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December 11, 2008

70-year-old East Indian woman gives birth

The Star Tribune reported Tuesday that a New Delhi woman gave birth to her first child at the age of 70.
The mother is Rajo Devi who delivered a baby girl by Caesarean on Nov. 28 (Star Tribune and New York Times Magazine).
“We longed for a child all these years and now we are very happy to have one,� Devi told the The Hindustan Times.
Devi and her husband of 50 years have been trying to have a baby but never having success; she entered menopause 20 years ago (NY Times Magazine).
The Hindustan Times reports Devi as the oldest woman to ever give birth, the former title holder being Adriana Iliescu, a Romanian give birth at the age of 67 in 2006. (The Star Tribune reported that Iliescu was 66 and gave birth in 2005 rather than 2006).The Star Tribune reported that it is difficult to confirm that Devi is the oldest woman to give birth because Devi does not have a birth certificate.
The baby was conceived through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): a donor egg that was injected with Devi’s 72-year-old husband’s sperm (NY Times Magazine).
“Rajo Devi and Bala Ram approached the Centre for treatment and the embryo transfer was done on April 19. The baby girl was born on November 28. Both the mother and child are in good health,� Dr Anurag Bishnoi said (Hindustan Times).

December 6, 2008

Icelanders protest banks

The Star Tribune reported that Icelanders stormed the central bank on Monday to demand the ouster of bankers and several hundred they blame for the Iceland’s economic meltdown.
The banks and currency have collapsed while prices and unemployment rise (Star Tribune). CNN Money reported that the cause of the country’s economic meltdown was that Iceland’s three main private sector banks had become so large that their assets amounted to more than ten times the gross domestic product of the country and the stock market has lost 90% of its value.
"The government played roulette and the whole nation has lost," writer Einar Mar Gudmundsson told an anti-government rally of several thousand people in downtown Reykjavik (Star Tribune).
After the rally, protesters went to the central bank and demanded the firing of its chief, David Oddsson (Star Tribune). The rally was held inside the bank's lobby; the protesters sang songs and chanted "Out with David" and "Power to the People." The protest ended when police and protesters agreed to withdraw (Star Tribune).
Iceland, after failing to receive help from allies, turned to Russia for help. "We knew that talking to them would create a shock, and that was partly the point," says a senior Icelander involved in the demarche (CNN Money).
"Of course we would not have accepted any political strings," Prime Minister Geir Haarde tells Fortune. "This loan would not have indicated any change in our foreign or security policy." (CNN Money).
Haarde said on Saturday that Iceland's economy would get even worse next year, with a "severe drop" in GDP and rising unemployment (Star Tribune).

November 30, 2008

Thailand cabinet imposes state of emergency at two airports

The Associated Press reported that the Thailand Cabinet was weighing whether to impose a state of emergency Thursday to try to end airport protests that have left thousands of travelers stranded for two straight days. MSNBC confirmed that Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a state of emergency on Thursday.
MSNBC reported that Deputy Agriculture Minister Thirachai Sankaew said police would be in charge of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports blockaded by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). "The cabinet agreed to use the emergency decree at the two airports to bring the situation back to normal," Sankaew said.
The state of emergency comes after protesters occupied Bangkok's international airport since Tuesday night and demanded the resignation of the prime minister, forcing the cancellation of all flights. On Thursday, they also forced the domestic airport to close in a bid to prevent government ministers from getting to the cabinet meeting (AP).
The PAD refuses to end their protests. "We will not leave. We will use human shields against the police if they try to disperse us," PAD leader Suriyasai Katasila said (MSNBC).
The Associated Press reported that thousands of foreign tourists have been stranded, including Americans heading home for Thanksgiving.
MSNBC reported on Sunday that the protesters set off explosions wounding 51 people.Thousands of government supporters wearing red shirts, headbands and bandanas joined Sunday's rally against the protest alliance (MSNBC).

