petition demanded justice, accusing liberal economist Mao Yushi of slandering the late chairman Mao Zedong and attempting to overthrow the Communist Party. This is a relatively uncommon action taken by the Maoists because it is typically victims of government wrongdoings who make petitions. Lately, there has been some unrest between the two parties causing the authorities to increase the number of arrests and/or vanishings of government critics. Mr. Mao relayed his message through typical liberal outlets such as blogs and other websites. A similar situation also arose with the arrest of artist Ai Weiwei in April. The basis of Mr. Mao's criticism stems from the millions of deaths that can be attributed to Mao Zedong's time in office in the 1950's and Mr. Mao believes that now is the time to end the "idolization" surrounding Mao. The Communist Party is becoming increasingly aware of this "jasmine revolution" that has spread in China offering harsh words to those who disagree stating, “The whole nation is waiting for the dawn, the dawn of a day when Mao Yu-Shit (sic) and other anti-Mao reactionaries who vilify Mao are annihilated.” The future implications of this controversy could have some interesting outcomes. First, in the next few days the country will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party and Maoists do not want any revolutionists to dirty the name of the man that led them to power. Second, Bo Xilia, a Maoist favorite, is in position to take control of a powerful seat in the coming year. One such possibility is becoming the head of domestic security which would likely lead to even less tolerance of the liberal party. Time will tell.

By Tommy Walker

Airstrike by NATO

NATO attempted an airstrike against Taliban fighters in the Kabul, Afganistan on Sunday. Unfortunately, their attack resulted in the death of 14 civilians living inside the targeted compund. The targeted persons were five insurgents that had previously "attacked a coalition foot patrol and killed a Marine." General David H. Petraeus, coalition commander in Afghanistan, spoke out on behalf of the military ensuring that amends would be made with the families of those who lost their life in the attack. With continuous fatalities of civilians the realtionship between the NATO-led militarycoalition and the Afghan government has been comprimised.

Ana Foster

Trouble Around Sudan's Border

In a not so surprising twist, the Northern Sudanese army is threatening to occupy two territories along the volatile border that separates the north from the south. Governments of both sides are contesting a region that straddles the border called Abyei, and earlier this week the northern forces pushed their way in to the area causing tensions to rise just weeks before the country splits. In a note from the Northern Sudanese army, the high command plan on taking over the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan areas in coming days. This act of aggression could set off a war between the North and the South which both have extensive stockpiles of firearms. The border itself is disputed because of tribal rivalries, ethnicities, and religions. It also happens to have Sudan's largest reserve of oil as well as being the most fertile part of the country. The Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan regions along with the rest of the Abyei area were meant to hold informal referendums as to whether they would decide to join the south or the north in the split, as per a compromise between the North and South. With Northern aggression that has failed to happen according to the Southern leadership. This is becoming an explosive and tense situation that possibly could spark another civil war in northern Africa.

by Margaret Nunne


Goodluck Jonathon sworn in as president

After a violent election process, and amidst current rioting, Goodluck Jonathon was sworn in as Nigeria's president today. Jonathon, a Christian from the southern part of the country, won 60 percent of the vote in what has been deemed a fair and free election by the international community. However, this has not deterred his opponents, those who supported his Muslim contender from the north of the country. In Nigeria's history presidents usually alternate every four years from Muslim northerner to Christian southerner. Jonathon's reelection, however, has upset this process, which has sparked much of the outrage in the country. Jonathon first assumed the presidency in 2010 when as vice president, he was the next in line when the former President Umaru Yar'Adua died. Hopefully things will settle down in the country once the president gets down to business and begins fulfilling his campaign promises. However, with the amount of resentment directed at him despite the fair election, this will be a daunting process of the new president.

-Abbey Smith

South Tyneside Council 'gets Twitter data' in blog case

History is being made in Cyber law enforcement. South Tyneside Council of UK brought a case against a blogger to California. The UK blogger "Mr Monkey" is said to have made numerous libelous statements about council members and their friends and families. Twitter opened up Independent South Shields councillor, Ahmed Khan's Twitter account to investigate his association with the blog.

