April 24, 2009

Suicide bombers in Baghdad kill at least 60

Two suicide bombers killed at least 60 people and injured 125 others Friday near a Shiite shrine in Baghdad.

The attack occured as people were gathering from Friday prayers at the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in the Kadhimiya area, said
BBC News

CNN also reported that the site is considered one of the holiest shrines in the Shia sect of Islam.

A senior Iraqi bomb disposal officer told Reuters news agency that the suicide bombers packed explosives in two leather bags and placed them among the crowds at the gate to the shrine.

"They used sidestreets to get there and this enabled them to avoid checkpoints," said Major-General Jihad al-Jabiri to BBC News.

Many of the people killed or injured were Iranian pilgrims.

According to the Iraqi State TV, the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered an investigation into the attacks.

This is the third attack in the Kadhimiya neighborhood this month.

April 16, 2009

India begins month-long elections

India's elections began Thursday and are expected to be one of the messiest elections in recent years.

Millions have already voted in 124 constituencies as the first round of the month-long elections begin, said BBC News.

The currently governing Indian National Congress faces strong opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as a third front of communist and local parties, said the New York Times.

More than 714 million people are eligible to vote for 543 members of Parliament. The election results are to be announced May 16.

The Central Election Commission has indicated that turnout has been as high as 86 percent in some places.

However, scorching heat and Maoist rebel attacks, in which at least 18 people have been killed, have deterred some from voting, said the New York Times.

More than two million security personnel have been deployed throughout the country, many in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

April 9, 2009

Georgians begin protest in hopes of presidential resignation

Tens of thousands of people gathered to protest Thursday in Tbilisi in hopes of forcing President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign.

The protest, which has remained peaceful so far, is centralized in front of the Georgian parliament. However, several thousand protesters broke away from the main march in the afternoon and went to the headquarters of the national television station to demand live broadcast of the protest.

Opponents planned the protest to begin on Georgia's National Day of Unity, which honors the death of 20 people during a 1989 anti-Soviet protest, said the Associated Press.

Saakashvili has been blamed by opponents for destroying foreign relations with Russia after Georgia was defeated in a five-day war, said the New York Times.

The war drove thousands from their homes and caused two separatist regions to gain recognition from Russia.

Saakashvili has also been blamed for changing from an energetic, pro-Western reformist to an authoritative dictator, protestors said.

He was re-elected last year and his term does not end until 2013.

April 3, 2009

Thai man is imprisoned for anti-monarchy comments

A Thai man was sentenced to 10 years in jail Friday because he posted comments on the Internet that insulted the country's monarchy.

Suwicha Thakhor, 37, was arrested in January from his home in Nakhon Phanon, a province in northeast Thailand.

Thakhor was found guilty of lese-majeste, or insulting the monarchy. This offense is considered quite serious, because many people in the country see the 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej as semi-divine, said Reuters.

After pleading guilty to two charges of lese-majeste, Thakhor had his sentence reduced from 20 years to 10 years.

According to BBC News, more than 5,000 websites have been blocked in the past year for similar offenses toward the monarchy.

March 29, 2009

Palestinian orchestra causes controversy after playing for Holocaust survivors

Leaders of a Palestinian refugee camp shut down a youth orchestra and banned the conductor from returning to the camp after the group played for Holocaust survivors.

Thirteen children, ranging in age from 12 to 18, played Wednesday for about 30 elderly Holocaust survivors at a social club in Holon, Israel. The concert was part of Israeli's annual Good Deeds Day, sponsored by Israeli billionaire Shari Arison, said the Associated Press.

Adnan al-Hindi, the leader of the refugee camp's Popular Committee, a political group that represents the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the children were deceived by Wafaa Younis, the orchestra conductor.

Many parents of the children were told the trip to Holon was an opportunity for artistic expression, but were not given details on the event itself.

“It was a shock and a surprise to the children and their relatives,” he said to the New York Times.

The camp is located on the West Bank in the city of Jenin.

Younis has traveled to the camp for three years to teach music in the camp. Her studio that she rented has now been sealed and she has been barred from entering the camp.

She accused the camp leaders of transferring the orchestra to their control in order to get its funding.

“They want to destroy this group,” she said to the Associate Press. “It’s a shame, it’s a tragedy. What did these poor, elderly people do wrong? What did these children do wrong?”

March 13, 2009

German teenager kills 15 in school shooting

A 17-year-old teenager killed 15 people Wednesday at his former high school near Stuttgart, Germany.

Tim Kretschmer opened gunfire around 9:30 a.m. at Albertville-Realschule in the small town of Winnenden, reported BBC News .

Nine students, eight of them female, and three teachers were shot with a 9 mm Beretta pistol.

When police arrived, Kretschmer fled. Around 12 p.m. he hijacked a car and told the driver to head toward head towards Wendlingen, a town about 25 miles away.

He continued on foot until he reached a car salesroom, where he shot and killed a salesman and a customer.

He exchanged fire with police until, witnesses say, he shot himself.

When investigators searched Kretschmer's house, they found pornographic films, violent computer games and a collection of horror and action films that included "Rambo First Blood," "Freddy vs. Jason," and "The Marksman," reported International Tribune Herald.

The teen was also familiar with firearms. His father, who legally owned 15 weapons, belonged to a gun club that Kretschmer often went to for target practice.

In 2008, Kretschmer went to several treatment sessions for depression at a psychiatric clinic but failed to complete outpatient care.