November 20, 2008

Knife attacks in Japan may be linked to lost pension records

The Star Tribune reported that bureaucrats in Japan losing millions of government pension records may be tied to the stabbings taking place this week.
"It is not clear that the two cases are somewhat linked or not linked," Prime Minister Taro Aso said. "I'd like to pray for the souls of the dead people and recovery of the injured." (CNN).
Former Vice Health Minister, in the pension division, Takehiko Yamaguchi, 66, and his wife Michiko Yamaguchi, 61, were found dead on Tuesday at their home (CNN). The Star Tribune reported that Yamaguchi was head when the national pension system underwent a major record-keeping overhaul in 1985.
Also on Tuesday, the wife of a former pension bureaucrat was stabbed in the chest in her home. The woman was 72-year-old Yasuko Yoshihara, whose husband is Kenji Yoshihara, 76; the wife said that the man who stabbed her said he worked for a parcel delivery service (Star Tribune). CNN reported that the man posed as a parcel delivery serviceman and then attacked her. Authorities said the wife is in the hospital and is in serious condition (CNN).
Both Takehiko Yamaguchi and Kenji Yoshihara are credited with crafting the current framework of Japan's financially troubled pension system, which is on the verge of collapsing (CNN). The Star Tribune reported that Kenji Yoshihara's job in the mid-1980s coincided with the mistakes in computerization of Japan's pension records.
Japanese security is now being tightened around other officials, including the Prime Minister (CNN).

November 14, 2008

New pyramid in Egypt discovered

The Star Tribune reported that archeologists discovered a new pyramid in Egypt Tuesday that is believed to be 4,300 years old.
The pyramid was discovered under the sands of Saqqara which is an ancient burial site; the pyramid is believed to have belonged to Queen Sesheshet, the queen mother of the founder of Egypt's 6th Dynasty (Star Tribune).
"I always say you never know what the sands of Egypt might hide," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (National Geographic).
The Star Tribune reported that the pyramid is now 16 feet tall that was been buried under 65 feet of sand. National Geographic reports that the pyramid was once five stories tall (they also reported that remained was buried 23 feet under sand).
Hawass’ team had been excavating at the site for two years, but only determined two months ago that the structure was the base of a pyramid (Star Tribune).
"This might be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," Hawass said (National Geographic).
Based on an angle on the pyramid base, Hawass’ team determined that the pyramid was originally 46 feet tall and about 72 feet square at its base (National Geographic).
"One hundred years ago they used to take sand and put it in unexcavated areas," Hawass said. "The archaeologists in the past used this area as a location for the sand. No one could think there is anything here." (National Geographic).
Archeologists discovered a shaft that they believe gave access to tomb robbers; because of the robberies, archeologists do not expect to find Sesheshet's mummy when they reach the burial chamber weeks from now (National Geographic).
"To find a new pyramid is always exciting," Hawass said. "And this one is magical. It belonged to a queen." (Star Tribune).

November 8, 2008

School in Haiti collapses

MSNBC reported that a K-12 school in Haiti collapsed on Friday, killing at least 75 people.
“You could feel the pain and the anger around; you could hear the mothers crying,� Haitian construction worker Joseph Jules, 34, said (BBC).
Jules said it was difficult to use shovels or any other equipment to help the people under the rubble because they did not want to cause more collapses. “Everyone felt so frustrated not being able to help. We're all human,� he said. “And all we could use was our hands.� (BBC).
Authorities said the three-story school holds about 500 students normally (MSNBC). Others involved in the rescue are Red Cross workers, U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian authorities; similar to what Jules said, rescuers had to work with their hands to find victims because they were unable to get heavy equipment through the crowds and to the scene (MSNBC).
Neighbors suspected the building was poorly rebuilt after it partially collapsed eight years ago, said Jimmy Germain, a French teacher at the school (MSNBC).
Jules said in the area where the school was built, the government had banned any building and it should have never been built there in the first place. “You know when you build a house out of a deck of cards and then if the wind blows, all the cards come falling down? That's what I would compare it to.� (BBC).
Police commissioner Francene Moreau says the minister who runs the church-operated school could face criminal charges (MSNBC).
MSNBC that thousands of bystanders watched as rescuers searched for victims, and every time they retracted a live person, the bystanders cheered with joy.
The Dominican Republic, who shares the island with Haiti, sent its own helicopters to help the rescue effort (MSNBC).
“We rescued a couple but a lot were already dead. There was a lot of death,� Jules said (BBC).

