Recently in International News Category

      A veiled man disguised in woman's clothing and shoes released a bomb on Thursday at the Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia that killed 15 people and wounded many others.

      The Minister of Somali Information called the attack "a national disaster" and confirmed that the ministers for health, education, and higher education were killed, USA Today said.

      Government officials and many of Somalia's brightest minds were gathered for a graduation ceremony for 43 medical students of Benadir University, USA Today said. Until last year's Class of 2008, nearly two decades had passed without a single person in Somalia obtaining a medical degree.

      A Wall Street Journal reporter who witnessed the event described a gruesome scene in which black smoke filled the hall where the ceremony was being held and body parts littered the floor, trampled by people fleeing.

      This attack is the second in several months to target top figures in the Somali government, adding to a trend of suicide bombings that is relatively recent in the country.  No one has taken responsibility for the attack but officials suspect a militant group called al Shabaab that may have connections to al Qaeda, the Wall Street Journal said.   

     To view a BBC slideshow of the Mogadishu bombing, click here.

Britain offers $316 million in aid to Ethiopia

      Britain announced Tuesday that it will be responding to Ethiopia's October call for aid for over 6 million starving people with a package amounting to 4 billion birr, the Ethiopian unit of currency, the Sudan Tribune said.

      The UK Minister of State for International Development, Gareth Thomas MP, said that the massive aid package will provide health and education services plus sustainable water and road construction over the next three years, the Global Times said.

      Among other services, the Global Times said, the aid will help fund an effort to enroll 2.8 million children in school, hire 150,000 more trained teachers and provide safe water to 6 million households.

      With assistance coming from Britain, the United States, and the World Bank, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zanawi told the British minister that the international media have made the nation's food shortages seem larger than they actually are, the Sudan Tribune said.

To see images of the drought in Ethiopia, click here.

       In an unexpected career move, Gregory B. Craig, White House Counsel, resigned Thursday to be replaced by leading Democrat and Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer.

       The Counsel's office is entrusted with screening administrative and judicial nominees and reviewing sensitive foreign policy issues, ethics matters, and lawsuits on the executive branch. For a long time, however, the Counsel has assumed the unofficial role of private adviser to the president, exerting key influence in a variety of executive decision-making processes, The New York Times said.

       Craig received both praise and criticism during his tenure; he played a prominent role in getting the first Latina justice elected to the U.S. Supreme Court but failed to reach the objective of closing down the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on schedule, The Washington Post said. 

       Bauer, who is scheduled to begin his appointment in January, is "well-positioned to lead the Counsel's office as it addresses a wide variety of responsibilities," according to a statement issued by President Barack Obama, The Washington Post said.

       In the last 30 years, Bauer has advised many senior officials of the Democratic party and served as chief counsel of the Democratic Congressional committees. Bauer brings extensive knowledge of election law, campaign finance, and political ethics to the position, although he has little expertise in international law, The New York Times said.

       Republicans raised red flags about the administration's lack of balance in giving a high-ranking post to an intimate adviser who has considerable influence, The Washington Post said. 

Qian Xuesen, father of Chinese rocketry, dies at 98

Qian Xuesen, 98, an aeronautical engineer educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Caltech and a groundbreaking director of rocket research in China, died on Saturday in Beijing, The New York Times said.

Qian was deported from the United States in 1955 on suspicion of being a communist. A later congressional report labeled him a spy although his colleagues defend his innocence even now, The Los Angeles Times said.

Deporting Qian "was the stupidest thing this country ever did," former Navy secretary Dan Kimball said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Through Qian's contributions, China has been able to launch ballistic missiles, Silkworm anti-ship missiles and reconnaissance satellites as well as put a human in space, The Los Angeles Times said.

Qian made many prominent contributions to the United States during the 1930s and 1940s including serving on the government's Science Advisory Board and helping found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is now one of NASA's important space-exploration facilities, The New York Times said.. 

Abdullah expected to withdraw from Afghan election

The dragged-out presidential election that was scheduled to culminate in a Nov. 7 runoff may be over sooner than expected. 

Current President Hamid Karzai would begin a new five-year term if principal opponent Abdullah Abdullah boycotted the election as officials suggest he plans to do, The New York Times said.

Karzai's victory in August was deemed invalid by a United Nations-supported panel that threw out close to one third of his votes, which came in part from illegitimate "ghost-voters," The Washington Post said.

