Recently in International News Category

In Cartagena, Columbia the country's uneven distribution of wealth is put on open display when it hosts its annual beauty pageants.

According to The New York Times, Miss Columbia positions Cartagena as a playground for the global elite with its expensive hotels and boutiques. The dozen or so candidates competing in the pageant are fair skinned and well-traveled, many of them the daughters of prominent families.

Outside Cartagena, in the slums, Miss Independence, a pageant celebrating the city's declaration of independence from Spain in 1811, reflects a slightly different image.

"One pageant portrays Cartagena as its elite wants it to be seen: rich, white and glamorous," said Elisabeth Cunin, a French sociologist who studies Cartagena told The New York Times. "The other reflects the reality of the city as the majority of its inhabitants know it: poor and neglected, a complex mix between racial domination and an emerging current of black consciousness."

Miss Columbia attracts quite a bit of attention for the city, wrote Simon Romero of The New York Times. Paparazzi and gossip columnists flock to the city to cover the event. However, Miss Independence draws just as much notoriety for itself and shop owners on the streets of Caregena shut down their shops, fearful of assaults before a bawdy parade celebrating the event passes through.

Raimundo Angulo, the director of Miss Columbia said he thinks his pageant could improve the lives of the residents by making the city more appealing to outsiders, likening it to Monte Carlo.

"It is democratically elitist," he told The New York Times, speaking of Miss Columbia. "I simply want what is beautiful, wherever it comes from, according to certain principles, certain values."

When asked whether or not he thinks the event may be racist or excluding, Angulo pointed out that an Afro-Colombian had been named Miss Columbia in 2001. This has happened once in the pageant's 76 years of existence.

This year, Miss Independence was Ivonne Palencia, a 19-year-old preschool teacher living in the slum Boston, named after a red-light district once frequented by foreign sailors, reported the Times. Though the smaller local pageant is considered a poor imitation of the national one,it tends to elicit more excitement throughout the streets and slums of Cartagena.

Darkha Dutt, a journalist from India, has been accused making deals with corporate lobbyists and agreeing to pass messages to the governing Congress Party.

According to The New York Times, Dutt was questioned before a jury of four of her peers after being caught on tape talking to a corporate lobbyist.

"It is an error of judgment of enormous proportions" thundered the editor of Open Magazine, Manu Joseph, one of the panelists.

According to the BBC, on the tape, Dutt offered to relay messages form the lobbyist to politicians in an effort to influence the process of forming a cabinet.

Dutt, 38, is a star reporter and anchor in India and is well known player in India's burgeoning, competitive news media market, reported The New York Times. Now she finds herself at the heart of a scandal that threatens to ruin her career.

According to The New York Times, even though Dutt denies making deals with corporate lobbyists and claims she was just stringing along a potential news source, she also acknowledges that perhaps she could have been more careful.

"I look at some of the conversations and I do feel I should have been more alert," she said in an interview on Friday with NDTV, the television station she works at.

WikiLeaks: James Rubin

James Rubin, former U.S. assistant Secretary of State said that recently released WikiLeaks document are a broad based attack on U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. government.

CNN talked to Rubin after talking to WikiLeaks' spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson. Hrafnsson said that the public has the 'right to know' but Rubin disagreed with the organization's decision to release certain leaked documents and said that despite WikiLeaks' claim that they these documents pose no threat to U.S. security, they very well might.

"Americans may die because of the irresponsibilities of these people," Rubin told CNN.

Rubin explained to CNN that the government needs to be able to have private conversations with foreign leaders or those leaders may not want to talk to them at all. Rubin says that WikiLeaks threatens the government's ability to operate in the world and destroys their ability to have these conversations.

"These people don't have any idea how the real world works," Rubin told CNN, critiquing WikiLeaks.

Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi, the recipient of several human rights prizes and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has spent 15 of the last 21 years in detention by Myanmar's military rulers.

Suu Kyi, a 65-year-old pro-democratic activist and leader of the Myanmar's National League for Democracy, won the 1990 elections by a landside but was rejected by the military regime that has been in control over Myanmar since 1962, said CNN.

According to CNN, Suu Kyi has since then been declared ineligible for election forcing the National League for Democracy to choose between having her as leader and being declared as an illegal party.

Her interview took place a week after she was released from detention in the headquarters of the league, a small, stark and stifling hot building, reported CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

Suu Kyi wore a Burmese sarong known as a lyongi and her hair was adorned with flowers, a symbol of her defiance against the tyrannical military regime, said CNN.

In her interview, Suu Kyi admitted that she thinks she may be arrested again at any moment.

"It's always a possibility," she told Pleitgen. "After all they've arrested me several times in the past.

Suu Kyi said she envisions a Myanmar where progress and accountability will go hand in hand and whose citizens feel empowered to help shape the course of its future.

"I want them to feel that it is they who will decide what the destiny of the country is; that they will have the proper means to shape the destiny of the country," Suu Kyi said.

President Obama criticized China for what he called unfair trade practices after the Group of 20 economies made the decision to put off most of the work needed to monitor and address global economic imbalances for future meetings, reported The New York Times.

According to USA Today G-20 leaders agreed to set guidelines that could be used to measure economical imbalances between themselves but left discussion of the larger details for next year's summit.

Obama's efforts to persuade China to act either independently or as a member of a collective community to address trade imbalances, has not yielded significant results, said The New York Times.

"Precisely because of China's success, it's very important that it act in a responsible fashion internationally," Obama said at a news conference at the conclusion of the economic summit, reported The New York Times.

Obama also accused Beijing of taking aggressive measures to keep its currency, the renminbi, below market value in an effort to promote exports, reported The New York Times.

China and Germany both rejected Obama's call for action saying that the United States has also undermined the dollar in an effort to bolster its own economy, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Obama will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington this January to further discuss currency issues, said The Wall Street Journal.

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