While Khan and his Twitter followers are calling this an invasion of privacy and a violation of their human rights, those on the other side of the conflict see it another way. David Potts, a member of the council, calls the allegations he has endured disgusting and completely false. He claims he and those around him have suffered. The question them becomes, where is the line drawn for free speech? Experts do not think this suit will go far since it is being sought in the United States and Twitter operates under USA laws. Still, this may make some think twice before falsely (or truthfully) accusing those in power, even in the USA.

Renee Hessing


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Egyptian court fines ousted government officials $90 million

In what appears to be the first charge against the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his top officials, a Cairo court has slammed them with a substantial fines. The court accused them of cutting internet and mobile network off during the uprising occurred earlier this year. According to the spokesperson for the general prosecutor, Mr. Mubarak was fined $34 million, former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly $50 million, and former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif $6 million respectively. The payments are due immediately according to the statement released by the court. It also said that the fines will be deducted from their personal account which are already frozen. Follow more at: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/05/28/egypt.mubarak.fines/index.html?hpt=T1

By: Namgyel Dorji

Friday, May 27, 2011

Canadian Moose Hazard

Over a century ago local leaders of Newfoundland introduced the moose to the island with the hopes of attracting more hunters and tourists to help what was then a struggling colony. The moose has become known as a Canadian icon and it is of no surprise that moose roam freely in many parts of the country. However, the uniqueness of Newfoundland is that it lacks natural predators of the moose. Consequently, the moose population has increased immensely, numbering in the hundred thousands. Although this may appear to be a hunter's paradise, this is not the case because moose like to roam around the highways. Their half a ton bodies have cause roughly 700 collisions a year, most of which occur at night. In an attempt to control the moose population and reduce road hazards, the government will grant an additional five thousand hunting licenses this year and extend the moose season by one week.

-Gilberto Perez

Obama wraps up Europe trip with visit to Poland

Today marked the end of President Obama's week-long tour of Europe.  On Monday, Obama visited Ireland, where he made a stop at Moneygall, the town where his Irish ancestors once lived.  Then on Tuesday the president visited the UK, where he enjoyed a state dinner hosted by the queen and became the first US President to address a joint session of the British Parliament.  His tour then continued on to France, where the G8 Summit was held in Deauville.  During this summit, the G8 discussed economic and security matters and issued a statement praising the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East.  They also released the Deauville Partnership, which is a new effort to help Middle Eastern economies better integrate into the regional and world markets, and announced that they would assist Egypt and Tunisia in recovering stolen assets.  President Obama also met individually with French President Srakozy, Russian President Medvedev, and Japanese Prime Minister Kan, to whom he stressed America's commitment in helping Japan recover from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  To close out his tour, Obama stopped in Poland, where he visited the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial and had a dinner with Polish President Komorowski and other Central and Eastern European heads of state.  Although defense was one of the main issues the president hoped to discuss in Poland, he also made an effort to praise the political and economic progress of Poland and all of Eastern Europe following the fall of communism, and stressed America's desire to help them to continue to progress.

Mark Zajac 

Ferrari Zooms into India

Ferrari zooms into India. It's as simple as that. "Now India's burgeoning super-rich are sharing in the dream, with the opening of the country's first official Ferrari dealership in New Delhi." This is the 58th market for Ferrari, and it has continued to show steady growth throughout Asia. In the 1990s, Ferrari was mainly dominated in the U.S., Germany, Italy, and the UK, which represented about 90% of their markets. Today, China shows for Ferrari's second largest market, but they also have representation in Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, and now India. What strikes me about this move is the disparity of wealth in India. According to the World Bank, 27.5% of the population lives below the national poverty line and 16% do not have access to an adequate supply of clean water. "There is a big gap between rich and poor, and inequality is increasing," said Dr Tirthankar Roy, a reader in economic history at the London School of Economics. How can't the rich do something about this problem. If they can afford a Ferrari, I'm sure they have some pocket0change saved up somewhere that they can do a little something to help out those in poverty in their own country.


-Kristine Zizis

G8 leaders call on Gaddafi to go

World leaders at the G8 summit in France have issued a joint call for the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and U.S. President Barack Obama were among those in attendance, and all agreed that they could not allow Gaddafi to stay in power any longer. The communique issued at the end of the G8 summit says, "Gaddafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go." The communique was issued as NATO reported that government forces had laid landmines in the rebel-held western Libyan city of Misrata.


