International News Briefs

Discussing church matters

VATICAN: Catholic cardinals from all over the world met in the Vatican last week for a rare and important meeting to discuss recent events in the church, Reuters reported. In addition to discussing religious freedom, sexual abuse and Catholic policies of accepting converts, the Pope chose several new cardinals and designated members for a special group that will be responsible for choosing a new pope when Benedict dies. Sexual abuse victims groups protested outside the closed-door meeting, saying the church needs to start working with victims to find solutions and prevent future abuse.

Disturbing discovery

THAILAND: Last week, Thai police discovered more than 2,000 dead human fetuses in a Buddhist temple, the BBC reported. The remains, each wrapped in a plastic bag, are believed to have originated at illegal abortion clinics across Thailand and were collected at the temple to be destroyed. Three people have been arrested in connection with the discovery and police have begun a wide sweep of clinics suspected to have performed the abortions. Abortion is illegal in Thailand except under specific circumstances, and officials worry that those receiving the procedure in unmonitored facilities face severe health risks.

Violence looms

SUDAN: Northern merchants based in southern Sudan are beginning to move home amid fears of violence and war in response to a referendum planned for January that might split Africa’s largest nation in two, the CBC reported. Many fear the referendum, which will be held in the south to decide if it will seek independence, will reignite the civil war that ended in 2005. The anticipation has already led to food shortages in the south as northern producers of wheat and other essential items delay delivery. Food aid is being preemptively distributed.

Twitter charges

CHINA: A Chinese woman was sentenced to one year in a labour camp after being charged with disturbing social stability in connection with a Twitter post she published, CNN reported. Cheng Jianping posted remarks suggesting that a group of protesters that were smashing Japanese products should destroy the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. Her lawyer said the post was sarcastic and called the charge “ridiculous.” Jianping previously used Twitter to voice her support for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Her defence has appealed the charges and asked that she be released from the labour camp due to her high blood pressure.

Preserving culture

KENYA: Last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated 46 “intangible world heritages” that it will seek to preserve, Al Jazeera reported. The UN agency, better known for its protection of natural environments and ancient man-made wonders, chose the cultural practices and traditions for their importance to developing and sustaining a sense of community. The selections spanned 11 countries and included Spanish flamenco, Peruvian scissor dancing and French cuisine. UNESCO started listing intangible heritages for preservation in 2003 as a way of maintaining diversity in the face of increasing globalization.

Published in Volume 65, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 25, 2010)

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