December 14, 2008

Zimbabwe Blames West for Cholera

Information Minister Sikhanyiso, an ally to the Zimbabwean President, said on Thursday that he blames the outbreak of cholera in his country western countries report the AHN and BBC News.

The AHN actually attributed the words to Presideent, Robert Mugabe.

Specifically Sikhanyiso called it “a calculated racist terrorist attack on Zimbabwe by the unrepentant former colonial power which has enlisted support from its American and Western allies so that they invade the country.� (AHN)

He also said that the disease is “genocidal onsl aught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British.� (BBC)

The disease has left 792 people dead report both publications. That number is likely to keep rising, and the BCC says that the UN World Health Organization warns it could reach 60,000 if nothing is done to stop the spread of the disease.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee says that people were drinking from sewers, many hospitals remained closed, and there was no trash collection happening in the country. He blames the outbreak on the “political crisis and the failed economic policies of its government� says the BCC.

The AHN says that Zimbabwean government has also suggested that the United States was to blame for the outbreak.

An African bishop likened Mugabe to that of a present day Hitler says that BBC.

“The situation is truly grim. One man and his cronies - Robert Mugabe - are holding this country hostage,� Mr McGee said, AP news agency reports.� (BBC).

December 7, 2008

Cholera Cases put Zimbabwe in a State of Emergency

Country officials are calling Zimbabwe a “state of emergency� as a cholera breakout has been sweeping though the nation says the BBC and the Times Online.

The Times says that the country’s Prime Minister said that the nation is in a “international state of emergency,� while the BBC said that nation officials made the statement.

The Times says that the disease has taken the lives of 575 people but the BBC puts that number at more than 550.

The outbreak begin in August, and besides the 575 dead, 13,000 others are sick says the Times.

The country is now asking for international help to cue the disease.

“This is now an international rather than a national emergency,� said the Prime Minister. “International because disease crosses borders.� (Times Online)

Making matters worse is that the disease is hitting the nation during an economic meltdown and political stalemate. (BBC)

Urgent help is needed because the disease, which causes extreme dehydration, can kill within 24 if not treated says the Times. With rehydration kits and Cholera testing packets, the disease could be preventable says the Times.

The other problem is that the country has poor water. The capital has been without water since Sunday due to a lack of purification tablets says the BCC. But, the Europeans Commission has promised $12 million worth of clean water and drugs to the country. Great Britain has also pledged an aid package to the country to help stop the spread of the disease says the Times.

However, the good news is that the health minister reports a drop in the number of cases in the each providence except for Harare.

Two of Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries, Botswana and Mozambique, have also reported some cases of the disease says the BBC.

December 2, 2008

Flooding in Venice

The city of Venice in Italy is experiencing major flooding reports CNN and Voices of America.

VOA says that flooding is the worst flooding in over 20 years for the city while CNN says it is the worst is the last 22 years.

CNN says that in some parts of the city the water is neck-deep. The famous St. Mark’s square was under nearly a meter of water at one point after water broke though the city’s canals. This height of water grew as strong winds made the water rise to 1.56 meters. When the water reached this level warning were issued to citizens.

After the wind changed direction the water level begin to go down a little bit. The 1.56 meters of water almost made a new record. The last record was from 1989 when the city had 1.58 meters.

The water taxi’s temporality stopped service once the water reached the 1.56 meter mark says VOA.

Other towns also flooded on Monday. These Croatian towns were located on the Adriatic. (VOA) The publication also says that Italian government is working on an expensive project “to help prevent floods from destroying the city.�

CNN also says that if the city doesn’t work to fix this problem it could see daily flooding, and that water level would slowly be permanently rising.

November 29, 2008

Rampage in India by Terrorists Has Ended

The terror rampage is over in Mumbai, India, say officials reports The Associated Press and the TimesOnline.

The 60-hour rampage that killed 195 people ended Saturday say both publications. Of the dead, 18 were foreigners, and six of those were Americans. This toll is also expected to rise as the hotels continued to be cleared out and more bodies are likely to be found inside them says the Times.

The last remaining gunman was located in the burning Taj Mahal hotel says the TimesOnline. He was killed by the Indian commandos.

The AP says that rampage ended on Saturday when the last three gunmen were found in the Taj Mahal and killed by the Indian commandos.

Now that the rampage is over, the question is who is behind the attacks?

A Muslim group that was previously unknown, Deccan Mujahideen, and possibly from India, claimed responsibility for the acts says that AP. But Indian officials didn’t take this claim to heart and instead look at the neighboring Pakistan. It didn’t help the case that the last surviving gunman was from Pakistan. (AP)

The Muslim group said that two of the terrorists were British-born Pakistanis. However, no evidence has been found to support this claim. (Times)

The Pakistan Prime Minister said on Friday that his country was not to blame in the matter, and he promised to help find out who was responsible. (Times)

Some FBI agents have been sent to India to help in the investigation of who committed the attacks says the Times and AP.