Megan Borows

Italy and Spain are exploring in investing in Bonds

Italy and Spain are testing the waters to see if they want to invest in bonds. They are looking at bonds as a source to improve their economy to prevent future european bailout situations. I don't this is the best way to go. With recent countries having to be bailed out, other ways to secure a bailout is better than no way.

-Richard (RJ) McNichols

U.S. American Freed from North Korea

North Korea announced that it would release a U.S. American who has been detained there for about six months. Apparently the detainee, Eddie Yong-su Jun, had been visiting the country on a valid and legal business visa, but was then forced to stay because he had allegedly engaged in inappropriate religious behavior.

Why did North Korea decide to free him, then? Robert R. King, the American special envoy for human rights issues in North Korea visited the country and expressed regret over the incident. He was evidently more successful than former President Jimmy Carter was. Earlier this year, Carter and a group of world leaders called the Elders had attempted to get Jun released on humanitarian grounds, but failed.

To read more, click here for the original article.

-Gracie Hollister

Yemen: Air strikes 'target tribal fighters'

As I currently have a friend in Yemen who is covering the revolution, I find it surprising that most of the attention has been focused on Syria. Saleh is just as bad as Assad. In this article, BBC covers the story on airstrikes being carried out by the Yemeni government against the tribes that are revolting. The human rights abuses currently being endured by the people of Yemen is a big problem. I do not think it is fair to only focus on a handful of countries. Sanctions also should be imposed against Saleh.


post by Rima

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Explosion in Afghanistan

On Thursday a bomb exploded in a field in Afghanistan, killing 9 NATO officers of which 7 were U.S. troops. Just 12 miles from the Pakistan border, others were also killed and injured. Afghan forces thought they had cleared all terrorists from the area, but a spokesperson for the Taliban confirmed that they were indeed responsible for the explosion and that it was intentional. This attack is said to be the worst single attack on NATO forces since October of 2009. With the increasing number of U.S. troops being attacked over the recent years in the provinces of Afghanistan, the Pentagon has spent a reported $495 million in surveillance blimps as well as 5,000 hand-held bomb detectors and other equipment to assist the U.S. troops advance in their missions while in Afghanistan.

Click here to read more.

Summarized by: Heather Krizka

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door

Remember how we were talking about how we have no idea that sex trafficking goes on in our backyard? Well this Vanity Fair article definitely takes a stab at describing it.


Amy Fine Collins shows, human trafficking is much closer to home than you think; victims, younger than ever, are just as likely to be the homegrown American girl next door as illegally imported foreigners. Having gained access to victims, law-enforcement officials, and a convicted trafficker, Collins follows a major case that put to the test the federal government’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Post by Rima

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ivory Coast Inaugurates New President

With the formal inaguration of Ivory Coast President Allasane Ouattara there is strong hope for a new page after all the turmoil that the country has faced in recent months as well as the past. Hundreds were killed following the vote that took place in November and it is said that 10 mass graves have been found outside the comericial capital city of Abidjan. This country has had a long standing ethnic and tribal divide that has sustained itself since the end colonialism in the country, which has led to the death of a great deal of people. With all this in minds of the people of the country there is definetely a strong positive hope that is seen in the newly inagurated President that will hopefully bring peace.

Matt Boguslawski

An Independent Diplomat


After 15 years in the British diplomatic corps, Carne Ross became a "freelance diplomat," running a bold nonprofit that gives small, developing and yet-unrecognized nations a voice in international relations. At the BIF-5 conference, he calls for a new kind of diplomacy that gives voice to small countries, that works with changing boundaries and that welcomes innovation.

This is a key speech and very important in terms of understanding diplomacy.

Post by Rima

Aftermath Effects of Bin Laden's death

We all knew there was going to be some sort of aftermath terrorist attacks after the death of Bin laden. This particular event occurred in Pakistan's air naval base in Karachi. It is estimated that there were 12- 15 terrorist attackers. The article doesn't state a specific group but is said to be militants, or specific reasons why they targeted the naval base. They launched grenades and heavy artillery fire was exchanged between the group and Pakistani navy officers. During the attack there is a total of 10 dead, or injured. The naval base is also a large area which houses a museum, college, and air command center, which could be a reason why it was targeted just three weeks after Bin Ladens death. So far the Militant group that attcked the base is now trapped in one building on the base, and Pakistan officers confirmed 6 to already be dead, and state, "they are fighting a losing battle." This just shows some of the smaller terrorist attacks we face due to the elimination of a figure head.


