Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pakistan is Helping Afghan Taliban, says Nato Report

According to a secret Nato report the Taliban in Afghanistan are receiving direct aid from Pakistani security services. This report, attained through thousands of interrogations, states that the Taliban gets a great deal of support from the Afghan people. The report is derived from 27,000 interrogations with 4,000 captured Taliban and al-Qaeda members. This in turn leads some to believe that Pakistan is aware of the locations of several Taliban leaders. Nevertheless, Pakistan continues to deny any associations it may have with the extremist group. Moreover, even though Nato has attempted to secure the nation with Afghan forces, the report indicates that there is a certain degree of collaboration between the Afghan police and the insurgents. In its conclusion, the document exemplifies the fact that in the past year the levels of interest for joining the Taliban cause have greatly increased.

Aleksandra Ruseva


Chinese workers kidnapped in Egypt

Twenty five Chinese workers have been captured in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. They were surrounded by a group of armed Bedouin tribesmen on their way to work as technicians and engineers in a local cement factory. The kidnappers have demanded the release five of imprisoned relatives in return for the Chinese men. Authorities reported that steps have been taken to resolve the issues and return all hostages safely. The Chinese embassy in Cairo has been in contact with the hostages and stated that all of the men are safe. Groups of Bedouin tribesmen have attempted a number of threats at security in recent months including an attack on a gas pipeline from Egypt to the Israel.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Monday, January 30, 2012

Canadian Family Convicted of "Honor Murders"

A jury in Canada found a family guily of honor murders of four female relatives. Mohammed Shafia, the father of three of the victims; Tooba Mohammad Yahya, his wife; and Hamed, their son, were found guilty of first degree murder, for the deaths of Shafia's three daughters and his first wife in his polygamous marriage. All three of the perputrators were convicted to life in person, without the possibilty of parole for twenty- five years. The victims were found dead in a car, in the Rideau Canal in Kingston on June 30, 2009. The evidence for the case came from hours of wiretapped conversations, in which the court found discussions that pointed to the intentional killing of these women as honor murders. The tapes describe a desire to punish Shafia's three daughters for being rebellious and westernized (he referred to them as "whores") and his first wife for advocating the behavior. According to the findings of the case, Shafia ordered Hamed to run the car that the women were driving off the road and into the Canal. Invistigators also believe that the women may have been dead before hitting the water, because they did not escape, even though their seat belts were off and they were only in seven feet of water. CNN describes the murders as honor murders, as opposed to honor killings, as they find that honor killings does not describe what happened in this case.


Kathleen Tite

Sunday, January 29, 2012

South Sudan shuts oil output amid export row with Sudan

South Sudan, the newly independent country, announced that it has shut down its vital oil production industry. The country whose pertrodollar accounts for 98 percent of its budget, in facts, relies on Sudan's infrastructure to export its oil. The two countries have failed on negotiating the fees as well as other issues relating to military. They accused each other of backing militia groups. Tanke carrying the southern oil were seized in Sudan because of unpaid transit fees. On the other hand, South Sudan accused that gesture as stealing its oil worth $815m in total. Moreover, Prime Minister Dhieu Dau of South Sudan urges any deals to regard the disputed region of Abyei, and requires Sudan to "stop sponsoring militias in South Sudan."

The international committees, especially African leaders, are strongly advised to play a more significant role in resolving these regional issues. No one wants to see another crisis sparked over oil row since independence between the two countries set lights just a few months ago after decades of civil war.


Yen Do

New Protests Mount in Russia as Kremlin Moves to Fix Vote

Tensions are rising in Russia as it moves towards the March 4th presidential election. As the pro-democracy movement is rising, so is its opposition. With only 36% of support in the election polls, Vladimir Putin is beginning to realize that he might actually lose the election. However, he is willing to do whatever it takes to become president again, including rigging the elections. Putin's biggest opponent, liberally minded Grigory Yavlinsky, has recently been disqualified. The basis for his disqualification was that a quarter of the signatures he gathered for his nomination were "defective." Now that Yavlinsky is out of the way, Putin can focus more on cheating his way to the presidency. Voter turnout is likely to decrease now that Yavlinsky is off the ballot, giving Putin a larger percentage of the votes necessary to win. Also, during Yavlinksy's campaign, he promised to enlist 90,000 "election monitors" that would attempt to prevent fraud at the polls. With Yavlinsky and his monitors no longer a problem, there is virtually nothing standing in Putin's way. Except for the Russian people. Tens of thousands of people are expected to rally and protest outside the capital in Moscow on February 4th. The protest is supposed to be a pro-democracy rally and demonstration of the public's anger towards corruption in the government.


Rachel Foy

Top Exec Says "No" to Bonus

Stephen Hester, the Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, announced today that he will not be accepting his one million pound (one and a half million U.S. dollars) bonus. This decision followed Chairman's Philip Hampton, who turned down his 1.4 million pound bonus in shares yesterday. The bank has drawn criticism for their generosity, condsidering the British government spent fourty-fivebillion pounds bailing them out three years ago. The British still own a eighty-two percent stake. With the British economy feeling it right now, many politicians found the bonuses to be grotesque, and demanded that they be withdrawn. With so many British families feeling the pinch from the economy, many have questioned how the bank and its execs can justify the huge amounts.

By: Tyler Lundquist

US calls on Pakistan to release doctor who helped find Osama bin Laden

Tensions between America and Pakistan continue to increase as America calls for the release of the imprisoned doctor, Shakil Afridi, who contributed to tracking Osama bin Laden to his hideout. It has been revealed by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that the doctor set up a false vaccination program in order to recieve DNA samples from those inside the compound. The doctor has been held in custody since late May and has likely been tortured, leading Panetta to make comments about Pakistan's response to this issue. This issues continue to bring questions as to how aware Pakistan was to the situation before the attack on the compound.


By: Kaitlyn Gordon

Clinton to step down from position of chief diplomat

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that she will step down from her position as "chief diplomat" of the United States. She has cited the reason for this decision as being related to issues of exhaustion. Clinton's state of exhaustion should be no surprise, as she inherited a portfolio of foreign affairs that would make any politician cringe. In dealing with issues from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a world economic crisis, she has received little attention from mainstream America. The legacy she leaves behind as Secretary of State will largely be determined by how well she "cleaned up" the diplomacy mess she inherited.

