December 7, 2008

Rioting escalates in Greece over death of 16-year-old

Anti-police rioting escalated in major cities across Greece on Sunday in response to the death of a teenager who was killed by police on Saturday, CNN reported. Most of the rioters were young self-styled anarchists. A police statement said the 16-year-old boy who was killed by was shot as he tried to throw a fuel filled bomb at police. Nonetheless, the police officer that fired the fatal shot has been charged with “manslaughter with intent.�

Police used tear gas in an attempt to abate the angry demonstrators but rioting continued well into late Sunday night. The U.S and British embassies both issued warnings to tourists and employees and discouraged them from visiting areas where rioting was occurring and downtown Athens in particular. ABC reported that demonstrators barricaded city streets in Athens and Thessaloniki and hurled petrol bombs as they conflicted with police sent to put an end to the rioting. The rioters, most of them young in age, also smashed storefronts and burned businesses.

November 30, 2008

Taj hotel admits there were warnings prior to the terror attack.

Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, whose company owns the Taj hotel, said that the hotel had increased security in response to warnings of a possible terror attack, CNN reported Sunday.

The Taj hotel, located in Mumbai, was one target of nine in a terror attack that killed 183 and injured several hundred. The attack ended with a standoff Saturday morning. Tata said that despite the hotel’s efforts, the increased security measures could not have prevented the attack. Tata indicated that the measures included personal searches, metal detectors, and increased surveillance. However, the security measures were eased earlier in the week prior to the attacks.

NBC reported that authorities did a room-by-room check of the hotel late Saturday to make sure that no gunmen or guests remained. Tata said that the gunmen did not come through the front entrance, which was equipped with metal detectors but came through a back entrance.

November 23, 2008

Gunfire directed at Georgian and Polish presidents.

Gunshots were fired at a motorcade transporting the presidents of Georgia and Poland in the Georgian region of South Ossetia on Saturday, CNN reported.

The Interior Ministry of Georgia indicated that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvilli and Polish President Lech Kaczynski were not injured and their motorcade not hit by the gunfire. The shots were fired at a checkpoint in the region that saw widespread conflict between Russian and Georgian troops in August.

The BBC reported Russian peacekeeping forces stationed there denied the allegations of responsibility for the gunfire. The ministry however claimed that the gunfire came from Russian-controlled territory from uniformed South Ossetians. The ministry also used the incident to emphasize that the Russian’s occupancy of the region violated international law.

November 16, 2008

U.S. and Iraq agree on troop withdrawal plan.

The Iraqi government approved a plan that will allow for US soldiers to begin leaving Iraq next year, the BBC reported Sunday.

The plan would call for all US soldiers to be out of the country by the end of 2011. The decision will need further approval from a vote in Iraqi parliament. America’s National Security Council approved of the decision, noting that it was important step in promoting security and stability within the nation. The pact was needed because the UN mandate determining the role of troops in Iraq will expire on Dec. 31.

The plan was restructured initially in October after the US government had previously stated the original pact was final. The cabinet approved the pact after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with all but one of the 28 minister present voting in favor of the new plan. The agreements terms include the placing of US forces in Iraq under the authority of the Iraqi government and a withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and towns by 2009.

November 9, 2008

China announces economic stiulus package.

China unveiled a $586 billion stimulus package to help prevent the lagging global economy from affecting the nation, Trend Capital reported Sunday.

China, the world’s fourth largest economy, announced a plan to invest 4 trillion yuan into infrastructure and social welfare by the end of the year 2010. Some of the funds for the plan will be derived from the private sector while the Chinese government will provide the other necessary funds. The statement made by Chinese officials also did not clarify whether the money would be used to fund new projects or speed up already existing ones.

CNN reported that China’s economy, which is predicated upon global exports, is already feeling the effect of economic woes in the U.S. and Europe. The government has cut interest rates three times in the last two months in the hopes of fueling economic growth. Economic growth in the nation was at 9 percent during the third quarter, which marked the lowest level of economic growth there in 5 years.

November 2, 2008

U.N. accuses Colombian government of human rights violations.

According to the U.N., Colombia’s US-backed security force has been executing innocent civilians in its counter-insurgency campaign, CNN reported Saturday.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke in Bogota, Colombia’s capital, and stated that the scale of the killings could be viewed as a “crime against humanity� under current international humanitarian law. Pillay also indicated that international courts could become involved if Colombia’s government was “unwilling or unable’ to conduct an investigation itself.

According to the Financial Times, Pillar’s statements came three day after Colombian president Alvaro Uribe fired 27 army officers because of their alleged involvement in the disappearances and executions of 11 men from a poor Bogota suburb earlier in the year. The firing was the largest in Colombian military history for alleged human rights violations.

October 26, 2008

Rebels in Congo seize gorilla park.

According to CNN, Congolese rebels captured a major military camp as well as a gorilla park in recent fighting in the country. The fighting comes a week after the U.N. brokered a cease-fire between rebels and government forces. The rebel forces, under renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda, engaged Congolese forces in the eastern province of North Kivu. In addition to the army base, the rebels also seized the headquarters of Virunga National Park. The park is home to 200 of the 700 endangered mountain gorillas in existence.