Katie Kruse

4th Somali man pleads guilty in piracy case

A fourth Somali pirate plead guilty to assisting in the hyjack of a yacht, which lead to the killing of four Americans. The man made a deal with prosecutors that lead to him identifying the other pirates involved in the hyjacking. Including this man, there are 13 Somali and one man from Yemen on trial for the incident. The men have said that the intention was not to kill the four Americans, but to hold them for randsom. They were the first U.S. citizens killed by the pirates.

Posted by Christine Steinbeiss

Sudanese Turmoil Continues

The town of Abyei has long been contested between North and South Sudan. As South Sudan will become independent in July, violence has escalated in this little area culminating in northern troops taking over the area over the weekend, killing southern troops as well as civilians. The North claims they did this after northern troops were attacked by southern troops during a U.N. envoy where 22 men were killed. The U.N. condemned the actions of the South, but the South has refused to accept responsibility for the attack. Recent reports from the U.N. describe the town as being "set on fire, with gunmen looting the property." South Sudan has called this an act of war. Such a statement encompasses the fears that many hold that the decades-long civil war will reignite. At this point, almost the whole population of the town has fled, numbering around 20,000. It's hard to see a peaceful transition of power to the South in less than 2 months as long as this violence ensues.

-Abbey Smith

Ugandan Protests

They're not rioting, they're not causing problems, they're not even really protesting. However many Ugandan citizens are being arrested and kept for up to six months without bail. Why? Because they are unpleased that Museveni has now been sworn into office for the fourth consecutive term. Their preferred form of protest? Walking to work and honking horns. Sounds tame enough, right? Well, in the eyes of the Ugandan leader, these forms of rebellion are only the front end of an 'Egypt style rebellion'. Since these protests have started, a whopping nine people have been killed by the police as a result of their honking and walking. Is it just me or does this seem rather illogical? Either way, Museveni will continue to rule Uganda, and I'm sure these protests will die down until the next elections come around again.

Megan Smith

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Landslides in Malaysia

Two landslides in Maylaysia have nearly covered an orphanage killing at least 16 people. Of the dozens of people located at the orphanage, so far five of the bodies found were children and eight of the people rescued were children, but there are still many children unaccounted for. The two landslides were just second apart and caused by heavy rains. Along with those injured and killed at the orphanage, there were also many residents nearby setting up tents outside for an event. All who were at the camp were trapped. The exact number of children in the area is still unknown, but there were about 70 children who had planned to visit the orphanage that day to attend a class. The prime minister of Malaysia was currently attending meeting in the United States, but stated that orphanage would be rebuilt and the victims provided for.

Click here to read more.

Summarized by: Heather Krizka

Secret to Rebels Success in Libya:Smugglers

There is a small determined fleet of boats in Libya that brave the dangers of Qaddafi's armaments to bring food, supplies and medicine to rebels holed up in the city of Misurata. The rebels have brought together about two dozen fishing boats and former Qaddafi tugboats to give the beseiged city of Misurata a life line. NATO supports the efforts, and approves of the measures the men have taken. While it is well known that smugglers are what is keeping the city afloat, specific locations for dropoffs and pick ups were not disclosed. The efforts of the mariners has allowed the citizens of Misurata to survive the seige, as crates of baby formula travel alongside crates of ammunition. Misurata itself is the reason that rebels have refused to consider splitting the country East versus West simply because of tribal and cultural differences. The mariners feel a sense of pride in their mission, using the very means Qaddafi once used, the boats, the guns etc, to crush them to try and push him from power. They hope that Nato continues to offer a safe haven from chasing Qaddafi ships in its blockade. Their start was a little less official, as rebels contacted criminals who moved contraband in and out of the country, and learned how to avoid Qaddafi's patrols. With NATO'S support, the rebels have now been able to focus on attaining supplies, the most finicky of which has been guns and ammunition. The guns that the rebels have been able to attain are part of a buy back program, and as supply has run low prices have started to rise and many people in Libya are waiting to cash in on the rebels.

by Margaret Nunne


Landslides bury Malaysian orphanage, killing at least 16

At least a dozen children were reported missing Saturday after two landslides struck a Malaysian orphanage. Rescue workers reported to be searching for a least a dozen orphans believed to be buried in the landslides debris. The two landslides were reported to hit near Hulu Langat, which is located southeast of the capital city. It is unclear how many of the 16 children were killed. Reports that were coming in were not completely conclusive with one another. Bodies of five children between the ages of 11 and 14 were pulled from the debris, while 8 children were pulled alive between the ages of 11 and 17. The landslides were triggered by heavy rains on Saturday. There were also conflicting reports as to how many children were on the site when the landslides hit.