November 1, 2008

Earthquake in Pakistan claims a rising number of lives

MSNBC reported on Oct. 29 that at least 170 people were killed in the 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan on Wednesday. CNN reported on Friday that the death toll was 215, and that officials predict the toll will rise to at least 300.
"I have lost everything," said Haji Shahbaz, who lost 17 relatives in Wam, a hard-hit village. "Nothing is left here, and now life is worthless for me," he said crying (MSNBC).
The earthquake hit in a remote area called Balochistan, where 10,000 and 15,000 people homeless lived (CNN). MSNBC reported that the area is a poor region, having homes that are made of mud brick and timber, which collapsed easily by the earthquake.
CNN reported that the earthquake caused a landslide that buried dozens of homes.
"There are some villages completely destroyed. There is a lot of destruction," said the province's Deputy Director of Public Safety Mohammad Ali (CNN).
"We were awoken with a big thundering noise and a tremor and we came out of our home and started reciting prayers," said Malik Abdul Hasmat, a 35-year-old teacher. "We went back inside because of the cold and then came the second and bigger jerk and all the homes collapsed." (MSNBC).
MSNBC reported that the worst-hit area was the Ziarat valley, where hundreds of houses were destroyed in at least eight villages, including some buried in landslides.
"I rushed toward them but the roof of my own room collapsed and the main iron support hit me," Raz Mohammed said. "That thing broke my back and I am in severe pain, but thank God my children and relatives are safe." (MSNBC)

October 25, 2008

Mayor killed in explosion in Georgian village

The Star Tribune reported that two people died in an explosion in the country of Georgia, including Mayor Gia Mebonia; the other person was a villager.
Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said authorities found an antenna near the blast site and suspect the explosives were detonated by remote control (Star Tribune).
A ministry spokesman blamed Abkhaz separatists and their Russian backers (BBC News). "We are working now only on one version and this is the Abkhaz and the Russians," Utiashvili said. "Nobody else." (Star Tribune).
Some villagers said the explosion had not been detonated by remote control. They said it was caused by a projectile fired from inside the separatist border (Star Tribune).
"Something was launched in our direction," said local policeman Gia Pipia. "We were all gathered together and then shots came from the Russian side." (Star Tribune).
The Mayor had been inspecting a house that was damaged by shelling Friday night before when the explosion took place (BBC).
The BBC reported that at least two other people were injured in the explosion, including the home owner.
The Star Tribune reported that Georgia had accused Russian-backed separatists Friday of blowing up bridges connecting Abkhazia to Georgia proper.
Fighting between Russia and Georgia began Aug. 7 when Georgia tried to retake South Ossetia by force (BBC).

October 19, 2008

Canada bans baby bottles due to chemicals found

Canwest News Service reported that Canada will be the first country to declare bisphenol A (BPA) a hazardous chemical prompting them to ban baby bottles Saturday that contain this chemical.
"There's new science coming out on a weekly basis pointing to this chemical being a health concern for adults,� Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence said. “Baby bottles are a good start, but the government now needs to take a look at getting this chemical out of the lining in cans." (Canwest)
The Star Tribune reported that the chemical is also commonly used in the lining of food cans, eyeglass lenses and hundreds of household items. Canwest also added that plastic sports bottles contain BPA.
"Today's confirmation of our ban on BPA in baby bottles proves that our government did the right thing in taking action to protect the health and environment for all Canadians," Environment Minister John Baird said (Star Tribune).
Canada’s declaration of BPA being removed from baby bottles came six months after Health Minister Tony Clement announced the government’s plan to put BPA on the dangerous chemicals list (Canwest).
BPA is put into baby bottles to harden the plastic and keep the bottles from shattering (Star Tribune).
The European Union and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say the chemical is safe however (Star Tribune).
BPA is thought to cause hormonal problems as well as reproductive problems (Star Tribune).

