December 8, 2008

Trash cans burned feverishly into the night as riot police threw tear gas into crowds of rioting young people.

Youth in Athens, Greece continued a second day of rioting in response to the death of a 15-year-old boy at the hands of Athens authorities, according to the New York Times.

Officials were optimistic that the rioting was quelled on Saturday.

"It at first seemed like it was calming down today, but then at 5 p.m. Athens time it kicked off again," according to Joel Brown, a CNN senior press officer visiting Athens. "There are lots of burning bins and debris in the street and a huge amount of tear gas in the air, which we got choked with on the way back to our hotel," he said.

CNN reports, that the officer responsible with the 15year-old's death has been charged with premeditated murder, but that the action has failed to stop the rioting.

The Greek government has grown accustomed to displeasure of the ruling class among the young people of Greece. However, according to the New York Times, the speed and ferocity of the rioting in this instance has taken Greek officials by surprise.

Rioters have used additional media outlets, such as the internet, to organize and coordinate the ritoing, which has involved car burnings and building intrusions.

Ironically, the boy whom the officer is responsible for killing and serves as the catalyst for the current rioting, was shot after a number of demonstrators pelted police vehicles with rocks, the boy included.

Far from warranting the attacks, Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stated that a backlash is to be expected.

“It is inconceivable for there not to be punishment when a person, let alone a minor, loses their life.? He added: “The loss of life is something that is inconceivable in a democracy.?

November 19, 2008

Al-Queda No. 2 Attacks President-Elect

According to USA Today, an 11-minute video released Wednesday on Al-Jazzera television, shows a subtitled message from Al-Queda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, where he addresses the election of Barack Obama to the highest government post, referring to Obama as a "house slave" for white hegemony.

The video makes reference to the Nov. 5th U.S. bombing in Pakistan, which gives a loose timetable for the messages creation. The fact that the video was just released, almost two weeks since the election, has many critics speculating that Al-Queda fear that Obama will be viewed positively by less radical muslims (Obama's father was Muslim).

As reported by the Washington Post :"Zawahiri and others in al-Qaeda recognize that Obama has a certain appeal, not just to Americans but to people in the developing world," said Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism analyst and senior investigator for the Nine/Eleven Finding Answers Foundation. "They feel a need to dampen this sense and enthusiasm and excitement for Obama."

Zawahiri, 57, continued to berate Obama and other African figures in U.S. government, including Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice, with negative comparisons to bygone Muslim figure, Malcolm X. Stating that Obama, and others like him, represent essentially what Malcolm X meant when he coined "house negro."

Additionally, Zawahiri stated that Obama's presidential victory represents the failures of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, to date. He continues by backhandedly goading Obama to continue similar foreign policy in the wake of America's middle-east mistakes.

"If you still want to be stubborn about America's failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them," Zawahiri said, referring to the former president of Pakistan, who resigned under pressure this year. "And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them."

Obama has made it evident that he fully intends to transfer forces from Iraq and put more pressure on the Al-Queda factions within Pakistan, where it is believed that Zawahiri is hiding.

November 11, 2008

Mexican President names new Interior Minister

Mexican President Felipe Calderon appointed a new Interior Minister on Monday, just one week after former Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño was killed in an unexplained plane crash, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fernando Francisco Gomez Mont, a lawyer and former lawmaker, was sworn into the second-highest post in the Mexican government, where he is said to focus on strengthening laws to prevent drug money from entering next year's
parliamentary elections.

Mont is a member of Calderon's National Action Party, and has been an integral part of reforming Mexico's electoral laws and judicial systems.

According to the New York Times, the appointment has been received well by Calderon loyalists, but critics have cited Mont's inexperience and wonder if he is prepared to assist in the countries leadership.

Mont spoke to the media after his appointment and stated his intent to work with both sides, politically, for the betterment of Mexico.

Mont also addressed his defense of a number of controversial clients while he worked as a defense lawyer, stating that he acted professionally without the use of unacceptable tactics.,0,4994677.story

November 9, 2008

Rival Catholic sects brawl in holy site

Jerusalem police were forced to intervene during a ceremonial procession of rival catholic factions on Sunday, when fighting broke out in what is considered one of the holiest sites in Isreal, according to CNN.

Monks, of both Greek orthodoxy and Armenian denominations, were intersecting at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, during a ceremony when a disagreement broke out and fighting ensued.

Greek members, insisting that one of their monks be present during the ceremony, were refuted by Armenian clear. It wasn't until Greek monks blockaded the Armeninan's march to an edifice, believed to be set atop Jesus' tomb, that fighting broke out.

