Archive for the ‘World News’ Category

U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right

June 6, 2011 Leave a comment

A United Nations report said Friday that disconnecting people from the internet is a human rights violation and against international law.

The report railed against France and the United Kingdom, which have passed laws to remove accused copyright scofflaws from the internet. It also protested blocking internet access to quell political unrest(.pdf).
While blocking and filtering measures deny users access to specific content on the Internet, states have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely. The Special Rapporteur considers cutting off users from internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The report continues:
The Special Rapporteur calls upon all states to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest. In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.
The report, by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, comes the same day an internet-monitoring firm detected that two thirds of Syria’s internet access has abruptly gone dark, in what is likely a government response to unrest in that country.

Categories: World News

Giant rats eat two babies in South Africa townships in separate attacks

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

  • ‘I can’t forget how ugly my child looked after her eyes were ripped out’ says dead baby’s mother 
  • The rats can grow up to three-foot long
A giant rat in South Africa, much like the ones which are thought to have killed two babies this last week
Giant rats as big as cats have killed and eaten two babies in separate attacks in South Africa’s squalid townships this week. Lunathi
Dwadwa, three, was killed as she slept in her parent’s shack in the
Khayelitsha slum outside Cape Town and another girl was killed in Soweto
township near Johannesburg the same day. 
Lunathi Dwadwa, three, was the victim of a giant rat attack
Lunathi was sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor of her family’s
breeze block and corrugated iron home on Sunday night when she died. Her
puzzled parents didn’t even hear her scream.
When her mother discovered her lifeless body, she saw that her daughter’s eyes had been gouged out.
Bukiswa Dwadwa, 27, said: ‘I can’t forget how ugly my child looked after her eyes were ripped out.
‘She was eaten from her eyebrows to her cheeks, her other eye was hanging by a piece of flesh.’
Her father Mncedisi Mokoena said police told him: ‘Nothing could have done that but rats’
today police revealed that a baby girl died in the Soweto township when
she was attacked by rats while her teenage mother was out with friends.

were called to the scene of the death of an infant due to a rat attack
on Monday morning at around 9am,’ said police officer Bongani Mhlongo.

‘The mother of the child was arrested on charges of culpable homicide and negligence.’
The deaths appear to be part of a spate of deadly rat attacks in the country.
Last month, 77-year-old grandmother Nomathemba Joyi died after giant rats chewed off the right side of her face.
Residents of South Africa’s
impoverished townships say the giant rats grow up to three-foot long,
including their tails, and have front teeth over an inch long.
suspects in the baby attacks are believed to be African Giant Pouched
Rats, a species only distantly related to UK rats, but native to
sub-Saharan Africa – and the biggest in the world.

They are nocturnal, omnivorous and can produce up to 50 young a year. Some tribal people breed them for food.
They thrive in the townships’ filthy conditions and feast on residents’ uncollected rubbish.
A small child is believed to have been killed by a giant rat in Soweta township near Johannesburg - the dirt and squalor is thought to attract the animals
A small child is believed to have been killed by
a giant rat in Soweta township near Johannesburg – the dirt and squalor
is thought to attract the animals
Mail Online
Categories: World News

Soldier who fought off 30 Taliban — alone

June 4, 2011 Leave a comment

LONDON (AFP) – A Nepalese soldier in the British army has been given a top bravery award by Queen Elizabeth II for his heroics in Afghanistan, where he single-handedly saw off more than 30 Taliban fighters.
Sergeant Dipprasad Pun, of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, proudly holds his Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, after it was presented to him by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London, after an Investiture Ceremony, Wednesday, June 1, 2011. The soldier fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to thwart the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September. At one point, after exhausting all his ammunition, he had to use the tripod of his machine gun to beat away a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound. His gallantry award is second only to the Victoria Cross – the highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy.
Corporal Dipprasad Pun, 31, said he thought he was going to die and so had nothing to lose in taking on the attackers who overran his checkpoint.
He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC), which is given in recognition of acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.
Pun fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to repel the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September.
Surrounded, the enemy opened fired from all sides and for 15 minutes Pun remained under continuous attack, including from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 guns.
At one point, unable to shoot, he used his machine gun tripod to knock down a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound.
Two insurgents were still attacking by the time he ran out of ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.
Pun was given his medal in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Wednesday.
The CGC is second only to the Victoria Cross — the highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy.
“There wasn’t any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint. I was alone,” he said.
“I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I’d kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.
“After that I thought nobody can kill us now — when we met the enemy I wasn’t scared.”
Britain’s Major General Nicholas Carter, who was commander of allied forces in southern Afghanistan during Pun’s deployment, praised his efforts.
“The CGC does not get handed out lightly. It was a most remarkable achievement,” he said.
Categories: World News

