Archive | World News RSS feed for this section

Current Event Cat of the Day: Elections, Elections, Elections!

Elections Cats

Spring is finally here – the time when a young man’s fancy turns to … elections.

Burqa-clad women show ID cards as they wait to vote in Afghanistan's 2009 presidential electionsOver in Afghanistan voters are bidding goodbye to Hamid Karzai and hello to… well no one yet because apparently it will take a whole week to count the ballots. Votes from Afghanistan’s first democratic election are still being tallied after millions of voters braved threats of Taliban violence to cast their votes on Saturday. Some polling places ran out of ballots and some people stayed inside fearing death by Taliban, but about seven million out of 12 million eligible voters made it out, so not bad. Both President Obama and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen praised Afghan officials and voters for the relatively smooth elections (by Afghan standards), but mostly Obama is just happy he won’t have to deal with President Hamid Karzai anymore, who is constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term.

Indian voters hold up their voter ID cardMeanwhile, in India, the nine-phase ballot process began on Monday and the country’s marathon election/logistical nightmare makes the Afghan democratic process look like child’s play. More than 800 million Indians will begin trudging to polling booths on Monday, in an election that will last until May 12 (since the voting days are slowly rolled out state-by-state). Over the course of the month, the Hindu nationalist BJP will take on the incumbent Congress Party in an Indian electoral showdown over the country’s two biggest issues: the economy and corruption.

Quebec CharterAnd then there’s Quebec. Practice France began their provincial elections on Monday, two years after the Parti Quebecois somehow won a minority government in 2012. After a revived debate over Quebec’s independence from Canada, a controversial push for Quebec’s Charter of “Values” (which would ban public employees from wearing religious articles) and a boost in language law policing, the PQ may not be so lucky this time around.  PQ Leader Pauline Marois called this election because she believed she could win a majority government but now most pollsters are saying that the Liberals are poised to reclaim the National Assembly. Where did they go wrong? Well, if she had to do it all over again, the PQ Leader says she wouldn’t have spent a full week of the 2014 election campaign talking about separating from the rest of Canada. And the whole Charter of Values/portraying Quebec as a racist backwater probably didn’t help either…

Leave a Comment
Image

Putin Was Robbed! Chemical Weapons Group Wins Nobel Prize

Current Event Cat - Nobel Winner

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the body overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Hague-based group has been out and about in Syrian war zones implementing the international chemical-weapons treaty. But Syria’s not the only place they hang out – since the 1990s the OCPW has conducted over 5,000 inspections in 86 countries and destroyed 80 percent of the world’s chemical weapons. Syria is the first time they’ve had to do their jobs in an active war zone though.

OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said the award (and the $1.8 million prize money) was a “great honour” and would spur it on in its work.

Other contenders for the prestigious prize were Malala Yousafzai and Russian President Vladimir Putin. One advocates for the rights of women and girls and survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban last year. The other kills journalists and is buddy-buddy with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Tough choice.

Malala Yousafzai just won the European Union’s annual human rights award on Thursday so she’s probably not too devastated about losing the Nobel Prize  to some chemical weapons inspectors. The Pakistani teenage activist beat out U.S. intelligence analyst/NSA leaker Edward Snowden. So again, the competition was pretty stiff….

But what about poor Putin? What’s he left with?

Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Russian advocacy group that credits him with finding a peaceful resolution to the Syrian-U.S. dispute over chemical weapons. The Russians argued that if US President Barack Obama could win in 2009, Putin should certainly be recognized in 2013. But sadly, he wasn’t. Now Putin will just have to go back to supplying Bashar al-Assad’s regime with weapons (non chemical ones are still cool), killing Chechens, and wrestling bears shirtless in Siberia.

Via: BBC News

Image

Current Event Cat of the Day: Global Warming

Current Event Cat - Global Warming

Scientists have put out a new global warning about global warming. Spoiler alert: it exists!

According to a new landmark report from hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists, there is a 95 to 100 percent chance that humans have been the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.

In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s previous assessment in 2007, they said it was “very likely” that global warming was man-made. The UN-sponsored panel has now upgraded to “extremely likely.”

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote in the report.

First, duh. Second, is this a thing we’re still debating? Apparently yes, because climate-change deniers have been out and about promoting the idea that because temperatures have risen at a slower pace in the past 15 years, humans are clearly not responsible for global warming.

