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December 9, 2007

Canadian Pig Farmer Convicted of SIx Murders

A Canadian pig farmer was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women.

According to the NY Times, the 10-month trial, which featured grisly and horrific evidence, ended with the conviction of Robert William Pickton. Pickton is also being charged with killing over 20 other women and is suspected of killing 50 others, according to the report. The judge limited the first trial to six murders to make it more manageable, but Pickton will be going to trial for the other murders, prosecutors said. During a 19-year period, 61 drug addicted women went missing in the Lower Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Pickton is suspected to have involvement in those cases.

The UK paper, The Guardian, reports that the jury deliberated for 10 days and came back with a guilty verdict. They also report that investigators found human remains on Pickton's farm, including skulls and feet. Pickton was also recorded by an undercover officer in a taped jail conversation saying that he had killed 49 women and planned to make it 50.

December 2, 2007

Chavez May Cement Power in Venezuela

Venezuelans voted on a referendum Sunday that gives President Hugo Chavez many new constitutional powers.

According to the NY Times, as of Sunday night, the Venezuelan government still did not release any results from the vote which caused politicians to believe that the vote was too close to call. The NY Times also reports that there were 69 amendments to the constitution made by Chavez. Some of them were to abolish presidential term limits, declare states of emergency for unlimited periods and increase the state's role in the economy. They also report that electoral officials said that results could come late Sunday evening or early Monday.

But the UK's The Guardian is already calling the vote a victory for Chavez and his supporters. They report that two exit polls suggest that voters approved the referendum. They also described the rhetoric that Chavez has been using to promote his policies. According to The Guardian, Chavez said that he would rule until 2050 if he kept winning elections. He also is quoted as saying that a vote against the referendum is a vote for US president George W. Bush.

November 18, 2007

Bangladesh Cyclone Death Toll 2,300

The death toll for a cyclone that ripped through Bangladesh Thursday hit 2,300 on Sunday and some expect it to be around 10,000.

According to Reuters, the Bangladesh disaster ministry recorded about 2,300 deaths on Sunday at 10 a.m. Local media reported around 3,500 deaths. Mohammad Abdur Rob, chairman of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said that in his experience, he believes the toll could reach 10,000. Cyclone Sidr hit the country's southern coast on Thursday night with 155 mile per hour winds with tides reaching about 16 feet. The Bush administration has offered an initial $2.1 million for emergency relief, according to the U.S. Embassy.

A different angle was taken by the AFP for the story. They went with the ecological damage that was done by the cyclones. They reported about how the world's largest mangrove was in and area of Bangladesh called Sunderbans and could have been destroyed. The mangrove protected millions from the Bay of Bengal's other less serious tidal waves and cyclones. They also reported that the endangered Bengal Tiger made its home in the mangroves and many may have been killed. According to the report, there were an estimated 500 living in the mangroves at the time.

November 11, 2007

Musharraf Sets Election Day

Pakistan President Pervevz Musharraf said Sunday that parliamentary elections will be held by January, but his emergency degree will last until then.

According to the NY Times, Musharraf made the announcement at his first press conference Sunday since he declared emergency powers eight days ago. However, Musharraf refused to give a date when the emergency state would end. They also report that many opposition powers and Western Diplomats dismissed Musharraf's announcement. They wonder how fair elections could take place under a "state of emergency." The report also got one diplomat to speak under anonymity saying, "He’s looking to see whether simply announcing an election date will placate people.?

The Washington Post reports that Musharraf said at his news conference that he put the state of emergency in place to "to save the democratic process" from conflict between the branches of government and to help fight Islamic extremists. They also report that Musharraf has added new military powers which permit the civilians to be court-marshaled for crimes ranging from treason to "giving statements conducive to public mischief."

November 4, 2007

Musharraf Rounds Up Opposition

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who seized emergency powers earlier this week, rounded up leading opposition party figures Sunday.

According to the NY Times, security forces detained around 500 members of opposing parties, lawyers and human right advocates. Also, the NY Times reports that about a dozen privately owned television news stations were cut off the air. BBC and CNN were also taken off the air. The report seems a little biased, which isn't a surprise coming from the NY Times. The report wrote that this move, "was clearly aimed at preventing public demonstrations that political parties and lawyers were organizing for Monday," without any attribution or fact, just assumption by the reporter. They also report that parliamentary elections will not happen for almost a year.

Musharraf seized power in Pakistan in a military coup in 1999, according to Reuters. Musharraf also has suspended the constitution. Reuters also reports that the groups who were detained believe Musharraf is doing this to pre-empt the Supreme Courts ruling that invalidates his re-election last month. Reuters reports that the Pakistani Government is being pressured by the United States to hold elections by January.

October 28, 2007

Argentina's First Lady Leads Election

Argentina's first lady Christina Fernandez claimed victory in the presidential elections Sunday.

