News from around the World


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News is important. When people say life is like a battlefield, then knowing is half the battle. With this post, we will try to bring you news from around the web, descending in order of importance. We will try to keep things short, summarizing the whole situation as much as possible and with lots of links for students who want further research. – A few words from Viet Than, Editor.

Syrian Civil War & Chemical Weapons


The Syrian Civil War began on March 15 2011 from the popular rallies that were part of the Middle Eastern movement known as the Arab Spring and continuing till now. The protesters were demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad (ruled since 2000), son of previous president Hafez al-Assad (ruled from 1970-2000). UN Secretary General has estimated the death toll to be 100000 as of June 2013. The Syrian government has closed down the country, preventing journalists from being able to get to the ground. Even if they did, it is very dangerous as there are too many sides in the war. Or in gamer’s term, “a free-for-all”.

Chemical weapons has been reported to being used by the Syrian government since December 2012, however, recently on August 21st, unverified videos showed victims of chemical weapons. UN inspectors have arrived and tried to inspect the site before attacked by snipers of an unknown force. The will submit their report on Saturday.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the UN Security Council had only successfully passed 3 resolutions concerning Syria. This is because while the USA, Britain and France want to push for foreign intervention, Russia and China has used their veto power to fail any resolutions. Their policy is for Syria and its people to deal with this war internally. The US has concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, “strong responses” (include military action) is being considered by the US and the UK.

Edward Snowden and the 2013 Mass Surveillance Disclosure



On June 6th 2013, reporter Glenn Greenwald of British newspaper The Guardian published the first article in a series of reports detailing mass surveillance programs run by the US and the UK. Edward Snowden (above) was an American computer specialist working for the CIA and the NSA who leaked top secret documents and information about the mass surveillance programs, with more documents to come.

The 2013 Mass Surveillance Disclosure has been called the most significant leak in US history by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, another important leak in 1971 detailing lies made by the London Johnson Administration about the Vietnam War.

On 14th June 2013, the United States federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government properties. Snowden by then has left for Hong Kong and then to Russia where he is now on temporary asylum in an undisclosed location.

On the White House Petiton “We The People” Website, over 135000 people has signed a petition to pardon Edward Snowden. As by the rules of the petition, the White House dues an official response to this petition since July 9th 2013. The administration has responded to a petition to build a Death Star with only over 34000 signatures.

The UK administration responded by destroying Guardian hard drives (recounted by a Guardian editor) to the facepalms of countless people with the slightest cursory knowledge of modern technology, and detaining reporter Glenn Greenwald partner David Miranda on the August 18th at Heathrow Airport for the full nine hours a under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

While some consider Snowden a hero for courageously release these information, some consider him a dissident for doing grave damage. At least, this will be a relevant story in the next ToK class when you discuss the balance between security vs privacy.

Fukushima Daiichi Leak


The second Level 7 after the Chernobyl disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale was reached on March 11th 2011 when the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive material following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Since then, work on the cleanup has been ongoing. However, on August 19th, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) discovered that 300 tons of highly radioactive water that were used to cool one of the plant’s damaged reactors had leaked from one holding tank (tanks pictured above) into the surrounding area and into the Pacific Ocean.

Initially classified as a Level 1 “Anomaly” (second-lowest), it was later classified on August 21st as a Level 3 “Serious Incident” by TEPCO.

Saudi Arabia ban abuse against women


“Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.

The cabinet approved the ban on physical or sexual violence earlier this week, which applies both at home or within the work place.

The legislation makes domestic violence a punishable crime for the first time. It also provides treatment and shelter for victims of abuse and holds law enforcement agencies accountable for investigating and prosecuting allegations of abuse.

The ban includes penalties of a maximum12 month jail sentence and fines of up to $13,000.” (Source: the Independent)



On other news…

…from subreddit r/nottheonion

Swaziland: Witches banned from flying above 150m

Pope Francis has a habit of phoning strangers: ‘It’s the pope’

Israeli troops caught doing Gangnam style with Palestinians on the West Bank

Illegal vodka pipeline discovered in Kyrgyzstan

Masked superhero to the rescue at Tokyo subway station

Iranian League of Legends Tournament Bans Female Characters


–          Get your curiosity burning