Cody Follis


IAEA in Iran

The International atomic energy agency arrived in Iran on sunday and is said to stay through tuesday. The top officials are part of a team to inspect Irans Nuclear ambitions. Iran is suspected of attempting to develop nuclear powers, against international law. six member of the IAEA including chief inspector are in Iran trying to "clarify the issues with possible military dimensions." Iran denies any accusations of tyring to develop nuclear weapons. Iran also states its hope that this inspection will prove their transparency and clear up any ambiguity. As of recently the sanctions placed on Iran from the US and Australia and the announcment that the EU will no longer import Iranian oil are increased international efforts to halt any nuclear production from Iran. Iran comes back and states they will no longer export oil to "certain countries" so it will be interesting to see how this situation turns out.


Katie Kruse

U.S. Drones Cause Outrage in Iraq

The U.S. put drones into Iraq to watch over the United States Embassy. Iraqi officials are not happy because they say that these aircrafts get in the way of their sovereignty. Now the talk is that the State Department wants to put more drones in other "high-risk" countries. Other countries they are looking into placing them in are Pakistan, Indonesia, and Afghanistan after the troops leave. The problem is, if the United States wants to keep using the drones in Iraq, they have to get approval from the government there (so says Iraqi officials). With the conflict between the two countries it might be a little harder to come to an agreement on the drones in Iraq. Word was that there was already communication about getting the drones approved, but many high officials claim that they have not even spoken with the U.S. about the drones. The objection by the Iraqis is, "Our sky is our sky, not the U.S.A.'s sky."


Jessica Connor

Yemen President in U.S. for Medical Treatment

Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen, arrived at an undisclosed location in the U.S. for treatment for burns he suffered from an explosion in his palace mosque. Saleh has been accused of using violence to stay in power and has been the cause for numerous violent protests. U.S. officials have pressured him to leave Yemen for good and allowed him into America in an effort to ease the political transition occuring in Yemen and to hopefully decrease violence as the country prepares to elect a new leader in February.

Tristan Hunter

North Korea issues 100 day ban on mobile phones

The North Korean government has decided to ban cell phone use for 100 days as a part of the mourning process for their late leader Kim Jong-Il. Those caught using their cell phones will be labeled a war criminal. This seems quite a dramatic stipulation for using a cell phone but Kim Jong-un is trying to assert his control and build his reputation. North Korea is currently facing food shortages as well which has led to thousands of people fleeing across the border into South Korea. It seems like cell phones are not very big in North Korea though with only 700,000 mobile phones using the 3G network there.

Jordan Tassio


France Announces Financial Transaction Tax

Today French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced he wants to introduce a financial transaction tax in France at a rate of 0.1 percent. This comes after Sarkozy stated earlier this month that France would implement the tax if approval at the EU level was not being achieved. Sarkozy also wants to raise France's value-added tax anywhere from 1.6 percent to 21.2 percent. The proposed raise of the value-added tax is meant to boost the economy of France by lowering labor costs making French companies more competitive. This comes as the French presidential elections are looming in April. This may have some influence on Sarkozy's proposal as well as the fact that the European Union has not been quick to approve the financial transaction tax.

Afghan Government to (Possibly) Meet with the Taliban

The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai said he has reached out to the heads of the Taliban in hopes of discussing peace in the volatile region. The militant group has not officially responded and in the past has not recognized Karzai's government as legitimate but reports are that the two sides will meet. The United States will be involved in these talks as well and some have speculated the actual reason for the meetings is so the United States and the Taliban can swap prisoners.

Erik Brown

Chinese Road Workers Reported Kidnapped By Sudan Rebels

More then 24 Chinese workers have been kidnapped by Sudanese rebels while building roads in South Kordofan. Different opinions are being thrown around as Sudanese officials are claiming that the roads were being built to join two remote areas while Westerners are saying that the roads are simply being used to carry out attacks on the South Sudanese populations. China is heavily invested in Sudan, having supported them in their human rights violations. Recently, the Chinese population has been vocal about using Chinese civilians to work in these high risk areas.


Jim Michalik

Global Warming opens new opportunities for Russia in the Arctic region

The Russian tanker came to rescue the town of Nome in Alaska, which faced a major shortage of life-sustaining fuel supplies due to the severe blizzard. This particular case was an example of international cooperation in the Arctic region, however, this may not always be the case as Russians plan to “develop the Arctic” and strengthen their positions in the region. Due to the polar ice cap melting as a result of the global warming, the new shipping lanes and oil and gas mining sites become available, giving Russia a hope to revive its former influence in the Arctic seas. Despite the severe weather conditions in the region, Russia is planning to build build offshore drilling platforms, ice-capable support ships and even a floating airstrip to service oil fields. Another ambitious plan of Russia is to make the Northern Sea Route open all year round. This shipping route will significantly reduce costs of shipping and eliminate the pirate attack threat. Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister, called the Northern Sea Route a quicker and pirate-free rival of the Suez Canal, emphasizing the benefits of the Russian shipping route.
And even though Arctic severe winter weather imposes great barriers to the construction of the offshore platforms and tankers and shipping merchandise, Russian officials say that they are still willing to take over this project as it will give Russia a head start in developing the Arctic region. 

Oksana Vernygora 

The German Plan

As the European Union comes together this week for a summit the situation with Greece is sure to be a heated topic. Recently, the German government proposed Greece had control over its finances to a eurozone ‘budget commissioner’. This would allow the commissioner to decide Greece tax and spending with a veto power to make sure the government was in line with international lenders. There is an obvious distrust between Greece and other EU countries, as Greece is trying to receive a second bail-out. The consequences are risky if Greece were to default and as of now that could come as early as March, when Greece’s bonds that are due will total €14.5 billion. Although I agree that Germany’s plan is completely overreaching on Greece’s sovereignty, I do understand Germany’s frustration as a second bailout plan is being proposed. As that discussion continues, Germany, France, and other EU countries are taking a firm stance that 130 billion euros will be the ultimate limit. However, economists are questioning if that will even be enough. Maybe Germany’s plan isn’t so bad after all???