This attack on the India was the second deadliest for the nation. The deadliest claimed 257 lives in Mumbai in 1993. That times the city was attacked with serial bombs.

November 24, 2008

Chavez power begins to slip with the election

Polls have confirmed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s opposition party has won some important elections according to the BBC and Reuters.

Although Chavez’s socialist party still won elections in 17 of 22 states, the states where it lost were pivotal areas according to the BBC (Reuters says 17 of 20 states). The elections choose over 300 governors and mayors in the country of Venezuela.

The opposition won in states of Miranda and Zulia, both are which are considered key states due to their high electorate says the BBC.

However, these two states also elected the opposition at the last election four years ago, so there was no gain in this election with these states.

But the opposition did gain ground in Caracas says Reuters. The important thing is that opposition now hold control in the areas with the highest concentration of population, which will be crucial in future elections says Reuters.

However, two races were still too close to call say both publications.

The results of these races could change the dynamic of the government further says Reuters. The opposition hopes to end Chavez run for reelection in 2012.

Voter turnout was at 64.5% say officials. (BBC)

The BCC says that both sides believed that the election was a success.

The president names Fidel Castro as a mentor. His country depends on oil for the majority of revenue, which has posed a problem for the country’s economy as the prices for a barrel of oil have continued to slip since July says Reuters.

November 9, 2008

Death Toll of Collasped School in Haiti Rises to 92

The death toll keeps rising at a school that collapsed in Haiti. The latest number is 92 deaths according to The New York Times and China View.

The New York Times reports that after rescue workers found a room full of children in the collapsed school on Saturday the death toll rose above 90. As of noon that day, leader of the civil protection service, Alta Jean-Baptiste, verified 84 dead and 150 people injured. But the count rose to 92 after a different civil protection official said that he saw eight more dead bodies.

The school that taught 700 students was in session when it collapsed. Although exactly how many of the students were inside the building when it fell is unknown said The New York Times.

The Protestant minister who owned the school and church was arrested. This school lacked the proper amount of structural steel or cement blocks to hold together the concrete blocks said Haitian President Rene Preval (NY Times).

As of Saturday, China View also reported 92 dead and 150 injured. They also report that the number of survivors also grew as four children were rescued from beneath the rubble making for 35 survivors. They reported that more than 500 students were enrolled at the school. The owner of the school was arrested on Saturday, and the Haitian President blamed poor construction and lack of government funding for the collapse of the building. A number of people are helping in recue efforts including United Nations recue teams, French firefighters, and Dominican Republic helicopters, all of which were working on Saturday said China View.

China View and the NY Times both report that the school was located in the suburbs of Haiti’s capital, Port-of Prince.

November 2, 2008

North Korea Food Shortage

North Korea continues to face a food shortage according to Voice of America and The Los Angeles Times.

The LA Times says that source of the problem is inflation, strained relations with neighboring countries and flooding in previous years.

The LA Times said that though the food shortage in North Korea is a problem, it is not at the level of emergency that the country faced in 1990s. At that time the problem was called a famine. But today people in North Korea are simply showing listlessness.

“Workers are unable to put in full days and take longer to complete tasks -- which has implications for the success of the early and main harvests,� said a group of five U.S. humanitarian agencies in a summer assessment of the food situation. (LA Times)

However, there are also some signs that point to problems that were part of the famine in the 1990s such as many adults skipping lunch. More than 70 percent of households in a survey by the U.N. World Food Program of 375 households were found to be eating weeds and grasses as part of their diet said the LA Times.

Voices of America said that the picture of the food shortage is getting worse. Jean-Pierre de Margerie, World Food Program country director, said that rising world costs of grains and rice together with the flooding of the region had caused the problems of the country.

“And some areas - those most affected by the crisis - are sliding to level four, which is a level of humanitarian emergency,� Margerie said. (VOA)

Margerie’s organization, World Food Program, has received much more cooperative relations from North Korea this time, and that are having an easier time monitoring food distribution that previous years says the Voices of America.

Other factors that have affected the food shortage including the farmers using out-of-date farming requirement, not having enough fuel to run the equipment they do have, and lack of fertilizer says VOA.

North Korea currently is not on good terms with South Korea, and due to the strained relationship South Korea has not provided any food or fertilizer to their northern neighbor VOA said.

United States is helping, and any day now a US ship with 27,000 tons of corn and soy is due to arrive to North Korea.

