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September 18, 2008
Contaminated milk crisis widens in China

Shelves of milk at a Walmart in Beijing.

Four children have died and at least 6,000 have been sickened by milk powder in China. Authorities have arrested 12 people in connection with the contamination of baby milk powders with industrial chemicals.

The scandal has raised questions about China’s ability to regulate the safety of its food products. Last week’s inspection of dairy farms found that 13 percent had produced the tainted formula.

The “Danwei” blog summarizes a local Chinese-language article, which reports that the local government accepts blame.

Global Voices Online provides three posts on the milk crisis: Chinese food edibility, the fury over poisonous powdered milk and the “Made in China” label.

Blogger “Imagethief” suggests the government concealed the scandal as to not to tarnish its image during the Olympics.

Blogger Robert Vance blames corruption and lack of ethics in Chinese business, stating that only the international community can help improve China’s oversight.

Last year, thousands of American pets were sickened by eating Chinese pet food contaminated with melamine — the same toxic chemical in the milk.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jdrewschke under a Creative Commons license.

September 18, 2008
Israel picks new party leader in close election


Tzipi Livni, pictured at the World Economic Forum in 2007, was elected leader of the Kadima Party.

Israel held elections for a new leader of the ruling Kadima Party yesterday, the first step in a long path that could eventually lead to a new prime minister. Tzipi Livni, a foreign minister, won by a narrow margin of about 1 percent over her main contender, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. If she becomes prime minister, she will be Israel’s first female prime minister in 34 years.

“Yael K” liveblogged about the elections, including several disturbances and the closing of a polling station in Rahat.

“Sabbah Blog” provides a briefing on the election and the candidates and assesses the effect of the elections on the prospect for peace.

“Foreign Policy Watch” considers Livni’s relationship with political groups in Israel.

“The Agonist” favors Tzipi Livni and muses about future relations between the United States and Israel given the changing leadership of both nations.

Joshua Landis discusses Israel’s relationship with Syria and the United States, and Shmuel Rosner calls Livni “Israel’s Obama.”

Al Jazeera reports on Palestinian reactions to the election. Read and watch the Guardian’s report on Livni and the challenges she faces.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, plagued by corruption scandals, promised to resign as soon as a successor was chosen, but now may not leave until October.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user World Economic Forum under a Creative Commons license.

September 17, 2008
Rate of HIV soars in Australia

A hospital in Sydney promotes AIDS awareness.

The rate of HIV infection in Australia has spiked by 50 percent in the last eight years, according to a new report. New diagnoses have increased 718 cases in 1999 to 1,051 in 2007 — or 5 percent in the last year.

Miners traveling to Asia and Papua New Guinea and immigrants have been the sources of transmission, according to an HIV support group. Australia now screens potential immigrants for HIV and many suffering from the disease are denied entry.

The United Nations provides an account of an HIV-positive researcher whose application to immigrate to Australia was denied.

The Australian newspaper asks its readers, “Should we ban HIV immigrants?” and receives responses from many readers. The newspaper also features an editorial by the president of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine about Australia’s strategy to address HIV.

Yoni Goldstein of the National Post calls an AIDS-free immigration policy “irrational.”

Economist Harry Clarke defends such a policy on monetary grounds, arguing that HIV-positive immigrants would be a burden on the health system.

“Oddnari” wonders about a middle ground and if there could be a more balanced immigration policy.

In Australia, 85 people in every 100,000 had HIV in last year, but this is still significantly lower than that in the United States, where 327 in 100,000 were infected in 2007.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Meredith James under a Creative Commons license.

September 16, 2008
Rwanda’s parliament mandates quota for women


The parliamentary building in Kigali, Rwanda.

Women make up 48 percent of Rwanda’s parliament — a result of both an electoral quota (of 30 percent female) and of the death of many men in the country’s 1994 genocide.

The women’s leadership has been praised, although some think their appointment is for “the wrong reasons.”

Legislative elections in Rwanda commenced yesterday, with incumbent President Paul Kagame running nearly unopposed and expected to win. This is only the second election since the genocide, which killed an estimated 800,000 Rwandans.

“African Studies Blog” links to an article claiming that though women are participating more and more in politics, they are not able to influence policymaking.

Watch a female member of the Rwandan parliament talk about her experience.

Stephen F. DeAngelis outlines the contributions of women to the Rwandan economy and traces a short history of gender roles in the country. The Washington Post published a video about Rwandan women and the economy.

The United States ranks 68th among countries for the number of women elected to national political office. Cindy McCain, wife of the Republican presidential nominee John McCain, recently wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal praising Rwanda’s women.

For more on the role of women in Rwandan and world politics, tune in to “Women, Power and Politics” on September 19 on NOW.

Photo courtesy of Flickr users youngrobv and John & Mel Kots under a Creative Commons license.

September 16, 2008
“Barack” — a name change Brazilians “can believe in”

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is inspiring namesake changes in Brazil.

Brazilian citizens — many of whom are running for local office — have begun to change their names to “Barack Obama,” capitalizing on the popularity of the Illinois senator.

Meet some of the faux-Obamas in Reuters’s video report.

“Portuguese” blog provides a list of Brazilian Baracks, including a woman running for office in Rio de Janeiro.