"We were keeping resistance so that the procession could not pass through ... and establish a right that they don't have," said a young Greek Orthodox monk, according to USAToday.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police were forced to intervene after fighting was reported. They arrested two monks, one from each side, he said.

Squabbling among monks, within the Church, is far from a rare occurence, according to Israeli police spokesman.

Disagreements over where to put a much needed fire exit and the exclusive property rights over a ladder that stands withing the church are just a few of the myriad issues.

November 3, 2008

Photos of North Korean leader surface amidst speculation of failing health

Government officials released new photos of Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on Sunday, according to CNN.

Recent speculation has been rampant with regards to Il's health. Rumors began surfacing after Kim Jong-Il was absent during national functions.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the North Korean media released the photos almost two months after the leader was believed to have suffered a stroke.

The photos were taken during a soccer match as Kim Jong-Il sat smiling wearing his trademark spectacles. The Korean government did not provide the locale or time of the photos.

Korean officials have stated that the speculation on Il's health is a Western motivated attack to discredit their leaders control over the communist nation.

The images were released on a Korean news broadcast. The narrator of that broadcast said the female soldiers' "hearts were pounding" because of Kim.

October 22, 2008

India launches unmanned lunar module

India made history on Wednesday, launching a lunar module into space, marking the nations first expedition into space, according to CNN.

The unmanned lunar module, Chandrayaan-1, was launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern India at 6:20am Wednesday morning.

CNN reports that the orbiter will conduct lunar-mapping of the moon with an emphasis on the polar regions of the moon's surface.

The spacecraft itself will not land on the moon, but will dispatch a small probe onto the moon's surface, according to the New York Times.

India's historic space mission comes about a year after China's first successful lunar mission.

Although a China-India space race has been largely downplayed, Indian officials have commented on Indian aspirations relative to their neighbor, "China has gone earlier, but today we are trying to catch them, catch that gap, bridge the gap,? Bhaskar Narayan, a director at the Indian space agency, was quoted by Reuters as having said.

Many critics have steeped forward to comment on the undertaking, citing the hefty price tag of $80 million as a misuse of national resources.

Bharat Karnad, a strategic affairs analyst, has characterized the mission as a "prestige project" which misconstrues real Indian priorities.

October 19, 2008

Taliban fighters attack, kill civilians

Taliban fighters attacked a two-bus convoy on Thursday, kidnapping and killing around 30 civilians, according to CNN.

Government officials identified the casualties as civilians, while a Taliban spokesman claimed the victims were Afghan soldiers.

The Afghan Defense Ministry Spokesman, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, said ''Our soldiers travel by military convoy, not in civilian buses. And we have military air transportation,'' Disputing the Taliban's claims, according to the New York Times.

The kidnapping occurred in a notoriously dangerous part of southern Afghanistan in the Taliban-controlled Kandahar province.

The exact number of civilians captured is highly disputed, according to the New York Times. Anywhere between 27 to 40 civilians may have been killed. While a spokesman for Kandahar's provincial governor said figures would be impossible to verify with absolute certainty.

According to CNN, Taliban officals often exaggerate or distort figures but have also often been very accurate when compared to government reports.

October 13, 2008

North Korea removed from U.S. list of 'terror' states

U.S. officials have removed North Korea from the list of international states which support terrorism, according to CNN.

The retraction from the U.S. is part of an ongoing effort to secure and legitimize a nuclear deactivation accord, which North Korea and the U.S. had previously agreed upon.

State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack explained the move on Saturday, ""Based upon the cooperation agreement North Korea has recently provided ... the secretary of state this morning rescinded the designation of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] as a state sponsor of terrorism, and that was effective as of her signature," McCormack said.

Relations between the U.S. and North Korea were strained prior, due to North Korea's efforts to reactivate nuclear arm sites and to not succumb to the full measure of the U.S.'s nuclear verification proposal.

"Every element of verification that we sought is included in this package," McCormack said at a news conference.

According to the Washington Times, the efforts by the Bush administration to secure the foreign policy agreement are being seen as a final push to secure an international victory.

Both presidential candidates have been somewhat critical of the removal of North Korea from the terrorism support states.

Senator John McCain, according to the Washington Times, stated his concern that North Korea is not serious about denuclearizing.

Senator Obama called the plan " a modest step forward" in the nuclear weapon removal of North Korea.

October 1, 2008

U.S. and North Korea disuss nucelar arms

U.S. representative Christopher Hill arrived in North Korea Wednesday for talks aimed at solidifying a disarmament proposal previously agreed upon, according to CNN.

