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WORLD & NATION
NEWS IN BRIEF
Stories by Becca Heller
Graphic by Daniel Vasiles
JANUARY 27, 2012
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On Jan. 24, the people of Papua
New Guinea were taken by
SURPRISE AS A LANDSLIDE SWEPT
THROUGH THE CENTRAL TOWN OF
Mendi in the middle of the night.
By Jan. 25, local news reported
at least 60 people were dead and
missing, but estimates are expected
to increase as rescue operations
progress. According to Time,
com, over a mile of dirt and
debris crumbled from the
hills of this remote region,
? completely covering two
I villages and cutting off
the nearby roads.
On Jan. 24 President Barack
Obama delivered the annual State
OF THE Union address. In the speech he focused on
the progress our country has made in the last year, but he
also acknowledged the problems that remain and outlined
a number of ways we could confront those issues. Below
are some of the key issues he emphasized;
• Economic equality - proposing a minimum 30 percent
tax rate on millionaires
• Energy independence - using government resources to
develop clean energy at home
• Employment - taxing multinational corporations,
opening up energy-related jobs
• Improving education - rewarding good teachers,
making higher education more accessible
The Zetas have recently emerged as Mexico's most
POWERFUL DRUG CARTEL, ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT BY
US SECURITY FIRM Stratfor. Currently operating in over
half of all Mexican states, the Zetas cartel seems to have
overtaken its rival cartel, the Sinaloas, now controlling
the majority of eastern Mexico, BBC reports. The Zeta
cartel, led by ex-special operations soldiers, is notorious
for its use of extreme violence, in contrast to the Sinaloas
who rely on corruption and bribery to move their
product. Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderon's
efforts to fight the cartels, the gangs have remained
powerful, and over 47,000 people have died due to drug-
related violence since 2007, BBC reports.
Chinese officials confirm that a Tibetan protester was shot
DEAD BY SECURITY FORCES ON Jan. 24. The incident occurred
when security forces fired on Tibetan activists who had joined
together in protest of religious repression in the Sichuan province,
according to BBC. Though the conflict began over 60 years ago,
when China first invaded Tibet, the wounds are still fresh and
Tibetans refuse to be silenced. Tensions between ethnic Tibetans
and Chinese authorities have increased in the last year, and, since
March 2011, 16 Tibetans have set themselves on fjre in protest of
China's ongoing oppression and hegemony, BBC reports.
Taliban leader allegedly killed in U.S. drone attack
RECENTLY INTERCEPTED RADIO
CONVERSATIONS CONFIRM DEATH
DURING U.S. DRONE STRIKE JAN. 12
By Aaron Hall
Pakistani officials state that intercepted
Taliban communications indicate that their
leader may have been killed in a U.S.
drone strike, on Jan. 12.
Taliban officials have denied the claim.
According to the New York Times,
Pakistani intelligence officials are reporting
that they intercepted at least six radio
conversations that discussed the death of
Hakimullah Mehsud. At one point in the
discussion, his death was confirmed.
Mehsud, formerly the leader of the
Pakistani Taliban, was a young and
aggressive field commander, known for his
effective guerilla tactics. His association
with A1 Qaeda groups in his region
has earned him the designation as an
international terrorist by the U.S. state
department, and his alleged death would
be considered a major victory in the War
This is not the first time Pakistani and
American officials have declared Mehsud
In early 2010, Pakistani and American
intelligence thought they had taken him
out in a missile strike in the same North
Waziristan region, only to have him
resurface a few days later.
In response to the latest reports of
Mehsud's death, Pakistani Taliban
The report of Mehsud's death coincides
with a bomb attack on a Shiite religious
procession that killed at least 14, according
to the AP.
In fact, sectarian violence has been on
the upswing in Pakistan, with the Taliban
and other militant groups carrying out
hundreds of bombings over the last five
years. Thousands of Pakistani soldiers and
civilians have died in recent attacks, as the
In early 2010, Pakistani and American intelligence thought
they had taken him out in a missile strike in the same North
Waziristan region, only to have him resurface a few days later.
spokesman Asimullah Meshud denied his
leader's death, stating to the Associated
Press that he had not even been in the
Waziristan region at the time of the drone
"There is no truth in reports about his
death. However, he is a human being and
can die anytime. He is a mujahid and we
wish him martyrdom," he said.to the AP.
militants continue to campaign for a hard
line Islamist government.
The bombings have become so frequent,
that the Pakistani interior minister publicly
thanked the Taliban when they upheld a
requested moratorium for the holy month
The most recent bombing of the Shiite
procession occurred as worshippers were
exiting the mosque. The Pakistani Taliban
took credit in the past for several anti-
Shiite attacks, though no responsibility
has been claimed so far for the recent
attack. The local law enforcement minister
for the Punjab province, where the attack
occurred, told Reuters that the bomb area
was still being examined for evidence.
While the Pakistani Taliban is notorious
for numerous attacks in its own county, the
organization has also been tied to several
U.S. targets in recent years.
In fact, the Pakistani Taliban trained
Mohammad Younis, the Times Square
bomber, and has been connected to a
suicide bombing in 2009 in which seven
C.I.A. agents were killed.
The drone strike against Mehsud, and the
recent sectarian attacks, come at a sensitive
time for the Pakistani government. The
civilian leadership and the military have
been increasingly at odds, and rumors of
mounting resistance have grown.
The instability of the regime could
complicate the planned withdrawal of
American troops from Afghanistan, which
requires Pakistani cooperation, and the
U.S. government will be watching Pakistan
carefully to see how these events unfold.