Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ivory Coast Opens War Crimes Trial Against Ex-Leader's Wife

The former First Lady Simone Gbagbo was put on trial today by the highest court in the Ivory Coast for crimes she committed against humanity in 2010-2011. Human rights group are currently questioning the credibility of the entire trial that's on the slaughter of 3,000 people killed after Simone's husband, the Ex-President Laurent Gbagbo, refused to give up his position to the current President Alassane Ouattara. A committee, supposedly lead by Simone, attacked and abused Ouattara's supporters. Previously, in the year 2015, Simone was already found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Kyla Singleton


Mayan Secrets Untavelled From the Air

Back in 2001, a few Maya murals (dating back to 100BC)  were discovered deep within the jungle of San Bartolo, Guatemala. Archeologists say that it is extremely dangerous to search the jungle for more artifacts and buildings due to he humor and wild species such as snakes. It is also important to note that one could be standing seven or so meters away from a Mayan ruin and not being able to see it because of the extremely density and thickness of the jungle. However, with the assistance from a NASA scientist Thomas Sever, they were able to identify all sorts of "fascinating features – including a lost Maya pyramid – from satellite images." With the fact that many Mayan buildings were constructed using limestone, the chemical composition around these ruins have been changed over time, which can show up on some of these images. Although this technology and discovering is highly expensive, archeologists have hope that it can be used from overhead all regions in Central America to see if they can find any other archeology ruins from lost civilizations.

Hailey Brzoska


Monday, May 30, 2016

A Mission to Bring STEM Skills, and Robots, to Children in West Africa


Jacob Kazmierczak

“'We have kids brought in from math and science schools, and when they see an airplane flying, they think it’s magic,' Dr. Ndao said. “But if you give them any math problem, they can solve it.'” As I was looking for articles to discuss for this week, the article by Dionne Searcey caught my attention in part thanks to that quote. While not totally relevant to the weeks course work, in the GLS492 class we've been talking alot about Africa and what the best way to help poverty stricken areas to prosper might be. Even with all of the discussion, it never really occurred to me that education potentially would not be applied to the real world. For me, it seems so obvious that the things you learn in school apply to earth and the world runs in regards to what we learn, however the thought that some may not put these two together is very strange to me. Essentially the article talks about this event that is organized by a man named Sidy Ndao from Sengal. He is a professor of engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and organizes the event to help students in Africa learn STEM skills. While the article doesn't go much into details, because the situation is still relatively new, it talks about some of the students who seem passionate to learn and willing to listen to new ideas. Ndao's issue with the schools in Africa is that they focus on memorization, not practicality and critical thinking, which can be seen in the opening quote. I actually think that his concern is quite important to take into account, hopefully his project picks up and somehow spreads into the school systems, as it will be beneficial when these clearly intelligent girls understand what they are learning fully and can apply it to better their homes. 

Venezuela: Patients Dying as Crisis Hits Hospitals

Venezuela's economy, which is highly reliant on oil, has been damaged by falling oil prices. This economic crisis is now effecting public hospitals, which are supposed to provide care for free. However, patients are now being required to find a way to fund their own treatment - which many cannot do. Often, families and patients can't afford to pay for these treatments until it's too late.
Even if the patient can pay for treatment, there is no guarantee that they can actually get the treatment. Equipment is broken, operating rooms are not able to be sterilized - and nobody can afford to fix these issues.
A large shipment of medicine was just delivered to Venezuela, which may help people get the treatment they need. However, some people believe that this economic crisis will not end until Venezuela's government stops controlling the price of oil and the exchange rate.


--Melissa Widel

With deadline looming, few expect aid to reach besieged Syrians

A United Nations-backed plan was formed to help destroyed areas of Syria. However, recent events may have ruined any chance of these destitute people receiving aid. One of the main issues is that the Syrian government has made road convoys inaccessible to the Syrian people. Therefore, if they are willing to do that - air drops made by the United States and Russia will also encounter similar obstacles from the Syrian government. Additionally, the airways in Syria are very busy currently, with United States and Russian planes flying over, all with different objectives. Even the people of Syria are losing hope. In the article, a resident is quoted saying that nothing will happen; they are sure of it. This is extremely discouraging to hear. Unfortunately, the Syrian government doesn't seem to budge on these road convoys, using the people's starvation as a tool of war. Hopefully, the international community can come together for some sort of peace initiative.


Haley Kuck

Russian President Vladimir Putin warns he'll retaliate against NATO missiles

Vladimir Putin has been speaking out recently in regards to a ground-based missile defense system that has been installed by the United States in Romania. Putin claims that this will threaten his country and that he does not approve of these actions. He has also urged other nations involved in a new system of defense measures to take measures to limit US control in the area, specifically Poland which is set to have the same sort of technology placed at one of their military bases as well.

