International News Briefs

Dozens of whales die

NEW ZEALAND: Dozens of pilot whales died last week on a remote beach in northern New Zealand after more than 80 of the animals stranded themselves on shore, the second incident in less than a month, according to the CBC. Officials hoped to save the approximately 40 whales that were still alive on the beach by transporting them an hour overland to a safe “refloating” area, but only 25 are still alive. Conservation officials working with a local Maori community stayed with the distressed animals through the night to keep them alive until transportation could be arranged. No one knows why the whales beached themselves.

Former warlord runs for president

LIBERIA: Prince Johnson, formerly a warlord during Liberia’s 14-year civil war, has decided to run in the country’s presidential elections next year, reported the BBC. Johnson became widely known in 1990 for video footage that showed him observing his soldiers torturing and killing the former president, Samuel Doe. He has apologized for any suffering caused by the conflict, which ended in 2003. The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission has asked for Johnson to be banned from the election. The Commission has also recommended that current president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf be banned due to her admitted support of alleged war criminal Charles Taylor.

Communists mourn an almost-saviour

RUSSIA: The man who led an unsuccessful coup against then-President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 has died, Al-Jazeera reported last week. Gennady Yanayev, who was vice-president at the time of the coup, passed away at the age of 71 after a long and painful illness. A statement from the Russian Communist Party remembered Yanayev as a person who could have saved the Soviet Union from its eventual fate. While Yanayev received a pardon for his involvement in the coup during a trial in 1994, many still hold his name in low regard. A spokesperson for Mr. Gorbachev called Yanayev “a person who betrayed.”

Vatican Bank under investigation

ITALY: Italian officials last week began a probe into the affairs of the Vatican bank and seized millions of euros in attempted transactions, CNN reported. A leading official with the bank expressed his surprise and humiliation upon learning of the probe, which was prompted after another Italian bank tipped off legal officials. While the Vatican has publicly stated its desire for financial transparency, others have called its bank, which is governed by a committee of Catholic cardinals, one of the world’s most secretive. Italian officials will be limited in any potential action against the bank by the Vatican’s sovereign status.

Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory remarks

UNITED STATES: The President of Iran caused more than 30 national delegations, including the U.S., Canada and European Union members, to leave the room during his speech to the United Nation General Assembly last week, The New York Times reported. Among other inflammatory statements, President Ahmadinejad suggested that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were orchestrated by the United States government. The U.S. delegates issued a statement calling Ahmadinejad’s words “abhorrent” and “predictable” while Britain’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that the Iranian leader’s “attention-grabbing” remarks only obstruct productive dialogue about important issues such as Iran’s nuclear program.

Published in Volume 65, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 30, 2010)

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