North Korea extended an invitation to the U.S. to participate in multi-capital talks between North and South Korea, as well as Japan and China, according to CNN.

"The North Koreans invited Chris Hill to come, so we hope that there is some effort to address the verification protocol, because that's what we need," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Monday.

The main contention between the U.S. and North Korea are the terms regarding Korea's agreement to disable nuclear facilities at their Yongbyon site, according to CNN. North Korea has since taken measures to potentially reactivate their nuclear facilities, deaparting from the February 2007 agreement.

The North Korean government has requested a removal from the U.S.'s list of countries that support terrorism, while U.S. officials have stated that no such exemption can be made until Korea submits to verification measures which will ensure North Korean compliance, according to CNN.

CNN reports that North Korea feels the demands by the U..S are too intrusive.

According to the New York Times, Hill is delivering the verification measures proposal to Korean officials. Essentially requiring North Korea to allow visits to undeclared sites and provide soil samples at nuclear facilities.

A large reason for optimism is that these new measures specify that North Korea report to China and not the U.S., according to the New York Times. China is the lead nation in the multi-national disarmament talks.

According to the New York Times, with increasing suspicion that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's health is failing, it remains unclear who controls Korea's nuclear future.

September 23, 2008

Gunman kills ten at Finland School

Violence erupted Tuesday at a Finnish college, as a masked gunman opened fire on fellow students and police, killing ten before taking his own life.

Local officials identified the assailant as Matti Juhani Saari, according to CNN.

150 students were on the campus of Kauhajoki School of Hospitality in southwestern Finland when Saari began firing in a classroom just before 11:00AM. The rampage lasted nearly 90 minutes, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

According YLE, a maintenance worker at the university spotted a masked individual in black walking into the school carrying a large bag.

"I heard several dozen rounds of shots," said maintenance worker Jukka Forsberg. " In other words, it was an automatic pistol. I saw some female students who were wailing and moaning, and one managed to escape out the back door."

The horrific shooting comes just one day after authorities released Saari after disturbing videos surfaced on the internet, according to MSNBC.

Postings on the popular video sharing website YouTube showed Saari firing a handgun at a firing range. Saari's profile also contained a video tribute to the two teens responsible for the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.

Although police questioned Saari Monday, according to Interior Minister Anne Holmlund, authorities were forced to release the 22-year-old having no legal reason to hold him.

MSNBC reports that Saari walked into the school carrying a .22-caliber pistol and a bag filled with explosives, according to police spokesperson Jari Neulaniemi. Police found two handwritten messages in Saari's school dormitory saying he planned the attacks since 2002.

This is the second school massacre in Finland in less than a year, a horrific trend which was not lost on Finland's elected officials.

"We have experienced a tragic day," said Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, expressing condolences to the families of the victims Wednesday.

September 21, 2008

Tainted Chinese milk threatens lives outside of mainland

Chinese children are being increasingly affected by the national pandemic of melamine-tainted milk products throughout China.

A Hong Kong toddler has developed a kidney stone after consuming contaminated milk, according to USA Today. The toddler's illness marks the first reports of melamine illness being contracted outside of mainland China.

The tainted milk scandal continues to grow,a s it now appears, the threat has reached outside of mainland China. Additionally, due to delayed recalls and insufficient public notice, the number of children affected continues to grow.

According to USA Today, the scandal first started with complaints over the milk powder from Sanlu Group Co., as early as Aug. 8th., however, since the initial complaints, Chinese officials have found that one-fifth of the companies producing powdered baby milk use melamine in their products.

Additionally, the Chinese public was not informed of the threat until Sept. 11, over a month removed from the first complaint.

The Chinese Health Ministry announced preliminary findings Sunday, according to CNN,com, that nearly 13,000 infants and toddlers have been affected by the tainted milk. With at least four children dying as a result of the exposure to the banned chemical. The first fatality occurred on Sept. 12, according to Chinese officials.

Recently, Hong Kong's Center for Food and Safety announced that a sample of Nestle Dairy Farm Pure Milk contained traces of melamine, which is commonly found in laminates and flame retardants.

In a statement on from Nestle, the company stated that it is "confident that none of its products in China is made from milk adulterated with melamine,"

According to USA Today, the parents of the Hong Kong girl diagnosed with kidney stones took her in for a precautionary check-up after it was learned that the families' milk was, potentially, contaminated by melamine. The child is in good condition and is expected to be released from the hospital soon.

Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, made a statement during a visit to a Beijing hospital, according to USA Today, ""What we need to do now is to ensure that nothing like this happens in the future, not only in dairy products but in all food," Wen said.

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