October 27, 2008

Fatal Flooding in Yemen

In Yemen tens of people died due to massive floods caused by heavy rains on Thursday and Friday. The New York Times reports that the president of Yemen said on Saturday that 41 people died and 31 were missing. China View reports that as of Saturday 58 people were dead according to the interior ministry of the official SABA news agency.

The President also said that 1,700 houses were destroyed according to the New York Times. The publication noted that the president toured the badly affected areas including the southeast part of the country, which was hit the hardest, on Saturday.

China View said that the 58 dead all hailed from the east – namely the providences of Hadramout, Mahra and Taiz. It also mentioned that the floods, besides ruining houses, also damaged other infrastructure including electricity and telephone networks.

“The damages... are great and the catastrophe is also great,� the president said. (China View)

He said that the death toll will likely continue to rise as the damage assessment is ongoing in many areas according to the China View.

October 19, 2008

Many McDonald's in Venezuela Temporarily Closed

The Venezuelan Government shutdown most of the McDonald’s in the country for two days last week due to discrepancies in the chain’s financial books reports CNN and the New York Times.

It was the government’s tax agency which ordered the shutdown due to “inconsistencies� found in sales and purchases books and taxes collected. (New York Times)

CNN reports that 115 McDonald’s were closed down while the New York Times says that 118 of the fast-food restaurants closed down. More specifically the New York Times says there are 132 McDonald’s in the country and that of the 118 closed down, all 80 of the Alimentos Arcos Dorados de Venezuela, a Caracas-based franchise, were closed.

The move to shutdown all the fast-food restaurants began on Thursday and continued on Friday reports CNN. Those closed remain so until Saturday.

“The company asserts its customary and thorough respect for and compliance with all Venezuelan laws, regulations and standards,� said Alimentos Arcos Dorados. (CNN)

New York Times mentioned that McDonald’s was subjected to a similar situation in the country three years ago. That time 80 of the restaurants were closed for three days as a penalty of failing to follow tax rules.

October 14, 2008

Chinese Milk Companies Apologize

The top three dairy companies in China issued a formal apology for their involvement in the contaminated milk scandal that has rocked China on Sunday reports Reuters and China Daily.

The three companies all had used melamine in their baby milk formula, a toxin, which sickened tens of thousands of Chinese babies.

Reuters reports that the scandal has killed four babies, while 10,700 infants are still being treated, and 36,000 have already left the hospital after being treated.

China Daily says that 53,000 babies have been diagnosed with problems similar to kidney stones. That is how the contaminated milk was discovered – when 14 babies all had kidney stones a little over a month ago and the common link was the same brand of milk formula they had been drinking: Sanlu. This sparked on inspection of other brands, a number of which were also found to have melamine in them.

The three companies that apologized were Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Mengniu Dairy, and Bright Dairy Group.

China Daily reports that the apology came from the executives of the companies while they were television talk show program called “Dialogue.� The damage of the scandal is estimated at have cost each of the companies 200 million yuan ($29 million).

Reuters also mentioned that the Ministry of Agriculture will continue “sending quality teams across the country to monitor the clean-up of milk stations and animal feed producers.�

October 6, 2008

Russia Begins Withdrawing from Georgia

With the war conflict between Russia and Georgia over, Russians began dismantling their checkpoints in Georgia according to the New York Times and Australian Broadcasting Cooperation.

This is in fulfillment of the peace treaty which the French President help broker. According to this plan Russia must withdraw from security or buffer zones by Oct. 10.

The withdrawal began in South Ossetia, a breakaway part of Georgia, where a checkpoint was dismantled on Sunday.

The ABC reports that the dismantled checkpoint was located near the northwest city of Gori.

The New York Times mention that the withdrawal comes two days after eight Russian soldiers were killed in South Ossetia. Their deaths were caused by an explosion which was the result of a car exploding that the soldiers had confiscated from a buffer zone and brought to their headquarters. The Times said that they it was the Nabarkhevi checkpoint which was dismantled on Sunday. They other two other checkpoints being dismantled were located by South Ossetia and near Zugdidi, outside Abkhazia.

Hansjörg Haber, head of the European Union which is overseeing the mission says he is “confident that the Russian side will respect its commitment to withdraw forces� by the Oct.10 date.