- Jen Crawford

Northern Ireland pins IRA for Bank Bombing in Derry

The IRA has been on a spree of bombing banks throughout Northern Ireland. They had put out warnings that they were going to bomb the banks. Thankful no one was hurt in this incident. Police were on the incident due to warnings. The IRA planted the bomb and shortly after, the police were in the process of clearing people and exploding the bomb. Along with targeting police and authority, the IRA will still continue to bomb banks.

-Richard (RJ) McNichols

Landslide in Malaysia Kills Sixteen

Sixteen children were killed, and at least a dozen more were reported missing following two landslides that buried a Malaysian orphanage. The landslides occurred in Hulu Langat, which is located southeast of Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital city. At least nine people were pulled out alive from the rubble by rescue workers and local villagers. The cause of the landslides were due to heavy rain in the area starting yesterday. A nearby mosque was also struck by the landslide, thought it hasn't been clear if there were any people inside of the mosque that were injured. The Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government will immediately rebuild the orphanage and provide payments to the victims.


-Tharryn Wright

Candies for Change

Zimbabwe is hitting an all time new low with their economics. Recent political and goverment changes look to be heading in the right direction, but this failed economy is remaining stagnant. Two years ago, Zimbabwe began to solely use the US dollar as the Zim dollar had astronomical inflation. This too has not only raised the price of goods, but the lowest value dollar note is the $1. Therefore, in stores and such it has reached the point to where in order to give back change that would notmally be in coin form, buyers of goods are now receiving candy and sweets to compensate. In some cases they are given vouchers which they can redeem for other goods. The future of Zimbabwe is unknown, but a crucial aspect in order for this former economic powerhouse is to sort out its economic harships.

Matt Boguslawski

Taliban forces attack 72 road workers in Afghanistan

Taliban forces attacked about 72 road workers on Thursday in southeastern Afghanistan. The employees worked for a company doing construction on a highway between the cities of Gardez and Khost, a road used frequently by coalition and government forces. The Taliban attacked becuase they objected to the use of the major highway by coalition forces. Abdullah Durani, the chief director of public works in the province, said 36 of the 72 abducted workers were killed, about 20 others were injured, and 12 vehicles were burned.


-Kristine Zizis

Sudan: Abyei seizure by North 'act of war', says South

The Sudan is due to become independent in just over a month, but authority over border city, Abyei is still being disputed. Northern and Southern troops have been fighting for weeks. Recently Northern troops entered southern dominated regions of the city, killing southern troops and civilians. Officials from Northern Sudan insist this was an act of retaliation after 22 northern troops were ambushed as they left the city.

Most of Abyei's citizens have fled and the UN is calling for an end in violence. Before the end of a peace agreement, the region had been governed by a cooperative northern/southern mix. Now, President Omar al-Bashir has dismissed those in office and many fear a war is soon to come.

Southern officials are calling for international assistance, Northern officials continue to invade. Many historians fear this will be another bout of civil war like that the peace treaties had ended.


Renee Hessing

Playing catch-up

Though they still remain one of the poorest areas in Africa, the north-east region is doing its best to steadily improve. The region is home to 28% of the population but only makes up 14% of the GDP and still only one fifth of the adult population is illiterate. Despite these dismal statistics, over the past 10 years the north-east region's GDP has risen 4.2% compared to the national GDP growth rate of 3.6%. Last year alone Pernambuco state grew by an astounding 9.3%. Over this same time period the majority of the increase in income has come from earnings, not aid and the minimum wage has risen over 50% in real terms. This growth is helping the region attract firms such as Kraft, increased development of malls, influenced the expansion of a local supermarket chain, and even attracted migrants to come back home and work. Right now the north-east is becoming one the country's largest building sites. Most recently, building is going on to create a new railway system from ports on the coast to the interior states. This will improve their ability to export natural resources and agricultural products such as soybeans. The only setback may be that this area spends below the national average on education. Infrastructure can only help so much if the population is not educated enough to maintain its recent success.

