Cities in over 125 countries are officially taking part in the environment-friendly Earth Hour, which encourages everyone to turn off their lights for one hour on Saturday at 8:30 pm local time. Iconic landmarks and sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the Las Vegas Strip, and the Egyptian pyramids, among others, have agreed to turn off their lights for the initiative. One exception lies in the city of Bangkok, where officials have decided not to partake due to fear of violence from anti-government protesters, AFP.
Officials say they have found the decapitated head and body of Heriberto Cerda, the police chief of Agualeguas, Mexico. His brother, Jesus Cerda, was found dead in a truck nearby, but police have not reported his cause of death. The town’s deputy police chief and Cerda’s bodyguard were also murdered by gunmen hours before the discovery of the bodies belonging to the Cerda brothers. The crimes are believed to be related to drug and gang violence, which has killed 18,000 people in the country since 2006, AP.
The bloc of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has been declared the winner of the Iraqi parliamentary elections that took place two weeks ago, but it remains to be seen if Allawi will become the next prime minister. He has vowed to help bring peace to the Arab and Muslim world by accepting his former political rivals into the new government and promoting governmental secularism, AP.
The sinking of a South Korean naval ship may have been due to a mine explosion, new reports suggest. Of the 104 sailors onboard the ship, 58 have been rescued thus far, and officials say there is little reason to suspect North Korea was involved, Xinhau.
35 people have died after coordinated explosions struck the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan, Al Jazeera.
Myanmar announced a new law barring anyone convicted of a crime from running for office. The new law will exclude political activists from participating in the upcoming election and may also force political parties to remove activists from their membership. The law is in large part targeted against Aung San Suu Kyi, the last democratically elected leader of Myanmar (previously Burma) who has been under house arrest or in prison for much of the past 20 years. Myanmar is a tightly controlled society that is run by a military junta. Military leaders are going ahead with elections this year but are working to ensure that only hand-picked candidates can participate, Al Jazeera.
Google has added biking directions and biking maps to 150 U.S. cities in its Google Maps feature, Wired News.
The Large Hadron Collider will be shut down for a year to fix design flaws, BBC News.
Direct talks between India and Pakistan concluded successfully today. Little concrete was accomplished but channels of communication were reopened after a year of silence following the 2008 Mumbai hotel terror attack. India believe Pakistan was involved in the bombing, Al Jazeera.
Iraq will rehire 20,000 army officers who served under Saddam Hussein. The officers were removed after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The move was later criticized for helping to fuel the insurgency. With elections coming up soon in Iraq, some have said that Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki reinstated the officers in an effort to gain their votes, New York Times.
A trainer at a Seaworld theme park in the United States died after being attacked by a killer whale, BBC News. The killer whale had previously killed another trainer. Killer whales, who can weigh up to 22,000 pounds and usually live in packs of 50, can respond erratically to being in captivity. Some have called for the release of killer whales but killer whales born in captivity may still be dangerous in open waters, CNN.
Election officials in Ukraine have rejected complaints by Yulia Tymoshenko, the country’s current prime minister, of election fraud. Tymoshenko lost the election by 3 percentage points but has yet to concede, Associated Press.
NATO has launched a major offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan, BBC News.
Gearing up for possible protests during state-sponsored rallies in celebration of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution on Thursday, police have stepped up arrests of political dissidents in Iran. Opposition groups in Iran use a tactic of briefly showing themselves during state rallies before disappearing back into the crowds, Associated Press.
Civil servants in Greece are striking after the government announced a plan to freeze wages to save money, Al Jazeera. Greek protests in pictures, BBC News.
The outcome of the Ukrainian election is in dispute. Current Prime Minister Yulia Yanukovich received 3% less votes than rival Viktor Yanukovich but has not yet conceded, New York Times.
Following weeks of sporadic violence, Sri Lankans went to the polls today to vote for president. Results are expected tomorrow. Current president Mahinda Rajapakse (BBC News profile) is running for reelection against Sarath Fonseka (BBC News profile), the former military leader who was successful in crushing a multi-decade running Tamil rebellion, Al Jazeera.
Violent bombs rocked Baghdad for the second day in a row. Violence is expected to continue during the lead-up to parliamentary elections in March, CNN.
A French commission recommended the French Parliament pass a resolution banning face veils worn by Muslim women in some public areas, New York Times.
Haiti has called off the search for survivors from last week’s earthquake and will now focus solely on providing services to those who survived, BBC News. Haiti says more than 110,000 are now confirmed dead, CNN. A discussion of the role of journalists in natural disasters- do journalists help or hurt?, NPR.
In the aftermath of clashes between Muslims and Christians in the Nigerian city of Jos that ended this week, residents are realizing that the violence may have been even worse than thought. Bodies are now being found in wells and sewer ditches, including 150 found in wells in the village of Kuru Jantar, Al Jazeera.
In his weekly address, President Barack Obama said the Supreme Court overturned more than a century of law when it ruled that corporations have a constitutionally protected right to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns, White House. Transcript. The ruling will have an impact on existing laws in some states, New York Times.