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.
The Israeli Navy said today that it has seized an Iranian container ship carrying weapons. The large array, which included 600 tons of rockets, guns and other weapons, was expected to be shipped to the militia of the Islamist Hezbollah movement, Washington Post.
Officials have confirmed that a cat in Iowa has contracted the H1N1 virus, making it the first known case of swine flu in a feline. The cat has recovered, but two ferrets in Nebraska and Oregon have died from the virus. Many other kinds of influenza strains have seen human to cat transmission, and officials say it would be wise to take precautions around pets if infected with H1N1, AP.
Almost two dozens Americans have been sentenced to five years in jail by an Italian court on charges of seizing a suspected terrorist in Italy. The man, Abu Omar, says he was nabbed off the streets in Milan in 2003 and then sent to Egypt where he was tortured. Most of the convicted are suspected by Italy of being CIA agents. None of the convicted were arrested or stood trial, making them essentially international fugitives and unable to ever return to the country, CNN.
The trial of Amanda Knox, the American woman accused of murdering her British roommate as they studied abroad in Italy, is nearing its end. Knox has maintained her innocence, and what once looked like a slam dunk conviction is now not so clear. The prosecution’s biggest piece of evidence against Knox was a knife found with her DNA on it, but supporters say the scene was too distorted by police for a conviction. The jury will begin deliberations on December 4, CNN.
Commandos raided the Pakistani military headquarters where three dozen hostages had been held by two militants since yesterday. Three hostages died in the mission as well as two special forces soldiers, Al Jazeera.
Mullah Muhammad Omar is leading an increasingly successful Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, New York Times.
The CDC says the H1N1 virus, aka swine flu, is especially dangerous for young children. 76 children have died in the U.S. with 19 of those deaths occurring just last week. Parents are urged to be especially cautious if a fever and cough return after a sick child appears to get better as this can mean the child has suffered a second infection, NPR.
Gay rights advocates marched on Washington today to urge U.S. President Barack Obama to keep his promise to extend civil rights to homosexuals. In a speech last night at a dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, Obama said that he would push to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the U.S. military, Associated Press.
Alan Turing, the brilliant scientist who designed the machines that broke Enigma, the secret Nazi code used during World War II, has received an apology from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. After World War II, instead of receiving accolades for helping to win the war, Turing was persecuted for his homosexuality. He took his own life in 1954, BBC News.
Over 600 people have been arrested in riots in Kampala, Uganda. 14 people have died. Supporters of King Ronald Mutebi II, the ruler of the Baganda tribe, have clashed with the country’s central government. The riots started when the government said it would not allow King Mutebi to travel to another part of the country that is under the control of a rival group, CNN.
The H1N1 virus is now said to have originated in a pig that was infected with two different strains of flu. A single pig was probably infected with a swine flu common in North American that is actually a combination of a swine flu, the avian flu, and the human flu. The same pig was likely also infected with a swine flu that is predominant in pigs from Europe and Asia. The strains then mutated into a flu that is deadly for humans, Chicago Tribune.
The MRSA superbug (multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has been found in the ocean and on public beaches in Puget Sound. The virus is also usually found in hospitals, spas, and healthclubs. The virus is extremely dangerous because it does not respond to typical antibiotics. It is especially deadly for people infected with the H1N1 flu, USA Today. How to protect yourself against MRSA, LiveStrong. MRSA in schools, CDC.
In a bizarre ending, the defending U.S. Open champion Serena Williams lost her semi-final match to Kim Clijsters after getting into a dispute with the line judge concerning a call. Williams had already gotten a code violation for throwing her tennis racket to the ground earlier, Boston Globe.
Tensions are rising in south Thailand as ethnic Malay Muslims are attempting to attain autonomy from the Buddhist rulers. Troops have been dispatched to the area for years, but violence is getting worse. 330 people have been killed this year alone and 3,500 have been killed since 2004, New York Times.
Police have arrested the man who made the 911 call to report several family members dead in a Georgia trailer park on Saturday. Guy Heinze, 22, told police he found seven people dead (an eighth died later), but police now say there is enough physical evidence and testimony to link him to the murders, Reuters.
The city of Washington, D.C. is working to set up mass vaccination centers to fight the spread of H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, Washington Post.
A former American soldier has received a life sentence for raping a 14-year-old girl in Iraq and killing her family. Steven Green, 24, will spend his life in prison and will not be eligible for parole, BBC News.
A 59-year-old American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, the oldest casualty in the Afghan war so far. First Sgt. Jose San Nicolas Crisostomo, a Vietnam War vet, was killed by a roadside bomb in Kabul. The two-time Bronze Star recipient had volunteered last year to return to military service, CNN.
Mexico has eased drug laws in the country. New law decriminalizes small amounts of certain drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. A big problem for the country in the past has been police officers accepting bribes in return for allowing drug possessors to go free, and the new law aims to combat that, BBC News.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has voted to allow gay and lesbian ministers in the church. The new policy states all homosexual clerics hired must be in a committed relationship. A previous policy had allowed homosexual ministers, but required that they remain celibate, AP.
Hot Topic: Swine Flu Vaccine Shortage Looms For Developing World.
President Obama honored 16 people in a lovely ceremony today as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can attain. Those honored were: Nancy Goodman Brinker, Pedro Jose Greer, Jr., Stephen Hawking, Jack Kemp, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Billie Jean King, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Joe Medicine Crow-High Bird, Harvey Milk, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Mary Robinson, Janet Davison Rowley, Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Yunas. You can find their bios at the link, CNN.
The man convicted for killing 270 people in 1988 by planting a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103, known as the Lockerbie bombing, is set to be released. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer and will be allowed to return to his native Libya in time for Ramadan. The flight was leaving London for JFK airport and exploded over the town of Lockerbie, where 11 people on the ground were killed. 180 killed were Americans and many were students who were returning home from studying abroad, BBC News.
A judge has ruled Microsoft “infringed a patent belonging to i4i LP, gave the software giant 60 days to comply with the injunction and awarded the Canadian company about $290-million.” Microsoft will also have to immediately stop selling most versions of the Word program, Globe and Mail.
Brazil reports that 274 people have died in the country from A/H1N1 flu. They plan to import 18 million vaccines in the next two years, China View.
The Perseids meteor show will peak tonight and tomorrow night and should put on quite a show for sky watchers. Astronomers say the best time to watch is between 12 and 5am. The Newbury Astronomical Society is hosting #Meteorwatch on Twitter tonight where participants will be posting what they see, NewburyAS.
The Hubble Telescope has found evidence of a collision between two planets, a collision that is similar to how the Moon was formed four billion years ago. The collision occurred at a very high speed and one planet was near the size of the Moon while the other’s size resembled Mercury, BBC News.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has contracted the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. Arias has won a Nobel Peace Prize and last month he was chosen to mediate a sit-down between Honduras’ ousted President Zelaya and the group that overthrew him. He will not give up power, but will have to be kept in isolation for seven days, National Post.