A year of world news
On Jan. 24th 2011 a suicide bomber killed approximately 35 people at Russia’s busiest airport. President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to track down and punish those behind the bombing, which also injured over 150 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. The bombing was linked to a terrorist attack; the largest since twin suicide bombings on the Moscow metro rocked the Russian heartland in March. According to committee spokesman Vladimir Markin, attempts were being made to identify the suspected male suicide bomber. The latest attack on the Russian capital also called into question Russia’s ability to safely host major international sports events like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 World Cup. It was the second time in seven years that terrorists had hit the Domodedovo airport: In 2004, other suicide bombers penetrated the lax security there, killing 90 people as they blew up two planes. The attacker appeared to have been wearing the explosives in a belt. Airport security was increased and all flights were rescheduled.
Earthquake in New Zealand
On February 22nd 2011 a 6.3 magnitude earth quake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, killing approximately 65 people. The massive earthquake was the second major earthquake to hit New Zealand in five months. BBC news quotes police officers saying, “there is incredible carnage right throughout the city”, with “bodies littering the streets”. Prime Minister John Key declared it New Zealand’s darkest day, causing about $12 billion in damage and forcing Christchurch residents to evacuate the city centre following the quake. Thousands of people spent the night in makeshift shelters, with imported water because the drinking water of Christchurch was made unsafe by the quake. BBC also quoted police inspector Dave Lawry saying that at the time, the Christchurch area was not survivable. “It was a hard choice and my heart goes out to all the families,” but he said, “rescuers needed to concentrate their resources elsewhere in areas where survivors were more likely to be found.”
Polish plane crash
On Apr. 3, 2010 a plane carrying the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and most of the country’s top political and military leaders, crashed in western Russia, killing everyone on board. The president’s plane tried to land in a thick fog, missing the runway and snagging treetops about half a mile from the airport. This crash came as a huge blow to Poland, taking out a large portion of the country’s leadership. Though given specific warning not to land and redirect their flight path, the crew continued to descend which ended in disaster. According to the New York Times, Russian emergency officials said 97 people were killed. Some included Poland’s deputy foreign minister and a dozen members of parliament, the chiefs of the army and the navy and the president of the national bank.
Same sex Marriage Argentina
In July 2010, Argentina was the first Latin American country to pass a law allowing same sex marriage. This law also permits gay couples to adopt children and to use assisted fertilisation to conceive a baby. President Cristina Fernández celebrated the parliamentary decision stating that it was “a positive step for a leading country.” Though supported by most of the community, the bill was opposed by the country’s top religious leaders. One of the most shocking measures was taken by the Archbishop of the central-western city of Córdoba, Carlos Ñáñez, who opened an ecclesiastical trial against a priest, José Alessio. He further banned him from exercising the priesthood because he expressed support for gay marriage. Despite opposition however, the bill still passed.
In Feb. 2011, Greek police clashed with protesters in Athens as tens of thousands of workers, pensioners and students marched to parliament to protest against austerity policies aimed at helping the country cope with the debt crisis. Riot police fired rounds of teargas and flash bombs at protesters. Protestors fought back by breaking up marble paving stones to throw back at the police. Fifteen policemen and ten civilians were injured, including one journalist slightly hurt by a petrol bomb, while 26 protesters were detained. The 24-hour strike by public and private sector employees grounded flights, closed schools and paralysed public transport in the first nationwide walkout against cost cuts this year. Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Socialist government faced international pressure to make more lasting cuts after the nation’s debt-crippled economy was rescued from bankruptcy by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund which fuelled this rebellious fire.
Google ban in China
In Mar. 2011, the Chinese government announced that they were banning Google’s email service. Problems were not due to any technological difficulties but simply the decision to increase China’s already strict internet control policies. The government did not inform its citizens of the ban. Rather, Google began receiving complaints from Gmail users and its employees that their accounts could not be accessed. The government’s decision was connected to the fear of possible backlash due to ongoing Egypt crisis. China has blocked several search engines and social networking websites in the country. The communist government in China has also blocked the search options in several websites. The government has been trying to stop the internet search related to the recent comment on Egypt protest.
