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May 4, 2008

Cyclone Hits Myanmar

A power tropical cyclone hit Myanmar over the weekend, killing more than 350 people.
According to a New York Times article, the storm, Nargis, struck early saturday with powerful winds up to 120 mph.
"Five regions of the impoverished Southeast Asian country have been declared disaster zones," the article said.
Myanmar, formerly Burma, is a military ruled nation. The largest city, Yangon, was hit hardest.
Almost half of the people killed lived on an island off the coast of the city.
"By Sunday, many parts of the city were without electricity," another article on CNN.com said. "Phone connections were also down in most areas, making it difficult to assess the extent of the damage."
As pictures and reports come in, people are discovering more and more damage to the country.
Entire villages were destroyed.

April 26, 2008

Spanish Fishing Boat Realeased by Pirates

Pirates released the Spanish fishing boat and its crew Saturday after almost a week of captivity. An article on BBC.com said the crew of 26 and the boat was released after the Spanish government allegedly paid a ransom. Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega did not comment in the article about the payment of a ransom.
"We must put an end to maritime piracy," she said in the article.
According to the article, the tuna fishing boat was over taken by pirates about 250 miles off the coast of Somalia.
"The government was making plans to repatriate the crew of 13 Spaniards and 13 Africans," Ms de la Vega said in the article.
After the six-day standoff, the boat was escorted back to Spain by a frigate.
Piracy in the region is common.
Another article on CNN.com said a French boat was held by pirates earlier this month. "U.S. and NATO warships have been patrolling off the Horn of Africa for several years in an effort to crack down on piracy of long-lawless Somalia, where a U.N.-backed transitional government and Ethiopian troops are now battling Islamist insurgents."

April 20, 2008

Papal Visit

Pope Benedict XVI departed the United States on Sunday after his six-day tour calling out for "justice and peaceful coexistence" worldwide. According to a CNN.com article, the pope left John F. Kennedy airport in New York where Vice President Dick Cheney led the farewell ceremony.
"It was heart-warming to spend time with leaders and representatives of other Christian community and other religions," the pope said in the article.
The Papal tour of the United States included a Mass at Yankee Stadium and a visit to Ground Zero.
"Pope Benedict knelt in silent prayer, and rose to light a memorial candle, and blessed with holy water what he called the scene of incredible violence and pain," another article on the BBC said.
"The Pope then met 24 people with ties to the tragedy," the article said. "Exchanging a few words with each."
"Benedict's three-day visit to New York was the second leg of his six-day trip to the United States -- his first since he was elected to the papacy," the CNN article said.
The Papal visit to the United States has dominated the media over the last week. "It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Catholic community here," the pontiff said in the CNN article.

April 12, 2008

Zimbabwe Election Crisis to End

Zimbabwe's election results may soon be released. According to a report on CNN.com, southern African leaders met in Zambia's capital on Saturday to end the dispute over the March election.
"Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was challenged in the race by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has appealed to Zimbabwe's High Court to compel the Electoral Commission to release the results," the article said.
According to the article, Tsvangirai has claimed victory, but Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission is going to conduct recounts in at least 23 polling stations.
"Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party lost its House of Assembly majority for the first time since 1980 in the 29 March poll, but no results have yet been released from the presidential race," said another article in the BBC.

April 6, 2008

London Protests

As the Olympic torch made its way through London on Sunday, it was not met with happiness, rather protests. According to a report on CNN.com, at least 35 people have been arrested for trying to disrupt the torch's route through the city.
"Protesters angry about China's human rights record and its recent actions in Tibet scuffled with police and made attempts to grab the Olympic torch and douse it with a fire extinguisher Sunday," the article said.
According to the article, people were also waving signs that said "Free Tibet" and "Stop the Killing in Tibet."
"The relay, which featured many sports stars and celebrities, was also halted as it passed through Oxford Street in central London when human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell jumped into the road carrying a sign calling for the release of Chinese activist Hu Jia, who was jailed Thursday," the article said.
CNN said the route made an unannounced change and a detour on a bus because of the protests.
Another article on BBC.com said, "Pictures of the London relay were broadcast on China's state-controlled TV, but not of the protests and disruption."
The Olympics are in Beijing this Summer and London in 2012, according to the articles.

March 30, 2008

London Plane Crash Kills Five

CNN.com reported Sunday that a small plane crashed into at least two properties south of London killing five. According to the article, the plane had two pilots and three passengers. "The identities of the dead had not been released late Sunday," the article said.
The plane crashed into a home in Farnborough and damaged a nearby property. According to the article, the first home was destroyed.
"The homeowners of the destroyed residence were away on vacation," the article said. "There were no serious injuries reported on the ground."
Another report from the BBC, said the plane was a Cessna Citation 1. "The plane - which was en route from nearby Biggin Hill airfield to France - burst into flames, destroying a garage and house, which was empty at the time," the article said.
According to the BBC article, it is though that the plane was having difficulties shortly after take-off and had called for an emergency landing.
"Unfortunately it crashed before reaching the airport," said a representative of the Biggin Hill airfield.

