Recently in International News Category

IMF proposes new bank taxes

The International Monetary Fund has proposed a series of new taxes on financial institutions to help pay for future bailouts.

Under the proposal, all banks would pay a tax, called a "financial stability contribution", as well as further taxes on profits and compensation, BBC News said.

The move is seen as being drastically more radical than expected from the IMF, which typically supports the free flow of markets, the New York Times said.

The proposals are likely be explosive political issues, especially in the United States and United Kingdom, BBC News said.

Volcano erupts in Iceland

A volcano in Iceland has erupted Wednesday, requiring evacuations, airport closures, and health alerts.

The volcano, called Eyjafjallajokull, began showing activity in March and has since erupted, causing multiple evacuations of small towns nearby, BBC News said.

The ash spewing from the volcano has also caused closures of airports in much of Europe including the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and others, said BBC News.

Flash floods were expected in the region due to the fact that the volcano sits beneath Iceland's fifth largest glacier, The Guardian said.

This is the first major explosion of the volcano since 1821, said The Guardian. It has only erupted five times since Iceland was first settled.

American man sentenced to eight years labor in North Korea

An American man has been sentenced to eight years hard labor in North Korea after crossing the border illegally.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a 30-year-old from Boston, crossed the border between North Korea and China on January 25, the BBC News said.

Gomes admitted to committing the crime and, in addition to his sentence, received a 70 million won ($700,000) fine, the Associated Press said.

Gomes is the fourth American to be detained in about a year, said the Associated Press.

It is unclear why he entered North Korea, said BBC News.

Although he faces a long sentence, he is unlikely to serve most of it, Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Seoul's Dongguk University said. "The North is not going to hold him for eight years."

Olympic tower unveiled in London

London's mayor unveiled an Olympic tower Wednesday in preparation for the 2012 Olympics that will take place in the city.

The structure is a twisting steel structure that is part sculpture, part observation tower, said BBC News.

The structure will be nearly 400 feet, making it taller than the Statue of Liberty, according to AOL News.

The architect of the design, Anish Kapoor, is famous for many other structures, including Cloud Gate in Chicago, which is commonly call "the Bean", AOL News said.

Reviews have been mixed since the unveiling, with many simply mind-boggled. The Times of London's architecture critic, Tom Dyckhoff, was less than enthusiastic.

"Great. JUST what London needs, a giant squiggle," Dyckhoff said.

Three die in Norwegian train crash

Three people were killed and at least three injured when 16 railcars broke loose from a cargo train and crashed into a port terminal in Oslo.

The trains ran on the tracks downhill, reaching speeds of over 60 mph before dismounting the tracks and crashing into a building, the Independent said.

The building collapsed and three workers were killed, said BBC News.

Norwegian officials say the trains came loose from at a different cargo terminal, though the cause is unknown pending an investigation, BBC News said.

Chile hit with another quake while new president is sworn in

Chile was hit with earthquake as new a new president was sworn in.

The earthquake was an aftershock of the February 27 earthquake that rocked the nation, reaching 8.8 in magnitude. The aftershock on Thursday was registered at a 6.9, BBC News said.

The new president, Sebastian Pinera, is the first right-wing president in Chile in 52 years and has promised to both fix the economy and help the recovery effort, said the Associated Press.

Dignitaries were walking into the presidential inauguration when the earthquake suddenly struck. The president and his ministers quickly gave their oaths before reassuring the public, said the Associated Press.

Afterwards, the president tried to keep the mood calm and joked with fellow South American leaders, the Associated Press said.

"How was your welcome, president?" Pinera asked Argentina's Cristina Fernandez. "Moving, moving!" she joked.

Deadly earthquake hits Chile

Central Chile was hit with a massive earthquake Saturday, causing extensive damage in what is supposed to be the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history.

The earthquake was of a magnitude of 8.8 and struck near the middle of the long South American country, the Guardian said.

A "state of catastrophe" was issued by the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, who said that the country was doing everything it could to provide help to those affected, said the Guardian.

Over two million people are displaced and the current death toll sits at 711 but is expected to continue to rise, the New York Times said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to meet with Bachelet on Tuesday to discuss how the United States can help, said the New York Times.

Scottish independence referendum published

Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond unveiled Thursday a set of proposals that would potentially lead to Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.

The proposal lays out a referendum that would allow Scottish voters to decide to extend the powers of Scottish Parliament or to completely remove the country from the U.K., BBC News said.

Salmond says that he believes in the sovereignty of the Scottish people and that voters should be allowed to vote on the issue, BBC News reported.

However outside of Salmond's Scottish National Party, leaders of other major U.K. parties voiced concern, said the Guardian.

"As always the SNP puts the politics of narrow nationalism ahead of the interests of Scotland," said Tavish Scott, the leader of Scotland's Liberal Democrat Party. "There is no majority for a referendum in parliament. There is no support in the country for independence. Independence isn't going to happen."

Clinton says Iran becoming a military dictatorship

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Iran is becoming a military dictatorship, Secretary of State Clinton said in a speech Monday in Qatar.

The comment came during a speech at Carnegie Mellon University's Doha, Qatar campus, said Politico.

Clinton said she is concerned with Revolutionary Guards continued encroachment into making decisions regarding Iran's national security, including control of the nuclear program, said the New York Times. "We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the Parliament is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship," she said.

Four companies who are controlled by the Revolutionary Guards had their assets frozen by the Treasury Department last week, the New York Times reported. The U.S. government plans to continue to target holding that are under the control of the Revolutionary Guards.

Greek prime minister to cut government deficits

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou vowed Wednesday to cut the deficit of the Greek government by any necessary means which sits at four times the allowed rate in the European Union.

His announcement was made amid nationwide protests and public sector strike, BBC News reports.

BBC News says that flights are grounded, schools are closed, and many hospitals have only their emergency rooms open.

The prime minister is proposing a stability program that BBC News says includes a freeze on public sector wages, raising taxes, and changing the pension system to help cover an already $419 billion deficit that is expected to continue to grow.

The Belfast Telegraph said that the prime minister fully expects the entire program to be implemented.

Many are unhappy with the plans and Greece's largest labor organization is planning another strike on February 24, the Belfast Telegraph said.

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