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.
A professor at the University of Alabama has been charged with murder after shooting 6 colleagues while attending a faculty meeting yesterday. 3 of the injured died. The shooter, Amy Bishop Anderson, is a Harvard-trained biology professor who had been at the University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2003, CNN. Anderson had recently been denied tenure, BBC News. Police have confirmed that Anderson accidentally shot her brother, who later died, in 1986, Boston Globe.
8 people died after an attack at a restaurant in Pune, India yesterday. The attack targeted The Germany Bakery restaurant which is frequented by European and Jewish customers. The attack followed the announcement that India and Pakistan would resume diplomatic talks, Reuters.
The 2010 Winter Olympics started on a tragic note yesterday when Nodar Kumaritashvili, a competitor in the luge event, died during a training run, BBC Sport.
Diplomats from India and Pakistan will meet on February 25 for the first time since the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Pakistan has denied involvement, but India broke off relations insisting that groups based in Pakistan were behind the devastating attacks that killed 173 people. One of the major issues to be addressed is the Kashmir region, a mountainous area that is divided by India and Pakistan. Muslims in the Indian part of Kashmir have been fighting to join Pakistan which is a majority Muslim state, Al Jazeera.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 57 million Americans contracted the H1N1 flu virus this flu season. 11,700 Americans died as a result of the flu, Wall Street Journal.
A mumps outbreak has infected 2,000 people, mostly schoolchildren, in New York and New Jersey, CNN.
The 2010 Winter Olympics begin tonight in Vancouver, Canada. The opening ceremony begins at 6pm Pacific Time, Official website. The final torch relay had to be diverted in Vancouver today due to protests, ABC News. Winter Olympics guide, Washington Post.
U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled his $3.8 trillion 2011 budget. The budget will include a $1.56 trillion deficit as the U.S. attempts to climb out of recession, BBC News.
A suicide bomb attack in Iraq killed 46 pilgrims on their way to Karbala. The suicide bomber was a woman, Al Jazeera.
France has denied citizenship to a man who forces his wife to wear a full Islamic veil, Al Jazeera.
An Indian man in Melbourne who said he was attacked by 4 Australians has now admitted to maing the story up. Tensions are high between Australians and Indians living and visiting Australia, BBC News.
15 people, including 3 cabinet ministers and 3 journalists, are dead after a suicide bomber struck a university graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. The suicide bomber was dressed as woman. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the militant Islamic group al-Shabab is suspected. Islamic militants control much of central and southern Somalia. The capital is protected by African Union peacekeepers who have nearly daily skirmishes with militants, Associated Press.
India’s Minister of State for the Environment has announced that the country will not sign any legally-binding emission reduction agreements at the upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen, Times of India. Residents of Shishmaref, Alaska fear climate change could destroy their town, CNN.
Israeli settlers protest a 10-month ban on new settlement construction. East Jerusalem is not included in the ban. Settlements are illegal under international law, but continue to be built by Israelis in disputed lands as a way of bolstering their claims on the land, CNN. The story of a Palestinian farmer whose grove of olive trees has been vandalized by nearby Israeli settlements, BBC News.
The New York State Senate did not approve a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage, New York Times.
A new survey from the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions and millions more are injured. The study found that official laws or regulations prohibiting abortion does not stop the practice from occurring but rather that it only makes the procedure more dangerous and unsafe. The abortion rate is the lowest in the Netherlands (10 in 1000) where most young people report they use two forms of contraception, BBC News.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced today that he will send an additional 500 troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the 9,000 British troops already fighting there, Guardian.
The government of Iraq has released new figures on the number of deaths in the country since the U.S. invasion in 2004. The human rights ministry of Iraq says that at least 85,000 have been killed by bombs, murders, and fighting. The number is based on death certificates issued by the health ministry through 2008, Al Jazeera.
Human rights groups are calling on Israel to release 335 Palestinians being held without a trial. International law allows for detentions without charge or trial only in extraordinary circumstances in which the security of the state is at risk, CNN.
Residents of coastal Indonesia took part in a tsunami drill earlier today. The UN-backed initiative tested warning systems and helped residents learn what to do in the event of a tsunami warning. On December 26, 2004 the region suffered one of the greatest natural disasters in recent history when a massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean killed 230,000 people in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India, Reuters.
17 people were killed after a car bomb exploded in a suicide attack near the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Al Jazeera. India’s influence in Afghanistan, BBC News. A Pentagon military task force will look at reforming prisons in Afghanistan to end the influence of al Qaeda on inmates, New York Times.
In a video message, an al Qaeda official calls for ethnic Muslims in China, known as Uighurs, who live mostly in China’s western province of Xinjiang, to wage holy war against the Chinese government. Tensions have been rising in the region as more ethnic Han Chinese move to the area looking for work, CNN.
Typhoon Melor hit Japan yesterday, killing 3 and injuring at least 64, Japan Times.
Herta Mueller was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. Mueller’s work depicts the harsh conditions of life under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, BBC News.
A suicide bomber has killed at least five people at the United Nations World Food Program center in Islamabad, Pakistan. The five killed were all UN staff workers – four were Pakistani nationals and one was from Iraq. The bomber entered the lobby wearing a military uniform and detonated around 16 pounds of explosives, New York Times.
The 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine has been awarded to Americans Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak. Blackburn, a former professor at Berkeley, and her two students Greider and Szostak discovered “a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells, an insight that has inspired new lines of research into cancer,” AP.
More than 220 people have been killed in southern India after massive flooding. 1.5 million others are said to be displaced, Voice of America.
A major corruption trial has begun in Johannesburg, where South Africa’s former chief of police Jackie Selebi has pleaded not guilty to being involved with organized crime and accepting over $150,000 in bribes. Selebi was elected as Interpol president in 2004 and resigned last year after he was charged, BBC News.
Hot Topic: Probing the Arctic Sea Conspiracies.