The UN’s climate panel say that’s a bunch of baloney and a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends. And now they’ve got something no one can dispute: physical evidence – in the form of a report! The report is a 30-page synopsis of a larger, 900-page report that will be released next week on the physical science of climate change. The gist of the report is that humans are totally causing global warming and we have many things to look forward to:

  • a rise in sea levels of 26-82 cm by the end of century (goodbye Maldives!)
  • a rise in global average temperature by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celcius by the end of the century (have fun in Dubai!)
  • an increased urgency for emission cuts (I’m looking at you China…)

Climate activists said the report should spur governments to action, and for once the US seems to be on board. And I’m not just talking about crazy ole environmentalist Al Gore – here’s what John Kerry had to say:

This is yet another wakeup call: Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire,” the U.S. Secretary of State said. “Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate.”

Now let’s see if the US government has any common sense…. oh dear.

Via: New York Times & Current Event Cats

G8 Summit: It’s Putin Against the World!

G8 Summit - Putin and others

Leaders from eight of the most powerful nations in the world gathered in Northern Ireland for a G8 summit to discuss the growing conflict in Syria (among other issues…)

The global leaders headed into a two day G8 Summit meeting today that will largely be dominated by the situation in Syria. The summit is followed by the recent decision by the United States to arm Syrian rebels, citing evidence that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was not a fan of this decision. As the only G8 leader in support of the Syrian regime, Putin is a bit of a G8 Summit outcast and will probably be unable to find any common ground with the other members: the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan.

Referencing a widely circulated video of an opposition fighter appearing to eat the heart of a dead solider, Putin sharply criticized the US’s decision to arm the rebels.

“I think you will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines, in front of the public and cameras,”

Are these the people you want to support?” Putin said at a news conference in London. “Is it them who you want to supply with weapons?”

U.S. President Barack Obama and Putin will get some one-on-one time today at the G8 Summit to discuss the situation. Obama will try to convince Putin to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad to relinquish his power.

“We still continue to discuss with the Russians whether there is a way to bring together elements of the regime and the opposition to achieve a political settlement,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy U.S. national security adviser. “There are no illusions that that’s going to be easy.”

No, it will not be easy. Especially since the Syrian army has made significant gains lately, largely thanks to Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters. The recent wins have gone to Bashar al-Assad’s head, making it seem less likely he will ever back down. Add in the possibility that the US decision to arm the weapons could clear the way for Russians to supply missiles to Assad’s regime and the fact that the other G8 countries are not in full agreement on sending weapons – and it looks like Obama will be pretty busy. 

Of course, if he wants to free up some time to talk about other issues at the G8 Summit, he could always follow Sarah Palin’s approach to the Syrian conflict and just let Allah sort it out. Problem solved!

Speaking at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference, the former Alaska governor and reality TV show star suggested that the US should stay out of Syria and just leave it up to Allah.

“I say until we know what we’re doing, until we have a commander-in-chief who knows what he’s doing … I say let Allah sort it out.

So simple, yet so… brilliant?

Sarah Palin Syria

Via: The Globe & Mail

Leave a Comment

Gun Control United Nations Style… And Other News.

United Nations Arms Treaty

What do Kim Jong-un and the NRA have in common (besides being a little nuts)? Both oppose the United Nations Arms Treaty. The United Nations passed the first-ever treaty to regulate the global trade in conventional weapons, which include tanks, helicopters, and guns. The treaty passed in a landslide vote. Those opposed? Syria, Iran and North Korea. 23 others abstained from the vote, most notably Russia and China. The treaty aims to bring about more transparency in global arms sales and requires states selling weapons to develop criteria to avoid exporting to countries with human-rights abuses, terrorism and organized crime. No wonder Syria opposed it. New York Times

BieberNorwegians really love Justin Bieber. Five schools in the Norwegian town of Aalesund have moved their exam dates because they clashed with Justin Bieber’s concert schedule. The headmasters feared students would rather skip their exams than miss out on an evening with the Biebs. And that’s not even the worst part – the concerts are in Oslo, a 7 hour drive from Aalesund!  I guess Norwegians still have Bieber fever. Raw Story

Obama BrainObama wants inside your brain. The president announced that he plans to fund a brand new research initiative to map the human brain. Starting with $100 million dollars of federal funding, the project is designed to invent and refine new technologies to understand and treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. President Obama said initiatives like the Human Genome Project had transformed genetics; now he wants to do the same with the brain. New York Times