October 11, 2008

North Korea off United States’ terror list

MSNBC reported that North Korea agreed to all U.S. nuclear inspection demands which motivated the Bush administration to remove the communist country from a terrorism blacklist on Saturday.
North Korea will allow investigators to search, take samples, and conduct forensic tests at both declared and undeclared nuclear facilities (MSNBC).
"Verifying North Korea's nuclear proliferation will be a serious challenge. This is most is the most secret and opaque regime in the entire world," said Patricia McNerney, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation (MSNBC).
"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," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said (CNN).
Tokyo had balked at the move because North Korea has not resolved issues related to its abduction of Japanese citizens (MSNBC). North Korea abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s (CNN).
President Bush spoke Saturday morning with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, telling him that the United States "will never forget the abduction of Japanese citizens by the North Koreans," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said (CNN).
Republicans have stated their disappointment with the new agreement. "Given the regime's decision to restart its plutonium reactor at Yongbyon and actions barring access to the site by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is clear that North Korea has no intention of meeting its commitment to end its nuclear program," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (CNN).
Sen. John McCain said Friday, "I expect the administration to explain exactly how this new verification agreement advances American interests and those of our allies before I will be able to support any decision to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism," (MSNBC).
North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, was branded as part of an "axis of evil" by Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks (MSNBC).

October 3, 2008

Dangerous stampede in Indian temple claims many lives

MSNBC reported that a stampede of people into a Hindu temple in India on Tuesday claimed more than 200 lives.
The Star Tribune reported on Thursday that the death toll had risen to 224. The temple doors opened at dawn on Tuesday to 12,000 people who were attending a Hindu festival (MSNBC).
Mahendra Singh Nagar, head of a private trust that oversees the temples operations, said that a group of 200 pilgrims tried to get ahead of everyone causing some people to fall down the narrow 1.35-mile path to the temple (Star Tribune). The floors were also slippery because thousands of devotees broke coconuts as religious offerings, causing the temple floors to be wet with coconut milk, Nagar said (Star Tribune).
MSNBC reported on Wednesday that nearly 60 people were injured by the stampede, while the Star Tribune reported on Thursday that the injured tolled at 57. The Star Tribune also reported that the death toll went up because police found that several local people took their dead relatives home and later cremated them without informing authorities, said senior police official Rajeev Dosat.
MSNBC reported that tensions in India are high right now because the country recently experienced a few bomb attacks. The latest explosions killed six people and wounded 45 others on Monday night (MSNBC).
Worshippers said false rumors of a bomb threat added to the chaos to the stampede.

September 26, 2008

Massacre in Finland School

The New York Times reported that a Finnish student opened fire at his school on Tuesday, killing 10 people.
The day before the shooting the gunman had been questioned by police for his violent YouTube video he had posted (NY Times). Police questioned him on Monday about the video, where he was seen firing a handgun, but released him because there was no legal reason to hold him, Interior Minister Anne Holmlund said (NY Times).
"The detective who handled the case did not think that the circumstances were such that they required a confiscation of the weapon or a withdrawal of the license," Holmlund said (MSNBC).
The Star Tribune reported on Wednesday that the gunman killed eight women and two men. Police said the shooter was Matti Saari, 22, a student at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality (Star Tribune). The National Bureau of Investigation said Saari wounded one other female before shooting himself in the head (Star Tribune). The Star Tribune did not say whether the shooter died after shooting himself in the head, but MSNBC confirmed the shot was fatal, making the total death toll 11.
"He was just a regular and calm guy. Nothing outstanding. He had lots of friends. Nothing that would have given an idea that something like this would happen," student Susanna Keranen told an AP television crew (MSNBC).
This was Finland’s second school shooting in less than a year (NY Times). MSNBC reported that the gunmen in each shooting were very similar: they both posted YouTube videos before they attacked the schools, they were fascinated with the Columbine shooting, both attacked their own schools, and both shot themselves in the head and died as a result.
“I heard several dozen rounds of shots; in other words, it was an automatic pistol,� Jukka Forsberg, the school janitor, told the Finnish broadcasting company YLE. “I saw some female students who were wailing and moaning, and one managed to escape out the back door.� (NY Times).
Witnesses said the shooting started at 11 am when Saari came into a classroom taking an exam (MSNBC). Witnesses said he was dressed in all black with a large black bag (MSNBC). Police said the bag contained explosives (MSNBC). MSNBC reported Tuesday that Saari had burned some of the victims’ bodies before police arrive on scene.
The Star Tribune reported that police were on the scene 10 minutes after alarms went off. When they arrived on scene police said Saari shot at them, but no officer was hit (Star Tribune). Saari’s other weapon was a .22-caliber pistol Police spokesman Jari Neulaniemi said (MSNBC).