Events which have spiralled the Arab world into chaos began with a highly powerful act of civil disobedience by a Tunisian street vendor on Dec. 17. The suicidal demonstration inspired reactions against the stagnant and dictatorial government power. Frustrations over unemployment and economic struggle, among other reasons, led the country’s youth to arrange mass demonstrations and protests. In an unprecedented series of events just over a month later, former President Ben Ali, who had held power since 1987, was removed in favour of greater democracy. This generated many reactions from other oppressed Arab nations against their respective oppressive regimes.
Prime Minister Ghannouchi temporarily held power, but was highly opposed by civilians who resented his ties to the former government. Tunisia has since seen the dissolution of its secret police, a significant gain for protestors. The current interim president is Fouad Mebazaa, a parliamentary speaker who intends to stay in power beyond constitutional limits, until a permanent government has been established. Significant gains have been cited in freedom of speech and association. However, concerns over potential consequences from the current political chaos are still prominent as elements of the status quo remain in place. High hopes await elections of a new council of representatives and a new constitution, which are scheduled to take place July 24, 2011.
Southern Sudan gains independence
On Feb. 7, 2011, election officials confirmed that a referendum had split the largest African country, Sudan, in two. According to the BBC, 99 per cent of those who voted in the south approved independence from the north. South Sudan considers itself as different culturally, religiously and ethnically as compared to the north. Despite the positive result and the assertion from President Omar al-Bashir that he would accept the outcome of the vote, tensions still remain high along the border region’s oil-rich areas. Issues such as citizenship, border disputes and legal matters also need to be negotiated before official separation. A formal declaration of independence is scheduled for July 9, 2011.
Unrest in Ivory Coast follows elections fraud
On Mar. 25, the United Nations reported that one million of Ivory Coast’s citizens had fled the capital of Abidjan after President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede office despite losing the Nov. 2010 elections. The CBC reported that France is circulating a UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on the Gbagbo government in an effort to diffuse the uprisings. The U.S. has also publicly denounced the nation’s defiant leader. The UN reports that at least 462 people have been killed in fighting since December and more than 5,000 people have come to the capital to enlist in the army after Gbagbo called for soldiers.
U.K. tuition fees skyrocket
Protests were rampant across London and other areas of the U.K. after Britain’s Parliament met to vote on a proposal to nearly triple university tuition fees. Dozens of arrests occurred in December and protests are ongoing. Parliament narrowly approved the fee increase, which is to be implemented in 2012.
Burma releases pr-democracy leader
On Nov. 13, 2010, Burmese military authorities released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who had been detained for 15 of the past 21 years. 65-year-old Suu Kyi was released from house arrest when her detainment expired without being renewed by the Burmese government. Suu Kyi’s release was met with praise by international leaders such as U.S. President Obama and Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon. However, Burma’s last election was widely condemned as a sham, despite being the first of its kind in 20 years.
Former Liberian President to be sentenced
Charles Taylor’s trial at The Hague came to a close in Mar. 2011, though a verdict is expected to take five or six months. The first African head of state to be tried by an international court, Taylor faces a maximum life sentence if he is convicted of the charges laid against him. Taylor has been linked to the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone and faces 11 counts of murder, rape, pillaging and deploying child soldiers to the neighbouring country. The Associated Press reported that during the trial more than 1,000 documents and exhibits were seen by the judges as well as testimony from more than 120 victims, former rebels and even Taylor himself, who spent seven months on the stand.
South Korean Navy ship, The Cheonan, sank after an explosion below decks ripped the stern in two. The ship had been sailing in the Yellow Sea, past the island of Baengnyeong, located just south of the Northern Limit Line, leading many to believe North Korea responsible. Approximately 58 on board were rescued, leaving another 46 dead. After investigation, experts have confirmed the cause to be external, most likely hit by a torpedo or floating mine. Seoul was reluctant to take an official position in blaming its nuclear-armed Northern neighbour; however, senior officials have made their suspicions very clear. Despite public suspicion, North Korea denies any involvement.