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093028/Extraordinary-proposal-EU-control-Greek-budget-return-bail-cash.html#ixzz1kuFjJFhP

-Kathleen Fultz

U.N. Nuclear team lands in Iran

Top U.N. nuclear scientists landed in Iran today amist allegations of nuclear weapons being developed in Iran. The top U.N. countries have been concerned with the state of Iran's nuclear program since they have began enriching uranium past a certain percent. Iran says that the use of the uranium is for power uses only, however the world is skeptical of these claims, and is eager to investigate to solidify them. It will be interesting to examine their findings, and will set the stage for how the U.N. goes about dealing with the recent hostilitys coming from Iran.

-Dan Vogrin

Iran May Ban Oil Sale to EU

Today, parliament in Iran will be voting on a bill that will halt the sale of crude oil to Europe. This comes after the EU enacted an oil embargo against Iran and froze the country's assets in its central bank. The United States approved sanctions against Tehran's central bank, but has yet to move on the sanctions. What is interesting is China has criticized the embargo and the sanctions the U.S. passed, so it will be interesting who sides with who in the few coming weeks.

Lucas Habeeb


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Russian Liberals Growing Uneasy With Alliances

An interesting alliance is being made for Russian Citizens Movement against Putin, the Prime Minister. To drive out Putin, the liberals and middle-class who once had hostile relations with nationalists couldn't but to hold hands with them. Main reason for this awkward alliance lies on
the "immaturity" of the movement. One of the liberalist credited the nationalists’ long experience in opposition politics and inststed that secure cooperation with all the political groups in Russia was critical to success or failture of the movement. Since the participation of the nationalists has gathered support of the conservative area: the offices and hipster cafes, their political influence is getting more perilous to ignore. The inclusion of the nationalists is currently based on their vows not to exercise any violent means for racism. However, now it remains to seen until when this democratic movement can endure the hidden voices of the nationalists.


Sophia Park

Friday, January 27, 2012

Norway Apologizes for Deporting Jews During Haulocaust

As Europe marks Holocaust Remembrance Day the Norwegian prime minister has apologized for the part his country held in the deportation of its own Jews. He delivered his speech in Oslo where previously in 1942 532 Jews were packed into a cargo ship bound to Nazi camps. Over 2,100 Norwegian Jews were deported to death camps during that time period, while others managed to escape to neutral Sweden. In 1998 Norway finally acknowledged its actions in the Holocaust and paid $60 million to Norwegian Jews in order to compensate for seized properties. Nevertheless, this was not quite a full apology according to Paul Levine, a history professor at Uppsala University, considering the fact that “Norway didn’t have to do what it did.”

Aleksandra Ruseva


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Al Qaida in Iraq

A spokesperson from Al-Qaida in Iraq released a statement on WEdnesday saying that America has been defeated in Iraq. Al Qaida in Iraq is one of the United States main enemy. This is the first comment they have released since the U.S. pulled out their troops after a 9 year conflict. Al Qaida believes that the U.S. pulled out their troops from Iraq because our economy is declining and the loss of our troops was unbearable. The leader, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, also said in his statement to encourage all al-Qaida members and former al Qaida members to embrace jihad and to not forget it. This issue is particularly important because as Obama stated in this SOTU speech that we will make sure the middle east does not attack us again, meaning we will not leave the middle east with any infrastructure and no official government. Since the U.S. has left Iraq the Sunni Militants have stepped up their attacks on Shiites, which is leaving the world in fear that another civil war is brewing in Iraq.


Katie Kruse

Philippines to allow greater US military presence in reaction to China's rise

The United States has been amping up its presence in and around Asia in a series of strategic moves aimed at China. In addition to marines and ships stationed in northern Australia and Singapore, the US is in talks with the Philippines about expanding presence. All of this is in response to China's growing military power and assertiveness in staking claims to disputed territories, such as the energy-rich South China Sea. The Obama administration has also reached out to Vietnam and Thailand about re-establishing military ties. The US is not trying to take over these zones and establish giant bases "reminiscent of the Cold War", rather they want to maintain a lighter footprint and have marines and ships stationed on already existing bases. All of these strategic moves are happening slowly, considering the political sensitivities that exist in the Asian region. Many of these countries have kicked US presence out before, but as a new era of Chinese power ushers in change, these countries are making moves to react to it.


Jill Laumbacher

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Protests in Poland over SOPA-like treaty

Thousands took to the streets in Poland to protest a recent treaty regarding intellectual property rights. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, also known as ACTA, will be signed by Polish ministers this Thursday. It seeks to establish international standards for protecting intellectual property rights. Those who oppose it say that the treaty will hinder freedom of expression on the internet. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has stated that the protests will not affect the signing of the treaty. Discussion will be allowed before the Polish Parliament officially signs the treaty into law. Other states including the U.S. and Canada have also signed the treaty. The protests in Poland have been reminiscent of those in the U.S. opposing the SOPA legislation.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gulf Arab states to pull observers from Syria- FOLLOW UP

As a follow up to my previous post, things seem to have reached a boiling point in Syria:

The observer mission has been abandoned by the Gulf Co-Operation Council. The Council (part of the Arab League) has called upon the United Nations to put pressure onto Damascus to end the violent crackdown against the ongoing protests.

Syria rejected the Arab League's plan for president Bashar Al-Assad to step down and hold elections.

The Foreign Minister for Syria (Mullam) claims that the Arab Leagues has joined in Western conspiracies to destabilize the country and has failed to mention the recent decrease in violence.\

However, Mullam did not say there would be an end to the crackdown stating,

"It is the duty of the Syrian government to take the necessary measures to address the problem of those armed elements who are wreaking havoc throughout Syria."

None of this seems to bode well and it seems that changes to the Syrian government won't be made any time soon.