Grenade injures two at Bangkok "yellow shirt" rally

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Policemen stand behind barricades during a rally by supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) near the Government house in Bangkok February 7, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

(Reuters) – A motorcyclist threw a home-made grenade into an anti-government “yellow shirt” rally in central Bangkok late on Tuesday, injuring two men, police said.

The unidentified assailant, wearing a crash helmet, sped away after the attack on supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who have been camped out near Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s office for more than four months, protesting against his handling of a border dispute with Cambodia.

A PAD supporter and an ice-cream seller were wounded by shrapnel near a makeshift stage used by PAD leaders to address supporters.

The PAD is a nationalist, royalist movement that in the past spearheaded mass protests against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, prior to his removal in a bloodless military coup in 2006.

It also led street protests against subsequent pro-Thaksin governments and occupied Bangkok’s two main airports for a week in late 2008, ending the siege when the courts dissolved the ruling party, paving the way for Abhisit to form a coalition.

Thailand holds a general election on July 3. After falling out with Abhisit, the PAD set up its own party, which will field candidates in the election, but the organization is in some disarray.

The leaders of the broader “yellow shirt” movement want their supporters to vote “no” on their ballot paper, effectively rejecting all the candidates.

The rival “red shirts,” whose protest in Bangkok from March to May last year was put down by the military, support the pro-Thaksin Puea Thai Party.

Campaigning for the election has been largely peaceful so far and the police lifted a tough security law on May 24, taking the view that political violence was unlikely and normal legislation would be sufficient to ensure order.
(Reporting by Vithoon Amorn; Editing by Alan Raybould)
Categories: World News

Oxfam’s Report: “The Global Food System Is Broken”

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment
Gilbert Mercier


According to a new report from Oxfam, a broken food system and environmental crisis are now reversing decades of progress in the fight against global hunger. Oxfam projects that spiraling food prices will create millions of hungry people unless we radically transform the way we grow and share food. Starting June 1 st, Oxfam will launch a global campaign. It is called GROW.

In the report published today, Oxfam identifies the various symptoms of our broken food system: growing hunger, flat lining crop yields, lack of fertile soil and water, and rising food crisis. The organization says that we have entered a new age of crisis where depletion of the earth’s natural resources and increasingly severe climate change impacts will create millions more hungry people. Naturally, poor countries will be affected dramatically more than industrialized nations. Oxfam projects that the price of staple food such as maize, already at an all time high, will more than double in the next 20 years. Half of this price increase will be directly linked to climate change. The world’s poorest people, who spend 80 percent of their income on food, will be hit in the harshest way.

By 2050, Oxfam predicts that demand for food will rise by 70 percent. Yet our capacity to increase food production is in decline. The average growth rate in agricultural yield has declined by almost 50 percent since 1990, and it is set to decline even further in the coming decade. Oxfam’s GROW campaign will expose government failure which are propping up the broken food system and the group of 300 to 500 companies who benefit from it. Four global companies control the movement of the world’s food. Three corporations- Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill- control around 90 percent of the global grain trade. Their speculative activities drive volatile food prices and they profit from it. For example, in the first quarter of 2008, at the top of a global food crisis, Cargill’s profits were up by 86 percent. In 2011, Cargill is heading for its most profitable year on record. Needless to say, this speculation on food prices will further disrupt global food supplies.

“For too long governments have put the interests of big businesses and powerful elites above the interest of the seven billion of us who produce and consume the food. The G20 must invest in the 500 million small scale farms in developing countries which offer the greatest potential for increasing global yields-and they must help them adapt to a changing climate. They must regulate commodity markets and reform flawed biofuel policies to keep food prices in check,” said Jeremy Hobbs, the Executive Director of Oxfam.

