Friday, September 30, 2011

'Super Clone Sniffer Dogs': Coming to an Airport Near You

Labs would appear to still reign as man's (and geneticists') best friend; good enough to be cloned seven times over, at least. South Korea this week announces the debut of their genetically honed pack of 'super sniffer' tracking dogs, all clones of an original, exceptional drug-sniffing canine by the name of Chase, at Incheon Airport. Trainer Park Ji-Yong offers a candid appreciation of his 'Chase', the most successful of the clones, who goes by the name of 'Tutu'. Despite their identical DNA models, the dogs seem to vary greatly in their temperments and ability to perform the tasks of their predecessor, raising questions about how much of skills and traits is inherent. Korean scientists remain guardedly modest about their success, but have even bigger projects in queue: dogs with heightened disease-detection abilities, and endangered wildlife projects.

For those of us who have allowed our knowledge of current events in this area to slip, a helpful timeline of cloning breakthroughs is included.

By Emily Canaday

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Japan tsunami: 10m yen donation found in Tokyo toilet

According to BBC News, an envelope with 10m yen was found in a public bathroom in Tokyo. The envelope had a letter stating that the money was to be donated towards the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March. This package was found in the city hall of Sakado in one of the suburbs of Tokyo. 10m Yen is about $131,000 and 83,000 pounds. This envelop was left in one of the disabled bathrooms and the note read,’’ "I am all alone and have no use for the money." The City Hall stated that if the money is not reclaimed within three months the money will be handed over to the Red Cross.BBC’s Roland Buerk said, ‘’ the earthquake and tsunami that devastated north-eastern coastal areas in March has brought out striking examples of generosity and honesty. In the affected areas, about $50 million have been found in the disaster areas and $30 million had been found from safes in the rubble. This is not the first time people chose to leave envelopes in bathrooms anonymously. In 2007, 10,000 yen notes were found in the bathrooms of the local council buildings across Japan. At the same time, 18 residents of an apartment building found 10,000 yen notes in their mailboxes. The amount totaled to around 1.8 million yen.

By Ramla Sheriff

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

American Fugitive Found in Portugal

At large fugitive George Wright was detained Monday in Portugal at the urging of the U.S. government. Wright, who is now sixty-eight and a father of two, has been eluding U.S. officials since his escape from a New Jersey prison in 1970. Two years after his escape, Wright dressed as a priest and hijacked a plane along with other members from the Black Liberation Army. His whereabouts after hijacking were unknown until Portuguese officials were able to match his fingerprints on a Portuguese identification card. It is reported that he lived a nice, comfortable lifestyle in Portugal, just miles from a picturesque beach. If extradited back to the U.S., Wright will serve out the rest of his original prison sentence.

By: Tyler Lundquist

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pakistanis Tied to 2007 Border Ambush on Americans

Just after a group of American military officials and Afghan officials had a 5 hour meeting with their Pakistani neighbor in Teri Mangal on May 14th, 2007 about a border dispute, they were attacked. It turns out that we have now determined that the attack is indeed linked to Pakistanis. The ambush left one American dead, along with three others wounded, as well as the American's Afghan interpreter. Officials are now suggesting that this attack could be considered revenge for Afghan or Pakistani deaths due to American forces. Still to this day, neither of the governments have really came out and cleared the air about what did exactly happen that day, most likely in hopes that they will save as much damage to the relations as possible. The officials involved remain nameless in fear that unveiling themselves will put a big target on Pakistan's back.
Alison Ortscheid

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gusty Spence has died

By Chris Grizzell

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) has been a name synonymous with violence, sectarian divide, and a long history of blood in Northern Ireland. Not as politically motivated as their nationalist contemporaries, they dedicated themselves to spreading fear and terror through the nationalist (and certainly the Catholic) community in Northern Ireland. Their leader was Gusty Spence, who was caught and imprisoned for killing a barman in 1966, and imprisoned for 18 years. Originally a life sentence, he was released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, after which he began devoting himself to the peace process in northern Ireland.
Gusty was the example of what rehabilitation is supposed to accomplish. His ability to work with both sides of the pervasive conflict in Northern Ireland showed extremely well, particularly to his sworn enemy the Catholics. His influence as a man that challenged traditional Loyalism after his jailing showed a mature turnaround that many on both sides have yet to experience; some never had the chance to.