Post by Rima Gungor

Afghan mother in 'extremely rare' sextuplets birth

An Afghan woman has given birth to six healthy slightly underweight children in the northern Provence of Mazar-e-Sharif. She was unaware she was caring more than one child and did not receive any fertility treatment. The 24 year old woman gave birth to three boys and three girls. Six babies is extremely rare without fertility treatment. The mother is well but exhausted and the babies are being kept in an incubator until they put on some weight as one of them was born at only 700g (25oz).

A survey in 2010 showed that infant mortality rate seemed to be decreasing which is a good sign as Afghanistan is continually rated as one of the most difficult countries to be a pregnant woman or small child. One in ten children die before the age of five.

Nicole LeDonne

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mexico Kills Regional Leader of the Most Powerful Drug Cartel

During a helicoptor raid on a ranch in the state of Durango on Friday, Mexican security forces detained eleven alleged members of the Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico. The detained men allegedly work for Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, who is the most wanted man in Mexico. The regional leader of this cartel, Luis Alberto Cabrera Sarabria, was also killed. He and his bodyguard were able to escape once the raid began, but he was found later in a cave not far from the ranch, and was shot and killed during the firefight as the security forces approached it. His death is seen as a significant blow the the cartels in Durango and Chihuahua, as he was specifically appointed by Guzman as being the leader of the regional gang. The Sinaloa cartel directs most of the flow of marijuana, cocaine, and methanpedomines into America, and are also believed to have links to up to 50 countries.


Kathleen Tite

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chávez Gets Bluster Back and Reclaims the Spotlight

Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan president declared: “Here I am. I have returned.” Chavez was in predicament while he had been treated for his cancer. Although he never disclosed the name of the cancer, his political power over regions of Venezuela had waned and the doubts of foreign press toward the possibility for him to campaign for reelection. However, proving that he have revived, Chavez presented the longest annual address to the National Assembly, appointed a new defense minister who is accused by the State Department for supporting drug traffcking of a Colombian rebel group, and is vigorously filling out his schedule which was reduced during the treatment. Stating that "the US may have developed a way to give Latin American leaders cancer" after Argentine president was diagnosed with the disease, Chavez, revived from the cancer is obviously restarting his engine as a socialist leader.


Sophia Park

U.S. Drone Attack Successful in Somalia

Earlier today, near Mogadishu, three missiles were fired from an unmanned, U.S. aerial drone. The target was an insurgent group fighting alongside al-Qaida in the region. A British al-Qaida commander, Bilal Berjawi, was killed during the attack. Berjawi is both Lebanese and British, but spent much of his life growing up in West London. He had also been fighting alongside al-Qaida in Afghanistan in 2006. He is the fourth al-qaida linked commander killed within the past few years. Somalia has not had a stable government for twenty-one years, allowing al-Shabab and the current U.N. backed government to continue the fighting. Many other African Nations, including offical measures taken by the African Union, have joined the fight fearing that the violence and crime will spread across the borders.

By: Tyler Lundquist

Syria unrest: Arab League urges Assad to reform

The Arab League has called for an end to the ongoing violence and bloodshed in Syria. Heads of the League are asking for reform. Currently, the Arab League has a controversial monitoring mission in place because of Syria's continued broken promises to keep the peace. Military intervention has not been recommended at this time. At the conference, the reform plan was said to call upon,

"...President Bashar al-Assad to delegate power to his vice-president to engage in proper dialogue with the opposition within two weeks, and form a government of national unity in two months."

The Arab Leagues would like to see multi-party elections in the next few months.

Post by: Rima Gungor

In Egypt, Signs of Accord Between Military Council and Islamists

Officials gathered in Cairo on Sunday as final preparations were made for Monday's opening session of Egypt's first freely elected Parliament in more than 60 years. The long-awaited new constitution after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak is on its way to reality. In fact, the most exciting reason for this is the consent between the two big powers dominating country at the moment, the Muslim Brotherhood and the military council. The accord includes:
1/ the creation of a presidential-parliamentary governmenthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
2/ a legal system no more Islamic than the previous one
and 3/ broad guarantees of freedom of religion and expression.

Even though these are just the "signs" for future betterment and that the two players have gone back and forth between promises and disengagement, experts believe in what they are seeing. Moreover, 1,900 prisoners are scheduled to be released, among them is Maikel Nabil, a blogger who was jailed 10 months ago by the military court for critizing military leader. Furthermore, the leaders of the two powers have the intentions of seeking the French-style mix of presidential and parliamentary powers. It will be very interesting to see how these all will lay out.

To read more, please click here.

Yen Do

Yemen Leader to Receive Medical Care in U.S.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's departing president, is said to be making his way to New York to receive medical treatment. This has been confirmed by both, U.S. and Yemen officials. Yemeni high officials are saying that the president should arrive in the U.S. on Wednesday after stopping by Oman for a visit. The reason Saleh must travel to the U.S. for medical treatment is due to extensive burns and other injuries that he suffered from a bomb attack on the presidential palace in June. The question we asked in class a week ago was whether the Obama administration would even approve the visit. Now that they have approved the visit of the Yemen president, the department stated "only for the sole purpose of medical treatment and we expect that he will stay for a limited time that corresponds to the duration of his treatment."


Jessica Connor

Italy cruise ship rescuers find 13th body

Rescue workers have found the body of another victim from the sunken cruise ship, Costa Concordia. This makes brings the confirmed casualty number from the wreck that occurred on January 13th up to 13 people. Search and rescue is expected to continue, but the environmental concern posed by the wreckage is becoming a key issue. Oil pollution is a concern, and the Italian government is expected to take measures to remove the fuel container from the sunken ship. Booms have already been put in place to prevent the spreading of oil.


By: Kaitlyn Gordon

South Korea to allow food aid to North Korea

South Korea has agreed to send over food supplies to North Korea, following Kim Jung-Il's death. The first shipment is to be sent out on January 27th, and contains 180 tons of flour meant for elementary schools and day cares. This is the first occurrence since 2008 when South Korea stopped sending aid to the famine-ridden country. Some officials will go and oversee the process for a couple weeks while two will stay there after the others have left.

