Recently in International News Category

Two Dead And More Injured After Train Accident

Two are dead and many more are injured after a luxury train derailed near the South African capital, Pretoria, the BBC reported.

The derailment of the Rovos Rail train resulted in the death of a mother and her baby born shortly after the accident. At least 25 people are injured.

"It's absolute carnage," Chris Botha, an emergency worker, said, the BBC reported.

Crew members advised riders to jump off the moving train when they realized the brakes did not work, USA Today said.

Forty-four of the passengers were American, four each were from France, South Africa, and Britain, and three were from Germany, for a total of 59 passengers, USA Today said.

Indian Stampede Leaves Five Dead

Five people died in a stampede during the Maha Kumbh festival as hundreds of thousands gathered to bathe in the Ganges River, the BBC reported.

It is unclear what caused the stampede on Wednesday in the northern Indian city of Hardiwar. Eyewitnesses said a clash between Hindu holy men and devotees triggered the stampede, but an official said the stampede followed a car accident, the BBC said.

At least 15 other people reported injuries as a result of the stampede.

Wednesday was the "main royal bathing day" of the Maha Kumbh, a religious festival held every 12 years, with smaller festivals held every three years, the BBC and Irish Examiner reported.

Eyewitnesses said the stampede followed a clash between the "naga sadhus," or naked holy men, and devotees, the BBC reported.

Violence Prompts Doctors To Strike

Doctors in the southern state of Edo went on strike and refused to work after a colleague was kidnapped by unknown gunmen, the BBC said

More than 50 doctors from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital will not return to work until their colleague, the director of the hospital, is found and released, Reuters reported.

Gunmen abducted the director of the hospital while he was on his way home from work, the BBC said.

This is not the first time doctors have been angry about a lack of security in Edo state Dr. Osahun Enabulele, a spokesman for the Nigerian Medical Association, told the BBC. In 2009, doctors staged a demonstration after five coworkers were kidnapped.

Doctors are only treating emergency cases, but Anselm Ojezua, spokesman for the Edo state government, has appealed to doctors to return to work for the sake of the patients, Reuters said.

Ojezua said the government is working with security to ensure the release of the captured director.

Circulation of racist, homophobic, and pornographic e-mails Thursday has prompted an investigation of as many as 100 Australian police officers and led to the death of another, the Times said.

The e-mails, which circulated in the internal police e-mail system in the state of Victoria, were too shocking to be released, Simon Overland, police commissioner of Victoria, said. Those who introduced the material will be fired, NDTV reported.

Tony Vangorp, 47, shot himself Monday night at the police station. Vangorp, an officer for 30 years, faced potential job loss as a result of the e-mails, NDTV reported.

"There are a large number of police involved. I guess there are different degrees of seriousness, but it was quite widespread," Overland said. "If the public were aware of the nature of that material I believe that it would cause significant concern within the community," the Times reported.

The center of the investigation focused on one e-mail in which a non-Caucasian man was being tortured. Overland said the e-mails raised questions about the suitability of some individuals to continue with the Victoria police.

News of the offensive e-mails comes shortly after Indian and African groups criticized the police for being racist, the Times said.

"There is a culture of racism within the Victorian police force," Helen Yandell, director of the Springvale Monash Legal service told the Times. "It is an issue that needs to be addressed. I'm pleased that the police are taking such quick action on these e-mails."

While Overland acknowledged the death of Vangorp was unfortunate, he defended his handling of the situation.

"How can a community have confidence in this organisation if we allow racist, sexist, pornographic, inappropriate material to circulate freely?" Overland said to the Times. "We can't do it."

Fashion TV Banned In India

Indian officials banned Fashion TV for 10 days after discovering the station aired a show with partially nude women, the BBC reported.

The program, which aired in September 2009 and showed women with nude upper bodies, offended good taste and decency, officials said.

"The visuals were found to be obscene, denigrating women and were not suitable for children and unrestricted public exhibition," the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said in a statement, the BBC reported.

According to the statement, the ban started Thursday and will last until March 21.

Officials previously banned FTV for two months in 2007 after scantily clad models were shown on the "Midnight Hot" show, MSN reported. The suspension was revoked less than a month later after FTV issued an apology and promised not to show similar material again, MSN said.

Swiss To Vote On Animal Lawyers

Swiss voters voted against the proposal to appoint animals state-funded lawyers in court Sunday, the BBC reported.

Swiss voters will decide Sunday if state-funded lawyers will be appointed to represent animals in cases of animal cruelty, the BBC said.

With 1,000 signatures, Swiss Animal Protection pushed the issue to a national vote, the Star Tribune reported.

The Swiss government recommends voters reject the proposal because strict animal protection laws are already in place, the Star Tribune reported.

Supporters argue that animal lawyers would help deter violators of animal cruelty laws by ensuring they receive punishment, the BBC said.