According to the AP, early results and exit polls show that Fernandez has enough votes to avoid a runoff with the other candidates. She needed at least 40 percent of the vote and had to have a lead of over 10 percent. Six independent news stations, a private radio station and an opposition newspaper said that their exit polling has Fernandez has easily won, according to the AP.

The NY Times reports that Fernandez is the first woman president of Argentina. If she wins, she will become the second woman elected to be a leader of a South American country in the past two years. They also report that Fernandez needs 45 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. Her husband, Nestor Kirchner, is the current president of Argentina.

October 21, 2007

Kaczynski Voted Out in Poland

Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski lost his position Sunday as his party, the Law and Justice Party, lost the Polish elections in the biggest voter turnout since the end of communism in Poland two decades ago.

Reuters reports that exit polls show that the incumbent Law and Justice Party received only 30 percent of the vote while the Civic Platform won around 44 percent. They also report the high 55 percent voter turnout appears to be a rejection of the past two turbulent years under the rule of Kaczynski and his brother President Lech Kaczynski. The Civic Platform is a party that looks to pull troops from Iraq, speed economic reform and mend EU relations. Lech is not up for re-election until 2010.

The New York Times reports that official results will not be released until Tuesday. Then, they will figure out if The Civic Platform will have an outright majority, or if they will have to create a coalition with the Polish Peasants Party. They also report that leaders across Europe will be relieved by the results, because Poland under the Kaczynskis has been known to not agree or go along with other European nations. Poland has also been one of the leading allies to the U.S.

October 13, 2007

Rice Fears Kremlin Holds Too Much Power

The Russian government under President Vladimir Putin has too much central power and is compromising Moscow's commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

According to an AP report on CNN.com, Rice told reporters after a meeting with human rights activists, "I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," referring to the Russian Parliament. Rice also encouraged activists to build institutions of democracy to help combat arbitrary state power.

BBC News reports that some may see Rice's comments as thinly veiled criticism of Putin and the Kremlin, which makes the report seem editorialized. The report also said that Putin has centralized power and has a tight control of television, which is the most used source of information in Russia. Putin denies those accusations and cites the many non-state publications in Russia. Putin will be stepping down as president after his second term ends in March, but hinted he might try to become the next prime minister and return as president in 2012, as the constitution allows.

October 7, 2007

Court to Decide Pakistan Election

Pakistan's presidential election is in the hands of their Supreme Court after General Pervez Musharraf won the election by a landslide, even though the election was boycotted by the opposition.

According to CNN.com, the opposition parties said it was undemocratic and unconstitutional to have Musharraf run while still army chief. Musharraf received 671votes while his main rival only received eight.

Reuters reported that it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will annul the results. They also report that the results of Pakistan's election are important to the West because they want "to see Musharraf maintain nuclear-armed Pakistan's support for efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and tackle al Qaeda."

September 30, 2007

Ten Peacekeeping Soldiers Killed in Darfur

Rebel forces stormed a small African Union base and killed at least 10 peacekeeping soldiers, while 30 other soldiers remain missing.

According to the Associated Press article on msnbc.com, about 1,000 rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army. The article said that the army began attacking the base located outside of Haskanita on Saturday night after sunset, and finally stormed the base on Sunday.

This was the worst attack on African Union soldiers since they were deployed to Sudan in 2004, Reuters said. They said that the African Union reports that 40 soldiers are still missing and eight are wounded. One rebel commander said that the attack took place in order to obtain vehicles, weapons, and a seat at peace talks in late October.

September 18, 2007

Afghanistan Wants Candian Troops to Stay

Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked Canada not to withdrawal troops from Afghanistan when their mission ends in early 2009, fearing that the Taliban will take back the country.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's website, Karzai made the plea during a private meeting with Canadian journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan. He also told them that "Afghanistan would not be able to stand on its own by February 2009, when Canada's current combat mandate ends."

So far, 70 Canadians have died in Afghanistan, most in road-side explosions, according to Reuters. Canada's minority Conservative Party says they will not extend the mission unless parliament approves.

September 12, 2007

Two Earthquakes Shake Indonesia

An earthquake Wednesday night and another Thursday morning rocked Indonesia and the island of Sumatra, which was hit by deadly tsunamis in 2004.

The Associated Press reports that five people died and several dozens more were injured in the 8.4 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday. That quake also triggered a small tsunami on the island of Sumatra. Thursday's earthquake was measured at 7.8 magnitude and hit the same area. The quake could even be felt in the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Singapore "where tall buildings swayed."

Wednesday's 8.4 magnitude earthquake was the largest recorded quake of the year, according to Reuters and the U.S. Geological Survey. Their report differs with the AP report, as Reuters is saying that six are dead and 40 are injured, according to Indonesia's Health Ministry crisis center in Jakarta. Reuters also spoke with David Oppenheimer of the USGS who said "the death toll could well rise as authorities take stock of the impact in the light of day."