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December 9, 2007

Manila bans street carollers

Christmas carollers have been banned from the busy streets in Manila, Philippines' capital city, officials said and BBC reported.
The singers have been banned for safety reasons, said Bayani Fernando, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) head. Many poor children would sing for money at busy intersections and run into the road knocking on windows. The intention of the ban is to keep carollers out of speeding traffic's path.
"What we are against are those who dart across thoroughfares knocking on vehicle windows to beg for alms since this is a sure-fire way to get maimed or killed," local media quoted Mr Fernando as saying.
Carollers will still be allowed to go door to door in the suburbs where they are out of dangers' way.

December 1, 2007

Four people arrested for child trafficking in Ghana

Ghana Police have arrested four people on accusations of trafficking children as young as five, reports the BBC. Police are also pursing two more who are on the run.
Those arrested are accused of sending the children to work in fishing communities near Lake Volta. They are used for untangling nets while diving under water and picking fish from nets. The girls' hands are much less coarse than fishermen's.
It is also not uncommon for Ghanaian families to send their children away in return for payment. High poverty rates have kept this practice going for years. Parents typically receive about $50 to send their child to work for three years.
Joseph Rispoli of the International Organisation For Migration (IOM) said the work is often dangerous.
"Their hands, especially the girls', are not as coarse as the fishermen's hands, so they actually use those little girls to be able to extract the fish from these winch nets."They even cut their hands open on the scales sometimes."

The IOM sees these arrests as a breakthrough because the issue is being taken more seriously than it has been in the past. Approximately 100 children have been identified as being sent to the Lake Volta area. However, because of low funding, the IOM can only rescue about one-third of those children.

November 18, 2007

Japan begins whaling expedition, set out to kill hundreds

Japan's whaling fleet was scheduled to leave port Saturday to begin its largest hunt in the South Pacific, reports the Associated Press in the Star Tribune and BBC.
The orders are to kill up to 1,000 whales, including 50 humpbacks. This is the first humpback hunt since the 1963 global ban. Few groups have been allowed to hunt them since then.Japan is allowed to hunt in the name of scientific research even though commercial whaling was stopped in 1986.
Other species that Japan is hunting for include the Antarctic minke and fin, but the humpback hunt is drawing the most attention because it is a favorite among watchers. A Greenpeace ship will be following the Japanese fleet of four ships.
"Humpbacks are very sensitive and live in close-knit pods so even one death can be extremely damaging," Greenpeace spokesman Junichi Sato said.
However, Japanese fisheries spokesman Hideki Moronuki said that taking 50 whales will not have a significant impact on a population of tens of thousands.

November 11, 2007

Italian soccer fans rebel after shooting death

The accidental shooting death of a disc jockey on his way to watch a soccer game caused other fans to rebel at many big games throughout Italy, reports the BBC.
Gabriele Sandri, 26, died after being shot while police tried to control other fans near a service station in Arezzo. Police suspect he was hit by a warning shot. "It was a tragic error," said Arezzo police chief Vincenzo Giacobbe.
Fans attending games around the country began rebelling against police. It is thought that the most damage was done in Rome, the capitol city, where fans burned vehicles and threw rocks at the stadium.
Two journalists were beat up in Milan and people called police "muderers" in Siena. All of this violence caused many of the games to start late, or be postponed all together.
Last February, a police officer was killed in Sicily during violence at a soccer game which prompted the Italian government to instate a law this April about controlling fans at games.

November 3, 2007

Rome's Trevi Fountain is dyed red

A disguised man, seen as a culprit by some and an artist by others, dumped red dye into the Trevi Fountain in Rome Oct. 24, reports the New York Times.
It is thought that it was done in protest to the cost of the large film festival taking place in Rome. The red color of the water signified the red carpet. Gianluca Nicoletti, a media critic, said the festival lacked color and depth while saying, “The real splash was the one made at a fountain."
It is thought that Nicoletti could be responsible.
Many found the incident involving the fountain seen in movies like "La Dolce Vita" upsetting, but after it was discovered that no damage was caused people began to see it as art. The protection of Italy's monuments such as the Trevi Fountain is very important, and incidents in the past have caused damage to others such as the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

October 28, 2007

Russian serial killer convicted of killing 48

A Russian man was found guilty of killing 48 people Wednesday, reports the New York Times.
Aleksandr Y. Pichushkin, nicknamed the “Bittsa Maniac?, confessed to killing 63 people, one short of his goal. He lured people into drinking sessions, then made them his victims. Most were killed with a blunt object hit to the head or were drowned in a sewer.
Pichushkin, 33, was a former supermarket worker. He was trying to outdo the Rostov Ripper, Andrei Chikatilowho, who raped and murdered 52 people and was executed in 1994.
The jury took less than three hours to reach the guilty verdict. Pichushkin faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Investigations of 11 other murders have been reopened because Pichushkin has confessed to them.