Jim Michalik


Homeland Security feeling budget pinch

Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said earlier this week that due to budget pressures they will be cutting back on some security measures here and overseas. They want to delegate the work between the U.S and its allies in order to help ease the burden of overspending. She made a point to say that there will be no cut-back in maintaining the standards that are already in place. More or less they are taking turns doing inspections as opposed to a few nations inspecting the same place over and over. I believe this is a good start in trying to minimize this overspending that we are currently faced with. We, the U.S, doesn't need to be everywhere inspecting everything when other countries can do the same job. This is especially important in times like these when we were so far in debt already.

Jordan Tassio

NSABB censors scientific research

Scientists at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam working on the deadly bird flu H5N1 have discovered a new even more dangerous strain of the virus. The new virus can be easily transmitted among ferrets which suggest that it will have similar effect in humans. The team of researchers who discovered new strain wanted to publish their result as well as to call for an “international forum” to discuss possible risks and values of the studies. However, National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which oversees such research, asked the researchers to suppress the data and refrain from publishing details of how the new version of H5N1 was made.  NSABB fears that new strain can be used by terrorists if enough information about the virus is released. Because the research itself was funded by US, NSABB believes it can regulate what information should be published if any. The researches and scientists all over the world resisted NSABB’s censorship saying that it is not appropriate for one country to decide in discussion that has  a worldwide impact. Currently, the research has been stopped, and future actions may be discussed during a World Health Organization meeting in February.

Oksana Vernygora


Costa Concordia Captain Instructed to Perform 'Salute' that Sunk Ship

Captain Francesco Schettino, who has been blamed for the cruise ship accident that killed at least thirteen passengers, is claiming that Costa Cruises, the operators of the ship, told him to move close to the shore to salute the islanders. Costa Cruises has not denied this and claims they were unaware of the threat; they wanted to perform the salute to get publicity. The ship is currently half-submerged on its side, threatening to pollute the waters around the island. Costa Cruises has suspended the captain, claiming it was his fault.

Not really an international affair, but interesting nonetheless.

Tristan Hunter

What More Can We Ask For?

On Wednesday this past week, Barack Obama and his administration blocked a permit needed to start constructing the Keystone XL (temporarily). For those who are unaware, Keystone XL is a massive pipeline plan involving Canada, and transporting crude oil from northeastern Alberta down through the U.S., and maybe all the way down to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Obama is trying to juggle too many things and please too many interest groups, but at some point the president needs to realize pleasing everyone is almost never possible. Instead of pleasing the people who are concerned about the environment by blocking the permit, Obama needs to understand that the jobs this project would provide will stimulate the economy. It all comes down to Obama and which group he intends to appeal to in the months nearing November; if he chooses to keep blocking the permit, he ensures the 'green' vote, but he will most likely lose votes from those frustrated with his decision. It will be a very interesting spring and summer!

Lucas Habeeb


Will Croatia be Joining the EU

Croatia’s referendum to see if the country’s population wanted to become a member of the European Union seems to be largely supported by the voters. In fact, only 32% of voters were against pursuing membership. So far, Croatia is on track to join the European Union by July 2013. This seems like an interesting move by Croatia seeing the financial imbalance of the EU and I am even more surprised that countries like Germany that are already being asked to bailout other EU countries are on board with allowing Croatia to join. Currently, Croatia has a high unemployment rate along with other reported economic instabilities. If the EU is able to pass a economic stimulus it will be interesting to see if Croatia is going to be apart of the bailout.

To read more:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16670298

-Kathleen Fultz

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Iran Backing Down?

According to a Reuters article found on Yahoo, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps decided the re-entering of an United States Naval Warship was "routine". This comes after Washington told Iran there would be consequences should they make good on their promise to block the US Navy and all ships from using the Strait of Hormuz. The European Union and the United States are set to go ahead with an embargo on Iranian oil next week in hopes to get Iran to suspend their nuclear program they claim is for energy but the EU and the US believes they are attempting to make an atomic bomb.

Erik Brown

Egypt elects its first parliament since the fall of Mubarek

After three rounds of voting over a six-week period, Egypt's 498 member parliament has finally been revealed. The Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood (FJP) comprise nearly 2/3 of all the Parliamentary seats, with the ultra conservative Nour party comprising 1/4 and the rest of the seats comprising of liberals. Liberals are considering aligning with the more moderate FJP, which the Western diplomats support because of fears that the hard-line Salafists (of the Nour party) will try to inject their conservative views into the new Constitution. Both the FJP and the Salafists are Islamic, and there are Western fears that the two will align themselves in the name of Islam. US officials have greatly ignored the Nour party in support of the FJP, but there is a diplomatic meeting scheduled for Sunday. Salafists have so far cooperated and seem open to compromise on certain issues, but they have also pledged to stick to their conservative Islamic principles and wish to institute Islamic Law in the new Egyptian Constitution.

Jill Laumbacher


Friday, January 20, 2012

Malawian women protest after attacks for wearing pants, miniskirts

Recently, street venders in Malawi, frustrated by the equality women are gaining, attacked several groups of women for wearing pants, leggings, and miniskirts. The vendors beat the women in the middle of the road and stripped them naked, claiming that the women did not follow tradition. "Attacking women in trousers is an outrage. We are a democracy, they are taking us back to the stone ages," said Seodi White, a women's rights activist. In response to the attacks, large groups of women have organized a protest by marching in the streets wearing the offending garments and shirts that said, "Today we buy your merchandise, tomorrow you strip us naked!" The attacks garnered the Malawian president's attention as well. He has ordered for the police to arrest anyone attacking women for their clothing. The president warned the attackers that women have the right to wear what they want. When the nation became a democracy in 1994, a law was repealed the forbade women from wearing pants and such. Malawi allows gender equality in its constitution, but disparities remain in almost all parts of its society.


Rachel Foy

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Captain of Cruise Liner Not Very Intelligent

The captain of the cruise liner that struck a rock right next to the shore of Italy was seen eating dinner at 10:30. What is so significant about this piece of information? The ship struck the rock at 9:41. What was the captain of a sinking ship doing having a lovely sit down dinner when his own ship was sinking more and more every second? Along with the way in which the captain managed the emergency procedures for a sinking ship i think its safe to say he should not even be qualified to be a deckhand on a fishing boat.

