February 21, 2009

Zimbabwe cholera cases on the rise

Per MSNBC, cases of the water-borne disease, cholera, are steadily rising in Zimbabwe. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the disease so far has killed 3,759 people and infected more than 80,000, according to the article.

While cholera is both preventable and treatable, health services have nearly collapsed because of a failing economy and political crisis in Zimbabwe according to MSNBC. As of Feb. 19, 2009, there have been 989 cases and 53 deaths recorded. These numbers have increased and the disease is also spreading to other southern parts of Africa like Kenya.

Some international twitter users are expressing their feelings about this preventable crisis.

@leoh1llary(Sydney, Australia): the vicious circle really is complete with zimbabwe# Yes preventable cholera deaths in garden of Africa are simply a tragedy

@IrisJumbe (Shanghai, China): Listening 2 @bbc5livetalking abt cholera in Zimbabwe & how fatalities keep skyrocketing.This day started out really well. Must ring parents

Health networking sites are reporting on the epidemic.

@snhaifa 10 Cholera cases hit Kenya’s overcrowded refugee camp: Cholera cases hit Kenya's overcrowded refugee..

@Medindia Cholera Outbreak In Zimbabwe Exceeds 80,000 Mark: WHO: The number of cases in Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak has ex..http://tinyurl.com/b9oefj

As of today news is spreading about humanitarian teams going into Zimbabwe to figure out ways to manage this crisis.

@LotsaNews [YAHOO][world] UN humanitarian team visits cholera-hit Zimbabwe (AFP) : AFP - A UN humanitarian http://tinyurl.com/bw8bhd

@rnz_news A UN humanitarian team is in Zimbabwe to find ways of curbing a cholera epidemic and the food crisis.http://www.tinyurl.com/aufngu

@SOTTnet UN team visits cholera-hit Zimbabwe: A UN humanitarian team arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday to confront deadly c.. http://www.tinyurl.com/b6ypzv

@HumanRightsNews Zimbabwe’s Cholera Crisis Worsens-http://is.gd/kjBt-Scoop New Zealand News

The Irish Red Cross doubled funding in hopes of preventing more deaths.

Zimbabwe:Irish Red Cross doubles funds to curb Cholera deaths:
Source:Irish Red Cross-Ireland http://tinyurl.com/d4w4k3

To keep up with the staggering numbers, you can frequently check the World Health Organization website here.


Pakistan and Taliban agree to ceasefire in Swat Valley

Per CNN, Pakistan and the Taliban have agreed to a 10-day truce in the Swat Valley. Swat Taliban Commander, Maulana Fazlullah said once the 10 days expire, the Taliban will reconvene to decide whether or not to extend it, according to the article. Earlier this week, the Pakistani government agreed to allow the Taliban to implement Sharia Law in the Swat Valley.

Here are the latest twitterings:

@soheezy (Houston, Texas): is deeply saddened by the taliban now controlling northwest Pakistan

@mommadona: Taliban gets save haven in Pakistan...Ladies? http://www.rawa.org/rules.htm

@wvreport (Federal Way, Wash.): Does a truce between Pakistan and the Taliban threaten women's rights? ... http://tr.im/sharia

@beinghuman (Finland): One Law For All - No Sharia @ http://atheistnews.blogs.fi

In the last few days, Pakistanis have been tweeting about the implications of Sharia Law in the Swat Valley.

@sidrahhaque (Lahore, Pakistan): gosh, the swat situation is just honestly breaking my heart.. this is the first time i'm beginning to think we're going to lose this "war"..

@AliRivzi (Lahore, Pakistan): Taliban will take over all of Pakistan very soon.


Madagascar adversaries meet to quell violence

Per BBC, Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina met for the first time since violence broke out in the country over political tensions. The Council of Christian Churches in Madagascar (FFKM), which hosted the talks, says both sides met with the intention of ending the violence that has killed about 100 people in the last month.

FFKM claims the rivals “had agreed a five-point plan that included ending provocative statements and the spreading of false information,” according to the BBC. Analysts claim that the talks may lead to a unity government.

Some Twitter users have been frustrated with the lack of coverage of the crisis:

@nubiancheetah (Washington, D.C.): How come the media is not covering the crisis in Madagascar? Even the African media has poor coverage on it. How sad!

@tandriamirado (Antananarivo - Madagascar): media covering or not the crisis in #madagascar is a way for other countries to affect the pressure level,... re: http://ff.im/1a9W4

This has lead some to pursue coverage of the crisis through Twitter, blogs and other new media sources:

@MadagascarTweet (Madagascar): Watching the crisis in #Madagascar via Twitter, by @EthanZ: http://bit.ly/6NpeH | @GlobalVoices coverage: http:/.. http://tinyurl.com/d4wzh8

@risingvoices: FOKO: Ushahidi Comes To Madagascar: Rising Voices grantee FOKO’s members were at the forefront of the recent cov.. http://tinyurl.com/al3dtg...


