Recently in International News Category

By Kelsey Lund

Laos met with three other countries sharing the lower portion of the Mekong River seeking their approval for a proposed $3.8 billion Mekong River dam project that environmentalists say threatens food security, fisheries and farmland, Reuters reported.

The four countries, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, could not agree about the construction of the first dam in the lower Mekong region, Reuters reported.

About 60 million people rely on the lower Mekong River for food, water and transportation, and environmentalists fear these people's lives could be threatened by the dam, Bloomberg reported.

The four countries had to meet based on a 1995 agreement stating the countries must consult one another before building power plants on the Mekong River, Bloomberg reported.

Laos still has the final say in building the dam, which has the potential to push some fish into extinction, relocate villages, and cost the agriculture industry of Thailand and Laos $500 million per year, Reuters reported.

By Kelsey Lund

A woman in a shopping center near Paris was the first person to be fined for wearing an Islamic veil that covered her face on Monday after the new French law banning face coverings went into effect, BBC reported.

The 28-year-old woman was given a 150 euro fine with one month to pay, the Guardian reported.

The law bans face coverings in public places, including on the street, in shops, and on public transportation, BBC said.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, was the main supporter of the new law, hoping to boost his record low poll ratings before the next election by winning over more conservative voters, the Guardian said.

The French government defends the law saying a face covering gives its wearer inferior status in France, BBC said. The law has resulted in an outcry from some Muslims and libertarians, BBC reported.

Fatal U.N. Plane Crash in Congo Kills 32

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By Kelsey Lund

A United Nations plane crashed while landing at Kinshasa airport in Congo on Monday, killing 32 of 33 people on board, BBC reported.

The plane was landing in heavy rain and wind when it broke in two and caught on fire, the New York Times reported. The cause of the crash is unknown, the New York Times said.

The plane was flying from Kisangani, Congo with 20 UN workers, as well as Congolese and foreign passengers and a Georgian crew aboard, BBC reported.

The United Nations has yet to identify the lone survivor, BBC reported.

Airplanes are not well maintained in Congo and crash often, according to the New York Times.

Severe flooding in Thailand leaves at least 21 dead

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By Kelsey Lund

Thousands are stranded in Thai resorts because of floods in the southern part of the country that have already left at least 21 people dead, according to BBC.

Surat Thani, a southern province, received 34 inches of rain from Saturday to Wednesday, up from the 2 inches it normally receives in March, CNN reported.

The flash floods have affected over 716,000 people, CNN said.

The Thai navy evacuated 1,200 tourists vacationing on the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, BBC reported.

About 13,000 tourists are stranded on the island of Koh Samui alone, where food and fuel rations are running out, BBC reported.

Myanmar hit by two earthquakes

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By Kelsey Lund

Two 7.0 magnitude earthquakes struck northeast Myanmar on Thursday, BBC reported.

The earthquakes were near the Thailand and Laos borders and were felt as far away as Bangkok, the New York Times reported.

The first earthquake was only 6.2 miles deep, having the potential to cause major damage, the New York Times said. However, no major damage has been reported yet, the New York Times reported.

The epicenter of the quakes was in a remote area with a low population, BBC reported.

Egyptian women's rights protest turned violent

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By Kelsey Lund

Hundreds of Egyptian women protested for equal rights in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, and were shoved and shouted at by crowds of men, the Associated Press reported.

The pro-women demonstrators were celebrating International Women's Day, marching against sexual harassment and patriarchal control in Egypt, CNN International reported.

"Men are men and women are women and that will never change and go home, that's where you belong," some of the men shouted at the demonstrators, according to CNN International.

Some of the men verbally abused, groped, and beat the protesters, eventually chasing them out of Tahrir Square, the AP reported.

"I thought we were going to be celebrated as women of the revolution because we were present during the days of Tahrir," Passant Rabie, 23, said in the AP. "Unless women are included now, we are going to be oppressed."

By Kelsey Lund

Pirates seized a sailing boat in the Indian Ocean with four Danish adults and three children aboard on Thursday, Denmark's government confirmed Monday in the Associated Press.

The Danish couple, their children, and two Danish crew members sent out a distress signal Thursday, and their ship was confirmed hijacked by the Danish foreign ministry Monday, BBC said.

The three children, aged 12-16, are the first known children seized by pirates, the AP said.

Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said the Danish government was doing "everything in our power" to help the hostages, BBC said.

The pirates were said to be sailing to Somalia, BBC said.

Somali pirates recently killed four Americans earlier in February when the US Navy tried to rescue them, BBC said.

By Kelsey Lund

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand's second largest city Tuesday afternoon, claiming 65 lives and leaving up to 200 people trapped in collapsed buildings, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Rescuers searched through the night in Christchurch to get to the more than 100 people said to be trapped in the rubble, BBC said. The Sydney Morning Herald reported rescuers were able to save 120 trapped people in the night.

The quake was deemed the country's worst natural disaster in 80 years, and a state of emergency has been declared, BBC said.

The city center was evacuated and broken water mains have flooded districts, BBC reported.

Christchurch suffered another major earthquake on Sept.4 when a 7.1-magnitude quake damaged the city, but with no fatalities, BBC said. The damage of the earthquake Tuesday is said to be more damaging than the previous quake because the epicenter was closer to the city and only 3.1 miles deep, BBC said.

"It's a nightmare. A lot of people were just getting back on their feet after the original quake," Kevin Fenaughty, manager of the data center at the Institute of Geological Nuclear Sciences, said in the Sydney Morning Herald.

12 tourists dead after Vietnamese tour boat sinks

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By Kelsey Lund

Tourists from nine different countries, including two Americans, died when a tour boat sank in Vietnam's Ha Long Bay Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported.

The boat was anchored around 5 a.m. when survivors said a wooden plank on the ship broke off and water flooded in, the AP said.

There were 27 passengers on the boat, including six crew members, when it sank, the AP said. The nine foreigners and six locals who survived jumped into the water and were taken in by nearby tour boats, the AP reported.

The 12 who died were in their cabins when the boat went down, the AP reported.

"Crew members tried to stop the water from coming in and alerted the tourists who were sleeping, but the water came in and the boat sank quickly," Vu Van Thin, chief administrator of Quang Ninh province said in the AP.

The victims were from Britain, the U.S., Australia, Japan, Russia, France, Sweden and Switzerland, BBC said.

A local government official said the cause of the accident was unknown, BBC reported.

Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam's top tourist destinations, BBC said. Many tourists come to see the hundreds of tiny islands for overnight trips aboard wooden ships, the AP reported.

Mexico court denies French kidnapper's appeal

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By Kelsey Lund

A Mexican appeals court upheld their conviction of a French kidnapper Thursday, renewing tensions between the two nations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Florence Cassez, 36, was arrested for three kidnappings in 2005, and later convicted in 2009, although she and many people in France argue she was innocent, BBC said.

"This decision will affect our bilateral relations," French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said in the Wall Street Journal.

In the appeal hearing, Cassez's defense lawyers argued she was shown as guilty in the media before her trial began, BBC said. Her lawyers also said the kidnap victims' testimonies identifying Cassez were invalid, since they saw the media coverage of Cassez before the trial, the Wall Street Journal said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked that Cassez be allowed to serve her sentence in France, but was denied, BBC said.

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