-Dan Vogrin

Taliban Attack in South Afghanistan

For those who think the Taliban are irrelevant today, they are wrong. Although the group has failed to carry out any massive attacks they still continue to use small ways to attack and add up casualties. Today in Kabul Afghanistan a suicide bomber blew himself up in a car in front of the airport. This attack claimed seven lives, two children, and at least eight other people were injured by the bomber. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed the group is responsible for the attack and they were targeting a convoy of foreigners. According to CNN the Taliban was successful in claiming the lives of some foreigners, but the U.S. happily announced no U.S. troops were killed. Unfortunately this is the second Taliban bombing this week. Another suicide bombing killed 13 people in the Hemland province on Wednesday.
Although these attacks are minor the Taliban still claims lives of innocent civilians, and I think it is important to note that they are still carrying these "missions" out.


Katie Kruse

Monday, January 16, 2012

China's economic growth slows to 8.9% in fourth quarter

According to latest government figures the world’s second-largest economy has grown at its slowest pace in over two years. China’s GDP grew by 8.9% in the last three months, which is down from 9.1% of the last quarter. For 2011 the statistics bureau data indicates that growth was at 9.2%, while in 2010 it was 10.3%. Analysts expect the economy to experience an even sharper slowdown due to monetary tightening in the first quarter of the year; however, it is said to “pick up later in the year.” Moreover, due to the fact that the Chinese economy has been one of the fastest-growing over the past few years, the government has implemented stimulus measures to slow the growth to more manageable levels. Domestic factors are not the only thing slowing the growth, however. Export demand from Europe and the US has also decreased, thus leading to a decrease in the output from factories.

Aleksandra Ruseva


Irish businessman Sean Quinn declared bankrupt

Businessman and former billionaire Sean Quinn has been declared bankrupt in the Republic of Ireland after previously filing for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom. His massive fortune was lost after investing in Ireland’s failed Anglo Irish Bank Corporation. The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly known as the Anglo Irish Bank, filed the bankruptcy application in the Republic of Ireland which was not opposed by Quinn. The judge ruled in favor of the bank and finalized the bankruptcy. Quinn released a statement arguing the petition for bankruptcy is a form of revenge following the collapse of the financial system in Ireland. He believes that such an action will not reduce the current burden or recover any money for the Irish taxpayers and is thus useless. The process of bankruptcy in the Republic of Ireland is much more tedious and burdensome than that of the United Kingdom. Quinn will not be able to return to business for a number of years.

Meghan Steinbeiss

North Korea Denies Punishing Citizens for not Mourning Enough

North Korea is "angrily" denying allegations that they punished citizens who did not mourn the death of Kim Jong Il enough. The allegations first came from a South Korean news website, Daily NK, that reports about events going on in North Korea through sources that are living there. An unidentified source claimed that North Koreans who either did not participate in the organized gatherings for the mourning period or who were there but did not cry or "seem genuine," are being punished to at least six months in a labor- training camp. The Korean Central News, which is run by the North Korean government, denied these allegations, and claimed that they came from traitors that are connected to the South Korean President. The information for the Daily NK was said to have come from a North Korean citizen living in North Hamgyong Province (which borders China) using an illegal Chinese cell phone. The information was sent to reporters in China, who then passed it along to South Korea.


Kathleen Tite

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Iran Says it Wants Serious Nuclear Talks

Iran's parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, has announced that Iran is ready to have serious nuclear talks in Turkey. Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, has called upon six major world powers to resume talks. The six powers singled out were the United States, Russia, Great Britain, China, France, and Germany. Larijani believes "all issues can be easily solved through negotiations." He went on to say that this time the talks have to be real, not "fake." Iran is finally ready to address the allegations of nuclear proliferation after years of suspicion. A senior UN nuclear agency team is going to visit Tehran later this month. Larijani also condemned Israel for is string of assassinations, saying that Israel is "very mistaken" if they believe they can stop Iran from developing nuclear technology.
Turkey, a US ally, has announced that it will not go along with US sanctions of Iranian oil because of Iran's developing nuclear program. Turkey has stated that it will only comply with sanctions set forth by the UN.


Rachel Foy

Cracks show in the Mexican Catholic community over drug warfare

Mexican Bishop José Raúl Vera López is speaking out against the Mexican government's current war against Mexican drug cartels. He and many others claim human rights abuses and that the Mexican military is corrupt and skimming drug profits. This shows a crack appearing in the Mexican community, and may lead to further divides in the church which threw its support behind the government before action was taken.

Cody Follis


Syrian President Posed to Grant Amnesty

Amongst the ever concerning Syrian crisis, President Bashar al-Assad has granted amnesty for all crimes committed in the 10-month uprising. Amnesty would be given to army deserters, peaceful protesters, and people who handed in unlicensed weapons. President Bashar al-Assad has been dealing with pressure from the international community, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for the President to end the bloodshed. However, many speculate the overall impact of offering such amnesty because in the past the state has not honored its immunity promises. Having previously blogged on the new North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-un, who granted amnesty for prisoners beginning February 1st, I think the idea of granting amnesty has turned into a strategic strategy to fend off pressuring nations and gain positive public opinion.

To read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16481003

Kathleen Fultz

42 People arrested in Kosovo over Border Disputes

In Kosovo on Saturday 42 people were arrested and 14 policemen were injured. This began as hundreds of Kosovo Albanians tried to stop traffic that was attempting to enter into Serbia. Members of the Kosovo Albania Self-Determination movement hurled stones and other objects at riot police that responded to the blockade. The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, condemned the boycott of Serbian goods on Saturday and promised that the Kosovo government will try its best to prevent it.

by Matthew Draper

Seven Dead in Iraq

On Sunday morning Sunni insurgents attacked a government compound heavily secured by Shiite forces. The compund, located in the city of Ramadi, is home for the local Ramadi police, several federal agencies, and a detention center for possible terrorism suspects. The men apparently first set off a car bomb in the east part of the city as a decoy to draw security away from the compound. The apparent reason for the attack has been political unrest and an attempt to free captured commrades. While all the insurgents were unsuccesful, they did manage to cause damage as seven policemen were killed and thirteen others wounded. Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, violence and crime has risen. Since the new year, there have been more than 145 people killed in such attacks.

