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April 26, 2009

Hitler's Paintings Sold in Auction

Fifteen pieces of art by Adolf Hitler Thursday raised almost $120,000 at an auction Thursday held by anonymous sellers.
The auction, held by the Mullock's of Shropshire auction house, included several watercolor paintings along with an oil painting that sold for about $20,000.
One watercolor of a figure rumored to be Hitler himself sitting a bridge sold for almost $15,000- over six times what was expected, CNN reported.
The watercolor paintings came from a collector who forgot about the paintings until he found them in his garage, Richard Westwood-Brookes of Mullock's told CNN.
Though many were unaware of Hitler's artistic leanings, he spend several years painting water colors to support himself.
In addition to artwork, the auction included various paraphernalia from Hitler's reign, including concentration camp documents, CNN reported.
The auction offended many who oppose the supposed celebration of the dictator. Westwood-Brooke, however, defended the sale.
"It's just as much as part of the Second World War as photographs of (Winston) Churchill," Westwood-Brooke told CNN. "It's something that happened and you can't ignore it."

April 19, 2009

Indian Girl Dies After Hours in Sun

A Dehli, India girl died Friday after fainting and slipping into a coma following several hours spent outdoors in the sun.
Family of Shano Khan, 11, say the girl was forced to stand several hours outside in the midday sun for incorrectly reciting the alphabet, BBC reported.
Khan died in the hospital, though medical tests are still being conducted to determine exactly what caused her death.
According to BBC, Renuka Chaudhary, India's minister for women and child welfare, called for investigation and the arrest of Khan's school teacher.
School officials deny the family's account, and say Khan died because of her frequent seizures.
"She has been irregular with her classes because of fits. On Wednesday too, she had fits, following which her parents were informed," a school official told The Times of India.
Nonetheless, both the teacher and principal at the municipal school have been suspended pending further investigation.
According to BBC, Delhi's private schools forbid corporal punishment.

April 11, 2009

Spain Sees Widespread Debate Over Abortion Law

A fierce debate rages on in Spain over a proposed law that would make early-term abortion legal and virtually unrestricted in the country.
Religious officials across the nation have used Holy Week services to publicly oppose the legislation, which would legalize consensual abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The law would also allow women from the age of 16 to seek an abortion without parental consent. It would legalize abortions up to 22 weeks into a pregnancy in the case of congenital disorders.
Supporters of the legislation cite the nation's progressive policies in many other areas as evidence for their cause.
"How can it be that in Spain we allow transsexuals to get a sex change, that gay people can marry, but we don’t allow a woman to abort a child who has a severe disorder?” Gemma Botifoll said in the New York Times.
Botifoll recently crossed the border from Spain to France to abort her 34-week pregnancy after doctors told her the baby would have severe disabilities at birth and would likely die within a year.
Spain's current laws allow abortions within 12 weeks of a pregnancy in the case of rape and 22 weeks for congenital disorders.
However, 97 percent of the nation's abortions take advantage of an exception that allows abortions at any point if a woman's physical or mental health is in jeopardy, the New York Times reported.
Anti-abortion groups and conservative government officials have joined the church in opposing the legislation, saying that abortions are not only morally wrong, but also harmful to women.
“This government likes to say it defends women’s rights,” Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the conservative advocacy group HazteOir, said in the New York Times. “But women who abort suffer physically and psychologically.”

April 5, 2009

North Korean Missile Launch Outrages U.N.

North Korea outraged U.S., Japanese, and Chinese governments by carrying out a rocket launch Sunday morning in the face of opposition from all three countries.
At 11:30 a.m. a multistage rocket was launched from the Musudan-ri launch pad in northeastern North Korea, reaching Japanese airspace in seven minutes, USA Today reported.
The launch followed blatant statments of opposition from the U.S., Japanese, and Chinese governments, and prompted an emergency session for the U.N. Security Council on Sunday afternoon.
Though the country claims its motive is to develop a satellite and space program, many fear the launch was a test of long-range missile technology.
President Obama denounced the launch as a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, USA Today reported. The resolution barred North Korea from ballistic missile technology after it tested nuclear weapons in 2006.
Sources were not clear on whether the rocket contained a satellite as the North Korean government claimed. The government has strongly threatened any country that would attempt to intercept the rocket.
Future actions are yet unclear, but President Obama said Friday that should the rocket be launched, the United States would "take appropriate steps to let North Korea know that it can't threaten the safety and security of other countries with impunity."