Massive economic protest underway in Dublin

Per The Irish Times, nearly 120,000 people have gathered in the Dublin city center today to protest the government's response to the slumping Irish economy. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) organized the march hoping to create a ten-point plan to economic recovery in the fairest way possible for the working class.

Amid spending cuts and pension levies for public workers, Bloomberg Europe reports that the office of Prime Minister Brian Cowen has said that the actions of the government are "difficult, and in some cases, painful," but are "necessary and fair."

The BBC reports that nearly 326,000 claimed unemployment benefits in January, the highest total since 1967.

One man tried to get more information on the protest via Twitter.

@Cubikmusik (Dublin): @nialler9 crap. Where's the protest? On my way into town now.

Those who were at the protest had myriad reasons to be marching. Some felt the need to stand up against the government.

@johnjlawlor (Dublin): Marchin with tens of thousands of workers in protest against this worthless government and divisive tax.

@dublinjoe (Dublin): is taking part in his first european protest march. it's huge!

But one man wanted to march even though his interests were not being represented.

@dermotbrennan (Ranelagh, County Dublin): In public sector protest march on oconnell street. I'm not even in the public sector...

Others, however, simply wanted to watch.

@barratree (Dublin): Have a prime spot for watching the protest - house 6 in trinity overlooking College Green. fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa.

Despite the collective movement, some were skeptical if the protest would effectively create the necessary changes.

@vonprond (Dublin): is this protest March in Dublin on Saturday a good thing? What will it achieve?

@alanoleary (Dublin): Seriously - when do us working people of Ireland get to protest against the 'working' people protesting tomorrow (who we pay with our taxes)


Israel shells Lebanon in response to rockets

Per BBC, a rocked launched by an unknown source from southern Lebanon hit northern Israel and lightly wounded three people, the Israeli army said. The Israeli government retaliated by launching at least six artillery shells according to sources in Lebanon, the article said. It is not yet known whether any injuries were caused.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora denounced both attacks, calling the Israeli shelling "an unacceptable and unjustified violation of Lebanese sovereignty," according to BBC. He condemned the use of Lebanese territory for launching rockets and said the fire threatens the stability of the region and of U.N. resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah said it has no knowledge of the attacks, and Al Jazeera reports the group usually claims responsibility when it acts.

This is the third time rockets have been launched from Lebanon since Israel's 22-day offensive against Gaza that left 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

The news was met with grim humor and fatigue by some.

@sharagrif (Tel Aviv): Ahhh...rockets from Lebanon... nothing like a little rocket to brighten up a weekend... http://tinyurl.com/cpn4hb

@ltlmsnour (Beiruit): Rockets fired from S. Lebanon onto Israel; Israel retaliates. Glad I'm getting out of this place.

The mother of an Israeli army soldier cheered the country's decision to return fire into Lebanon.

@ASoldiersMother (Jerusalem): rocket hits northern Israel - 3 wounded. More testing from the North. Israel holds Lebanon responsible - a good decision!


Clinton visits China

Per BBC Chinese, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton is making her first visit to China as America's top diplomat. An English version of the story, with video, is available here, on the BBC's English-language website.

The Associated Press reports that more than a dozen Chinese dissidents have been detained, questioned or followed by authorities prior to Clinton's visit. All Headline News reports that Clinton also came under fire from human rights groups by saying America's relationship with China would focus more on the economy, climate change and North Korea rather than traditional human rights issues.

@guqingfeng (Shanghai, China) Reading about Clinton in China, but Hu Jintao's in Africa - tinyurl.com/4rxqgv

@luyi7338(Sz, China) 看了希拉里访华的照片,突然发现24小时这一季的女总统好像希拉里!||是很像 (Hillary's visit to China saw the photo, suddenly discovered that this season's 24-hour woman president like Hillary! | | Are very much like)

@dtf1(Detroit, Michigan) Activists 'shocked' at Clinton stance on China rights: WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet tinyurl.com/cxwtns

@pa5fn (The Netherlands) Amnesty criticizes Clinton for not forcing China's hand on human rights: Human rights watchdog Amnesty Internati... tinyurl.com/bv69nc

@bbcchinese (London, England) 中国国家主席胡锦涛会晤美国国务卿希拉里时表示,她访华显示美国重视发展与中国的关系。(Chinese President Hu Jintao met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary said that she's visit to China shows that the United States attaches importance to developing relations with China)