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April 13, 2009

Polar bear attacks woman in German zoo

A woman was attacked at a Berlin zoo after jumping into the polar bear habitat, reported CNN.

An adult polar bear hit the woman several times while she was in the moat of the habitat, police said, according to CNN.

Zoo workers attempted to distract the bear while they tossed rescue rings at the woman, Goerg Gebhard, a Berlin police officer said. (CNN)

The workers eventually were able to hoist the woman up halfway up the habitat wall before she fell back down and was attacked again, reported ABC News.

Police do not know what prompted the woman to jump the fence and enter the enclosure.

The woman could have been easily killed, Jack Hanna, director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, told "Good Morning America."

This type of incident is not unknown to the zoo world. In October 2007 a 15-year-old boy was attacked by a panda after entering its habitat at the Beijing Zoo.

April 6, 2009

Italy quake details coming in

Over 70 people have been killed and 1,500 are injured after Italy experienced its deadliest earthquake in almost 30 years Monday, reported the Associated Press.

The BBC reported that the area is seismically active. They cited a 1908 quake that completely destroyed the Sicilian city of Messina and even caused a tidal wave.

More deaths are expected to be reported, said civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso, according to the AP.

26 towns and cities around L'Aquila were hit by the quake. L'Aquila is located in a valley surrounded by the Apennine mountains. (AP)

Monday's earthquake was a 6.3 magnitude quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. (BBC)

"An earthquake of magnitude six on average we get about one every three days somewhere in the world," Dr Roger Musson, head of seismic hazards at the British Geological Survey, said to the BBC.

Musson said most of those quakes happen at sea, so people don't realize they happen.

The last earthquake to hit the area occurred on Halloween of 2002, it killed 28 people, 27 of whom were children who died when their school collapsed. (AP)

March 30, 2009

China denies allegations of cyber spying

The BBC reported that the spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London has said that there is no evidence supporting the claim that Beijing has been involved in the electronic infiltration of several government offices.

Voice of America reported that the exiled Tibetan government believes China has stolen information from them.

"We have been experiencing this injection of viruses into our computer system. Our experience is that these viruses sent out information, both confidential and non-confidential," Tibetan government spokesman Thubten Samphel said.

Computer analysts who were called into India to work for the Tibetan government say that a Chinese spy ring is responsible for electronic invasions in over 100 countries.

The Chinese spokesman, Liu Weimin, said that China is an active participant in the global effort to prevent these very attacks.

The Canadian analysts said that their report shows no conclusive evidence pointing to China. (BBC)

Other countries that have been targeted include Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan.

The analysts also said that the targets appear to be localized primarily in Asia.

March 24, 2009

S. African conference postponed after Dalai Lama is refused a visa

South African officials Monday refused to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, Voice of America reported.

The Dalai Lama was visiting the country to attend a conference intended to promote soccer as a tool for peace. The conference has now been postponed.

The conference is being organized by South Africa's FIFA 2010 World Cup local organizing committee. The Dalai Lama was among several important people who planned to be in attendance. Others included the Nobel Peace Committee and other dignitaries.

The New York Times reported that retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president F.W. de Klerk, both South African Nobel Price laureates refused to attend the conference if the Dalai Lama was not present.

The two also chastised the country for giving into pressures from China and not allowing the Dalai Lama to attend.

“We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure,” Tutu said in a statement Monday to the The Sunday Tribune, according to the New York Times. “I feel deeply distressed and ashamed.”

A weekly South African news paper showed that the Chinese Communist Party has been giving funds to the campaign of the African National Congress. (Voice of America)

March 9, 2009

Zimbabwe PM calls crash an accident

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday ruled out foul play in the car crash that fatally wounded his wife last week, reported the BBC.

"When something happens, there is always speculation but I want to say in this case, if there was any foul play, it was one in a thousand," Tsvangirai said, according to the BBC.

The driver of the car that collided with the Prime Minister's wife's car was granted bail after appearing in court on the charge of culpable homicide.

The driver said he plans on denying the charge of culpable homicide and claim that the crash was caused by the poor condition of the road.

CNN reported that Tsvangirai was hurt in the wreck that was initially thought to be carried out by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai joined the coalition government of Zimbabwe along with Mugabe after a heated election.

The BBC reported that Tsvangirai flew to Botswana to receive medical care and to rest.

March 2, 2009

Chinese forces surround Tibetan monastery

Chinese security forces surrounded a Tibetan monastery Monday after monks demonstrated against Chinese oppression, reported AFP.

This latest development comes after a monk set himself on fire last week in protest of China's 58-year rule of the region.

Several hundred monks staged a protest at the monastery after Chinese officials wouldn't let them pray during a traditional Buddhist festival.

Students for a Free Tibet, an organization based in New York, told AFP that around 300 to 400 soldiers were sent to the monastery to stop the protest.

"The monastery is now sealed and there is a heavy military presence outside the main road," the group said in a statement obtained by AFP.

The BBC reported that last year a protest by monks led to a riot in one region of the country and unrest in surrounding areas.

