Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Protesters shut down Bangkok

Red-shirt protesters, supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have converged on Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok to call for new elections, BBC News. the protesters, numbering in excess of 100,000, have shut down parts of Bangkok, New York Times.

5 same-sex couples wed in Mexico City. While civil unions are legal in some parts of Latin America, Mexico City is the first in Latin America to explicitly allow same-sex marriage, BBC News.

A U.S. court has ruled that there is no evidence a vaccine containing thimerosal has caused autism in the cases of three families who brought lawsuits, Reuters.

Amnesty International issued a report condemning maternal deaths in the U.S. The rate of death among pregnant women in the U.S. has doubled in the past 20 years. Lack of access to regular care during pregnancy, particularly among minority women and women living in poverty, endangers both the health of the mother and the child, CNN. Full report, Amnesty International.

Pope Benedict XVI has come under fire for his alleged involvement in the cover-up of a sexual abuse case in Germany in 1980 when he was archbishop, BBC News.

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Delegations Walk Out on Ahmadinejad Speech

U.S., Canadian, and other state delegations walked out or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s United Nations speech tonight after he accused Israel of “inhuman policies.” Delegations had threatened a walkout if the President again made comments denying the Holocaust, as he has done as recently as September 18th. Ahmadinejad also said the June elections were fair and that “Iran [is] one of most democratic nations in the world,” National Post.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says his country may be open to imposing sanctions on Iran over the Middle East country’s nuclear plans, BBC News.

New reports say the Pope will visit Britain next year at the invitation of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It will be the first papal visit to Britain in 28 years, AFP.

Hot Topic: U.S. Navy Sailors Say They Were Hazed, Abused.

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9 Confirmed Dead in Twin Jakarta Hotel Bombings

Two upscale hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia were attacked by suspected suicide-bombers yesterday morning (8am local time). At least nine people have died and dozens have been injured. The bombers struck the JW Marriott and the Ritz Carlton hotels. The attack appears to have been aimed at Westerners. Though both hotels have heavy security, it is suspected that the bombers checked into the hotels and carried the bombs in backpacks. One bomb was detonated in the carpark of the Marriott and another was detonated in a restaurant in the Ritz Carlton. A third bomb was found on the 18th floor at the Marriott. Indonesia has experienced a rash of terrorism in recent years, starting with Bali nightclub bombing in 2002. More than 200 people died, many of them Westerners. Though no group has claimed responsibility, security experts suspect the Jemaah Islamiah militant group, BBC News. Profile of Jemaah Islamiah.

A suspected third attack at Muara Angke Toll Gate in northern Jakarta was not a bomb, officials confirm. The blast resulted from a car that overheated, Jakarta Post.

Thanks to my co-editor Katy who followed the story of the bombings as it happened in yesterday’s live post.

Former Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has publicly criticized the current Iranian government. Speaking at Friday prayers at Tehran University in front of thousands, Rafsnjani criticized the recent disputed elections and called for detained protesters to be freed. Rafsanjani has previously accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of rigging the 2005 presidential elections. Protesters took to the streets in Tehran after the address, CNN.

Pope Benedict XVI broke his hand this morning. The Pope is 82 years old and is expected to recover, Telegraph.

Casualties continue to mount in Afghanistan. July has been the bloodiest month for coalition forces since the conflict began in 2001, CNN International.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a 5 day visit to India, AFP.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has been acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court of hijacking charges. In 1999 former Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf, then head of the military, led a coup against Sharif. The hijacking charge stemmed from Sharif’s attempt to deny a plane carrying Musharraf to land. The removal of the charge lifts the last obstacle preventing Sharif from running for office again, New York Times.

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Burmese Pro-Democracy Activist Charged with Violating House Arrest

In a bizarre story, Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged by the military junta running the government of violating the terms of her house arrest. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for the past six years and is not allowed to have guests other than family visit overnight. Under the terms of her arrest, Suu Kyi’s detention was due to expire at the end of May. It is feared that this charge is simply a way of keeping her out of the public eye until next year’s elections occur. The elections are expected to be a rubber stamp of the current government. The charge stems from an incident in which John William Yeattaw, an American man from Missouri, wearing flippers he handmade, swam one mile across a lake to get to Suu Kyi’s house. According to Suu Kyi’s lawyers, once at the house he claimed he was diabetic and was too ill to leave. In 1990, in the first election Burma had held in 30 years, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a solid majority of votes, but that result was ignored. Burma’s government officially renamed the country Myanmar, Guardian. CNN has a picture of Yeattaw said to have been taken in Suu Kyi’s home and a picture of his handmade flippers.

40,000 attended an outdoor papal mass in Nazareth. After the mass, Pope Benedict XVI met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al Jazeera.

North Korea has set a trial date of June 4 for two American journalists charged with illegally crossing the border from China to North Korea, New York Times.

The UN Security Council has issued a statement condemning the Sri Lankan government’s use of heavy artillery on civilians trapped in a warzone, Bloomberg. The Sri Lankan government says that thousands of civilians trapped in the warzone, where the government claims they were being used as human shield by Tamil Tiger rebels, have escaped by crossing a lagoon, Reuters.

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Pope Visits Bethlehem; Repeats Call for Palestinian State

Pope Benedict XVI is in the West Bank today to visit Bethlehem. The West Bank is an area that borders the Jordan river and has been under Israeli military command since 1967. The  Pope had to crossed through an Israeli checkpoint to get to Bethlehem from . He met with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and who repeated his call for a separate Palestinian state telling the crowd “I know how much you have suffered.” The Pope will also visit a Palestinian refugee camp, AFP.

