December 9, 2007

"British authorities arrest wife of man accused of faking death in insurance scam"

Original Article appeared in the Star Tribune.

In London, there is a couple named John and Anne Darwin. Several years ago, they were in serious debt due to an apartment rental business that was failing. In order to try and fix the problem, John Darwin faked his own death by staging a canoeing accident. The plan worked, at first, and Anne Darwin was given 50,000 dollars in life insurance money.

However, this year, John Darwin got tired of hiding. For a couple of years he had been hiding in his wife's home in a small room behind a closet. For a while they even moved to Panama in order to continue hiding the truth.

But, last week, John Darwin got tired of all the hiding and went back to England. He walked into a police station and tried to fake having had amnesia for the last five years. The police did not believe him and now he is facing insurance fraud as well as lying to get a passport.

Since he was caught by the police, they also went after his wife. So, on Sunday, she was arrested at an airport in Georgia. She is accused of helping her husband with life insurance fraud.

December 2, 2007

"Cruise ship spill in the Antarctic not yet contained"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

Last week, an antarctic cruise ship named the "Explorer", hit an iceberg off the the tip of Chile. This caused the cruise ship to sink and thousands of gallons of fuel to be dumped into the ocean.

All of the people on board were saved by a nearby ship, but 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 6,300 gallons of lubricant and 260 gallons of gasoline were lost in the ocean.

The general area of the spill was near Santiago, Chile. For the most part the small spill is only contained by icebergs, but officials from Chile are working to get started on creating a more permanent barrier against the spill.

Thankfully, the 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel which were dumped into the sea will not cause too much damage to the surrounding marine life. This is because diesel fuel is the least harmful of the hydrocarbons, so it will not cause too much damage.

November 21, 2007

"France: Civil servants on strike, too"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

There has been a strike in France for the last week among many civil workers. Those involved in the strike include transportation workers, teachers, air traffic controllers and others. However, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to keep further strikes from happening all over France, so he is refusing to give into their demands.

The original plan was that the strike would only last a day. But now workers are determined to win the strike and cause the President to give in to their demands.

The President is currently working on new reforms in social, economic and political areas. If he were to give in to the strikers, it were significantly damage all that he has done in those other areas and it would be detrimental to his political decree.

November 18, 2007

"Explosion kills dozens of coal miners in Ukraine"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

A methane blast erupted in a coal mine in Ukraine at about 3 a.m. Sunday morning. More than 360 were able to get out of the mine, but over 63 were killed.

This is one of the worst mining disasters in years. The Ukrainian President has even declared three days of mourning for Ukraine in honor of those who died.

The coal mine itself is known as the Zasyadko mine. It is very deep. The actual blast area was located at 3,300 feet deep.

The dust was so bad that many could not even where they were going as they tried to escape. Some even had to walk over dead bodies as they tried to save themselves.

November 11, 2007

"France may expand champagne's reign of terroir"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

In Paris, there is a section of land that is exclusively meant for growing the grapes used to make champagne. This area is now loaded with vines to the max. Since the champagne industry is a multi-billion dollar industry every year, the need to expand is important.

The area used to grow wine is known as the "terroir". These places in France are treasured. Therefore, before France chooses any new areas good enough for a vineyard, they will do extensive research. The earliest new champagne would be available is in 2015.

Wine that is officially called champagne is only grown in the 86,500 acres declared perfect for making champagne in 1927. No other wine can be called champagne. That is why the search for additional land is taking such a long time. It has to be the best.

November 4, 2007

"Water drives one million people from homes"

Original story found in theStar Tribune.

There has been a massive amount of flooding in Villahermosa, Mexico over the past week. The rain has even caused the water to reach a third story on buildings. The incredible amount of water has covered about two-thirds of the state of Tabasco in Mexico. It seems to just keep on raining. However, it seems as if the worst of the rainstorm is over by now.

Many people have been forced out of their homes and have to stay in shelters. Some are staying in schools others are still stranded on rooftops waiting for boats to come rescue them and take them to higher ground.

Those whose houses were flooded were not allowed to take hardly anything with them. With so many people stranded the rescuers in boats needed all the room they had for people only, not for personal possetions.

It is possible that there will be many water borne illnesses from this event. The water has been sitting for quite some time now, and the tropical warm weather will probably make the situation worse.

So far only one person has been found dead in the all the water in the state of Tabasco.

October 28, 2007

"Iraq Developements"

Original article appeared on on October 27, 2007. It was written by News Services.

There was a bomb that exploded in Iraq Saturday. It killed eight people and wounded 13 more. The area was mostly shiite and full of restaurants which government officials regularly dine at.

The official time of the explosion was 7:30 a.m.

The U.S. will be turning over control of an eighth Iraqi province to Iraq on Monday. The province of Karbala seems to be ready to go back into the hands of the Iraqi's. There are 18 total provinces that need to go into Iraqi control.

A group of Christian minorities were fleeing Iraq due to the violence, but now the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to protect them. The government wants to stop the Christians from fleeing and is therefore going to work hard to offer them protection.

October 22, 2007

"China's powerful vice president steps down"

Original article found on the web site for the Pioneer Press. Written by Christopher Bodeen.

The Chinese vice president, Zeng Qinghong, stepped down on Saturday, October 20. He was a rival to the Chinese president and a strong communist leader.