The 19th FIFA World Cup opened in Johannesburg on June 11, promising to provide fans with a slew of emotions as 32 teams kicked off the nine-city tournament. There was disappointment, as thousands of Italian fans waved goodbye to the reigning world champions after the first round. There was pride, as Spanish fans cheered their team to victory, defeating the Netherlands 1 – 0 in the finals. There was controversy; however, not involving a player, but the famed vuvuzela. The noisemaker managed to spark national conflict, as officials feared they could be used as a weapon, or deafening noise would injure those in the stands. FIFA ruled out any request for a ban; thus, letting the South African soundtrack to the World Cup play.
The San Jose copper mine collapsed, leaving 34 miners trapped under the surface. Managing to reach the 540 square foot emergency shelter, miners found food and water to ration amongst themselves until rescue. Above ground, workers were busy, specially crafting a drill strong enough to carve through the rock and able to shuttle the miners up 2,050 feet. Emotions were high on Oct. 13 as each miner was pulled to safety, after spending 69 days underground.
Scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have managed to trap and suspend 38 antimatter atoms for the first time in history. Researches created the ALPHA device, a “bottle” capable of suspending the antimatter in its magnetic field for over a fraction of a second. Clearly a scientific breakthrough, this achievement has given researchers new abilities in the study of antimatter, with future experiments planned to test fundamental physics; a feat previously rendered impossible.
Ireland’s economy was in particularly bad shape after the recession, forcing the federal government to accept a humiliating 85 billion Euros, a $112 billion equivalent from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), in addition to publishing a four year economic plan and budget. The bailout was officially enacted on Nov. 28 but seems to have had negative effects since. Public criticism and voter outrage over the bailout led to the fall of Prime Minister Brian Cowen and his centrist administration, a coalition government led by Enda Kenny in its place. The Irish economy continues to drop well into the fourth quarter, sparking further tensions in the economic conflict.
The Brisbane River bust through its banks on Jan. 12, resulting in one of the country’s most damaging and costly natural disasters in history. A solid six weeks of flooding swallowed 20,00 properties and 75 neighbourhoods in water, creating a total disaster area bigger than Texas and California combined. The death tolls rests upwards of 30 and approximately nine people are still missing. Rehabilitation will continue as governmental aid offers rescue and supply delivery, while airports and highways shut down for maintenance have slowly begun to reopen. -Leeza Pece
Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced the success of the FBI’s biggest mafia infiltration in New York history. Federal sweeps spanning New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island have resulted in the arrest of 125 mafia officials charged with murders, extortion, trafficking and other crimes tracing back decades. A ”shotgun approach” is credited as the secret to the success of the raid, allowing 800 agents to make synchronized arrests stemming from a number of different investigations. Holder assures the media this is a giant step forward in the battle against organized crime.
As of Sep. 1 2010, US combat troops withdrew from Iraq marking the end of Operation: Iraq Freedom. Under Operation: New Dawn, 50,000 personnel still remain in Iraq to perform advisory and support details while the majority of US forces exited through Kuwait. US troops are meant withdraw completely by Dec. 31 2011.
Near Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, 22 year-old Jared Lee Loughner shot 19 people fatally wounding six. The target of the attack appeared to be Gabrielle Giffords, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The shooting called into question current gun laws in the United States.
The Japanese yen rose to a fifteen year record high reaching 82 yen per USD in Sep. 2010. This event was marked by state intervention to help lower its value so that Japanese goods can sell with greater success abroad. The move comes with scrutiny as state intervention violates explicit financial boundaries set by the G7.
Eleven platform working were killed when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in March 2010. It was estimate that nearly 4.9 million barrels of oil was spilled at a rate of 53,000 barrels per day as BP workers spent months attempted to cap the leak. Plants and aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico were deeply affected.
Aggressive by nature
The North Korean military engaged the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong with artillery shells Nov. 2010. The attacks appeared to be in response to South Korean training exercises where artillery shells landed in North Korean waters. The attacks resulted in the deaths of four civilians and the injury of 19 more.