Explosions in Turkish capital are believed to be Terrorism

Explosions that took place in Ankara, Turkey on Tues, Sep 20 killed 3 people and at least 34 are wounded. Bombing attack was in downtown of Ankara, which is also is the busiest part of the capital. Attack wasn't focused on specific target, it harmed many passers-by. It also believed to involve several cars containing tanks of liquefied petroleum gas.
Mayor of the district told news that there were witnesses who saw burning gasoline thrown out of the window on a car, but reports show that blasts could have been caused by explosives placed in a car.
The nature of explosions is believed to be terrorist attack on Turkish citizens, some news announced that PKK, Kurdish separatist group is responsible for the bombings. Conflict between Turkish government and Kurdish separatists group remains unresolved more 25 years, which leads to be the reason for the attack.

Nazira Bakhriyeva

Russian PM Putin Accepts Presidential Proposal

The top two politicians in Russia have accepted proposals that would swap the top two politicians in Russia; current Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin will be nominated for the presidency and current President Dmitry Medvedev could be elected Russian Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote. Both candidates backed each other in their respective endeavors.

President Medvedev said "I think it would be correct for the congress to support the candidacy of the party chairman, Vladimir Putin, to the post of president of the country," and Mr. Putin said Medvedev would be part of a "new, effective, young, energetic management team" as prime minister. Vladimir Putin has already served two four year terms as president, thus filling the constitutional term limit, but will likely be serving six years more due to a constitutional amendment.

Corruption is a serious problem in Russia, and having the two highest offices occupied by the same people for nearly two decades may have something to do with that. Democracy in Russia could be deteriorating. Interestingly enough, Putin's approval ratings during his presidency were relatively high after he brought Russia under control after the tumultuous 90's. He has since gained almost complete control of the political system in Russia, and will apparently be hanging on to that control as president.

By Bob Hartzer

As Gangs Move In on Mexico’s Schools, Teachers Say ‘Enough’

Many schools in Mexico have closed shortly after opening this fall. This is due to the increasing threats made against teachers to pay protection fees to local gangs. Unfortunately as the article explains this is a product of Mexico's war on drugs. As the money dries up from decreased opportunities to export drugs into the United States, many gangs are now looking to use intimidation, threats and fear to supplement their income. "If you don't pay, you die," is one of the threats being used against teacher since their salaries are a little more stable than most. A surcuity analysis in Mexico claims that extortion is the next big paying business internationally next to drug trafficking and if gangs are sufficiently violent they can gain steady income. However there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the many school employees and citizens. Rival gangs have been popping up to halt advances on these crimes and make the public less fearful. State governments are promising to install more security features in schools such as cameras, panic button, telephones, and increased police patrol to help schools feel safe enough to open again. Lastly, many analysis are doubting wether these threats will even be carried out against a group as "politically power." Hopefully this is something that can be montiored and enforced in sake for all school officals, students, and the public.

Kourtney Macaluso

Saudi Arabian Women able to Vote and Run in Elections

At the height of our feminism discussion, women in Saudi Arabia are now are able to vote and also run in elections. At the start of next term (in four years) of the Shura Council, a formal advising committee, has declared that women will be able to run and vote in the next election. Ten years ago, the king said the center of Saudi economy should be women. The reason why it has taken Saudi Arabia this long to make this change is because officials were afraid of religious backlash. Women are still not allowed to drive or leave the country unacompanied. The process to reduce gender segregation is continuing to grow, and this is just another stepping stone to giving women the rights they deserve. A hand full of intellectuals are saying that council members are lacking the ability carry out their role. Some may not be happy, but many are looking forward to a new and encouraging future.

