Recently in International News Category

By Brett Stolpestad

President Obama issued a warning to the Syrian government Monday about the possible deployment of chemical weapons, the New York Times reported.

President Obama's warning issued at the National Defense University came in response to intelligence reports from U.S. officials that described preparations of Damascus government to deploy chemical munitions, the Washington Post reported.

"Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching," President Obama said.

Obama warned President Bashar al-Assad that "there will be consequences" if any of the stock-piled chemical munitions were used against the Syrian people, the Washington Post reported.

Obama's administration said it would take action against the Assad government if chemical weapons are used, including the possibility of using military force, the New York Times reported.

Rebel forces have made serious advancements in Syria, which has prompted questions of Assad's desperation and his consideration of using chemical weapons, the Washington Post reported.

U.S. officials are concerned with the preparations at chemical munitions sites but say it is still unclear wether the Assad government will move to the stage of deploying the weapons, the Washington Post reported.

Over 100 Killed In Factory Fire in Bangladesh

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By Brett Stolpestad

At least 112 people perished Saturday and Sunday after a fire engulfed a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Washington Post reported.

The fire at the eight-story factory, Tazreen Fashions, started at about 7 p.m. on Saturday. It took firefighters all night to put the fire out, the New York Times reported.

The fire department operations director, Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, told the Associated Press that 12 people had died in hospitals after jumping from the building to escape the flames, the Washington Post reported.

According to officials, the factory did not have a sufficient amount of emergency exits, the Washington Post reported. The Bangladesh garment industry has become notorious for its poor safety conditions. According to an anti-sweatshop advocate group in Amsterdam, there have been almost 500 Bangladeshi victims in other factory fires since 2006, the New York Times reported.

Experts say that industrial disasters like this could have been easily avoided if factories would have taken proper safety precautions, the New York Times reported.

Tazreen Fashions Ltd., which makes products for Wal-Mart and other European and U.S. companies, had received a "high-risk" safety rating by a Wal-Mart "ethical sourcing" assessor in May of last year, the Washington Post reported.

The cause of the fire was not immediately determined by officials, the Washington Post reported.

Syrian Conflict Pulling In Neighboring Countries

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By Brett Stolpestad

The civil war in Syria has provoked military from both Turkey and Israel, with Turkey launching deadly airstrikes on Syrian rebel positions and Israeli tank commanders attacking Syrian artillery units, the New York Times reported.

The escalation of violence from Syria's neighbors is an indication of the growing tensions in both Israel and Turkey in response to the Syrian civil war, the New York Times reported.

Turkey has retaliated on several occasions in response to deadly mortar attacks on the Turkish village of Akcakale, the Washington Post reported. Turkey has also scrambled military aircraft in response to Syrian helicopters flying too close to the border.

Thousands of Syrian refugees continue to spill into Turkey as they try to escape the violence. Turkish refugee camps are now home to almost 120,000 Syrians with almost 70,000 others living outside of the camps, the Washington Post reported.

Israel is also constantly affected by the Syrian conflict and retaliated Monday when Israeli tanks fired upon a Syrian armored vehicle. The attack was in response to fighting that spilled over into Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, the Washington Post reported.

Lebanon, who has not yet retaliated, has also experienced casualties from the fighting in Syria.

At Lest 39 Dead After Earthquake in Guatemala

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By Brett Stolpestad

A powerful and deadly earthquake shook Guatemala Wednesday destroying home, knocking out electricity and leaving at least 52 dead with more still missing, the Washington Post reported.

The earthquake, which occurred along Guatemala's Pacific coast Wednesday morning, was one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit Guatemala in almost 36 years, the Los Angeles Times reported. The magnitude of the earthquake was measured to be 7.4.

President Otto Perez Molina told the New York Times that it is the most devastating earthquake since the one in 1976, which was responsible for the death of almost 23,000 people.

The earthquake has affected almost 1.2 million people as its force could be felt across nearly the entire country, Perez told the Washington Post.

There have been 70 aftershocks in addition to the initial quake with some reaching a magnitude of 4.9, Perez said.