Tamil protesters seeking international action on the violence in Sri Lanka announced they will form a human chain through Toronto streets, National Post. On Sunday they blocked an expressway overpass. In April, we covered a peaceful Tamil protest at Canada’s parliament in Ottawa, Citizen’s Daily Brief.

In a coordinated effort, 12 suicide bombers struck government buildings in the town of Khowst in eastern Afghanistan, Los Angeles Times. Taliban militants raided a NATO supply depot and set fire to 10 NATO supply terminals in northwestern Pakistan, United Press International. A BBC News survey found that only 38% of northwestern Pakistan, the area along the Afghanistan border, is controlled by Pakistan’s government. The Taliban either controls completely or has a large presence in the rest of the region.

Today marks the last day of voting in the Indian elections which started five weeks ago. Because the country is so massive, it was divided into five regions with a different region voting each week. The results are expected on Saturday. India has two major national parties, the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but because local and regional parties have been gaining strength in India, it is unlikely either national party will receive an outright majority. As an American, it is difficult to grasp the procedure fully, but is likely to happen is the major parties will try to get the local and regional parties over align with them and the party that gets a majority to side with them will then form the government and get to pick the Prime Minister who is formally appointed by India’s president, Associated Press.

Somalia is suffering from the worst drought in a decade, Reuters.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned the Southeast Asia Coral Triangle, which includes 30% of the world’s coral reefs, could disappear by the end of the century, CNN International. The report was presented at the World Ocean Conference currently taking place in Manado, Indonesia.

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Anniversary of Chinese Earthquake

Today marks the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Sichaun Province in China last year. 85,000 died and 500,000 were left homeless. China’s president, Hu Jintao, was at the anniversary ceremony today where he opened an memorial for the victims of the earthquake, Xinhua. Controversy surrounds the deaths of 5,000 schoolchildren who died when their schools collapsed. There are allegations that schools were built with shoddy materials and building practices. Parents are suspicious because some schools collapsed while building surrounding it remained standing. The Chinese government has declared that there was nothing wrong with the school’s construction, BBC News.

Government doctors in Sri Lanka are reporting 49 more civilian casualties from army shelling inside the warzone. Government officials have denied the reports, Bloomberg.

A hearing is scheduled for today concerning Continental Connection Flight 3407 that crashed as it neared Buffalo’s airport in February. 50 people died in the crash. The captain of the flight is said to have failed simulator tests in the past and was fatigued, CNN.

Continuing on his tour of the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI is in Jerusalem today. He was the first pope to enter the Muslim holy site Dome of the Rock. The pope also visited the Western Wall which is significant in Jewish history and will visit the place where Jesus Christ is said to have eaten his last meal, Catholic News Service.

Pakistan says it has dropped commandos into the Swat valley to battle Taliban militants, Associated Press.

New export figures show Chinese exports were down 22% in April, making six straight months of export declines for China, New York Times.

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Pope Calls for Creation of Palestinian “Homeland”

Pope Benedict XVI is touring the Middle East. He arrived in Israel today and, in a speech at the Ben Gurion Airport in Te Aviv, called for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state, CNN. Full text of the pope’s comment: “I call upon all available officials to be part of the quest for a just settlement…so that the two peoples can live in peace in their own homelands within secure and internationally recognized borders.”

Tamils living in Canada staged a massive protest last night, blocking the on-ramp to the Gardner Expressway, a major highway in Toronto. The protest lasted six hours and three people were arrested. The protesters voluntarily moved to Queen’s Park outside the Ontario Provincial Legislature after receiving assurances that the Liberal party would bring up there concerns in Canada’s parliament today at Question Period , Globe  and Mail. The UN has confirmed a Sri Lankan doctor’s account of shelling that resulted in at least 378 civilian deaths and more than 1,000 wounded. Many more were said to be buried where they fell. The UN has called the attack a “bloodbath,” BBC News.

Mainland China confirms its first case of swine flu. The individual was a Chinese student returning home from the United States. Over 4,300 have the virus worldwide, Xinhua.

And, in an update on breaking news, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has been released from jail in Iran and is on her way to the United States, BBC News.

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Japan Mobilizes Missile Defense Shields

Japan has mobilized its missile defense capabilities in response to satellite images showing the continuation of launch preparations by North Korea. North Korea claims it plans to launch a rocket carrying a communications satellite into space, but intelligence experts believe North Korea will instead test a ballistic missile. If the missile is shot down by Japan’s Self-Defense Force, North Korea may argue it is an act of war by Japan, Asia Times.

The International Olympic Committee announced that the Olympic torch will no longer be relayed around the world prior to the Olympic Games. Protests of China’s human rights abuses plagued the relay in 2008. The ban officially begins for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia but both the 2010 winter games in Vancouver and the 2012 summer games in London will feature home country-only relays, New York Times.

According to a publicly released report, Russia plans to create a permanent military force in the Arctic to patrol disputed lands and protect Russian interests in natural resources, including oil and natural gas. Global climate change is predicted to make new areas of the Arctic accessible over the next few decades. Disputes over control of the region are expected to arise amongst Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark and the United States all of which have borders touching the Arctic, BBC  News.

An editorial in the British medical journal, The Lancet, condemns Pope Benedict XVI’s comments concerning condom use. In an interview with a French journalist while visiting Africa, the Pope said the problem of AIDS in Africa “cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it.” The Lancet editorial responded that the Pope’s statement is “outrageous and wildly inaccurate,” United Press International. The Lancet (subscription required).

Next week: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance of  democratic states in North America and Europe, meets on April 3rd and 4th in Baden-Baden and Kehl, Germany, and in Strasbourg, France, NATO homepage.

London hosts world summit of the Group of 20 countries (G20) beginning on April 2. The summit will be held in London’s financial district and is expected to draw protests. The G20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank, G20 homepage.

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