The BBC called that protest the biggest one in two decades.

According to AFP, the Dalai Lama, who is currently in exile, has accused the Chinese government of attempting to incite riots in order to justify a major crackdown on protesters.

February 23, 2009

Iraqi museum partially restored, about to re-open

The Associated Press reported that Iraq's National History Museum, which was looted in 2003 as a result of the U.S. invasion, was dedicated on Monday.

The museum will open to the public on Tuesday.

Prior to its ransacking six years ago the museum was known for being one of the leading collections of artifacts from as far back as the Stone Age.

The Associated Press reported that over 7,000 items are still missing from the collection, while Reuters reports that 9,000 items are still missing.

"We have focused in particular on exhibiting the antiquities looted in 2003 but which have been recovered," said museum director Amira Eidan to Reuters.

Reuters also reported that archaeologists around the world view the looting of the museum to be a tragedy not only for Iraq but for the world as a whole.

The U.S. gave $13 million dollars to help restore the museum that Iraq hopes will bolster tourism in the country. (Reuters)

February 16, 2009

North Korea celebrates leader's birthday

North Korea is celebrating the birthday of its leader Kim Jong-il Monday, reported Telegraph. The birthday of Jong-il, now 67, is considered one of the most important national holidays in the country.

The International Herald Tribune also reported that a statement was made on his birthday that eluded to a potential missile launch. North Korea's neighbors believe the missile would be capable of reaching the U.S.

Those neighbors also fear North Korea could be developing technology to place nuclear warheads on their missiles.

State-run North Korean television station KCNA, which deemed Jong-il as their "heaven-made commander", said that the country plans to go ahead with the launch, despite the arrival in the region by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Telegraph)

KCNA claims the launch is related to the country's peaceful space program, and is not intended to be a long range missile attack.

Jong-il, who suffered a stroke last August, plans to turn North Korea into a "strong and great nation" by the year 2012. (International Herald Tribune)

February 9, 2009

Australia fires rage on

A record 135 people are dead after some 400 brushfires in Australia have destroyed several towns, reports The Guardian.

Officials in Victoria, Australia believe the fires could have been intentionally set.

"Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria ... many good people now lie dead," said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Rudd also accused the arsonists of mass murder.

The death toll is expected to rise as authorities investigate more of the damaged areas. The fires have already sent 80 people to the hospital with burns. Police, speaking to United Press International, say that the identification of the bodies of victims could take weeks.

United Press International reports that 134 people have died, 28 fires are still burning, and over 700 homes have been destroyed. The New York Times says 750 homes have been destroyed and over 1,000 people have been displaced.

Many residents tried to flee the blazes in their cars, only to find downed trees and thick smoke hindering their escape. Some even sought refuge in the water to avoid the fires. (New York Times)

Global warming may be partly to blame for the spread of the fires. According to the New York Times scientists have said for years that changes to the climate could bring higher temperatures and lower rainfall to Australia, which in turn could trigger the spread of dangerous fires like these.

February 2, 2009

U.N. official kidnapped in Pakistan

CNN reports that a senior U.N. official was kidnapped by Pakistani militants early Monday morning.

John Solecki was on his way to work Monday morning when he was abducted. Solecki is the head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office in Quetta, Pakistan.

His Pakistani driver died at a hospital due to injuries he sustained in a gunbattle.

"We strongly condemn this attack on humanitarian workers in Pakistan who have been doing their utmost to deliver their humanitarian mission," said the U.N. speaking to CNN.

Taliban involvement has not been ruled out. The BBC reports that over the past year kidnappings of foreigners has increased but are normally localized in the north-west where the Taliban are strongest. Taliban guerrillas are under control of a wide range of territory in the north-west, reports Bloomerg.

The abduction of Solecki marks the first attack on an American official in Quetta history.

"The government of Pakistan is taking all necessary measure for safe and early recovery of Mr. Solecki,� said Pakistan's foreign ministry, speaking to Bloomberg.

January 26, 2009

Fallen Indian security officers honored

Eleven Indian security officers were honored during India's annual Republic Day parade on Monday, reports the BBC.

Six of the 11 officers were killed during the attacks in Mumbai last November that left over 170 dead.

The officers were honored with Ashok Chakra medals, given to those who lose their lives to acts of terrorism. Present at the festivities was President Pratibha Patil who presented the posthumous medals to the victim's families.

Security was a top priority at the event where thousands of security officers were deployed around the area. "This year we have more policemen, more anti-aircraft guns and three helicopters ready to fly out with commandoes in case of any emergency," said Rajan Bhagat, a Delhi police spokesperson, speaking to the International Herald Tribune.

Prior to the festivities two gunmen were shot down near Delhi. Police believe the men were from neighboring Pakistan, a country with which India has had a long standing conflict.

The parade celebrating the nations independence from Britain in 1947 consisted of floats from each of India's states but was without the traditional bejewelled elephants. The elephants were withheld from the celebration over fears of outlash from animal rights groups.

Also missing was Indian PM Manmohan Singh who was recovering from heart surgery during the celebration.