"At the moment even if there are court cases the fines are tiny, laughably small," Marlies Widmer, a woman who runs a home for neglected animals said. "They don't deter people at all."

However Swiss farmers are worried that animal lawyers will cause unnecessary and costly court cases, the BBC reported.

"You know as a farmer I have always thought of an animal's welfare and dignity as an integral part of my job," Hans Staub, a dairy farmer said. "But animal lawyers, no, farmers won't vote for that," the BBC reported.

Psychological Violence May Be A Crime In France

The National French Assembly added a clause to a proposed law that will make psychological violence a crime, the New York Times reported.

The clause is part of a greater law addressing conjugal violence. The proposed law is expected to pass easily with support from both the left and right in France, the BBC said.

According to the proposed law, repeated actions and words that damage and affect the victim's life conditions, rights, dignity, physical health, or mental health, would be punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $103,000, the New York Times said.

Some legal officials have questioned the practicality and ambiguity of the law however.

Criminal law, "is not the solution for every human behavior," Christophe Vivet, vice prosecutor for Grenable and member of the main union for magistrates said.

The clause about psychological violence was added because it is often seen as a precursor to physical violence.

Each year 160 women are murdered in France by their partners and husbands, or roughly three women a week. These numbers do not include women driven to suicide, the BBC reported.

The proposed law also includes a clause requiring men, who under court orders to stay away from their partners, to wear electronic bracelets. The bracelets would alert police if the men broke the court order, the BBC said.

Canadian Students Rescued Off The Coast of Rio De Janeiro

After surviving 16 hours on life rafts off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, 64 students and crew members were rescued by the Brazilian navy and merchant ships, the Wall Street Journal said.

The three-masted SV Concordia sent out a distress signal Thursday at 5 p.m., 300 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The 64 people were rescued Friday morning between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., the Guardian said.

Only one person, a doctor, was injured before the rescue. Of the 64 rescued, 48 were students.

A Brazilian air force plane spotted the life rafts after receiving the distress call. Edgardo Ybranez, captain of the Philippine flagged Hokuetsu Delight cargo ship, rescued 44 people in rafts, while another ship rescued the remaining people.

"You can tell their parents that everything is ok," Ybranez told the Guardian. "Everybody aboard my ship is fine."

The navy transferred the rescued passengers to two of their own ships using helicopters. The ships are set to arrive in Rio de Janeiro around 9 a.m. Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The students on the SV Concordia, high school juniors and seniors, and college freshmen, were participating in a program that allowed them to study while sailing around the world, the Guardian said.
The Brazilian navy said the SV Concordia had sunk and that the ship had encountered strong winds and rough seas, the Guardian said.

New "Shock Order" Policy Affects Rio's Beaches

Rio de Janeiro's new "shock order" policy, aimed at restoring safety and sanitation to the city's beaches, has been met with mixed reviews, the New York Times reports.

Many residents are worried that the policy will destroy the traditions, spontaneity, and soul the city's beaches are built on, the Brisbane Times reports.

The policy, enforced by new Mayor Eduardo Paes and Public Order Secretary Rodrigo Bethlam, comes as the city prepares to host two major world events in the upcoming seven years.

"You can't think of hosting a World Cup in 2014 and an Olympics in 2016 and not have a city that is ready to abide minimally by its own rules," Bethlam said, reported the New York Times.

However, as things such as ball games and food on skewers are banned, some beach-goers are concerned.

"It's ridiculous," Victor Javier said when two city guards refused to let him continue his soccer game on the beach, the Brisbane Times reported.

The new policy also threatens the informal economy that takes place on the beach.

"We are a struggling people from the slums of Rio, and these jobs are a means of survival for all of us," Edivan Brito do Nascimento said, who sells lemonade and mate on Ipanema beach, the New York Times reported.

Despite the changes, some residents welcome the new order on the beaches.

"I have never seen the beach here so clean and orderly," Luis Fernando Bensimon, 45, a Rio native told the New York Times. "It has improved a lot."

Five of the ten Americans charged with illegally trying to remove children from Haiti have pleaded their case to a Haitian judge on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.

Haitian authorities arrested 10 Idaho missionaries on Friday after they attempted to cross into the Dominican Republic with 33 children they claimed were orphaned by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The remaining five Americans will plead their case on Wednesday.

The Americans did not have the proper paperwork documenting the children as orphans or allowing them to remove the children from the country, the New York Times said.

Some of the children were not orphans and had parents, ABC reported.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, quickly pinned the missionaries as kidnappers, but said later that they might have been misguided while acting in good faith, the New York Times said.

All 10 Americans were quick to deny any kidnapping allegations and insisted they wanted to help children orphaned by the earthquake, the New York Times reported.

Haitian police have reported that several parents, such as Lely Laurentus who gave his two daughters to the missionaries, agreed to give their children to the Americans in hopes that they would receive an education and live a better life, the New York Times reported.

The earthquake separated many families and Haitian authorities are worried that children are more vulnerable to child traffickers now.

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