International News Briefs

Oil companies find new land

RUSSIA: A new agreement between Exxon Mobil Corp. and Rosneft gives the U.S. oil giant exploration access to 606,000 square kilometres of oil and gas fields in the Russian Arctic, according to Al Jazeera. It was expected Rosneft would sign the agreement with BP, but the deal fell through. ENI of Italy and Statoil of Norway have signed similar agreements with Rosneft.  Exxon, ENI and Statoil will cover costs of initial exploration and development, and will receive minority stakes in all Russian-run projects. Rosneft will become a 25 per cent partner in Exxon’s Point Thomson project, which recently received government approval. The project will see the trans-Alaska pipeline to eastern North Slope development connected. Exxon and Rosneft are also considering a joint project in the Russian Far East.

Gang rape in Africa

SOUTH AFRICA: The Womens’ League of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) is hoping to spark mass protests similar to those seen in India following the gang rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen. Booysen’s case has become a tipping point for South Africa because of its international headlines and the brutal nature of the assault in a country where the rape of women and children continues daily. Al Jazeera reported South Africa has the highest per capita rates of rape of any Interpol country and only 12 per cent conviction rate of suspected rapists. Three men are in prison for the suspected rape and murder of Booysen, and if convicted could face up to life in prison.

Monks attacked with white phosphorous

BURMA: Details of what happened in late November when police violently broke up demonstrations outside a copper mine at Monywa have been documented in a recently released report, according to the BBC. The report confirms that white phosphorous, a controversial substance used in battlefield, was dispersed through the protestors’ camp in an unprecedented move to break up the demonstration. The substance burned protesters, most of whom were monks. Protesters allege officials lied and intimidated the people living on the land until they signed contracts handing over their land for the mine.

Israeli women arrested for wearing men’s prayer shawls

ISRAEL: Israeli authorities arrested 10 Women of the Wall members for wearing prayer shawls, according to Al Jazeera. Women of the Wall fight for gender equality within religion and meet at the Western Wall for prayer sessions on a monthly basis. The Western Wall is the perimeter wall of the Biblical Temple in Jerusalem and is ruled by strict Orthodox ritual law. The law bars women from wearing traditionally male prayer shawls. The decision to uphold Orthodox ritual law at the holy site was made a decade ago to ease tension between worshippers, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. An estimated 100 women were at the wall and allowed to finish their hour-long prayer before those wearing the shawls were arrested. Charges will likely not be made.

Published in Volume 67, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 21, 2013)

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