International News Briefs

Slow reactions blamed for deaths of thousands in East Africa

AFRICA: A report published by Save the Children and Oxfam suggests that emergency response to the 2011 drought in eastern African was too slow and inadequate in dealing with the widespread disaster. According to the Mail and Guardian, between 50,000 and 100,000 people - more than half of them children - died during the emergency that affected Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Signs of an imminent food shortage were apparent in August 2010, but governments and humanitarian agencies were slow to provide aid without further proof. The report warns that a similar crisis is looming in western Africa with a similar outcome unless changes are made.

Antipiracy bills lose support, enrage domains

WASHINGTON: Antipiracy bills, PIPA and SOPA, have lost widespread support after concerns were raised about the possible effect on public access and government control over the Internet. According to the LA Times, the bills are being scrutinized because of broad definitions that could potentially lead to widespread censorship in the U.S. In protest of the bills, Wikipedia, along with thousands of other websites, blocked its pages and provided users with information about the proposed bill and urged people to contact their congressional representatives to voice their concern.

U.S. authorities shut down popular file-sharing site

WASHINGTON: Popular file-sharing website was shut down after the U.S. Justice Department issued the company a five-point indictment and arrested CEO and founder Kim Dotcom, along with several employees. Authorities claim the site facilitated millions of illegal downloads of pirated movies, music and other content, reported the Globe and Mail. While the company was based in Hong Kong, some pirated content was hosted on servers in Virginia, giving U.S. authorities jurisdiction over the case. It’s estimated Megaupload was one of the top 100 websites visited on the Internet and made over $42 million in 2010 alone.

Taiwan president re-elected

BEIJING: Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou has been re-elected after a long campaign and controversy over his ties with China, the island’s longtime rival. According to the LA Times, Ma beat out his closest opponent, Tsai Ing-wen, 51 per cent to 46 per cent. Ma’s platform touted a strengthened relationship with China as beneficial for Taiwan’s local economy and faltering job market. Tsai, and critics of Ma, argued relations with China would not improve the country’s situation, warning Ma to be wary of his actions, as the Taiwanese public will not be impressed if the new relationship sours.

Urination video mars U.S. image

GERMANY: Worldwide commentary has ensued after the release of a video showing four U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of three dead Taliban members. In an article by Spiegel Online, German political analysts have discussed the situation and agree that swift reaction from the U.S. government is necessary to salvage talks with the Taliban. The differing opinions would have the U.S. issue an apology and recognize the irony of prosecuting four soldiers while others remain entangled in an illegitimate war. One commentator cited the incident as a victory for the Taliban and a self-inflicted defeat for U.S. world image.

Published in Volume 66, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 25, 2012)

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