March 8, 2009

Suicide bomber in Baghdad kills 28

28 people were killed and 57 were injured Sunday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a police academy in Baghdad.

The bomber drove his motorcycle into a crowd of people before detonating explosives, reported the BBC. Five of the 28 killed were policemen.

The attack is Iraq's deadliest suicide attack in a month and came after the relative peaceful January elections.

Authorities say that same police academy has been targeted before. On Dec. 1, a suicide bomber wearing a vest killed 15 people and injured 45, reported New York Times.

BBC says that securities measures have been put in place to prevent these attacks, such as concrete blocks and checkpoints, but because there are so many police and recruits coming into the center, security is a challenge to control.

The need to expand Iraq's police and military forces come as 12,000 U.S. soldiers received word that they would not return to Iraq as scheduled.

February 28, 2009

Oldest human footprints discovered in Kenya

Scientists in northern Kenya discovered a set of footprints estimated to be 1.5 million years old.

The rare find suggests that one of our earliest ancestors, the Homo ergaster, had a modern foot anatomy and gait much more recently than scientists believed, reported ABC News.

Scientists found four sets of adult footprints as well as a possible child's footprint near Ileret, Kenya. The area also contained animal footprints, such as antelopes, said the Sydney Morning Herald.

The footprints all had short toes, a big toe that was parallel to the others and a high arch. These qualities show evidence of a modern gait.

Until now, the only other footprints discovered were 3.7 million-year-old impressions discovered by Mary Leaky in Tanzania. The older footprints are believed to belong to a less modern hominid, Australopithecus afarensis, who walked upright but is believe to be a closer relative to the ape than to the modern human.

The prints have been reburied for a future excavation in the summer. The team of scientists have been working with the Kenya National Museum to keep the site protected.

February 22, 2009

Explosion in Chinese mine kills 74, 114 injured

74 miners died and 114 were injured Sunday from a gas explosion in a Chinese coal mine.

436 miners were in the Tunlan Coal Mine in Gujiao city near Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province when the blast occurred before dawn, according to an AP report published by CBS News.

113 were hospitalized, including 21 miners in critical condition. Most of the hospitiazlied were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, reported the BBC News.

Earlier reports said there were at least 65 more miners still trapped.

The state-controlled China Central TV (CCTC) said 100 rescuers were working to free the trapped miners but a fire in the shaft was delaying their progress.

The Shanxi Coking Coal Group owns this mill and operates 27 others. It is the largest producer of coal in China.

Last year more than 3,000 people died in coal mine accidents, making China's mines the most dangerous in the world.

The last deadly coal mine accident occurred in December 2007, when 105 miners died from a gas eplosion in Linfen city in Shanxi province.

February 15, 2009

Microsoft plans to open retail stores

Microsoft announced Friday its plans to open retail stores in order to better compete with Apple.

David Porter, a former DreamWorks animation executive, was named vice president of retail stores on Thursday. He will be in charge of how many stores will open, when they will open, and which products wil be sold, reported the International Herald Tribune.

Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, told BBC News that the company is planning to sell computers already installed with Microsoft software, such as the new operating system Windows 7, and other products.

Last fall the company launched a $300 million ad campaign to adjust its image after receiving poor public response to its Vista operating system and being the target in many of Apple's ads. .

Apple, which has more than 200 stores around the world, is a serious competitor in the personal computer and digital music player market and owes much of its success to its retail stores.

Microsoft's decision, however, has come at a bad time for the electronic industry. Circuit City declared bankruptcy in November and an attempt by Gateway, a computer company, to open retail stores failed.

Microsoft also makes the Xbox video game console and the Zune MP3 player.

February 8, 2009

Newly elected president of Somalia raises hope

The Somali Parliament elected Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed Saturday as the president of the country's transitional government.

The election took place in Djibouti and results were announced a little before 4 a.m., reports the New York Times.

Sheik Sharif, a modest Islamic cleric, defeated Gen. Maslah Mohamed Siad, son of the former dictator, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Siad Barre, and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

The people of Mogadishu celebrated in the streets after hearing the news early Saturday morning.

Currently, the transitional government operates from Dijibouti, because Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist militia took control of the government's base in Baidoa last week. The group has ties to al Qaeda, according to CNN.

Somalia has been in the hands of several militias since General Siad Barre was removed from power in 1991. The country has been left in anarchy because there has been no functional central government.

Al-Shabaab recently gained control after Ethiopian forces withdrew from Baidoa. However, several analysts believe the militia will lose political control now that the fight against Ethiopia is over.

Sheik Sharif believes he can stop the turmoil that has lasted 18 years, according to the New York Times.

“I promise that I will serve my people loyally and neutrally without color or clan,? he said. “I call other Somalis who are not part of this peace process to join us.?

February 1, 2009

Tanker explosion in Kenya kills many

111 people died and more than 200 people were injured after a gasoline tanker exploded Saturday in Kenya.

The explosion occurred in Molo, a town approximately 105 miles west of Nairobi, reports The Guardian.

Many of the victims were women and children who had gathered around the overturned tanker to collect free gasoline.

BBC News reports that the cause has not been announced. Witnesses say the cause was a lit cigarette but others believe it was started intentionally after police tried to keep people away from the tanker.

Local hospitals, such as the Nakuru Provincial General Hospital and Molo District Hospital, are now flooded with burn victims, reports Kenya's Those in critical condition have been airlifted by the Kenya Air Force to Nairobi for further treatment.

The death toll is likely to climb as Red Cross officials are still trying to identify many of the charred bodies.