By Tommy Walker

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kabul hospital hit by suicide bomber

This morning, a suicide bomber blasted a military hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, leaving six people dead and 23 wounded. The Taliban claims that they were behind this attack. The bomber set off his device in a tent on the grounds of Charsad Bestar Hospital and all of the victims were civilians and medical students. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai berated the attack saying that it was "so ruthless and cowardly that, in contradiction of all humane and Islamic principles, they attack even hospital patients and doctors." Ironically, this hospital has treated senior Taliban and al-Queda commanders. This attack is surely only the tip of the iceberg, as the Taliban has declared the beginning of their Spring offensive against Afghan and international forces.


Megan Borows

Canada's Dirty Oil Source

Canada possesses the world's second largest reserves of oil and natural gas; therefore it is of no surprise that Canada is the United States' largest exporter of oil, with 22% of the total; Mexico is a distant second at 11-12%. But unlike most exported petroleum, Canadian crude oil is dirty as the sources of this energy are tar sands; containing mixtures of clay, sand, and bitumen. Therefore, the crude oil must be melted before it can be extracted, which, ironically, requires 20% of Canada's natural gas. The complex process produces 82% more greenhouse-gas emission than does the average refined barrel. The environmental issues have proved a concern for America which consequently forbid government agencies from buying tar-sand oil in 2007. Moreover, efforts to press Canada into cleaning up the business would face stiff resistance from America’s energy lobby, since many operators in the sands are based in the United States. Alternative include finding a new source of energy or reducing Canadian imports of oil. Reducing imports will, however, not solve the problem, because once this occurs, China will be more than happy to step in an take them. This can been seen as more and more Chinese firms invest heavily in the sands.

-Gilberto Perez

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mining fuels Mongolia's 'wolf economy'

The young democracy of Mongolia is finally tapping into its vast mineral resource deposits, which in turn is fueling its growing 'wolf economy'.  Compared to the Asian tiger economies of the 1980s, Mongolia's goal is to use its resource wealth for long-term socioeconomic growth and is committed to avoid the natural resource trap.  In any event, Mongolia is facing huge opportunities and huge challenges.  With massive deposits of copper, coal, iron, uranium, gold, zinc, and most likely oil, over $25 billion in investment from both domestic and foreign mining companies is expected to be raised within the next 5 years.  Managing that wealth will not be easy, however.  With a population of 2.5 million in a vast, mostly desolate nation, where a nomadic lifestyle is still prevalent, establishing necessary infrastructure will be difficult.  The main long-term investments proposed by Prime Minister Batbold are health care, education, housing, and the job market.  There will also be an effort to diminish the effects of alcoholism, a growing problem for Mongolia.  The management of resource wealth to solve these problems is crucial, so PM Batbold looks to Chile, Canada and Norway as examples of resource-rich democracies that have avoided the resource curse.  In addition to dealing with this economic boom domestically, Mongolia must also maintain good foreign relations.  President Elbegdorj describes his nation as "a little pony between two big elephants" - China and Russia.  Landlocked between two of the largest developing states, Mongolia must maintain good political and economic ties with both, particularly with China, which serves as its largest market and link to the Pacific.  In an effort to not become over-dependent on China, Mongolia is strengthening relations with the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and Turkey.  The socioeconomic future of Mongolia seems largely positive, thanks to the committed efforts of its politicians to focus on long-term investment and avoid corruption.

