Recently in International News Category

Fire leaves thousands homeless in shantytown

BBC news reports on a fire that spread through a shanty town outside the Filipino capital Manila.

The broadcast opens with the reporter giving scene details as viewers watch the video footage of the houses in flames. BBC says the fire destroyed hundreds of house and may have made as many as 7,000 people homeless.

There is a lot of video footage of the fire and the smoke as well as scenes of people fleeing. The reporter does not immediately mention the location of the fire, probably because it was mentioned in the "lead" that the anchor gave before the reporter's voiceover came on.

There are two quotes in the middle of the footage from people who were living in the shantytown when the fire happened. The voiceover of a translator lets the audience know what the people are saying. The witnesses - two women - say there was black smoke everywhere and children were running around screaming "fire." They said they weren't able to save anything from the flames.

The regional director of the fire department, who isn't named in the footage, says the strong winds made the fire spread even more quickly.

Now, BBC says many people have been moved to temporary accommodations as they wonder what to do next.

Britain investigates errors in organ donation

Britain's National Health Service Blood and Transplant organization announced Saturday that it was investigating errors in its organ donor list--several thousand errors--that go back about a decade, the Star Tribune said. They reported the donor list of about 14 million poeple has been affected by technical errors since 1999, and some people may have had organs removed without proper consent as a result.

For example, some people who wanted to donate their lungs or skin were incorrectly identified as people who wanted to donate their corneas or heart, the Star Tribune said. An official at the National Health Service said everyone on the register was a willing donor of some kind. She said no data has been lost, the problem has been contained and families have not yet been contacted since the investigation is ongoing.

About 800,000 people have been affected by the mix-up, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported. They said 45 of those people have since died and donated organs, and just under half of those are thought to have made incorrect donations.

Every Briton is considered a non-donor unless they register as one or their family decides to donate their organs after death, the Star Tribune said. They also said the British government has been trying to increase Britain's rate of organ donation, which is one of the lowest in Europe, and has spent a lot of money on an awareness compaign.

Also, other technological mishaps have happened in the country in the past few years, the Star Tribune reported, including misplaced data on 3 million driving test candidates, 600,000 army applicants, and 5,000 prison officers. In 2007, computer disks carrying bank records and other information on nearly half of Britain's population were lost. These mix-ups and losses have raised concern over whether or not the government can handle their citizens' information.

Joyce Robins, the co-director of patient watchdog group Patient Concern, told the Star Tribune these mishaps happen too often, and even though they are being told their data is safe, it's "rubbish" because the same things keep repeating themselves.

The Holy Shroud

From April 10 to May 23, the public will have a chance to view the Holy Shroud, a 14-foot-long linen though by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus, the Associated Press reported.

They said the cloth has a faded image of a bearded man on it and traces of writing. There were also patches that has been sewn on the cloth by nuns in the mid-1500s, but they were removed in order to smooth out creases, making for what might be better preservation, the Associated Press said Shroud Museum director Gian Maria Zaccone told them.

They said people can reserve a three- to five-minute viewing of the linen, and 1.5 million people- not including Pope Benedict XVI- have already reserved their spot to see the Shroud in Turin in northwest Italy.

Even though the public usually only gets to view the linen once every 25 years, the Associated Press said city officials are allowing the cloth to be shown as the "first showing of the new millennium." The cloth has also been shown recently in 1998, after a 20-year-wait, and in 2000 during Millennium celebration.

Scientific tests have been done to the cloth to see about its authenticity, the Press said. In 1998, John Paul II delicately called the cloth a powerful symbol within the church that recognized Christ's suffering, but he did not make any claims about its authenticity, the Associated Press reported.

There have been mixed results, the Associated Press said. First, a Vatican researcher said she proved through computer-enhanced images that the writing on the linen was used to wrap Jesus' body after he was crucified. Then when scraps of the cloth were carbon-dated, determining it was made in the 13th or 14th century through some sort of medieval forgery, the image on the cloth- of a man with wounds like Christ would have had- could not be explained.