October 19, 2007

Petition started over the slaughter of pets in Puerto Rico

An online petition has been started asking the governor of the U.S. territory Puerto Rico to ensure punishment for those who threw approximately 80 seized animals off a highway bridge last week, reports the Star Tribune.
Thousands have signed the petition started by Nadia Donato, a 39-year-old New Yorker who was brought to tears over the story about the slaughter of cats and dogs in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Some who have signed are from as far away as Finland and Australia.
The list of names will be delivered to the Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila's residence on Saturday during a demonstration. Pedro Toledo, Puerto Rican police chief, said the people responsible could face up to three years in prison on charges of cruelty.

October 13, 2007

High-ranking priest suspended after admitting he was homosexual

Vatican City officials have confirmed rumors Saturday that a priest has been suspended after appearing on Italian TV, admitting he is homosexual reports BBC News.
The unnamed man works in the department in charge of clergy around the world and is called a monsignor, or senior Vatican official. Chief Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombari said he will be suspended until further investigation is completed.
The Vatican usually does not comment on sexual scandal involving priests. This case is being treated as confidential, but Lombari did say that it is clear the priest has clearly acted in a way that does not comply with rules of the Roman Catholic Church.
The monsignor apparently acted ingeniously, allowing TV cameras to film him inside his Vatican office for an investigative program about gay priests. His voice was disguised, but colleagues and friends easily identified him. He said in the interview that although he was homosexual, he did not consider himself to be living in sin. He was only forced to keep quiet about it because of the teachings on the Catholic Church.

October 5, 2007

Remains of more than 30 people found in Moscow

The remains of an estimated 34 people were found Wednesday in a downtown Moscow estate while renovation work was being done, said city officials. Investigators are attempting to determine their identities, reports the Star Tribune.
A rusted pistol was also found at the site of the estate once owned by a famous czarist-era noble family, the Sheremetyevs. Some of the remains appeared to have gunshot wounds in the back of their skulls.
Moscow city police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said some of the remains appeared to date back to the 1930s, which was an era where many Russian people were executed by the government run by Josef Stalin.
In 1937-1938, an estimated 1.7 million people were arrested by Stalin's secret police and at least 818,000 were shot. The era in history came to be known as the "Great Terror", reports BBC news.

September 28, 2007

Found remians are thought to be members of the Russian csar family

Experts say that it is "highly probable" remains found near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in July are two children of the last Russian csar, Nicholas II Romanov. According to BBC News and the Associated Press in the Star Tribune, primary forensic work identifies the remains as Alexei, heir to the throne, and Maria, his elder sister.
The remains of other members of the family were exhumed in 1991, according to BBC.
Archaeologists found the bones in a burned field outside the city of Yekaterinburg. That city is in the Ural Mountains and is also the place where the Romanov family were held prisoner and shot by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
The BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says the whereabouts of the missing Romanov children has been one of the great unsolved mysteries of Russia's blood-soaked revolution.

September 22, 2007

Strategy to help pollution problem in China sees little cooperation

A "No Car Day" planned in many Chinese cities to help the current pollution problem wasn't followed by many in Beijing, according to a report in BBC News Saturday.
Drivers were encouraged to leave their personal cars at home in hopes to lessen the smog. This is in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Some endurance events may have to be postponed if the pollution has not improved, according to the head of the International Olympic Committee.
Many speculate that the problem, made much worse by the millions who drive each day, will not be fixed with events like "No Car Day." Public transportation needs to be improved and more affordable and more cycle lanes need to be added to roads.
But more vehicles on the road isn't the only problem. The main cause, economic growth, has been great for China. An article in the New York Times said, "China is choking on its own success." This NY Times article is the first in a series examining the impact of China's economic growth.

September 16, 2007

A low-fare airline plane crashes in Thailand

A plane full of many tourists crashed during heavy rain Sunday while landing on the resort island of Phuket, reports The New York Times. At least 83 of the 130 passengers and crew aboard the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 of One-Two-GO low-fare airline are confirmed dead.
The reason for the crash is still unknown, but it is speculated that the weather was a factor. Witnesses report that the airplane seemed to touched down on the runway, but then slid off into a dirt embankment. The air craft broke into two pieces and started on fire, reports the Associated Press in the Star Tribune.
The majority of the passengers aboard, 79 of the total 123, were foreigners. Survivors of the crash were taken to area hospitals.
The airline, One-Two-GO, was established in 2000. It is one of many low-fare airlines in Southeast Asia which has made travel much more affordable. It is also one carrier whose overall safety has been questioned. Other incidents and procedures, such as a plane nearly hitting the Tokyo Tower in October 2004, have raised these questions.
The Star Tribune reports this accident is the country's deadliest aviation crash since Dec. 11, 1998.