Mark Zajac

Chinese Student Takes Aim, Literally, at Internet Regulator

The recent incident in which an anonymous student threw eggs and shoes at a computer scientist shows a growing frustration among youth regarding China’s stringent internet censorship regulations. It occurred at Wuhan University one of the prestigious universities in China located in central Hubei Province. Although the student fled the scene but according to his twitter post one of the shoes hit the intended target Mr. Fang Binxing who is regarded as the father of the “Great Firework” in China. Mr. Binxing was giving a lecture about internet security when it happened and had cut short his talk. Hours later there were postings on Chinese internet about the incident most of which were deleted by censors. But, some of the postings expressed supports for this brave student where one message saying that if the shoe thrower kicked out of the school, his/her company will hire him immediately. According to the local police officials the case is under investigation. In recent months, Chinese government has been vigilant of information on internet especially after revolutions started overthrowing regimes in North African nations. Follow more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/asia/20china.html?ref=asia

By: Namgyel Dorji

Thursday, May 19, 2011

US Asserts Opinions

According to this Al Jazeera Report, in President Obama's speech some rather intense demands were made in regards to the mid east. Obama made several strong statements including the call for Palestine to be granted their own territory as dictated in 1967. Israel has been pushing Palestinians off of that land for quite some time now, and the President calling Israel out on that factor is quite a step outside the box for the United States in terms of past international policy. Additionally, Obama supported the US aid in Libya, condemned Syria for their actions against protesters, addressed the radical views of Osama bin Laden, and outlined an initiative to increase economic growth in the areas addressed. In sum, this was a heavy address to the public that holds much weight and has the potential to take US international policy is a new direction.

megan smith

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Al Jazeera Reporter Freed

Although journalist Dorothy Parvaz disappeared upon her arrival in Syria last month, she was recently released and claims that she suffered no harm and was treated very well, despite being interrogated. Parvaz was researching antigovernmental protests, and Iranian officials claim that she violated several regulations. For instance, she traveled without a valid passport.

It is not unusual for Syria and Iran to restrict journalist access, and since the Syrian uprising in March, only a few foreign journalists have been allowed to travel freely in that country. Interestingly, at the end of last year, Iran had at least 34 reporters in custody, which is more than any other country in the world, with the exception of China.

Of course, her family and friends were very concerned about her wellbeing. On Wednesday, however, Parvaz's fiance, Todd Barker received a phonecall from her, during which she explained her circumstances and assured him that she was fine.

Read more about this in the original article here.

-Gracie Hollister

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bullets and Billions of Dollars of Aid

It seems that tensions are on the rise between Pakistan and the United States, but it was an exchange of bullets with NATO operatives that has Pakistan claiming two members of their armed forces were injured. Pakistan military opened fire on a NATO helicopter that wasn't even a mile within Pakistan borders. The United States has claimed that the members were injured thanks to a mudslide. However, the focus of the article was one the fact that America gives nearly $20 billion worth of aid to Pakistan. Now many members of the government are calling it into question. Some want the aid simply revoked while others want aid to be based on terms and conditions with the idea that with each milestone that is hit, more aid will be given. What is not answered is why billion of dollars was going to a different country in the first place without so much as a set of rules in place. America still wants the aid of Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan so many leaders are hesitant to cut aid. Yet Pakistan doesn't seem to appreciate the effort since reports have shown that many Pakistani leaders are now in talks with China.

By: Albie Braun

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Queen Visits Ireland

Why is the royal visit to Ireland such a big deal? Well, because it is the first time the monarchy has traveled to Ireland in 100 years despite their close geography. Everyone is aware of the longstanding rivalry between the Irish and the English, but what is the story behind it? The conflicts between the Irish and the British go way back to World War I, when Ireland was trying to gain its independence from Britain. When the war broke out Irish troops fought along side the British, but as the war progressed their patience wore thin. British troops killed unarmed irish civilians, and ever since their has been a hatred of the two cultures. (more reasons applicable) This year 2011 will be the first year since 1911 when King George V visited the island of Ireland. The Queen will go to various places throughout Ireland to recognize the Irish troops who fought and died along the British in WWI. Steps to amend the differences between the two cultures is in the very first stages as some Irish civilians are still uneasy about the Queen visiting, but it is a start.


Katie Kruse

US Navy drones: Coming to a carrier near China?

To stay ahead of China's rising military, the United States is developing aircraft carrier-based drones. After releasing no information on where these drones would be stationed, a Navy officer told The Associated Press that some would likely be deployed in Asia. Land based drones are often used in the Middle East, it will still take several more years to develop the sea based drones. China says that their growing military is only to protect themselves. It is developing new air, naval and missile capabilities that could potentially challenge U.S. military power. Even though China is still years behind, the U.S. realizes it needs to stay with the developing military technology.


Posted by Christine Steinbeiss