March 9, 2008

Partnership in Pakistan

The leaders of Pakistan's two major political parties have agreed to work together to overturn President Pervez Musharraf.
According to an article in The New York Times, the announcement today aims to, "remove the president’s power to dissolve the Pakistani Parliament and his power to appoint the chiefs of the military services."
"The power sharing deal, announced by Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the largest party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, represented another tough challenge to the already waning authority of Mr. Musharraf, a favorite ally of the Bush administration," said the article.
Zardari is the husband of the late party leader, Benazir Bhutto.
"Sharif had indicated that members of his party would not sit in the cabinet while Mr. Musharraf remained in power," said the article.
According to the article, Zaardari signed a "Charter for Democracy" while in exile with Bhutto several years ago. "The charter is aimed at bringing Pakistan back to a parliamentary system of government that was initially conceived when the country was founded 60 years ago," said the article.

March 1, 2008

Prince Harry Returns From Afghanistan

CNN.com reported today that Prince Harry has safely returned from combat, "a day after he was quickly withdrawn from serving with the British military in Afghanistan because of the media's disclosure of his deployment there."
He was expected to return in a few more weeks, but a website revealed his deployment, ending the agreement between the media and the British government.
"That prompted the British military to withdraw the prince for security reasons four weeks before the end of his 14-week deployment," said the article.
Prince Charles said he was "enormously proud" of Harry in the article. "As you can imagine it's obviously a great relief as far as I'm concerned to see him home in one piece."
"The 23-year-old prince holds the rank of cornet -- equivalent to a second lieutenant -- and served in Afghanistan as a forward air controller with a group called Joint Tactical Air Control, or JTAC," said the article.
The military said Harry's deployment would be manageable only if the media did not disclose the information, said the article. "Because of the unique circumstances of the deployment, CNN, as well as other news organizations, chose to honor an embargo requested by the military."
His involvement was revealed Thursday by a news website, said the article.


February 24, 2008

Castro's Brother Named President

The BBC on Sunday announced that Raul Castro will replace Fidel Castro as president of Cuba.
He was unanimously selected in Cuba's National Assembly, said the BBC. "Raul has in effect been president since Fidel had major surgery in July 2006."
Fidel Castro announced last week he would be stepping down as president.
Raul Castro, 78, said the government would still consult Fidel Castro, 81, "on major decisions of state - a move backed by the National Assembly deputies," said the BBC.
Another article from Reuters said, "He is expected to bring some economic reforms and he said he might revalue the peso currency."
Reuters also said that Jose Ramon Machado Ventura was appointed vice president. Both articles said Machado Ventura is a hardliner for the communist party.

February 12, 2008

Journalists Missing in Iraq

The BBC reported Tuesday that two CBS reporters are missing in the Iraqi city of Basra.
"Police and witnesses said they were seized from a hotel in the city of Basra by at least eight gunmen," Said the BBC. CBS declined to release their identities, but said that efforts are under way to find them.
The journalists are thought to be a reporter and a translator, and according to witnesses, they were taken in official police vehicles.
According to another article from the New York Times, the hotel in which they were taken from, the Qasr al-Sultan, was popular for journalists covering the conflict. After two killings in 2005, journalists were more cautious, staying in guarded areas closer to the airport.
Iraq has become increasingly dangerous for journalists. "The disappearance of the journalists comes amid continuing concern about the dangers faced by media staff in Iraq. Said the BBC. International media watchdogs report dozens of journalists killed each year since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003."

February 8, 2008

Bhutto Killed by Blast, not Bullet

The British High Commission announced today that ex-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed by the effect of a bomb, not a gun. After her sudden death in December, detectives from Scotland Yard were asked by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to conduct an investigation. According to a BBC report, "the UK police report confirmed that shots were fired- but said they were not the cause of death."
Even though the Scotland Yard investigation is conclusive, evidence for the case was very limited. Barbara Plett, a BBC reporter in Islamabad, says the scene was hosed down just hours after Bhutto died, eliminating forensic evidence. Her body was not X-rayed, but Dr. Nathaniel Cary is cited in the detectives' report saying, "The only tenable cause for the rapidly fatal head injury in this case is that it occurred as the result of impact due to the effects of the bomb blast."
Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), insisted that she was assassinated by the shooter that day. They have accused the government of a cover-up.
According to The Press Association, "a spokesman for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was appointed party leader after his mother's death, said the report would be used as a diversion away from the real issue of finding the killers."

January 31, 2008

Internet down in Asia, Middle East, and Africa

CNN.com reported today the loss of internet connectivity in several Middle Eastern countries including: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and India.
This crippling blow to commerce and other sectors of these societies is said to be caused by the damage of an underwater cable running from Egypt to Italy.The BBC says 70% of Egypt's nationwide network was disrupted and 60% of India's respectively. According to Stephen Beckert, an analyst with TeleGeography, the cables in question make the majority of communications between Europe and the Middle East possible.
Israel is among some nations that avoided the catastrophe because traffic their internet traffic is routed elsewhere. The failure was felt internationally as rerouting traffic slowed internet connections even in the US.
As officials hurry to alleviate the problem, it is painfully obvious how essential the Internet has become for global communications.