NATO, which is in charge of the installation, has assured Putin that the defense system is not capable of offensive movement and therefore not a threat to Russia. It is being set up as means of protection against states in the Middle East, like Iran. Putin remains nonetheless vigilant and says that he will retaliate if he feels that his country is being threatened by the NATO installations.

Blake Mitchell


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pakistan Bill Allows for Men to "Lightly" Beat Their Wives

The Islamic council of Pakistan has created a bill that would allow husbands to "lightly" beat their wives. The bill recommends that "a husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies  his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires."

The bill includes several specific instances in which such a beating could occur, which include: turning down sex, not dressing as he likes, interacting with strangers, talking too loudly, failing to wear a hijab, or gives others cash without her husband's permission.The bill also prevents the use of birth control without their husband's consent.

Many see this bill as a direct response to a failed measure that would have extended protection for Pakistani women. Punjab Women Protection would have allowed protection for abused women. However, the council rejected the bill, which they deemed "un-Islamic"

Just as the Punjab Women Protection bill failed, many expect this bill to fall short of the necessary votes.

A recent survey from the World Value Survey found that 70 percent of Pakistanis said a man beating his wife was never justifiable.


Adam Poklop

Iran-Led Push to Retake Falluja From ISIS Worries U.S.

Falluja is currently a main point of focus in the war against ISIS in Iraq. It is known for being home for many ISIS fighters; therefore, Iraqi soldiers have now invaded the city. The remaining estimate of ISIS fighters in the city are 500 to 1,000, but the remaining estimate of civilians in the city are 50,000 to 100,000. Invasion will hence mean the deaths of many civilians.

Iran is backing this invasion, which worries the United States. The US is afraid that an invasion will ignite sectarian sentiments to join ISIS. The fact that the US clashes with Iran in their approach of how to fight ISIS seems to be a consistent trend for the overall war against ISIS in Iraq. Both countries want to fight ISIS, but they have different, oftentimes purely contradicting, ideas on how to do it.

Victor Krueeger

Hiroshima survivor: Even former enemies deserve closure

In President Obama's recent trip to Japan, he paid his respects to those who lost their lives when the US dropped the atomic bomb. While at the memorial site, he met up with one Japanese man who was only 8 years old and on his way to school when the bomb was dropped. His school was only 400 meters from where the bomb dropped and nearby was also a police station which is where a handful of US POW's were being held captive. That man recalled that during the daytime while at school, you could see those POW's and him and some of his friends would draw pictures of them. Well he would never see them again since they along with around 200,000 people in Hiroshima were killed when the bomb dropped, but that did not mean he would forget about them. He soon set out on an extraordinary task to track down their families in the United States. He was met with hefty phone bills along with many families rejecting his condolences because he was Japanese. But after the US government released the once classified documents containing those 12 POW's names in the 1970's, Mr. Shigeaki Mori had more ease finding those families. He was the only person ever to attempt finding those soldiers families and as a result, those 12 names of the US soldiers are now on the list of those killed in the bomb at the memorial site. His actions were recognized by the President and show us that even though countries and people may be vicious enemies, simple humanitarian efforts can supersede those distinctions.

-Chris Kucinsky


Israel thanks Russia for returning tank from 1982 war

Russia has announced it will be returning an Israeli tank that Russia currently owns from the 1982 Lebanon war.  Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement thanking Russian president Vladimir Putin for this gesture.  After the war Syria gave Russia the tank which now resides in a museum in Moscow.  Israel is very happy to be getting the tank back because during the battle where the tank was taken, three Israeli soldiers disappeared.  Israel wants this tank because it will serve as a memorial to the three missing soldiers. 

Peter Olache

Indian Police Arrest Five in Delhi Over Assaults on Africans

Indian police have arrested five people accused of attacking six Africans last Thursday. Tensions have risen between India and a number of African countries as racial attacks on African students and nationals are becoming more and more prevalent in India. Indian officials are promising to take "tough action against attackers who target Africans." 

African students studying in Indian universities are gathering to hold an anti-racism rally next week.  

Africans attacked on Thursday said "they were racially abused and attacked by a mob." 

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has tweeted that she "had spoken to police about the attacks and had asked them to meet the African students who were planning the demonstration at the Jantar Mantar site in Delhi." 

Heads of African diplomatic missions in Delhi "refused to attend Africa Day celebrations in protest at the murder of Congolese national Masunda Kitada Olivier." 

African nationals in Delhi claim to be living in a "pervading climate of fear and insecurity."

