October 29th, 2007 14:51 EST
Breaking News From Around the World October 29,2007
EUROPE AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands. Holland has long since been the vanguard of civil liberties but many now question whether the country has gone a bridge too far. It has not, though, at least for over a hundred young people who went to the streets of Amsterdam last weekend to protest against the planned ban on magic mushrooms. According to the Reuters news agency, the protesters carried banners reading, “When will they ban bread?” and “Boss of your own brain.” The center-right government has been trying to make the mushrooms illegal since reports of the Dutch and foreign tourists killing themselves after eating the chemical substance. Holland remains one of the most liberal countries in Europe, with constitutionally guaranteed rights to abortion, euthanasia and homosexual marriages. It also allows its citizens to buy and sell marijuana in special coffee shops, which attracts millions of tourists every year. Apart from this, Amsterdam's main tourist attraction is the Red Light District, with prostitutes advertising themselves in shop windows.
VATICAN CITY, Italy. Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholic pharmacists to not sell condoms or any other anti conception medicine. The head of the Catholic Church voiced his concerns at the 25th International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists, held Monday in Rome. In his speech, the pope asked the sizeable audience to act according to their conscience and refuse to sell products “which could lead to immoral decisions such as abortion or euthanasia.” The World Health Organization (WHO) and other humanitarian agencies have consistently been criticizing the Catholic Church for its stand on condoms and anti conception. According to the WHO, the number of HIV positive in Africa could decrease substantially if the Vatican approved the use of condoms. AMERICAS
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a senator and the wife of the incumbent president, has steamrolled her rivals in the presidential election in Argentina, gathering over 40 percent of the vote. According to the still unofficial results, her main political opponent, the lawmaker Elisa Carrio, received only 23 percent and has already congratulated the victor. According to the Argentinean constitution, the candidate who wins over 40 percent of the ballot becomes the immediate winner. Cristina Kirchner is the first female president to be democratically elected in the country with a long history of the rules of a military junta. The last woman at the helm, Isabel Peron, was automatically appointed the head of state when her husband, Juan Peron, died. Many observers believe that the Kirchners will be trying to establish a ruling dynasty similar to the Perons. The incumbent president, Nestor Kirchner, took power in the outcome of the economic crisis of 2001. Millions of people thronged the country's streets when it turned out that all major banks and loan companies had gone bankrupt. The political disarray that followed witnessed five presidents in only a week until Kirchner managed to stabilize the situation in 2003. His wife, Cristina, will inherit a recovered country with all of its international dept paid off and an economy returning to its pre-2001 optimistic figures.
MIDDLE EAST ANKARA, Turkey. Tensions on the Turkish-Iraqi border are rising. Last Monday, the government in Ankara ordered its air force to bombard Kurdish settlements in Iraq and today, the Kurdish president has responded with a threat to wage war against its northern neighbor. The Times of London cites President Barzai as saying, “If they [Turkey] invade or if there is any incursion, it means war.” According to the British newspaper, the Kurdish president was also to have said that he preferred negotiations over military solutions, but Ankara might not give him a chance. “The unfortunate thing is that they are not allowing other […] options. They insist on war as being the only means to solve that problem,” said Barzai. The animosity between Turkey and Kurds, who inhabit southern parts of Turkey and neighboring Iraqi territories, derives from the distant times of the Ottoman Empire. The Modern Turkish state inherited lands with national minorities, of which, Kurds have been voicing their desire to establish an independent country in the most brutal manner. The problem has intensified, however, since the US-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, sparking various armed incursions.
AFRICA CAIRO, Egypt. Egypt has joined a group of Arab countries today that are preparing to start a nuclear program. President Mubarak said that his government was planning to build a number of nuclear plants to reduce the country's dependency on crude oil and gas. Although Egypt remains one of the top oil exporters, the government fears the country's resources may run out in several decades. The Associated Press quotes Mubarak as saying, “We believe that energy security is a major part of building the future for this country and an integral part of Egypt's national security system.” Apart from Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Iran also speak openly about running nuclear programs. Unlike Iran and Syria, however, Egypt and Libya work in concert with the United States and are supported by American energy companies.
MOGADISHU, Somalia. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi is said to have resigned from office, the Associated Press reports. Rarely does it happen that African leaders give up their posts in a peaceful manner, especially in such countries as Somalia, where violence and crime are the kingmakers. Born to one of the most powerful clans in the country – Hawiye – and educated in Italy, Gedi has been prime minister since November 2004. He was also a supporter of Siad Barre's regime that ruled the country until 1991. Since then, Somalia has been plunged in a civil war among clans and warlords. The transitional government with Gedi at its helm was formed in 2004 in exile in neighboring Kenya. It was restored to Somalia in 2006 when, backed by Ethiopia and the United States, it managed to oust Islamic forces. ASIA BAKU, Azerbaijan. It has been a hard day for the staffs of American and British embassies in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. The American embassy limited its operations whereas the British completely closed their offices when word spread that some terrorist organization was planning an attack against two buildings and governmental posts. Later in the day, the Azerbaijan authorities arrested several people of a Wahhabi group linked to the plot. Wahhabism aims at restoring Islam at its purest form, free of any foreign influence. The former Soviet republic remains an important point on both American and Russian maps due to its vast resources of crude oil and a strategic position in the vulnerable region.
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