March 29, 2009

Lights Dim Around the World for Earth Hour

Over 3,000 cities and towns worldwide dimmed their lights for an hour Saturday evening as a statement against global climate change.
Famous landmarks across the world were dimmed or completely turned off from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time, including London's Big Ben, the Egyptian Pyramids, Paris's Eiffel Tower and the statue of Christ the Redeemer over Rio de Janeiro.
Cities such as Beijing, Athens, New York City and Dubai switched off their skyscrapers and buildings, while families and individuals shut of lights in their homes for an hour.
The blackouts were a part of Earth Hour- an event that began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, to bring attention to global warming and environmental issues.
Its intent is to create a sense of public pressure and urgency in solving issues of the environment, sources told BBC. It gives a picture of what people can do to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supported the event as a positive demonstration for the environmental cause.
"Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message," Ki-moon said in a video on the event's YouTube channel. "They want action on climate change."

March 15, 2009

Archaeologists Say Cleopatra Was of African Descent

Archaeologists recently announced that the famous Eqyptian queen Cleopatra, traditionally thought to be Greek, was likely of African descent.
Upon studying the remains of Cleopatra's sister Princess Arsinoe, researchers discovered that the bones indicated her mother had what they called an African skeleton, BBC reported.
"That Arsinoe had an African mother is a real sensation which leads to a new insight on Cleopatra's family and the relationship of the sisters Cleopatra and Arsinoe," Hilke Thuer, the Austrian scientist who made the discovery, told BBC.
Thuer said it was astonishing to think of the ancient women as real people, not just mythical figures.
Cleopatra was the lover of the Roman general Mark Antony. Historians believe that a strong sibling rivalry between the sisters may have led Cleopatra to order Antony to murder Arsinoe.
"When I stood in the lab and handled the bones of Cleopatra's blood sister - knowing that in her lifetime she touched Cleopatra and perhaps Julius Caesar and Mark Antony as well- I felt the hairs go up on the back of my neck," Thuer told BBC. "Suddenly these giant figures from history were flesh and blood."

March 8, 2009

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Injured and Wife Killed in Collision

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was injured and his wife Susan was killed Friday after their car collided with a truck while traveling to to their rural home.
Tsvangirai was sworn into his position just last month after years of public opposition to former President Robert Mugabe.
The couple were traveling home for a Saturday rally at their home in the eastern district of Buhera.
A spokesman for Tsvangirai told the Los Angeles Times that a truck hit the couple's car, the second in a three-car convoy, which rolled three times. Tsvangirai's wife was thrown from the car.
Mugabe and his wife visited Tsvangirai in the hospital along with Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Reserve Bank Gov. Gideon Gono, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Tsvangirai's injuries are not believed to be serious.
Though the prime minister has faced several assassination attempts, there is no evidence to show that Friday's crash was foul play. Zimbabwe is widely known for the poor condition of its highways.
The Tsvangirais had been married for 31 years and had six children.

February 26, 2009

Turkish Plane Crashes Near Amsterdam

Nine people died and more than 50 were injured when a Turkish Airlines flight crashed into a field outside Amsterdam Wednesday morning.
The Boeing 737-800 was headed to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport from Instanbul and was carrying 134 people. No cause of the accident has yet been released.
Among those dead are two pilots and an apprentice pilot. Of the 55 people reported reported injuried, six were in critical condition and 25 seriously wounded, a local health spokesperson told USA Today.
The crash comes in a wave of bizarre plane accidents that have occurred in recent months, including one in Italy and three more in the United States.
Most recently, a Continental Connection plane crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York, killing 50.
Bill Voss, president of the non-profit Flight Safety Foundation, said that the industry needs to examine the string of accidents to see what can be learned.
"We have to start questioning ourselves about whether we are doing all that we can do to apply the lessons learned and take advantage of safety information to eliminate these crashes," he told USA Today.