Meghan Kats

Terror In the Philippines

17 died in a terror attack against Philippine Marine forces in Jolo, Sulu. 13 members of a Abu Sayyaf linked group died while attacking the Marine outpost along with 2 Marines and 2 civilians. The attack was supposed to be the first mission for the new recruits but the Marines remain confident that group will not pose any further problems.

Chris LeClair

Terror Plot in Britain

Six men, age ranging from twenty-five to thirty-two, are being charged with plotting to build a terror bomb. All six men are of the Birmingham area and of Pakistani descent. Of the six, four are being charged with preparing an act of terrorism. The other two accomplices are both being charged with failing to disclose information. One of those two, one is also being charged with terrorist fundraising. Authorities said that the six men have been plotting since December 25th of 2010, and have been traveling to Pakistan to receive terrorism training in the areas of bomb and poison production. A seventh man, age twenty, has also been arrested but authorities are still in questioning with him.

By: Tyler Lundquist

Along with Famine, Violence in Somalia

A very serious famine is going on in the country of Somalia that is putting 750,000 Somalis at risk of death in the months to come. Now there seems to be a bigger problem on top of the horrible famine. Countless acts of violence, robbery and rape are being committed on the Somalis as they try to cross the desert to find safety in Kenya. At a rate of 1,000 a day, Somalis cross into Kenya and are being approached by armed bandits who rob the men and the rape the women. This is occuring in the 50 mile stretch before reaching the world's largest refugee came of Dadaab. This is a country where rape is very taboo and women are usually blamed for being raped and can be disowned by family. Women are being subjected to extreme genital cutting and at very young ages. The Somaili bandits are said to fear the Shabab militia but on the Kenyan side, where there is little police, they are easily able to get away with viloence and rape. In an attepmt to put an end to the viloence and rape aid agengies need to put reception centers at the boarder to monitor what is happening.

By Blake Sabatke

US Relations with Pakistan Undergo More Strain

On Friday Pakistan told the Obama Administration to stop making accusations that “Pakistan is exporting violence to Afghanistan”. The previous statement was released from US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen who recently spoke in a Senate hearing. He also stated that Pakistan’s top spy network is closely linked to the Haqqani network, which is a group within the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Foreign minister responded to this accusation by saying that “You will lose an ally” and went on to explain how the United States could not afford to let relations with Pakistan deteriorate. I personally believe that the US will try to mend the damaged relations with Pakistan because Pakistan may provide the US with much help with future turmoil in the Middle East.,,6624334,00.html

By Matthew Draper

Vote in Saudi Arabia, King Says

The King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, gave women the right to vote today and the ability to run for public municipal elections. This is the largest step forward for women in this country for over a decade where gender separation is large, women are banned from driving.

In Saudi Arabia women must have male chaperones for most public events, so this royal decree is an important step forward in allowing women to become equal to men.

By: Matthew Sahd

Yemen leader Ali Abdullah Saleh calls for early polls

The death toll of protestors seem to be increasing in Yemen as civilians push their leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down from his powers. His hesitance and unwillingness has caused intense uprisings and the deaths of many civilians. Saleh had been in Saudi Arabia for the past 3 months, recovering from an assassination attempt. He has agreed to hand down his powers only to an election.

Many individuals are worried that if Saleh continues to embrace his powers, the country could soon enough fall into a civil war. Once he returned from Saudi, he insisted that the fighting ends and for stability to return. However, how things will play out for the people of Yemen and how long it will take for Saleh to step down remains cloudy.

Pooja Sahai

Europe Seeks to Ratchet Up Effort on Debt

WASHINGTON — Under increasing pressure from global investors and world leaders, European government officials indicated Saturday that they were working to intensify their response to the continent’s growing debt problems. It was an acknowledgment, after weeks of public stonewalling, that a plan announced in July had failed to calm financial markets.