By: Tyler Lundquist

Iran warns of consequences if Arabs back oil sanctions

China's premier visiting Saudi Arabia and Britain stating the it believes that the EU would soon ban imports of Iranian oil as signs of increasing isolation of Iran. President Obama has also signed a law that would block any institution out of the US financial system that deals with Iran's cetral bank. The law could make it impossible for most countries to buy the oil if it is applied. However, there would be waivers that would allow countries to import Iranian oil but would demand that they gradually cut back. Iranian OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi warned neighboring Arab oil exporters that it would view any move to make up for Iranian crude oil as an unfriendly act. Khatibi told the Sharq newspaper that any country replacing Iranian oil "would be the main culprits for whatever happens in the region- including the Staitof Hormuz."


Derald Willey

Burma reforms leave many disorientated by pace of change

Burma, previously known for it's secretive and savage repression has undergone a staggering amount of change in the last few years. Images and videos, which would have before earned the people showing them a long jail sentence, are being publicly shown. These changes have been recently rewarded in the international community. The U.S has agreed to send an ambassador to Burma for the first time since 1999. Burma has also enjoyed a visit from U.K foreign secretary, William Hague. While the international community is excited about these changes, it is clear that Burma still has a long way to go.


Kaitlyn Gordon

Pakistan's embattled government faces crucial tests

The Pakistani cabinet under Yousef Gilani is being challenged. There will also be a vote of confidence in the government later today. Prime Minister Gilani suspects that there are conspirators working against him specifically from the army. This would not be new since Pakistan has suffered three military coups since 1947. On Monday the Supreme Court will convene to discuss the removal of the amnesty law which has sparked much controversy.


Post by: Rima Gungor

US to slash forces in Europe

The U.S has announced that they will be removing two Army brigades stationed in Europe as apart of its new defense plan that was unveiled earlier this month. They plan to save $400 billion in defense spending over the next 10 years. The remaining two Army brigades in Europe will "rotate in and out of the region", a technique already used by the Marines and Special Op. Forces. Obama has called for a "leaner, cheaper military with a greater focus on the Pacific". I believe this is a good start to help cut the deficit we are currently faced with because we could use many reductions in spending, especially in the Defense department, where we spend more than the next 10 or so countries behind us combined.

Jordan Tassio

The Mexican Drug War

How much is enough? Last year alone 48,000 were killed in crimes related to cartels. This is not only an issue facing Mexico, but the United States as well. Are borderline has become invisible due to the many ways cartels have bypassed it in bringing in massive amounts of drugs. Lets hope that last years number of deaths, is no where near this current years. For this to be achieved many countries will have to identify cartels as a very serious threat, and one that can evolve into a problom for years to come.

-Dan Vogrin

President of Taiwan Is Re-elected, a Result That Is Likely to Please China

In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou was reelected beating his rival Tsai Ing-wen by 51.6 of the vote versus 45.6 percent. Mr. Ma has consistently formulated policy for building secure relations with China government. It was business sector, who benefited from that policy, made the victory of Mr. Ma for reelection. As quoted in the article, “What this election showed is that business interests in Taiwan now trump ideological ones.” Ms. Tsai offended Mr. Ma using the strategy to prompt nationalistic emotions toward independence of Taiwan, but the voters chose Mr. Ma, possibly recalled Chen Shui-bian, whose administration worsened relations with China and stirred concerns in the United States. The result relieved not only the business sector of Taiwan but also American officials who did not want more complicated stance of the US toward the relations between Taiwan and China.


Sophia Park

Pressed by U.S., Asian Countries Look for Ways to Reduce Purchases of Iranian Oil

I forgot to type full name in the last post but I can't edit that so I reupload it.

According to the United States' sanctions on Iranian oil, Asian countries decided to join that direction. It has significant meaning to Iran since China, India, Japan, and South Korea altogher consume 60% of Iranian oil. China already reduced its import of oils from Iran. Japan and South Korea are trying to accomodate the pressure from the US. The success of failure of this sanction depends on how other countries in Middle East can export oils to fill the Iran's portion. Any disruption in the Middle East would make oil prices sharply increased, which will be followed by more chaos in world economy.


Sophia Park

Russian Space Probe to Crash on Earth

A $170 million Russian space probe is expected to crash on earth sometime today (1/15/12) in the Atlantic ocean and some parts of Brazil. Although the craft is one of the heaviest and most toxic things to ever fall from space, Russian officials have been monitoring the crash and claim the threat posed is very small because the toxic fuel will burn up in the atmosphere and most of the ship will be in fragments by the time it reaches earth. The probe was designed to fly to one of Mars' moons, collect soil and return to earth, but after it's launch in early November it got stranded in Earth's orbit and could not be brought back to life.


Tristan Hunter

Deja Vu?

On January 12th, the U.S. may have resumed their drone attacks in Pakistan, and may have killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. This is not the first time U.S. officials have believed Mehsud to be dead; early in 2010, a missile strike conducted by the American military was thought to kill Mehsud, but it was later discovered that he survived the attack. This time around, confirming the kill is being delayed until officials are sure he was killed. Coincidentally, a strategically placed bomb killed 14 Shiite Muslims at around the same time. It is still unclear who is responsible for the attack. What is interesting is that the U.S. has, or so it seems, proceeded to end the hiatus on the drone attacks in Pakistan. How will the government react?


Luke Habeeb

US military identifies all four 'urinating' Marines

American military investigators have identified the four US Marines who appeared on a Youtube video to be unirating on the bodies of several Afghans.

Lt Gen Thomas Waldhauser, a three-star general, is appointed to decide if any http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif"disciplinary action is to be taken".

Even though two of the men had moved to other assignments before the video became public, they have been strongly criticized by both Afgan and American officials and people for their immoral, "inhuman," and "disgusting" acts. A Kabul resident told AFP news: "This is an absolutely savage act and condemnable in any religion."

