December 3, 2008

Protestors Leave Thai Airport

An eight-day protest at Bangkok's main international airport has come to an end, the BBC reported.

The People's Alliance for Democracy left the airport ended protests after a court ruled Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is banned from politics.

The court ruled Wongsawat must dissolve both of his own political party. The court also ruled another two parties must dissolve.

Protests began in May, leading to a takeover of the prime minister's office in August and aiport seizures last week, The New York Times reported.

November 11, 2008

Death Toll in Haiti School Collapse Rises

Rescue workers have continued searching the wreckage of a school in Haiti, which collapsed Friday, killing 94 students and teachers and leaving more than 150 injured.

CBS News reported that the school's owner has turned himself over to police and is facing charges of manslaughter.

Poor construction is being blamed for the collapse of the school. Haitian President Rene Preval has called for a review of safety codes, CNN reported.

November 8, 2008

Indonesia Executes Militants

Lawyers for three men arrested in the 2002 Bali bombings have said the men were executed by the Indonesian government Saturday, the BBC reported.

The three men did not express remorse for the bombings that occurred at two nightclubs, popular with foreign tourists. The men said the attacks were aimed at the US, condemning the country for the situation in Afghanistan, according to NPR.

The bombings killed 202 people, nearly half of them from Australia and Britain.

October 21, 2008

UN Engineer Shot in Somalia

A U.N. engineer was killed in by gunmen in the latest round of murders against aid workers, officials said Monday, MSNBC reported.

The engineer was shot several times in the head and body, an execution-style that has been seen in the murders of 28 other aid workers since last year, including one who was murdered two days earlier, the BBC reported.

The African nation is struggling against a rise in national insurgency, with the government supported by an unpopular Ethiopian army. The U.N. said nearly three million Somalians are in need of food and medical aid.

October 18, 2008

Parents Defend Son's Assisted Suicide

A British couple are under investigation after their paralyzed son committed suicide.

23-year-old Daniel James, who was paralyzed chest down after a rugby accident, committed suicide at a Swiss clinic. It is unknown how he was able to travel to Switzerland, but police are investigating.

It is against British law for anyone to assist in a suicide, CNN reported.

"Over the last six months he constantly expressed his wish to die and was determined to achieve this in some way," James' parents, Julie and Mark James, of Worcester, said. His death was "no doubt a welcome relief from the 'prison' he felt his body had become and the day-to-day fear and loathing of his living existence".

It is believed that he is the youngest person to travel from Britain to Switzerland for assisted suicide, the BBC reported.

October 10, 2008

Nobel Peace Prize to be Awarded to Former Finnish President

The Nobel Foundation has announced that former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari will claim the coveted Nobel Peace Prize at an awards ceremony this December.

The foundation selected Ahtisaari "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts," as reported by the BBC.

Ahtisaari's work included establishing Namibia and working to resolve violent conflicts in Indonesia, Central Asia and twice in Kosovo. His most recent work has been in Iraq, according to The New York Times.

In a speech accepting an award from UNESCO, the 71-year-old peace negotiator called on his childhood as motivation for his lifelong work.

“The origins of my career as a peace mediator can be found from my childhood years. I was born in the city of Viipuri, then still part of Finland. We lost Viipuri when the Soviet Union attacked my country. Along with 400,000 fellow Karelians I became an eternally displaced person in the rest of Finland,? he said, as is reported by The New York Times.

Along with the peace prize, the Nobel Foundation awards four other prizes - for chemistry, literature, physics, and physiology or medicine - each year. Recipients receive a gold medal, diploma, and 10 million Swedish kronor, according to CNN.

September 23, 2008

11 South African Cabinet Members Resign

The South African government announced Tuesday that 11 cabinet members have resigned, following an announcement that the nation's president would also be leaving office.

The cabinet officials, including a finance minister who was seen as being key in maintaining economic management, have said they would help the new administration, according to The New York Times.

“All the ministers have expressed their availability to assist the incoming administration," a statement issued by President Thabo Mbeki said.

However, the African National Congress secretary general said six of the ministers "had no intention of serving in the new government," the BBC reported.

The ANC is divided between Mbeki supporters and ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who is expected to win the national elections next year.

Mbeki resigned after the ANC called on him to leave office after a judge through out a corruption case against his rival Zuma, saying the Mbeki administration had political interference in the case, CNN reported Tuesday.

The "vexatious, scandalous and prejudicial" ruling cost Mbeki his office, the ousted president said.

The ANC's deputy president is expected to take office Thursday and remain as president until the spring elections.

September 16, 2008

Violence Continues in Bolivia

Martial law has been declared in Bolivia, where violence over a proposed constitution has killed 30 people.

Bolivian President Eva Morales, the first indigenous person elected to be president, has struggled to maintain order since being elected three years ago. His recent proposals to change the poor nation's constitution, including a clause that would allow him to run for a second term, have resulted in riots in the Pando province, according to Yahoo News.

Other proposed changes would centralize power and give landless peasants fallow terrain in an effort to re-distribute wealth amongst Bolivian citizens, the BBC reported.

Morales arrived in Chile to meet with other South American leaders to "to explain to the presidents of South America the civic coup d'etat by governors in some Bolivian states in recent days." However, no opposition leaders were present at the meeting in Santiago.

Other nations in South America are keen to resolve the issue, the BBC said, as they rely on Bolivia for natural gas.

Some leaders have blamed the US for causing and spreading the violence throughout Bolivia, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez calling it "a conspiracy directed by the US empire."

Chavez is a close ally with Morales, and both leaders expelled US ambassadors last week, accusing them of supporting oppositional parties. Ambassadors for both nations rejected the claims.

September 12, 2008

Pope Begins First Tour of France

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Paris Friday, calling on the nation's secular government to find a place for religion.

"Religion and politics must be open to each other," the pope said. "The presence of Christian values is fundamental for the survival of our nations and our societies."

The pope's words echo those of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called for "positive secularism" to develop the "meaning we want to give to our existences." His comments, along with his decision to invite the pope, have led to harsh criticism, CNN reported.

Sarkozy has called for open conversations about religion, saying it was "legitimate for democracy and respectful of secularism to have a dialogue with religions," The New York Times reported.

However, his words may not sit well. Although roughly 60 percent of France's 65 million citizens are Roman Catholic, only 11 percent consider religion "very important," the Pew Research Center found. France is also home to the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe, according to the BBC.