December 8, 2007

Oil spill scares South Korea

A Samsung-Corp sea vessel slammed into a 146,000 ton Hong Kong registered oil tanker in South Korea Friday, according to the AP.
No one died in the accident, but South Korea sent dozens of ships from its coast guard to try to contain the 2.7 million gallons of oil that spilled, trying to keep it from reaching an “ecologically sensitive shoreline on the west coast.�

December 1, 2007

Pope invites Muslim leaders to find common ground

Pope Benedict invited Muslim leaders to discuss their request to find a common ground between the two religions in a letter signed by 138 Muslim religious authorities, according to the Guardian.
In the letter, Muslim leaders warned that the “survival of the world could be at stake� if the two religions failed.
In the Pope’s response, he said that atheism had “led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice,� and proposed a working group including both Muslim leaders and Vatican officials.

November 18, 2007

Chavez seeks to increase control, will likely succeed

In two weeks, Venezuela will vote on extensive revisions to its constitution, which would cut the workday to six hours, give homemakers and maids state pensions, significantly increase President Hugo Chavez’s power and give allow him to be re-elected for the rest of his life, according to the New York Times, which called it an “experiment in centralized, oil-fueled socialism� Saturday.
Chavez’s supporters already maintain control over the “National Assembly, the Supreme Court, almost every state government, the entire federal bureaucracy and newly nationalized companies in the telephone, electricity and oil industries,� the New York Times said. If the revisions are passed December 2, which they are likely to, Chavez’ control will increase.

November 11, 2007

Musharaff sets election date, continues "emergency rule"

Pakistani president Perves Musharraf, who asserted "emergency control" of the county about two weeks ago, refuses to say when the martial law will end, but did set a date in January for the next election, according to the Guardian and the New York Times.
Pakistan's supreme court was dissolved, thousands were jailed, and Pakistan's constitution was suspended under Musharraf's emergency rule. At a press conference Saturday Musharraf said he would hold elections in early January, but declined to say when his emergency rule would end or when he would step down as military leader.
President Bush called Musharraf the best president for Pakistan, according to the New York Times.

November 4, 2007

Musharraf imposes emergency rule, arrrests hundreds

Pakistan’s prime minister, Pervez Musharraf, imposed emergency rule on Pakistan Saturday, arresting hundreds and restricting media, according to the BBC and the Guardian.
Musharraf declared emergency rule just before the Pakistan supreme court was to rule on the legality of Musharraf’s election in October. Musharraf said he did it to stop Pakistan from “committing suicide� due to what he calls the country’s militant violence and unruly judiciary, the BBC said.
Musharraf ordered the arrest of judges as the supreme court was sitting Saturday, arrested opposition politicians and senior lawyers, the Guardian said. Television and radio stations were taken off the air, and military troops are manning the streets.
The emergency rule could delay elections, which were scheduled to take place November 15, when Musharraf said he would step down, a year.
The U.S., which depends on an alliance with Musharraf in the war against terror, implored him to take less authoritative steps.

October 27, 2007

Photos show suspected Syrian nuclear site here today, gone tomorrwow

In August, satellite photos showed a square building 150 feet to a side in Syria which federal analysts suspected served as a work site for a nuclear reactor. On Wednesday, two satellite photos showed the same site absent the building, according to the New York Times.
Syria said the site was bombed by the Israelis in early September and was a mostly empty military storage building. Private and federal analysts, however, said the quick and clean removal of the building could be a tacit admission of guilt.
“It’s a magic act — here today, gone tomorrow,� a senior intelligence official said, the New York Times reported Friday. “It doesn’t lower suspicions; it raises them. This was not the long-term decommissioning of a building, which can take a year. It was speedy. It’s incredible that they could have gone to that effort to make something go away.�

October 20, 2007

Panties For Peace -- A new kind of protest

Frustrated at the Burmese government’s refusal to discontinue its crackdown, protests have launched a new campaign—Panties for Peace, The Guardian reported on Friday.
An activist group based in Chiang Mai, Thailand launched the campaign, which has already sent female underwear to Burmese embassies in the UK, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia. The campaign is aimed directly at Burma’s military leaders, who are very superstitious and believe if they touch a woman’s undergarment their strength will be drained, according to The Guardian.

October 12, 2007

Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Norweigan Nobel committee decided Friday that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 would be split between the UN climate Panel and Al Gore for advancing knowledge of global warming, The Guardian and the BBC reported Friday.
Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will split the $3 million prize.
The Nobel committee said Gore was “probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted,� according to The Guardian.
Gore, 59, said he was “deeply honored,� according to the BBC.

October 6, 2007

New York Opens Slave Burial Site

New York opened a slave burial site to the public Saturday, according to the BBC.
The burial site in Manhattan, which dates back to the late 17th Century, had been built over as New York expanded. It was discovered during a 1991 excavation for a federal building. Half of the 400 remains found were of children under 12.
A 25 foot granite monument designed by Rodney Leon now marks the site. It is made out of stone from South Africa and North America.
Maya Angelou and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were present at the dedication ceremony Saturday. The project cost $50 million.

September 30, 2007

Coens to Film In Minnesota

The Coen brothers decided to shoot another film in Minnesota, despite hard lobbying in Wisconsin to have the directors move shop across the border, according to the Pioneer Press.
The Coen brothers, who wrote and directed Fargo, among many other films, decided to film their newest film, “A Serious Man,� in their native Minnesota. The film is budgeted at $15 million and the shoot is expected to last 50 days. Great benefits are expected to come to Minnesota as a result of shooting here.
One insider who’s read the “A Serious Man� script called it “funny as hell,� according to the Pioneer Press. The shoot is expected to begin in April.

September 23, 2007

Bush Vows to Veto Kids' Health Care Bill

President Bush declared Saturday he would veto a kids’ health care bill which has received substantial bi-partisan support, according to the New York Times.
Congress passed a bill expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is a state-federal program that finances health insurance for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for private coverage. Most of those covered under the program are children. The program expires September 30, and Congress’ bill, which was proposed by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers Friday, would raise federal tax on cigarettes from 61 cents to $1 per pack and would add $35 billion over five years to the program, according to the New York Times. The move would add 4 million people to the program, which already serves 6.6 million.
Bush called Democrats irresponsible for passing a bill they knew would be vetoed.
“Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point,� he said.
Democrat Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell rebuffed, saying that if Bush doesn’t sign the bill, 15 states will be left without any funding for the program by the end of September.
“Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage -- not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage,� Bush said, also saying the bill is too costly and unacceptably raises taxes.
The bill received tremendous Democratic support along with considerable Republican support.

September 16, 2007

Oprah Lends Obama a Hand

Multi-millionaire and public icon Oprah Winfrey held an exclusive and high-profile fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Saturday, according to the New York Times. The event, which was held at Winfrey’s home in Santa Barbara, was invitation-only, and the ticket price was $2,300, within campaign donation limits.
Celebrity guests included Chris Rock, Cindy Crawford, Sidney Poitier, Dennis Haysbert and Stevie Wonder, who performed at the event, among others.
Cameras and recording devices were prohibited at the event, and guests, after being escorted in high-class vehicles, were put through security measures, according to the New York Times.
The event is expected to have raised $3 million for the Obama campaign.