There is no doubts that this will hamper the peace attempts between the US and Afghanistan.

Video and further reading can be found here

Yen Do

Saturday, January 14, 2012

S&P downgrades the credit ratings of nine eurozone countries.

On Friday, January 13-th the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the debt of nine eurozone countries including France and Austria, stripping them of their AAA status. S&P also cut the ratings of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. However, Germany has held onto its coveted triple-A rating. Italy is now on the same BBB+ level as Kazakhstan. The agency indicated that the long-term outlook is negative for the eurozone countries, with a chance of further downgrades.  

Nigerian Oil Talks

The Nigerian government and the union of oil workers have suspended talks over the removal of fuel subsidies. The Government removed the subsidies two weeks ago and since then oil prices have doubled, leading to protests and a week-long strike of the workers. The strike has been temporarily suspended for the weekend while reaching out to the government to try and strike a deal.


Erik Brown

Syria crisis: Qatar calls for Arabs to send in troops

Qatar became the first country to call for military action in Syria to stop the killing. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told US television channel CBS "some troops should go to stop the killing". This is the first major step from an outside country in an effort to prevent more civilian deaths. Over 5,000 people have died in Syria since the violence broke out in March. The Arab league has dispatched 165 observers to monitor the conflict however any attempts by the UN have been stopped by Russia and China who fear another NATO plan similar to Libya. As the situation continues to worsen and violence continues to rise in Syria the country might slip into full on civil war.

Nicole LeDonne

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Duchess of York Facing Charges for Filming Orphans in Turkey

A Turkish court has said that it intends to Prosecute the Duchess of York for secretly filming Orphans for a documentary. The documentary was for ITV Television, which aired in 2008. She is being accused of breaking the law while getting the footage and violating the privacy of the five children. She wore a disguise when she went into the orphanage to get the footage, which was of children that were tied to their beds and left there all day. At the time that the documentary aired, Turkey, who was trying to gain membership of the EU, claimed that she was trying to run a "smudge" campaign against them. If she were to be convicted, she could face up to twenty- two years in prison. It is not known why it took three years for any charges to be brought up against her, or if there have been any requests to formally extradite her. She has not commented on the issue.


Kathleen Tite

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Syria unrest: Arab League delays sending more observers

Earlier this week an attack in the post of Latakia left 11 of the Arab League's observers injured; however, now, after running into some difficulties with their mission, it has delayed sending more observers to Syria. In fact, Qatar's leader, who is a key supporter of the league, has stated that there will most likely not be a positive outcome for the mission. Moreover, even the New York-based Human Rights Watch group is asking the league to reconsider it's mission considering the fact that it has not done anything to urge the Syrian government to go through with the peace deal that it had originally agreed upon. With no clear efforts by the league to protect civilians many argue that there will only be more death. According to opposition groups 24 people around the country have died on Wednesday including a French TV reporter. Moreover, according to the UN, since the unrest began last March over 5,000 people have been killed.

Aleksandra Ruseva

Tension between Pakistani Army and Prime Minister elevates

Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani fired the secretary of defense, which caused some tension between the Pakistani government and the civilian army. The secretary of defense, Naeem Lodhi, was accused of misconduct and illegal action. The prime minister however, has refused to investigate these accusations, due to their close relationship. Gilani replaced Lodhi with Nargis Sethi, who is a civilian woman, he made this decision without any appointment or consideration from parliament. The Pakistani army refuses to accept the new secretary of defense and has made it public knowledge they will not cooperate. The tension between the government and the army has been ongoing due to events like the U.S. attack to kill bin laden, and U.S. air strike in November. The U.S. must monitor this situation closely because if there is a civilian uprising in Pakistan it could be detrimental to our own relationship with them.

Katie Kruse

Doomsday Clock moved forward.

On Tuesday, scientists determined that the Doomsday Clock needed to be move forward, making it one step closer to "midnight", or the end of humankind. This was done because states are not addressing necessary problems, such as addressing nuclear proliferation, climate change and other threats to the earth. The current position is now at 11:55, 5 minutes from midnight. Some researches are saying that this is an outdated model of the world and needs to be disregarded while others say that is still relevant. The article outlines some recommendations that key states such as China and the United States can do to help prevent any more damage from occuring to Earth.

Jim Michalik

Do Countries have Enough Nuclear Security?

There are 32 nations that have the materials to make atom bombs, but do they have the appropriate security to protect themselves against the atom bombs? For the first time ever experts have surveyed the precautions that countries are taking and ranked them from best to worse. The list consists of Australia taking number one; United States tying at thirteenth with Belgium; Japan being twenty-third; Pakistan being next-to-last; and North Korea the absolute last. The ranking was conducted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Economist Intelligence Unit. They state that their goal is to promote atomic security throughout the countries.

Jessica Connor

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

US carmakers see record sales in China

General Motors and Ford have reported record car sales for 2011 in China. Over 2.5 million cars were sold by GM bringing sales up 8.3%. Ford also saw sales similar increases of 7% to 519,390 vehicles. These high numbers came as a surprise due to the recent slowdown of the market in China. The US carmakers credit these rises to both government incentives as well as the release of new models to Chinese markets. Revenue from China has caused a resurgence in these manufactures despite the current economic depression in the US. Declines in Japanese car companies have also been reported following the earthquake.

Meghan Steinbeiss

Syrian President blames 'foreign conspiracy' for continued instability

In his first public speech in months, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad blamed a foreign conspiracy for the violent uprisings in Syria, which have seriously threatened his power. In the speech, Mr. Assad condemned terrorists and said that anyone found working with external forces would be taken down in order to "regain the security in which we basked in for decades". The head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, said Mr Assad's emphasis on restoring order meant that he is backing down on his pledge to the Arab League plan. The Arab League currently has observers stationed in Syria to monitor implementation of a peace plan that calls for an end to all violence, the removal of heavy weapons from cities and the release of all political prisoners. In a statement Tuesday from the Arab League, chief Nabil al-Arabi held the Syrian government responsible for attacks against observers, and critics continue to lambast the government for the continued violence.

Jill Laumbacher