To read the full Oxfam report click here.
Categories: World News

China mulls compensation for Tiananmen dead: group

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Chinese police have for the first time raised the possibility of compensation for those killed in the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, families of victims said Tuesday.
PLA tanks and soldiers guard the Chang’an Avenue which leads to Tiananmen Square in Beijing two days after their crackdown on pro-democracy students. Chinese police have for the first time raised the possibility of compensation for those killed in the crushing of the pro-democracy protests, families of victims said Tuesday.
Police have met twice with relatives of one victim beginning in February, the Tiananmen Mothers said, in a possible sign that the Communist government is changing its view on the brutal June 4 crackdown in the heart of Beijing.

“They only raised the question of how much to pay, emphasising that this was meant for that individual case and not for the families in the group as a whole,” the group said in an annual open letter to mark the June 4 anniversary.
The letter said, however, that police did not discuss a formal apology for the killings or a public account of who ordered the shootings — two of the group’s longstanding demands.
“The Tiananmen Mothers have repeatedly appealed to the government over the past 16 years for dialogue, yet government authorities have ignored us,” said the letter, posted on the group’s website.
“This year, the silence was finally broken.”
The letter was signed by 127 members of the group, which is made up of relatives of those killed in the crackdown. It gave no further details on the compensation discussions.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are believed to have died when the government sent in tanks and soldiers to clear the square on the night of June 3-4, 1989, violently crushing six weeks of pro-democracy protests.
An official verdict after the protests called them a “counter-revolutionary rebellion”.
The wording has been softened since then but the crackdown remains a taboo subject, with any mention of it censored. Those who persist in raising the issue have been jailed or otherwise harassed.
The letter acknowledged that the motives behind the government’s apparent overture were unclear.
It noted that the approach came amid what the group called the harshest crackdown on dissent since 1989, carried out this year as Beijing has moved to prevent unrest similar to that which has swept the Arab world.
Contacted by AFP, the Beijing Public Security Bureau refused to comment on the letter or the reported compensation discussions.
The Tiananmen Mothers have documented the killing of 203 people during the crackdown, all of whom were peaceful demonstrators or citizens, the letter said.
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

At Least 13 Dead in Latest US Tornadoes

May 26, 2011 Leave a comment
Emergency personnel walk through a neighborhood severely damaged by a
tornado near the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., Sunday,
May 22. A large tornado moved through much of the city, damaging a
hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses. Mark Schiefelbein / AP
 Severe storms and tornadoes have claimed at least 13 lives in the
central United States, just two days after scores of people were killed
in nearby Missouri, in the deadliest tornado to hit the nation in more
than 60 years.
A United States flag tied to a tree branch waves in the wind over a
business building destroyed by a tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Search
teams accompanied by cadaver dogs on Tuesday picked their way through
the rubble of thousands of homes and businesses laid to waste by the
massive tornado, May 24, 2011. Reuters
Emergency officials reported the latest deaths in
the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas as at least three dozen more
tornadoes ripped through the region Tuesday and into the early hours of
Wednesday. The storms, accompanied by baseball-sized hail, toppled
trees, crushed cars and tore apart a rural fire station.

latest tornadoes bypassed the devastated city of Joplin, Missouri that
was struck Sunday by the single deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since
1947. The death toll in the city of 50,000 residents has hit 123 and is
expected to climb further. Local authorities said about 1,500 people are
unaccounted for, but cautioned that the number likely includes many
people who have not been able to reach friends and family because of
spotty cell phone service.

The death toll from the tornadoes this
week, along with more than 300 killed by other tornadoes in recent
weeks in the southern U.S., has pushed the year’s total to more than
500, the highest number of U.S. tornado deaths since 1953, when 519 were

U.S. President Barack Obama says he will travel to
Joplin on Sunday. Speaking during a visit to London Tuesday, Obama
pledged that the federal government will use all available resources to
help the victims recover and rebuild.

Rescue workers in the
Missouri city continued to search through the devastation on Wednesday
in hopes of finding more trapped survivors. Cheers erupted Tuesday when
volunteers heard that another person had been found alive. 

VOA News
Categories: World News