Antonio Lambatti, a professor of Christian history, told the Associated Press he calls himself a skeptic. He said in his opinion, the Shroud isn't real, but he also said people's fascination with it goes beyond science and implies faith.

The Associated Press also mentioned that Hitler might have been after the Shroud during WWII as a symbol of power.

Protons were whipped to speeds greater than 99 percent the speed of light Tuesday inside the Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest physics machine, to make subatomic particles collide, The New York Times reported.

The LHC, a 17-mile underground magnetic track outside Geneva, has been the home of this project for 16 years at the cost of $10 billion, the Times said.

The Times said CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, built the collider with their top goals being identifying dark matter, which shapes visible cosmos, and the Higgs boson, a particle thought to saturate other particles with mass.

The Minnesota Daily said the track, which is located 100 meters underground, hadn't been used in two years. They also reported the 16 years worth of research was helped in part by University of Minnesota physicists, who have been working on the project since 1993. They said the University physicists--over 25 of them, in fact--helped design and build the collider with other international scientists and engineers on behalf of CERN.

The Daily said Kevin Klapoetke, a University graduate student, said the LHC could identify the origin of mass, dark matter, black holes and more.

Both sources report there needs to be more work done on the LHC before it will be working up to its full potential. However, the Times said CERN physicists will spend the next four to six months learning about their own detectors and reviewing known physics before moving on to larger projects.

Chieko Ishijima, Japanese nail artist

According to The Japan Times, Chieko Ishijima rose to the top of the competitive nail decorating business by offering unique nail designs to customers, including designs with semi-precious stones and acrylic designs of anime characters, flowers, and bows.

The Times said Ishijima said nail artists are model makers, sculptors, and architects. She said they must know how to do a variety of things as nail artists in order to satisfy the customer with a unique product--which, she said, everyone is after because everyone wants to stand out in a crowd. The Times said she has about 1,000 designs to offer people, but she said she still ends up offering customized designs to many people.

Ishijima told the Times her nail designs represent Japanese spirit very well because the Japanese love miniatures. She offered origami and haiku as couple of examples of what she called "tiny expressions of beauty."

This profile works because most of the article is Ishijima's own words. It's almost like a Q&A, except the questions are left out and just the answers are shown. She gave an in-depth look on the nail scene in Japan and possible reasons why she has been so successful.

The profile might have been more successful had the questions to the Q&A been shown. It would have been helpful to see how she answered specific questions or if there were any questions she tried to avoid.

World Food Program to investigate its operations in Somalia

The World Food Program, the branch of the United Nations that deals with food aid, is investigating its operations in Somalia because, according to a new Security Council Report, about half of the food aid sent to Somalia is actually ending up in the hands of corrupt authority figures.

United Press International reports that the food aid has been diverted for military uses and has wound up in the hands of powerful leaders who channel the profits and/or the aid itself. They then mention that Somali authorities have also been cooperating with pirates who hijack ships along the coast.

The New York Times gives more attention to the issue of Somali authorities' collaboration with pirates. They say Somali government ministers have auctioned off diplomatic visas for trips to Europe to the highest bidder- sometimes $10,000-$15,000-- and sometimes that bidder is a pirate who then goes to Europe and never returns.

According to both sources, the World Food Program deputy executive director Amir Abdulla said officials have not yet seen the report but are investigating the allegations anyway. The New York Times also added that the report has not been made public but was shown to them by diplomats.

Some of the report's authors have even received death threats, the New York Times reports, and had to be moved from Kenya to New York for safety reasons.

Both sources also said that the United States is providing Somalia with military aid to help reclaim their capital, Mogadishu, to combat Al Qaeda connections. The New York Times adds that although the United Nations is trying to roll back two decades of anarchy in the country, it may be an "uphill battle" because of Somalia's corrupt and disorganized security forces.

So far, the Somali authorities have denied the visa problem, and the World Food Program said it would investigate the report further once it was presented to the Security Council on March 16, the New York Times reports.

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