December 17, 2008

Shoe thrower becomes hero in Iraq

After throwing a shoe at President Bush during a press conference, Muntadar al-Zaidi has transformed into a celebrity in Iraq, The Washington Post reported.

Zaidi, a reporter in Iraq, was upset with President Bush and his foreign policy since the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. He once told an editor that he hoped to meet Bush and "hit him with my shoes."

People in the Middle East showed their admiration for Zaidi in chatrooms and cafes, joking about the incident.

Not everybody is as thrilled with Zaidi's actions.

Zaidi is scheduled to appear before a judge on Wednesday, the first step in a potential criminal prosecution against him, The New York Times reported.

The United States is leaving all prosecution to the Iraqi government. Under Iraqi law, Zaidi could face up to seven years in prison for initiating an aggressive act against a head of a foreign state on an official visit.

December 9, 2008

Teen's funeral leads to riots in Greece

Thousands of protesters entered the streets of Greece on Tuesday after the funeral of a teen shot by a Greek police officer, The New York Times reported.

As the funeral of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, ended and hundred of people began to leave the cemetery, groups of youth rioters turned violent, throwing gasoline bombs and rocks.

Greek youth and students have become more and more opposed to the current government, officials said.

"Everyone has let our children down ... Every day I see that students are becoming more hostile toward us and figures of authority," said Christos Kittas, who resigned as the dean of Athens University after the rioting spread to campuses, The Washington Post reported.

Opposition socialist leader George Papandreou called for early elections, citing that the current conservative government cannot handle the attacks and the crisis.

"The government cannot handle this crisis and has lost the trust of the Greek people," Papandreou said. "The best thing it can do is resign and let the people find a solution ... we will protect the public."

December 3, 2008

Thai government collapses

Thailand's government collapsed Tuesday when the nation's high court banned the prime minister from politics, dissolving three political parties in his ruling coalition, The Washington Post reported.

The charges against Somchai Wongsawat were of vote-buying and other election irregularities.

Due to the ruling, anti-government protesters declared an end to their weeklong blockade of Bangkok's airports, The Star Tribune reported.

Most demonstrations have been peaceful, but one Thai citizen was killed during an explosion at a protest.

Leaders of the disbanded People's Power Party said they would reconstruc the government under another name and hold on to power, although officials say it is unlikely.

November 28, 2008

13-year-old girl and her father killed in Mumbai

Two Americans were killed in Mumbai while on a meditation retreat with a Virginia ashram, The New York Times reported.

Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi Scherr, 13, were having dinner in a hotel cafe when gunmen arrived. Most of the group of 25 people visiting India with the ashram were in their hotel rooms while the hotel was under siege.

The Washington Post reported that Alan Scherr committed his life to meditation and spirituality and moved his family to Faber, Va., to join the Synchronicity spiritual community.

Alan Scherr wrote in 1994 that he and his wife joined the community to live a holistic life that incorporates high-tech meditation.

November 18, 2008

NATO won't step in to save hijacked Saudi tanker

NATO does not plan to intercept the tanker hijacked by Saudi pirates near the coast of Kenya, reported the Washington Post.

The Saudi tanker, which was loaded with more than $100 million in crude oil, includes a 25-member crew, reported The Star Tribune.

Hijackings on the Cape of Good Hope have increased 70 percent in the last year, and this hijacking took place 1000 miles away from expected hijacking territory.

NATO has no mandate that says it must intercept crew members or hijacked ships, only that it may step in if they see the hijacking taking place.

November 12, 2008

American Aid Worker Killed in Pakistan

An American aid worker and his driver were shot in their car on the way to work in Pakistan on Wednesday, reported The New York Times.

The aid worker, Steven Vance, ran a program to bring small-scale projects and jobs to tribal areas.

The neighborhood where the shooting happened borders a lawless tribal region under the influence of al-Quaeda-linked militant groups, reported The Washington Post.

The Washington Post reported that Vance was coming out of his home and attackers opened fire on him and the driver.

The shooting was followed by a suicide bombing in the small town of Shabquadar, which is 15 miles away.

November 5, 2008

Plane crash in Mexico kills Interior Secretary

A small plane crashed in Mexico City killing Mexico's interior secretary and at least seven others, reported The Washington Post.

The interior secretary, Juan Camilo Mourino, was one of President Felipe Calderon's closest advisers. The New York Times reported that Mourino was considered the No. 2 in government and that he was the president's point man in Mexico's bloody drug war.

The crash is still being investigated, but it has been ruled an accident. The plane crashed onto busy Reforma Avenue, scattering wreckage and crushing cars. All of the people in the Learjet were killed and at least five people on the ground died in the crash. Cars were engulfed in flames and thousands of people were evacuated from surrounding office buildings.

October 29, 2008

West African court rules Niger failed by allowing slavery

A West African court convicted the state of Niger on Monday on counts of failing to protect a 12-year-old girl from being sold into slavery, reported The Washington Post. Hadijatou Mani, now 24, was sold into slavery in 1996 for around $500. For over a decade she was forced to do unpaid housework and labor and was repeatedly raped by her owner.

Slavery is outlawed in Africa, but it still exists in pockets of the country including parts of Niger, Mali, Mauritania in areas of conflict such as northern Uganda, reported The New York Times.

The ruling ordered the government to pay Mani about $19,000 in damages, which she says she will use to buy a home and fund an education for her three children.

