A new U.S. jobs report shows that the country’s economy is gaining, with March adding more jobs than any other month in the last three years. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent, CNN.
At today’s Good Friday prayers in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa equated criticism over the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals with “collective violence” suffered by the Jews. The comparison drew outrage from Jewish groups and groups representing abuse victims. While the Pope was in attendance, a Vatican spokesman said Cantalamessa’s views do not represent the Church, BBC News.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Hugo Chavez in Venezuela today. Chavez hopes to expand his influence in the Western world, and billions of dollars of Russian arms sales to Venezuela over the last decade have connected the two countries, NY Times.
American Amanda Knox, 22, has been found guilty for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher by an Italian jury. The case has garnered worldwide attention, in part due to Knox’s optimism that she would be acquitted of all charges. Her former boyfriend was also found guilty and Knox has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, CNN.
A fire at a Russian club has killed over 100 people. The fire occurred in the city of Perm and is believed to have by caused by fireworks, which were set off inside the club, BBC News.
Two Rwandan peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur by Sudan rebels. The peacekeepers were a part of the group Unamid, which have seen 19 of their workers killed in the area in the last two years, BBC News.
The opening matches and groups were set for the 2010 World Cup earlier today. Group G is largely considered the “Group of Death,” with Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast all in the group. The U.S. and England will play a heavily anticipated match on June 12, CDB.
Sri Lanka’s government says that tens of thousands of people who have been held in camps since the end of the conflict with Tamil rebels will be released. Sri Lanka had been fighting the rebels since the mid-1970s and made a final push to stop the hostilities earlier this year. Information from Sri Lanka is very limited so it is unknown how many were killed in the most recent fighting, BBC News. Q & A on the conflict, BBC News.
A gas explosion at a Chinese mine has killed 42 people and trapped over 60 underground. China has the most dangerous mining industry in the world, Reuters.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to a deal that will keep natural gas flowing through this winter. Due to a pricing dispute last winter, Russia cut off gas which flows through Ukrainian pipelines to Europe, Christian Science Monitor.
Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple captured by Somali pirates during a sailing vacation in October, have released a new video saying the pirates are losing patience and will kill them soon if a $7 million ransom is not paid, CNN.
A journalist describes living in Jerusalem’s Old City which is home to Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious sites, BBC News.
The U.N. will host a summit on world hunger next week in Rome. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation says that over 1 billion people go hungry every day. The world produces enough food, but high prices for commodities such as wheat and rice and unfair trade practices limit access to food for the poor, Reuters. The FAO has called for a world hunger strike on Saturday to highlight the issue, FAO. Follow on Twitter: @faonews. Sign a petition to stop world hunger, 1 billion hungry.
UNICEF has issued a new report says that poor nutrition kills children around the world, CNN International. Report: Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition, UNICEF [pdf].
Overweight children in the United States are at increased risk of developing heart disease, CNN.
In an annual state-of-the-union address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that he wants to modernize Russia’s economy, Bloomberg. Profile: Dmitry Medvedev, BBC News.
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.
Gunmen from a suspected drug gang shot and killed 17 patients, believed to be members of a rival gang, at a drug rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The slayings show similarities to an attack in March at a drug rehab center that left 20 dead. Since President Calderon entered office in late 2006 and created a war on drugs, 11,000 people have died in the country due to drug-related violence, CNN.
The United States has suspended all aid to Honduras because of the Latin American country’s lack of action after the June coup. Honduras is expected to lose $30m in aid, New York Times.
The body of Alec MacLachlan, a British security guard seized by terrorists in 2007 in Baghdad, has been recovered. Five men were taken at the same time and two bodies were returned in June. Authorities believe one man, Peter Moore, is still alive, BBC News.
A Russian journalist who was aboard the Arctic Sea, the ship that disappeared last month, says he was forced to flee to Istanbul after reporting the ship may have illegally transported weapons. The Arctic Sea disappeared in late July, but was found on August 17th, creating speculation on what the ship was doing and where it was during those missing weeks. Russian officials say the ship was hijacked off the coast of Sweden, NPR.
Today is the one year anniversary of the war between Russia and Georgia. The two countries were fighting over the South Ossetia area which was legally a part of Georgia but is more closely linked to Russia. After a long period of military build up on both sides last year, Georgian troops moved into the area and were repelled by Russian troops. Russia has declared the area to be independent while Georgia still maintains South Ossetia lawfully belongs to them, Bloomberg.
Oddly, the anniversary may have something to do with the denial of service attack that brought down Facebook, Livejournal, and Twitter yesterday. A 34-year-old Georgian man says that his online accounts were the targets of the attack yesterday. The man, whose username is Cyxymu, is a pro-Georgia blogger. He feels the attack was an effort to remove his content from public viewing and that the interference with Twitter and other applications was just collateral damage. We’ll be following this story, CNN.
The new leader of the Tamil Tigers, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, has been arrested by Sri Lanka. The Tamil people suffered a cripping offensive by the Sri Lanka military earlier this year. Sri Lanka claimed that Tamil Tiger militants were using civilians as human shields. It is unknown how many died, New York Times.
Iraq has suffered a rash of attacks against mosques and pilgrims. At least 30 are dead and 88 were injured by a car bomb in Rasheediyah, Iraq that detonated outside a Shiite mosque as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers. 20,000 police have been deployed to Karbala, Iraq in an effort to protect pilgrims as they make their way to the city to celebrate the birth of Mohammed al-Mahdi, the 12th Shiite imam. It is believed that he will return to earth bringing peace and harmony. Pilgrims have been killed and injured by bombing on the roads to Karbala, but no incidents have taken place inside the city. The event is being looked at as a test of the competence of the Iraqi security forces, Associated Press.
140 people are dead and 1,000 wounded after members of the Uighur ethnic group, a predominantly Muslim minority group in China, clashed with Chinese security forces in the capital city of Urumqi in the province of Xinjiang. The victims have not been identified and it is unknown if the majority of the victims were Uighur activists, Chinese security forces, or civilians. It is also unknown exactly what sparked the riot but the unrest follows an incident at a toy factory in south China in which two Uighurs were killed, Voice of America. The protest in pictures, BBC News.
Xinjiang is an autononmous region similar to Tibet. Uighurs, who have no ethnic or historical relation to the Han Chinese that make up 80% of China’s population, say they are persecuted by the Chinese government. China has encouraged people who are ethnically Han Chinese to move into the Xinjiang where Uighurs are currently the majority. Some Uighur activist groups have been labeled terrorist groups and about 20 Uighurs who were living in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks were picked up by US forces and sent to Guantanamo Bay. The US is currently in negotiations to release the men to countries other than China where they say they will be executed.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara has died at the age of 93. A member of President Kennedy’s team of Harvard-educated “best and the brightest,” McNamara attempted to apply corporate business models and academic methods of analysis to the Vietnam War, Washington Post. McNamara defended his involvement in the Vietnam War and outlined lessons he had learned from its conduct in Errol Morris’s excellent documentary “The Fog of War,” IMDB.
Following up on the outcome of the events we chronicled in last night’s live post, Honduran President Zelaya was not permitted to land in Honduras and was diverted to Nicaragua instead. The internim government has declared that if Zelaya lands on Honduran soil, he will be arrested, CNN International. The Organization of American States has suspended Honduras until Zelaya is reinstated, Washington Post.
US President Obama meets with Russian President Medvedev in Moscow today. The US aims to reach a deal with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles, BBC News. They will hold a press conference today at 10:30am EDT, Whitehouse.gov [live audio].