April 23, 2009

Suicide Bombing in Iraq

Iraqi security officials claim they have captured one of the most wanted top al-Qaida leaders on Thursday as reported by the Star Tribune. The man was identified as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who leads the Islamic State of Iraq, a group of Sunni militants that is believed to have dominated Al-Qaida. He is also believed to be linked to the two separate suicide bombings that killed 54 people. This information however is not necessarily accurate given Iraqi official’s track record of wrongly reporting this man’s arrest or death. The New York Times reports that the two attacks that happened Thursday actually killed 75 people. The first attack was by a woman wearing a suicide belt who exploded herself in the Karada district of Baghdad. The second attack was in the Diyala Province, where a bomb went off inside a restaurant.

Pakistan Sends Troops to Area with Taliban

According to the New York Times, the Taliban have taken power in Islamabad, a city only 70 miles from Pakistan’s capitol and a strategically important district. The Pakistani government deployed four platoons of a special unit there on Thursday at the request of the civilian commissioner of the area. This was following the four platoons that had arrived there the night before. At least one officer was killed and another seriously wounded in the clash with the Taliban when they arrived. The troops were there to protect government buildings and bridges in the district according to the Star Tribune. It is important the Taliban not gain complete control in this area because that may lead to them getting closer to the capitol.

April 19, 2009

Iran Sentaces American Journalist to Prison

Iran Sentences American Journalist to Prison
An American journalist from Fargo was convicted in Iran of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison reported the Star Tribune. Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, was arrested last January in Iran, and accused of working without press credentials. Earlier this month an Iranian judge set a much more serious allegation against her; she was accused of spying for the United States and sentenced to 8 years in prison. The New York Times reported that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is disappointed by what she is calling baseless charges against Saberi, and fears for her safety, specially because such charges could have lead to the death penalty. Her lawyer says he will appeal the verdict and the U.S. government is doing everything they can to get her released.

April 12, 2009

U.S. Reclaims Cargo Ship From Pirates

Wednesday the crew of a U.S. flag ship that was taken over by pirates off the shore of Somalia, retook control over the ship reports the Star Tribune. However, contacts onboard the vessel say the captain is still being held by the pirates. The crew members onboard the Maersk Alabama have indeed retaken control over the ship and are holding one of the pirates until negotiations to reclaim their captain go through. The ships captain, Captain Joseph Murphey is being held by the remaining pirates on a lifeboat not far from the vessel. The New York Times reports that this is the first time a U.S. flagged ship has been taken over by pirates.

April 5, 2009

Red Cross hostage Freed By Al Quida

The New York Times reported that the Red Cross worker who was kidnapped along with 2 college by an Islamic extremist group in the Philippines was freed and is now in the custody of the Philippine Government. Mary Jean Lacaba, 37, of the Philippines, was kidnapped 11 weeks ago along with 2 of her colleges, Andreas Notter from Switzerland and Eugino Vagni from Italy. The Times reports that it is unclear whether she was captured by the military or released by the Islamic group linked to al-quida, however the Star Tribune reported that the Islamic group that kidnapped her were the ones to release her. The three were kidnapped while visiting a water sanitation project in Sulu, an island providence in the southern Philippines. Lacaba is urging the military to take care of their offense in Sulu for she worries about the safety of the other two hostages.

March 29, 2009

Space Tourism

The Star Tribune reported the blast off of a Soyuz capsule carrying a Russian-American crew and American billionaire, Charles Simonyi, as a space tourist, Thursday for the international space station. The Russian rocket took off from Banikonur, Kazakhstan on schedule Thursday morning and is scheduled to return with Simonyi after 13 days. This trip will make Simonyi the first two-time space tourist. He told the Tribune the going rate for a seat to space was $35 million, a price he said would be going up in the future. The New York Times reported that the space capsule also carried two other passengers along with others, Expedition 19 commander Gennady Padalka, a Russian air force colonel, U.S. flight engineer Michael Barratt, a physician- astronaut, who will remain in space to man the international space station.

March 21, 2009

Suicide Bomber Takes Lives in Iraq

A suicide bomber killed 33 Iraqi army officers on their way to a reconciliation conference on Tuesday, raising concerns about rising violence in Iraq reported the Star Tribune. This has been the second attack this week to kill more than two dozen people. An eyewitness told the Times that the attacker was wearing a national police uniform and struck the group in a marketplace in Abu Ghraib, just outside of Baghdad. The New York Times reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry put the death tool at 33 with 46 injured from the bombing.

