International News

China

Seven infants die in China due to tainted formula

The scandal over Chinese baby formula, which was purposefully tainted with chemicals in order to make it appear more nutritious, continued to grow after the deaths of several infants last week.

The baby formula, along with other Chinese-made dairy products including milk, yogurt and ice cream, were recalled as authorities probed deeper into the practices of Chinese dairy companies, arresting over a dozen officials and firing a government administrator.

The dairy producers have attempted to cut costs by diluting the milk with water and then fortifying it with a chemical called melamine, which artificially raises the protein count.

The melamine-tainted formula has been linked to the recent deaths of at least four infants, Chinese officials said last Thursday.

The scandal is yet another worry to consumers of Chinese goods, which have been the focus of several major recalls over the past few years.

Afghanistan

Drought and war cause problems for Afghanistan

Drought and war are two contributing factors to what aid officials are predicting to be one of the worst harvests in Afghanistan in years, raising fears of a food shortage this winter for more than a quarter of the Afghan population.

The drought this summer across much of Afghanistan, along with the uneasy political and security climate, has compounded a long-term failure by the government and foreign donors to develop the country’s agricultural sector. The result is the imminent food shortage for nine million Afghans.

The shortage is fueling fears of civil unrest in already turbulent regions of the nation, although humanitarian groups have been warning of a crisis in the region since the beginning of the year, after an unusually harsh winter.

In an appeal to countries responsible for the redevelopment of Afghanistan after years of war, Oxfam, a British humanitarian organization, requested aid for the millions predicted to be affected by the shortage.

The United States government announced last week that they would supply nearly half of the requested food aid.

Iraq

Iraqis demonstrate against U.S.

Iraqis upset over rising civilian casualties spoke up on Friday, after American troops raided a northern Iraqi town. Four hundred people gathered at the site after the attack, to peacefully demonstrate against the use of what they saw as excessive force by the Americans.

The American and Iraqi reports of the raid offered contrasting views about the attack. The Americans said that their attack succeeded in killing its target, a senior member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who was suspected in bombing attacks along the Tigris River.

The Iraqi officials said that the Americans used excessive force; calling in an air raid on the target where there were civilians present. The Iraqi report stated that the attackers were responsible for the deaths of eight innocent civilians, shooting them as they fled.

The American statement read that the occupants refused to leave the house after over an hour of warnings and justified the use of air power in the raid. Many Iraqis, however, were upset with the increasing civilian death toll.

“I condemn the random targeting of civilians and the excessive use of force against civilians,” said Abdullah Hussein Jibara, the deputy governor of Salahuddin Province, where the attack took place.

Venezuela

Human rights inspectors expelled from Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government expelled two human rights inspectors last Thursday, after their reports of widespread political discrimination and intimidation of jury members.

The two men, José Miguel Vivanco of Chile and Daniel Wilkinson of the United States, were apprehended by armed guards and put on a plane to Sao Paolo, Brazil, where they arrived Friday.

The deportation of the two, who worked for the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, comes at a time when Chavez’s government is becoming increasingly authoritarian, dismantling the judicial system and turning more towards the use of force to maintain control.

“Our expulsion reveals yet again the degree of intolerance of this government,” said Vivanco, who filed a report detailing the government’s intimidation of local human rights defenders and their use of the state-run television network to attack advocates critical of Chavez.

The Venezuelan government said that Vivanco was in violation of the law as he was visiting the country on a tourist visa while doing humanitarian work. The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry also added that Human Rights Watch was acting with the United States in an attempt to undermine Venezuela.