January 28th, 2008 10:28 EST
World Chronicle: January 28
AFRICA: Fights in Kenya Out of Control
NAIROBI, Kenya. Up to 20 people could have been killed in Kenya's Rift Valley on Sunday, exactly one month since the country was set on fire by a rigged presidential election. All the victims were defenseless civilians living in one of the most picturesque regions of the Horn of Africa. They met their fate on a sunny Sunday morning, accosted by an unidentified group of youth and brutally murdered by machetes and bats.
In another city over 50 members of the Luo tribe were executed by some Kikuyu while the police were not intervening. An ABC News reporter quotes one Kikuyu as saying: “We have moved out to revenge the deaths of our brothers and sisters who have been killed, and nothing will stop us. For every one Kikuyu killed, we shall avenge their killing with three.”
Kikuyu is the tribe of the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki; the Luo people support the opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
Recent flare-ups in Kenya indicate that politicians have ceased to control the situation in their country. On Friday, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan orchestrated a meeting between Kibaki and Odinga, the first such conference since the December presidential election. Although both politicians pledged to work arm in arm to tame aggression, it may be too late to stop tribal animosities.
AMERICAS: Mormons Mourn Their Leader
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died on Sunday. He was 97.
For many people, Hinckley will be that leader of the Mormon church who guided his denomination into the 21st century, pushing for a dialog with other religions and reaching out to people from around the world. During his tenure, the number of Mormons rose from 9 million to 13 million worldwide, whereas the number of Mormon shrines almost tripled. But despite his celebrity status in America, Hinckley remained a modest figure epitomizing the principles of his church. “He didn't want anything special. He danced and wore Mardi Gras beads,” one Salt Lake City resident told the Associated Press.
His numerous achievements, however, remained overshadowed by the one thing he did not accomplish. None of the three largest U.S. Christian churches have agreed to acknowledge the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as representing mainstream Christianity.
Gordon B. Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, in Salt Lake City. After graduating from a local university, Hinckley left for Europe where he worked as a missionary. He returned to the United States in 1935 and devoted his life to various church activities. Hinckley was appointed the president of the Mormon Church in 1995.
ASIA: Suharto's Last Goodbye
JAKARTA, Indonesia. Suharto, a long-time ruler of Indonesia, died on Sunday in his mansion in Jakarta after suffering from a prolonged illness. He was 86 years old.
His life resembled that of other post-colonial dictators in Asia and Africa who came to power as independence fighters, but later reigned with an iron fist in their countries. What distinguished Suharto from the rest, however, was his strong support for the United States in the region that is predominantly pro-communist. Washington awarded its crucial ally with billions of dollars in aid and military assistance, regardless of Suharto's dubious record on human rights and fighting corruption. In fact, according to a Time magazine report, the dictator's family accumulated some $15 billion throughout the 32 years of his rule.
Suharto was born on June 8, 1921, to a poor farmer family. As his parents couldn't afford to pay for the education of their son, the only way to fame and titles was through the army. Suharto began his military career as a private in the Dutch colonial army, only to fight the colonists after the fall of Japan in 1945. He won popular acclaim in 1965, when he helped quell an anti-governmental coup. But only one year later Suharto himself overthrew Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, and assumed ultimate power. It was the birth of this right-wing dictatorship that would control the country for the next 32 years. Suharto's end came in 1998 when he was forced to resign amidst economic and political chaos.
Suharto was buried on Monday, receiving full military honors. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people; many foreign countries, the United States among them, sent their official condolences.
EUROPE: Head of the Greek Orthodox Church Dies
ATHENS, Greece. Archbishop Christodoulos, the leader of Greece's Orthodox Church for 10 years, died on Monday at age 69. The cause was liver cancer.
The Archbishop was a popular figure not only in his native Greece, but in the entire 250-million strong Orthodox world-wide community. Although the beginnings of his church career derive from the times when Greece was ruled by a military junta and no church official could be promoted without the generals' consent, Christodoulous's future achievements gained him the support of almost 80 percent of his countrymen.
Labeled by his opponents as a rigid conservative, Christodoulos orchestrated some of the most revolutionary policies in the history of the Orthodox Church. In 2001, he became the first leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in over 1,000 years to receive the head of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II. Five years later, Christodoulos completed the reconciliation: he visited the Vatican, where he met with Pope Benedict XVI. Both leaders found much in common, especially their staunch opposition to abortion and homosexual marriages.
Christodoulos was born in 1939 to a religious family. He took holy orders when he was 22, graduating with theology and law diplomas from the University of Athens soon after. In 1967, Christodoulos was appointed secretary to the Holy Synod, a crucial moment in his ordained life. He became the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in 1998.
MIDDLE EAST: Egypt Seals Off Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip. Egypt and Hamas forces erected a provisional fence, made of barbed wire and blocks, that is to separate the Gaza Strip from its southern neighbor. The first border wall – built by Israel in 2000 to prevent Islamic terrorist from entering its territory – was destroyed last Thursday by unidentified men. Since then tens of thousands of desperate Palestinians from Rafah have fled to Egypt, their first chance to leave the city in years.
Today's move means that Egypt brushes ideological motives aside and begins to protect its borders. Cairo dreads repeating the fate of Lebanon which now hosts thousands of Palestinian refugees that had to leave their homes in the 1960s.