Fears that Greece could default on its mounting debts, and that other European countries might follow, have repeatedly sent global markets plunging in recent weeks. Investors are also increasingly concerned that uncertainty itself is disrupting economic activity around the world and slowing growth.

Olli Rehn, the European Union’s monetary affairs commissioner, said Saturday that there was “increasing political will” among European leaders for a new effort to soothe investors. He said they were discussing a plan to multiply the financial impact of an existing bailout fund designed to make up to 440 billion euros ($600 billion) in loans to troubled nations and banks, so that it could instead insure a few trillion euros in loans.

by: Joseph McGee

Veracruz: A Lost Battle in the "War On Drugs"

In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared the war on drugs, and so far, not much progress has been made. As indicated by this article and many similar to it, the violence has actually been rising. According to BBC News, Veracruz "had been spared much of the drug-related crime that has afflicted other regions of Mexico, but has recently witnessed an escalation of violence." Becca Feddor. Luckily, this incident has so far been reported that the only victims of murder were those with previous criminal records, but any escalation of violence means that civilians are going to be in higher danger as well. Much criticism has been drawn to President Calderon's aggressive methods of using the military to fight fire with fire. In particular, political cartoonists, such as Jose Hernandez and Antonio Helguera, are using their positions in the media to draw attention to the failings of the war in drugs, in particular the fact that at least 40,000 people have died since it was declared, which was 2006.

So is fighting violence with more violence the answer to winning this war? President Calderon is really in an unfortunate position; he needs to protect his citizens while trying to oust illegal drug cartels that have no respect for the law or for civilian lives. As these cartels continue to expand globally, perhaps President Calderon needs to invest his war efforts into international negotiation with other countries through a more legislation based reform rather than a reform centered around violence.

Suicide Bomber Attacks Church in Indonesia

As people were leaving Bethel Injil Sepuluh church in Keputon, Solo, this morning, they were struck by a deadly attack. The suicide bomber struck after the church's usual Sunday service. At least one person (in addition to the attacker) has been killed; twenty are injured, three of which are serious, according to the Associated Press.
The motive behind the attack and the name of the suicide bomber are not yet known. However, a number of deadly terrorist attacks by Islamist militant groups have been carried out in Indonesia in the last several years. Solo is also the hometown of the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), an Islamist militant group which has connections to Al Qaeda. It is possible that this may be one in a string of attacks this group over the last several years, including the 2002 Bali bombings, though the group is significantly weaker than it used to be.

Maci Mitchell

IMF warns about money supply to troubled Greece

As talks continue about to handle what would be the second bailout to Greece, the International Monetary Fund has released a statement warning prominent eurozone countries about a potential lack of money if the current landscape does not change. IMF chief Christine Lagarde was quoted as saying that there wouldn't be a problem in regards to, "current obligations, but this could change if the crisis worsens." This comes after speculation that a potential bailout for Greece could quadruple in the amount of euros needed in order to properly back the recapitalization of banks, and overall boosting of funds for the European Financial Stability Facility.

Greece's response is understandably pro-aide, and their prime minister for economic relations noted that if they were not able to get sufficient funding to remain in the eurozone, the country could see a return to the economic pitfall they experienced during the 1960's and 70's. But as questions swirl about whether Greece has acted any more efficiently and responsibly since the last bailout, it remains to be seen how patient the IMF and other agencies will be towards Greece, and how willing they will be to continue to provide that much needed money.

By David Johnson

Protected Japanese endangered plants in the UK

From 1854, when Japan opened to the world, the UK has been collecting Japanese plants wishing to obtain exotic species.

The Japanese archipelago environment, which lies across south to north, has contributed to create many complex biomes and raising over 4000 unique species in Japan. Therefor such species have attracted Western botanists and horticulturists until now.

It is considered that 356 endangered Japanese plants in their home land are gathered in UK, and at least 106 plants in these plants are extinct in Japan. For that reason, the collections are hoped to save these spices. At the same time, a British doctor says that not only Japan but every country has the problem of huge number of endangered species.

