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Global News Briefs: Around The World, Issue 16


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OUT THERE – Digital Doctoring

N.A.S.A. is currently developing a new technology called Telehealth. An experiment on the international space station uses ultrasound to search for injuries to the human body during space flight. Digital imaging is sent to doctors on earth who then diagnose health problems involving the heart, abdomen, and lungs. The experiment is designed to provide health care to astronauts who go on extended trips to space, such as a manned mission to Mars. Telemedicine has numerous applications here on earth, using satellites and high-speed internet to assist patients at remote locations where the high-quality medical resources are unavailable.

CANADA – Cheap Drugs

Canada became the first country to pass legislation to support a W.T.O. decision to allow the waiver of certain obligations concerning Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Named ”The Jean Chretien Pledge to Africa,” the legislation allows for the production of generic copies of patented drugs under license. These drugs will be exported at low cost to Least Developed Countries and Developing Countries to fight tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and other public health problems. 700 million people will benefit from this program. Critics hope to amend the legislation to include all developing regions of the world including Latin America and Southeast Asia.

GUATEMALA – Queen is Found (sort of)

A rare discovery, the tomb of a Mayan queen was located in the ancient city of Waku in the rain forest of Guatemala. The 1200-year-old skeleton was missing the skull and leg bones, and was surrounded by 1600 artifacts including 22 jade plaques (a helmet) and a jade carving typical of those worn by kings and queens. Stingray spines found in the tomb were used as bloodletting instruments for offerings to the gods. Archaeological research suggests that Waku originated in 500 B.C. and disappeared about 900 A.D. The tomb has yet to reveal the queen’s name or era of her rule.

GREECE – Olympic Woes

Greece and Athens are known as the “Cradle of Democracy and Western Civilization.” The 2004 Olympics in Athens are from August 13-29, and have been plagued by construction delays, cost overruns, and security concerns. The Greek government is receiving assistance from N.A.T.O. to help provide security for the games, given the global threat of terrorism. Recent bombings in Athens have been blamed on anarchist groups and extremists, however, there is a fear that foreign terrorists could target the games. The International Olympic Committee has an insurance policy for the Olympics that protects them in the event that the games are cancelled due to a natural disaster, war, or terrorism.

SUDAN – In Self-Defence

A humanitarian crisis is growing in the Darfur region of Sudan. Arab militias (janjaweed) have committed atrocities and displaced upwards of one million of the six million black Africans living in this region, killing approximately 10,000. Humanitarian groups have evidence that government forces have been arming and providing support for the Arab militias and that continued displacement would result in disease and famine. Two rebel groups formed in 2003, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, and the government maintains that the Arab militias and government soldiers are simply defending themselves.

AFRICA – Liquid Life

A young Canadian named Ryan Hreljac has given life to many Africans. In 1998, and at the age of seven, Ryan raised $75 towards a well for his pen pal Jimmy in Uganda. Ryan’s Well Foundation was created in 2001, and has now raised over $800,000, and drilled 80 wells in seven countries, including Kenya and Zimbabwe. The wells provide clean water and sanitation for over 100,000 people. Ryan received the Meritorious Service Medal in 2002 from the Governor General and the Order of Ontario in 2004 as recognition for his work.

THAILAND – New Front in Global Terrorism

Thai PoliceThailand is home to a Muslim minority numbering six million. Islamic militancy has been rising in the South brought on by economic deprivation and marginalization felt by Thai Muslims. Earlier this year, 108 Muslims died after they attacked government installations and police posts in three provinces in Southern Thailand. Five government soldiers also died. The advent of 9/11 and the existence of Western soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq have increased the militancy of these groups. Thailand’s fear is that an internal problem will become internationalized resulting in foreign fighters joining the insurgency.

IRAQ – Time to Rebuild

The occupation of Iraq by the Americans continues to pose many problems and very limited success. The reconstruction of Iraq is critical to building a stable democracy. Infrastructure including the electricity grid, water, sewers, and highways, damaged by years of neglect and the U.S. bombardment must be repaired. The United States and the international community are pumping billions of dollars into this reconstruction. Iraqi citizens and coalition soldiers continue to die in the effort to provide enough security in the country for the reconstruction. Elections will be held in January 2005.


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