African students and nationals alike are being racially attacked in India. Indian officials are taking measures to enforce the unacceptability of this behavior, and to protect these African students and nationals living in fear in India where they should be able to live in peace, and safety. 

- Livia Gazzolo


Easter Island statues could fall due to climate change, U.N. says

It has been reported that higher waves due to climate change have been chipping away at the platforms of some 500+ year old national artifacts, especially the famous statues on Easter Island. A deputy of climate change said that "some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost a sea because of coastal erosion". This can also be said of at least 31/1,000 other world heritage properties. Detailed research has grown out of the Paris summit about climate change in December, where 195 countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gases to keep an average global temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius. In doing this, the sea level should cease rising, and habitat loss and extreme weather changes should decrease. According to the National Park Service, the Statue of Liberty itself is threatened by climate change and that the cost of future damage to this "international symbol of freedom and democracy is incalculable", especially considering that three quarters of Ellis Island flooded in 2012 and had roughly $77 million in damages.

Hailey Brzoska


Iran Pilgrims to Miss Hajj Amid Row with Saudi Arabia

It is being said that Iranian Muslims will not be able to take the Hajj pilgrimage this year, as Iranian-Syrian relations have escalated to the point of being completely cut in January. The conflicting perspectives the two countries have on this issue are illustrated in this article, saying, "Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati blamed "obstacles raised by the Saudis." [While] Saudi Arabia blamed "unacceptable" Iranian conditions." 

In stampede at last year's Hajj pilgrimage, hundreds of pilgrims, most of whom were Iranians, died causing tensions to rise again between Iranians and Saudis. 

The dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia is of course rooted in religion. Iran, being predominantly Shia, and Saudi Arabia, being predominantly Sunni, have developed very tense relations over the years. This move to keep Iranian citizens from fulfilling their once-in-a-lifetime commitment to take the Hajj pilgrimage, however, is a new step taken by Saudis against Iran; it is a step too far. 

"The Iranian Hajj Organization said: "Saudi Arabia is opposing the absolute right of Iranians to go on the Hajj and is blocking the path leading to Allah."

Though the Saudi foreign ministry "offered "many solutions" to Iran's demands during two days of talks," they continued to insist that "Iran's Hajj conditions were "unacceptable.""

Following the execution of Iranian Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others charged with terrorism in Saudi Arabia, enraged Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy. Saudi Arabia cut ties and diplomatic relations with Iran, and Iranian Hajj pilgrims fell victim to this ongoing religious turned political conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. 

- Livia Gazzolo


The Continuing Influence of the Panama Papers

With the release of the Panama Papers, countries are cracking down on those who own offshore accounts. Investigations are underway worldwide, including here in America, and laws have been proposed that would force the names of those who own offshore accounts to be made public.  The release of the Panama Papers has sparked international outrage, with a growing demand for financial transparency and tax reform.

-William Dawes


European Migrant Crisis Escalates: 700 Feared Dead in Most Recent Shipwrecks

There have been a series of shipwrecks with up to 700 migrants feared dead north of Libya on their trip to Italy on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. This is significant, as there was a recent international agreement to curb the number of refugees to Greece, and now there are going to be a large number of migrants traveling to Italy now.

Cumulatively, the total number of rescues of refugees in this area has reached an astonishing 13,000 this week. These are numbers that are capable of raising eyebrows on an international spectrum, which could lead to international help for these migrants to have a safer voyage to Europe.

Kevin Oyakawa

Netherlands Train Eagles to Take Down Drones

In Katwijk, Netherlands eagles are being trained to perform a new skill--take down drones. The birds of prey are being trained to take down small, unarmed drones with their talons. The detective chief superintendent of the Dutch Police sees this as "very promising," as he watched the demonstration at the Valkenburg Naval Air Base this month. The Metropolitan Police Service of London is now considering this option, as the fear of terrorist drones haunts Europe. This unique idea allows the eagles to bring the drones to the ground safely. Though the eagles face damages to their talons through the blades of the drones, so a protective covering of the eagles is being worked on. Amanda Pringle http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/world/europe/drones-eagles.html?ref=world&_r=0

Hundreds flee Falluja during Iraqi offensive

Since Friday, Iraqi soilders have been invading Falluja to drive ISIS out of the city causing hundreds of citizens to flee from the area. Unfortunately an estimated 50,000 residents are still caught in the city, putting them in extreme risk between the ISIS and Iraqi military bombardment.

As more and more residents are being executed from refusing to join the extremists, the Prime minister of Iraq and others are working on safe escape routes in the city. For any family that is in immediate trouble has been told to raise a white flag over their house if they are indeed trapped.