March in SyriaThe brutal civil war in Syria was a little more brutal than usual in March. A report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that March was the bloodiest month since the conflict began a little more than two years ago. Roughly 6,000 people were killed in the war-torn country last month, but the report says the number could be even higher, given how many deaths have gone unreported in the chaos. And apparently things aren’t looking up: “This will become the new normal, and the death toll figures will continue to rise,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the observatory. CNN

Ban Ki-MoonHas North Korea gone too far? According to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon: YES. Ban Ki-moon thinks the crisis has gone too far now that North Korea has announced plans to restart its nuclear reactor. “Things must begin to calm down, there is no need for the DPRK [North Korea] to be on a collision course with the international community. Nuclear threats are not a game,” Mr Ban said. Fun fact: Ban Ki-moon is South Korean. So North Korea probably won’t listen to him…. BBC News

kohlantaReality shows kill. Following the death of ‘Buckwild’ star Shain Gandee, a French reality TV show doctor has committed suicide. The doctor, who worked on the show Koh Lanta (the French version of Survivor), was upset that his name was “sullied in the media” after he failed to save a contestant who suffered heart failure during filming. National Post

Leave a Comment

Obama and Netanyahu are Friends… with Benefits?

Netanyahu obama israel

President Barack Obama landed in Israel today to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The trip is part of a 4 day Middle Eastern adventure to tackle issues such as Iran’s nuclear progress, the Israel-Palestinian peace process and the Syrian civil war. Yes, 4 days is all that’s needed!

This is Obama’s first trip to Israel as President. It only took him 4 years and a second term to make it to the Jewish state, where he plans to assess the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and prove his undying loyalty to Israel. At the arrival ceremony, Obama told the Israeli people:

“The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.”

Relations between Obama and Netanyahu haven’t been the greatest. The Israeli prime minister was more of a Mitt Romney fan, supporting him in last year’s presidential election. But now that they’re stuck with each other for another four years, the two are making an effort to be friendly. Why?

Netanyahu will want US support if Hezbollah gets its hands on Syria’s chemical weapons (if they exist) or if Iran’s nuclear program starts causing problems. Also, that $1 billion Iron Dome funding is a pretty good reason to be friends.

Obama needs friendly relations with Netanyahu for political reasons. The American public is so pro-Israel that Obama must be pro-Israel as well. You (if you are Chuck Hagel…) make one sort of semi-not really-anti-Jewish comment and you get the Republicans all up in your face. So Obama has to put aside his opinions on Palestinian suffering and freezing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and give his full support to Netanyahu.

Hopefully the Obama’s first trip will not disappoint. I know some Israelis were very/weirdly excited about the visit. The Israeli Embassy to the U.S. put out this bobble head/Golden Girls-themed video promoting Obama’s trip.

WTFeh !?

Via: CNN

Leave a Comment

Conflict in Syria Deteriorating

conflict in syria

The conflict in Syria is deteriorating and Bashar al-Assad doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, despite numerous calls for him to step down. Even Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi supports calls by people in Syria for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried for war crimes.

Let’s break it down:

Bashar al-Assad came to power after the death of his father in 2000, and originally sought to represent himself as a reformer. In his inaugural address, Mr Assad promised wide-ranging reforms, including modernizing the economy, fighting corruption and launching “our own democratic experience”. He also pointed to the “dire need for constructive criticism”. This lasted about a year…. and for the rest of the decade, emergency rule remained in effect under which security forces detained and tortured people with impunity. Sounds super.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt but has since spiraled out of control. Al-Assad’s effort to crush anti-government protests has turned into a bloody civil war in which the United Nations estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed. The UN reports an increase in Syrian refugees, increasing the total in neighbouring countries to more than 700,000 from 500,000 in December.

The president denied ordering the military to kill or be brutal in its crackdown on anti-government protesters, saying only a “crazy person” would kill his own people. Touché Mr. President, touché.

In more recent news, activists report another massacre this week in which dozens of bodies were found near the banks of a river in a city north of Aleppo. Video footage shows some corpses stuffed into a metal container, other on the street next to a pickup truck, and civilians in surgical gloves examining the bodies.

As the bloody internal battle between forces loyal to al-Assad and those opposed to his rule continue, many believe it is only a matter of time before the president is overthrown. But who knows where the death toll will be at when that happens. Throw in a few jihadist militant groups whose hobbies include planting bombs in major cities, and it sounds like a lovely place.

Oh and if Syria didn’t have enough problems, Israel is now dropping some missiles on them.

Via: BBC News

Leave a Comment