Mani was freed by her owner, Souleymane Narouna, in 2005, but had trouble when she tried to get married because Narouna claimed she was married to him. When Mani married anyway, she was charged for bigamy and sentenced to six months in jail. She was released after serving two months.

Activists hope that this ruling will help call attention to the hidden slavery issue in Africa and help free the suspected 43,000 still enslaved today in Niger alone.

October 26, 2008

2 foreigners killed in Kabul

A security guard opened fire at the offices of international shipping company DHL in Afghanistan on Saturday, killing two, reported The Washington Post. The gunman killed the company's country director and his deputy and then turned the gun on himself.

The DHL security guard opened fire on the car carrying the two officials as it pulled into the company's headquarters.

Police arrested 13 people following the incident, and Zabiullah Mujahed, spokesman for the Taliban deny any involvement.

The Taliban have, however, accepted responsibility for one of the many other shootings and kidnappings that took place recently in Afghanistan, reported The New York Times. Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting of the aid worker Gayle Williams, 34, on Monday.

October 19, 2008

Vietnamese journalists arrested for reports on corruption case

A Vietnamese journalist was arrested on Wednesday on counts of writing inaccurate stories about the country's high-profile corruption case, reported The Star Tribune.

Nguyen Viet Chien, 56, was convicted of "abusing freedom and democracy while writing a story about Vietnamese Transportation Officials gambling with embezzled money in 2005.

Fellow reporter Nguyen Van Hai, 33, was sentenced on the charges to two years of "re-education without detention," which requires his employer to supervise education intended to make him a better citizen.

Chien told the court that he had assumed the information he received while researching the scandal was accurate, reported The Washington Post. "I received the information from police officials investigating the case," he said. "I therefore assumed that it was real."

Newspapers initially condemned the reporters' arrest, but government quickly quieted the state-controlled media and little information has been publicized.

October 12, 2008

US removes North Korea from terrorist list

The United States removed North Korea from the terrorist list on Saturday, reported The Washington Post.The move was made to salvage a nuclear disarmament deal. President Bush decided North Korea had earned the right to be taken off the list through thier cooperation in verifying nuclear claims.

The United States said it would not remove North Korea from the list of terror-sponsoring countries until it accepted an inspection of its nuclear program, reported The Pioneer Press.

The move to take North Korea off the list came with some opposition, particularly from Republicans and Japan.

October 5, 2008

2 U.S. helicopters crash in Iraq

Two United States helicopters crashed in Baghdad Saturday night while trying to land, reported The Washington Post.

An Iraqi soldier was killed when a UH-60 Black Hawk crashed in the northern neighborhood of Adhamiyah. Two U.S. soldiers were injured.

"Local Iraqi police officers said the tail of one of the helicopters caught fire before it crashed and that there was shooting from the surrounding area when it went down," reported The New York Times.

In September seven U.S. soldiers were killed when a CH-47 Chinook crashed in southern Iraq due to a mechanical failure.

September 28, 2008

China's tainted milk problem growing

Milk powder tainted with melamine is no longer contained to baby formula, spreading to biscuits, cake mixes, and energy bars, reported The Star Tribune.

Melamine, which has been linked with causing kidney stones in infants, is now being found in White Rabbit candy, which is sold in Japan.

Rumors also circulated that Oreos contained the contaminated milk powder, but Kraft Foods Inc. reassured customers that traditional Oreos contain no milk and Oreos with icing contain milk powder, but not from China.

"Despite official assurances that the problem is under control, the crisis appears to be spreading -- to cake in Hong Kong, a popular brand of candy in Asia and Britain, ham and sausage products in Japan and even a zoo near Shanghai where baby animals were fed formula" reported The Washington Post.

The United States Food and Drug Administration is warning people to stay away from Mr. Brown's coffee and White Rabbit candy, both of which are made in China.

September 21, 2008

South African president agrees to step down

South African president Thabo Mbeki agreed to resign on Saturday after being pressured by the African National Congress, the New York Times reported.

Mbeki, who was not supposed to finish his term for another two months, was asked to step down by the top leaders of his party and shifted his power to his rival, Jacob Zuma. Zuma is not eligible to take power until he becomes a member of Parliament. Until then, an acting president will be chosen from the members of Parliament.

The African National Congress' decision came after a day and a half of deliberations. In reality, the issue is actually "the culmination of seven years discontent between South Africa's most powerful politicians: Mr. Mbeki and Mr. Zuma," The New York Times reported.

The Washington Posts adds that Mbeki's resignation will leave South Africa in political limbo.

September 14, 2008

String of explosions kill 18 in India

Five synchronized bombs exploded in New Dehli on Saturday, blasting marketplaces and killing 18 people, the New York Times reported.

The bombings, which sent 50 injured to one hospital alone, were the work of the Indian Mujahedeen, a terrorist group that claims responsibility for other bombings in India over the past three years.

The group sent an email to several media offices reading: "Within five minutes from now . . . this time with the Message of Death, dreadfully terrorizing you for your sins," reported The Washington Post. "Do whatever you want and stop us if you can," the email continued.

The email warned of nine bombs spread throughout the city, four of which the bomb disposal teams defused.

Several big cities were put on alert and the metro rail station was shut down in anticipation of the explosions caused by the unfound five bombs. The first bomb exploded at 6:15 pm and they continued to rip apart New Dehli until the last bomb exploded at 6:30.