February 21, 2009

Jailed Australian Writer Freed in Thailand

An Australian writer sentenced to three years in a Thai prison returned home Saturday after receiving a pardon from the Thai royal family.
Harry Nicolaides, 41, was imprisoned in January for allegedly defaming a Thai monarch in a fictional book, "Verisimilitude," that he wrote in 2005.
The passage in question, which made reference to an unnamed crown prince, was deemed dishonorable to the Thai royal family.
Only seven of the 50 printed copies of Nicolaides's book were ever sold.
Nicolaides's release came at the urging of the Australian government, which fervently lobbied the Thai government for an official pardon.
According to an AP correspondent, the case had been widely publicized in Australia, where shocking prison photos of Nicolaides were circulated on television.
Upon his release, Nicolaides learned that his mother had suffered a stroke during his imprisonment. His father told reporters that they would immediately visit her in the hospital upon leaving the airport.

February 15, 2009

Saudi Woman Becomes Country's First Female Minister

In a groundbreaking decision Saturday, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah appointed the first woman in Saudi history to the nation's council of ministers.
Norah al-Faiz will serve as the deputy minister for women's education, a newly-created position that is a part of a major set of changes enacted by the king.
The appointment comes as a victory for women's rights advocates, who have been counting on Abdullah to act on his promises of reform.
Many see this as a first step towards equality in the country, where women are still seen as the property of men and are not allowed to drive cars.
"This is the main thing that is controlling our life," activist Wajeha al-Huwaider told CNN. "We want to be able to drive our cars, you know, to feel like we are just like the rest of the world."
Al-Faiz assured Saudi women that she will stand up for them and not be a token member of the council.
"I'm very proud to be nominated and selected for such a prestigious position," al-Faiz told CNN. "I hope that other ladies, females, will follow in the future."

February 4, 2009

German Program Promotes Low-Emission Cars to Stimulate Economy

A new government program in Germany awards car owners over $3,000 to scrap their old vehicles in favor of new, environmentally-friendly cars.
The program comes as part of efforts to stimulate the country's struggling economy by encouraging purchasing as well as improving environmental conditions.
In addition to the government stipend, Volkswagen car dealerships are offering special discounts and lower financing for customers participating in the program, MSNBC reported.
To qualify for the program, consumers must own cars at least nine years old that have been registered in Germany at least a year.
The cars purchased must be new or less than a year old and meet the strictest emission standards set by the European Union.
Critics of the program argue that the incentives might benefit other countries' economies more than Germany's, as the cars purchased need not be German.
However, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel argues that even cars purchased from other nations will bring round-about benefits to Germany.
"It's our common goal to get all of Europe back on its feet, because in the end, that's good for us," Merkel told MSNBC.

January 31, 2009

Iraqis Hold Peaceful Election

The people of Iraq held a peaceful election for provincial counselors Saturday in the first nationwide vote in four years.
Over 14,000 candidates vied for 440 seats in local governments in an election that, according to The New York Times, attempted to align provincial councils with Iraq's ethnic, sectarian, and tribal balance.
Even with an extended hour of polling, few incidences of violence were reported and there were no confirmed deaths.
Officials attributed the successful vote to the rigid security checkpoints and regulations that were in place throughout the day, including the temporary closing of most roads to prevent suicide bombings.
However, the closures prevented large numbers of voters from reaching their designated polling locations, many of whom were already confused as to where to vote.
Confusion regarding polling locations caused many voters to travel from center to center looking for their names on voter lists. Many simply gave up.
In spite of the confusion, voter turnouts ranged from 50 percent in some provinces to an estimated 90 percent in others.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki told The New York Times, "I am very happy today because all the indications and information indicate a big turnout in the voting centers. This is a victory for all Iraqis.?
Iraq will hold a nationwide general election later this year.