September 30, 2008

Car Bomb Kills 5 in Lebanon

More deaths occurred Monday in Lebanon. During morning rush hour a car bomb detonated in Tripoli. A bus holding Lebanese military drove by just as the car detonated, and caused the death of four soldiers and one civilian on the bus according to The New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the car bomb wounded 25 people total. Of this total, only three were not soldiers. This was second attack on troops in Northern Lebanon in less than two months. No one was named for the attack, but blame was quickly place on Fatah Islam, who was also blamed for the previous attach on the military. Fatah Islam is a militant group who battled the Lebanese military last year at a place not to far from Tripoli. Just last week the United States aided the nation with $400 million of military assistance. Timur Goksel, a professor at the University of Beirut and former senior official with the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, predicts more attacks of the same nature in the near future. But a person from the fundamentalist Salafi Sunni movement in northern Lebanon disagrees and thinks that bomb was a result of people from outside of Lebanon.

The New York Times reports that the bomb wounded 17 people. The car from which the bomb was detonated ended up shriveling and blacked while the bus that drove by as the bomb went off “was badly damaged but not destroyed.�

“This is a direct targeting of the military institution,� said Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a Tripoli politician. (The New York Times)

The New York Times also mentions that this attack was the second of its kind in a little over a month. The targets of the pervious attack were also soldiers of the Lebanon military, on their way to work, while they were riding a packed bus.

This bombing in Lebanon occurred just two days after a bombing in Syria which killed 17 people. The car caring the bomb in Syria was from out of country and suspected to have come from a surrounding Arab nation. Tensions have run high between the two nations since Syria was suspected to have played a part in the assignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. (The New York Times)

“Northern Lebanon has become a real base for extremism and constitutes a danger for Syria,� said Syria’s president. (The New York Times)

September 21, 2008

Israel's Prime Minister Resigns

Change is coming for Isreal. The nation’s Prime Mister, Ehud Olmert, handed in his letter of resignation Sunday in Israel. Olmert reading his letter of resignation to President Shimon Peres was broadcasted via Channel 10 TV in the nation Sunday evening according to the Los Angeles Times.

His choice to step-down was not surprising as he had already informed his Cabinet of his decision which resulted from several corruption cases against him.

Though Olmert has formally resigned, he will stay in office until a new government is approved by parliament The New York Times reports. Female Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni immediately began the task of forming a new government, which she has 42 days to do, once Olmert resigned. She is thought to be the next prime minister as every other politician who has needed to select a new government has succeeded the position. She will be only the second female prime minister if she gets the position. Livni’s popularity resides in her support of peace deals with the Palestinians and Syria. However, Olmert also vowed to work on peace as he holds the office in the interim. But, as a politician with little support, his approval ratings are in the single digits, no one wants him to be the one to set out peace agreements. These peace agreements are important because back in November, at a U.S.-sponsored peace conference, a target date of January had been set for establishing a peace treaty with the Palestinians. The problem is that Livni wants to deal with peace agreements though negotiations and making concessions. Peace talks could be halted altogether if she can’t form a coalition which would result in needing elections, and not have a new government until spring.

Livni won the election on Thursday to succeed Olmert as the Kadima Party head leader. But she only won her Kadima primary by a slim margin, and her party only hold 29 of the 120 seats in Parliament, making it ever important that her party stay together so as to not affect her efforts of forming a majority coalition.

September 14, 2008

Plane Crash in Russia Kills All Onboard

A plane crash on Sunday in Russia left all 88 onboard the fight dead. The plane lost contact with ground control at about 3,600 feet. The plane hit the ground at a 30 to 40 degree angle.

The crash occurred in the small city of Perm, where it hit a section of the railroad in the city.

According to The New York Times the plane carried 20 foreigners, seven children, and six crew members. The reason of the crash is yet to be identified. The pilot of the plane did not have a clean record. Arrested about a month prior, he was to be charged with violation of the safety regulations.

Yahoo! News reported six children under the age of 10 onboard the flight. It listed citizens from the countries of Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine all among the dead foreigners. According to the article, the engine of the plane caught on fire and fell to ground as it burned. It also mentions engine failure as the most likely of reason for the crash, and also notes that the plane experienced “‘difficult weather conditions’ — including low cloud cover and rain� around 3,600 feet where it lost connection with the ground dispatchers. The site showed the crash “apparently was connected to technical failure and a fire in the right engine,� the ITAR-Tass said. Someone found the recorders of the plane, but it will take weeks to analyze them. The crash of the plane occurred very near some homes, but no one who lived by was hurt, though some could feel the ground shake when the crash happened. “I felt an explosion, it threw me off the bed,� a woman from the city of Perm said. To help indentify the dead, relatives are asked to provide DNA samples.

This is the second former Soviet Union plane crash in the last month. The other crash also involved a Boeing 737 in which 68 of the 90 passengers died. That plane, which was headed to Iran, crashed just after lift off in Kyrgyzstan. The Russian airlines are not well regarded by the International Air Transport Association, The New York Times reports. This is attributed to cost-cutting and poor regulation and training of the nation’s airlines.