By: Katie Cotter


China Promoting Tourism for Disputed Paracel Islands

The area of the South China Sea has been a region of dispute and strategic importance for both China and the United States in recent years, and it has been heating up lately. Recently, an incident between a US ship and a Chinese plane almost ended in a collision. However, now China seems to be taking a different approach; the Chinese government has started endorsing cruises and tourism around their Paracel Islands. They have been advertising the islands and beaches of these islands as cleaner and more serene than beaches on China's southern border, as well as a less expensive romantic getaway for couples seeking tropical location vacations. The cruises, which are only open to those with Chinese passports, also incorporate a flair of nationalism, with events such as a "national flag raising ceremony". This new tactic is an interesting new approach to the dispute of the area.

-Sarah Beck

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Tomato Ebola" in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the price of tomatoes has increased dramatically, to $2 a tomato, in response to a widespread destruction of tomato crops. A moth called Tuta absoluta is spreading a disease that has brought production and consumption to a minimum. This has caused a loss of millions of dollars and the livelihood of farmers whose living depends on the tomatoes. Nigeria is Africa’s second largest producer of tomatoes, a staple food item in their cuisine, and is asking for federal government help to limit spread of the disease and increase the detrimental effects on Nigeria as a whole.
While $1 billion from the UN Environment Program is spent annually to import tomato paste, I think they should invest in the failed production facilities that are already established in the nation. These production facilities were trying to prevent the current statistics of 75% of local harvest going to waste due to poor storage and transport infrastructure. The UN's current solution provides a cheaper means of buying tomato products that are important in Nigerian cuisine. But, it doesn't provide relief for the tomato farmers who rely on the production and consumption of their tomatoes to affort the cost of living, and possibly survival.

Jessy Krempp

Article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/25/africa/nigerian-tomato-crisis/index.html

North Korea could be behind international bank heists, security experts say

North  Korea is believed to be  responsible for a series of cyber attacks and heists  for  a number of banks in the Philippines,  Vietnam  and Bangladesh.  It is estimated that at least, 81 million dollars was stolen from the central bank in Bangladesh, and 1 million dollars from   the Tien Phong Bank in Vietnam. Symantec , a private technological firm  examined the code that was used in the attack, which happens to be code used  during the 2014 cyber attack  against Sony Pictures that North  Korea  was also believed to be  responsible for  The cyber attacked managed to breach swift, a payment transfer system which is used by 11,000 banks in the world , and is thought one of the most secure systems payment transfer systems available . However, swift has stated that only the connection points were breached, not the system itself and the attack was part of  a coordinated campaign, but did not blame  North Korea solely for the attacks.  If  North Korea was behind the cyber attacks, it would represent the first time in history, that a Nation has stolen funds from a private bank through the methods of using a cyber attack.

Thomas Baggot

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Armed Muslim mob in Egypt attacks elderly Christian woman, parades her naked through streets of Cairo"

Not one of the nicer posts, but I believe it's important to talk about as this could impact relations between the U.S. and Egypt. Only time will tell.

In the village of Karma in the Minya province, a group of armed Muslim men assaulted a 70-year-old woman and looted and burned down seven homes in the village. The incident resulted from an alleged affair that the woman's son had with a Muslim woman. In Islam, a Christian man is not allowed to enter into a relationship or marry a Muslim woman unless he converts to Islam. Oppositely, a Muslim man can marry a Christian woman. Acording to her and eye witnesses, she was "dragged out of her home by the mob who beat her and insulted her before they stripped her off her clothes and forced her to walk through the streets as they chanted Allahu Akbar, or 'God is great.'"
The elderly woman reported the crime 5 days after it occurred because of the humiliation brought on to her by the attack. Attiyah Ayad, who witnessed the attack, described the culprits shouting slurs and firing rounds in the air in order to scare onlookers.  At this time, police officers have arrested 6 suspects and have begun searching for 12 more. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has issued a statement in which he condemns the actions of the culprits and has given the military a month to restore property damage. While Egypt's president has changed election laws so that Christians, a minority group in the country, may run for office and allowing for more churches to be built and renovated, it has don't little to combat the discrimination faced by this religious group.  

Again, apologies for the topic, but terrible things do happen and it's important to discuss them.

Meredith Teuscher


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Obama: World leaders 'rattled' by Trump

Obama is visiting Japan and is clearly stating his concerns about Trump. The world counts on the US for stability and international order. The world also watches our campaigns closely. Obama’s fellow world leaders are concerned based on Trump’s statements. Obama says, “Because a lot of the proposals that he's made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines instead of actually thinking through what is required to keep America safe." Obama urges both sides to stick to the issues. While in Japan he will underscore the real risks of nuclear weapons and the urgency we should all have.

Rebecca Goeders