Yet, as the communist party began to reshuffle in China, it seemed necessary for him to step down.

There was no reason given for his stepping down, but several theories have come up. The first is that he stepped down because he was nearing the age at which the communist leaders are expected to retire. Second, it is possible that some sort of a deal was made by the current communist party president in China, Hu, who will be benefiting greatly by this loss of a rival. He might even be given an extra 5-year-term as president now that Zeng is out of the way.

This resigning of Zeng Qinghong came about after a meeting of the congress of China. He was not the only one who seems to have been asked to step down. Two others also resigned around the same time. They are "Wu Guanzheng, who has run the party's internal corruption watchdog, and Luo Gan, who oversees law enforcement."

October 14, 2007

"Laotians live with a lethal legacy"

Original article appeared on on October 13, 2007. Written by Paul Watson.

During the Vietnam war, U.S. planes dropped mines and other explosives from planes on the country of Laos. Many of those dangerous objects never detonated and are planted in the soil for unsuspecting civilians to step on.

One boy, To, was recently in his fathers backyard when a fire heated up an old shell causing it to explode. Many peices of the shell became imbedded in To's arms and legs. He was rushed to the hospital in order to have the peices removed, but it cost his father half a years pay.

The people of Laos are angered with the Americans for occurances such as these. They say that U.S. troops need to come in and clean up the mess that they left 30 years ago.

This year, the State Department has given $1.4 million to the operation of cleaning up these military objects in Laos in order to prevent more innocent people from dying from a war that ended ages ago.

This amount is much less than the amount given to the same effort last year. If this decrease in money continues from the government on this issue, then it will be 50 to 100 years before it is all cleaned up.

October 7, 2007

Baghdad orders $100 million in military equipment from China"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Thursday, October, 4, 2007. Written by News Services.

Government officials from Baghdad, Iraq, have begun ordering military supplies and munitions from
China because the United States government is too slow. In order for the Iraqis to continue their military work, they need more supplies. The United States has already sent over more than $600 million worth of equipment and there is another 2 to 3 billion being ordered, but he slow pace requires the Iraqis to order from China.

The War in Iraq is continuing with a few developments being two key Iraqis were killed in a roadside bombing. The two that died were top Shiite official and an anti-Al-Qaiada Sunni sheik. Also, the number of military personal in Iraq or Afghanistan that have been killed or injured is up to 18,000.

September 30, 2007

Japan's premier cites bad health for resignation

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007. Written by the Associated Press.

On September 12, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned his position. It was Tuesday, Sep. 25, when he and his cabinet ended up vacating the offices that they held.

It was unclear at the time of his resignation as to why he was quitting in the middle of a term, but the very next day he checked himself into a hospital because he has severe intestional problems which were caused by the stress of his job as prime minister.

Abe is 53, but he is being replaced by a man who is 71. The new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is the son of a former prime minister. He was elected by the Japanese Parliment after a very quick ballot and vote.

September 23, 2007

"Adrift in Africa"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Thursday Sep. 20, 2007. Written by the Associated Press.

The rainy season seems to be hitting Africa extra hard this year. All across the continent there is flooding with bridges, houses, and even whole towns being washed away. Over 17 million countries are experiencing the fury of the rain. These rain storms are affecting more than 1 million people and more will probably have some sort of trouble come their way before the rainy season is over. The death toll is up to 200 people. Hundreds of thousands have had to be relocated.

Help from humanitarian workers has been given out to those most in need. The World Food Program is working especially hard, but the weather is almost too much for them to keep up with.

The rain is still falling almost every day. Even when there are blue skies in the morning it can rain later on in the day. The water is leaving the land more in a wetland state than anything else.

September 16, 2007

"Liberia Makes First Diamond Export After U.N. Embargo"

Original article appeared at Star Tribune and was writen by James Butty on September 11, 2007.

In April, 2007, the United Nations lifted its embargo which prevented the shipment of blood diamonds from Liberia. These diamonds had been used to fuel the civil war there, but now the Liberian government has agreed to use the money from the diamonds on things which will benefit the rest of the country. For the most part, the money will be used to improve education and the road system in a country which needs to be rebuilt.

Last week, on September 6, the first shipment of diamonds since the embargo left Liberia. The shipment was valued at $222,000 American dollars. Liberia receives three percent royalties on all diamond shipments, so they were paid roughly $6,000.

September 7, 2007

"Syria claims Israeli jets invaded its airspace"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune and was written by Jeffrey Fleishman of the Los Angeles Times.

The epic battle between Isreal and the rest of the Middle East has taken another spin. On Thursday, September 6, it has been reported that Israeli planes flew into Syrian airspace. The planes were then shot at by the Syrians and forced to leave. Also on Thursday, Israeli troops were "inside Gaza on a routine mission" when a battle broke out between Israel and the Palestinians. The result was that ten people were killed.

Both of these military actions point toward an impending was that is sure to eventually break out between Israel and the other Arab nations surrounding it. There are many reasons for this heightened tension. Israel is angered by "Syrian involvement in Lebenon and its support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip." Syria may be fighting to take back the Golan Heights which have been in Israel control since 1967.

It is unknown at this time whether or not peace attemps by the Israeli Prime Minister will be effective.