The prospect of the old Afghan administration continuing in power after such a controversial election process adds pressure to President Barack Obama's deliberations on deploying more troops to Afghanistan.

Ethiopia seeks $175 million in drought aid

The Ethiopian government issued an urgent plea on Thursday for enough emergency aid to feed and care for 6.2 million people, 7.5 percent of its population, The Wall Street Journal said.

According to Oxfam International, a prominent aid group and donor in East Africa, the long-lasting drought has left more than 23 million people in the larger region desperately in need of water and food supplies, the Journal said.

The United States provides about 70-80 percent of all food aid to the country and shipped some supplies in anticipation of the request, The Wall Street Journal said.  A U.S. Embassy spokesman said further contributions are being considered and the specifics of continuing relief efforts will be announced at a later date, the Journal said.

Neighboring countries such as Kenya are facing similar straits. Last week marked a belated rainfall in Kenya that aid agencies warned would be accompanied by flooding, hypothermia and malaria, according to the Times Online, a British publication.

Taliban strikes again...and again in Pakistan

     Coordinated attacks on three law enforcement agencies in Lahore and a separate act of terrorism in the northeast of Pakistan on Thursday continued a series of guerrilla strikes initiated by the Taliban over the past 10 days, The New York Times said.
     The militants targeted an anti-terrorist training center, a police academy and a facility of the Federal Investigation Agency and killed 35 people, including 10 of the insurgents, the Wall Street Journal said.
     The combination of Thursday's attacks plus an insurgent standoff last week and a car bombing on Monday brings the death toll of the past week to approximately 150 people, the Wall Street Journal said.
     One retired army brigadier, Javaid Hussein, told The New York Times that the style of the Taliban's assaults shows its intention to inject distrust of the military and law enforcement into Pakistan civilians.
     Hussain believed that the new Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, maintained a close relationship with al Qaeda and was gaining their training, strategy and support.

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize 2009

No, it's not a joke. In an unexpected decision Friday morning, President Obama was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomacy and global effort to reduce nuclear weapons.

The award reflects Obama's increasing overseas support during a time of domestic tension in which discussions of health-care reform and economic recovery have dominated public concern, The Washington Post said.

Obama is the first president in 90 years to win the award while in office, the Post said. In a given year, the prize may go unawarded if none of the nominees measure up to the criteria of the prize's founder, Alfred Nobel.

Critics say the prize has been awarded for wishful thinking. The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, said, "We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year," according to The New York Times. "We would hope this would enhance what he is trying to do," Jagland said.

In a statement delivered from the Rose Garden Friday morning, the president called the award an "affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations," The New York Times said.


     From the western coast of Indonesia to the island of Samoa, the repercussions of two earthquakes left hundreds dead, thousands injured and a multitude of people without basic resources, The New York Times said.  
     On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc near the coastal city of Padang Wednesday evening. With landslides leaving dozens trapped in debris, officials report death tolls at 200 and rising, The Washington Post said.
     The tsunami in Samoa brought forth a series of 15-20 foot waves that penetrated a mile inland, authorities said.
     President Obama offered U.S. assistance on Tuesday evening, announcing a major disaster zone in American Samoa. FEMA plans to provide relief by boat and plane for several weeks, The Washington Post said.
     The New York Times has a couple good photos in their article as well as a multimedia map. The Washington Post has a photo gallery filled with facets of the devastation.

Plea for troops prompts Obama to reevaluate Afghanistan

     Gen. Stanley A McChrystal's conclusion that success in Afghanistan requires a new surge of troops has thrown Washington into a frenzy of debate.
     Obama has delayed in responding to the general's request, delivering on his campaign promise to carefully evaluate both old and new military strategies in Afghanistan as the war proceeds, the Los Angeles Times said.
     Obama's advisers have suggested pursuing a shift from rebuilding the Afghan nation to escalating concentrated attacks on al-Qaeda, The Washington Post said.
     Frustrated military officials, however, perceive deliberations to be time wasted on a ticking clock.
     The Post report emphasized the political divide on the issue, quoting the public statements of both Republican and Democrat senators. Both papers reconstructed Obama's point of view successfully.  Both stories also happened to use the phrase "grim assessment" in their leads...jargon?
     The format of The Post was a bit easier to follow and I realized it had fewer paragraphs than the LA Times. I decided to do a little math and it turned out The Post averaged 56 words per paragraph compared to the LA Times' 37. The articles were similar lengths overall.  

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