The BBC reported that over 50 rangers had to flea the park’s headquarters and into the forest in fear of their lives. It was not the first time the rebels have infiltrate the park but it is the first time they have taken over its headquarters. Although the civil war in Congo officially ended in 2003, recent fighting in its eastern portion between rebels and government forces ahs displaced tens of thousands of civilians.

October 19, 2008

Nine Chinese oil workers kidnapped.

Nine Chinese oil workers were kidnapped in southwestern Sudan on Saturday in one of several recent attacks on Chinese interests in the country, CNN reported Sunday. Officials from Sudan blamed a Darfur rebel group for the kidnapping. None of the Darfur rebel groups who have fought the central government in recent years claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack was the third on Chinese targets in the last year. Many activists in Darfur have blamed some of the bloodshed in the region on China’s ties with the country. CNN indicated that China buys nearly two-thirds of Sudan’s exported oil.

The BBC reported that the kidnapping took place in the oil-rich Kordofan region. The kidnappers eventually released one of the men. They left him with a note demanding ransom in the form of a share of oil production.

October 12, 2008

Four killed in missile strike on Pakistan.

According to CNN, four people were killed in a suspected U.S. missile strike on Pakistan Saturday. The missile hit a home in Khatai Qila and was one of two suspected US strikes on Saturday in the region of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan. NATO, the U.S. military in Afghanistan and the US embassy in Islamabad would not comment on the attack.

According to MSNBC, the U.S. maintains that al Qaeda and Taliban forces use the area as a staging ground for attacks on U.S. and allied troops over the border in Afghanistan. MSNBC set the number of those dead at five. MSNBC also reported that none of the individuals killed were suspected of being al Qaeda fighters.

October 5, 2008

15 Turkish soldiers killed in Kurdish rebel attack

Kurdish rebels killed 15 Turkish soldiers along Turkey’s eastern border with Iraq, CNN reported Saturday.

Turkish president Abdullah Gul indicated that two other soldiers were missing and 20 others were wounded. The Associated Press reported that at least 23 rebels were killed when Turkish troops fired back.

“The terror group wants to show that it is still alive,� Gul told CNN. “That’s the reason for this attack.�

Gul was speaking of the Kurdish Worker’s Party or PKK, the leading Kurdish rebel group in the region. The Turksih military indicated that most casualties in the attack, which originated in northern Iraq, were the result of heavy arms fire.

The BBC reported that over 40,000 people have been killed since 1984, when the PKK began launching attacks from Northern Iraq. The PKK are looking to have a self-governing nation set up for themselves in southeastern Turkey.

The BBC reported that the attack was a surprise directed at a military outpost near Semdinli. The ambush resulted in the highest number of casualties in an attack this year.

The attack comes before a scheduled vote in the Turkish government on Tuesday that would extend the rights of the military launch attacks on the PKK in northern Iraq.

A spokesman for the Iraqi government condemned the attacks, noting that the situation presents border security issues for both Turkey and Iraq.

September 28, 2008

Ship containing 33 tanks seized by pirates.

Pirates off the cost of Somalia seized a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 tanks this Thursday, according to CNN.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Yury Yelhanurov told reporters that the ship, the Faina, also was carrying a large amount of ammunition and spare parts.

It was not initially known where the tanks we’re being transported too but according to the ITAR-Tass news agency the tanks were being sold to Kenya. Larisa Mudrak, a spokeswoman for Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, said the tanks had been sold “in accordance with international law.�

According to CNN, Russia indicated they had sent a patrol ship to the eastern coast of Somalia Friday bud did not mention the situation with the Ukrainian ship specifically.

This attack brought the number of piracy incidents off the coat of Somalia to 61 this year, according to Noel Choong, leader of the Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center. Choong also told CNN the recent situation brings a total of 14 ships and 300 crewmembers under the pirates’ control.

The BBC reported Sunday that the US Navy destroyer, the USS Howard, had come in visual contact with the pirate-seized Ukrainian ship. A spokesman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet told the BBC the destroyer was within 5 miles of the pirated ship but did not indicate whether the US Navy would intervene.

The BBC also reported that the pirates ransom demands for the safe return of the ship and its 21 crewmembers had fallen from $35 million to $20 million.

September 21, 2008

Thousands of children sick due to tainted milk in China.

Tainted milk has been cited as the cause of a rash of illness found amongst children in China over the past two weeks.

CNN reports that 12,892 children throughout China have fallen ill due to melamine- tainted formula powder. That number is more than double the original 6,200 reported by the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency. According to CNN, 104 of those affected exhibit serious symptoms while another 1,579 have been cured and discharged from health care facilities.

Cases of the sickness have apparently spread outside of mainland China, worrying officials that the problem may not be as contained as originally thought. The BBC reports that a three-year-old in Hong Kong, who developed a kidney stone after drinking the powder, is the first such case.

CNN reports that four infants are confirmed dead due to the tainted milk, all of which drank formula produced by the Sanlu Group. Traces of melamine were first found in the formula powder of this company but now, the BBC reports, melamine has been found in dairy products produced by 22 different companies.

According to the BBC 18 individuals have been arrested in connection with the tainted milk scandal. Authorities believe suppliers added melamine, a banned chemical usually used in plastic production, to the nutrient-poor milk in order to make it appear like it contained more protein.