March 6, 2009

Car Bomb Explodes in Baghdad Market

A bomb in a parked car exploded in a livestock market Thursday in the Babil Providence of south Baghdad. The New York Times reported the bomb killed 14 people and injured 38 others, most of them severely, however the Star Tribune reported a different story. According to the Tribune story, the bomb killed only 12 and wounded 60 people. Both sources agree that the bomb exploded during a busy time at the market and all victims were civilians. Witnesses of the bombing say the ground shook and there were bodies and animal carcasses everywhere. The area where is occurred is usually non-violent. It is a Shiite-majority farming district where the ruling tribes keep a close watch on outsiders. No one has taken responsibility for the act, although this shows that militants are still able to stage violent and bloody attacks even with the general decline in violence in Iraq.

February 28, 2009

An End to The War In Iraq

President Obama said Friday in a speech to the American people, “By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” reported the Wall Street Journal. President Obama laid out his plan to remove over two-thirds of the troops in Iraq by the end of the summer in 2010. This will change the mission in Iraq from combat to a more limited set of missions. He then plans to have all remaining troops removed from Iraq by December 2011. According to the New York Times, there will be a shift from troops in Iraq to Afghanistan, because Afghanistan has become increasingly more volatile.

February 22, 2009

Economy and Climate Change Trump Human Rights in China

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited China to join the United States in an effort to curb greenhouse gases as she toured an energy-efficient power plant in Beijing on Saturday the Star Tribune reported.
The gas-fired power plant, which uses sophisticated turbines made by General Electric, is nearly twice as efficient as the coal-fired plants that supply much of China’s electricity and that helped vault China past the United States as the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide.
The Obama administration hopes to make climate change the center point of an even bigger international relations engagement with China.
“We hope [China] won’t make the same mistakes we made,” Clinton said as reported in the New York Times.

February 15, 2009

UN Official Abducted in Pakistan

An American employee of the United Nations was kidnapped in Pakistan and threatened by death within 72 hours the Star Tribune Reported.
Gunmen seized John Soleki in Quetta, near the Afgan border, on Feb. 2 and released a 20 second video on Friday of the blindfolded Soleki saying he was “sick and in trouble.?
The kidnappers identified themselves as part of the Baluchistan Liberation United Front, a previously unknown organization, which meant they were not Islamist militants.
The Star Tribune reported only that, but the New York Times reported that there was a letter along with the video, which was delivered to a Pakistani news agency, that said the hostage would be killed unless authorities released 141 women who were being held in Pakistan within the next 72 hours. The Times also identified Soleki as the head of the United Nations refugee agency in Quetta.

February 8, 2009

Indian Government Distributes Mobile Phones to Fight Rebels

The government in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has distributed more than 200 mobile phones to village headmen in hopes that they will be a mode for gaining fast tip-offs about Maoist Rebel movements according to BBC online news.
The Maoist rebels who regularly attack police and government offices control large parts of the Indian state Jharkhand.
The cell-phones were distributed for village headman to contact police under an emergency, or if the rebels come too close to their village.
"The government is distributing mobile phones to village headmen in the areas where the Maoists are most active," Sudhir Kumar, police chief of the worst-affected district East Singbhum, said.
Kumer said the initial response has been good and that the cell phone have proven helpful for village headmen to relay “very useful? information.
The New York Times reported that the Indian government considers the violence of the Maoist rebels to be the biggest threat to the country’s security since their independence.

February 1, 2009

Afghanistan's Presidential Election Delayed

Afghanistan's election commission said the country’s election will be held on August 20th as reported in the Wall Street Journal. It will be then that voters may decide whether or not to keep the country’s current president Hamid Karzai.
According to the country’s constitution the election is supposed to take place in the spring, but due to the country’s security situation they are postponing it until August when additional international forces will be present and the security situation will be more stable.
President Karzai, who was elected to serve a five-year term, will effectively serve a few months more, which is possible due to a clause in the constitution about lack of security for a peaceful vote.
The New York Times reports Afghan officials need to more to prepare for the election, and it is a matter of not being capable of distributing ballots in time for a spring election. This raises doubts about how legitimate the current presidents final months in office will be.
United Nations Representatives reported in the New York Times have said the organization is allowing the delay because there simply isn’t enough time to get everything into place by the spring.
“At this point, it has become a pragmatic necessity,? said Adrian Edwards, a United Nations spokesman in Kabul as reported by the Times.