September 21, 2008

China’s milk scandal continues to grow

The Star Tribune reported Friday that four infants have died in China due to contaminated milk powder; approximately 6,244 more are sick. The infants died of kidney failure, brought on by the chemical melamine found in the tainted milk products (New York Times). ''This has caused a very widespread scare in Chinese society, and there's a great deal of mistrust,'' said Jing Jun, a sociologist at Tsinghua University in Beijing. ''People see this as a failure of the government. The companies here were not thoroughly inspected.'' (NY Times).
The Star Tribune reported that the parents of the victims have been offered money from the Chinese government, although the parents are still able to form protest groups and speak out about the incidents. A small amount of melamine should not cause much harm, but it can cause kidney stones, which can cause kidney failures; infants are more at risk than anyone else (NY Times).
The melamine chemical was found in liquid and powder milk; companies that tested positive for the chemical are: China's two largest dairy producers, Mengniu Dairy Group Co. and Yili Industrial Group Co., as well as Shanghai-based Bright Dairy (Star Tribune). "Large-scale milk farms are very disciplined. They won't take the risk to do something like that," Yao Tongshan (Star Tribune). The Star Tribune reported that milk is not normally part of the Chinese diet, but China’s economic growth has enabled China to have more refrigeration available.
The NY Times reported that the companies Mengniu and Yili did not have government inspections before the contamination became public knowledge. ''This is not just a single event. It's because of a number of companies and inspectors. This is where the seriousness arises,'' said Jing, the sociologist. ''In the U.S., you have problems too, but that's different. The government system has failed.'' (NY Times).

September 11, 2008

Rumors are Swirling around Kim Jong Il’s Absence

The Star Tribune’s website reported rumors that Kim Jong Il, the leader of North Korea, has suffered a stroke. Rumors of his illness started on because of Kim’s absence at North Korea’s 60th anniversary on Tuesday. “There is reason to believe Kim Jong Il has suffered a serious health set back, possibly a stroke,� a Western intelligence official told the Star Tribune.

The Minnesota Daily’s article on Wednesday went into further detail concerning Kim’s current rumored status by discussing who could possibly be Kim’s successor. The Minnesota Daily speculated that although Kim’s eldest son, Jong Nam, is believed to be Kim’s favorite, will not be the successor because of his secret trip to Japan. Nam used a fake Dominican passport to try to get into Japan (Minnesota Daily). Kim’s middle son, Jong Chol, is reported by The Minnesota Daily as being a likely candidate to be Kim’s successor. However, Kim’s private chef said he believes Kim will pick his youngest son, Jong Un, who looks and acts just like his father (Minnesota Daily).

The Star Tribune reported that Kim’s last public appearance was in mid-August. A senior U.S. official addressed the situation to the Star Tribune: “What we do know is that he was not at the military parade; that is quite unusual and reinforces a lot of what we’ve been hearing.� The Minnesota Daily reported that North Korean officials deny the rumors of Kim’s illness. Kim was also quoted to have said in October, “They exaggerate my slightest movement. I think they’re novelists, not journalists,� (Minnesota Daily).