Natsumi Tsuchiya

1,200 Bodies Found in Libyan Mass Grave

1,270 bodies were found in a mass grave in Tripoli. The bodies are thought to be the victims of a 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, and were found by revolutionaries on August 20th. The bodies are scattered around a 100 meter radius. Former prisoner Abdul Wahab Gady was at Abu Salim during the massacre and provided details to researchers and investigators.

Gady says the massacre came about by prisoners who were rebelling against poor conditions and restricted family visits. The prisoners had seized a guard and escaped their cells. In a pretense of working with the prisoners, the guards feigned negotiations. After the prisoners agreed to return to their cells, the prison ordered for a firing squad and all of the rioting prisoners were handcuffed, blindfolded, and shot.

In 2007, the families of the victims filed a claim against the government. The Gadhafi government denied the killings and attempted to bribe the families into silence. Instead of accepting the bribe, the families began protesting every Saturday in Benghazi, one of the places the Libyan unrest began this year.

By Rachel Foy

Saudi King: Women Will Be Allowed To Vote

Victories in the field of gender liberation are hardly predictable, but much welcomed no matter the time or place. A huge leap forward comes this week from a country notorious in recent times for its ambivalence towards the plight of women being harassed by fundamentalists while engaging in such unladylike tasks as driving cars. While not expressly forbidden by Saudi law, differing sects in this small desert nation have their own opinions of what activities are indecent for females to partake in. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia this week makes a significant declaration of global female rights, which is one step towards regulating the treatment of women in sterner Islamic societies.

Albeit in political waffle, the King indicated that besides more allowance in being allotted seats of government office, women will be able to ‘nominate’ and perhaps elect their choice of officials. For a country in its infant years of democratic municipal elections, this is a bold and significant opening move. Of course, local discrimination and religious red-tape could bind women who actually do show up to vote in the coming months from making themselves directly heard, but this public statement by the King does put this nation at a bit of a crossroads: if the King enforces gender equality, then so much the better. But hell also hath no fury like a woman scorned; we can expect good things from the Saudi Women’s Revolution and international outrage even if this declaration is reneged.

Emily Canaday

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Digging for Victory

"Mining is Congo's best hope of prosperity but also its biggest worry."

The gap between the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) economic potential and its citizen’s prosperity is extremely wide.

President Kabila wants to turn the DRC into an economic powerhouse by ramping up mining and oil production. He has made some progress, but the eastern region of the Congo remains chaotic. Kabila’s ability to affect change is limited by problems within the DRC.

Many Congolese blame American congressmen and “human rights people” for making a bad situation worse. An obscure provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill passed by American congressmen and supported by human rights organizations has scared big metal buyers, such as Apple and Motorola, away from the Congo. As a result, local economies within the DRC that depend on mining have dropped off a cliff.

The eastern Congolese city of Goma exemplifies this problem. In the past year, Goma’s economy, which depends largely upon mining, has suffered a miserable decline.

According to The Economist, “It is crucial to get foreign firms, neighboring countries, and international organizations to help solve Congo’s problems.”

“President Kabila’s biggest test will be whether he will be able to get foreign companies to start buying Congolese minerals again.”

By Andrew Elam

Palestine makes statehood bid

President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine submitted his bid for full UN membership and urged countries that do not yet recognize Palestine as an independent state to do so. Despite ongoing conflicts between Israel and Palestine that have been unresolved by US-organized peace talks, Palestine has decided to appeal to the United Nations as a means of gaining independent statehood and forgoing the peace talks. Both Israel and Palestine have differing opinions of the origins of the conflicts; Israel claims the conflicts are due to Palestine’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, yet Palestine says the origin of the conflicts is Israel’s refusal to stop building Jewish settlements on the countries’ borders. Other countries have offered compromises to Palestine, such as an enhanced status while still being a non-member state within the UN, a suggested from French president Nicolas Sarkozy. As of now, Palestine only have observer status in the United Nations.