Almost 700 people are now in shelters. With homes destroyed, no power and no running, water, people continue to take shelter and wait out the aftershocks, the Washington Post reported.

Execution Video from Syria Raises War Crime Concerns

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By Brett Stolpestad

The United Nations said Friday that a video of Syrian rebels kicking and then executing captive soldiers with machines guns could provide evidence of war crimes, the New York Times reported.

The video first appeared Thursday and has since circulated widely through the internet, attracting much attention, the New York Times reported.

The United Nations believes that Presidents Bashar Assad's regime is responsible for much of the war crimes since the conflict in Syria began, the Washington Post reported. But human rights activists say that the atrocities have been committed by both sides and are on the rise.

The U.N. said that they had already collected evidence of war crimes from both the government and rebel groups and that this video will be further evidence to support the prosecution, the New York Times reported.

It is unclear which rebel faction is responsible for the executions depicted on the video, the Washington Post reported.

Doubts remain about cease-fire In Syria

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By Brett Stolpestad

Lakhdar Brahimi, envoy to Syria, announced a cease-fire Wednesday for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but doubts remain whether the cease-fire will hold, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The United Nations Security Council fully endorsed Brahimi's effort to push for a four day cease-fire but there are still many doubts that the cease-fire will hold, the New York Times reported.

The United Nations Security Council also hoped that that four day cease fire will be maintained as a long lasting and stable cease-fire, the New York Times reported.

Questions remain about which of the warring parties will honor the cease fire as well as how the cease-fire will be enforced, the New York Times reported.

Cuba Dropping Travel Abroad Restrictions

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By Brett Stolpestad

The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it is planning to drop the exit visa requirement that traps many Cubans who want to travel abroad, the New York Times reported.

The termination of the exit visa will allow Cubans to travel abroad with only a passport and visa from the country they are leaving to. The Cuban government announced that it will be ending the exit visa requirement as of Jan. 13, the New York Times reported.

The Washington Post reported that the Cuban government will also allow Cubans to stay abroad for 24 months before running the risk of loosing certain state-provided benefits.

The exit visa was a widely unpopular requirement that forced Cubans to undergo a long application process and included hundreds of dollars in fees, the Washington Post reported.

By Brett Stolpestad

North Korea said that it now has missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland on Tuesday after the U.S. and South Korea came to an agreement on an extended range for South Korean ballistic missiles just days before, CNN reported.

North Korea also said that the recent agreement between the U.S. and South Korea is increasing the risk of war on the Korean Peninsula, the New York Times reported.

North Korea claims that the strike zone of its rocket forces includes the U.S. and South Korean bases in Korea but also Japan, Guam and the U.S. mainland, CNN reported.

In the past, North Korea has launched missiles that it claims to be satellite launches but both South Korean and American officials believe those launches to be covers for ballistic missile tests, the New York Times reported.

At least 25 People Dead in Hong Kong Ferry Collision

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By Brett Stolpestad

At least 25 people died Monday when a ferry carrying more than 120 people sank near Lamma island, just south of Hong Kong, after a collision with another ferry, the New York Times reported.

The Chinese government reports to have recovered 36 bodies as of Tuesday morning with more than 100 people rescued and sent to hospitals, the Washington Post reported.

The ferry was carrying utility company worker and their families to Victoria Harbour to watch fireworks when it collided with the other vessel, the Washington Post reported.

The other ferry, operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Holdings, made it safely to Lamma island with a badly damaged bow. Several of the passengers were taken to the hospital for injuries, the New York Times reported.

China Launches New Aircraft Carrier

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By Brett Stolpestad

China launched its first aircraft carrier on Tuesday, emphasizing China's growing naval strength while tension between China and Japan continues, The New York Times reported.

However, The Washington Post reported that the carrier, the Liaoning, will not be used for combat purposes. The Liaoning is currently unable to carry planes and China has yet to develop aircraft capable of landing on the carrier.

Chinese military experts said that the Liaoning will be limited to training and testing purposes only, The New York Times reported.

The Liaoning was constructed from an unfinished Soviet vessel that was towed from Ukraine in 1998. The Chinese have refurbished it giving it new engines and navigation systems, The Washington Post reported.

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