Blogger “Xica bahia” explains the phenomenon: “For Afro-Brazilians in Bahia and in other parts of Brazil, it is empowering to see someone that looks like your uncle or brother running as president of the United States.”

“My Brazilian Brasil” blog thinks it could diminish the electoral process, but chooses to focus on the humor.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has praised Obama’s nomination as a “revolution in the mindset of the American electorate.”

Obama has received popular ratings in foreign countries, where many believe he could improve U.S. relations with the world.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jmtimages under a Creative Commons license.

September 15, 2008
Russia may ban “South Park” cartoon

Prosecutors in Russia are attempting to ban the American cartoon “South Park” from television broadcast. David Hauslaib at “Jossip” blog provides a summary of the story.

The attempted ban led to protests in Moscow where two Russians captured photos of the demonstrations here and here. A YouTube user uploaded amateur footage of the protests.

The show met similar protest and resistance in the United States in 1997. The Russian TV channel 2X2 that broadcasts “South Park” says the popularity of the show has skyrocketed in Russia and is encouraging protests by devoted viewers of “South Park.”

September 15, 2008
Countries pass torch to celebrate independence

A crowd mills around at the largest independence day festival in Guatemala, in the city of Quetzaltenango.

On this day in 1821, five countries — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — joined to declare independence from Spain. Led by Guatemala, the countries then briefly united with Mexico before again breaking off and forming the Central American Federation. The federation gradually dissolved after border disputes, and its member nations gained sovereignty.

Today, the five countries join together once more to celebrate the anniversary with festivals, parades, song and dance. A torch relay began on Sept. 14 in Guatemala, crossed the Pan American Highway and arrived in Costa Rica today.

“The Hansons in Guatemala” blog talks about the arrival of the torch yesterday and describes the celebrations in San Lucas.

“Inner Diablog” discusses the origins of the holiday and posts a video of Guatemalan fireworks.

“Gerry” links to a video of a parade and other festivities in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala.

“Hobson’s Happening’s” posts about misconceptions of Nicaraguan independence and features a video of young Nicaraguans parading.

“Eruptions at the Foot of the Volcano” posts about the evolution of Nicaraguan independence day and the liberty torch, complete with pictures.

A Canadian teacher in Nicaragua writes about her school’s festivities, and “Laurie” writes about celebrations in Honduras.

In the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually beginning every September 15 to mark the anniversary of these countries’ independence.

A Hispanic Heritage Month event calendar also lists celebrations in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user erik2481 under a Creative Commons license.

September 11, 2008
Canada goes green for October elections

“Chad” from Buzzflash reminds Americans that in addition to Obama vs. McCain, they might direct their attention to Dion vs. Harper. As the Canadian election approaches on October 14, the decision could impact American environmental interests, as all parties have put forth plans to reduce emissions. Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has announced a “Green Shift” carbon plan that would create $14.5 billion in new spending and tax cuts each year by levying fuel consumption — a strategy that incumbent conservative Stephen Harper has called “crazy.”

An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen critiques Dion’s plan for its lack of accessibility to voters.

Canadian liberal blogger Scott criticizes Harper’s “brown and gray” policies.

Harper has also refused to offset pollution from his campaign, but conservative blogger Stephen Taylor doubts that Dion’s campaign will be as carbon-neutral as the liberal candidate claims.

The blog “Angry in the Great White North” discusses poll findings showing that Canadians trust conservatives on environmental issues.

The “BC and Beyond” blog protests the initial exclusion of Green Party candidate Elizabeth May in national debates — she has since been reinstated.

And finally, a senator from Alberta writes to the Montreal Gazette criticizing party bickering in a plea for bipartisan efforts to solve environmental challenges.

Associated thumbnail courtesy of Flickr user Bruce MacRae under a Creative Commons license.

September 11, 2008
Immigration debate heats up in Ireland

Recent polls show that over 66 percent of adults in the Republic of Ireland favor more restrictive immigration policies, given the downturn of the economy.

Irish bloggers are weighing in on both sides of the immigration debate.

“The Spire” writes, “Let us oppose racism through tighter controls, so as to avoid the circumstances such as job displacement which fuel it.”

Blogger John Power considers the effect of mass immigration on children and schools.

“Back Seat Drivers” defends Nigerians, one of the largest immigrant populations in Ireland, and criticizes the Irish media’s coverage of the issue.

Despite claims that some in Ireland’s government have attempted to create a “climate of resentment,” Economist Gerard O’Neill admires the tolerance of Irish people encountering new cultures and links to an official report detailing the prevalence of discrimination in Ireland.

Migration Information provides a short outline of the immigration explosion in the Republic, which is now the second-fastest growing population in Europe. Since 1996, over 457,000 have immigrated to Ireland, a country with a population of just over 4 million.

Northern Ireland, which faces similar economic woes, has implemented harsher border checks to target illegal immigrants and plans to dismantle a passport-free zone between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Associated thumbnail courtesy of Flickr user bass_nroll under a Creative Commons license.

Blogwatch summarizes what bloggers and news sources are saying about the international news of the day. We’ll link to informative and bold voices that place the headlines in the context of the global conversation.

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