Marion Gibney

The Right to Vote in Saudi Arabia

Tying in our lesson/lecture on feminism, King Adullah has announced that women in Saudi Arabia will be given the right to vote, participate in municipal elections, and have the right to be appointed in the consultative Shura council.

The King states, "Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior clerics and others... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term... Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote."

The change is expected to take place after the polls that take place on Thursday, September 29th. For women activists, this is indeed a big change and one in which their hard work has finally started to bear fruition. Although Saudia Arabia has always been a conservative nation and deeply rooted in their culture and religion, the change will theoretically ease some of the tension that has arisen from this issue. With this change just right over the horizon, some would say that it is now possible to forge on ahead with the activists' other pursuits as well, such as allowing the women of Saudi Arabia to drive, and leaving the country without the accompaniment of men. While not everyone will agree on this new verdict, it is at least a major win for women's rights' activists.

By Lauren Marie De Guzman

Uncle Sam and the Saudi Split

Saudi Arabia was at the United Nations conference this past week jumping on with 100 other U.N. members in support of the recognition of Palestinian state. Saudi Arabia is the richest Arab nation and most powerful. Saudi Arabia is risking a very strong relationship with the United States. This has not been the first spark between the two powerful respected nations. United States and Saudi Arabia have been arguing about several causes such as the Iraq war and terrorism not just the Palestinian state recognition into the United Nations.

The United States and Saudi Arabia are two world powers and have great interest with another through the oil industry. The United States has a friendship with the Saudis with security exchange for oil. Saudi Arabia gives the United States fair deals for oil and the United States in return give the Saudis security protection. It is very important the two try to get back on track in their relationship which has been rocky the past decade.

The Palestinian conflict considering their recognition is becoming a growing problem for the United States to deal with. Nations such as Saudi Arabia who have relations with United States is certainly continuing to grow.

By; Joe Ruffolo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Attack at Libya and Struggle for a form of new government

At Tripoli, Libya, armed loyalties of Muammar Gaddafi attacked his hometown, Sirte on Saturday.
It is reported that the provisional government continued to resist retreating with rockets, mortars, and gunfire hundred miles east from Sirte.

Current Prime Minister in a nation, Mahmoud Jibril, sought for support at United Nations, insisting the need of assistance in order to “rebuild the country” in an efficient way.

Although it has been over a month since successfully taking Tripoli away from attacking, ending Gaddafi’s authority, new government is still struggling in a difficulty to conquer Gaddaffi’s loyalties from continuous attacking.

Attack with explosions lasted throughout the day by all loyalties of Gaddaffi hiding at various places in town under the smoke, throwing hand grenade and shooting. NATO warplanes patrolled throughout the evening.

It is said that now over 1,300 families escaped from the city, while many of them still are being unable to move on, being stuck at basement to protect themselves from daily fires in a city.
They reported that some children are suffering from diarrhea due to the drink they drink from the tank.

Chief of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, spoke of the importance to form a strong and well-organized government, commenting that the interim government will be named during the next week, aiming to start guiding the country.

Naoko Takada

Independent candidates test China's election experiment

Elections will take place in China, not to choose the government, but for the National People's Representatives Congress. It is something happens every five years, and it is the only time when citizens can vote for legislators. The government really controls everything, and even though anyone can seek a seat, all candidates are vetted by Communist Party officials.
This year more than 100 people came forward as independent candidates. One of them is Li Chengpeng a famous writer who bases his chances on his popularity on Weibo, a social network similar to twitter. Some of his objectives are to improve school transportation, opportunities to find job for university students, and senior healthcare. As he said, there is so much injustice in China, but he is not going to rebel the government because it would be naive. Indeed, many independent candidates were intimidated by the government and had to quit running because they had or expressed ideas of having some control over the government if they were elected.

The government allows these elections to distract people, to make them feel like if they somehow have a voice. However, the government is simply trying to avoid protests. They rather allow the citizens to vote to express their opinion that having them protesting on the street. But these elections, even if used to distract people are small steps towards democracy.

by Paula Elum